Here’s the first bit of chapter 1 from my new release, The Rose, coming March 25th!
For the first time all day, Belle could finally breathe. As she curled up her feet on the sofa, a steaming cup of lemon jasmine tea between her hands, she basked in the comfortable silence. The rain outside had picked up and she had already spotted a few flashes of lightning through the speckled windowpanes, but that didn’t bother her. The thunderstorm added just the right ambience to help her relax.
The last hour had been spent actively trying not to go over the events of the day. She didn’t want to rehearse every word, every action, or overanalyze all that had happened to her in the bookstore. All she wanted to do was let her mind go blank. With the christening sip of her tea, its aroma soothing her anxious mind, she resolved to do just that.
On the coffee table sat her laptop and a lit lavender candle that added to the whole calming atmosphere she strived to create. She glanced to the screen and watched the four security camera windows with the black and lime-colored images of her animals in the barn. Three horses and a small flock of sheep all rested peacefully through the storm. There was the occasional stirring from an ewe or head toss from one of her mares, but nothing alarming. Just how she preferred it. A quiet night recuperating from the chaotic, stressful day.
Belle sunk lower against the mass of pillows and let the tea take effect on her rattled nerves. This was just another end to a long day that, to anyone else’s eyes, went off without a hitch. But to Belle, clad in her soft pajama bottoms and baggy Longhorn shirt, it was one of many that left her tired, drained, and in need of recharging.
All day, every day, she put on the mask. The one that gave a friendly smile to everyone, the one that spoke the right words every time, and never showed how truly terrified she was to be facing a perfect stranger. She spent so much energy keeping that mask firmly in place to hide her true self that at the end of the day, all she could do was crash on the couch with her tea and wonder if this would ever get easier.