Good morning and welcome to this week’s Midweek Tease, Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting this weekly blog hop. This morning, I’m digging into my backlist for your tease as I get to work on the edits for my future release.
In life, you pay a price for everything you do. Widowed, her dream of starring on Broadway in ashes at her feet, Misty Starr yearns for a happy, healthy, normal life for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Debbie. Settled in Pine Falls, New York, a sleepy little town filled with friendly people, she believes she’s found it and feels safe enough to sing in an amateur theater revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. She’ll do anything to keep this life even if it is built on lies, because revealing her secret is impossible. When Nick Anthony joins the cast as music director, Misty is attracted to the man who stirs up feelings she thought long dead, but can love grow on a bed of deceit?
A former concert pianist and secret CIA courier, Nick lives in darkness ever since the accident that killed his wife. The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with his vision, so why can’t he see? Hiding from his former life, he reluctantly agrees to help with the musical and is drawn to the young singer with the voice of an angel. When a mysterious fire destroys her home, Nick vows to keep her and her daughter safe. After one suspicious event leads to another, Nick is determined to protect them from an unknown assassin, but in order to do that, he needs to know her secrets. With his money and connections, he’ll do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but does she love him enough to reveal the truth?
A frequent lucid dreamer, Misty realized what she was experiencing wasn’t real, but this time, she was unable to take control of the dream. Everything had a surreal quality to it. The colors were brighter, the textures grittier, and her movements sluggish as if her feet were stuck to the floor. She told herself to wake up, but instead of resurfacing from the nightmare as she’d hoped, she plunged more deeply into it, reliving the events of that fateful day.
I can’t stay here anymore, not with a man who joked so callously about ending another man’s life, she thought. She’d seen the barely suppressed violence in Kevin. She shivered. If he knew she was aware of what he was planning, he’d kill her.
Realizing how vulnerable she was, she backed up the step, closed the door a bit, and returned to the kitchen as quickly and quietly as she could.
She’d just turned off the kettle when the outside door opened, and she gasped, startled by the size of the man entering the house as if he had every reason and right to do so.
“Who the hell are you?” he yelled, grabbing her and pulling her to him. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m Shannon. I live here,” she stammered. “This is my home.” Tears pooled in her eyes, both from fear and the pain his fingers inflicted on her arm.
“We’ll just see what the boss has to say about that. Shannon, was it?” He had a heavy brogue, much heavier than Kevin’s, and there was nothing sweet or romantic about the words he spat at her.
He dragged her to the basement door and shoved her roughly ahead of him. “Look what I found snooping around the kitchen,” he crowed, manhandling her down the steps.
“Ryan, let go of her. She’s my wife!” Kevin shouted, anger and authority unmistakable in his voice.
“Wife is it?” Ryan laughed, but there was an underlying ugliness to the sound. “We’ve another name for that in Ireland. She’s a scrawny little thing, isn’t she? Does Kerry know about your wife and the bun in the oven? Somehow, I think not.”
“Shut up, Ryan.” Kevin turned and started up the stairs, stopping one step below her. “Mind your own business. I’ll tell Kerry when I’ve a mind to and not before.” He glared at the man behind her. Turning to Misty, he snapped, “What are you doing home so early? The daycare doesn’t close for another two hours.” The rage lacing his voice and the fury in his icy blue eyes turned her blood cold.
“I told you this morning I had a doctor’s appointment,” she stammered, cowed by his hostility.
He reached for her and propelled her forcefully up the stairs and back to the kitchen. His fingers dug painfully into the tender flesh of her upper arm. She’d never seen him this enraged. She trembled.
“What did you see and hear?” he snarled, pushing her roughly away from him. Her hip struck the edge of the table, the sharp pain nauseating in its intensity. She grabbed the table to stop from falling and cradled her abdomen in an effort to protect the child from its father.
“Nothing, I didn’t hear anything,” she lied, terrified by the increasing violence she saw in him. He slapped her, harder than he ever had. The blow stunned her. She tasted the metallic tang of blood.
“Don’t lie to me! I’m not stupid! What did you hear?” He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her violently.
Tears ran down her cheeks, and her face burned from the sting of his hand. “Stop it Kevin, please. You’ll hurt the baby,” she pleaded.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass about your brat. What the hell did you hear?” He struck her again, knocking her to the floor.
“Nothing, I swear. I didn’t hear anything, Kevin.” She repeated, her voice choked by her tears and the panic building within her. He was going to kill her. Like a she-bear protecting her cub, the danger to the child gave her the courage she needed. Enough was enough. Using the table, she pulled herself up and stared into his eyes.
“I told you. I had a doctor’s appointment today. I got in a little while ago and put the kettle on. I was making tea. The water’s scarcely had time to boil. I went to the bathroom and took some acetaminophen. That’s all.” She put her hand up to wipe the blood from her mouth.
Suddenly, the old Kevin, the one who’d charmed her, returned and put his arms around her. “I’m sorry, Shannon. You couldn’t have picked a worse day to come home early. You startled me. Why don’t you take your tea and go lie down? The guys will be leaving soon, and I’ll be off to work.”
“Who are they?” She busied herself at the stove acting as if nothing had happened. It’s what he expected—forgiveness no matter how badly he’d behaved—but this time there would be no forgiveness, no second chance.
“Just a few of the guys from work. We’re having a union meeting. Nothing to concern that pretty little head of yours. This babe’s given you a difficult time; I doubt we’ll have another.”
He walked over to the stove, turned her around, and pulled her into his arms. He crushed her swollen mouth with his in a cruel, painful, punishing kiss. When he released her, there was smug satisfaction on his face, but the frost in his eyes remained.
“We’ll talk about this later. For your own good, and the good of the child you want so badly, don’t remember anything you think you may have seen or heard. Speaking of it could get you killed. I’ve protected you this time, but if you’re found snooping again, you’ll be leaving the house in a pine box.” He turned, walked out of the kitchen, and returned to the basement, slamming the door shut behind him.
She ran to the bathroom, vomited, and sat on the floor beside the toilet, tears running down her cheeks. She had to leave, and she had to leave tonight. She started to shake.
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