Publisher: MiraPublished: August 25, 2015Pages: 384Mason Bellamy’s world is fast, loud and decorated with the most extreme risks. Nothing can tempt him to give up his high-rolling Manhattan life and high-maintenance girlfriend—not even family. When he’s called home to upstate Avalon to help his quadriplegic mother in her deepest time of need, he sets his mind on temporary, determined to craft a way to care for her from a distance.Alice Hayes is supposed to be his best solution. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet struggling caregiver as a live-in nurse gives Alice and her two daughters shelter, his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to escape to his adrenaline-pumped, no-attachments routine. But Alice’s beautiful presence promises to repair Mason’s frayed family ties. And his unstoppable attraction to Alice could lead to the most exhilarating thrill of his life.
I'm hosting excerpt number 12 from the tour, so be sure to check out the entire list of excerpts here. And come back on September 16th to see my review of Starlight on Willow Lake (or check out the other reviews from the tour here). Read on to see a glimpse of the newest Lakeshore Chronicles book.
When the girls were asleep, that was when the demons came to visit. The ones that promised Faith she was drowning and taking the girls down with her. Sometimes in her more lunatic moments, she silently raged at Dennis, as if all this were his fault. And it wasn’t, of course. It wasn’t his fault for having a severe form of diabetes with fatal complications, any more than it was Faith’s fault for loving him.
It wasn’t his fault their younger daughter had the same disease.
No one’s fault, but Faith was left to deal with it.
Late that night—their last night in Unit 12 of Lakeside Estates—Faith realized it was preferable to stay awake with her own thoughts than to sleep with demons, so she got up and finished the last of the packing. It wasn’t much. The unit had come fully furnished, so it was really just their clothing and personal belongings, which fit easily into the paratransit van.
The van was from Dennis’s final year, when he’d been in a wheelchair that had to be raised and lowered by the van elevator. He had known he was terminal and had made the rash decision to spend the last of their savings traveling across the country from LA to New York, seeing the sights of America in the midst of a long, sad farewell. Faith had known it was a reckless move on his part, but how did you say no to a dying man?
Most of their mementos were digital photos, but there was one framed shot Faith cherished, showing the four of them lying on a hill of grass somewhere in Kentucky. A friendly local had gamely climbed a tree to take the unusual shot. They were laughing in that moment, their faces full of love. The joy in Dennis’s eyes was palpable. On their unforgettable family trip, they had learned to steal moments like this, to wring every drop of happiness from them.
She carefully wrapped the framed photo in her favorite Dennis artifact—an impossibly soft woven blanket in the traditional McCallum tartan from his native Scotland. For months after his death, the blanket had held his scent, but by now it was faded, and she couldn’t even remember what he’d smelled like.
She placed the wrapped photograph in an old duffel bag. The useless laptop emitted a soft chime, signaling an incoming email.
Faith jumped up to check it.
She had a job interview, first thing in the morning.
“She’s a no-show.” Mason’s mother glared at the clock on the mantel.
“That means she’s out. Fired before she’s hired. If she can’t show up on time for her first appointment, then Faith McCallum is not the one we’re looking for.” Mason raked a hand through his hair. “Damn. She was the last one on the list.” He glanced over the printed résumé, which he’d found so impressive when Brenda sent it to him. “Hasta la vista, Miz McCallum.” He crumpled the page in his fist and tossed it in the wastebasket.
Regina, who had arrived on the late train from the city the night before, got up and walked over to him, trailing her hand across the back of his shoulders. Her high heels clicked on the hardwood floor. She always dressed in expensive suits, as if she had an executive board meeting on her calendar. He found it sexy, but a bit much for a lake house.
“That’s too bad,” Regina said. “She seemed promising on paper.” Gorgeous, accomplished and smart, she was eager to help Mason find someone so they could get back to the city.
He nodded. “Yeah, now what?” He grabbed his phone and tapped out a message for Brenda to cast a wider net as she trolled for the ideal caregiver. “Hey, Reg, how about you stay with Mom? The two of you make a great pair.”
The two women regarded him with such horror and disbelief that he laughed aloud. His mother and Regina got along all right, but the idea of both of them living under the same roof clearly made them both mental.
“To be honest,” Regina said, “I wish I did have the skill set to help you, Alice.”
“If you had the skill set to help me, I’d force my prodigal son to set a wedding date immediately,” said Alice.
Mason kept a poker face, knowing his mother was trying to get a rise out of him.
“We’re in no hurry,” Regina said soothingly. “I always knew I wanted a long engagement.”
“When did you become such an adept liar?” asked Alice. “No woman ever born wants a long engagement.”
“She’s right,” Regina agreed. “I don’t want that.” She genuflected in front of the wheelchair. “It would be lovely to have the wedding right away, but Mason and I want to make sure the timing is perfect for everyone involved. Now, what can I bring you from the kitchen?”
“A vodka martini. Dirty, three olives.”
“Oh. Too early? Make it a Bloody Mary, then.”
“I’m on it.” Regina went toward the kitchen.
“She’s too good to be true,” Alice said once she was gone.
“Yep. That’s how I know she’s a big fat phony.”
“Why do you assume any woman who wants to be with me is a phony?”
“That’s not what I said.”
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