Different Kind of Love

Book Cover: Everything She Ever Wanted
Part of the Different Kind of Love series:
  • Everything She Ever Wanted

Her perfectly planned life fell apart…

When her husband leaves her for a younger woman, transplant surgeon Harlow James finds herself alone at forty, without family and a career that’s falling apart at the seams. So she hits the open road and ends up in Taos, New Mexico where she hopes to find out where her life went wrong…

…or just end it all.

But when master craftsman Dax Drexel unexpectedly shows up at her doorstep, Harlow finds herself with the perfect distraction. For Dax is everything she never thought she’d want in a man – rough around the edges and way too young.

But he may also be the one man who can give her everything she’s always wanted.

Read Dax and Harlow's holiday story, A Taos Christmas!

Reviews:Dilyana Kyoseva on CatMing5's World wrote:

When I read the sneak peek in September, I thought “Some romance, some naughty time… The writing style’s not bad… I’ll probably give this book a four out of five.”

I’m happy to say that Everything She Ever Wanted exceeded my expectations.

The writing style is casual, the plot is mostly what I like to call “comfortable” – familiar, nothing too suspenseful and nothing too clichéd – but with some heavy themes to differ it from the books I’d usually pick… And that’s what upped my rating for the book.

I was grabbed by how the first chapter started. I’ll warn you now: you’ll fear for the female lead even though you don’t know her yet. And that’s what I like in books – making me experience things along with the characters, making me feel for them.

Then I got to know the characters and I liked them; they are two everyday, relatable people. And even though this isn’t one of those suspenseful books that will have you on the edge of your seat, I found myself turning the pages and occasionally going through that “just one more chapter” phase when I don’t really read just one more.

The plot is simple, but entertaining, I enjoyed the characters – main and supporting, I enjoyed both points of view (Dax’s more; Harlow’s could’ve used less exclamation marks) and all in all had a good time with this book. If it was a person, I’d invite it to hang out sometime, preferably at the Pearl. You’ll find out what that is if you get the book.

Who I would recommend this book to? I’d recommend Everything She Ever Wanted to two groups of people.

The first group is those who are in a mood for experiencing the tingles one gets below the waist when they are starting something new with someone new.

The second is those who are going through a hard time. Might help you out seeing how someone else is coping.

Ana Simons on Ana Simons wrote:

The inability to become a mother, the awareness you’ve been lied to and cheated, an imminent messy divorce and the pressure of being a brilliant professional in a world dominated by men are definitely too much to bear. Harlow, a successful surgeon fast nearing her forties, is hurt and lost. Drowning in grief, she decides to get off the grid for a while, to collect the broken pieces of her life.

It will be in the middle of the desert in Taos, she will meet Dax, the owner of the Pearl, the property she has leased for two weeks. Problem is, he’s hot and sexy. And nice. A kindhearted man, actually. So what’s the problem?

He is twenty-seven and their age gap is under everyone’s scrutiny. Not that he cares, though: “I see men walking around with women half their age, and I don’t see anyone complaining. But turn the tables around, and suddenly, everyone’s got their panties in a twist,” he says. And he’s right.

But the pressure is really high, even if Harlow acknowledges that by his side she might have found her “home away from home” …

Everything She Ever Wanted is another wonderful story by Liz Durano. Liz is an exceptionally gifted writer, so the fact that this story is extremely well-written and that the characters very are well-developed is not surprising. The innovative, surprising element is the risk she took in portraying a heroine who’s in her forties, facing the fears and insecurities ─ and rediscovering the thrills ─ of falling in love. So rare these days. Unfortunately.

Very highly recommended read.


A Short Story

Book Cover: The Accidental Christmas
Editions:ePub - First Edition: $ 0.99
ISBN: 9781519972200

When a marriage of convenience ends in scandal, single mother Cameron Thomas must now make a life for herself and her 7-year old deaf son, Jeremy, in a small beach town where years ago, she'd been her happiest.

But even as she struggles to adjust to a life that's far from the wealthy lifestyle she once knew, forgiving herself turns out to be the toughest thing to do, made even harder when she's face-to-face with the man she gave up so many years ago for all the wrong reasons.

Excerpt:

Cameron answered her own question three hours later, after Talon set up the Christmas tree in the corner and after they decorated it with whatever she had on hand, including a bag of extra ornaments her landlady had left by the front door. By then, they’d also finished eating dinner of garlic herb chicken she’d prepared in the crockpot that morning, cooked to perfection by the time they opened the door, its aroma filling the whole apartment.

Cameron couldn’t help watching Talon help Jeremy assemble the plane out of Legos. Normally she helped Jeremy build his creations, but tonight, he was more excited to have his new friend help him. They talked in sign language and Cameron tried her best not to eavesdrop, but it was hard.

Do you live around here? Jeremy asked him.

READ MORE

Talon nodded. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor, his thick parka and scarf hanging behind the door, and his boots sitting next to Cameron’s shoes by the entrance. He wore brown woolen socks with white and black stripes. My grandmother has a house not far from here. She gave it to me and so I’m fixing it up.

Is it close to the beach?

Right on the beach, Talon replied, his hands flawlessly signing the words.

That must be awesome in the summer!

Talon glanced at her but he returned his attention to Jeremy just as quickly. Yes, it is. You and your mother should come by some time.

Are you married?

No, I’m not.

Are you seeing someone? She should really put a stop to all the probing questions, Cameron thought, but she wanted to know the answer to that last one probably more than Jeremy did.

No, I’m single.

Would you like to spend Christmas with us? It’s just mom and me-

“Jeremy!” Cameron exclaimed, tapping him on the shoulder, her cheeks burning in embarrassment. “You can’t ask him such things.”

“It’s alright,” he said, signing the words so Jeremy could understand, too, though his attention had now drifted back to his plane and he got up, holding the plane up over his head as if it were in flight. “Kids don’t beat around the bush. It’s refreshing.”

COLLAPSE

Romantic Stories

Book Cover: Date Night and Other Short Stories
Editions:Kindle - Second Edition: $ 0.99
ISBN: B013M5S5KG

Since when did love stories only belong to the young?

After Esme witnesses her co-worker having a torrid love affair, she wonders if love stories belong only to the young. Did romance have to end the moment one got married, had children and found themselves saddled with a mortgage and college plans?

But even as Esme has her questions, there is one man who has always had all the answers she seeks, and in one night, he’ll remind Esme of the way they used to be, and how romance--like love--is forever.

Includes stories featuring Sam and Erik (Finding Sam) and upcoming Greg and Bella (Someone Like You). 

 

Excerpt:

She heads up the stairs to the master bedroom, wondering if she should prepare herself a bath, and maybe drizzle some rose oil she’d purchased at Neiman Marcus to soak off the stresses of her work day. Three twelve-hour shifts a week is hard enough. Working the same shifts at another hospital on her days off is madness, but she has to do it, or, at least, that’s what Esme tells herself if only to get Kieran all the training he needs, the private sessions with a former tennis pro, now retired from the circuit. The sessions aren’t cheap, but judging from the tournaments Kieran had been winning of late, they’re worth. Maybe one day he’ll make it to the US Open, Esme smiles as she opens the door to the master bedroom.

READ MORE

Soft music and the trail of pink petals on the carpet surprise her, though the battery-powered LED pillar candles make her smile. So like Evan to always put safety first, especially since he is nowhere in sight. She follows the path of petals and candles that lead to the master bathroom and sees a note on the side of the jacuzzi tub.

My Esme,

If you’re seeing this note instead of me, then I’m probably stuck in traffic on the way home from dropping the kids off at Mom and Dad’s. I hope you don’t mind starting the bath without me.

Love, Evan

Esme chuckles as she sets the note on the counter, not wanting to get it wet as she turns on the tap for the hot water. She’ll save his note in her diary, one of the many notes she’s kept since she first met Evan that one hot summer she spent in New Jersey. She’d felt so out of place then, missing the California sun and her friends even though she and her mom were staying just three blocks from the boardwalk where one had to watch out for clams hurled down by seagulls to crack them open. She also hadn’t been used to the grayness of the Atlantic Ocean, so different from the dark blue of the Pacific Ocean as it rolled towards the Malibu coastline.

She was sixteen then, and Evan eighteen. A natural jock, he’d already received offers from university recruiters until a car accident involving a drunk driver left him with a limp, the recruiters who’d been pounding on his door just weeks earlier leaving him, too. While his friends all went to Ivy League universities on scholarships, he opted for a private liberal arts university in Pennsylvania where he majored in Business Administration and then to law school.

She brushes her teeth and washes her face, removing every trace of make-up from her face and trying to remember when the last time was since he or she had done anything like this. A shiver of excitement shoots through her, settling into her bones.

COLLAPSE

Book 2 of the Celebrity Series

Book Cover: Loving Riley
Part of the Celebrity series:
Editions:ePub: $ 3.99
ISBN: 978-0-9862847-6-2

To his legions of fans, classically trained British actor, Ashe Hunter, is perfect - with his devastating good looks and old-fashioned charm. To his American girlfriend, Riley Eames, he is the man in love, who'll do anything to keep her safe from the paparazzi suddenly interested in her.

But to veteran stage actress Catriona Marks, Ashe is the farm boy she groomed for the world stage and now, her guaranteed ticket to Hollywood fame. And she’ll do anything to get what she wants, even if it means exposing the real Ashe Hunter to the world, a revelation that could cost him his career and the woman he loves.

Loving Riley Teaser

A Woman's Journey

Book Cover: Finding Sam
Editions:Kindle: $ 19.00
ISBN: 9780986284700
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 530
Kindle
ISBN: B00PQXD7PG
Pages: 531

Sam Martin just can’t catch a break.

A single mother with an ex-husband who won’t take no for an answer, she’s seen all her dreams shattered one by one. But it takes the death of her best friend to make Sam realize that she’s got to take charge of her life once and for all, even if it’s going to be the hardest thing she’ll ever do. For when one’s life is met by one disappointment after another - from growing up with a drug-addicted mother and moving from foster home to foster home - how can she expect anything else?

But for her son’s sake, Sam knows she has to try...

When she meets community doctor Erik Maystrom and his widowed sister, Olivia, they show her a world filled with possibilities, from returning to her art to a life filled with love and family. It’s a whole new world for Sam and her son, but will she welcome it with open arms or will she let the pain of her past take over only because it’s the only thing she knows?

Published:
Genres:
Tags:
Excerpt:

There was something about Olivia and Erik that was pure and authentic. They had no hidden agendas. I'd gotten so used to hidden agendas all my life that I wouldn't know real honest-to-goodness affection if it hit me in the face.

But maybe the universe was telling me something, I thought, as I sat down in front of a plate of strawberry crepes and a steaming cup of strong coffee. And if that were the case, then maybe I should shut out the negative thoughts and begin to listen. Really listen.

Erik arrived fifteen minutes later, carrying my waist pack in one hand and a bouquet of flowers in the other. He hugged Zia Francesca, and as I got up from the table to take my waist pack from him, he hugged me, too.

READ MORE

Erik spoke to the older woman in halting Italian, though, to my untrained ears, he might as well have been fluent in it. Olivia corrected a few of the things he said, but Zia Francesca only shook her head, as if saying not to worry about it. She beckoned for him to sit down, but Erik went to the sink first and began trimming the flowers before putting them in a vase filled with water.

He placed it in the middle of the table before checking up on the toddlers now sharing bananas and cereal. Bella managed to wear her food once again while shaking a rattle at him, calling him Dada. Zia Francesca then pulled Erik towards the chair and ordered him to eat breakfast.

She made a circling motion over her belly as if saying she had an upset stomach and wasn't in the mood to eat just yet. Then he set her chair close to the children, cooing in Italian, even calling Michael Signorino. Michael was laughing with her, loving the attention. It made me wonder—if my mother were here, would Michael look at her the way he was looking at Zia Francesca now? But then, would my mother even care that she had a grandson? Heroin was more important to her, for as long as I could remember.

"I drove by your house last night, but you must have gone to sleep already," Erik said.

"You didn't have to do that," I said, grateful that my bruised cheek wasn't facing him, and praying that he wouldn't notice. "I told you I was going to stop by today to pick it up."

"I had to pick up flowers at the Farmers Market in Torrance, so it wasn't a problem," he said. "You're here quite early."

"You're up early," I said.

"We had to pick up Zia Francesca," he said. "Her flight came in early."

"I didn't want to interrupt anything," I said. "I just came by to pick up my phone."

"Oh, stop it, Sam," Olivia chided. "That's why you have your key. It's your studio to use anytime you want. And I'm very excited to see my finished portrait."

"Liv, you can't impose on the artist. She'll let you see it when she's ready," Erik scolded before turning to face me, grinning. "So, is it ready?"

The rest of the meal was spent laughing over stories Erik and Olivia shared about Bella. Soon, Olivia joined Zia Francesca and Bella on the floor while Michael sat on my lap. He was still hungry, and so I fed him some of my crepes. I was beginning to feel more self-conscious, wondering if I had put enough makeup to cover the bruise on my cheek.

Noticing I was quiet, Erik turned towards me. He placed a hand over mine, but I pulled it away.

"I'm sorry about last night," I whispered. "I didn't know he was going to do that—stop by the house and insult you."

"I'm a big boy, Sam," Erik said. "I can handle myself. What's wrong with your eye?"

"I got soap in it this morning," I lied, avoiding his gaze. "But it's fine. I put eye drops in it."

"Which one?"

“You mean which eye?” I asked.

“No, which brand eye drops?” Erik said. "Some work better than others."

I didn't own a single bottle of eye drops in the house, I thought, as I tried to remember a brand name. “I can’t remember what it was.”

Erik caught my hand again, and this time, he didn't let go.

"Look at me, Sam," he whispered, and this time, I could not look at him. I used to be able to lie so easily, I thought, back when I was so busy breaking the law because I was too young to know better and too stupid to care. But now, I couldn't even lie to save my life.

“He hits you,” Erik said, his eyes narrowing as he watched me turn to look towards Olivia and Zia Francesca, hoping they didn’t hear what he had just said. "That sonofabitch hits you."

I pulled my hand away, left the chair to grab Michael, who was making his way back to the Bella.

“We have to get going,” I said quickly. “We need to be someplace by ten.”

"Sam, don't run away," Erik said, standing up, his eyes never leaving my face. Michael was crying, refusing to leave. “You can’t be alone with him. Not anymore.”

“It’s not that easy, Erik,” I said as I grabbed my waist pack from the table and slung it over my other shoulder. Erik was about to say something when his cell phone rang. He looked at the name on the display, cursing under his breath, and that's when I made my escape. By the time he answered his phone, I was halfway out the front door and heading for my car, even as Olivia and Zia Francesca were protesting my departure.

I knew it was Serena the moment I saw her rollerblading towards me.

She was tall, with almond-shaped blue eyes framing a perfect nose and full lips. Her blonde hair hung straight about her shoulders, and I bet she used expensive conditioning products—unlike me and my long dark hair that had long lost the fight with frizz.

As I unlocked the door to the car, she rollerbladed past me but did a quick u-turn to peer at my old Toyota and me, as if wondering why I had parked there, of all places. Then she turned around and rollerbladed towards his front door. She pushed open the front door and rollerbladed right inside.

Her toned thighs and calves were to die for, I thought. Her perfectly shaped butt made me want to weep for the imperfections of my own.

Then I thought of Erik, and then his perfect life. His perfect house right on the beach, his perfect sister and niece. His perfect career. His perfect girlfriend.

As I finished buckling Michael into his car seat and got in behind the wheel, my reflection stared back at me from the rear-view window. And there I was, I thought, as I removed my sunglasses and saw my reflection in the mirror, the bruise showing through my make-up.

Imperfect me.

COLLAPSE

Book 2 of the Fire and Ice Series

Book Cover: A Collateral Attraction
Part of the Fire and Ice series:
  • A Collateral Attraction
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99
ISBN: B017UP7DKW
Pages: 383

"A mistaken identity story that straddles the line between romance and chick lit." - RT Book Reviews

Identical twins, Billie and Blythe Delphine, used to be close—until a misunderstanding tore them apart.

Years later, in an attempt at reconciliation, Billie joins Blythe in New York for a vacation. But their reunion is cut short when the twins are caught in a battle between brothers, Ethan and Heath Kheiron, over control of the family fortune. Worse, Blythe runs off with Ethan just as Billie learns that her sister's about to be accused of a crime she knows Blythe did not commit.

Unfortunately, to find her sister and set things straight, Billie will need to work with Heath Kheiron, the man Blythe blames for all of Ethan’s troubles.

But even as Billie finds herself thrust into the world of money, not even the most extravagant shopping sprees and private island retreats can hide the years of unresolved differences between the twins, or the decades of lies that have left the Kheiron family divided.  And as Billie and Heath fight the growing attraction between them, they know there's another player in the game who wants it all, and until the twins and the brothers settle their differences, they're all in danger.

Will Billie reach her sister in time and get them both out of harm's way? Or will she--and her heart--be collateral damage in a dangerous game where anyone is expendable?

web

Excerpt:

While Blythe is in the back room having her dress fitted to her measurements, I’m enjoying my second glass of wine when the front doors burst open, and a man strides in. He's dressed in an immaculately tailored suit that can’t hide a broad chest and slim waist, his long strides emphasizing muscled thighs and long legs.  He's like a Greek god with dark hair and piercing steel blue-gray eyes, a strong jaw, and full lips and the way he moves reminds me of a panther, smooth and stealthy.

The wine has probably made me act bolder than I usually am, though when his gaze sweeps across the room, and our eyes meet, my confidence falters. I look down into my glass, suddenly wishing I'm invisible, not that it helps, for he's seen me and now he's striding purposefully towards me.

One of the employees, a young woman with a pixie haircut that reminds me of Twiggy, meets him halfway. "May I help you, sir?”

READ MORE

"I'm here to speak to her," he says, pointing his finger at me. I look up at him, startled.  Me?  Do I know him? I struggle to remember if I've seen him before, maybe someone Blythe introduced me to sometime between my arrival and right now, but I come up empty.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we’re in the middle of a private event, and I’ll have to ask you to leave,” the young woman says, and just like that, I swear the temperature in the room turns cold as his gaze sweeps along the length of her.

“Obviously, you’re new.  Do you know who I am?"

Before she can answer, Alicia appears next to her, smiling sweetly.  "Mister Kheiron! I didn't expect to see you here today."

"Alicia, how are you?”

“I’m well, thank you for asking.  I sincerely apologize for this young lady’s manners.  Amelie is new, you see, and isn’t yet familiar with our regular clients. In fact, Blythe recommended her," Alicia says,  before turning to face the young woman, who's just turned white as sheet. "Shouldn't you be stocking inventory?"

As Amelie scurries to the back room, the man walks past Alicia and continues to make his way towards me.  I set my wine glass on the coffee table and stand up. Based on how mean he is, this must be the infamous Heath Kheiron.  Then I wonder if we’ve overcharged the Gold Card by mistake.

As he stops in front of me, I smell his cologne and my nostrils flare, the hairs at the back of my arms standing on end. Even my belly tightens.  Citrusy with a hint of spice.

"Where is he?" he asks, his voice cold and deep.

I glance around as if confirming that he is talking to me. "Who?"

"Don't 'who' me," he says through gritted teeth as he draws closer. "Where is Ethan?"

"I don't know," I stammer, confused and not understanding his anger.  “We’re meeting him for dinner-“

"When you see him, tell him to call me," he says just as the realization hits me. He thinks I'm Blythe!

"No, wait! You're wrong! I'm not Blythe! I'm-"

"Yeah, right," he scoffs, grabbing my wrist, and this time, his voice lowers as he addresses me. "Tell Ethan to give back what he stole, or I'm taking everything away from him — his spending accounts, his access to company properties,” he pauses, lifting an eyebrow as he looks at me. “Even you, Blythe.”

The way he looks at me makes me wither inside. It’s cold and demoralizing like he’s appraised me from behind his blue-gray eyes and I came up short.

"For your information, mister,” I say as I yank my wrist away from him, “I am not a thing."

Heath eyes me as if surprised that I actually can speak, and then he chuckles as if I just said something funny. "You're not a thing, is that it? You’re not this thing for my brother to dress up and primp like some doll on display — like he’s doing now?”

He bites his lower lip and shakes his head as if he's the one who's perplexed. But clearly, by the words that follow, he's not. "It's time to wake up and smell the roses, dear Blythe, because as far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what you are to me — a thing.  Now where is Ethan?”

This time, I'm too shocked to say anything back, but Alicia comes to my rescue.

“I need you to leave, Mister Kheiron. This behavior is inexcusable.”

“Don’t worry.  I’m done here, Alicia," Heath says before turning his attention back to me. "Tell Ethan he's got till tomorrow to explain himself, or he’s going to end up with a bigger problem in his hands — and I believe you know what I’m talking about, Blythe.  And tell him that once I notify the board of what’s been happening, he’ll have nothing to his name — nothing.  Neither will you.”

“Mister Kheiron!" Alicia's voice is shrill now, and two men in dark suits seem to appear magically next to her.

"Good day, Alicia," Heath says, nodding his head curtly, before turning to address me, the bow of his head mocking me.  “And you, too, Blythe.  Enjoy your shopping spree.”

I can’t even say anything, not when the way he looks at me decimates me into someone who clearly is not worth anything in his eyes.  I feel Alicia’s hand rest on my arm as Heath turns away and walks out of the store.

"I'm so sorry, dear," Alicia says. "Are you alright?"

I nod.  “I guess when tycoons have a bad day, they really do have a bad day, don't they?"

"Everyone gets bad days, dear, but it’s still no excuse for bad manners," she says sadly just as Blythe waltzes outside of the showroom, looking stunning in a dress of embroidered lace red flowers against a backdrop of white.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Connie Walden on Amazon wrote:

This is undoubtedly one of the best ebooks I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The mystery kept me awake late into the night while the romance was perfect! Besides all that, it was very well crafted with plots that just kept coming. This was a skillfully written novel that held my interest like very few have done. I can't wait to read another of Liz Durano's books!

Ana Simons on Amazon wrote:

Billie and Blythe, the identical twin sisters in this story, have completely different personalities. One is a gentle, withdrawn small-town California girl; the other is an outgoing jet-setter and New York fashion designer. In a story that is filled with suspense, mystery, lies and even murder, we also have another set of siblings: Heath and Ethan, who are caught up in their father web of intrigues.
When Blythe disappears with billionaire Ethan, her boyfriend, Billie and Ethan see themselves embarking on an incredibly exciting roller coaster ride… which will also involve falling for each other.
This is a fast paced story and, as usual, the author’s writing is superb. She’s a brilliant storyteller, with an amazing ability to develop characters who have depth and capture well human nature, with all its virtues and flaws, and our inner workings. In Collateral Attraction, she delivered that and much more with the same skill and talent we are already used to.
Very highly recommended.


Picked as one of the top 5 romances to watch by RT Book Reviews.

Book 1 of the Loving Ashe Trilogy

Book Cover: Loving Ashe
Part of the Celebrity series:

"She brings to this adorable, yet serious, yet light-hearted romance a deep humanity that defines the novel..." - Mary L. Tabor, author of The Woman Who Never Cooked

It's been three years since Riley Eames' childhood friend and first love left her without any explanation, three years since she's watched him rise to Hollywood fame wondering what she did wrong. So when he asks to meet her for what can only be a booty call, Riley agrees, only to find herself stuck in the hotel elevator with charming British heartthrob, Ashe Hunter.

But even as sparks fly between them, it's not that easy to let go of the past and move on, for the ex-boyfriend is back in town, and Riley's older sister will do anything to stop Riley's new celebrity romance from happening - not when the last one almost killed her.

Excerpt:

"So I guess this is where I ask you if you're famous," Riley said. "It's not every day that my dinner companion gets photographed on the streets of Manhattan by passing tourists, or approached at a restaurant while he's slurping a noodle."

"Does it bother you?"

"There you go again," Riley said. "Answering my question with a question."

He smiled. "But you didn't ask a question. You were wondering out loud if this would be the time to ask me if I'm famous."

"Are you?"

He shrugged his shoulders. He'd stopped eating, and Riley wondered if being recognized had somehow ruined his appetite. "Fame is relative. That woman may have recognized me, but then many others in this restaurant haven't."

"So you are famous," Riley said. "Does it bother you that some people don't recognize you?"

READ MORE

He shook his head. "No, and in fact, I prefer they didn't. That way, I get to eat my noodles in peace and not worry about somebody taking unflattering pictures of me as I eat. Hopefully not with a noodle hanging from my mouth."

"I'm sorry," Riley said.

"It's not your fault that some people can't help themselves."

Riley took a deep breath. The conversation seemed to drag his mood down. The smile was completely gone. "So, do you like it? Acting?"

"I do, yes," he replied, the smile returning to his face. "I've been doing it now for the past ten years or so."

Three giggling teenagers walked past them, and Riley thought they were about to line up in front of him and ask for autographs. But the teenagers were more engrossed in what was on their phones than the people around them and had settled themselves at the next table.

"Is this the part where I'm supposed to ask you what shows you've been on?" Riley asked.

He chuckled. "This is the part where you get to ask me whatever you want."

Riley took a deep breath and thought for a moment. What would she ask, she wondered? She wondered if it bruised his ego, meeting someone who had no idea who he was. Perhaps Gareth felt the same way when someone didn't recognize him. Back then, no one did.

"People usually answer questions more truthfully when they're under pressure," Riley said. "So now it's rapid-fire question time. I'll take the first answer that comes to mind. Ready?"

Ashe frowned as if he didn't understand what she meant. But Riley didn't want to give him time to think. He could improvise if he had to, lie if necessary.

"Morning person or night person?"

"Night person," he replied, a smile forming on his lips.

"Are you funny?"

"Unfortunately, no."

"Do you consider yourself serious then?"

"Unfortunately, yes. In fact, tonight, someone just called me an old fart."

"If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?"

"Pepe La Pew."

Riley giggled, imagining him batting his eyes like the lovable skunk.

"You've got to keep going, Riley, or it's my turn to ask questions," he warned. "And I have to warn you — I don't take prisoners."

"If one song were to describe your life, what would it be?"

"I Don't Want to Miss A Thing."

"Aerosmith! That's my favorite band! And did you know that they're playing in Atlantic City-"

"Next question or it's my turn," Ashe warned, arching an eyebrow.

"What do you like best about your job?"

"Being someone I'm not — for a time."

"What don't you like about your job?"

"That you're only as good as your last movie."

"When did you last get laid — No! I mean, when was the last time you lied? Lied! Lied, not laid!"

Ashe chuckled, then forced himself to be serious. "Just before I got into that elevator with you."

"Was that an answer to the first question or the second?"

"Second," Ashe replied, his eyes never leaving her face.

Riley blushed. Goodness gracious, his eyes. And his voice. She focused and cleared her throat, serious again. "Do you see yourself in ten years' time still doing the same thing you're doing now?"

"Yes, but I'd like to produce more, too. Even direct. After all, what's hot in Hollywood right now may not be so hot next year, or in five, or ten years."

"You never know," Riley said. "You could still be hot. I mean, look at you! You're hot right now, so why not in ten years?"

"If I'm really that hot, then how come you don't know who I am?"

"Just because I don't know who you are doesn't mean I don't know real-life hot from not."

This time, it was Ashe who paused before his face broke into a broad grin, his blue eyes twinkling.

"You're good — even though you did get distracted for a moment - though that was entirely my fault," Ashe said, taking a sip from his beer. "Debate team in school?"

"Nope."

His eyes narrowed. "Auctioneer?"

"Definitely not," Riley replied, laughing.

"I give up. What?"

"I have three smart-aleck nephews and, whenever they're around, you need to have your game face on all the time. They're relentless. And you?"

"I've only got one niece, so obviously I can't compete with three."

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Mary L. Tabor on Scribd wrote:

If you love well-written, beautifully conflicted chic-lit, you're gonna love Liz Madrid's book. I read it serially on the fabulous Wattpad where I discovered this lovely, warm-hearted writer. She brings to this adorable, yet serious, yet light-hearted romance a deep humanity that defines the novel and its author. Discover Ashe and fall in love with him the way I did and then see how hard it is to find that love, trust it and fall in love again.


error: Content is protected !!