Saturday, 27 February 2016

Ryan Jo Summers - Glimpse Eternity



Can love conquer all? Let's find out in Ryan Jo Summers new story, Glimpse Eternity.







Blurb

Kasey Griffin is determined to prove a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't going to ruin her life or define her expectations. She is dedicated to her pregnant sister, her pets and operating her bookstore, 'The Next Chapter'. She has everything she needs to have a full and satisfying life--the daily challenges of her condition notwithstanding.

Then hunky musician Ben Salem rolls into town. Ben's subtle charm quickly reminds Kasey she is more than a woman with a disease, she is also a woman with a heart. And Ben wants it.

Will Ben still desire her once he learns the terrible details of her condition?






Bio

Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel--or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.


Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.


Inspiration

Many years ago I was driving home from work on Valentine's evening. It was rainy and around eleven PM or so. In the middle of the residential road was a cellophane bouquet of red roses, complete with ferns and baby breath. It looked to be in fine condition. My mind turned over all sorts of scenarios of why it was lying on a rainy street so late at night. Lover's quarrel? On Valentine's---that seemed so sad.The next day, while returning to work, I saw they were gone. The unanswered question stayed with me for several years.

Around the same time, I had been experiencing some physical limitations and my frustration was an all time high. To cope, it was suggested I write about it, beyond my journal. So I created a heroine and gave her a disease with physical limitations that impeded in her daily life. Then I added a love interest to challenge her. The memories of the roses in the road resurfaced and became a pivotal part of the story, This all began as therapy, with no intention of publication.

A few friends read it and said I had to share it with others. When Melange Books was taking submissions for Valentine's stories for an anthology, I sent it in. I was sure surprised when they wrote back offering to publish it as a a free standing title. I suppose, in retrospect, it all came together--the mysterious roses and my illness--to offer help to others who endeavor to live a normal life despite daily challenges.


Excerpt

Tears stung her eyes. “What's going to happen when Ben sees me like this?” What was going to happen when it got worse? Though today she was hard pressed to define ‘worse’. How much more was her life going to change? It was terrifying.

Abbie quietly waited, her soft blue eyes warm and reassuring. Abbie would always love her.

“He won't want me when I can't walk anymore.”

“Kase, we don't know for sure that will happen to you. New medications and treatments—”

“I remember Mom a little before she died,” Kasey said softly, her whisper halting Abbie. “Mostly I remember the wheels of her chair.” They had been as tall as her.

“Oh, honey,” Abbie took her hands into hers, searching her face. “Do you remember her at all before that?”

Kasey shook her head. “I barely remember what she looked like when she was...healthier. Before. Just hazy pictures.”

Abbie nodded, understanding. “And Dad stuck by her till the end. He stuck by us till the end too.” He raised two little girls for five years after his wife died until he himself was untimely killed in a car accident. “He loved her very much and he loved us.”

“I know,” Kasey agreed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “But what if Ben isn't like Dad?” she whispered, dread clutched in her throat. What if Ben really was a drifter like he seemed?

Tears pricked Abbie's eyes. “Honey, only you would know the answer to that.”

Links

WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com
BLOG: http:summersrye.wordpress.com
TWITTER:://twitter.com/RyanJoSummers
FB: www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Jo-Summers-author-page/312875648810797
ROMANCE REVIEWS:http://www.theromancereviews.com/mypage.php?location=ryanjosummers
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6604705.Ryan_Jo_Summers
Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BR1UME4
Smashwords:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/615504




Friday, 26 February 2016

Rosanna Leo - Predator's Rescue


I'm happy today to have Rosanna Leo introducing her new book and telling us a little bit about Fleur the heroine in Predator's Rescue.



With a new release approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to share the journey behind this particular story. If any of you follow my Gemini Island Shifters series, you’ll be familiar with my newest heroine Fleur Bissette. Fleur, a wolf shifter, is the heroine of Predator’s Rescue, Gemini Island Shifters 7. She is easily the most flawed heroine I’ve ever written. In fact, she was once a villain.

However, every villain has a backstory and so does Fleur. She wasn’t born evil but she did fall in with a vile crowd, the Alpha Brethren. This group of shape shifters, led by the vicious August Crane, took advantage of Fleur, brainwashing her. So for a long time, all she knew was negativity and anger.
Without revealing any spoilers from the previous books in the series, I can share the fact that Fleur is now rehabilitated and ready to be “good.” She’s seen misery and pain and no longer wants to be an instrument of vice.

So how does an author make this sort of character sympathetic? When I decided she needed to be my next heroine, complete with a sexy hero and love story, I knew I had my work cut out for me.
The key was sharing Fleur’s background and the circumstances in which she grew up. Her transition couldn’t be immediate. She continues to make mistakes but learns from them. Fleur had to deal with an abusive father, a junkie mother and dozens of men who used her for her looks and sex appeal. She never had anyone in her life who said they were proud of her or who encouraged her to reach for the stars.

This is where hero Jani Fodor comes in. Jani, my growling tiger shifter, has seen something in Fleur from the start, something no one else has ever seen. Little by little, he chips away at her defenses and claims her heart. I love their journey and I’m so happy my readers are enjoying Fleur’s transformation to “good girl.”
Oh, and don’t worry. Fleur is no wimp. Good or bad, she’s still as badass as they come.


Blurb:

Tiger shifter Jani Fodor should have washed his hands of Fleur Bissette long ago. However, when she disappears from the shape shifter sanctuary on Gemini Island, he can’t forget her, and launches a fraught two-week search to find her. He thinks she’ll be grateful but the petulant she-wolf resents his intrusion in her life.
Jani recently liberated Fleur from a vicious cult of shape shifters, where she was brainwashed by the sadistic August Crane. The wolf shifter terrorized their friends at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island. Labeled a “bad girl” all her life, Fleur knows she’ll never fit in with the good guys at the Ursa, no matter how much Jani tries to convince her of their regard. Besides, she can’t stay with Jani. Although he’s the closest thing she’s ever had to a friend, their chemistry is explosive in the worst way.
When a new menace arises, in the form of a vicious drug dealer with a grudge, Jani is adamant Fleur accept his help to rehabilitate her addict mother and remove her from the influence of her dealer. Fleur accepts Jani’s assistance but as they work together, friendship erupts into passion. Neither can deny their lust-struck spirit animals and before long, they realize their connection runs deeper than they ever expected.
Despite the threats posed by the drug dealer, the worst danger of all dwells inside Fleur. Haunted by the spirit of August Crane, Fleur is inundated by visions that torment her. She is consumed by guilt and plagued by old hostilities. Can this bad girl make good? And is Jani’s love enough to save her from her demons?

Excerpt:

Once again, Jani’s temper flared but he swallowed his simmering rage. He stood and raised his voice so he could be heard over Loretta Lynn’s tinny warbling as it emanated from the jukebox. “Now I’m going to ask everyone in this shithole one more time. I’m looking for Fleur Bissette. Where is she?”
There was a crash and a feminine cry from behind one of the closed doors. Jani didn’t hesitate. He launched himself off his stool and toward the door, already on the verge of shifting. His tiger hairs danced in anticipation under his skin, ready to burst through his pores.
The two men who’d approached him grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled him back.
“Hey, asshole,” the grizzly man shouted. “You’re not allowed back there. Private parties only.”
Jani glanced at the hand on his shoulder and then at the man. “One warning. Take your hands off me.”
The idiot snorted and looked at his pal. “Why waste your time lookin’ for Fleur anyway? That girl’s nothing but trouble. Trouble loves her. In fact, she’s probably spreading her legs to trouble right now.”
Jani reached for the man’s arms and spun him around. “What did you say?”
“It’s all the bitch knows how to do. That’s all women like her are good for anyway.”
Jani reared back and let his fist fly, cracking it against the man’s face. The grizzly shifter flew across the room, hitting the back wall, collapsing to the floor. The grim satisfaction of seeing the man crumple overrode any pain in his knuckles. In fact, it felt so good to hit the jackass he had to hold his hand behind his back so he wouldn’t hit him again.
No one, no one, insulted Fleur. The man was lucky Jani didn’t kill him for the slight. Fleur had been called too many names in her time, and he’d made it his mission to see she was never belittled again.
Jani nodded toward the other men. “Don’t even think of stopping me.”
He tried the closed door, relieved to find it unlocked. He flung the door open and his tiger senses homed in on her immediately.
Fleur had clearly been serving drinks to the small group of shifter bikers inside, but one of them had gotten a little too close to the new waitress. Her tray of drinks lay on the floor, smashed, and one of the men had her over his lap. His large hand caressed her ass as she squirmed in his grip.
As time seemed to freeze for Jani, Fleur turned to glance at him. She mouthed his name.
The silent plea made his heart twist in his chest. Had she actually spoken aloud? He wasn’t sure. He couldn’t hear her voice. His ears were ringing too much as his tiger roared her name.
Her dark eyes seemed to grow darker, black with emotion, but he didn’t take time to analyze the sentiment flitting behind her irises.
With a noise that must have sounded more animal than man, Jani raced toward her and pulled her off the man’s lap. He moved her toward the door, so she wouldn’t be hurt in the melee. He then turned to the shithead who’d grabbed her, a growl emanating from his furious core.
The biker, startled and likely drunk, didn’t react quickly enough to shift. Jani hauled him off his chair and thrust him toward the wall.
“Jani,” Fleur called, her voice loud and clear now. “Don’t. You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“His hand was on your ass. I know enough.”
One of the other men was foolhardy enough to try to stop him. He tried to yank Jani away but Jani snapped his arm back, using his elbow to hammer the man in the face. Cradling his bloody nose, the man retreated.
Jani turned his attention back to the shifter who’d groped Fleur. “That was the last time you ever touch her.” Bracing himself, he head-butted him. A sickening crack sounded in the room. The man moaned, his eyes rolled back, and he dropped to the floor.
Ignoring the pain exploding through his forehead, Jani marched toward Fleur, picked her up, and hauled her over his shoulder.
“Hey. Put me down! You have no right.”
No right. He might have laughed if he wasn’t concerned about getting her out of there in one piece.
Holding out his free arm to warn off any others who might consider having a go at him, Jani carried the writhing Fleur out of the room and out of the bar. His heart thumped against his chest just from holding her. Granted, he hadn’t quite envisioned holding her like this, her ass high in the air near his face, but it pleased him more than he cared to admit out loud. Something about the scenario made his inner caveman very happy.




Available Feb. 29 at Amazon, ARe, Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.




Author Bio:

Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Romance and The Romance Reviews.
From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.
A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Rosanna blogs at www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com

Author Links:






Thursday, 25 February 2016

Jessica Cale - The Long Way Home


The Long Way Home will be released on February 29
(The Southwark Saga, Book 3)





A paranoid king, a poison plot, and hideous shoes…it’s not easy being Cinderella.             

After saving the life of the glamorous Marquise de Harfleur, painfully shy barmaid Alice Henshawe is employed as the lady’s companion and whisked away to Versailles. There, she catches King Louis’ eye and quickly becomes a court favorite as the muse for Charles Perrault’s Cinderella. The palace appears to be heaven itself, but there is danger hidden beneath the fa├žade and Alice soon finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, and Satanism at the heart of the French court.

Having left his apprenticeship to serve King Charles as a spy, Jack Sharpe is given a mission that may just kill him. In the midst of the Franco-Dutch war, he is to investigate rumors of a poison plot by posing as a courtier, but he has a mission of his own. His childhood friend Alice Henshawe is missing and he will stop at nothing to see her safe. When he finds her in the company of the very people he is meant to be investigating, Jack begins to wonder if the sweet girl he grew up with has a dark side.

When a careless lie finds them accidentally married, Alice and Jack must rely on one another to survive the intrigues of the court. As old affection gives way to new passion, suspicion lingers. Can they trust each other, or is the real danger closer than they suspect?

“Really brilliant writing that's so engaging with such endearing characters! I especially love the way Jack and Alice are both so devoted to each other! I was totally absorbed in this exciting and fascinating world Jessica Cale created from the very first paragraph to the last! I read this all in one sitting, staying awake late to finish, just had to!” – Romazing Reader

Save 20% when you pre-order with Liquid Silver Books: http://www.lsbooks.com/pre-order-coming-soon-romance-books-c322.php

Find the rest of the series here: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cale/e/B00PVDV9EW

You’re Invited! RSVP to The Long Way Home Leap Year Ball to chat with your favorite authors and enter to win fabulous prizes all day Saturday, February 27th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1040328009352362/

Rafflecopter: Win a 7” Kindle Fire. Open from 2/22-3/14.




 Author Bio

Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in North Carolina.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaCale @JessicaCale
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/bMas0P

Excerpts 

“Do you have a sweetheart?”
Alice’s spine went rigid at the question. Why would he care?
“That is to say, a man. A person, rather. A lover?” Jack cleared his throat. “That’s none of my concern, really. I apologize. Forget I asked.”
How could she answer that? She couldn’t very well tell the strange man Jack had grown into that she’d dreamed of him to the exclusion of all others for eight years. If her freakish memory didn’t frighten him off, her obsession definitely would.
She turned, very slowly, and forgot what she was thinking when she saw him. Jack was reclining on his elbows, looking at the stars. The odd posture only really drew attention to the span of his chest, the slight rise and fall of his breath. He’d dressed in a hurry and his collar had come undone, revealing an inch of collarbone and hinting at the lean muscle beneath. His dented chin was pointed heavenward, lengthening his bare neck. If Alice stared any harder, she’d be able to see the blood flowing within.
She thought about putting her lips on his throat and the fluttering she usually felt in her heart moved decidedly lower.
That was new.
“Just you.” She sighed and then cringed as she realized she’d said it aloud. “Married, remember?”
Jack turned and gave her a boyish smile that made her toes go numb. “I suppose we are. What do you make of that?”
Alice blinked. It was everything she’d ever wanted, but Jack...he was young, handsome, kind, wonderful, and everything that was right in the world. He could have any woman he wanted. Or could have, before she ruined that for him. She wiped away another tear. “I’m sorry, Jack.”
He shrugged. “Whatever for?”
“You deserve a wife of your own choosing,” she said, feeling brave.
He lay on the roof, stretching his arms behind his head with a smile. “Don’t shed any tears for me. I got the prettiest Henshawe girl. The boys back home will be sick with envy.”
Alice’s laugh came out as a snort. She held her nose in embarrassment. “Don’t jest.”
“Who’s jesting?”
Alice curled up on her side facing him, reasonably certain she was dreaming. The cool tile beneath her cheek was real enough. She contracted her nails against the rough surface, wondering if she imagined the vibration in her fingertips. Any moment now, she would wake up.
“I don’t expect you to keep me, of course. That would be something, wouldn’t it? You stuck with someone like me?” He laughed.
Alice didn’t.
“This will be good, though, truly. I can protect you, and we can spend some time together, like the old days.”
Alice sighed. Yes, like the old days, but I’m talking to you now, and making a mess of it, and you’re all grown and gorgeous while I’m more awkward than ever.
Jack smiled, his teeth bright in the night. “It’ll be great fun to pretend to be married.”
Alice fell onto her back with a disappointed grimace. “Fun.”

Married 
Even through five layers of fabric, Alice felt a hand creep across the small of her back. She stepped to the right, the heels of her shoes clattering across the marble step though she attempted stealth. Ysabeau shot her a look of displeasure as she came dangerously close to crowding her. It would not do to crowd Ysabeau.
Again, that dreadful hand. Lower, this time.
If she moved any further from him, she would push a string of ladies into the King’s lap. She had no choice but to stand there, expressionless, as Languedoc fondled her; one more of the palace’s many discomforts.
An idea seized Alice suddenly and she acted upon it before she thought it through. “Sir, I beg you to restrain yourself,” she whispered. “I have a husband.”
“A husband?” Languedoc scoffed, drawing attention to them. “My dear, you might have said.” Still, the lie had the desired effect, causing his hand to pause in midair over her bottom.
Alice looked at her feet, uncomfortable under the sudden scrutiny. “You never asked.”
Ysabeau rapped her flirtatiously with her folded fan. It hurt more than it appeared to. “Alice, you naughty thing! Have you run away?”
Alice shook her head. Not from a husband, at least.
Languedoc eyed her suspiciously, looking for the lie. “I suppose he is some great man? A comte, perhaps?”
This ridiculous question, asked louder than necessary, drew the attention of the rest of the room. Sixty-seven courtiers staring. They could clearly sense ridicule or scandal was sure to follow. They held their breath in anticipation, ready to pounce.
Alice shook her head.
Ysabeau’s face lit up at the attention. “A prince?”
To Alice’s horror, the King was looking at them, listening to the conversation. Alice shook her head.
“English,” Louis stated, his face betraying nothing. He knew very well Alice was not married.
She held his gaze. “Yes.”
“Out with it!” Ysabeau squealed, “Who is he?”
“He’s a soldier,” Alice said to Louis hoping he might use his powers of observation to guess at her reasons for lying. He was a very perceptive man, and already seemed to understand her in ways her family never could. They had spent so much time together over the past weeks she had begun to think of him by his Christian name, though she took care never to address him in such a familiar way.
His gaze flitted to Languedoc almost imperceptibly. “A noble profession,” Louis said. “We have spent a great deal of time within the ranks, as you know. We have on occasion met a number of young men in our cousin’s army. What is his name?”
Alice gulped. “He is very young, Your Majesty, he would not be of any interest.”
Louis’ eyebrow quirked. “On the contrary, any husband of yours is of great interest to me. What is his name, Madame?”
Alice’s hands shook. Languedoc was a snake, of that she was certain. She knew little of the other courtiers present, but she could guess at their feelings toward the English. Louis’ feelings toward them varied on the day. Could she be endangering Jack with a lie?
Louis waited patiently. Alice had to answer him.
She took a breath and said the only name that was in her heart. “Jack Sharpe.”
Louis’ lips twitched. A hint of a smile, and then it was gone. “How fortunate. He’s here.”
“Impossible,” she blurted without thinking.
“You doubt your king?” Louis frowned.
Alice bowed her head. “I do not, Your Majesty, I only reserve my joy. It is a common enough name.”
There was something in the look Louis gave her. A challenge. He addressed the hall. “Bring him to us.”
“He is my guest,” a courtier near the back spoke up. “I will fetch him forthwith.”
“Who is that?” she asked Ysabeau.
“Achille Archambault, the Marquis de Saint Croix.” She sniffed delicately. “No one you need trouble yourself with.”
The conversation around them resumed in pockets of whispers behind fans and gloves. Alice shrunk under the speculative glances turned her way. Ysabeau, bored, watched the queen with an odd balance of jealousy and pity. An English soldier was of no interest to her.
Languedoc loomed to her left. He affected disinterest, though his skepticism was more obvious than his perfumed powder. Civet, she now knew. A musk favored by gentlemen and ladies alike. It was meant to smell like desire, but to her it just smelled like a squeezed cat.
She focused on the details of the people around her, such as the hairpin that was about to fall out of Madame Montespan’s formidable coif; anything to distract from the hammering of her heart. The Jack in question could not possibly be hers.
But if he was...
Alice found herself praying he wasn’t. She wanted to see him to satisfy herself he was well, but not like this. After nearly five years, the first thing he would hear of her would be a lie. A stupid, thoughtless lie that would betray her dearest wish and greatest secret.
Alice fought the urge to cover her face. Whether it was him or not, she would never recover from the embarrassment.
The ladies in front of her must have known ridicule would swiftly see her from Court. Neither would meet her gaze. The one on the right wore violet and her hair was powdered nearly white and studded with jewels the size of eggs. Her companion on the left wore blue and her hair was a softer shade of gray and was crowned with two real doves arranged in artful, decaying flight.
Two sets of boot heels clicked down the corridor. Alice held her breath.
The crowd parted as the Marquis de Saint Croix entered the room accompanied by a tall, young courtier dressed in black.
She let out a breath. Not Jack.
Still, there was something familiar about his gait, the quick, even clip of his steps. Alice peered around the dead doves to really look at him as he approached.
He was far taller than Jack had been, though she supposed it was likely he might have grown in five years, as she certainly had. He was lean and elegant, with an angular face, a soft mouth, and a fetching little divot in his chin.
As he removed his hat to make his bow to the king, he revealed a head of thick black hair, curling madly in all directions. He settled a confused dark gaze on her as he stood.
A rather familiar confused dark gaze.
“Alice?”

Chase 
The palace was quiet, and he imagined most of the residents were away at meals of their own, or perhaps watching His Majesty do something else inane. The enormous rooms were dim, the lesser used ones only half-lit by candles. The marble walls appeared to glow warm with some internal fire, and the gods and monsters in the oil-painted ceilings seemed more alive in the semi-darkness.
Versailles was at its best when it couldn’t be clearly seen. By daylight, the rooms were too garish, too heavily embellished to be tasteful, but alone in the night, Jack could have believed he was sneaking through some secret corner of heaven.
As if to underline this point, Alice’s door opened and she slipped out of the darkness like a divine vision, the only sound she made the whisper of her skirts sweeping against the door. Her dress was the deepest midnight blue trimmed with gold lace, the muted shine of the silk like a moonlit night. Her hair had been arranged carefully and ornamented with three dazzling gold stars above her left ear. She was wearing less powder than she often did, and she looked more like the Alice he knew, only dressed splendidly as a goddess of the night.
She gasped when she saw him standing there, leaning in the arch of the doorway. He hadn’t realized he had done it, but some part of him must have known he needed the support to look at her. She looked him over slowly, bashfully, and her face did not reflect any of Achille’s earlier disappointment. Her eyes appeared to be a hazy gray in the dim corridor, and were so beautiful they were almost painful to look at. It was not disappointment he saw in those eyes, but something altogether more confusing. Was it guilt? Apprehension?
Dear God, it might be lust.
He wondered if her room was empty, and if she had tied her corset with the knot he’d shown her. He knew he could have her dress off in a matter of moments. Just one little tug and her corset would follow, and she’d be in his arms and very nearly his. Jack felt his temperature rise for the second time that night.
If she was a murderer, she must be very good at it. She could have his own knife out of his boot and between his ribs before he could pull his gaze away from her lips.
Remembering himself, he straightened and bowed deeply. He offered her his arm. “My lady.”
Alice took it without a word, flipping open a painted fan with her other hand, fanning her face as they began to walk. Jack was tempted to ask if he could borrow it for a moment. Lord knew he needed to cool down.
They walked slowly together through the dim rooms, the only sound the click of his boot heels and the swish of her skirts. The candlelight gave her face a lovely, rosy glow, but he had seen enough of her that afternoon to know that every inch of her skin really was flawless. His gaze flitted once more to her peony-colored lips. He had kissed her once before. Dare he do it again?
As if she could read his thoughts, Alice looked up at him and he almost tripped over his own feet.
Murderer, he tried to remind himself.
His heart insisted wife.
He cleared his throat noisily. “Y-Your shoes aren’t making any noise,” he observed, and cursed himself for the ridiculous observation. He wanted to compliment her correctly, but he was afraid he would accidentally tell her she looked like something straight out of his most illicit dreams, so instead he blurted a silly comment about her shoes.
Well done, Jack.
Alice didn’t seem to mind. Instead of looking at him with the pity she probably should have felt, she grinned up at him and stopped walking. She removed her hand from his arm and, to his considerable surprise, she raised her skirts to show him the lower half of her curvy calves in silver stockings. He realized after a moment it was not her legs she was showing him, but her shoes—she was wearing a pair of flat, fluffy slippers.
They didn’t look like any slippers Jack had ever seen. They were generously cut and enveloped her little feet completely, so it appeared that instead of wearing shoes, Alice had grown the feet of a bear. Jack grinned at the ridiculous thought. “Those are fur.”
Alice nodded enthusiastically. She raised her skirts a little further and, after she checked that no one else was around, took off running through the now empty Petite Gallerie du Roi. She stopped suddenly and the slippers kept her sliding an extra several feet through the arch into the next room. She looked back at him over her shoulder, her delight plain on her lovely face. Jack laughed, the sound echoing through the cavernous palace.
Something about her running playfully made him want to go after her. The last time he had done that, he had lost control of himself completely and kissed her in the rose garden. That’s how he had ended up going to this damned supper in the first place. Still, her skirts began to shake as she ran a few more steps, and he couldn’t help it.
He chased her.
When Alice noticed him jogging behind her, her face lit up and she took off running in earnest, tearing through the empty rooms and halls as fast as her dress would allow. He chased her through them, grinning so hard his face hurt, until they reached another hall of private apartments and he caught her.
His hands closed around her waist and he spun her around in his arms, trapping her against the gold-trimmed wall. She looked slowly up at him with those devastating eyes, and he knew one thing for certain.
She had let herself be caught.

Thanks so much for dropping by Jessica, I can't wait to find out how Alice and Jack survive life at court!