Georgiana is gorgeous, smart, and independent, and has no need for a romantic relationship at this point in her life.
While attending a professional conference, she finds herself painfully attracted to her new boss, Jackson, and struggles to not give into temptation. When the desire is too much to ignore, they agree to a short passionate interlude there, to never be repeated again once they are home. But can they really stay away from each other?
When Georgiana realizes the universe is plotting to bring them together, she is filled with joy, then it all falls apart.
Can Jack and Georgiana finally accept their love?
Will Jack stay once he knows her secrets?
Will they find their forever together?
Dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, Jackson started up the 5.8 mile trail to the summit. He was looking forward to training outdoors for the Spartan Race, instead of in the city gyms.
Almost a mile in, he paused to adjust his pack before beginning to run again, happy that no one else seemed to be out this early on a Sunday morning. As he picked up his pace, he heard a noise behind him. Glancing over his shoulder and saw a small blonde woman rapidly approaching. As she caught up, she shouted. “Stay left!”
She pointed to the greenery on the right without breaking stride. “Nettles. You’re in shorts, you’ll get stung.”
He swerved left. “Thanks.”
As she ran past him, Jack got a view of her very shapely backside framed in running tights, her fitted tank top highlighting her curves, and a very distinctive tattoo of a star on her left shoulder.
In less than a minute, she was out of sight. Intrigued, he picked up his pace, in an effort to catch up.
As Jackson reached the wooden steps that he had read were just below the summit, he heard her voice again. “Careful. Last step is cracked.”
He adjusted his stride as his foot was about to come down, then slowed even further as he came into the clearing at the top of the mountain. There she was, standing on a large flat rock, water bottle in her hand.
Seeing her face fully for the first time, he smiled. Bright green eyes were framed by blonde hair pulled back in a severe ponytail. She looked at him in curiosity. Jackson felt a surge of physical awareness as he realized how beautiful this stranger was. “Thanks for the warnings.”
Georgiana took a sip of water, feeling herself react in a way that hadn’t happened with any man in a very, very long time. Dark brown hair swept back from his face, contrasting with the blue-gray of his eyes. Even from a distance, it was clear that he would tower over her, but then again, most people did. The well-defined muscles in his arms and legs made it clear that he trained regularly. She wondered who he was, as she knew almost everyone who ran trails in the area. “You’re welcome.”
Jackson snagged water from his pack. “Great trail.” He looked at his watch to gauge his time. “Do you run it often?”
Her brief answer sparked his curiosity, and it suddenly became a challenge to get her to say more. “Is it always this quiet?”
She nodded. “It’s closed for several months in the spring and early summer because the peregrines nest here. But even when it reopens, it’s usually pretty quiet because it’s steep and long. Not everyone’s up for the challenge.”
She stood up and tucked the water back in her trail pack. “When you go down, stay to the inside on the steps. They wobble.”
“Wait. Are you training for something in particular?”
She grinned. “Yes.” She waved to him as she started toward the trail. “Have a great trip down.”
The Stained Glass Window
by Kris Francoeur
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Lilly has the perfect life… she’s beautiful, successful, and financially independent.
Lilly inherits a mysterious house in Vermont. She sees it as her life only getting better. She hires a hot contractor to fix up and restore the grand old house, then meets a gorgeous Italian professor who showers her with attention. What seems like a perfect life can sometimes be masking dark secrets just beneath the surface and old houses have their memories.
Will Lilly do the reasonable, safe, and expected thing and marry the dashing professor or give in to the raw passion of a future with the one man who has not only discovered the secrets of the house, but also Lilly’s?
I stood in my brightly lit kitchen, stirring pasta into the boiling water. I was starved – ready to eat anything.
Yup, this was my life. Forgetting to eat until I was so hungry, I could eat anything. Forget about decent food; had there been chips in the house, I would have choked down a whole damn bag while the water boiled.
Why not eat like a normal person? Well, truth be told, I’m not exactly normal.
Three minutes were left on the timer, and everything else was ready. I had some chopped chicken with spinach, onions, and zucchini ready to be tossed with the pasta and some olive oil. A shower of Parmesan over the whole thing, and it would be a great dinner.
Dinner? Had I eaten lunch? Shit, I bet I didn’t. My last meal had been an early morning cup of coffee and a banana. No wonder I was famished.
Taking a sip of wine, I tapped my foot as I contemplated eating crunchy pasta.
Just then, the phone rang. No, I thought, not now. I wanted food. My phone was on the table, so I couldn’t see the caller ID. Whoever it was, they could wait. If it were important, they would leave a message or call back, buying me enough time to drain my pasta, toss my meal together, and sit down at the table. I could return the call once I got a few bites into me. Finally, Alexa sounded the timer. Once I dumped the pasta into the pan with everything else, I gave it a rudimentary stir and scooped most of it into a pasta bowl.
The blasted phone was ringing again. Still nope. I was grating the cheese over my bowl, ready to take it and my glass of wine to the table. Only then would I see who wanted to talk to me so badly.
At the table, I quickly ground a decent amount of black pepper onto my meal, then a dash of salt. I topped off my wine and took my first glorious bite. It may not have been fancy, and maybe not even that good, but it was ambrosia to me. No, not the gross marshmallow “salad,” but the food of the Greek gods. In fact, it might have been the best meal I had ever eaten, or at least the best since yesterday, when I’d forgotten to eat then too.
Three bites later, I was ready to look at my phone. Two calls in quick succession, and as I looked at the screen, I realized they were both from James Lions. Hmm…Was he going to make my day or ruin it?
Just then, my phone lit up with a text. Lil – call me! It was James again. I took a sip, then hit call. He answered on the third ring. “About time,” he said.
I smiled. James always made me smile. “I was making dinner. You could wait until I’d had a couple of bites.”
“You should treat me better, you know that, right?”
That made me laugh. “I know. You’re a prince to put up with me.”
“Good to hear you say it.”
“Always good to make you happy.” I took another bite, chewed, and swallowed. “So, what’s up?”
Letting Go For Love
by Kris Francoeur
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Dot Murphy is not living the life she had planned.
Married at eighteen to her first love, her life had seemed perfect until the only man she had ever loved was killed in a tragic car accident, leaving her alone to raise their two young boys.
Years later, Dot meets the one man to get under her skin emotionally and hormonally, Sebastian Boone. Boone falls hard for the auburn-haired mom and artist, but she is hesitant to do anything that will take her total focus off her boys.
Can Dot trust Boone enough to allow him to fully be part of her world? Can she love him, body and soul, and still be the mom she wants to be? Is their love strong enough to survive?
Dot sat on the edge of her bed, her feet dangling above the cold floor of her room. Was she really getting up this early on Thanksgiving? God, a day to sleep in as long as she wanted seemed like a fantasy. She was so tired.
Shaking her head, she sighed. “Suck it up, buttercup. This is life. Be thankful you only have to make a pie for today.”
With that, she placed her feet on the ice-cold floor, shivered, and headed to the shower.
Afterwards, Dot poured a cup of coffee, sneaking a glance at the clock on the wall. She had twenty minutes before she needed to wake the boys, so, if she focused, she could get the next section of the application done.
She opened her laptop and clicked on the tab. Seeing the form populate with the work she had already done, she paused. Was it worth even trying? Yes, it was. She needed this grant. She had already made it through the first round of the application process; this was a much more comprehensive version.
She leaned back in her chair, daydreaming for just a moment. If she was awarded the money, she would be able to paint full-time for a whole year; the foundation would pay her enough to cover her bills. And she could paint. She could take advantage of natural daylight instead of limiting herself to those late-night hours when the boys slept. It would be a dream come true.
It was a long shot, but she had to try.
Tomorrow and Yesterday
by Kris Francoeur
Genre: Contemporary Romance
The air was so cold, it was hard for her to breathe. Who was she kidding? It could have been a balmy, sunny day, and she still would have felt the clogging tightness of her throat, air barely able to get through to her lungs…
Delaney Adams isn’t hiding from her past. She doesn’t have a past, at least as far as anyone currently in her life knows. She has a great job, a small but supportive group of friends, and absolutely no romantic life at all. Her life is just the way she wants it. When she meets artist James McDaniels, she is caught between her attraction to him, her distrust of men, and the fear that he will reject her if he ever learns who she really is. But her past secretly stalks Delaney, and eventually it catches up to her. When it all explodes into her current life, they have to figure out what to do.
The air was so cold, it was hard for her to breathe. Who was she kidding?
It could have been a balmy, sunny day, and she still would have felt the clogging tightness of her throat, air barely able to get through to her lungs. So the biting late November air really didn’t matter. The small shards of ice pelleting her face as the storm rolled in didn’t matter either. Neither did the painful cold that was seeping through her jeans from sitting on the stone wall. Her voice trembled. “I don’t even know if you’d still like chocolate or not.” She looked at the sky, so dark and foreboding. “I wish we could have had the time to get to know each other as adults, Jake.”
She sat on the seawall for a long time, looking out at the gray, raging ocean, her heart aching for what could have and should have been. With trembling gloved hands, she pulled the cupcake wrapper off the pastry, stuffing it in her pocket without caring if she dirtied her puffer coat. With tears running down her cheeks, she bit one half of the small pastry, swallowing the chocolate cake with vanilla frosting without really tasting it, or allowing herself any joy from the decadent confection. Then, with an angry motion, she threw the rest of the cupcake out into the ocean, seeing it bob on the waves for just a moment before it sank. “Happy birthday, Jakie. I love you and miss you.”
That Missed Call
by Kris Francoeur
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kat thought the night she met handsome, sexy Alex was just a dream. When he gave Kat his number, asking her to call him, she was over the moon. Sitting in her college dorm, hands shaking with anticipation, she wondered if he really was attracted to her. Was he just being nice to his best friend’s younger sister?
That moment… that call would shift Kat’s future in ways she never could have imagined.
Five years later, a chance encounter brings Alex back into Kat’s life. He makes it clear he’s attracted to her, but Kat isn’t the same naïve college girl when they first met. Struggling with her own attraction to Alex, she isn’t sure she can trust him.
All Alex wants is a future with Kat, but her hesitancy confuses and frustrates him. He knows there are shadows in her life, but nothing could change how he feels about her.
Will Kate be able to trust Alex with her heart and a devastating secret she’s sure will turn him away?
Seated at the table, Alex was pleased to find himself across from Kat. As the boisterous group settled in, he realized Kat knew the other two members of the band well, and even knew one of their dates. He passed a plate of antipasto to her. “How is it that you know Will and Dana, and even Maggie, but not me?”
She smiled, trying to fight the surge of warmth she felt in response to his gaze. He was so gorgeous. Had she ever seen a man this attractive in real life? His dark brown eyes met hers directly, and his chestnut waves of hair nearly reached his shoulders. His skin was tanned, unusual in New York in the winter. Had he been traveling, or did he live elsewhere? She abruptly realized she had not responded. “Will and Pete have been friends for years. I met Dana last year when I was home for Christmas. And Maggie’s mom is friends with ours.”
“So, why haven’t we met?”
“With college and traveling, I haven’t been around much. We must have just missed each other.”
Peter gave a piercing whistle from the other end of the table. “Kat, Alex! Hello, join the rest of us.”
The two laughed and the conversation shifted back to the whole group chatting together.
Over the next few hours, the eight of them ate, laughed, and all but Kat drank numerous glasses of wine. As the evening continued, Alex felt a growing frustration that the group dynamic was thwarting his efforts to have a one-on-one conversation with Kat.
At the end of the evening, Alex extended his hand to shake Kat’s one more time. “It was great to meet you.”
He noticed her cheeks turn pink. Had she enjoyed meeting as much as he did? “Likewise,” she said. Her voice was husky.
“Maybe we’ll see each other again,” Alex offered.
“I’d like that.”
After the guests left, Kat said goodnight and slipped into the guest room. Normally, when she was home on college break, she stayed with her parents, but her dad needed to go out of town on business and her mom had gone along. Kat would have been fine at home alone but staying at Peter’s felt like a true vacation.
Sliding under the covers, she lay in the darkened room, the only light coming from the city lights beyond her window. Who was Alex? And who was his girlfriend? Was it serious? After all, she had not accompanied him tonight.
Kat replayed every second of the evening. Alex had seemed interested and had spent more time talking with her than anyone else, but maybe that was just her impression.
Was he interested or just being polite? Their age gap was obvious but was six years a problem? She wondered what dating an older man was like.
But this was silly, Alex had a girlfriend. Nothing else mattered. She certainly found him fascinating and attractive beyond words, but he was taken. She needed to keep that in mind and not act like such an idiot.
Yeah, right… No matter how much she wanted to pretend otherwise, she was going to fall asleep remembering every word he had spoken and every smile that had lit up his face. His gorgeous face. This was going to be a long, sleepless night.
The next morning, Peter handed his sister a cup of coffee. “You enjoyed last night?”
“Yeah, it was fun.” Kat gazed into her mug, feeling foolish as she thought about the hours she had spent fantasizing.
“Want to do it again?”
His question confused her. “You’re having another dinner party?”
“Remember how I said I’m going to Don Giovanni tonight? Alex’s girlfriend bailed on him again, so we have an extra ticket. Want to go?”
The word girlfriend sucked some of the excitement out of her daydream, but even if she was remotely in the picture, she sure did not seem to be around much. Kat’s eyes sparkled when she thought of the potential the evening held. “I would love to,” she said.
Alex felt jittery when he pushed the doorbell that evening. Luke answered once again, and the two of them walked into the kitchen, laughing about déjà vu.
Just a few minutes later, Kat entered the room as Alex turned around.
He swallowed hard. As he had been talking to Peter and Luke, he told himself last night’s reaction to her probably came out of a lot of good red wine. She was Peter’s baby sister, but no matter how hard he tried to convince himself otherwise, what he saw now was a gorgeous, interesting woman wearing a simple but sexy black dress, her strawberry blonde hair pulled up into a modest twist.
He tried not to stare, but his eyes followed her elegantly plunging neckline as it dove just deep enough to show an observant man that she was braless. The shimmering fabric skimmed curves that would keep most men awake at night. Black stilettos showcased her legs. At a loss for words, Alex tried to think of something intelligent to say.
Kat felt unexpectedly shy. “Hi, Alex.”
Peter looked up from the sink where he was washing his hands. “Hey, isn’t that the dress Jess gave you for Christmas?”
She nodded, uncomfortably aware that she had become the center of attention. “Yeah.”
Luke grinned. “Well, you look fabulous in it. Jess has good taste.”
Kat walked around the center island to hug him. “I’m so glad to see you tonight, Luke. I didn’t think I would see you again before I left. And thanks for the compliment,” she said with a wink.
“It wasn’t a compliment; I was just stating the obvious. Besides, I had to come over— you know how much I love the opera.”
Kat wrinkled her nose. “And Peter.”
He kissed her cheek. “And you.” He grinned at Peter. “He’s pretty okay too, I guess.”
Kris Francoeur, writer and educator, is a grieving mother who has found joy and light again through the practices of conscious and deliberate gratitude, unconditional acceptance and connection with nature. With Master’s degrees in both Counseling Psychology and Educational Leadership, Kris writes with authority about grief and moving forward in our very busy and stressful world. A published author of fiction, Kris has published three romance novels (More Than I Can Say, That One Small Omission and The Phone Call) with Solstice Publishing using her pen name Anna Belle Rose. Kris lives in beautiful Addison County, Vermont with her husband and youngest son, a small herd of alpacas, a flock of chickens and several hives of bees. Kris loves to spend time with her family (including older son, daughter and grandchildren), spending time in the garden and spinning the alpaca fiber for yarn for knitting.
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