Feel Good Friday Reads: A Taste of Forever and Always

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Good morning. It’s a beautiful sunny, if frigid, Friday morning, despite the fact the calendar says it’s March. If my mother-in-law were still alive today, she’d be 100. Since she was a great supporter of my wring talent back when it was in its infancy, before I actually chose to try my hand at writing and was still playing around with poetry, I thought I’d start something different today in here honor.

I blog here every Tuesday in Tuesday Tales, Wednesday in the Midweek Tease, and occasionally on Sunday when I have a Review by Sue. The rest of the week is hit or miss. Once in a while, I’ll have a Throwback Thursday, or host a promo for a fellow author, but I haven’t really used my blog for me or to promote and share my work. So I thought I’d start Feel Good Friday Reads and give myself an opportunity to tell you something behind one of my published works and give you a taste of it.

Since this is my first Feel Good Friday Reads post, I’m going to share my latest release with you.

photo-1446476012059-4f9c278d54d5Forever and Always grew out of a Christmas story I wrote for my blog last year. Originally entitled, Where There’s a Will, it was published as part of the Adventures in Love anthology. I’ve always loved the idea of being a ballerina, even when my father told me I had all the grace and talent of a baby hippo, but like so many other things in my life, I never acted on my desire to learn to dance. As a mother, I made sure my daughter did, spending countless Saturday  mornings at ballet and jazz dance classes, and was thrilled when she qualified for the program of the arts dance courses in high school, but she was an athlete first, and a dancer second, putting all her energy into basketball and perfecting her three-point shots–six of them in her women’s league baksetball game last night! Still,  I’ll never forget that final dance review when she came out on stage in a pink tutu and red basketball shoes.

But my fscination with the dance didn’t end there. I’ve always admired the commitment it took to perfect an ability like that. I know the countless hours that go into writing a book, but dancing like that, forcing the body to move in unnatural ways in point shoes–now that’s dedication.

On Wednesday, Forever and Always was released as a stand-alone book. The 18,000 word novella is perfect for someone with an hour to spare who wants to read a story from start to finish. If you commute by train, subway, or bus, this might be the ideal quick read for you.

When I was contemplating writing a Valentine’s Day story this year, I kept being drawn back to that 3,000 word Christmas story that felt unfinished. There was so much more to Jarrett and Brandi’s story, and I needed to tell it. That fundraiser might’ve brought them together, but we all know  true love is never that easy.

I got to thinking of Brandi and her situation. I’m a sucker for tragic heroines, and  happily ever afters. There’d be very little room in a professional dancer’s life for anything but the dance, but what if that were taken away from her suddenly, leaving her bereft? How would she cope with losing the only thing that ever mattered to her, the ability to dance. Recently, the ability to do what she loves best was taken unfairly from a friend of mine, and I think that’s behind my recent penchant for stories where heroines have suffered tragic loss.

I considered all the ramifications of life as a prima ballerina–hours of rehersals, sacrifices for the art, crazed fans, and the story took on more flesh. A loss that substantial would inevitably be followed by the stages of grieving–denial, anger, depression, and in the end, acceptance, but what if the man who truly cared for her got caught in the grieving process? What if a jealous person stirred the pot and made things worse? And what if something kept him form coming to her as soon as he should have?

So many questions to answer!

When I hurt, I tend to hide myself away. My heroines often do, too. Where would Brandi hide, and if she did, how would Jarrett ever find her?

forever&always-001(1)The blurb:

Ballet is the only thing Brandi Alexandra Jameson has ever known. When an accident leaves her dance partner dead and herself unable to dance again, she tries to accept the situation, but some pain goes too deep to be set aside so easily. Lost, alone, frightened, all she wants to do is hide away, but her family has a different idea.

Jarrett Sullivan has been in love with Brandi from the first day he saw her and blackened a kid’s eye for calling her names. Shy, unsure of himself, he stayed in the background, looking out for her, but before he could make his move, she left Victoria for the stage in Toronto. Now that she’s back, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her heart. After badgering her sister, he earns the right to escort the woman he’s always wanted to the event of the year.

When Brandi discovers Jarrett paid an exorbitant amount for an Alexandra Jameson poster, she assumes he’s lied to her and is nothing but another crazed fan. Her heart broken she flees Victoria and ends up in Geneva where she hopes to learn to cope with what’s happened to her.

Can Jarrett find her and explain what happened or will a spiteful woman’s half-truths keep them apart forever?

Forever and Always is an Amazon exclusive available from all Amazon sites: 

Now, here is a taste of Forever and Always, this week’s Feel Good Friday Reads.

Moving into the kitchen area, Brandi reached for the kettle, almost dropping it when the familiar strains of The William Tell Overture announced her sister’s call. The thought of letting it go to voice mail briefly surfaced, but that would only bring Jane racing across town expecting the worst. Reluctantly, sitting on one of the wooden chairs surrounding the butcher block table, she picked up the phone, dreading the conversation to follow. She’d rehearsed her words declining the invitation to tonight’s charity Christmas party. Jane meant well but she was like a dog with a bone, so insistent at times it felt more like bullying than a loving sister’s concern. She pressed the call answer button on the fifth ring.

 

“Hey, Jane, what’s up?”

“What took you so long?” Jane asked, her voice filled with a mixture of suspicion, annoyance, and concern, but Brandi was certain annoyance would win out in the end.

“I just came inside. I was decorating outside.”

“What? Are you crazy? You know you’re not supposed to exert yourself.”

Brandi laughed. “Obviously, you’ve never seen one of Adrianne’s sessions.”

“Adrienne is a trained physiotherapist. You, on the other hand….”

“I feel fine.” The white lie slipped off her tongue effortlessly. “I suppose you called about the Christmas party tonight. I’ve thought about it, and decided I can’t make it after all.”

“You just said you were fine,” her sister challenged suspiciously. “You promised you’d come,” Jane continued, playing the hurt card that inevitably got her what she wanted.

“I promised I’d think about it. I have, and after careful consideration, I’ve decided I can’t. If it were any other night… I know you’re trying to do what you think is best,” Brandi said. “But I’m not ready to face strangers.”

If she were a turtle, she’d crawl inside her shell and wait until she was, but would that day ever come?

“Brandi, for heaven’s sake.” Her sister’s voice was filled with frustration, the hurt momentarily forgotten. “At this rate, you’re never going to be ready. There won’t be a single person here tonight you haven’t met before. My God, you performed in front of thousands. There’s no way I’ll let you shovel any bullshit about stage fright. You didn’t die in that accident, and there’s no reason to act as if you did.”

“I’m not comfortable driving the car in the dark yet,” Brandi continued with the speech she’d planned, knowing damn well she had nothing to be afraid of. It was sixty degrees outside. There’d be no freezing rain tonight to ruin her life like there had been a year ago.

“Not a problem. Tom’s cousin Jarrett offered to pick you up. You’re on his way. You must remember him. He was one of the ushers at our wedding. I think you two actually went to school together.”

If she didn’t want to go before, Brandi was definitely dead-set against it now.

She remembered Jarrett Sullivan all too well—him and the gorgeous blonde who’d clung to him like Velcro at the wedding and had shot invisible daggers at her from behind venom-filled eyes. But that memory wasn’t the one she cherished deep in her heart.

Jarrett, a grade ahead of her, had been her hero. She’d never forget the boy who’d carried her books home when she’d had her hands full, the one who’d stood up to the bullies who teased her about her hair color and her small stature; the only one who’d asked her to dance at the sixth grade graduation dance, firmly entrenching himself in her heart. But, three years later when she’d moved from middle school and entered high school, the captain of the football team had changed. He still spoke to her, asked her how things were going, but he teased her, calling her names, not realizing how much the loss of his caring concern and friendship had hurt—Hey, Scotch; Saw you dance last night, Bourbon; Looking good, Gin; Did you finish that math assignment, Vodka?; and of course his painful, off-key rendition of The Four Season’s Sherry—he’d called her by the name of every alcoholic beverage but her own, except at the wedding when they’d danced for the second time in eleven years.

You’ve grown into a beautiful woman, Brandi. His words echoed in her head, but then Pavel had claimed her and the blonde bombshell had whisked him away. Now, Pavel was dead as was her career as a ballerina. Her last performance had been as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’d never even finished the run—the freezing rain had seen to that.

“I don’t know. I get nervous in any car, and it’s just worse at night….”

“Brandi Alexandra Jameson, I just knew you’d pull a stunt like this, and I won’t let you ruin this party for me.”

Yeah, it’s all about you, Jane. What about me? What about my pain?

“It’s three o’clock, now,” her sister continued. “He’ll be there to pick you up at five. I suggest you get your ass in gear. He’s got orders to carry you out kicking and screaming if he has to.”

“He wouldn’t dare. I’m not ten anymore. You’re not the boss of me, your majesty, even if you think you are,” she cried, defiantly, tears welling up in her eyes. “You’re not being fair.”

“Fair has nothing to do with this. You may not be ten, but you’re acting like a child, and I for one am fed up with your little pity party. You need to put this behind you before you drown in your own sorrows. It’s for your own good, and Mom and Dad agree, so unless you want to end up here in your pajamas, or worse, get dressed.”

She winced as Jane ended the call with a satisfactory slam of the phone, something impossible to do with a cellphone, and stuck out her tongue, the childish gesture of defiance making her feel better momentarily but, knowing Jane, she’d make good on her threat.

“Damn! I should’ve stayed in Toronto,” she said, aloud, her voice echoing in the empty house.

That’s it. Have a great weekend!

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About mhsusannematthews

Finally retired after more than 30 years as a teacher! Now, I get to spend my time gardening, enjoying my grandchildren, and writing. I finally completed the number one item in my bucket list and Crimson Romance published my first novel, Fire Angel, in April 2013. Since then I have sold 24 other manuscripts to date and don't plan to quit writing for a long time yet.
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