I hope this day finds you in good health and high spirits. Below I’m posting a sneak peak at my upcoming novel, Love Me, the final installment in the Promise Me series. This may be the end of a series, but it is a beginning of a world. Travel with me to the small mountain town of Heartwood, and see if you find the single county wide stoplight charming!
Keep in mind, this is still a rough draft. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to let me know!
The evening dress rode snug in the area between my breasts and belly button. I tugged at the material, a crimson blush of color. The reflection mirrored the irritated snarl and rapidly blinking eyes, the French chignon and painted cheeks over pale skin.
I didn’t recognize the woman I saw. She was a stranger wearing my face, wiggling my arms, fondling my rear to get the bow in the correct area. There wasn’t much to do about the complexion or the slightly exhausted look. A splash of red went across my lips to give me the illusion of a woman in control. The illusion of a woman who had it all.
“River. You look beautiful. Have I told you yet tonight? If I haven’t, I’ll say it again.” Weston Brown stooped to place a kiss in the swell of my exposed neck.
He stood behind me like a fairy tale prince come to life. The fitted shirt and blazer outlined his build and, although his facial features fell into the category of average, he had a certain allure. A charismatic quality I couldn’t dismiss. I had a hunch it’s what helped him to the office of mayor.
“You haven’t. I could stand to hear it a few more times.”
“You’d be drop dead if you’d stop fidgeting.”
“I don’t look like myself at all.”
The reflection was a beauty with strands of reddish chestnut brown hair slipping from the complicated knot on top of her head. The hairdo accented her heart-shaped face and she was a picture of creamy skin, feminine curves, and slick red lips.
“Think of this like a normal day.”
“On a normal day, there’s nothing mesmerizing about me.”
“Yes, there is. You just don’t see yourself the way I do.”
“As an elbow ornament?”
“As an extraordinary woman with a great deal to offer. I’ll tell you now, the longer we stay together, the more functions you’ll attend. This is just tiny little fundraising event. Easy.”
“You sure I can’t stay home?”
“The mayor needs his plus one, sweetheart. Your appearance is required. But please, if you can help it, don’t break anything. Do not tear a curtain or smear food on the table cloth or spill your drink on anyone.”
I held my hands in front of me. “I was under duress! People kept looking at me.”
“People will continue to look at you. You might as well get used to the attention and work on those awkward, clumsy tendencies.”
“Sorry. They’re a mile wide and going nowhere.”
“Try? For me?”
There was nothing good about these kinds of parties. They reminded me of the greet and smooze those of my former profession scheduled multiple times a year. Some saw them for the promise of new connections, while other saw an opportunity to get drunk on free drinks. Not for the first time I wondered why I preferred to stay home with a fuzzy pair of pajamas and too many cookies.
The romance of the evening with Weston reminded me of the first party Harris had taken me to back in Tennessee. Where I’d let the glitter go to my head and stayed long past my welcome, both at the host’s house and the relationship.
This time, I knew, I went into one without blinders. Let’s hope the party went well.
“This is as good as it’s going to get.” I huffed in a breath, dragging my coat from the bed.
“It’s gorgeous.” Weston continued to rain kisses down on my exposed skin. “You’re gorgeous.”
“And you’re trying to charm me into relaxing.” I recognized the signs. Weston was good at getting people to do what he wanted without explicitly stating his desires. Tonight, I didn’t mind being led.
“There’s no reason for you to get worked up. These are people you’ve met from town hall. Do you remember Marvin and Donna?”
“How about Butch and Sarah?”
“No. I don’t know anyone! Which is why I’m worked up.”
“You won’t always be the outsider,” he assured me.
I hadn’t realized I was. Okay, maybe that was a lie. My reflection told me it was the latter rather than the former. I knew people looked at me when I walked down the street. They peered at every line on my face and stitch of thread on my outfit.
The perusal only worsened when I started dating Weston. Once I officially shacked up with the mayor, as Nell put it, I was under the microscope twenty-four hours a day.
“This is just a small party. More of an in and out type of deal.”
“I’ve been to my fair share before. I know the routine. I don’t like the routine.”
“Yeah? I didn’t know.” His arm snaked around my waist to pull me closer. I happily snuggled against his warmth. “You don’t talk about your old job much.”
“The company I used to work for was big on rubbing elbows,” I told him, struggling to fix a stray hair flopping over my face. “They had benefits and fund raisers at least once a month. I used to be the designated go-to date until I met Harris.”
His face soured at the mention of one of my disastrous exes. “I’m sure you were a natural. Although I wouldn’t know, since you’ve managed to step on someone’s foot whenever I take you out. I’ve yet to figure out how to keep you from destroying the evening.”
Destroy might be a little much. Did I make a mess? Certainly. The hair refused to stay in place and I growled, my patience thinning. “I might not look it, but I know how to navigate the social scene. You should have more faith in me.”
“I have no doubts you’ll improve. After all, you’ve had practice.” Weston held out his elbow, looking every bit the charming mayor loved by his constituents. “Now, shall we go?”