Thursday, December 13, 2018

Aftereffects VBT

Blurb:
What could be more terrifying than falling in love with the person who is your good place? Maybe realizing just a smidge too late that there can be dire consequences to becoming your best friend’s lover.

The lives of Keir Stevens and Selene Georgiou serendipitously collide midspan on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, one jarring step ahead of fate. He’s a temporary transplant from Seattle; she’s facing the biggest career opportunity of her life. They have no notion of the common thread that connects them.

As they come to discover they share a similar adversity, their relationship evolves from a fun and frivolous infatuation with nowhere to go into a true friendship with sincerity, humor, and respect at its heart.

It’s awfully hard not to fall in love with that—even if you’re pretty darn certain you shouldn’t.

But when love and friendship suffer their own devastating collision—their interests brutally conflicting—the consequences of blurring the lines between the two suddenly become real. In the end, which one will be the stronger? And more importantly, can either survive?

AFTEREFFECTS is a standalone dual POV adult contemporary romance about the things we choose in life out of all the things that are beyond our choosing—a tale of love and friendship, of time and how we spend it, and of the inner wars that ultimately show us what really matters.



Excerpt:
Selene lifted her left hand and touched my face with her palm. It was definitely a new kind of closeness for us, at least sober—one to which I gave no resistance. Her skin felt warm and smooth as she stroked my cheek gently. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her face. My God, she was stunning. This close, I absorbed the perfection of her features, of her delicate earlobes. A tiny piece of dark hair curled around the back of one.

The air between us seemed to crackle quietly, and I sat frozen in my seat in case any movement might cause her to draw away.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you clean-shaven,” she said softly.

I could feel her breath, too, warm against my face. My fingers itched to reach up and touch her mouth, to feel whether it was as soft as I remembered. My heartbeat picked up not only faster but harder, like it was punching me from the inside.

Had a goal been scored just then I wouldn’t have noticed. Nothing could have pulled me from that trance. I didn’t hear anything going on around us. Not the crowd, not the announcer, not the buzzer.

Only her.

Only her voice and her eyes and her breath. The memory of her mouth.

“Do you have a preference?” I asked roughly. I had no idea what possessed me to ask her that.

No, that’s a lie. That other side of me wanted to be everything she wanted and would have shaved every single day if that’s what she asked of me.

“No.” Her beautiful lips curved slightly upward. “How could I choose between James Bond and Indiana Jones?”

Her palm came to rest on my jawline, and I took a deep breath. When had my wanting her turned into this painful kind of ache?

Under the sanctity of her expression, I had a sudden and startling thought that maybe we could write a different ending for the two of us. One I hadn’t yet considered. Maybe there was a different story we could tell in which the things we had to offer would be enough.

There was obviously more to our relationship than just friendship, and perhaps we could figure out how to have something more than what we’d allowed ourselves. After all, there was care and respect at the heart of everything we did together. That had to mean something.





An Aftereffects Holiday Epilogue

Keir

“Okay, so what’s the emergency?” Dan asked me, sliding into the booth on the opposite side and holding up a finger to signal the waitress. “Wait, did you order?”

Jamie shook his head. “Not yet, mate.”

It was just barely six o’clock on a Thursday evening at The Rose & Crown, and the happy hour crowd was already humming.

“What can I get for you?”

“Two Plinys,” Dan told her, gesturing between us. “Guinness for this guy,” he added pointing to Jamie, “and . . . what?” he asked Marcus. “A Shirley Temple? Extra cherries?”

“You’re a riot, grandpa,” Marcus mumbled. “I’ll have an IPA.”

Dan leaned back with his arm draped across the booth and turned to me again. “All right. So what’s got you stress-eating bar nuts? And by the way, I wouldn’t do that,” he cautioned, pointing at the cashew I’d just picked up. “Marcus licks his fingers and double-dips.”

I tossed the cashew back onto the table, and on a gusty exhale told them, “I need your help. I still haven’t figured out what I’m giving Selene for Christmas.”

I could almost hear the screeching of brakes that ripped through the bar at my admission. Time stopped. Conversation went silent. Somewhere, birds probably fell from the sky. Three pairs of eyebrows shot up and there was a subtle shifting of bodies around our table.

“You do know it’s—” Dan turned his wrist and the screen on his watch lit up with the date. “December 13th?”

“I’m well aware,” I answered, leaning forward and dropping my head into my hands. Apparently, this situation was as bad as I imagined. “I’ve been running through all these ideas but nothing feels right. It’s our first Christmas together, our first real gift-giving occasion. I can’t blow this.”

Like an act of divine holiday magic, our waitress returned with alcohol and lots of it, materializing through the crowd and setting our drinks down on coasters in front of each of us. As we descended into our glasses, there was a general consensus around the table that, yes, I was totally screwed if I blew this.

“Okay, here’s the plan: You need a gift,” Dan said to me. “We’ll just do some research.” He pulled out his phone and opened the Google app. “What. Women. Want. 2018,” he mouthed, typing. “Here,” he said pointing to his phone. “Good Housekeeping’s 37 best gift ideas for the woman in your life. Number one, face cream.” He frowned. “Number two, a life planner.” He paused and looked up. “What the hell is a life planner?”

“Dude,” Marcus said sitting forward and holding up his hands. “Isn’t the correct answer to this problem always jewelry? We’re done here.”

“Are you both mad?” Jamie asked them. “Keir cannot give his fiancĂ© a generic gift on their first Christmas. Keir, my mate, you need to come up with something that demonstrates some thought. Some individuality.”

A sinking feeling took hold in my gut. I knew he was right, of course, which is why I hadn’t slept in a week and my brain was practically melting in my head. “What was the first gift you gave Mel?”

“Ah,” he said, nodding. “I wrote her a song and performed it for her in front of thirteen hundred people at The Fillmore.”

My heart immediately bottomed out. I could only look at the bastard and blink.

“I suppose that’s not much help,” he added quickly and with an apologetic wince.

“Not much,” I affirmed. “What about you?” I glanced over at Dan, who looked up from his phone where he was still scrolling the list for something better than face cream.

“I surprised Sarah with a piano. And above it, I hung a portrait of her I’d taken on our first date. She says she thinks it was the exact moment we fell in love.”

Groaning, I rubbed a palm over my mouth. My stomach felt twisty and gross. I was so screwed.

“You know the funniest part of all of this?” Marcus chimed in next to me, arms resting on the table and a wicked grin on his face. “The girls are probably sitting around right now, having this exact conversation. And what you just heard from these saps,” he said nodding his chin at Dan and Jamie, “that’s your measuring stick.”

“You are such a dick right now,” I told him, laughing despite the fact that I was this close to throttling his scrawny throat.

“Yeah, well, what did you expect?”

“Maybe that your seven-year friendship with my bride-to-be might be of some small use in this situation.”

“I don’t know shit about women.” He said it lightly, but his expression suggested there was something tighter beneath it—and nothing he would ever say to me.

Silence engulfed us again and I glanced around, feeling like the weight of every Christmas wreath and blinking light and Ho, Ho, Ho was sitting heavily on my chest. 

“Well . . . I did have one idea.” I was hesitant to even mention it because for all I knew it was just as terrible as giving Selene face cream. “I was thinking I could take her to Vegas.”

My eyes flickered over to Dan, measuring his reaction. For several beats, he said nothing. Then slowly I watched his expression go from blank to wide-eyed as my meaning dawned. “Elope?”

I winced. “It’s bad. Right?”

Jamie laughed. “Depends how do you feel about castration at the hands of your mother-in-law?”

“No castration required,” I said holding up my hands. “We’d still do the whole wedding thing exactly as planned. I’m not talking about cancelling that. I’m talking about something private just for us. We wouldn’t even have to tell anyone, if she didn’t want to.”

God, was this a terrible idea? I hadn’t actually said it out loud until just now, and the response around the table was not reassuring.

Selene and I joked often about eloping because the wedding planning was reaching comedic levels of absurdity. But in truth, I think I was only partly joking. Yes, a part of me was excited to proudly holler my love for her in front of a big crowd of everyone we knew. Look! Look what I got! But there was another part of me that only needed her, and that part of me was happy to whisper my commitment between us in this small, quiet space where only we existed because that was the only place that really mattered.

“Being married to Selene is the only thing I want. Just to stand before her and pledge myself to her and promise her a life together with love and respect at its core. Giving her anything else right now just feels like I’d be swinging at a curve.” A sure miss.

I let go of a deep breath and lifted my glass, feeling mildly defeated and, honestly, not even caring if my crew gave me a mountain of shit for being so whipped. I deserved it. Truthfully, I relished the feeling that I’d finally been claimed.

But instead they were conspicuously silent for what felt like an eternity. Dan and Jamie exchanged a brief look. I couldn’t tell what any of them were thinking and it drove me crazy.

“Damn, Stevens,” Marcus finally said, shaking his head. “You certainly do know how to throw down when you want to.”

I sniffed out a laugh. “So, is that a thumbs up or a thumbs down, asshole?”

Marcus shrugged. “She already said she’d marry you, so what the hell? I say do it.”

Dan hummed thoughtfully, considering this. He was, himself, a newly wed. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think I agree with Marcus. My wedding day was one of the best days of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But you do get pulled in so many directions. It would’ve been nice to have a moment to just let it all sink in and enjoy the significance of what we’d done. So yeah, I get it. I think Selene would, too.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.” He held my gaze and I felt a knot loosen in my chest.

“I agree. It’s brilliant,” Jamie added with a grin. “And if nothing else, you’ll get a whole weekend away together—some great meals, a few shows. What do you have to lose?”

A surge of relief flooded my system and I couldn’t fight the smile that exploded across my face. I felt a little shaky and slightly euphoric at the thought that this crazy idea might not be so crazy after all—that my girl might hear me out and not think I was a total lunatic for wanting the future we envisioned together to start, well, . . . now.

“Thanks,” I told them, and I couldn’t make my cheeks go back to their normal shape. I thought they just might stay like this forever.

“Okay, then,” Jamie said, “the only question remaining is, D’ya need a few witnesses?”



a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.



Author Bio and Links:
LJ Greene is a self-professed obsessive multi-tasker who writes really boring stuff by day and lets her inner romantic fly by night.  This California native is married to the most amazing man and has two beautiful children, not old enough to read her books.   (They probably wouldn’t want to anyway on account of the “Ew, gross” factor.) She’s an avid reader of all genres with an embarrassingly large ebook collection, and a weird penchant for reading the acknowledgements at the end of a novel.  She's also a music lover with no apparent musical talent, a travel enthusiast, and a cheese connoisseur. 

Buy links:
Amazon    |    iBooks    |    B&N    |    Kobo


Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for having me and for giving me a fun excuse to write a holiday epilogue! I'm so grateful to blogs like yours that allow indie authors a place to be heard and discovered. It's so vital to us. Happy holidays! LJ

    ReplyDelete
  2. My family and I all appreciate you bringing to our attention the book description of another great book to read. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Who is your favorite author of all time? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a tough one because I read like it's going out of style! The first author who really changed my perception of what reading should be like was Marion Bradley. Her book, The Mists of Avalon, was one the first books I read as a (young) adult, and it changed my entire perspective on reading for pleasure. That book instilled in me a love - a passion, really - for reading, for strong female characters, and for the power of the written word. I still own the paperback I bought more than 25 years ago. In addition, many authors have left an imprint. I suppose I would have to say Leon Uris, Pat Conroy and Diana Gabaldon rank among my all time favorites for the beauty and complexity of their characters. In my genre, Christina Lauren for the humor and heart that lie at the core of every great romance. I love a happy ending. And I love real characters that reflect and echo the realities - good and bad - of world that we actually live in.

      Delete
  4. Sounds intriguing hope check it out soon

    ReplyDelete