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About the author:
Besides her love of chocolate, dogs and music… reading and writing is Summer’s number one route to escape from crazy friends, family and the in-laws!
She found her own happily ever after with a martial arts fighter who also happens to be an adorable IT geek! Now, she loves to write about hot alpha males that come with a pretty face and covered in tough-as-nails muscle… who are secretly looking for their true soul mate (shhh…)!
What inspired you to write your book?
Here is a short sample from the book:
I stood up straight, wincing as my back cracked, stiff from having been bent over the pot for so long. I knew that if I left the stove and my stepmother walked in she would chide me for doing so, accusing me of letting dinner burn while I wasn’t paying attention. Lately, I had been having trouble holding my temper around her when she complained about things like that; for someone who did nothing around the house, she sure had a lot to say about the way I ran things.
I sighed, pulling the pot off of the stove and setting it on the counter. I glanced outside to see my stepmother on the patio, smiling as she held the phone to her ear. I never saw her smile, and a sense of relief passed through me knowing that she would probably be in a good mood for dinner. That meant less nagging and nitpicking about the food, what I was wearing, what I had done with my day. It would mean less having to fight with myself to hold my tongue in her presence. I knew that if I slipped up, if I said the things that I wanted to say, that my grandmother and I would be out on the street with nowhere to go within a day.
I went to the kitchen sink, rinsing my hands under the water. The window was open and I could hear my stepmother’s voice as she talked, though I could only make out a few words of her conversation over the sound of the water and the wind. She was talking about somebody coming to visit, but I couldn’t tell who it was. I couldn’t even guess who it might be—my stepmother had no friends, no other family but her sons. I took a deep breath when I thought about that. If Eric and Julian were coming to visit, that would mean even more trouble for me. I hoped it wasn’t them as I started serving dinner for my stepmother and me. I put some aside for my grandma, who I would bring a plate up to when we were finished.
I carried the plates to the table, listening as my stepmother hung up the phone and came inside through the back door.
“What is that?” she asked in a flat voice when she saw what was on the plate.
“Pasta,” I told her, turning my face away to hide my annoyance. She sighed dramatically and sat down in her chair.
“You can sit,” she said, and I did so, scooting as far away from her as possible.
“So someone is coming to visit?” I asked, trying to make conversation with her. I was curious about who might be coming and was anxious thinking about the possibility of it being the twins.
“You were listening to me on the phone, Ella?” my stepmother asked. Her eyebrows were lifted and she had a dangerous look on her face. I knew if I said the wrong thing, she would snap.
“I just overheard you through the window.”
She stared at me for a long moment.
“The boys are coming home for a few weeks,” she said, confirming my worst fears. My stepbrothers, Julian and Eric, were twins. I barely knew them—my father had married their mother when I was sixteen and they were eighteen. They had moved away a year later to go to school and had never come back, never even visited once since I’d been there. That was ten years ago and I had started to think that I would never have to see them again. Now I would have to face them both at once.
“Why?” I asked her, without even thinking.
“Well, because this is their home,” she said. “Why else?”
“I mean, why now?”
“They miss their sweet mother,” she said. I snorted, unable to help myself, and covered my mouth with my hand.
“Is something funny, Ella?”
“No, ma’am,” I said. “I’m just surprised. When are they coming?”
“Tomorrow,” she said. I nearly choked on my food but forced myself to swallow.
“Tomorrow?” I asked. That was so soon. Too soon for me to steel myself for the extra abuse I would have to endure while they were here. My stepbrothers had never been kind to me—in the year that we’d spent together, they teased me mercilessly, called me ugly and poor and told me that their mother had married my father out of pity. They had tormented me every time they’d seen me, and the only way I could ever get away from them was to hide away with my grandmother. The boys had been scared of Grandma back when she was tall, vibrant and full of life. She could scare them away with a simple stare. Now, though, she was fragile and worn out, barely able to focus her eyes on anything, let alone scare a couple of grown men.
“Yes,” she said. “And I want this house to be clean. I won’t have you wasting another day away upstairs.”
“Okay. What time are they coming?”
“Around dinner time. That should give you plenty of time to dust and vacuum all the rooms, at least.”
“I will,” I promised through gritted teeth. We had finished eating by then, and I stood up abruptly, unable to be in the same room as her anymore. I collected the dishes, including the plate in front of her, and left her in the dining room without a word. After I’d put everything in the sink, I made up a plate for my grandma and put it on one of the silver trays that my stepmother had brought with her when she’d married my father. We had never had anything half so lavish in our home before my father married her; everything had been simple. We hadn’t been rich, but we had gotten by. Sometimes I still thought back to those days and wished that he had never married Lola, that he had never brought her or her sons into our lives.
I carried the tray up the stairs, tapping softly on my grandmother’s door before opening it. She was sitting where I had left her in the overstuffed chair that was facing the window. She spent hours and hours looking out of the window, looking over the gardens, lost in thought. I never knew what she was thinking about these days—even when I asked her, she didn’t tell me, just gave me a wan smile and patted my hair with affection.
“Hi, Grandma,” I said softly as I walked into the room. She turned her face to me, her eyes lighting on mine. Her face broke into a smile and I had to smile back at her.
“Hi, sweetie,” she said, patting her bed so that I would go sit next to her. I brought her the tray, placing it on the table in front of her, and then took a seat beside her and started cutting up her food.
“How are you?” I asked her, watching as she picked up her fork with a shaky hand and took a small bite of the food. I was worried about the way she was shaking, barely able to balance food on the fork. It seemed like she had been getting worse lately, but Lola refused to let me take her to a specialist, insisting instead that our family doctor was doing his best to take care of my grandma. I didn’t like the man at all but I didn’t argue—Grandma and I were lucky that she had somebody to take care of her at all. If not for my stepmother’s money, there was no way I would be able to provide the care that my grandma needed just to stay alive. We were trapped there, unable to move away from Lola’s torment without risking my grandma’s life.
“I’m okay,” she said, her voice soft, throat dry. I put a cup of water to her lips and tipped it, giving her a drink. Her hands were shaking too badly to be able to hold the cup herself. “How are you today? You look worried.”
I turned my face away, trying to hide the anxiety on my features. I couldn’t stop thinking about the return of the twins and what it would mean for me, how hard it would be just to get through the weeks that they would be here. I didn’t want to worry or bother my grandma, but I had never been able to hide my feelings from her. She always knew when I was upset. To my surprise, she reached forward and touched my cheek, turning my face to hers.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” she asked, her brow furrowed.
“Julian and Eric are coming back tomorrow,” I told her.
I nodded and chewed my lip, looking down at my hands.
“They’re not going to hurt you,” she said, her voice soft and comforting. I looked up at her, into her clear blue eyes. “You’re older now, Ella. You’re not a child anymore. Nobody’s going to hurt you.”
“I just don’t know if I’ll be able to stand it,” I said. “Sometimes I can’t even—I can barely hold my temper with Lola, let alone all three of them together. The twins are so awful.”
“I know,” she said, her features sympathetic. “If they give you any trouble, you send them to me.”
I laughed. “That’ll scare them straight.”
“I mean it,” she said sternly.
“I know, Gran,” I said, smiling at her. I sighed then, giving her another drink of water. She was eating slowly but her appetite was better than I had seen it in days. I had been starting to think that we were going to have to call the doctor over before his weekly scheduled visit. But she was almost finished with her dinner and her eyes were still as alert as they ever got anymore, though she looked tired and worn from the effort of talking. I knew that simply holding a conversation could be a lot for her to handle, so I stayed quiet for the rest of the time while she ate, staring out of the window over the gardens.
When she was finished, I cleaned her up and helped her get changed, then lowered her into the bed and sat down next to her. She looked up at me, her eyes growing cloudy and distant, blinking slowly as she fell asleep. I turned the light out when I knew that she was out and crept quietly from the room, going back downstairs to the kitchen to clean up the dishes from dinner. Then I went to bed, stripping out of my dirty clothes and slipping into a nightgown, the only comfortable thing that I owned. I fell asleep that night thinking about Eric and Julian, wondering how it would go when they got here, worried that my life was about to get even more miserable than it already was.