Miles away from her ugly past, Annie Clarke is thriving in pharmacy school. Uncomfortable with her own success, she begins to fall back to her self-sabotaging ways.
Then along comes Trip Beaumont, a hot, edgy artist. Every instinct in her says run, which only makes him that much more tempting. The day she finally agrees to go out with him, his younger brother, Sam, shows up. Sam’s first words about Trip chill her: “Don’t be fooled by the act. Prince Charming is a toxic monster.”
Annie soon sees that Sam’s callous exterior is a direct result of coping with a family as dysfunctional as her own. Could love shield them both from spiraling into madness, or will their crazy worlds collide like renegade storm fronts leaving devastation and destruction in their wake?
“There you are, Dahlin’.” She barely lifted her gaze from the paper as I obediently pecked her leathery cheek. “Are you going to the gallery today?” One of Mama’s pet projects is a gallery on River Street. She’d named it Imogene’s, after herself. Two nights before, she had announced that she’d arranged for me to work there while I decided what I want to be when I grow up. Or more likely while I continued to decide what I don’t want to be. “Yes, Ma’am.” I planned to do nothing of the sort, and she probably suspected as much. And so we continued our age-old dance. She and I were bizarre tango partners, but we were well rehearsed.
“I’ll hit the gym after.”
“You really need to go and visit your brother. He must think you’re avoiding him.” She sipped her chicory-laden coffee and fixed her steely eyes on mine. I’m not sure what she was looking for as she searched me for a reaction, but I’d be damned if I were going to flash any tells.
I am avoiding him. I want to see him about as much as I want to scratch my back with a cheese grater.
“Fine. I’ll go see him. Is he still living down the street from Vi?” Trip’s wife, Violet, had kicked him out about two years ago. I had to give her credit; she’d stayed with him a hell of a lot longer than I’d wagered she would. To Vi’s misfortune they had a child, so the divorce wasn’t exactly a clean break. Stalking her was one of Trip’s favorite pastimes. It was bizarre how committed he could be when he made up his mind to persevere. Too bad he couldn’t just make up his mind to stay sane and sober.
“No. That landlord had unreasonable expectations.” Mama drawled. “He’s living in the Victorian District. I’ll text you the address.” As she picked up her cell phone, her peach painted lips twisted as if she’s just sucked on a lemon. Undoubtedly, the former landlord’s “expectations” included tenants who were neither drunk nor disorderly. These were terribly unrealistic expectations where Trip was concerned.
“Honestly, I don’t know why he doesn’t just live here.” She set down her phone, then folded her paper and tossed it aside.
“I imagine it’s not very bohemian to be thirty years old and live with your mother.” I offered, taking a bite of superb Eggs Florentine. Money problems or not, Cosmo found a way to retain both her chef and housekeeper.
Michelle Pace lives in north Texas with her husband, Les, who is also a novelist. She is the mother of two lovely daughters, Holly and Bridgette, and one uber-charismatic son, Kai. A former singer and actress, Michelle has always enjoyed entertaining people and is excited to continue to do so as a writer.
Facebook | Web | Twitter | Facebook Group
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CreateSpace | Smashwords
a Rafflecopter giveaway