Friday, April 29, 2022

Read an Excerpt from The Courage to Love (The Man in the Arena Book 2) by Taylor Lee



•Ava refuses to share her painful secret driving a formidable wedge between herself and Luke

•The handsome Native American healer is kind, thoughtful and unassuming. Quite a contrast to the commanding, arrogant Sheriff.

•A gruesome hate crime turns the love triangle upside down


Ava Patel stumbled down the stairs of the Marin County Sheriff’s office. The red haze in front of her eyes nearly blinded her, made it likely that she would fall before reaching the bottom step. Her breath was coming so hard it hurt to inhale.  Gasping for air, she clung to the post on the landing. Kicking herself for her weakness, and knowing what she’d see at the top of the staircase, she couldn’t help but look back. 

There she was in all her slutty splendor: Amethyst Capra, the tall voluptuous blonde with the bright streak of purple in her hair, standing on the top step sneering down at Ava. A satisfied smirk curved her collagen-enhanced lips.  Her eyes sparkled with a mix of satisfaction and malice. 

Amethyst’s six inch miniskirt that ended scant fractions below her curvaceous butt revealed long dancer legs.  They would have stopped shows anywhere--particularly in the unassuming northern Minnesota town of Chicadia Falls. Her scanty halter barely covered her bodacious breasts that were straining to be free of the stretching material containing them. It was a costume befitting the self-described town tart.

Amethyst’s taunt rang in Ava’s ears, echoing painfully through her shocked brain.

 “You’re late, Darky Doctor. If you want to be first on the Sheriff’s list, you need to arrive earlier.  You obviously don’t know that the Sheriff likes ‘treats’ with his morning coffee.  But then, if you don’t mind being a variation on ‘Sloppy Seconds’….Go right in. He should have recovered from me by now.”

 Gathering what strength she had, Ava staggered toward her car. She knew she looked like one of the inebriates who’d spent the night in the drunk tank and were dragging themselves back to the land of the living.  She clung to the door handle of her ridiculously out of place Prius and willed herself to shut out the sound of Amethyst’s triumphant laughter. Closing the car door, Ava sank into the leather seat and rested her head against the steering wheel, hoping that by pressing her eyes against the rim of the wheel she could obliterate the memory of Amethyst coming out of Luke’s office. It was useless.  The image was imprinted on her brain.  Ava acknowledged with a groan that it would likely be there for life. Fortunately the din in her ears somewhat muffled the sound of her nemesis’ taunting words—if not the impact.

Glancing up, Ava tried to blot out the sight of Amethyst sauntering to her rust-pocked Ford sedan, swinging her long leather shoulder bag jauntily in concert with the audacious sway of her curvy hips. Ava fought to remember why she’d come to Sheriff Luke Lang’s office at eight o’clock on a beautiful summer morning. She forced herself to mentally retrace her halting steps down the long corridor to Luke’s office.  She felt again the excitement that she could never contain at the thought of seeing the commanding man, the man who’d taken over her heart and her mind—not to mention her body. She remembered her trepidation, knowing that she was about to change his life forever.

This morning she’d answered the question that had been haunting her.  Filling her with a contorted mix of excitement and dread.  She’d known the answer for six weeks.  In truth, she admitted that at some intuitive level she’d known the very night it happened.  She was pregnant.  With Luke’s baby.  She shook her head, acknowledging the truth. No one else could be the father.  There was one man and one man only in her life. The problem that Amethyst had painfully underscored was that far from being the only woman in Luke’s life, Ava was one of many. 

Ava wasn’t a fool.  She knew that Luke didn’t love her. No matter how extraordinary that propitious night had been, the aftermath underscored how fruitless it was to think that Luke could ever be a one woman man.  She’d promised herself that she could live with a broken heart as long as she never let him invade her soul.  She’d kept the agonized promise to herself until two nights ago. A pitifully inept novice sailor, she’d foolishly sailed her brand new Hobie Cat into the most ferocious storm Whitefish Lake was capable of. She could have… should have drowned.  But Luke had seen her go overboard and rushed to her rescue.

Ava knew at the time that raw adrenalin was the primary cause of the sexually torrid aftermath of her near drowning.  It was adrenalin that stoked Luke’s fear and then his anger at what she’d done. No doubt the combustible combination of adrenalin and testosterone catapulted his passionate reaction to the dangerous event… and to her. He’d threatened to spank her, punish her for her foolish escapade. Even now she was stunned, remembering her response to Luke’s scandalous warning.  She’d actually taunted him.  Dared him to make good on his threat. That he did in ways she never could have imagined, Ava was sure, would fuel her erotic dreams for years to come.  At least she’d been sure of that until today.

Seeing the positive result on the test stick this morning, she knew that she had no recourse but to tell Luke that not only had he saved her on that passionate night, but he’d also saved their baby.  Wrenching herself back to the present, Ava shuddered at the irony. In the space of two days, with his willing accomplice Amethyst, Luke had saved her… and then, once again, destroyed her.

Fleeing Amethyst, she’d nearly run into Sgt. Charlie Masterson, Luke’s right hand man, and a friend of hers. Charlie caught hold of her and asked why she was leaving without seeing the Sheriff.  When she could only shake her head unable to answer, he asked if he could give Luke a message from her.  Ava had responded the best that she could. 

She’d said, “No, Charlie.  It’s… nothing.  Nothing that concerns Sheriff Lang.”

Even as she spoke she wondered if God would strike her down dead for telling a lie, a childhood threat that had kept Ava from uttering a lie until she was thirteen years old.  But now the lie and the potential strike from on high were pitifully insipid.  The truth that she would live with was far worse.  Even now it was excruciatingly painful to admit that her predicament ultimately wouldn’t involve Sheriff Lang. Leave it to Amethyst to bring Ava’s pipedream smashing to smithereens.  Ava forced herself to ignore the memory of Luke’s lips on hers, his passionate whispers in her ear, telling her how beautiful she was, how much he craved her body, how much he longed to be with her.  Unfortunately, the only words that she’d never heard him say, were “I love you.”



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