My debut novel, Stricken, hit the shelves at eXtasy Books on March 17, 2017, and has gained positive reviews. It’s available as an ebook at all ebook retailers worldwide, and as a print on demand paperback from Amazon.
Tagline: Love deserves a second chance.
Ewan Campbell once thought he had it all—he was a rising star in the real estate field, popular with his peers, and engaged to his employer’s cousin, the shy and quiet little Marti Marlowe.
A heartbeat later, he was alone—shattered, confused and suicidal. Why had Marti walked away from him?
Years later, in another place and a new chapter of Ewan’s life, fate brings them face to face again.
They start building a friendship, but Ewan wants more. He wants Marti as his wife, while she seems to prefer their current status as friends.
Can he convince her that taking another chance at their failed future will be the start of the best part of their lives?
EXCERPT (Clean, Chapter Two)
Marti Marlowe Lewis groaned inwardly and resisted the urge to bang her head on the desk as Kara breezed into her office with an armload of files, her travel mug, and a smug smile. Damn it, she’s early! She must have figured out I’ve been avoiding her!
Kara plopped the files on the desk and flopped down in a chair.
Marti rolled her eyes skyward. “What’s on your mind, Kara?”
“Oh, not much, but I’m betting there’s a lot on yours.”
“If you mean Leslie, you’re right. She’s still on suicide watch at the hospital.” It was a reference to their most recent emergency case, a fourteen-year-old girl who had been raped. Leslie hadn’t been fully suicidal until the test showed she was carrying her rapist’s child.
“I wasn’t talking about her, but damn it if she still feels that dying is her only option,” Kara said sadly.
“Yeah.” Marti played with her pen. “Lucy asked me to be Leslie’s counsellor.”
“Why won’t you?”
“You know why.”
“Martine, that in itself is exactly why you’re the best one to help her.”
“I can’t. I won’t be able to stay detached and professional if I go near her. I did offer insight to what Leslie may be thinking and feeling, just in case Lucy needed it.”
Kara stared at her and, with a sad smile, nodded in understanding.
Talk revolved around the teenager and a few other clients.
Marti was starting to think she had distracted her friend long enough to escape, and growled in resignation when Kara leaned back in her chair and narrowed her brown eyes.
“So, do you feel like telling me why you practically dragged me out of the agency on Monday, and why you didn’t say shit about Dennis working for your cousin’s company?”
A headache started forming along Marti’s temples and forehead. “Sorry, I wasn’t thinking straight after seeing Sheryl.”
“So she knows your cousin. Are you sure she’ll tell Miranda she saw you?”
“Damn those memories, huh?” Kara knew the rift be-tween Miranda and Marti started about seven years ago, and why it had happened.
“Uh-huh.” Without seeing anything, Marti turned her gaze to the windows that faced the Citadel and sighed. No way was she admitting it wasn’t really Sheryl that made the past rear its unwanted head. Kara knew she had been engaged to someone in Miranda’s employ, but not his name, only her former betrothed was from a rich family, and a real estate agent. Miranda’s business sense is still razor sharp. He’s who I would have picked to run the Halifax branch.
“I understand why you don’t want to talk to Sheryl. What I don’t get is why you were so cold to Ewan. You’re a lot nicer than that.”
Obviously, ignoring him had the opposite effect of what I hoped. Damn it. “He knew my ex-fiancé.”
“And since he knew your ex, I suppose he’s also bringing back some stuff you’d rather not think about, huh?”
“If you knew him before, you also know how nice he is.”
Nice? He’s one of the sweetest, kindest guys in the world, a true gentleman. Until you get on his bad side… “Yeah, I guess.”
“Ewan knows how great you are. Your name came up when we were discussing some of our friends, and he seemed to be open to meeting you. I can’t see how you two could stand there and glare at each other if you were friends.”
“We weren’t exactly friends,” Marti replied, a little too defensively. “He worked for Miranda. With my ex. Can we please drop it?” She grabbed a file and flipped it open, determined to distract Kara and change the subject.
She felt Kara staring at her. “What?”
“Do you still love him?”
Marti blinked. “Do I still love who?”
“Kara, that’s one of the stupidest questions you’ve asked me.”
“Martine, think about it. You were pretty damn rude to Ewan the other day, and I can tell you’re squirming now by thinking about your ex. That tells me there’s still a little something left in your heart for him.”
“There hasn’t been anything left for him, not since I met Gabriel,” she whispered with a shake of her head, and felt a weird clench in her stomach as she remembered the look on Ewan’s face when their eyes met for the first time in over six years.
“I can understand why you may not feel comfortable around any of Dennis’ coworkers because it’s your cousin’s company, and how you’re not talking to Miranda, but keep in mind you’re going to be seeing them from time to time, if we have a party or something.”
Marti shot her friend a filthy look. “Kara—”
“Are you really that scared of two people who know your ex-fiancé that you’d stop hanging out with your friends? That sounds pretty damn selfish to me.”
Marti’s headache went from a dull roar in her ears to a jackhammer between her eyes. Her first instinct had been to run after seeing Ewan’s name listed as branch manager in the lobby.
Seeing him standing at Sheryl’s desk made a rush of unwelcome memories from their time in Bridgewater flood her system. Watching his face turn to stone and his gaze fade from its characteristic warmth to an unnerving frost had hurt. There had been a time when she only saw it aimed at others, mostly her cousin, in the nine months she and Ewan had been a couple.
It ended over seven years ago. We’re both adults. It’s not like Bridgewater, it’s a much bigger place. Kara and Dennis are not my only friends here. I can still avoid him most of the time. If we do run into each other, we can be polite. Or I can. Whether he is or not is up to him. Knowing Ewan, he’ll pretend I don’t exist unless we’re alone… Then he’ll bawl me out again, and I won’t blame him if he does.
With me, he was all hot air, which is a sign he cared. It’s when he gets cold it can get nasty, and he starts cutting people down with words. I always hoped he’d never get that way with me…
“You’re right, Kara, it is pretty damn selfish. I won’t do it, on the condition you let me help you in the kitchen for a while, until I’m more comfortable being around them.”
“You got it. Sorry I had to corner you like this, but you’ve been hiding from me all week. It was the only way I could grab you and torture you enough to talk.”
Marti nodded and smiled as her mental burden lightened a little. “I forgive you.”
Kara grinned evilly.
As her friend turned her attention to the files between them, a long shudder went up Marti’s spine as another image of Ewan’s frigid stare rose in her memory.
Please let him have the sense to let things go this time…