Sunday, January 18, 2015

Love Finds Its Way

Lucas arrived at the Sullivan mansion as an orphan with a vicious burn on his side. The mark is a clue to his past, and the accident that took his family. The Sullivans gave him a home, raised him as their son, and made him heir to their fortune. He has everything a man could want, but he’s tortured by the secrets from his past. He’s a man without a name.

For seventeen years, Lucas has called the Sullivan girls his sisters, but his feelings for Callie have changed from brotherly to those of a man for a woman. As the passion between them ignites, Lucas is forced to make a choice between claiming Callie, or finding out who he is.

On a cold January night, Lucas leaves to follow a clue to Texas, but not before he has Callie promise, “I will wait for you.”

Secrets unfold, and Lucas discovers the answers he seeks. Is it too late for Lucas and Callie, or will their love find its way?

Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in a small southern town close to the Tennessee line.
During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.
As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.
After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga.

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Excerpt 1

Twenty minutes later, Callie sat in the restaurant of the Capital Hotel across from Walter. Her father had insisted they eat without him while he made the necessary arrangements for the final leg of their journey into Santa Camino. Odd how her father felt the need to disappear. This was his latest attempt at matchmaking. She could feel it.
The somewhat deserted dining area was uncomfortably quiet. Callie drummed the fingers of one hand on the tabletop and rested her chin in the palm of the other.
The waiter set the plate in front of Walter. He smiled. “It looks delicious. I’m starving.” A juicy red flow tainted the plate when he cut into the meat, and popped a chunk into his mouth.
Callie raised her upper lip into a snarl and watched him chewed his steak with zeal. “How can you eat that?” she questioned the seared beef on his plate. “It’s bleeding.”
He cut another large chunk off and skewered it with his fork. “It’s delicious!” he repeated the process and held a bite up to Callie. “Try it.”
“No, thank you.” Callie recoiled from the pink meat. “I like mine well done.”
Walter shrugged and shoved the piece into his mouth.
She unfolded her napkin and placed it on her lap. “So, Mr. Delaney, what do you hope to gain from this trip?”
He looked confounded. “Gain?” he said in mid-chew. After he swallowed, he took a sip of water and wiped his mouth. “I’m not sure I understand the question.”
She cut into the well-done steak on the plate in front of her. “It is a simple question. Is it the money? Did my father offer you more money to come along?” she inserted her fork into the meat and lifted it to her mouth, pausing to speak. “Because if it was, I would have doubled your salary just to have you remain in Honesty,” she took a bite, it was delicious. The tender beef made her mouth water.
Walter dropped his eyes. “No. It was not the money.”
She chewed and swallowed before asking. “Then why come to Texas? Why leave the comfort and safety of an office to risk life and limb for the sake of a job?”
He discarded his napkin on the table and sat back in his chair. “You once asked me if I’d ever fired a gun or watched someone die,” he took another sip of water.
“Being sheltered often comes with money.”
Walter offered her an annoyed look and scratched the side of his face. “Yes, I suppose it does, but that’s why I came to Texas.”
“Now, I am the one confused.”
“I was born and raised in New York City. My mother is a socialite and my father, a hard working businessman. I was born into a life of wealth and privilege. When the war started, I joined but─”
“Your father made sure you didn’t see battle,” Callie finished for him.
Walter’s mouth twitched at the corners. “You seem to have me figured out, Ms. Sullivan.”
“I’m very observant,” Callie said, pleased with herself.
“I can see that,” Walter pushed his plate back and rested his elbows on the table. “It is true, to an extent, my life has been somewhat sheltered. I want for nothing,” he leaned forward, looking deep into her eyes. “Yet, there is something missing in my life.”
Callie sipped her water, watching the raw emotion on his face. Poor Mr. Delaney. He was so naive. “And you think you’ll find that something in Texas?”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Well, good luck Mr. Delaney. Texas is hell, and I want nothing to do with it.”
Walter’s eyes changed to a darker shade of blue. “Then why are you here?”
Callie managed a nonchalant look. “You read the telegram.”
“I did,” his eyes drilled into hers. “You could have any man you want. So why are you chasing after a man that left you?”
Callie felt the statement reverberate through her heart. With a voice smaller than usual, she answered him. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Walter crossed his arms and leaned forward, holding her with his eyes. “I understand more than you think. You’re in love with him.”
She felt a warm blush spread across her cheeks. “Everyone deserves a second chance at love, Mr. Delaney. Remember?”
Walter raised his eyebrows and smiled. “I do,” his eyes moved over her face. “Being in love is nothing to be ashamed of, Callie,” the softness of his voice was almost intimate. “The heart can’t help who it loves.”
Callie lowered her head. “I am not at all comfortable talking about such matters with you, Mr. Delaney.”
“I have embarrassed you,” he gave her a thin smile that disappeared quickly. “That was not my intention,” he pushed his chair back and stood.
“Where are you going? You’ve hardly touched your food,” Callie protested.
“I’ve lost my appetite,” he retrieved his hat from the rack beside the door. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”
Callie watched him disappear up the stairs. “What just happened?” she whispered.

Excerpt 2

Callie wiped her face. “Sit up. Let me take a look,” Lucas sat up and to let her unwrap the dirty bandage. As she untied the knot holding the soaked cloth in place, he held his breath when she leaned into him. “Am I hurting you?”
His dark eyes made her heart flip. “Anytime you touch me, I hurt,” he clamped his hand down over hers. “Do it fast and don’t linger. I don’t have much restraint left when it comes to you.”
Warmth centered deep within the pit of her stomach and spread through her body. He still wanted her. Callie choked back the elated feeling. “It seems you don’t have much restraint at all when it comes to the opposite sex.”
“What the hell do you know about restraint? You hopped onto the first man that came callin’.” He let go of her hand.
The lie Walter told stood as her only defense against Lucas’ betrayal. If he cared about her now as he had once claimed to, the details of her fake relationship with Walter would hurt him.
“I don’t understand why you’re so upset. You left me, remember?” she peeled the last remaining layer of bandage from the wound. “You should be happy I met a man who loved me.”
The muscles in his jaw worked in a grinding motion. “You had a man who loved you,” Lucas lifted his arm higher so she could see the wound. “I’ve always loved you, but never knew how much until I left.”
Her heart soared. “If you loved me, why did you leave?”
“At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do.”
She held her breath. “And now?”
“I wanted you to have my name when we married, and when I left Virginia, the only thing that mattered to me was finding out who I was. But it seems the longer I chase after my past, the closer I am to losing my future. I know I should have stayed, but─” he hesitated and tried to find the words. “You were so ….”
“So what?” she lay her hands in her lap. “What drove you away?”
He was silent.
“Was it the kidnapping or the rumors?” her defenses came up.
He frowned. “What rumors?”
“That I was a rebel whore,” she clasped her fingers together.
Anger filled his eyes, and his lips pressed into a thin line.
“I suppose you left before they could get back to you.”
A muscle in his jaw flexed. “I left because you were hurt and looking for someone you could trust. I couldn’t take advantage of you. If I’d made love to you that night and then run off to Texas, I would have been doing exactly that.”
She’d never considered things from his point of view.
“You were so innocent and trusting,” his eyes searched hers. “And I was arrogant enough to think you would wait for me. That you wouldn’t give yourself or your heart to another man. That’s why I left,” his eyes fell to the floor. “I thought you’d always be waiting for me.”
Callie wiped dried blood from the wound with the dirty bandage. “It is an awful feeling isn’t it?” she questioned softly. “Thinking about the one you love making love to another.”
“Did he?” his eyes burned into her.
“Did he what?”
“Make love to you?
Callie may not have been an experienced woman, but she was a woman. She knew how to inflict pain. She smiled sweetly and wiped the wound harder than she should have. “What do you think?”

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