Halfway through his sandwich,
he expelled a noisy breath. “Why are we arguing?”
She turned, chin elevated and brows raised.
“Because you’re dimwitted and scared?”
—A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman
HAPPY FRIDAY and what a FUN week it’s been!! Lots of cool things have gone on in the last seven days, not the least of which was my trip to my publisher in Grand Rapids last week. What a GREAT group of people to work with and what hospitality!! Revell is simply, hands-down, a class act, and I am SO blessed to be a part of this amazing Baker Book group. From a lovely dinner with my editor Lonnie and publicist Claudia (LOVE these two!!!) and a Martha-Stewart-eat-your-heart-out luncheon at the beautiful home of one of my favorite Revell people and blog-tour administrator, Donna … to a great brainstorming meeting for the Heart of San Francisco series and a book signing at Baker Book House, the trip was a true highlight of my writing career.
My heartfelt thanks to the Revell team for making my visit so memorable including Chris at the Baker Book Store AND the incredible reader friends who attended my book signing—you were the icing on the cake! A special thanks to Amanda and her mom Chris and sister Sara for driving two hours one way to see me and spending the night in Grand Rapids to do so as well and then Joy, who drove an hour and a half one way—you guys and the others who took the time to come TOTALLY blessed the socks off me, so THANK YOU!!
The second thing that made my week fun was a Google Alert I got that brought a YouTube video entitled “A Passion Most Pure” to my attention. I didn’t know this, but apparently some young people got together and made a video based on my debut novel, and I gotta tell you, they did an incredible job!! It’s flat-out adorable, and I hope you get the chance to check it out. Here’s the link:
The third thing that made my week fun was that I sent the final ms. for Love at any Cost to my editor yesterday, and she will read it in the next few days, so PLEASE say one for me, okay? Soooo good to not only finally finish it, but I actually like it too, so I hope you do as well.
Another cool thing this week is that not only has A Heart Revealed been at #4 on Amazon’s “Top Rated Religious Romance,” but has also been on sale on Amazon Kindle at $2.99 all week long as well until this Sunday, March 25, so if you haven’t read it yet, DO take advantage. Here’s the link on the Amazon Top Rated list, but be advised that Amazon alternates the list I’m on with another one, so it may change in a day or two.
FINALLY … the last exciting thing is that Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered is ON SALE IN PRE-ORDER!!! You heard me, for a very limited time, you can pre-order A Love Surrendered for only $7.72, which is almost half off, so if you plan to order it, NOW is the time to do it and if you do, PLEASE like the link, okay? Here are the links, but keep in mind that CBD.com’s sale price may not be loaded yet:
Barnes and Noble:
And so, to celebrate the pre-order sale price, I’m going to leave you with a short clip from A Love Surrendered to whet your appetite. This scene is in a diner after Steven rescues Annie from a speakeasy during a raid and he confronts her for the first time with the fact that she has not told him she’s the younger sister of his old girlfriend Maggie, the woman he was going to marry (and the girl his father found him on the couch with in A Hope Undaunted).
Happy Reading and Happy Weekend!
His coffee spilled when he jerked up his mug, the liquid scalding his fingers like her deception scalded his temper. “You have nothing to say?”
A knot shifted in her throat and she looked up, almost a square to her shoulders as she steeled her jaw. “I was wrong, Steven, I should have told you. But I never expected—” She lowered her gaze to blow on her coffee, obviously in an effort to stall.
“Never expected what?” he asked sharply, glaring over the rim of his cup. She took a timid sip while a full range of emotions flickered across her beautiful face—from hesitation and worry, to vulnerability and shame. And something deeper that raced his pulse and tightened his gut all at the same time.
She drew in a deep breath before forging on, her gaze finally rising to meet his. “I never expected to …” Her voice trailed off until it was barely audible. “fall in love with you,” she said quietly, the truth hovering in the air like the steam from the coffee.
She may as well have tossed it in his face—it burned all the same. His jaw went as firm as his will. “You’re not in love with me, Annie.”
A frail sigh withered from her lips while a sheen of sadness welled in her eyes. “I wasn’t sure either,” she whispered, “until you kissed me that night when you took Glory and me home.”
He bent forward, palms clutching the table and his tone so harsh and cutting, he saw her flinch. “That was a mistake.”
“Yes …” she whispered, tears giving way to glints of anger, “it was, Steven, because that night you planted the seed of hope that someday you might feel for me what I feel for you.”
He slammed his fist on the table, spilling his coffee. “Blast it, Annie, you’re too young.”
“That’s just an excuse, and we both know it.”
His mouth went slack. “For the love of all that’s decent—you’re Maggie’s kid sister! Do you really think I can do this with you?”
She hoisted her chin, blinking back her tears. “I not only think you can, I think you do, but you’re too stubborn to admit it.”
He gaped, shaking his head as he dropped back in the seat, arm draped over the top. His lips parted in a smile that clearly conveyed his disbelief. “You’re out of your mind, kid, you know that? Drink your coffee,” he ordered, “the alcohol’s still muddling your brain.”
She did what he said, eyes averted and manner calming as if every drink she took braced her for battle. When she finished, she carefully laid the mug down and folded her hands neatly on the table, looking for all her eighteen years and tear-splotched face as if she were the adult and he was the pie-eyed kid on a bender. “What are you afraid of, Steven?”
That did it. “You want to know what I’m afraid of?” he demanded. “I’m afraid of this—some kid still wet behind the ears thinking it’s smart to fool around with a guy like me.”
“I have no intention of ‘fooling around’ with you,” she said quietly, the strength of her words belying the softness of her tone. “No matter how I feel about you.”
He stared open-mouthed, heat scalding his neck at the audacity of her statement. His pride prickled. Who did she think she was? Women threw themselves at him all the time. For pity’s sake, her own sister threw herself at him! And she thought she’d be different? He folded arms on the table and leaned in. “Don’t be so sure, little sister,” he said, a trace of anger in a voice that was husky and low. “You Kennedys don’t have the best track record, you know.”
He heard the sharp catch of her breath and took satisfaction in the blush that broiled her cheeks. And then she opened fire like one of Capone’s thugs, gunning him down with a flash of her eyes. “Well, this is a different Kennedy, Agent O’Connor, and a different sister, and you know what? I think you’re running scared. You can deny your feelings all you want, but the truth is, you kissed me—not once, but twice, not to mention interfering in my life at every turn—”
“Interfering in your life?” His voice rose along with his blood pressure.
She defied him with a hard thrust of her chin, eyes glittering. “Yes, first with Billy Brubaker, then Joe and Nate Phillips and now Eddie tonight when you dragged me away.”
“Dragged-you-away?” He blinked, barely able to believe he was wasting good breath arguing with a kid who was obviously as thick as she was tipsy. “I should have let them throw your carcass in jail, you brainless brat, and then you’d be Aunt Eleanor’s problem, not mine.”
“Exactly,” she snapped, as if he’d just proven her point. “But you didn’t. You risked your job and your reputation to haul me out of there tonight, so if we’re going to talk “brainless,” Agent O’Connor, then I suggest you look in the mirror because unless I miss my guess, you are one dim-witted man with his head in the sand.”
Miss Perky chose that moment to light on the booth, as welcome as a plague of locusts. “Here you go, two burgers, two orders of French fried potatoes, a slab of peach pie and a glass of milk.” She dazzled them with a grin. “Anything else?”
Steven forced a smile, jaw clenched so tight his teeth ached. “Just the check.”
“Sure thing.” She placed the bill on the table and patted it for good measure. “Enjoy!”
Grinding his jaw, he grabbed his burger and bit in hard, singeing Annie with a glare.
She didn’t seem to notice, annoying him to no end. Lips pursed, she carefully cut her burger in half and took a dainty bite while perusing the menu with apparent fascination.
Halfway through his sandwich, he expelled a noisy breath. “Why are we arguing?”
She turned, chin elevated and brows raised. “Because you’re dimwitted and scared?”
He hurled his half-eaten burger on the plate. “Don’t start with me, Annie.”
“All right, Steven, how ‘bout I finish with you instead? Just because I’m in love with you doesn’t mean you can bully me around like some … some snot-nosed kid fresh off the farm.”
“You are some snot-nosed kid fresh off the farm,” he hissed.
“Fine. Have it your way—there are plenty of guys who see me otherwise.”
A harsh laugh erupted from his throat. “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen the kind of jokers you attract. Like that clown tonight with his hands all over you.”
She pushed her burger away, the anger in her tone matching her eyes. “He-was-consoling-me, you dimwit, and at least he’s man enough to take a chance on a girl that he likes.”
Her statement barbed, discharging his temper with a hard smile. “Sure, why not when he knows he can get what he wants?”
Her breath hitched, and he regretted the words the moment they left his mouth, but it was too late. Her face sagged from anger into hurt. Chin trembling, she silently rose, hands shaking while she groped for her purse.
“Annie, look, I’m sorry—”
But not as sorry as he was gonna be. Taking a step forward, she hauled off and slapped him so hard he never saw it coming, bells clanging in his skull as loudly as those from the door when it slammed hard behind her.