Madison: Okay, last month Macy Beck teased us with the prospect of a St. Blaise story that will tug at our heartstrings. Now, she’s back on the hot seat and she’d better be prepared to share the goods.
Macy: I am. Let me tell you, there wasn’t a person in St. Blaise who didn’t get a little choked up the first time they saw Alex Stephenson take Jenny Clyburn’s hand. He is a good guy, but he wasn’t always. That’s what makes Alex and Jenny’s story so special.
Madison: What do you mean he wasn’t always a good guy?
Macy: Once upon a time, Alex Stephenson was the kind of spoiled, snotty rich kid James Spader used to pretend to be in all those movies from the nineteen-eighties. He was reckless and wild and didn’t care about anything. Not even himself. Then life dished up a series of harsh lessons, and suddenly the golden boy wasn’t quite so golden anymore. Jenny was our Miss August. Another hometown girl who was petted and protected from the day she was born. Alex saw another person poised on the brink of taking the wrong path and stepped in. Before either of them knew what was happening, they both fell. Hard.
Here’s the setup:
The only things Admissions Clerk Jennifer Clyburn admits being addicted to are: Caramello bars, shoe sales, and diet cherry Cokes from the Sonic. One minor fender-bender, and old Judge Whitby decides to teach her a lesson by effectively ruining her Friday nights. Still, there is one advantage to being sentenced to six weeks of alcohol awareness classes—she gets to spend a good hour each week ogling local bad boy, Alex Stephenson.
Alex was once the crowned prince of St. Blaise. The son and only heir to the area’s largest employer, he grew up spoiled rotten and cocky as hell. The world was his oyster up until the day everything spun out of control. The red Corvette he got for his eighteenth birthday was a total loss. So was the sixteen-year-old girl in his passenger seat.
Ten years later, scarred and broken, Alex is back in St. Blaise leading the local recovery meetings in hopes of sparing someone the guilt and grief he’ll carry with him the rest of his life.
Jenny Clyburn is just the kind of good-time girl he used to love, but now he’s smart enough to recognize the demons that drive her. Her smart mouth is temptation incarnate, and her docile nature a siren song. Unable to resist, Alex takes it upon himself to teach her the best ways to master her impulses and surrender that which she can’t control.
And here is a snapshot (warning - this one has some language in it):
“I killed Stacey Morgan.”
Her sharp intake of breath told him his confession was not in vain. Though he had no doubt she knew his history, he also figured she’d rewritten good chunks of it in her head to make this thing between them more palatable. He couldn’t let her do that. Not if they were both going to get what they needed most.
“I’m telling you because I think most people want to forget, but I never will. Yes, I was young, and stupid, and as fucked up as the day is long, but being an idiot doesn’t alter the facts. I knew better. She was too young, and too naïve, and not nearly fucked up enough to be able to say the same.”
He held up a hand to stop her. “Please, just let me….” Swallowing the lump in his throat, he allowed himself to avert his gaze a bit. Not enough to block her out, but as much as he needed to make room for the memories in the forefront of his mind. “You know I was a junkie, but you’re not an alcoholic. I can tell. You don’t have enough fear in you.”
“I’m afraid of everything,” she whispered.
He zeroed in on her again. “Being afraid and living in fear are two different things.”
Her soft hand in his, he carried it to the collar of his shirt then slid her fingers under the soft cotton. The second her fingertips grazed the ugly raised scar on his shoulder her lips parted. He held his breath, every nerve ending in his body screaming her name when she caressed the gnarled skin. Exhaling a bit of his trepidation, he attempted a reassuring smile but it fell way short of the mark.
“Afraid is a temporary thing, but fear never goes away.” His voice pitched low and steady, he dropped his hand. Her gentle fingertips sailed over the bumpy ridge and skated onto a patch of slick, tight skin. “I’m afraid you’ll send me home tonight before I get a chance to kiss you.” Arousal, stark and hungry, flared in her eyes and he lost control of his lungs altogether. “And I want you. I want you more than I can say, but I live in fear that one day, any day, I might break down and trade the pleasure of having you for a hit of something not so sweet. One magic pill,” he whispered.
“You said you would give me what I need.”
“I can give you what you want,” he corrected. “I may be what you need for a little while, but I need you to understand why I’m not a good bet in the long term.”
She looked up, unperturbed by his assertion. “You’re not that man anymore.”
“I will always be that man,” he said without a moment of hesitation. “You have to understand, I will never escape this. No matter how much everyone around me wants to forget it ever happened.”
Madison: Wow. Wow.
Macy: I know. Now you know why we’re all so damn happy for them. It takes a lot of courage to take a chance on someone like Alex, and even more for Alex to open himself up to another person. You’ll fall in love with them too.
Madison: I can’t wait to read it. August Awakening by Maggie Wells is available in all ebook formats at the Turquoise Morning Press bookstore or your favorite online retailer. For more information on the Hot Nights in St. Blaise series, readers can visit www.maggie-wells.com. Who do we have coming up next month?
Macy: Oooh! Just you wait. Sexy Mr. September has a secret, and the good sheriff’s sister is just the girl to wheedle it out of him.
Madison: Fabulous! Thanks for being here, Macy. See you next month!