Left on her own, Carrie Ann decides it is time to escape her past, empower herself and overcome her confidence issues by turning her secret hobby of erotic cake design into a business. Her world is then turned upside down when she bumps into dynamic and sexy Dominic. Unwittingly, Carrie Ann sows the seeds of disaster from day one, weaving a web of deceit, and before she knows it the lies are multiplying.
As news of her baking brilliance spreads, romance grows. Now, only one thing can ruin their happiness and that is Carrie Ann’s dark deceptions and the battle she is fighting within herself. Will she be strong enough to overcome a past that is set to destroy her dreams for the future and tell Dominic the truth, or will she lose him forever?
The sun warmed Carrie Ann Jude’s face as she glanced through the large plate glass windows of the airport. Planes rose into the sky like silver birds, their metal bodies transporting people all over the world on adventures. She tightened her grip on the straps of her handbag. She had been one of those people embarking on an adventure only two weeks ago, except her journey had not started just with feelings of excitement, but trepidation. She pushed her sunglasses up over her head and took out her paperback to flip through. It was hard to concentrate with so many thoughts dancing in her head.
Carrie Ann was so deep in thought she hadn’t noticed the stunning youth about to sit down beside her. Wanting to be alone and not have anyone invading her space, she’d put her large bag on the chair next to her. Before she could say anything, he’d had his hand on it and, much to her consternation, had dropped it unceremoniously onto the floor. Then, not giving her time to move out of the way, he dumped a considerably weighty backpack on her foot.
“Ouch. Watch it!” she cried out, as he bumped against her, slopping his coffee over her hand. “That was hot.” She angrily snapped her book closed, noticing spots of coffee marking the pages.
“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry. Hi.” He had an American accent. “I ought to have asked if you minded if I sat here, but that’s me.”
She looked up to make a rude retort and found herself glaring into an impossibly green pair of eyes. She flushed. It was so embarrassing to be trapped by his compelling gaze.
“I’m so clumsy, everyone says it.” He held out his hand. “I’m truly sorry. My name’s Dominic, and you are…?”
How could she resist those eyes and his flirtatious expression? Carrie Ann took hold of his proffered hand and shook it unenthusiastically. “Carrie Ann.” What she could only describe as an electrical charge danced up her legs and ended with a pleasant fizz in the tips of her fingers and toes. He was very good-looking and his mop of shaggy blond hair that flopped into his face seemed to remind her of…
“Great.” He flashed her a grin. “I’m sorry. Let me get you another coffee.”
“No thanks, I don’t want one.” She was attempting to be more assertive, but it was harder than she’d thought. Actually, everything was so much harder out in the big wide world as she tried to cut ties to her past. Rommy, her father, so named because when he was younger he’d looked devilishy like a true Romany gypsy, had often criticised her for her submissive stance, which was ridiculous since that was what he’d wanted from her. The thought of him sent a creepy crawly shiver down her spine.
No one should feel like that about their father, but she did and she couldn’t help it. On occasion, she wondered if she would ever be able to get over him, shake loose all the hang-ups and phobias he had given her. It had not been abuse, but he had been good at keeping her under. She realised now she shouldn’t have put up with it for so long, she should have fought more for her independence when she’d had a chance to. But that was easier said than done.
The young guy hefted his bag and again knocked her. The nerve of it. She studied him angrily out of the corner of her eye. She had keen powers of observation—it was another one of the little skills she’d developed from being alone so long. Not having a lot to occupy her, she had become exceedingly observant. His arms were bare and muscular and covered in a frosting of tight blond hair. He also had strong, capable hands. Rommy would have said the man’s thighs were those of a rugby player. She had a thing about blond men, she reflected. Perhaps that was why she was instantly captivated by him. That came as a surprise and an interesting one, since anger and desire had a potent effect on her newly liberated self. It would be hard to be immune to his charms and it might be fun to test her boundaries yet again. She was woefully inexperienced with men. In a way, stepping out into the world was like learning to drive, and shy girls like her had to approach it slowly and cautiously and be prepared for any sudden unexpected turns in the road or emergency stops. She smiled to herself. She might have been confined to the house for years and had no experience of love first-hand, but she was living and breathing and had the same desires other women had.
For some reason she was shamefully hot and crossed her legs. It was utterly ridiculous being affected like this since Dominic was sexy and because of that was the kind of guy who wouldn’t flirt with her, well, not seriously. She tugged her skirt down over her knees. When she glanced up, he was watching her with a wry twist to his lips, as if he found her faintly amusing.
He gestured to the terminal board. “I guess you’re heading back to England.”
“Naturally,” she said. Carrie Ann wondered if she had a sticky label on her forehead, stamped ‘England’.
Nervousness made her feel hysterical. She would much prefer to be left alone with her thoughts, besides which it was distinctly embarrassing to have a man’s leg pressed against hers. He kept staring at her and she self-consciously stroked her lip. Why did he keep peering at her, like that? Besides the invisible label, there was nothing else that could make her seem even remotely interesting… was there?
At that moment a stunning girl strolled by and Dominic sized her up with interest, his gaze rippling up and down her from the tips of the high heels she was tottering in, to her layer-cut, multi-toned hair. Carrie Ann’s spirits sank further. She only had to dissect some of the women around her to realise she was at a distinct disadvantage where flirting was concerned. Let’s face it, she wasn’t even dressed for seduction. She was draped in her shabby comfortable skirt and she hadn’t even bothered with her appearance. As for what Rommy would have rather rudely termed ‘slap’—that was like attempting a recipe that was way out of her comfort zone. She’d only recently ventured down the makeup trail and she still didn’t like wearing it, although that might soon have to change, if her career plans took off. Makeup was weird stuff. It never looked right on her—the eyeshadow she’d tried made her dark brown eyes seem to retreat backwards so they seemed far too small, her freckles overwhelmed her complexion and her riotous mousy curls defied brushes, combs and tongs.
Any makeup she had used, she’d mistakenly plastered on to cover the freckles, and red lipstick—as Myra, the girl she had met at the ranch had pointed out—made her appear garish. Myra had given her a stick of lipstick termed nude and that did help, teamed with a tinted moisturiser. Myra was a brick, she thought grimly, pity she lived halfway across the world in Australia. She was also into baking, which had been a plus. It had been great to actually have a kindred spirit to talk with, to enthuse about her dreams to. Her heart soared and dipped. If anything was guaranteed to lift her spirits, it was the prospect of the new plans waiting for her when she got home.
“I don’t bite.” He touched her.
She jumped. He was smiling at her and trying to be funny by dipping his head and making puppy dog eyes at her.
She laughed, she couldn’t help it. “No, I guess not.”
He stretched out his long legs, settling back in his chair. “Did you enjoy it?”
“Your stay over here in the States. What were you doing? Was it business or pleasure?”
She was still guilty that she’d splurged a considerable amount of Rommy’s nestegg on the short holiday. It was the kind of thing her father, with his thrifty ways, would have termed profligate.
“All pleasure. Something trivial actually. I just had the Arlem experience.” She stared him in the eye, seeing if he got it or not. Most people knew about Arlem or they didn’t.
He broke into a grin. “Wow! You’re kidding. The Arlem experience, that’s way cool. I read about it in a Sunday supplement.” Brow creased, he seemed to be thinking. “But that’s where the weird people go isn’t it? You a teacher? You don’t strike me as weird.”
She felt a short sharp violent stab of indignation. “The people at Arlem are lovely. They specialise in helping people. People with problems.”
“Yeah, but it’s mostly mental problems isn’t it?”
“Not always,” she snapped. Goodness, he had no tact whatsoever. “And no. I’m not a teacher, I was a visitor.”
He shrugged and looked away. It was as if he hadn’t noticed her sharp tone. “I’ve just been to visit my mother,” he explained. “She lives in California and he—my dad—still lives in England. After that ordeal, there were a few things I wanted to stop off and see here before I headed back. I don’t know why I come back to see her because it winds me up so much. Dad’s worse though, so it’s the lesser of two evils. In case you wondered. They’re divorced although it’s a sham since neither of them abide by the rules. They frequently visit one another to have passionate interludes.”
“Really.” Carrie Ann was intrigued, as in her estimation, romantic folk like that only seemed to exist between the pages of novels. “How modern of them. They must like it and be very much in love to be like that. To want the continual spice.”
He didn’t seem to have heard her. “It’s not like a divorce. It’s like playing at a divorce. In fact, I reckon you’re right. They rather like it. It seems to add something to their love life.”
“I think it’s romantic. Fancy still loving a person when you’re half a world apart.”
“Yes. Quaint. A grown-up kind of game. My father’s version of Viagra. I often wonder if that’s why I’m so messed up. It would be hard not to be, with two parents like that.”
Carrie Ann fell silent. Dominic didn’t look messed up. He seemed the most confident and together person she’d met. Besides being wickedly good-looking. Come on. You deserve a slap on the wrist. He’s so young for one thing. Let’s face it, there’s no way on earth a guy like him would ever want to date you.
About Constance Munday
Constance is nearly always to be found with a pencil in her hand making notes for a new story. She has led a varied life and done many jobs from cup washer, lecturer, to new age healer but has always written since she was a child.
A major health scare recently, though, made her see life differently, and after years as a part-time writer, she turned full-time, because as she says – life is too short not to do what you love. She has literally climbed a mountain and made many sacrifices to pen her novels and now builds on a fund of wonderful encounters with intriguing people, plus her imagination, to write stories with strong characters and determined and adventurous women.
When asked what kind of genre is her favourite, romance is always the answer because to Constance, romance – whether hot and steamy or sweet and emotional – is always at the heart of a good story. She hopes her stories reflect all of life’s facets from the struggling mother at home who finds a way out of poverty, the ardent and often disappointed dieter, to the girl who triumphs over sickness or has the courage to embrace her rather naughty side.
Constance loves listening to snatched conversations, which often gives her a seed to start a story, taking walks, revelling in the mysteries of life and baking and dancing, when she isn’t tapping away at her latest novel, of course.
She loves her fans and their comments, so invites you to please drop a line and if you have a second, pen a review.