Painting Blogs With Memories Book Blitz
Adult Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: January 21st, 2013
Format: E-book & Paperback
I’ve come to realize how much life can change with circumstance. One moment I was a happy sixteen year old girl with a great brother, Jesse, who I adored.
Then Jesse died.
No matter how much I wished it had been me in the accident, wishing will never change what happened. Five years later, my father’s eyes are still filled with hate and regret whenever he looks at me. I haven’t forgotten my mistake, but I've accepted it.
My father has not.
He may always see me as a failure, but I’m determined to make a fresh start in a new town where love promises to be more generous than the scorn I've left in my father's eyes. With any luck, maybe some distance will make him see me as his daughter again. Until then I’ll find my own way.
It’s what Jesse would want.
Painted Memories is an original, contemporary romance about love, loss, and recovering from tragedy. Its characters are real. Between humor and heartbreak, it’s funny, touching, and full of redemption.
My apartment complex was off the beaten path, and if I hadn't gotten lost in the first place, I might have never found Oakdale. Hidden from the main roads, tucked into a wooded area, huge oak trees surrounded the perimeter. It was a large complex, eight buildings total, two floors each. The property manager told me when I inquired about renting an apartment that there were twisted walking trails, which wrapped around one side of the pond, through the woods to the opposite of the pond. I also had access to basketball courts, tennis courts, and two swimming pools, if I preferred other activities. I was lucky there were several available units when I came across it. Oakdale seemed to be the place to live around here, but none of it mattered if I didn't allow myself the luxury of using it. I always meant to, but never found the time. I had to start making the time, or else I could end up being a workaholic like my father. After living with him all my life, that was the last thing I wanted to become.
Sweat dripped down the back of my neck and other unmentionable parts of my body as I ran. The hot September made me realize I probably picked the worst time of day to drag myself around the track--late afternoon. I looked across the pond at my starting point and knew there was no way I'd be able to push myself all the way around without collapsing from exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke.
A noise behind me caught my attention and I stepped off the path to avoid forcing the person behind me to slow down. I jogged between the concrete track and the edge of the water before noticing a man falling into stride beside me. He nodded with a smile and I grinned at him, hearing unknown lyrics streaming from the headphones in his ears. Suddenly, I shifted forward, with only the pond and a park bench in my line of sight. I tried to reach for the bench as I fell, my arms flailing. My body’s momentum propelled me forward and I screamed before being silenced by a mouthful of water.
I struggled, losing my footing every time I tried to stand up. I've got to get out! I've got to get out! The snakes are going to get me! were my only thoughts.
Water splashing, I choked on the brackish-brown water as I gasped for breath. I was going to drown or get bitten by a snake while everyone around me watched. The guy that was jogging beside me appeared on the edge of the bank, leaning over with his hand stretched out.
“Stand up,” he said. “It's not that deep.”
After a moment, his words sunk in and I tried to stand. When I looked down at the water, I felt like an idiot, seeing the water only came up to my waist. I took a step toward him and reached for his hand just as something slimy brushed against my leg. With a terrified scream, I leaped forward.
“It's going to bite me! Get me out! Get me out!” I yelled, splashing water everywhere. He pulled me up the embankment and my shoes slipped over the soft, wet dirt. I coughed up pond water as I gasped for a fresh breath in the humid air. He wrapped his arm around my waist and walked me toward an empty park bench only a few feet away.
“Are you okay?” he asked, sitting down beside me.
“Oh my God! Thank you. If you hadn't helped me, I might have drowned.” I glared at the bystanders, still gawking at me from their park benches and private picnics. “Obviously, no one else was going to help,” I said louder than necessary. They averted their eyes while I stared, encouraging them to mind their own business.
“Well, it's a good thing I decided to come for a run when I got off work, isn't it? My name’s Drew, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.
I shook it, breathing heavily. I didn't bother to mention that if I hadn't moved over for him to pass, I wouldn't have fallen in to begin with. “I'm Lilly.”
“Oh wait... you've got something—” he started to say as he reached his hand toward my hair.
I saw it out of the corner of my eye when he pulled it from between the strands of my hair. It was long and green, and only one word came to mind. Snake! I jumped up, a scream trapped in my throat, but slapped my hand over my mouth when he dangled the long piece of grass between his fingers in front of me. I closed my eyes and settled back down on the bench. I knew he must've thought I was such a freaking idiot.
When I pulled into the parking lot this morning, I caught Drew's eye, but looked away before he could approach me. Later, when I walked through the halls during a class change, I turned a corner and ran into him... literally. My heel slipped on a wet spot and Drew instinctively grabbed my waist to keep me upright.
“I'm sorry,” I said as I pulled myself together. The words nearly stuck in my throat when a smile spread over his lips. I couldn't look away, remembering how soft they felt against mine. Then I thought about the note he taped to my door and the ChapStick and I pushed away from him.
Drew dropped his hands from my waist. “Are you all right?”
“I'm fine. Thank you.” I walked around him and didn't look back. He made me nervous and flustered and I couldn't talk to him right then.
Later, I sat at my desk with my eyes glazed over as I attempted to grade the papers in front of me. Since I had free time while the kids went to music, then lunch, I tried, but I couldn't seem to reel my thoughts in long enough to concentrate. The conversation between Andrea and me the day before, and seeing Drew earlier that morning stayed in the forefront of my mind. Ever since seeing him, I couldn't get the events of Saturday out of my head, or what they might mean for the future, if anything at all. I doodled on a piece of paper while my mind wandered. There was something about him that was different than any other men I’ve dated. The way he spoke to me, soft and caring. I doodled a small heart on my paper. Then there was the way he held my face in his hands... heart... the way his lips brushed mine... heart... how he teased my lip with the tip of his tongue... heart. What the crap was I thinking?
“Hey there, whatcha doing?”
I nearly jumped out of my chair at the sound of his voice. Drew was standing in front of me and I quickly swept the papers into a pile. “Oh hey, just grading papers.”
He looked down, “Huh... you put hearts on their papers instead of smiley faces?”
“I like to mix things up.” Lie, total lie. Thank God I wasn't doodling his name across the page like I did back in middle school. “Did you need something?” I asked casually.
“I was getting ready to head out to lunch and thought I'd see if you wanted to come. Maybe we could try that place you were raving about this weekend?”
“I can't. I didn't bring my ChapStick today,” I said sarcastically before getting up and walking to the chalkboard to wipe it clean.
“Oh, I take it my comment wasn't that funny then? Did you get my note?”
I whirled on him. “No, it wasn't funny. It embarrassed me and it wasn't necessary. And no, I didn't read the note. I wasn't in the mood for another smart comment.”
“I didn't mean for it to come out the way it did. Knowing you were going out with him may have made me a tiny bit jealous.” He looked down at the floor briefly before looking back at me. “And it wasn't a smart comment.”
I lowered my tone. “Making you jealous was never my intention. I told you I wasn't dating anyone seriously, and that goes for you too. Like I said, I'm not settling. If you can't handle that, then it’s best we stick to being friends, if you can handle that.”
Drew closed the few feet between us and stood in front of me. His hands were in his khaki pockets. His navy pinstriped shirt was ironed to crisp perfection, setting off his broad shoulders. Amusement played in his eyes as he considered what I said.
“Yes, I clearly remember our conversation.” He took a step forward while I took a step back. “I'll still be jealous.” He took another step.
“I want to make sure you know that you can date whomever you want, but I'm not giving up.”
“I really do like you, Lilly. But being 'just friends' is not what I'm interested in. So if you’re not the slightest bit interested in me, tell me now.”
My back hit the chalkboard and Drew was inches away. I could feel my heart rate picking up as his eyes drifted to my chest, briefly catching the increased rise and fall. He wasn't going to sit idly by, waiting for me to come to him. I couldn't deny that it thrilled a part of me.
I nearly whispered my words when I spoke. “I don't know what I want yet. I'm still trying to figure that out.” He intimidated me, making me think and taking me off guard, all at once. It freaking turned me on and I was trying my best to hide it. Eating lunch with him now would be too much. “I've got a lot of work to catch up on. I'll have to pass on lunch today.”
He studied me another minute, his gaze moving from my eyes to my lips. “Fine. Another time then?” He lifted his hand and brushed a loose hair behind my ear. His thumb swept across my jaw and stopped on my chin.
The breath I was holding escaped me and all I could do was nod in agreement.
“Good. Until then...” Drew leaned in, his thumb brushing over my lower lip and I wanted him to kiss me. To press me against the chalkboard with his body against mine, his hands around my waist… I didn't care who might walk by and see us. I wanted his lips on mine.
“You should read the note,” he said. Without another word, his hand dropped from my face and he was out the door.
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when foods around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank and when Loni isn't there, you can find her playing on the internet. Chatting on Twitter and Facebook is her weakness!
She loves to read and write, though can't see to find time to do them both at the same time! Balance... she has none!
An easy reader, Loni loves most genre, but she's a definite sucker for a good romance story!
Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but she's not opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea strike.
Some of Loni's favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult... just to name a few.