All Who Are Lost by Lindsey Forrest Blog Tour

All Who

Are Lost

by Lindsey Forrest

 

Series: Ashmore’s Folly Trilogy: Book One

Cover Design: Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Design, Inc

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (Romance) 

Expected Release Date: October 21, 2014

fd390-synopsis

One

man.

Too many betrayals.

Three women.

One last chance.

On a cold winter day, a woman calls a number

halfway across the world.

A man answers.

After fourteen years, Laura St. Bride hears the

voice she has never forgotten, the voice she will remember with her last

breath…

What

do you do

when the love of your life

is the last person you should love?

A great family

estate in Virginia.

Three sisters

growing up in the shadow of their father’s obsessive drive to recapture his

lost muse, the woman he threw into the cold Irish sea.

The scion of an

old family, falling in love with the wrong sister, blind to the ice at her

core.

A woman haunted

by a moment of blood and violence, when she reached out and took a man who

didn’t belong to her.

A man living a

life of regret and sacrifice, given a second chance to claim the woman he

should have loved all along.

3a58f-excerpt

Chapter 18 – Falling Off the Edge

He came back. As

she toweled off, she heard his car. As she rummaged in the closet for something

to wear, the front door opened. As she covered up the last ravages of the

night, she heard him moving around the kitchen downstairs.

She selected a

pretty floral sundress from her wardrobe, all white roses and violets on a

shimmery green background, and laid it carefully on the bed. Downstairs, she

heard him talking. Max, that traitor, must have run downstairs to hang out for

a while with another male. She wondered how long she could linger in the room,

but nothing, after all, could keep him from coming upstairs to find her there

hiding from him.

And she was hiding. I don’t know how to face him. I don’t know how to act the morning

after. I don’t know what he wants or expects.…

I don’t even know what I want.

Oh, but she did

know. She wanted to turn back time and tide, to make the great sea of their

adult lives still uncharted before them. Passion and blood, rage and adultery

and the most terrible of betrayals, all still ahead, and this time the iceberg

seen in time to prevent the tragedy….

She wanted to

wipe the slate clean, and her hands with it.

You will not find absolution in this room.

She stiffened

then, and marched back to her dressing table. Her eyes looked better now, not

so stretched-out. She said aloud, “All right now,” straightened her shoulders,

and walked downstairs to meet her lover.

e

He’d gone out to

get breakfast. A box of bagels lay open on the island counter, and he’d left a

cup of fast-food orange juice for her beside a container of cream cheese. But

the room, and the house, had an empty stillness. Not even the ghosts of last

evening lingered.

Through the

picture window, she saw an unexpected movement of a blue sleeve out near the

pool.

For a second, she

felt disconnected from all her knowledge of him, as if time had indeed run

backwards on her. He appeared as a stranger. He had a book open on the table,

and the sun glinted softly off his dark hair as he lost himself in his reading.

One hand absently crumbled a bagel. He seemed alone, self-contained, as if he

had nothing to do with a common past, a shared afternoon of blood and lust, a

past night of anguish and discovery.

This was probably

how he appeared to the rest of the world.

Then he turned a

page, and that gesture summoned up a small memory, tucked away all these

years.

It might have

been long ago, a Saturday morning when she joined him for fishing or flying

models, and they ate a light breakfast first to satisfy Peggy. So many times

she had come across him like this, reading, lost in his own world, relaxed and

peaceful. So many times he had looked up with an offhand smile and a “Good

morning, Laurie.” Casual and careless always, dispensing the minimal attention

due a bit player in his life.

But it wasn’t all

those years ago, and he wasn’t her secret crush anymore, and he wasn’t a boy

with all his life and loves before him. And she was no longer a girl content to

settle for a careless smile and the honor of cleaning his catches or watching

him crash a model into the lake.

The world had

changed.

Hands shaking,

she fixed a bagel and brewed a cup of tea. He lifted his head when she opened

the back door, and his eyes met hers as she came down the terrace stairs and

across the flagstones to the table.

He rose

immediately, silently, his book forgotten. In the morning light, she saw

further evidence that he was no longer a boy. She saw the remnants of their

broken sleep around his eyes, she saw his eyes flare with an awareness she

didn’t dare consider, and…

And the world

shifted again. He stood there before her, no longer Diana’s boy knight or

Francie’s young demon lover. In the darkness, this man had met her equal to

equal on the vast plain of desire.

His voice, low,

husky, “Good morning, Laurie.” And he took the bagel and tea from her, placed

them on the table, and turned back to enclose her in his arms.

I have wanted you across these years, I have waited to step into your

arms. Now you’re here, and you’re mine, and what do I feel? What do I say?

His hand rested

warmly against the small of her back, stroking her. That lovely, reassuring

gesture melted her body into his. She lifted her face to kiss him, and with

that he too relaxed. Perhaps he had wondered too about this first meeting,

perhaps for him also the world had shifted on its axis. She tasted coffee on

his mouth; she felt the warmth of his body along hers, and a sudden glorious

certainty glowed luminous in her blood.

“Good morning to

you too,” she murmured against his shirt.

He smiled down at

her. “I thought I was going to have to drag you out of bed. Did you get enough

sleep?”

“No,” she

admitted, and then it was all right. He guided her to the table with his hand

still warm against her back, and she knew in relief that he didn’t know, the

nightmare ending hadn’t happened after all. “But I got more than you did.

Richard – you look so tired.”

He caught her

gaze and held it as he sat down opposite her, an aware, knowing look that told

her he well remembered the feeling of her body against his. “I’ll pay for it

later,” he said, “but it was worth it, by God, it was worth it indeed.”

She felt the blush

creeping up into her face at the frank look in his eyes, and she wanted to drop

her gaze. But no, that was the reaction of a girl, and she had been a woman now

in this man’s arms. She had told this man that she loved him, she had confessed

her heart to him, she had welcomed him into her body. And in the light of day,

face to face with him, she was not sorry.

She sipped her

tea steadily. “Maybe you should grab a nap later today.”

“Or an early

night,” he returned, equally steadily. Oh, what a wonderful idea… an early

night together, and forget her failure of the night before. She’d make it up to

him tonight. “Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that. We need to talk,

Laurie.”

We need to talk… No, no, no….

Dear God, was he

going to tell her it had all been a horrible mistake, he’d changed his mind,

had second thoughts… Let her down easy, because she was still the friend of

his youth? But he was still looking at her gently, openly. It was worth it, indeed. He had meant that. He had kissed her this

morning in welcome, and not as a friend.

She was not going

to panic.

She made herself

keep looking at him. “I’m here, Richard.”

Now it was his

turn for silence. She watched as he bought himself time and space by pushing

his book away, tasting his coffee, brushing aside bagel crumbs. What was he

composing in his mind as he settled forward, shifting ever so slightly to get

the sun out of his eyes?

“There was —” he

began, and paused. “When I came back here last night, I didn’t intend,” he

gestured, “what happened. That wasn’t my intention at all. I shouldn’t have

left you, Laurie. No matter what had happened between us, I shouldn’t have left

you alone, not after what you went through yesterday. I realized that once I

got home. I just left you here, part of the debris of – this whole damnable

mess, and I couldn’t let you face that by yourself.”

He stopped and

waited for her. She had to say something. And the honesty in him demanded the

same of her. “I thought,” she moistened her lips, “I thought – when you left –

I thought it was the end.”

“And it nearly

was,” he said. “I realized that, if I didn’t come back, we were finished. We’d

never be able to survive the way we left things.”

She saw the truth

of that. She’d laid too heavy a burden on him, she saw now, with that desperate

confession. She had made it impossible for them ever to meet again, except…

Her heart was

beating fast now. She took all her courage in hand. “Richard —”

He looked at her,

and waited.

She gestured

blindly, and to her horror she felt the burning of tears in her eyes. “But you

came back. And you – you said that there was no going back. That sex changes

things.” Oh, God, she was not going to cry! She was going to face this

squarely. After everything else she’d endured, she would face this. She said desperately, “Has everything changed?”

Silence. She

blinked away the sting in her eyes and stared hard at him, across the table,

across the whole of their lives, and waited for the answer she could not read

in his eyes.

He said quietly,

“That’s up to you.”

She drew a

painful breath.

Richard’s hands

closed around hers, and she surrendered to the warm, firm touch of his fingers

on hers. “I was wrong last night,” he said, “wrong for more years than I want

to think. You were right, I never saw you. But I do know I’m doing the right

thing, Laura, when I tell you that you can decide that last night changed

nothing. If you want to write off last night as an experiment —”

“No —”

“We can, you

know.” He overrode her words, ignoring the way her fingernails were digging into

his hands. “We can decide that last night we laid some old ghosts, satisfied

some old curiosity. We grew up together, and it’s only natural that, after all

these years apart, our friendship has turned into attraction. But we can take

care of that. We can sit here rationally and decide that last night changed

nothing, and we put it aside and go on from there. And, I promise you, we can

make that work.”

Her heart sank.

“Or,” he

continued, “we can decide that there’s no going back, last night changed everything.

We can go forward, see what we have to give to each other. Laura,” and his

voice made her look at him, “it is up to you.”

She wanted to

look away, but couldn’t. She whispered, “What do you want to do?”

“What I want,”

Richard said, “is to do what you want.”

“I don’t —” and

now she had to look away. She couldn’t stand to keep looking at his unflinching

gaze. “I don’t want last night to have been – some kind of casual sex – it

wasn’t, was it?”

“No,” said Richard

above her bowed head. “I’ve never had casual sex in my life. I’ve never made

love with a woman I didn’t care about, and last night was no exception. Laura.

Look up at me, Laura. It wasn’t casual.”

She regained her

voice. She had to say it; she

couldn’t let it languish unspoken between them. “Last night – last night I told

you I loved you.”

The gift so long

unclaimed… and did he claim it now? Or ever?

He took a deep

breath, and his eyes turned grave and distant. “I know,” he said, “and of all

the gifts you’ve given me, that one I deserve the least. I’ve abused your

feelings for me for longer than I want to remember. But, after all that, you

still love me. And – and of course you want it returned, don’t you? I wish I

could say it, Laurie. But I can’t. I just don’t have it in me anymore.”

The morning stood

still. She didn’t breathe.

“I was in love

once,” he said, “you know that. I’ve been in love with one woman in my life,

and what a disaster that’s been. I don’t trust being in love. I don’t trust

feeling that the world is well lost for love, because I nearly lost the world

for it, and it wasn’t worth it. Still —”

He lifted a hand

and touched her hair. She lifted her free hand and held it to his, and she felt

the lifeblood in his wrist against her face.

“It felt very right waking up beside you

this morning.” And now the distance had dropped away from his eyes. “The world

has seemed very right for the last couple of weeks, ever since you came home.

Dear God, Laurie, I never realized how much I missed you, what a hole you left

in my life. Maybe I’ll never be in love with you, maybe I’ll never be able to

give you all that you want and deserve, but I do love you, you’re part of me

and part of my life, the best part too. When I think back to the best moments

of my life, you were always a part of those, you’re as interwoven into my life

as the air and the sun here in Virginia, and that’s worth a lot to me, and we

can build from there – if you want to.”

So it was up to her, as he had said. She

thought, a wisp of a thought to tuck away and take out later to ponder, that he

had laid his heart in her hands, no matter that he thought he hadn’t a heart to

lay.

She didn’t trust her voice. She nodded

vigorously, and held on hard to his hands.

“Then,” and she heard him controlling his

voice, “we certainly owe ourselves a chance.”

Joy sparkled in

her blood.

She wasn’t aware of her movement, that

she stood up or that he pulled her towards him, but somehow she ended up in a

rush in his arms, on his lap, her arms around his neck, her cheek against his

hair, his head resting warmly against her breast. And for all that he could

never love her – he held her tightly against him, as if he could never let her

go.

04536-meettheauthor

Lindsey Forrest, a lead writer/editor for an international information company, writes about income tax but prefers to dream of heroes and heroines and grand romance. With the publication of her trilogy, she checks off the top entry on her bucket list. She lives in north Texas with her family and cat and has a five-year plan for becoming a full-time novelist and editor of indie fiction. When she isn’t working or writing, she amuses herself with reading, needlepointing, tramping around historical sites and houses, and outbidding everyone who gets in her way on E-bay.

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  Website    |     Facebook    |     Twitter     |     Amazon Author Page 

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