A Friend in Paris by Jennie Goutet
Friendship between a talented young artist and her handsome French neighbor is a promising start—until it’s not enough.
April promised her dying father she would study painting in Paris, but friends are few, her budget is tight, and her landlord increasingly won’t take “no” for an answer. Then she meets Victor.
Victor is as chivalrous as he is wealthy, and if it weren’t for him, April would have already left the City of Light behind. Too bad Victor still has eyes for his ex-girlfriend, who is now back on the scene and wants to get married.
Although April and Victor swore to remain just friends, magical Paris seems to weave a different spell. The more their connection deepens, the more it becomes difficult to keep a proper distance. Or to remember why they should.
Penelope peeked into the hallway. “We’re about to play poker. Who wants in?”
“Me,” April said. “But I need a refresher for the rules. It’s not for money, right?”
“Nope, just for chips. Hey, Victor,” Penelope said, “Are you able to take April back to your grandmother’s apartment tonight after you bring Margaux home? She probably won’t ask for help, but we’re afraid Lucas is following her, and we want to make sure she doesn’t get stalked.”
“Sure.” Victor turned to her in consternation. “Another thing you’re not telling me, April. Please tell me these things.”
A flash of anger came over April, and she replied without thinking. “Don’t expect me to tell you everything. It’s not like I’m your girlfriend. I don’t owe you explanations, or details, or anything.”
“Er…let me see how the game is going.” Penelope turned, whisking away a smile.
“What are you talking about, April. We’re friends. Friends talk.”
“Victor,” April hissed. “It’s like you expect things from me you don’t even expect of your own fiancée. You want me to come to you for help and tell you everything. But you don’t even know what Margaux was doing that whole year in Monaco. You don’t know what brought her back or…or whether the baby is even yours.” There. I said it. April’s pulse pounded in her temple.
“Victor doesn’t ask me these things, because he already knows the answer.” Margaux’s cool voice came from where the living room joined the hallway. “And, since he is satisfied, I don’t see what business it is of yours.” Margaux managed to communicate all her disdain in two sentences.
April’s face was crimson. She could feel the heat of shame emanating from her. She’d let everyone know how she felt about Victor as plain as if she’d announced she was in love with him at the dinner table. It’s not like I’m your girlfriend. And what was even worse was that she was completely in the wrong attempting to sow seeds of doubt. She was not the type of person to try to break people up. She was not “the other woman”. It was not her style. If a man wasn’t free to love her, she had absolutely no interest in him.
So what had happened? How had she gone so wrong?
Victor’s eyes were fixed on hers. He hadn’t answered, but now he looked toward Margaux and the crowd that was gathering behind her. “Hey guys, could you give us a minute? Margaux, I’ll be right there to take you home. I imagine the baby needs you.”
Margaux folded her arms and planted her feet. So Victor took April’s arm and pulled her into the first room he saw. It was the toilet, and they had only enough room to stand face to face. He fumbled for the light, and when it went on, April wouldn’t look at him. He grabbed her by the arms.
“April, I need to say this fast so no one gets the wrong idea about us being in here together.”
They were standing in a tiny cubicle, nose to nose, and his words brought on an insane desire to laugh. She needed to get a hold of her emotions. He’s not available.
“I think one of the biggest regrets of my life,” Victor said, “will end up being that I wasn’t free to follow my feelings in this instance. But I’m not. I’m a father, and that comes first.”
I am a great fool, April thought, and any wisp of humor over the situation fled. To complete her shame, her eyes filled with tears.
“If I could’ve followed my feelings…” He stopped short, looking at her eyes, her lips…They heard only the sound of their breath.
Then Victor dropped his arms, turned in the tight space, and opened the bathroom door. “Margaux and I need to get going. Penelope, do you think one of you could see April home safely?”
“Sure,” Penelope said. She handed the pack of cards to Auriane and slid past Victor to where April was. “You guys go ahead and play.”
United States Army veteran J.A. Angelo believes strong family values build strong families. J.A. and his wife enjoy volunteering in their local school district and are leaders in various non-profit organizations catering towards children. They also donate to various national and local charities to include the Apraxia Kids, Wounded Warrior Project, and the Coalition to Support America’s Heroes. A portion of the book proceeds will go to these great organizations to help children and support veterans and their families.
Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction.
Title: TANDEM DEMISE
Author: Duffy Brown
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Smugglers on the hunt, a police chief on the run, lost loot and a dead wedding planner have the Mackinac Island regulars riding in circles
After solving two murders, bike shop owner Evie Bloomfield thought life on Mackinac Island would settle into boredom until she finds out Nate Sutter, island police chief and once-upon-a-time under cover cop is on the run. Some badass guys from Nate’s Detroit days think he stole money from them in a champagne smuggling operation and now they’re headed to the island to get their loot. Evie is determined to help Nate because he’s a good cop. Nate is determined to keep interfering Evie and island locals out of harms way, and the crooks are determined to get their money.
ORDER YOUR COPY: Amazon
Duffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She is a National Bestselling author and now conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own. She has two series the Consignment Shop Mysteries set in Savannah along with rescue pup Bruce Willis and the Cycle Path Mysteries set on Mackinac Island with judgmental cats Cleveland and Bambino.
Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Tandem Demise.
Website Address: www.DuffyBrown.com
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/authorduffybrown
Devotion (The Afflicted Saga: Tale of the Fallen Book I)
By Katika Schneider
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery
Demons were nothing but legends…
Or so the young General Nessix Teradhel had always believed. Abandoned by her god and caught in a political trap with her late father’s old comrade, Nessix had barely kept herself together even before these startling reports appeared.
But now Mathias Sagewind, the fabled White Paladin, has arrived on her quiet island nation of Elidae with confirmation of such terrors. Wielding the name of the Mother Goddess and divine strength not seen in years, he is Elidae’s best chance at victory. In the wake of a holy war, Nessix must learn to trust Mathias as he attempts to guide her from a troubled past and protect her from a tragic future.
A lover of literary adventure and notorious breaker of writing rules, Katika Schneider‘s been an obsessive writer for most of her life. She started out writing for herself before surrendering to her characters’ demands, and began pursuing publication in 2014. She’s a firm believer that everyone has a story to tell.
Holding her degree in Animal Science, Kat planned on attending veterinary school until incisions started making her faint. Today, her non-writing hobbies include classical horsemanship, collecting garden gnomes, customizing toy horses, binge watching anime, and rolling around on the floor making stupid noises with her awesome dog. She lives with her husband and their abundant family of critters.
[Nessix] fell to her back and stared up at the sky. “I wish I understood…”
“Understood what?” Mathias asked after several breath’s silence.
“Why bad things happen.” Nessix intentionally kept her answer vague, losing the courage that initiated this poignant conversation. She trusted Mathias not to judge her, but erected preemptive walls just in case. “You know what tomorrow is?”
Her tone struck Mathias with a startling truth. Nessix had walked behind shadows from her past since the day he met her, and she was finally ready to ask him to help hold a torch to them. “What?”
Her gaze drifted from him and a deep breath drew in her wits. “Eleven years since father gave his last orders.” Pinching her eyes shut against the promise of tears and shake of her lower lip, Nessix struggled to maintain her dignity and stared up at the sky once more. Mathias watched her curiously, but she didn’t dare confirm the nature of his interest. “How can you stand to live forever? To see everyone important to you have their lives snatched away? How do you deal with the doubt and the—” The fear? She wouldn’t let that escape her. “How do you do it?”
Mathias had seen Nes question herself before but never so in need of support. “I can’t answer that for sure. All I’ve ever done is continue with my duties.”
“Just like that? Keep on working and everything’s better?”
He chuckled. “I help people, it’s what I do. If they need healing, I mend them. If they need a bit of happiness, I offer what I can. In caring for others, I care for myself. You can’t concentrate on the evils of the world, or you’ll lose yourself. That’s why I always try to find the good.”
Nessix processed his words and picked a blade of grass. “I… I prayed for the first time in nearly a decade last night.” She twirled the grass between uncertain fingers in an excuse to not look at Mathias.
“I see.” A content smile turned Mathias’s lips. “What did you say?”
Nes’s eyes grew blank and she pinched the grass still. “It’s not important. He never answered.”
“Still praying to Inwan?” No wonder she was disappointed. “Next time, try Etha. She might surprise you.”
“Inwan’s the only god I know,” Nessix said. “Why would your Etha waste her time on me after all I’ve done?”
At least she admitted her blasphemy. “You’ve never given her a chance, but she knows you well.” Mathias watched Nes hopefully. “She’s been waiting to accept you when you’re ready. It might be time to move on.”
The words carried the intent to encourage her, but left Nessix much more alone. Out of everyone she knew, Mathias was the only one she assumed could relate to this fear. “If your Etha stepped out of your life, left you in silence after everything you’d been through, how long would you keep praying to her?”
Mathias clamped his jaw at the untimely irony of Nes’s question. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, his answer was exactly the same as hers.