Behind Her Smile #TeaserTuesday

Behind Her Smile is coming January 6. Scroll down for a taste!

Behind her Smile FOR WEB

Goodreads Button with Shadow

Synopsis

David and Karolina Morgan have the perfect marriage. He runs a financial empire catering to Miami’s most influential and she is the darling socialite, adored by her husband and all those that meet her.

But underneath the lavish home, expensive car and exquisite jewelry lies a darkness threatening to consume Karolina. The once vivacious fashion design student has become a shadow of herself at the hands of her manipulative husband.

Then, with the flick of a power switch, everything changes. Karolina must learn to fight back when she discovers her entire existence is one big sham, with dire consequences.

Excerpt 

What could we possibly have in common?” I mean to ask him this with disbelief, but Alec hears something else in my tone. Apparently, my reaction displeases him. I have no malice. I’m stunned to think he sees me this way.

Alec assesses me through cool eyes. “Poverty. Ambition. Fortitude. Is that enough for you?” More descriptions I cannot fathom. How could he possibly know I was raised in poverty? And those other things – it’s as if he read my life story. For some reason, he wants to talk about the person my own husband pretends never existed.
My entire body quivers. A torrent of raw, blistering pain slashes through me. All of a sudden, I want to cry.

I’m so lonely.

Being inundated with work in the absence of his brother and father, David is hardly around. And when he is at home, he is more irritable than I realized. Then there are all the society events – none of those women want to be my friend. More like my rivals to have the latest fashion and most expensive jewelry. I haven’t spoken to Dora in months. I feel like I’m losing control of my life.

Alec rises to his feet and fear rushes through me. Don’t go! I want to grab his hand and beg him to stay and tell me all the stories that made him in to the man standing before me.

“I … I don’t know what to say.”

Alec shoves his hands into his pockets. He displays his strong profile when he gazes off toward the rolling mansion on the opposite side of the Coral Gables waterway. “Don’t say anything. You’re right. I shouldn’t be here.”

This time, I find the nerve to act. Before he can stride off into parts unknown, I jump to my feet and grab his wrist. I feel it then. A connection between us that is strong enough to make me yank my hand back in stunned silence. Alec twists his neck to look down at me, his lips pressed together in a firm line.

Whatever I want to confess – whatever I want to ask dies on the tip of my tongue. Staring at the man I once thought to be the devil, I realize the truth. Alec is a mortal just as I am, flaws and all.

“I’m sorry.” I whisper the words to his throat. The words are to both of us.

“You owe me nothing, least of all an apology,” Alec scoffs. Then he stalks across the stone patio without a glance back. Limply, I collapse into the lounge chair unsure of what just happened.

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Behind Her Smile Cover Reveal

I am thrilled to share the Behind Her Smile cover with you today. Karolina’s story is coming to you in January 2016!

Behind her Smile FOR WEB

Goodreads Button with Shadow

Synopsis

David and Karolina Morgan have the perfect marriage. He runs a financial empire catering to Miami’s most influential and she is the darling socialite, adored by her husband and all those that meet her.

But underneath the lavish home, expensive car and exquisite jewelry lies a darkness threatening to consume Karolina. The once vivacious fashion design student has become a shadow of herself at the hands of her manipulative husband.

Then, with the flick of a power switch, everything changes. Karolina must learn to fight back when she discovers her entire existence is one big sham, with dire consequences.

Excerpt 

Tutu. Baby’s Breath. Angelic Musings. Three very different names describing the same thing: a delicate pink varnish that covers my fingernails. Every Monday I have a standing manicure appointment at Breeze. The manicurist, Meryl, and I play the same game. Perched on a black stool, Meryl clucks over my cuticles and then asks, “How about red today? Goes well with your skin tone.” Pretending to ponder Meryl’s suggestion, I gently retract my hands to tug off my engagement ring and wedding band. “Red would match with a gown I’m wearing to a gala next week, maybe we’ll try it then.” But I never switch my request. Pale, newborn baby girl pink adorns my fingernails week in and week out.

Just once I’d like to try something brash like fire-engine or tangerine. However I’ve learned those colors are garish and considered inappropriate by reigning queens of Miami high society. Heaven forbid I make waves.

With a flick or his elegant wrist, David fills the cabin the luxury sedan with the classical music he prefers. Not a single strand of his hair falls out of place. The crisp corners of his heavily starched white shirt peek out from the edge of a black tuxedo jacket sleeve. David’s initials, DM, are stitched on the French cuffs, parallel to the cufflinks he purchased on a trip to the South of France. Every angle on David seems to be chiseled from the image of wealth and sophistication: classic bow-shaped mouth, straight, high-bridged nose and thick lashes framing his ocean eyes. There are no visible imperfections in his appearance. But I know a secret. If it weren’t for the colorist who visits our home each month, flecks of gray would show at David’s temples.

“That dress you’re wearing was quite the sensation.” The aristocratic timbre of his voice works well in seducing potential clients. David Morgan is the driving force being Morgan Financial, a financial planning service catering to Miami’s elite. In a way, the smoothness in David’s voice was one of the first things that drew me to him, too.

David knows exactly how to charm his prey. Complimenting one of my original designs is my biggest weakness. Under his praise, my shoulders straighten. Despite everything, I still blossom under a compliment from David.

All my life I wanted to create beautiful garments. Worked tirelessly in high school to get good grades and earn a scholarship to college. Slung burgers at a fast food restaurant for extra money. Then I got my prize: a partial scholarship to study fashion at the Miami Design Institute. Finally, I went after my dream of becoming the next Coco Chanel.

Life has a heartbreaking way of uprooting dreams, though.

Instead of producing fashion for Bryant Park in New York City, I’ve been relegated to a studio in my home. It’s not so bad, designing for myself. There’s no pressure to please anyone other than my own critical eye. Although my designs aren’t known on the national level, I am able to showcase some of my wears at society events. This evening I’m wearing a gown that took me a month to create – after the initial conception. Silk. Deep plum twisted bodice and a slit in the A-line skirt to allow a large enough range of motion for dancing. It elongates my lean form, displays feminine curves without being overtly seductive.

“Adriana Martinez would like to commission a gown for an inaugural ball,” I murmur. Like my husband, I’ve trained my voice to be gentle, never jarring.

David’s carefully styled eyebrows lift a centimeter – the barest hint of surprise. Adriana is married to Hector Martinez, the king of a real estate empire stretching from Key West to West Palm Beach County. Along with his wife, Hector can be found at every charity gala, important political function and any other events deemed important by Miami society. Now that the former governor of Florida was elected President of the United States, the financially influential Martinez couple will make their move toward Washington, DC. They were big donors to the president-elect’s campaign. Seven figure donors. Adriana wearing one of my original designs to an inaugural event could be a huge coup for what David calls my little hobby.

“Is that so,” David drawls.

“Adriana will be photographed for magazines and blogs. The exposure could do well for Morgan Financial.” Bravely I lift my gaze to David who stares at me impassively. His emotions are getting harder and harder to read with age.

“Hm. Morgan Financial would be a secondary beneficiary. Your design would be the shining star.” David shifts smoothly in the cream leather seat, now one eyebrow cocked in my direction. My heart thuds in my chest. Is he angry because, for once, a sliver of the spotlight may shine on me? “No matter. Let’s see if you can get yourself invited over to the Martinez compound. You’ll present the idea of a couples dinner at our home.”

“Certainly,” I agree. David doesn’t have to convince me on this point. Adriana is one of the most tolerable people David strongly encourages me to engage with socially.

David’s expression doesn’t betray any underlying irritation that Adriana may garner interest in my work. The tension in my chest abates and I sink further into my seat, good posture be damned. David reaches across the armrest dividing the backseat of the car, places a hand on my forearm. “Soon you’ll be receiving requests from all over South Florida. My wife, the fashion designer.” His lips flicker upward as though the prospect amuses him. “I support it, so long as your career doesn’t eclipse the time we spend together.”

“No, of course not.”

The diamond tennis bracelet clasped around my wrist pinches my skin, drawing my attention to the glimmering jewelry. David slips two fingers between my skin and the stones, stroking the delicate skin there.

“Do you remember when I gave this to you?” He asks huskily.

“How could I forget?” With my free hand, I finagle David’s hand to clasp our fingers together.

“Remind me,” he teases.

“It was right before we were married. You had the wedding planner deliver it to the bridal suite with a note.” Briefly, my eyes shut as I remember the emotions of our wedding day five years ago. Heady anticipation coursed through my veins that day. Never in my life had I known that type of excitement. I blink my eyes open and find David watching me raptly. A stoic mask conceals whatever he remembers of our wedding. Forcing myself to smile, I tug his hand to my chest where my heart rate has slowed to a gentle cadence.

“At the time, this bracelet was the most magnificent gift I had ever received. You’ve managed to outdo yourself dozens of times over.” I allow my expression to soften. “No one spoils me like you do, David.”

A cloud of Armani cologne wafts around me as David leans closer. He releases my hand, only to drag his fingertips along my cheek. David presses his warm lips against mine in a short kiss. “You’re the one who spoils me,” he croons.

It happens when David shifts back into his corner of the car, so quickly I’m sure he doesn’t think I notice. But I see it. David’s eyes flicker to the driver, making sure that he’s watching the show. If I’ve learned anything in the five years I’ve been married to David Morgan, it’s that appearances are of the utmost importance.

Exclusive Pressure Point Teaser!

Friends, I’m working hard on Pressure Point and it’s about two-thirds done. I hope. Beta readers, that means I”m coming for you!

As promised, I’ve got a very unedited Pressure Point teaser for you. It’s subject to change and edits, of course.

Remember to add Pressure Point to your TBR. And now for your teaser….

 

***TEASER***

 

“Teresa, that was the best Italian I’ve ever had.” I tell her with a wink.

Bambino, I didn’t do any of the cooking. It was my Stella. She’s pretty talented, hm?” There’s a twinkle in Teresa’s eye, like she knows that her pretty daughter has caught my attention. I school my features neutral, but let my gaze drift over to Stella who is blushing sweetly as she zips her feet into heeled boots.

“It was nothing,” she murmurs.

That blush makes me want to kiss her ten times more than I did when I walked into the house an hour early. She’s got culinary skills, too?

I’ve got to push this beautiful girl out of my head. Fast. The damn universe must be against me today, because I don’t get a reprieve from Stella’s sweetness.

After Teresa kisses us all good bye with a flurry of Italian words I don’t understand, I herd the girls into the backseat of the SUV. Somehow Stella winds up wedged between Zoe and I. The gentle scent of her floral perfume warps around me, rendering me absolutely fucking useless on the short drive from her home to the Chicago Center. Several inches separate us on the bench seat, but if I were to shift just right…

F*** it.

Feigning nonchalance, I stretch my right leg so it rests against hers. Could it be my imagine or did she just suck in a breath? I wonder what it would be like to have her hair wrapped around my fist, her legs tangled with me while I…

“Right, Blake?”

Zoe’s voice is a surprise bucket of Gatorade tossed on your head after winning the Super Bowl. It gives me the jolt I need to stop fantasizing about her friend.

Of Happiness Deleted Scene

I’m deep into editing Of Happiness. One scene isn’t going to make the final cut, but I wanted to share it with you now because I enjoy it.

Without further comment…

 

When I log into the blog hosting site, I find a few new comments associated with my latest blog post that need approval. This morning’s entry was a feature I called “Inside Your Perfect Place,” an attempt to make my blog slightly less anonymous. Last week, I spread the contents of my tote bag across Sean and Luke’s dining room table and photographed them for this entry. Mostly I included work items—journal, writing utensil case, camera, but I also revealed some personal affects like my wallet, cell phone and favorite lip gloss.

I approve a comment from Beth, my virtual design client. Another one is spam, so I delete it, and the last comment comes from someone who identified themselves as HG. With a click of my finger on the mouse pad, the comment light box opens on the page.

HG: My sweet girl wears sex goddess lip gloss? That explains a lot 😉

 I can’t stifle my snort of laughter. Not only does he subscribe to my blog, he takes the time to read and comment on my posts. I don’t approve the comment for the whole world to see, but I do save it in the queue of unapproved comments so I can go back and read it later.

Just like that, my worries about Claire lessen a bit.

Second Of Happiness Teaser

Friends, here’s your next Of Happiness teaser – this bad boy is unedited and subject to change.

“I won’t go another day without you, Edith. Not one.” He delivers the words intently. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

It infuriates me, his arrogance. The fury pushes past the exhaustion and hurt. So easily he dismissed what grew between us because of small obstacles set forth by his sister. Now in the midst of a major evolution in the relationship with my father, he expects me to drop it and focus on him?

“You want me?” I snap. Lifting my hand to where his rests around my neck, I tug it away.

“More than want. You are a necessity to me,” his voice is just as harsh, passionate and he tightens his grip.

“Then show me! Stop running away and keeping me at arm’s length.” My head falls forward as I lose some of my aggression. “Do you realize that tonight I’m working on things with my father? He and I have spent the last three days bulldozing over the ash that was our twisted relationship. Of course in these past three days I’ve ached for resolution but I told myself to put you on hold. Tonight was the night I was going to speak to him through my music. So, yes, you and I need to talk, but not today.”