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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Second Chances: A Love Anthology


Second Chances

A Love Anthology

Five Sweet Romances

By
E.A. West
Pravina Maharaj
Patricia Kiyono
Kathy Bosman
Leenna Naidoo



Blurb:

When a couple falls in love, sometimes their relationship doesn’t work out and they part ways. One day they may meet up again. The sparks fly. The hurtful memories rise to the surface. Is it possible for them to heal the rift between them and start all over again? Can they have a second chance at love? Or is it too late? Find out in this feel-good anthology of five unique, sweet romances. All proceeds go to charity: HIC Children's Home, Newcastle, South Africa.

Separate Story Blurbs, Taglines and Author Info:

E.A. West

Escaping the Past:

When Felicia Coronado’s soon-to-be ex-husband kidnaps her daughter on a remote mountain road, she must rely on the assistance of a group of soldiers in the area for a training exercise. She’s stunned to discover the soldier in charge is the high school sweetheart she never thought she would see again. Lieutenant Mark Benson never stopped loving Felicia, even after she dumped him before their senior prom. Now, six years later, he learns the truth behind why she left him. Can he forgive her for the past and give her a chance for the future once her divorce is final, or will he help find her missing daughter and leave Felicia behind?

Tagline: True love never dies, but can it overcome mistakes of the past?

Writer of: Author of sweet and inspirational romance.


Pravina Maharaj

Giovanni’s Christmas Bride:

Italian billionaire Giovanni Ferruccio had sworn never to forgive Brennan Shaw for breaking off their engagement and marrying his cousin Anthony.

Five years later, when fate delivers a widowed Brennan and her young son Luca to Giovanni's door, he is determined to discover the reason for Brennan's betrayal. But after one too many kisses under the mistletoe, Giovanni realises he can’t let go off Brennan and wants to make her his Christmas bride.

Tagline: Mistletoe Magic. Two Passionate Hearts. A Christmas Wedding to Remember.

Writer of: Passionate, contemporary romances.


Patricia Kiyono

Flowers for Maddy:

Maddy Benning’s life has been full of missed opportunities. She’s had to settle for commuting to local colleges rather than attending the school she and her high school boyfriend had chosen, and spend all her time either working or taking care of her mother. She’s resigned herself to a life void of excitement and love. Meeting Jake again opens new hurts—but can it lead to new joys?

Jake Warner gave up his teaching position to return to his Lake Michigan hometown and care for his father. But it looks like the job is more than he can handle on his own. While looking for appropriate care, he runs into a girl from his past. Years ago, their parting had been painful. But was there more to the story than he’d realized?

Tagline: Sometimes the roadblocks in your life aren’t as high as they seem.

Writer of: Patricia Kiyono writes both contemporary and historical sweet romance. She likes to incorporate the lakeside setting of her West Michigan home in her contemporary works.


Kathy Bosman

His Treasure:

Bridget is the new chairlady for the Treasure Hunter’s Club, a hobby she’s taken up to fill the loneliness after breaking up with her boyfriend Dale. The magic has left her life too, or so it seems, because the magic matchmaking photo album told her Dale was the right man for her. So when her ex-boyfriend walks into the club meeting, she’s barely able to make her speech. Dale can’t believe he’s in the same room as the woman who broke his heart and made him lose interest in dating. Being together for a night might be too painful to bear.

Tagline: What Treasure from the past will Dale find?

Writer of: Sweet contemporary and fantasy romances and occasionally other genres like fantasy or women’s fiction.


Leenna Naidoo

Three Million’s a Crowd

Munro Calliston needs to win a few million. Vivian Francis needs to win back Munro. The TV reality show Treasure Seekers seems the perfect route to a win-win situation...But can two so very wrongs ever make things right?

Tagline: 3 Million eyes, 2 desperate hearts, 1 second chance.

Writer of: Leenna usually writes contemporary suspense with a dash of fantasy and romance. She also dabbles in science-fiction & fantasy, and blogs at www.leennanaidoo.wordpress.com


Story Excerpts:

Escaping the Past

Rain poured from the dark clouds, making the winding mountain road slick. Felicia Coronado’s hands tightened on the steering wheel as she fought back panic. Ramon’s truck hugged the rear bumper of her car. Speeding up didn’t increase the distance between them; it only made the car harder to control. She glanced in the rearview mirror, meeting her five-year-old daughter’s frightened brown eyes.

“Mama, why is Papa chasing us?” Raquel’s quivering voice sent an arrow straight through Felicia’s heart. Her daughter had already endured far too much fear in her young life.

“I don’t know, mi hija.” Yes, you do! He wants to kill you and take your daughter to Venezuela for who knows what horrible reasons. She would never let that happen. No matter what it took, she would protect her daughter from Ramon’s cruelty.

Felicia slowed to round a curve, and Ramon fell back. Her relief was short-lived as the road straightened again. She glanced back in time to see his pickup truck shoot forward.

“Hold on, Raquel!”

She barely had time to brace herself before the truck connected with the back of her car. Raquel screamed as the car lurched forward, but Felicia couldn’t reassure her. She had all she could do to keep the car on the road. Ramon rammed the back of her car again, sending it sliding across the wet pavement. A huge tree loomed ahead. She fought the wheel, but it was no use. The car slammed into the tree, crushing the right front corner. A second impact from behind smacked her head against the steering wheel, and blackness crept into the edges of her vision.

“Mama!” Raquel’s shrill voice penetrated the fog in Felicia’s mind.

Before her sluggish thoughts could form into any kind of reassurance, Ramon had wrenched open Raquel’s door and was pulling the girl out of her booster seat. Felicia tried to protest, but Raquel’s screams drowned out anything she said. Adrenaline rushed through her veins, and she forced her way out of the car as Ramon carried her daughter away.

“Ramon! Let her go!” Felicia shouted into the storm. “You have no right to take her from me!”

He turned his cold eyes on her. “This child is my daughter. I have every right to take her.”

“You’re breaking the restraining order! Give Raquel back to me or you’ll face more charges.”
Ramon laughed, his expression full of hate. “Stupid woman. You think a piece of paper and empty threats will stop me from taking my daughter with me? You are a bigger fool than I thought.” He picked up his pace as he headed for the woods.

“Ramon!” Felicia’s scream didn’t stop him, and she watched helplessly as he disappeared into the forest with her daughter in his arms.


Giovanni’s Christmas Bride

She looked up, stunned to see the man she’d never thought to face again. Not after five bitter years.

Giovanni Ferruccio. Italian billionaire, philanthropist and jet-setting playboy.

At thirty-five, Giovanni was one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. Brennan had followed his life and career through the media. She knew he was never short of female company—often seen with actresses, models, and wealthy heiresses.

As Giovanni’s dark gaze locked with hers, Brennan forgot to breathe. Her mind flew to ten years ago when they’d first met. She’d been a twenty-year-old waitress, paying her way through college. Giovanni had been twenty-five with a steely determination to succeed in the world of business. He’d just launched his first Information Technology Company and was in the process of expanding his business when they’d met.

Brennan’s life changed forever when Giovanni had stepped into the café where she worked. It was five days before Christmas on a snowy Saturday afternoon. Giovanni had insisted she sit with him while he had a coffee and pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Her boss at the café was shocked when Giovanni laid down a bundle of notes.

“I’m buying more than your food and drink. I’m also buying the company of your pretty waitress,” Giovanni had told the man, with an air of arrogance.
If it were any other customer, Brennan would have been incensed by such audacious behaviour but immediately there was something about Giovanni that tugged at her. It was more than his darkly handsome features or his Italian accent. She’d served many handsome men at the upmarket Manhattan café, but none had made her pulse race.

Intrigued by the stranger, Brennan agreed to sit down with him, and thereafter Giovanni began visiting the café often, always paying a small fortune for Brennan to sit with him. Their encounters fed the gossip mill of the restaurant staff and had the female staff mooning over Giovanni’s sex appeal.

Soon Giovanni began seeing Brennan away from the café. Brennan suddenly in a relationship with Giovanni discovered she was helplessly in love. She graduated from college and Giovanni was blazing his way through the business world. Then one Christmas Eve, Giovanni stunned her by proposing. It had been the happiest moment of Brennan’s life. But her happiness was short-lived because ten months later she broke off their engagement. Her world had come crashing down around her ears. Giovanni was left gutted by their breakup and Brennan’s heart broke into a million tiny pieces.

“Brennan Shaw,” Giovanni said, the deep timbre of his voice sending a shiver down Brennan’s spine and jerking her back to the present.

“Welcome to my home,” he added, sounding anything but welcoming.

“I didn’t know you lived here.” Brennan dragged her gaze away from Giovanni’s face. Luca stared at his mother with wide, dark eyes, sensing the tension in the room.

Giovanni entered the room, his gaze never wavering from Brennan.

She bit her lip self-consciously. She knew she looked a mess. Her usually lustrous honey-blond hair hung limp and damp, her woollen dress smudged with mud was molded to her thin frame, and her face lined with exhaustion.

Drawing breath, Brennan met Giovanni’s obsidian gaze. “Please, can I use your phone? I’d like to call a taxi,” she said, grateful that her voice was steady.

“I insist you stay the night,” Giovanni said like the spider might have said to the fly.

Brennan gritted her teeth. “Thank you but I’d rather go home.”

“It’s not a night to be out with a child,” Giovanni pointed out, glancing at Luca.

Brennan wanted to scream with frustration. How could fate be so cruel to deliver her on the doorstep of the man who hated her most?


Flowers For Maddy

Jake nearly stumbled. He’d just been thinking about needing someone who’d understand, and now Maddy was here, going through the same struggles. Someone had been listening.

She turned her soft gaze to him. “What about you? I heard you and your choirs have been winning all sorts of awards. I even saw you and your group perform on one of the morning news shows.” She frowned. “Is your school on break now, or did you retire already?”

“I resigned. Dad’s got health problems, and someone had to take care of him, now that both Mom and Sarah are gone. In fact, he’s in Rest Haven, too.”

Those expressive eyes glistened. “I’m so sorry, Jake. That had to be so hard, losing half your family in an instant.”

He nodded. “Dad hasn’t been the same since then. I didn’t realize until I came back how much it affected him. It’s like he has no will to live and sees no reason to care for anyone, including himself.”

“I’m so sorry. Your dad was always such a strong man.”

“Yes. I used to hate that about him. Now I miss that strength.”

She opened her mouth, and Jake expected she would say something about her mother, but she clamped her mouth shut and nodded. He decided to change the subject away from parents. “How’s Jeff?”

She frowned then, and he wondered why the question would bother her. “Jeff died eighteen years ago,” she told him.

He stopped in his tracks. “I-I’m so sorry. What happened?”

“Cancer. We were going through fertility tests when they found it. He was gone two months later.”

“Maddy, I’m so sorry.” She’d been a widow all this time?

She nodded her acceptance of his sympathy, and they continued their walk. “Thanks. It was rough, but he made me promise I’d get my degree. He knew how much I’d wanted to go, and he made that possible.”

Jake digested that. “I always thought you’d changed your mind and didn’t want to go to school.”

“Never! I cried for days each time mom told me I hadn’t been accepted.”

“Each time? How many schools did you apply to?”

“U of M, Eastern, and MSU, as well as several private schools. Actually, I was accepted at a few of them, but I couldn’t get any financial help, so I couldn’t afford it. That’s why I went to Community College, and then commuted to Grand Valley.”

He walked in silence for a few moments. What she said didn’t match with his memory of events, but he wasn’t about to argue. “Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I did. I wrote to you.”

“I never got any letters from you.”

“Never? I wrote almost every day. Mom said we couldn’t afford that much postage, so I’d put a week’s worth of letters in an envelope. I wrote for weeks before I finally gave up. “

He ran his free hand through his hair. “I swear I never got those letters. If I had, I would have called you. I could have transferred or taken some time off until we could find a place to go together.”

She pursed her lips together. Did she doubt his sincerity? “I guess it doesn’t matter now. We can’t change what happened, and eventually we both got what we wanted.”

Maybe you did. I settled, and my poor wife knew it.


His Treasure

Since Bridget had told him it was over, he’d turned into some kind of Cookie Monster with women. He chewed them and spat them out within weeks of their first date. Could it be something to do with the gnawing feeling of being not good enough? If Bridget didn’t want him, there must be something intrinsically wrong with him. They’d grown so close in a space of a few months, and then she’d told him “enough.” Her reasons still didn’t make sense. He’d bared his soul to the woman, but she didn’t seem to care.

Swallowing a sudden lump in his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the tension release out of his clenched fists and jaw. He needed to forget her. He’d always been outgoing, had plenty of friends, been rather popular. Some quiet, studious, poetry-obsessed college student shouldn’t destroy his self-esteem so easily. Nope, she wouldn’t. He’d forget about her. He wouldn’t give her the joy of making him miserable.

“Why did you think I’d help you, though?” he couldn’t help asking Ebon. “You know I don’t talk much nowadays.”

“You’re still a chick magnet despite often acting like a forty-year old with six kids and no time for fun.”

He pursed his lips. He didn’t want to be a chick magnet anymore. Why did he have to be born with such good genetics—broad shoulders, tall, good hair, flat abs, “sparkling blue eyes” as the girls would say, and a charming, dimpled smile?

For once, he wished he could be like Ebon, plain and ordinary, medium-height, skinny arms, bit of a paunch, ash-brown hair. He looked at his friend and punched him in the arm.
“Hey, why did you wear that stupid golf shirt again?”

Ebon picked up speed and glared at the traffic in his way. “You don’t look any better in that stupid white T-shirt. What, you think you’re Adonis or something?”

Dale laughed and his mood picked up as Ebon joined him in cackling.

They soon arrived outside a chapel which seemed to be teeming with life. Several women had gathered by the entrance, all young and hip-looking with their skinny jeans, sleeked hair, and shiny lipstick. He sighed inwardly. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

“Too many chicks,” he muttered, but Ebon didn’t hear him. Instead, he headed for the entrance with a confident stride. The guy had suddenly grown in boldness. He’d hide behind Ebon, then.

He desperately tried to spot some male company in the crowd, but nothing. Maybe the guys were inside. How to weave through the crowd of girls? He saw a path and headed straight for it, for once not caring about introducing Ebon to everyone as he usually did. Once inside, he could breathe again and sucked in several calming breaths while looking for a place to sit. He found seating near the back. If Ebon complained, he’d say it was to get a good vantage point to see all the women. The plastic seat wasn’t too comfortable and the buzz from the doorway made his heart-rate climb again, especially seeing that buzz heading inside. He tried to take in the traditional décor of the chapel and imagine he lived in medieval times and had chosen to be a monk. A smile filled his face at the thought. His thirst for adventure wouldn’t make him a good monk, though. But the thought calmed him. Phew, he really had developed a dislike for girls.

The swarm came down the aisle and hovered around, giggling over their seat choices. One of the bees headed for the front and fiddled with the projector set-up. Fuzzy, dark-brown curls at the back of her head caught his eye and his palms grew sweaty. She looked a lot like Bridget. Great. Now the leader of the club was a Bridget look-a-like. Turning around, she scanned the room with all seriousness.

He blinked.

No-o-o!


Three Million’s A Crowd

Before the reunion of Team Academia was complete, another car hurried down the drive and into the car park. Munro took a deep breath and steeled himself. This was Vivian, he knew. The car door took almost a minute to open, Munro imagining Vivian frantically searching for something she’d deemed vital and had forgotten. Or was she losing her nerve and on the verge of thumping the chauffeur on the back and screaming at him to, “Drive! Just drive!” He held his breath. She’d done that before, and Vivian was nothing if not predictable emotionally.

The door opened too fast, swung back alarmingly, and was pushed back again. She was still curvy, her skin that natural olive, looking respectable in her glasses as she stepped out in Capri cargoes, a cotton shirt, and hiking boots. Then she stumbled as a familiar backpack tumbled out behind her. She stuck her head back in the car, and emerged a few moments later with a shawl, closed the door, opened it, then slammed it shut again. She looked nervously around as the car pulled away, before hefting the backpack onto her shoulders, balancing precariously as she did so.

Munro breathed in, not realising he’d been holding his breath, then shook his head. That Woman hadn’t changed a bit. His grin was pure wickedness. He wouldn’t have to create any drama, it still followed her around like a dog on a leash. All he would have to do was drag her along and make sure they were always in the Top Three. He glanced at the other four teams and the sixth team’s lone member – a dumpy man with veldskoene boots who looked liked a miner. He could do it, he had to.

I’d only just arrived and my nerves were shot. Where was Munro? Already breaking out in a sweat, I walked along the burning beige walk towards the odd-shaped tower of Maropeng’s entrance. I’d never visited this museum and discovery centre celebrating palaeontology and astronomy. All the other contestants were standing in the shade of the entrance, making their faces hard to distinguish. I should have worn my sunglasses.

And there he stood, feet apart, arms crossed with his sun-bleached, tousled hair making it appear like he’d just left the beach. He’d always made me feel safe and protected before—my rock in a crazy, unpredictable world. He’d been the one who’d always caught me when I fell, the one person in the world who’d thought I’d been more than enough for him, who’d loved me just as I’d been, though I’d known I was far from perfect ‘cos everyone else told me so.
I couldn’t breathe. My stomach lurched and crashed like an alien trying to birth itself. I gulped in air as I met his smile and brilliant eyes with their hostile expression.

Who was I kidding? I had absolutely zero chance of winning Munro back, not after what I’d done. So why had he agreed to Audrey’s suggestion, even welcomed it?

“You made it,” he said. “No change of mind?”

I cleared my dry throat and tried to unwind my hands from my shawl. “No, of course not.” My voice was a croak. I cleared my throat again. “How are you?”

“Never better.” His eyes were as feral as his grin though his voice was as smooth as ever.

My stomach heaved. I couldn’t figure out if it was fear, lust, or nerves. I dropped my bag and ran off to the ladies, certain my breakfast wasn’t going to make it to the starting line.


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1 comment:

Mary Lowery said...

Great giveaway! Thank you! :)