I’m taking some time off of social media topics today to toot my own horn. #shameless #plugging if you will. I’ve worked really hard on this book and I haven’t posted any of my writing in a while. So today I’m posting the final version of the prologue to What the Heart Wants. I still have the other version here if you want to compare how far I’ve come. My mentor challenged me on this rewrite #thatishowsherolls. After a few attempts, we’re both happy with what has developed. A special thanks to my critique partner for giving it to me straight, encouraging me, and for all that she does and is doing. Please, let me know what you think.
The crescendo of his heartbeat rose in his ears. It began as a low, deep sound of a bass drum accelerating to the medium tone of the tom-tom. It drowned out all other sounds of that glorious day, like the cheerful song of the spring robin. His ears turned deaf to every audible vibration, including the wind rustling through the branches of the willow tree.
Why couldn’t he hear the wind? It tussled his long, russet hair with each gust. The strands played against his stubbled jawline. His conscience blocked the tree, the birds, and the wind from his mind. Nothing would deter him from his fascination with her.
His eyes coursed over her delicate features. Her chestnut-colored curls. Her high cheekbones. Her full, voluptuous lips…
To call her beautiful would be unjust. While her beauty compared to that of Aphrodite, her soul radiated like an angel. Soft. Sweet. Heavenly. The breeze blew her hair from the nape of her neck, the ringlets swaying in the air. A scent of sandalwood rushed through his nose, intoxicating him.
Her skin, a soft shade of peaches-and-cream, glistened every time gilded sunrays broke through the swaying branches of the weeping willow.
When he gazed down into her eyes, his breath caught. He tried swallowing the lump in his throat but his constricted chest held it in place. Her warm, inviting eyes were a rich shade of gold weaved with flecks of olive green. The alluring set of amber jewels were looking past him to the broken, shale wall surrounding the estate.
Something about the lush green grass and smell of roses tugged at him. Wasn’t I about to… God, she’s beautiful. He ignored his duties. Why shouldn’t he? Nothing could be more important than this moment under the willow tree with her his golden-eyed angel.
His eyes searched hers for proof that she sensed the same magnetic force drawing them together. A force that powerful was irrefutable as it continued to call to his soul.
He waited for her to meet his gaze, shifting his weight from one foot to the next. The motion captured her attention. Her mesmerizing eyes focused back on his face. He released his breath, exhaling a slow sigh as he watched a smile spread across her lips. Those lips.
He inhaled deeply, taking in her scent. It made his heart hasten when he imagined them pressing to his, allowing him to taste their sweetness.
She stepped in, closing the distance between them. Her eyes descended from his, lingering on his broad shoulders. He watched in silent awe as her arm stretched toward him. When her gentle fingers touched his skin, a line of fire coursed through every nerve, wrapping him in a cloud of desire. He fought against the groan creeping up from his lungs as her fingertips stroked his skin.
Her eyes wondered further down his body, focusing on his taut muscles.
In the passing breaths, his eyes fell to her tiny waist and well curved hips. Every single inch—a masterpiece.
He could no longer withhold his desire to touch perfection. Reaching out to her, he hesitated for a heartbeat but then pushed his fears aside. His hand caressed her neck, sweeping slowly up skin as soft as rose petals until he cupped her cheek. She closed her eyes, her breath releasing a gentle sigh.
Her subtle reactions affected his soul. He knew women, but not like this. They’d never found the secret chamber that held his heart; never came close to touching it. But this beautiful angel in front of him—she knew. She’d not only found his heart, she brought it to life, made it race like a river rushing through a canyon. He wanted her more than a rose wanted sunlight, needed her more than the air he breathed.
A smile played at the corner of her lips. She leaned her cheek against the warmth of his hand. “Can you feel it?”
Her voice was like a whisper from heaven. He reveled in it. Wanted to bottle it up and keep the sweet sound with him wherever he went.
She opened her eyes and ran her hands up his arms as he enveloped her in an embrace. Her fingers continued until they met at the back of his neck, interlacing at the nape. His hands met at the small of her back, where they stopped and gathered her dress. The look in her eyes tugged his heartstrings. The way her brow arched.
Say it. Tell me what your heart wants. I need to hear you say it.
Her lips parted, the words playing there as she stared into his eyes. He braced himself, waiting for those words he wanted to hear. His heart no longer raced. It pound so fiercely that he thought it would beat out of his chest.
His beautiful angel stood on her toes, her lips brushing his in a soft sweeping motion. God yes!
To his dismay, the ecstasy that enveloped them ended. Their sweet moment stolen like a priceless jewel. The heat of her body, of their passion, tore from his soul as she pulled away.
His disappointment consumed him. Not again.
The tears forming in her eyes glistened as a sunray filtered through the dangling branches. Her bottom lip quivered.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice cracking between words as he brushed a tear from her cheek. He feared that he already knew the answer, yet was still desperate for her to prove him wrong.
“You have to wake up, my sweet” she said, her voice urgent, desperate.
“I’m not asleep. How can I wake up if I’m not sleeping?” He reached for her, wanting to pull her against him, to bask in the warmth of her touch.
She took a step back, tears sliding down her face, lips turning down in a frown. “You must.”
“No,” he begged. “Don’t go. Stay here with me.” His eyes, heavy with sadness, pleaded with her to remain.
His voice betrayed him when nothing more than a whisper passed over his lips. “Stay.”
He reached out to her. This time, when he touched her skin, or what should have been her skin, the warmth was gone. There was nothing. No!
His heart squeezed. He tried again, reaching for her, but his fingers caressed nothing but air. His eyes widen. God, no…
Her image weakened. She reached her hand toward his face, as though to stroke it. He couldn’t feel the warmth, just a gentle breeze blowing through his hair.
Though her silhouette faded, her voice carried once more to his ears. “Wake up. Please, wake up …”
His heart grew strained with disappointment as the scenery slowly blurred and vanished. He kicked his legs, trying to ground himself as he tumbled into an abyss of darkness. He searched for something to catch him, to stop his descent into black. Nothing was there.
Suddenly, his body jerked into a sitting position as he gasped. His eyes burned. Bright light reflected off the walls surrounding him.
My angel. He gazed around the room with desperate eyes. Where is she?
His heart pound fiercely as he searched the room. She has to be here. He wanted to scream her name, wanted to beg her to return, but couldn’t. Her name escaped him.
The room spun, or at least he thought it did. Maybe it’s my head. Squeezing his eyes shut, he grabbed his head, held it, and tried focusing again. Inhaling deeply, he smelled the sweet scent of sandalwood. Where the hell…
He opened his eyes again, taking in beige colored walls; an oak chest of drawers; clothes strewn across the floor. When his eyes settled on a pair of black, snakeskin boots, his heart panged. Of course. I’m here. But that means—
He was home, in his bedroom, alone. He fell against the bed as the realization burned into his stomach. Another dream … it was just another dream.
There was no golden-eyed angel.
The only thing that remained from the dream was the wicked headache. As much as he wanted to cover his head and never leave the bed, the aspirin in the bathroom called to him.
As he stood, his foot crunched a can that lay on the carpet. His eyes passed over a shimmering blue and white beer can. An empty liquor bottle lay on its side, just two feet away.
No wonder my head is pounding. A hangover. I have a damn hangover.
He laughed, thinking about why he began drinking in the first place. To forget her.
What a joke. Not all the liquor in the world could erase her image from my mind.
Staring aimlessly, his heart grew weary, knowing he would never truly feel skin as soft as satin, never look into eyes as rich as marmalade. His soul grew restless.
She would never be his salvation, only his tormentor.