Stories from Beauville
In the Fictional town of Beauville, anything is possible.
Annabelle Macon left home to become somebody. When fired from her job in New York, she’s anxious to come home. Home is where the heart is, and her heart has always been set on Jackson Storme. But when opportunity presents Anna with an exciting new job back in New York, she doesn’t know what to do.
Sheriff Jackson Storme is happy being deemed a player. He hasn’t found the one woman to call his own, and that’s okay with him. When his baby sister pulls up to the Fourth of July picnic and her passenger steps out, Jackson realizes his woman has made herself known.
Will Anna and Jackson’s fire only burn for one night, or can he convince her that the best burn is A Slow Burn…
Break out the fireworks and get ready to kick-off your summer with this HOT new collection of stories. A Slow Burn is part of the Red Hot and BOOM multi-author series! (Stands alone for your reading enjoyment.)
While a quick read, A Slow Burn is packed with sizzling heat and Jackson. Oh, Jackson.
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Compromise is a word Annabelle Macon knows well. Sacrifices at home, in college and with her career, have all given her the tools to be the person she is. Now it seems she must also make concessions for her long-time love, Jackson Storme.
Six months into their relationship, and he’s already making unrealistic demands. With distance putting that much more of a strain on their relationship, how are the two ever going to manage?
Old insecurities have a way of resurfacing, making Anna feel less than suitable for someone like Jackson. She’s worked hard to get to where she is now. Her life and her work are clashing, making matters worse. Bringing a whole new meaning to work/life balance. But Anna knows that with a little give and take everything will fall into place, regardless of the obstacles that may stand in her way.
Interracial Contemporary Romance.
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There is always a light at the end of every dark tunnel.
But who ever analyzes the journey to get there? There are doors leading to different outcomes, Windows slightly ajar, offering other paths, and cracks in the wall alluding to the outer arena called life. Jackson’s been through it all.
Highs. Lows. Twists. Turns.
But he’ll always remember her. He’ll fight for her. Almost die for her. Walk through hell and back for her. Because until her, there was no him.
Betrayal and new faces all come together as Jackson Storme and Annabelle Macon’s story concludes in Until Her, a southern contemporary filled with ups and downs, rights and wrongs, and finally, their happily ever after. (With an extra helping of Lola Danvers.)
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An International Situation…
Lola Danvers on a rampage, all equate to another day in the life of India Danvers…
Exploring a new land and a new culture is a balm to India’s soul, but the sexy stranger seems to add chaos to her heart and mind. With family constantly getting in the way and meddling exes, it’s no wonder India is having such a hard time.
Each new day is a chance to start over. Dealing with a deep sense of loss, India Danvers is challenged to rebuild and begin again.
Find out how India gets her new beginning.
Preorder New Beginnings
“Seriously, sis, you need to wash your ass. You smell like a dead skunk.”
“Chanty,” Anna hisses, “that’s rude as fuck.”
“No, what’s rude is the smell. Fucking offensive,” I hear my sister, Chantelle, say. She must be standing at the door because I know for a fact, she wouldn’t say that shit to my face.
“If I smell, so the fuck what? It’s my life. I can do what I want when I want. At least I ate something. Worry about your own smelly ass, Chanty.”
My sister laughs, “Oh, bitch, you got jokes.”
“Y’all need to leave her ass alone,” Lola says from behind Chantelle.
“Why for, Lo? She’s been like this for weeks. How much longer you gonna lie there, huh, Indy? I mean, we feel your pain, we all get it. But you gotta move,” Chantelle insists.
Or what? I don’t want to move. I barely want to breathe. My body won’t listen to my heart. I want to die, and I’m not being dramatic. It’s a brutal truth I face every damn day. I’m on autopilot. Eat, sleep, piss, and shit. I barely do that.
So. The. Fuck. What.
It’s my life.
I don’t move when Chantelle walks over to my bed and pulls the blanket off my body. She makes a noise in the back of her throat, and I know what she thinks. I don’t care. It’s true, twins have a secret communication system that only we understand, and right now she’s telling me I stink to high heaven and if I don’t get up, she’s going to pour bleach all over my body.
“If you don’t get your stank ass out of bed, I’m dousing you in bleach.”
See? I was right.
Twin powers ignite.
“Honey? Indy? Come on, can you please get up? I’ll even help you into the shower. We all miss you, sweetie. Please?” Anna, my cousin, tries to go for sweet. But she can be just as vicious as Chantelle and is as sneaky as Lola.
“Y’all, she doesn’t want to get out of bed. Leave her be. I’ll come back around and clean up her stuff later. Right after I get a hazmat suit and some cleaning supplies that will burn the hair off the balls of a sperm whale.”
“Whales don’t have balls, Lo, be serious,” Chanty argues.
“Shut up, Chantelle. We’re leaving, Indy, but I’ll be back. There isn’t anything you can do about that, and you know when I come back, I won’t be nice about it, either.”
As the girls leave my house, I can hear them all voicing their concerns about me. I’m surprised they haven’t tried to get me committed. It’s probably something I need. But I don’t care. When I hear the door shut, I roll to my side. My bladder protests and I seriously need to pee, but I don’t move. I wait until the last possible moment before I finally get out of bed and trudge to my bathroom. I don’t even lift my dress. I just sit on the toilet and pee. I sit here for long minutes. There is no toilet paper, but I don’t need it. I use the dress to wipe and stand. I’m a ghost. I don’t know what Chantelle was talking about because I smell nothing. Nope.
My eyes are unfocused as I stand in front of the mirror and attempt to make out the figure in front of me. My skin is sallow-looking. I’m a zombie. My eyes are puffy and bloodshot. My skin will probably slough right off if I wipe at it hard enough.
Hey, I figured out the best diet ever.
Death of the person or persons you love the most. I could tell someone about the pain, but they wouldn’t understand. I’m swimming in a type of despair I can never escape from. How can I ever be happy again?
I’m still in the dress I wore that day. My hair is a matted mess of clumps that feel more like a Brillo pad than anything else. Beneath my feet are clothes I tossed here and there. I couldn’t decide what to wear that day, and instead of putting them back, I tossed them haphazardly around. A pair of jeans hangs off the shower door.
Aah. The shower. I should probably take one.
But I don’t. Why should I? I don’t want anyone to come near me. And for some fucked-up reason, folks thought that walking up to me and apologizing would somehow ease the ache inside my chest. They were so wrong.
I don’t bother looking at the reflection that stares back at me. I walk to the bedroom, and littered trash crunches and slides beneath my feet. I may have even stepped on an old banana peel. Wonder when I ate that.
I clutch my belly and fall back on the bed that’s littered with empty cartons of ramen, chicken, and a moldy paper plate.
I had precious cargo once.
Listened to their hearts. Felt their kicks.
I even waited, no, longed for their cries, but in the end, they greeted me with silence.
The silence that chills you to your very core. A person can’t recover from that type of silence. It’s eerie and evil. I lost Zion before I even lost Zoe. He just couldn’t make it past week fourteen. But he was still a person. Still my son.
My babies are not here, and there is nothing I can do about it except die. I bury my face in the mattress and let out a silent scream as I curl into a ball and clutch my stomach. Silently, I beg for death. I welcome it. I hold my breath until my chest burns and my skin stretches tight. I’m close to suffocating. The only thing I can hear is the beating of my dying heart. It’s fast at first, and as time passes, it slows. Blackness seeps into the corner of my mind, and I feel dizzy. Lightheaded. It may work this time.
Is that a light up ahead?
No. It’s darkness. Cold, unforgiving darkness. But off in the distance, I swear I can hear their sweet voices calling out to me. Waiting for me. They need me. Who else is going to care for them like I can? How dare fate be such a cunt and take life from me. What the fuck did I ever do to her?
The sounds get louder, and I swear I smile. My babies have waited long enough. I swore Zoe was going to make it. Come out all smiles and cries in the end. I even felt her move the day before I lost her. I carried her all the way to the end. Even if I couldn’t help her brother, I promised to be there for her. My Zoe.
I’m here. Right here.
My body jolts and pain rushes across my entire body. The pain intensifies until I gasp for air.
“Fucking bitch. You’re not gonna die on my watch,” Lola says above me.
My eyes pop open to see my cousin standing over me, her hand raised, and her chest rising and falling with each violent breath she takes.
“You want to die? Really? That’s the punk-ass move you want to pull, bitch! You only get one shot at this life. So, you received a shitty hand. Zoe and Zion will not be waiting for you on the other side because you decide to be a wimp. Fight. If not for yourself, you live for Zoe. She may be gone, but she and Zion won’t be forgotten. You dishonor her, and your family, if you take the sissy way out. And although Zion didn’t get his shot at life, he still has a soul. He’s going to see to Zoe’s safe return to where she came. And if the Creator is willing, she and her brother will get a second shot at life.”
Lola yanks on my wrist, almost pulling my arm out of its socket. She tosses ice water on me, and against my will, I jump up startled. I glare in Lola’s direction. Everything on my body hurts.
“That’s right, bitch. Use that anger and go get your ass in the shower.” I don’t move, but Lola isn’t someone who will take no for an answer. She grabs me again and pushes me forward and shoves me into the scalding hot spray of the water. “I said, wash your ass.”
The water’s gone cold.
I’ve been standing under the onslaught of my emotions just existing. I barely realize the water has become frigid. I wish Lola would leave. But she won’t. That’s not how she is. Lola is a nosy bitch, and instead of leaving me to my pain, she amplifies it with her rude-ass mouth and bullying tactics. I can’t properly form the words to describe the feelings that have gripped a hold of my heart and refuse to let go.
I don’t want to let go.
This thing that I’m feeling, the loss, the pain, the absolute horror of knowing I’ll never hear the sound my child makes when she’s hungry or happy. I won’t get to soothe her when she’s sad, or angry, or pick her up when she falls. All the fucking feelings in the world could not have prepared me for the death of my daughter. I only survived after losing Zion because they told me Zoe would be okay.
My adorable, beautiful little girl, Zoe.
She was perfect in every way. Ten fingers, ten toes, head full of hair. The only thing my little Zoe was missing was a heartbeat. Taken too soon. The nurse called it her still birthday.
That was twenty-one days ago.
I lost my Zoe twenty-one days ago. No one could tell me why.
“Girl, the water is freezing cold, get your ass out and dry off.” I hear Lola yelling for me. I don’t respond. But I get out of the shower and grab the towel from the rack.
I know I’m supposed to dry myself and put on some clothes. In my former life, I’d have gone through my entire skin care regime, dressed, and put on some makeup. None of that matters right now. The fog on the mirror has long since evaporated, giving me a glimpse of the person staring back at me.
She’s dead inside.
I can see my cheekbones and the indentation of my ribs show through on my skin. I’ve got the golden ticket to the perfect diet. Starvation and lack of sleep. The bathroom door bursts open and Lola walks in.
“Damn, you’re a mess.” She wraps a towel around my body and guides me into my room. “Sit down. And you better not tell anybody I dressed your ass. I’m only doing this ‘cause I love you.” My body jerks this way and that as she pulls a shirt over my head. Yanks on my underwear and thrusts my legs through a pair of leggings. “There. You’re halfway decent. Let’s see what I can do with this hair.”
Lola grabs my detangling brush and works the knots out of my hair. Normally, I’m tender-headed, but I don’t feel a thing. I’m numb. You could set me on fire, and I wouldn’t move.
“You’re going to have to do something with this hair. Either put it up in braids or keep it in a ponytail. Especially if you’re going to go all catatonic on us. The twins called again to check on you. They’re worried.”
I don’t respond. I sit here and allow her to finish my hair. It’s the only way to get her out of the house. I figure if I don’t fight Lola, she’ll eventually leave. I close my eyes and try to think of nothing.
It doesn’t work.
It’s the reason I can’t sleep. If I close my eyes for too long, I’ll see her. I’ll see my Zoe. I’ll see the twins and the confusion and loss that is etched across their faces. When I found out I was pregnant, neither of them cared. They wanted to be supportive fathers. No matter who the father was. I remember my dad not being happy I was pregnant, and that I didn’t know exactly who the father was. It wasn’t like I was sleeping around. I was faithful to both men. They were brothers after all and they shared me, and I enjoyed every moment. But things got complicated with my family, and they weren’t as accepting of our relationship as they pretended to be. It also didn’t help that the twins didn’t live in Beauville. We tried the long-distance relationship for a while, but it wasn’t to our liking. We split on good terms. But three months later I had to visit them to explain our predicament.
But how can I face them now?
“Did you hear me, Indy? Finn and Sawyer are coming to see you.”
I clear my throat before I speak. “They can’t.”
“Why the hell not? They want to see their daughter.”
I yank myself forward and out of Lola’s grip. I feel the chunks of hair tear free as I move and stand. “They can’t come see her. I’m not ready.”
“Well, when will you be ready?”
“Never,” I hiss. I clutch my stomach as bile tries to rise. It burns the back of my throat, and I rush to the bathroom to greet the porcelain king. All that comes out is nothing and everything. Sawyer and Finn can’t come here. I can’t handle seeing their faces, and I didn’t bury my daughter. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to put her in a pine box and shove her six feet under the ground to be left in the dark. No. I refused to.
The coroner told us they could keep her body for up to thirty days to give us time to decide. The thought of her being left in a freezer didn’t suit me either. It was Anna who suggested I cremate her. Keep hold of her ashes until I was ready to say goodbye.
I don’t think I can.
I never even got the chance to say a proper hello.
“Indy, those boys deserve to put their baby girl to rest.”
“She’ll never be at peace,” I whisper into the toilet bowl.
Lola rubs my back and slips a warm washcloth in front of me and wipes my face. I sit back on my heels and look up at my relative. I know she can see the pain there. But she doesn’t feel it. No one can.
“Baby girl. Help Zoe be at peace. Give her a proper farewell. You don’t have to sprinkle her ashes anywhere, but you have to allow her to transcend. We couldn’t even hold the traditional mourning because of your pain. We need to send her off right.”
I know Lola is right. But I can’t get on board. My mind is a mess.
“Do it without me,” I whisper.
The sound of Lola’s hand connecting with my face is a shock. I don’t feel the pain, but I realize seconds later that she put hands on me. “Snap out of it. No one is saying you can’t miss Zoe. No one is saying you will forget her, but you will honor her, India Danvers.”
“Did you just slap me?”
Lola gets in my face; her eyes pop and she’s wearing that look that only a mother can give when she dares you to speak back. “Yeah, what are you going to do about it?”
My cousin is a hot-ass mess, no one can deny it. She and my sister are troublemakers with a capital T. “Hit me one more time and I’m telling my momma.”
“Go right ahead, it was yo momma who gave me permission to whoop your ass should you decide to stay in bed any longer than today.”
Of course, Momma would give powers to Lola to manhandle me. Figures.
“Fine,” I relent.
I can put on a show. If that’s what they want. I’ll give them a show. I’ll put on a face. Pretend to be normal, and when they aren’t looking, I’ll go back to my world of sorrow and darkness.
“Finally.” Lola eyes me closely. “Don’t think you can fake the bullshit, because I’ll know, Indy. If you don’t get some act right. I’m gonna move in here with my litter of fur babies and my big ass husband, Bear, and see how well you can handle me and mine. Ya, hear?”
Lola is serious. I can see it in her mean-mugging eyes. She also knows I don’t do dogs. I’m a cat person through and through. Well, maybe not anymore. I’m not an anything person.
“Lola, I need time. Twenty-one days is hardly enough—”
Lo pulls me into a hug and squeezes me tight. “I know. Everyone knows. But you must start your day one somewhere before we lose you. I love you to pieces, Indy, but it hurts us all to sit here and watch you self-destruct. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. I don’t want to. Even thinking about it makes my stomach ill. Uncle Lester worries and so does your momma. We all do. Let me finish your hair before the twins get here. Do something with your face so you don’t look like you’ve been held prisoner in some war no one remembers.”
I don’t argue. I let her finish my hair. I brush my teeth and put makeup on my face. I look presentable, but barely.
“There. You look a little less Grim Reaper, and a tad better than ghostly.”
There is a knock at the door before I can respond to her comment. “Lo, can you get that while I put on my slides?”
When she leaves, my shoulders sag. I don’t know if I can do this. I’ve always been the strong one. Whenever Chanty or Lola felt down, it was me cheering them up. I’ve never been on the receiving end of being consoled. It’s a weird feeling. I can hear male voices in my front room. Finn and Sawyer. I also hear Jackson’s voice too.
“How’s she holding up, Lola?” I hear Sawyer ask. “Is it too soon for us to be here?”
Yes. Yes, it is, but I don’t have a choice in the matter with my life. Because my family has decided to bogart their way in.
“Sawyer, don’t worry about whether it’s too soon. What everyone needs to focus on is making sure our girl stays in the land of the living.”
“Has she indicated that she’d do something like that?” Finn says in an awkward tone. I know he’s gripping the back of his neck. It’s a thing he does.
I mentally roll my eyes at Finn’s concerned response and before I know it, I’m in the hall with my hands on my hips, looking both men square in the face. I forgot Zoe looked like a combination of both men. The nose, the brow. My heart stops beating for a moment as panic attempts to take hold.
“India, sweetheart.” Jackson is there in front of me and pulls me in for a hug. “Anna and the girls are going to come back later and clean up the house. Treat and I are going to do the yard work. All you need to do is just relax.”
I slouch in his hold, and a part of me wants to break down. Wants to give in and reach for him. But I can’t. I want to suffer in silence. I want to be left alone in my solitude. I feel if I continue my daily life one day, I’ll forget her face, or I won’t remember the soft texture of her curly hair. My little Zoe.
“Jackson, give her to me,” Finn says gently. And just as quickly, I’m passed from Jackson’s arms into Finn’s. His arms wrap around me in a gentle hug as he leans down and presses a soft kiss on my forehead. “I need you to rest easy, love. I will not tell you everything is going to be all right, because I’m right here with you feeling the pain of our Zoe.”
As soon as the words appear, I lose all strength in my legs, but Sawyer is behind me, supporting me. There was a time being cocooned in their arms felt like the greatest feeling in the world. A time where I let myself pretend that the three of us could work. But now when I see them, my heart spasms, and all my wounds bleed. I don’t know if there will ever be a time where the pain will scab over and eventually heal.
Finn lifts me into his arms and walks us over to the couch. During my pregnancy, both men were there for me in their own way. They tried to be present as much as they could be, given their line of work. Even though it was hard for them, they made sure to make it easy on me. In efforts to keep me sane and happy, they missed the one thing I desperately needed, and that was someone to talk to late at night or someone I could lean on. They never stayed with me, and honestly, I didn’t expect them to. They were their own men, and I was just the woman they accidentally knocked up. A relationship that was never meant to be more than what it became. Until it was all over.
“I’m going to make her some tea. Y’all go on and have your talk.”
Talk? What talk?
Finn places me on the couch and sits on my left. Sawyer sits on my right. They’re both turned toward me, and both take one of my hands to hold in theirs.
I don’t have to say the words out loud. Finn is already explaining before I have time to voice my question. “We spoke to Anna and Jackson, and we think it would be a good idea if you came with us.”
“Why do you think that’s a good idea?”
Sawyer clears his throat. “It’s only for a little while. Change of scenery and a chance to start over.”
“I don’t want to start over,” I whisper.
“Baby girl,” Jackson says from the other side of the room. “You can’t keep living like this.”
Who said I was living?
“We have an assignment coming up here soon in a few weeks. Sawyer has a friend who is good at talking to people. She helped us both out. We think you should talk to her.”
“Talk to her about what?”
“Anything,” the twins say at the same time.
“Or nothing at all, Indy.” Jackson adds. “But either way, you can’t stay here. You can’t stay like this. You need to get out.”
“Get out and go where, Jackson?” I ask.
Jackson moves closer to crouch in front of me. He places his hands on my knees. The act is one of kindness, but to me it’s an act of disrespect. How dare he tell me to leave. “India, you’re wasting away here all by yourself. We all love you, and care about your well-being. We can’t leave you like this, and we sure as hell aren’t going to leave you alone. The girls gave you time, more time than they wanted to. But now it’s time to do what needs to be done.”
“Stop talking,” I breathe out.
Finn and Sawyer grip my hands tighter. “It’s hard to hear. We know it,” Finn says, turning my face to meet his. “She was ours too.”
I pull back from Finn, almost bumping into Sawyer, shaking my head. “No, she was mine. I carried her. Not you.”
“Indy, listen to what you’re saying. How could she only belong to you? We were with you from beginning to end. Even if we lost Zion, we still had Zoe. Been there for all the firsts,” Sawyer reminds me.
“And for the last,” Finn whispers. I can hear the emotion in his voice as he speaks the words.
“What is it, you all want me to do? Just leave my house. Go somewhere with you two and what? Be your fuck toy?”
“India Danvers!” Lola yells from the other side of the room. “Get your head out of your ass and accept the help that’s being offered.” She gives me the look, and I know what she’s saying.
If I don’t leave with the twins. She and her family are moving in.
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