Lauren Hunter is a writer of paranormal romance and Regency paranormal romance novels, with plans to write in a variety of other genres, including time travel, angel, ghost, and contemporary romance. Her paranormal romance, The Coffee Shop, and her paranormal Regency, The Promise, are now available through Musa Publishing, with the second and third installment of a paranormal regency trilogy soon to be released.
The Coffee Shop!
If Derrick thought experiencing alternate timelines and glimpses into the future was strange, then he had no idea it was about to get a whole lot more strange.
When Derrick Sloane meets Annie Maddock and falls madly in love, he believes he's met the girl of his dreams. Only he then awakes to discover she is exactly that...nothing more than a dream. Disheartened, he goes to the first coffee shop he can find. There he meets Annie. She is at the same table, reading the same book, and he fast realizes his dream has shown him his own future. But when a misstep alters that perfect future he tries to fix it, every attempt only making it worse.
Can he fix what he has changed? Should he even try? Given the opportunity to see two alternate futures can he choose one over the other? Could you…?
There was a rap at the door. “Your hot chocolate is ready.”
“Thanks, I’ll be right down.”
There was a pause. “You sure you’re all right?”
“Why do you keep asking me that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I can hear something in your voice.”
“In my voice? What are you, part dog or something?”
Derrick chuckled. “There might be a girl from college that may just agree with you on that.” Again there was a pause. “May I come in?”
“Actually, I was about to get dressed.”
“So, you’re saying you’re not decent?”
“No, I’m wearing a bathrobe.”
“Well good, because I’m coming in.”
“No, Derrick…” But he had already opened the door, and setting the cocoa
aside he came over standing before her as she sat on the bed.
“Okay, now I know something’s wrong. Annie, why didn’t you tell me how bad you hurt yourself?”
“It’s not that bad. I’m not about to make a big deal out of nothing.”
“You don’t need to be brave for me. If anything it’s really important that you be as honest as you can, with both yourself, and me, about this. I don’t want you doing any more damage because you are trying to force yourself to do something you shouldn’t be.”
“All right, I’ll admit, my ankles are a little sore. I must have stretched the muscles or something.”
“It looks like they are a lot more than a little sore.”
“Well you know what they say. A sprain is a lot more painful than a break. Although that would obviously depend on the break. But I’ve sprained something, and I’ve broken something, and I’d have to agree with that assessment, the sprain was much more painful. But as far as that goes this isn’t even that bad.”
“Pain is our body’s way of telling us we are hurt.” Derrick looked concerned.
“You do realize you sound like Mr. Rogers?”
“Those people that feel you have to be in pain to accomplish something.” He shook his head.
“Well, I’ll agree with you on that score.”
“If they hurt you need to stay off them. You don’t want to make it worse.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Well, look at it this way, by using them while they’re sore you will probably lengthen the time it takes for them to heal.”
The idea of experiencing what she was now for any longer than she absolutely had to, was not an appealing concept, to say the least. “I’ll try to take it as easy as I can.”
“Well I am not going to spend the remainder of the weekend in this bed.”
“What are you saying?”
Before she had a chance to reply, Derrick had slipped one arm beneath her knees, the other around her back and under her arms.
“Whoa! What are you doing?”
“Well, I would have thought that was obvious.”
“Oh, you have to be kidding me.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You are not serious.”
“What? So, you’re going to carry me everywhere?”
“Oh now that’s just too much!”
He was already lifting her into his arms as though she was nothing, and she wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her out the door and onto the balcony. He was wearing a sweater but she could still feel his taut and rippling muscles beneath it. The muscles in his arms flexing against her as he carried her carefully down the stairs. The heat from his body reached through her bathrobe as she held her face close to his, the scent of soap and aftershave wafting up around her as he grasped her tightly to him. Setting her on the sofa next to the fire, he turned his face to hers. For a moment they just stayed like that, holding each other, their lips close as his eyes moved down her face to her mouth.
Unable to prevent his first love, the Lady Marianne, from being struck down by a carriage in a London street, Anthony Thornhill, heir to the Duke of Albourne, watches her die in his arms.
Believing her lost to him forever, he tries to forget her through an endless line of ladies, his rakish ways leaving him empty and wanting. That is until he literally bumps into the Lady Elizabeth, his curiosity aroused. Drawn to her, because she reminds him of a loss he will never regain, he comes to realize she just may be the Lady Marianne, fulfilling a promise of a dance that never was. His only problem…she does not remember him.
Anthony Thornhill, the Duke of Albourne, was quite enjoying the close company. He had to admit, she was not like the many other girls he had known, all fluttering eyelashes and coy smiles behind lace fans. No, she was quite extraordinary, and the fact that she was not already melting under his most capable charm, as every other sweet young thing to have graced his presence had done, was evidence enough of that. She intrigued him, this young woman before him, and engendered a sense of challenge within him. And he was never more alive than when aroused by a challenge as sweet as Lady Elizabeth.
He grinned, observing her downward glance, and then looked in the direction of the refreshment tables. “It would seem that I must attend to this,” he admitted with a note of reluctance, having come to appreciate their intimate circumstance. “If you would wait for me here, I won’t be but a—”
Lady Elizabeth gasped as someone fell against her, pushing her into Anthony. He reached out quickly, catching her in his arms. The impact knocked him back although he braced against it.
“Forgive me,” Lady Elizabeth uttered. Her palms pressed firmly into the now taut muscles of Anthony’s chest. She tried to right herself, but the man who’d knocked her over was still pushing against her as he attempted to stand.
The fragrance of lilacs rose before Anthony, the firmness of Lady Elizabeth’s body now deliciously warm as she was pressed helplessly against him. He tightened his arms around her. Her silken curls caressed his face and as the pink of her cheeks deepened noticeably, he smiled.
He liked the way she felt in his arms. In fact, he’d been thinking about it ever since she’d stumbled into those same arms earlier in High Street. Only then, the moment had been lost before he’d had the opportunity to really enjoy it.
Now, he was definitely enjoying the moment, and the fact that he was unable to move—unable to do anything in which he could remedy the situation—was no cause for alarm as far as he was concerned. Although she was trying desperately to pull away, moving her body ever so slightly against him in the process, it only served to heighten his pleasure.
The man righted himself and Lady Elizabeth was at last able to free herself.
“You must believe me the clumsiest fool, sir,” she said to Anthony, her hands still firmly pressed upon the embroidered grey silk of his waistcoat.
“I could never believe that of you, Lady Elizabeth.” An errant curl had come loose, its raven tress descending upon the milky white of her neck, and he watched as she tried unsuccessfully to tuck it back into place.
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