*Quote taken from Book 2 “Heart of Ainsley”
This is my fourth published book and I’m just now doing a tour–I know…Crazy, right?! Truth is, Walls of Ainsley–the book I’m promoting–and Heart of Ainsley is near and dear to my heart. This is the first time I’ve decided to go more along the lines of what I really want to write…what kind of author I want to be: Psychological Romance/Romantic Thriller. Don’t let the covers fool you. There’s a love story here, and you will fall for the son of an accused killer, the son that’s supposed to be dead.
Blurb – Walls of Ainsley
Brigham Ainsley is the son of the most notorious mass murderer in Surrey. The Ainsleys built this orphanage decades ago. Considered odd and eccentric for their time, the family remained secluded, shutting out the world. It is believed Brigham’s father, Allister, finally snapped, killing the children and family at his mercy.
Scarlet, a fresh out of college journalist, knows there’s an untold story here and sets off to England to hopefully guarantee her career working for the top magazine company located in San Francisco. Soon after she arrives, the locals tell her to turn around. They say Brigham could still be alive—or he’s dead and haunts the place. It isn’t long before Scarlet finds out which story is true.
***Note from Author: Contains cliffhanger. Purchase Heart of Ainsley here.***
Nails clawed at his chest until he felt his skin tear open. The scent of fresh blood tickled his senses.
“When you’re numb, you’re done, boy. You know the rule.”
Brigham bent over the table his father used specifically for punishment. His bare bottom was exposed to his father’s all too swift belt.
Caught between hellish nightmare and vivid memory, his subconscious triggered the calming repetition he’d learned long ago. “One, two, three. One, two, three, four, five,” he muttered in his sleep.
The bite and force of the leather no longer registered. Brigham was numb, but he couldn’t find enough air in his lungs to say the words. The only thing that registered was the metallic taste of blood in his mouth from gnawing the inside of his cheek as he ground his teeth harder and harder.
“One, two, three. One, two, three, four, five.”
She was there, watching, but didn’t acknowledge his presence. With his arms stretched wide, his hands clutching the sides of the table, he prepared as he shut his eyes, cutting the tears off like a dry dam, and thought of being anywhere else…anyone else.
Brigham forced his eyes open and bolted upright. His chest, slick with sweat, rose and fell with every quick breath. What on Earth? Despite sleep, an exhausted Brigham rubbed his eyes, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and stared into the pure darkness. There were no windows, no air, no movement. Wait. This wasn’t his bed, his room. Not anymore. Brigham sighed. He hated not knowing where he would wake up in the mornings, but after his eyes came to focus, he saw where he was.
“This is madness. I must stop doing this,” he muttered, running a hand through his already messed up hair and tossing the covers aside in disgust.
Sleepwalking had been a fact of his life for the better part of thirteen years. At least he wasn’t in the pool this time, gasping for air. He wasn’t sure why he randomly woke up here. Couldn’t explain it, even if he tried, and it unsettled him every time.
And his nightmares? He had no idea what they were of or where they came from. When he woke he couldn’t recall a single image, but the terror he felt was always a sure thing.
The air outside the four-by-eight walls washed over his dampened skin, and he felt the familiar stinging sensation.
He walked to a nearby mirror and took in the damage. There, on his chest and up both sides of his neck, sat raised streaks, swollen, bloody, and caused by his own hands. He moved his gaze from his still heaving chest to his face. A man’s face. Every time he saw his reflection, he half-expected his younger self to stare back. It always took a minute for the shock to wear off.
He heard shuffling and knew it was the only other life in the house, his dog Bretta.
Whining, she trotted up beside him and pressed her sweet face into his leg.
He reached down and rubbed between her ears. “Come now, girl. I’m fine. Let’s get out of here.”
With Bretta at his heels, he made it two steps before noticing he was naked. “This won’t do.” Todd could be back from his holiday anytime. Although he’d be surprised if he was home, he wasn’t due back until tomorrow.
He traipsed upstairs, past an old canning room on the ground floor, to his bedroom—his real bedroom—the next floor up.
He threw on some clothes as he stared out the window overlooking the gated front yard of the manor. How dreary.
He remembered flowers. Lots and lots of different blooms bursting with color. That had all been choked out by vines and overrun with weeds. What had once been deemed a respectable orphanage was now a desolate piece of land marred by the passing of his parents over a decade ago.
Nothing a black sky cannot cover, I suppose. He continued watching, fascinated by the trees raging against each other as the wind howled in protest. It looked to be a nasty storm coming, and he was glad he was safe inside.
But then…he never went out.
After putting the last of the groceries away, she grabbed the coveted package of peanut butter crackers to tide her over. She’d eaten dinner in her room every night, the same room Todd had warned her about. She was prepared to listen, but he’d said his nephew would pick the one he wanted her to have whenever he arrived. Maybe tonight’s the night.
She sat in the small lunchroom, in what had become her chair since that first night’s stolen snack, and munched away, demolishing the rest of the package she’d started eating in the taxi ride back—much to the cabbie’s dismay—and attacking the next. “Oh, come on! Can nothing just be simple in my life?” she said, struggling to open the wrapper with her now slippery fingers.
“Maybe I can help.”
“Shit!” Scarlet screamed and held a shaking hand to her pounding heart as she sought out the source of the deep, very male voice and found herself staring into a pair of deep gray eyes. Holy. Shit. The eyes were only part of the gorgeous package consisting of full lips, chiseled jaw, and perfectly straight nose, and surrounded by a head full of wavy, dark hair. He was tall and seemed even more so standing over her. But I’m sitting. No. That doesn’t matter. Even if she were standing, she knew he’d tower over her. His wide shoulders completed the ominous, yet powerful picture. The nephew? Physically, he didn’t disappoint. Is he wearing a frock coat? That retired centuries ago…didn’t it? It looked out of style, although classy with his dark pants and white shirt. He’s here. Finally. Scarlet was vaguely aware of a dog at his side—a black retriever and shepherd mix if she were to guess.
He remained silent, and their eyes never strayed from the other’s gaze as he took measured steps toward her, one after another, until her neck was kinked almost straight up.
He reached out.
Scarlet opened her hand, ready to be led away on some grand adventure, and the forgotten sleeve of crackers rolled across her palm.
With one swift pull, he ripped the package open and handed it back. “Here.”
Scarlet blinked. “Are you a mirage?”
“No,” he said. “Not a mirage.”
Close your mouth! “Oh.” Why can’t I close my mouth?! Scarlet watched as he backed away.
“Might I ask what it is that brings you to Ainsley Manor? This is private property.”
“Of course.” Didn’t Todd tell him about me? He said he had. God, this guy is striking. “Um, I was, uh, just looking…originally, I was looking for the owner of the—”
“You’ve found him.”
Todd isn’t the owner? “Wonderful. You just arrived? I mean, um, I’ve been here the whole week and . . .”
The nephew said nothing.
Unsure how to proceed, she fidgeted with the crackers and shifted in her seat then faced him again. “Listen this is—”
“Illegal,” he said.
“Yes.” She chuckled and tried to cover for the spreading blush she felt creeping across her cheeks. “I’m sorry, but I did try to call first, as I’ve explained to your uncle. I really did. But there doesn’t seem to be a number. So, I guess…basically, I thought I would figure it out when I got here. Then, my car broke down, and this couple would only bring me as far as the bridge, and it was raining, and…” Oh for—just stop talking, Scarlet! When the hell did I start blabbering?
“You were merely looking for a place to stay at that point? All the way out here?”
He looked her up and down.
Yeah, I didn’t think you’d buy that one. She crossed her arms and rubbed her hands briskly up and down to stop the chill. Why is it suddenly so cold in here? “Well, as I said, my car broke down…”
He gave her another once over.
She felt her nipples harden, and not from the near-freezing temperatures in the room, but if he noticed, he didn’t show it.
“Why were you abandoned at the bridge?” he asked, sounding upset. “It was storming that night, from what you’ve said. The couple couldn’t bring you the rest of the way?”
It seemed strange to Scarlet that he didn’t suspect the reason. “Well, with everything that happened…you know people and their silly beliefs.”
He only stared.
Scarlet sat straighter. “You must know the stories,” she said. “You can’t possibly buy a place like this and not know.”
Glancing away for the first time since she’d spotted him in the doorway, he cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable as he shifted from one foot to the other. To Scarlet, he seemed suddenly offended. “I’m ever so sorry, but I cannot allow this any longer. I shall request you a taxi.”
He turned on his heel, and she jumped out of her chair, grabbing his arm as he started to leave.
He jolted, as if burned, and yanked his arm out of her grasp. “Don’t.”
The sound of his strangled voice as he said that one word sparked something in her, and she slowly raised her hands in the air. “I’m sorry. I was just…”
“Please.” He righted his coat. “Don’t handle me like that again.”
“You are always punctual, so imagine my shock when I didn’t see you this evening for our talks. Thank goodness Scarlet rang me.”
Brigham sensed Todd standing close to him as he lay across the sofa. He lifted his arm and peeked out at the old man.
Todd stood, his hand outstretched, waiting.
“I don’t want any more of that rubbish. It’s poison,” Brigham said and clenched his jaw, grinding his teeth in pain and frustration.
“It’s not what you’ve been taking. This will help with queasiness. Give it a go.”
“Suit yourself,” Todd said, placing the medicine in the pocket of his suit jacket before sitting across from Brigham. “What is this about, Brigham? This is unlike you.”
Brigham closed his eyes, placing his arm back over his face. “Leave it alone.”
“Is Scarlet too much for you?”
Under normal circumstances Brigham would have laughed. Of course she’s too much. He had been acting all manner of mental since she’d come in his life, and he couldn’t stop thinking about her—and wanting to touch her. Brigham shifted in an attempt to hide any evidence of his feelings. “It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?”
“My intentions were clear from the start. I’m doing this for you and your family’s name. You will eventually find peace of mind, knowing opinions have changed.”
Perhaps asking people the world over to change their perception of his family was like asking God to appear—it simply wasn’t possible. He wished he didn’t care what others thought, but the truth was, he loved his family and missed them terribly.
“Tell me what to do, Brigham.”
His mind drifted to Scarlet. Her thick, wavy hair. Her eyes. How she smelled and felt beneath his fingers. How had he gone more than ten years alone? Now that he knew her, he didn’t think he’d ever be the same…and he hated that.
“You’re getting angry,” Todd said, pointing out the obvious.
“Why? What happened today that brought on such pain?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Brigham, you’re all mouth and no trousers when it comes to her.”
Brigham sat up and looked at Todd sitting with one leg was crossed over his thigh and his fingers steepled together. “You are the one who wanted me to blend in.”
“I did. But I also told you to take care. I shouldn’t have to remind you how eccentric you appear to her. Your mind and way of things aren’t what others understand.”
“And I suppose that’s my fault,” Brigham said, his temper getting the best of him. He was all too aware how his need for privacy appeared. It was he that feared people. But, it was necessary. He had to keep away. Moving on and seeking the tools to do so was never an option since he couldn’t explain his fears, not even to himself. And Todd was the only one who had simply accepted that—the only one that could, aside from Martha.
“No. Not your fault.”
Brigham lifted his head and saw the frown on Todd’s face. It softened his demeanor and made Brigham feel like a heel. “I’ve been…craving her.”
“Tell me. How are you craving her, Brigham? In what context?”
Brigham frowned but admitted the truth, out loud, for the first time. “Sexually, I think.”
Teasers – Book 1
Playlist – Book 1
Read All About It – Emeli Sande
Stay – Rihanna
Until It Hurts – Fransisca Hall
Fool In Love – Rihanna
Make It Rain – Ed Sheeran
Free Me – Sia
All You Never Say – Birdy
Numb – Max Jury
In My Veins – Andrew Belle
Heal – Tom Odell
You Don’t Know – Katelyn Tarver
Inner Demons – Julia Brennan
Sam Claflin (Brigham Ainsley) & Rachel Bilson (Scarlet White)
Tour Dates: July 17 – 21
Tour hosted by: IndieSagePR
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