Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog Tour: Stone at your service by Rie Warren. Hell on wheels meets hell in high heels.






SYNOPSIS:

Hell on wheels meets hell in high heels.

Bad boy mechanic Josh Stone likes to get his hands dirty any way he can—the filthier, the better. Ever since his wife walked out on him and their young son, he’s only had room in his heart for two loves: the kid and cars.
Roped into playing his best buddy’s gay boyfriend during a romance writers convention, the player meets the girl who’s gonna rock his world. Leelee Songchild. Shy, bashful, beautiful Leelee who blushes at the drop of a hat yet writes hardcore smut to rival Josh’s backlist of Penthouse Forum.
The only problem is his hands are tied. Josh can’t stab his old friend/fake lover in the back even though all he wants to do is take luscious Leelee to bed, and maybe, love her. When the truth comes out, all hell breaks loose.
Too bad romance is just for books.

PURCHASE LINK:
AMAZON

Book #2, in the Carolina Bad Boy Series is now available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon. 

LOVE, IN THE FAST LANE Carolina Bad Boys #2



EXCERPT:

“I figured you for more of Chili Peppers fan.” Her rosebud lips burst into a teasing smile.
“Chet Baker, old school all the way, babe.” I leaned in those last few inches, licking the crest of her mouth, snicking her with a gentle bite of teeth.
“That explains the fedora then.”
I tugged the brim lower before angling in for another short pull on her lips.
Heat, sex, need raced between us, speeded by the fuel of shared memories.
This is it. The feeling of being all alone, together. It raced up my spine and pounded through my body, slamming right into my heart. What my folks had, I’d only experienced with Leelee. The night of the tango, in a roomful of people, we’d been intent on each other. She was heaven in my arms and I wanted nothing more, no one else.
“You miss your dad,” she said.
I flipped my hat onto the bar. “All the damn time, darlin’. But I don’t want to miss you. Not tomorrow, not the next day.”
She moved closer to whisper, “And it explains the Dancing with the Stars moves. You really are a romantic.”
I never would’ve thought so before her. Guiding her off the stool and between my legs, I growled, “Only for you, babe.”
She shifted back a couple steps, offering her hand. “Dance with me.”
“I think that’s my line.” I brought her hand to my chest. Warm and soft, her hip filled my palm, her skirt rustling between us. Leaning down, I nipped her shoulder, drinking her body in.
“I’m re-writin’ it.” Her body aligned perfectly with mine.
“For All We Know” began. There was nothing but the song and the sway of our bodies around the emptied room. Bartenders watched, quieting their movements as they cleaned up around us.
Wrapped around each other, we danced. Her hand skimmed up my back, mine slipped to her neck. Our lips hovered but no kisses were taken.
Leelee’s cheek lay against mine—her soft to my rough. “Sing to me?”
No candles, no one else, my voice rumbled with the rich tones of old times. There was no fancy footwork, only feeling. And she felt so fucking good in my arms.
The music ended slowly. My hands snuck up her back, holding her against me, unwilling to let go. 


  



AUTHOR BIO:

Rie is the badass, sassafras author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series–a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command. Her latest endeavor, the Carolina Bad Boys series, is fun, hot, and southern-sexy.

A Yankee transplant who has traveled the world, Rie started out a writer—causing her college professor to blush over her erotic poetry without one ounce of shame. Not much has changed. She swapped pen for paintbrushes and followed her other love during her twenties. From art school to marriage to children and many a wild and wonderful journey in between, Rie has come home to her calling. Her work has been called edgy, daring, and some of the sexiest smut around.

You can connect with Rie via the social media hangouts listed on her website https://www.riewarren.com. She is represented by Saritza Hernandez, Corvisiero Literary Agency. http://www.corvisieroagency.com/Saritza_Hernandez.html



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Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Blitz: Someone to come home to by Zanne Sweeney. The uncut edition is now available.








SYNOPSIS:

A romance novel packed with suspense and intrigue. Placed into Witness Protection, Kit Taylor, formerly Karen Sue Murphy, now a self -imposed loner, slowly pieces her shattered life back together in beautiful Steamboat Springs Colorado. Jess Ryan, a firefighter and Explosive’s Expert just back from Afghanistan, is haunted with demons of his own. When they meet the attraction is undeniably.  However, unwitting influences jeopardize their new relationship. Separate and equally dangerous undertakings lead them into perilous situations that test their courage and ultimately their love for each other.

This romantic thriller is offered in two versions. The Uncut Edition contains adult content and is intended for mature readers. The Abridged Edition is a milder in content.


PURCHASE LINKS:

Someone To Come Home To (Uncut Edition)




Someone To Come Home To (Abridged Edition)









AUTHOR BIO:

Zanne Sweeney a graduate from Kent State University is a teacher, and coach, who loves to write stories that she hopes her readers won’t want to put down. “That’s the ultimate compliment.”

When she’s not teaching, coaching, or writing Zanne loves to spend time with her family and fun loving friends. She is a novice photographer, a consummate sports fan, and is never without a book to read.

Other Zanne Sweeney books:

Neighbors
A Chance For More (A finalist in the Readers Favorite Book Contest in the category of Romance – Sizzle)


AUTHOR LINKS:

You can reach out to Zanne on Twitter @zanneweeney and on her Facebook like page: Zanne Sweeney - Author. https://www.facebook.com/zanne.sweeney.author?ref=hl


Chapter 1

With a fake smile and a hopefully cheery voice Karen Sue thanked her neighbor for the ride home. She opened the rickety gate that separated their backyards and the familiar squeak of the rusty hinges brought forth bittersweet memories.

Years ago she and her best friend Katrina had practically worn the hinges off that white, little gate as they ran from one house to the other seeking better snacks or newer toys.  The memories still stung even though an entire decade had passed.  Katrina and her family had moved to Ohio, leaving Karen Sue to bravely face her freshman year in high school without her best friend of 13 years. 

Not too long ago Karen Sue had been filled with pride and contentment when she came home to her cozy house. Now as she crossed her weed choked lawn, a small frown tended her lips as she noted that the grass, well dandelions now, needed to be cut again.

Wearily she walked down her short driveway towards the front of her house to get the mail. She sighed somberly knowing there would be bills with ‘Urgent’ red stamps marring the white envelopes. As much as she had been denying it she knew she was going to have to sell her beloved home to dig out from the havoc Ray had created to her once good credit. She knew she could get a good price for her house that would pay off her bills and leave her enough money to restart, if…if Rays lawyers didn’t try to claim any of it.

Three young boys that Karen Sue taught at school peddled past her driveway on their bikes, waving shyly to their beautiful art teacher. Karen Sue smiled and waved back as she juggled her computer case and purse to free a hand. A large black sedan parked in front of her house with the motor running drew her attention from the boys. She could see someone sitting in the driver's seat and he appeared to be talking on a cell. Her eyes caught his when he glanced up to his rearview mirror. Karen Sue figured the man was being responsible and had pulled over to talk on the phone, she wished more people did that.

She gathered the mail from the mailbox that she had painted flowers on just three years early, when life was good. Now when she opened the brightly painted box she was stung with how drastically her life had changed. Turning back she walked up the driveway and let herself into the house through the side kitchen door. Placing the mail down on the dull Formica counter without looking at it, she settled her computer bag and oversized purse on the nearby kitchen table. Coming home was never a good thing anymore. Karen Sue pulled her arms out of her lightweight coat and hung it on the wooden hook behind the door; it was then that she heard voices, angry voices coming from the adjoining room.

 Curious and slightly alarmed she headed towards the swinging door that separated the kitchen and living room. She heard Ray say. “Leave her out of this, she doesn’t know anything.”

 As she extended her arms to push open the door she heard three sounds, like wet snowballs hitting a wall, followed by an anguished low grunt. Without warning the door slammed back inwards forcing Karen Sue’s arms back against her body. Ray fell through the swinging door his back colliding heavily with her chest. The force that had propelled Ray through the door caused them to both to keel over backwards. She landed painfully on the kitchen floor with Ray sprawled on top of her. Their prone bodies acting as a door stop holding the swinging door wide open.  The jarring Karen Sue’s body took knocked the breath from her and she fought for air. The moment became surreal as Karen Sue noticed many things at once.

Two men were in her living room; a smaller man in a dark business suit holding a gun, and standing next to him was a larger man in dress pants, a collared shirt with gold chains surrounding his beefy neck. It was clear that the smaller man had just fired the gun, although she hadn’t seen it. Realizing that a man she didn’t know, held a gun in her living room and the gun had been fired, Karen Sue vainly struggled to push up on her elbows hoping Ray would move. Gasping for breath she peered over Ray's shoulder wondering why he wasn’t getting up. It was then she noticed Ray’s shirt was blooming with crimson wet circles, two in his chest and one in his shoulder.

Karen Sue tried to maneuver out from underneath his heavyweight but the floor was slippery. Rivers of blood seeping onto her body ran off her pooling onto the floor below them. A copper smell permeated her senses as she tried to suck in air. Her face was wet and she panicked realizing it was Ray’s blood that was splattered on her skin and soaking her clothes.

Ray was not moving, at all, his deadweight hampering her ability to regain her lost breath. She heard the smaller man say, ‘shit” as he looked at her. His head tilted to one side, as if he was in thought. Karen Sue watched him hand the gun to the larger man who was also looking at her. Her mind was slush, she couldn’t think, her survival instinct was urging her to get out from underneath Ray and run. She frantically pushed against the kitchen floor but the blood coating the floor had her hands slipping frantically, like Fred Flintstone's feet when he started his car. The front door burst open, momentarily halting Karen Sue’s attempts to escape.  A large, muscle-bound younger man dressed in a black tee shirt and dress pants appeared. His eyes darted over to Karen Sue and Ray, surveying the scene he had walked in on.

He then looked to the man in the suit and said; “Boss, we gotta go, scanner says cops are on their way.” Karen Sue was silently praying, ‘Go, please, go.’

“How the fuck are they on their way?” The smarmy thin man questioned.

“Don’t know but I think a neighbor called in a suspicious vehicle.”

Karen Sue was listening to this conversation as if she was watching a TV show that she was staring in. Her shocked, small body clenched tightly to Ray as if he could somehow help her. A gooey blob of wetness slid down her cheek jolting Karen Sue back into reality. Ray had been shot and he was currently pinning her down and three men, one wielding a gun were in her living room getting ready to do God knows what. Bile caught in her throat as she swiped what she knew was a bloody piece of her husband from her face causing her to whimper in distress.

The older man took the gun back from the gold- chained gorilla like man and handed it to the new guy. “Kill her,” he said. He then turned and walked out the front door. The gorilla remained behind guarding her front door. Karen Sue knew she was the ‘her’ that was about to be killed.

Try as she might she couldn’t lift Ray off of her and the blood had caused the linoleum underneath them to become so slippery she couldn’t even scoot backwards. She could hear sirens in the distance, but she knew there was no way they would get to her in time. Her mind slipped into a hyper focused state and her body trembled with terror. Her random thoughts were crazed as she thought about the many times she had watched horror movies and had laughed at the victims who had stood shocked and unmoving just before they were slaughtered. The muscle-bound man approached her; his large frame blocked her sight from the gorilla standing at the door.

She feebly lifted one arm palms out stopping gesture and garbled out, a lame “please, don’t...” The killer raised the gun, aiming it at her and Ray. She noticed his hands were not shaking in the least and she knew that only a monster could kill someone without emotion. She had a moment of bravado and decided if this bastard was going to kill her then she was going to be looking him in the face when he did it. She saw his mouth move without speaking and she thought he mouthed the words. “Play dead,” then he squeezed the trigger. Her last conscious thought was that the bullets silently firing from this gun sounded like the blow darts the natives would use in the old Tarzan movies. Karen Sue’s head hit the floor with a hard thump, her arm slipped limply to the blood coated linoleum as her eyes rolled up into her head. A welcoming blackness engulfed her.



BOOK BLITZ HOSTED BY:


Guest Post: From the pen of Ms Taylor. A Desperate Wager by Em Taylor is now available on Kindle.




Are you a romantic at heart?

I think I was a romantic from the moment I drew breath. By the time I was twelve I would have to wait a month for Francine Pascale to write her next installments of Sweet Valley High and publish them. Luckily she seemed to publish two books a month. Then I moved onto Silhouette romances – which were probably tamer in those days. They are now part of Mills and Boons/Harlequin.
I cried all the way through the last episode of the Thorn Birds TV serial and am still traumatized by the end of War of the Roses, a black comedy starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. The story is about a couple who are getting a divorce. She hates him and he wants her back. Neither of them will give up the house (which is a huge big house). So they live in separate sides and make each other’s lives misery. Eventually there is a big accident and they both fall to the ground atop a big chandelier. It’s obvious they are both dying. He reaches out for her hand and she pushes it away, then the credits roll.
That’s why you’ll never find anything other than a happily ever after in an Em Taylor story and it’s probably why I read so much romance and not a lot else.
Perhaps I’m romantic because I grew up in a household where my parents adored each other… but not in a sickly advertisement sort of way. They had met when he had gone to hospital to get an operation of his wrist (due to having had poliomyelitis as a child) and she was a nurse on the ward. He was rude to her, she was snippy back, and by the time he left hospital, they had a date lined up. Unfortunately they both turned up for said date in different places. But they still got together and had a very happy marriage. The happiness even survived my dad teaching my mum to drive.
And that’s what I want for my characters whenever I start a new book. Nate and Sarah have a difficult start to their relationships. They have to navigate her disability and his problems with alcohol, not to mention finding out who is trying to kill one or other of them. But any romantic will tell you that they can and will work through it if they love each other.
A Desperate Wager - Tour Banner  

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – A Desperate Wager AUTHOR – Em Taylor GENRE – Historical Regency Romance PUBLICATION DATE – 25 August 2014 LENGTH – 71,000 words COVER ARTIST – Samantha Holt

  A Desperate Wager - Book Cover  

BOOK BLURB / SYNOPSIS

Nathaniel Spencer, the Fourteenth Duke of Kirkbourne wakes up with an almighty hangover and a wager note in his pocket stating he has agreed to marry the Earl of Brackingham’s daughter. And he can’t even remember ever meeting the chit. Clearly his drinking has got out of hand.
Lady Sarah Steele is horrified when her father announces that the Duke of Kirkbourne has agreed to marry her and even more horrified that her father wagered her hand in a game of cards. Not only that, but the earl has not told the duke of the riding accident that left Sarah paralysed when she was sixteen. But he’s dying and she knows he wants to see her settled before the inevitable happens.
Despite Nate’s drinking and Sarah’s possible complicity in the earl’s plan, they agree to marry. But when accidents start to happen, the newly-weds must deal not only with the fact they are practically strangers, but they must find out who is trying to kill one or both of them. Nate’s drink problem and Sarah’s disability are only a couple of the hurdles they must face to find lasting love.

BUY & TBR LINKS


A Desperate Wager - Teaser  

EXCERPT

Nathaniel Spencer, fourteenth Duke of Kirkbourne groaned and rolled over in bed. A tattoo beat a steady rhythm inside his skull, his stomach was bilious and the world spun at an alarming rate. Last night he had been in his cups—again. He knew he should take a more moderate attitude to alcohol but recently, staying sober had seemed somewhat pointless. Why stay sober if you were just going to end up dead at the side of the road—another silly young buck who had killed himself in a curricle race? Damn Crosby! Why had he made the damned challenge? Nathaniel, or Nate as he preferred to be called, would never forget Crosby’s lifeless eyes staring up at him, or the crack of the pistol as a bystander put his horses out of their misery. And he would never forgive himself for being the man whom Crosby was racing. Nate closed his eyes and willed his stomach to stop churning as he tried to recall the events of the night before. He had been at White’s for dinner and had moved to the card room. The brandy had been flowing, and Ormsby had suggested moving on to a less reputable gaming hell. He remembered the Earl of Brackingham tagging along for some reason that defied Nate. He had no issue with Brackingham, but the earl was at least twenty years the senior of everyone else in their party. He had been coughing somewhat alarmingly, Nate recalled. He hoped the old man was not spreading disease around. The last thing Nate needed was to be laid up in bed—his mother fussing around him and pouring vile-tasting concoctions down his throat. There was another thing that took many young, seemingly healthy lives—fever. Curricles and fever—good reasons to get absolutely foxed if ever he needed any. Brackingham! The name seemed to be prodding his tired and very painful brain—waiting for him to remember something significant from last night. He had a vague memory of playing vingt et un with him. There had been a ludicrous bet. Brackingham wagered his daughter’s hand and if Nate lost, he would have to marry the girl. Nate had been on a winning streak. Bravado and alcohol made him foolish. He had a three and a queen. He sat up as the king of diamonds flashed before his eyes. God, damn it. The king of diamonds took him to twenty-three. His head swum and he tamped down the urge to cast up his accounts. Twenty-three. But surely a wager like that was a joke. It had to be. Brackingham did not expect him to marry his chit of a daughter, did he? Had he even set eyes on the girl before? Again, some piece of information about the girl needled his brain. He had no recollection of dancing with her at balls. But then he hardly ever danced at balls. He had no plans to seek a leg-shackle on the marriage mart, so he steered clear and spent most of the evening in the card room. God, he hoped she was at least old enough to have had her come out and this was not some medieval plan to marry a thirteen-year-old off to him. Eighteen was quite young enough—too young in his rather jaded opinion. But no. He had no recollection of ever having set eyes on Lady… Lady what? He had no idea. He fished in the pocket of his waistcoat, which he still wore, having obviously been so foxed when he had returned that he had either shooed his valet away or he had arrived so late the valet had been asleep. There was a note. A wager. He hoped he owed the man a vast fortune instead. Marry Lady Sarah Steele. Dowry - £10,000. Meet Brackingham on 5th day of March to make arrangements. Today must be the fifth of March. Yesterday had definitely been the fourth. Christ, he had to see if this was a big joke or, if not, was there any way he could inveigle his way out of it. He had no plans to marry. None at all. And that was that.
A Desperate Wager - Author Photo

AUTHOR BIO

Em was born and brought up in the Central Belt of Scotland and still lives there. She was told as a child she had an over active imagination--as if that is a bad thing. She's traded her dreams of owning her own island, just like George in the Famous Five to hoping to meet her own Mr Darcy one day. But her imagination remains the same.

AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS

 

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Release day Blitz: The shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith. Giveaway


The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall
by Lauren Smith
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Romantic Suspense with Gothic Elements
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: September 29, 2014



A thrilling gothic romance from Entangled’s Otherworld imprint…

To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…

Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn't believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.

Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.

Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.



The twenty-minute drive to the estate took her on a narrow road that paralleled the edge of the coast. Although it was October, the grass was still green on the hillsides, and storm clouds were only a vague outline on the horizon.  The landscape gave way to a slowly rising hill and a mass of distant trees, gnarled and knotted together tight as thorns. Just beyond was a glimpse of the castle. It was a massive edifice that stood stark against the sky and trees, towering over the fields, and she couldn't help but stare.

The countless photographs she’d collected over the years hadn't prepared her for the raw beauty and power of the structure. The worn battlements were still fully intact, facing the sea like warriors, ever defiant in the face of nature’s force on the coast. The steep cliffs merely half a mile from the castle loomed, dark and threatening.

No fence lined the cliff edges. No warning signs guided visitors away except one that read Private Property. Heavy Fines for Trespassing. She repressed an achy shiver as a cloud stole across the sun’s path, dimming all light.

The gray stones of Stormclyffe stood stalwart and proud, challenging her to drive closer. The road turned to gravel and thinned even more, leaving only enough space for her car.

Sheer desolation seemed to pour off the structure as she pulled into the castle’s front drive. If not for the five work vehicles that obviously belonged to various handymen, she would have thought the castle was devoid of all life.

Strands of hair stung her face as the wind whipped it about. There was an unsettling silence on the grounds, like something unnatural muffled the sound of the sea. No crashing waves, only the violence of the wind against the castle’s stones.

The house seemed to be wrapped in an invisible layer of thick wool, where sight and smell were dulled. The wind’s icy fingers crawled along her shoulder blades and dug into her hair, making her tense with apprehension. The castle walls were pitted with small chinks in the stones like fathomless obsidian eyes that stared at her, sized her up, and found her wanting.

The hairs rose on the back of her neck. The eerie sensation of eyes fixed on her back sent a cold wave of apprehension over her skin. She whipped around to look at the deserted landscape, suddenly fighting off a rush of panic at being alone out here.

Her heartbeat froze for a brief moment. A woman in a long white nightgown, hair loose down to her waist, stood hesitantly on the cliff’s edge, half turned toward the sea. She stared at Jane. Her skin was grayish, and her eyes were shadowed with black circles as though she hadn't slept in years.
Something wasn't right about the way she looked, or the fact that the nightgown looked far too old in style for any modern woman to be wearing. Not to mention a woman in a nightgown in broad daylight wasn't right either…




Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. Lauren loves hearing from readers and can be contacted through her site at www.laurensmithbooks.com.











Sunday, September 28, 2014

Now available: Who am I? How my daughter taught me to let go and live again by Megan Cyrulewski.





Synopsis

Megan Cyrulewski is an ordinary person who has faced extraordinary challenges and now wants to inspire people and show them that hope gives them the power to survive anything. Who Am I? is about her journey into post-partum depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, visits to the psych ward, divorce, domestic violence, law school, and her courageous struggle to survive with her sanity intact—and how a beautiful little girl emerged from all this chaos.

BUY LINKS







AUTHOR BIO

Megan Cyrulewski has been writing short stories ever since she was ten-years-old.  Eventually she settled into a career in the non-profit sector and then went back to school to get her law degree.  While she was in school, she documented her divorce and child custody battle in her memoir, Who Am I? How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again, which was released on August 2, 2014.  Megan lives in Michigan with her 3-year-old daughter who loves to dance, run, read, and snuggle time with Mommy.  Megan also enjoys her volunteer work with Troy Youth Assistance as the Fundraising Chair on the Board of Directors.



CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT:


Chapter One:  Ahhh…Young Love


Envy. There is a reason why it’s one of the seven deadly sins. It can kill you. It almost killed me.

The summer of 2004, I was 26 and just got out of a long-term relationship. Good man, he just wasn’t the right man for me.

I had just found out that my old college roommate had recently gotten engaged. The two of us were always “competing” during college: who was skinnier, who can pick up the most guys at the bar. Stupid girl stuff. Other friends of mine were either married or having babies. I think the last straw was finding out my high school sweetheart had gotten engaged. Somewhere in fantasyland, I always thought it was possible we might get back together. Needless to say, I was definitely envious.

That summer, my roommate, Jessica, bought a house. At the time we were sharing an apartment, but she asked if I wanted to move into her house. Jessica and I had known each other since high school and she was the best roommate, and one of the best friends, I have ever had. Without hesitation, I agreed. A month after moving in, we had a house warming party. That’s when I met Tyler*.

I knew Tyler slightly because he was engaged to one of Jessica’s friends, Natalie. Tyler and Natalie and been together for about three years. They had even come to a couple of parties Jessica and I had thrown at our apartment.  I had never really talked to him, though. Tyler and Natalie had broken up around the same time I had broken up with my-long term man.

Jessica didn’t want to invite Tyler because she didn’t want any tension between him and Natalie. A few days before the party, though, we found out Natalie was going to be out of town. Coincidentally, Tyler stopped by that same night to give something of Natalie’s to Jessica. That was the first time I had really looked at hime and I liked what I saw: good-looking, goofy smile, and deep-blue eyes. The attraction was instantaneous. So, I decided to invite him to the house-warming party. Why the hell not? Natalie wasn’t going to be there. After getting the eyes of death from Jessica, she reluctantly told him the day and time.

The night of the party, Tyler knocked on the door. When I opened it, I gave him a hug and told him I was glad he was there because at least I had someone to flirt with. I didn’t really pay attention to him too much during the party.  But after everyone had left, he and I ended up talking until five in the morning.

A couple of nights later, we went on our first date. We went to dinner and then back to his house to watch a movie. We were very open with each other. I told him about my anxiety disorder, he told me about his drug addiction and how he had been clean for years. Five months later, I moved in with him, four months after that we got engaged and a year later, we were married. Needless to say, the relationship was on overdrive from the beginning.

The relationship wasn’t perfect, but whose is? Tyler didn’t like his current job and was looking for a new one.  Tyler was trying to quit smoking because he knew I didn’t like it. Tyler was a recovering addict and going to NA meetings. It’s a stressful time. That became my mantra. Tyler got angry. “It’s a stressful time.” Tyler screamed at me. “It’s a stressful time.”

I was an independent woman in my mid-twenties, in a stable job making $55,000 and climbing up the corporate ladder. I understood stress. I was also in complete denial. This was the beginnings of what I would later understand was a domestic violence relationship and a relationship with someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). There were the signs of these disorders, of course, but I didn’t recognize them at the time.

My paternal family is 100% Polish. In my grandmother’s generation, girls were expected to get married and have babies. A lot of babies. My grandmother was one of six children. After I graduated from high school, on Christmas Eve, my grandmother would pray that the next year I would get married and start a family. I always smiled and told her maybe. I loved my grandmother very much. She was the only grandparent I had ever known.

After Tyler and I got engaged, we went to my grandmother’s house to tell her the news she had been waiting for. When we told her, she stood up, pushed me aside, hugged Tyler and said, “God bless you.” The memory still makes me smile. Three months later, she had a stroke. In February 2006, seven months before the wedding, my grandmother passed away. Devastation doesn’t even coming close to how I felt. I called in to work, stayed in bed and cried for two days.

The night of the funeral, my dad's company catered dinner at my parent’s house for our family. On the way to their house, I noticed that the car was low on gas. I stopped at a gas station and asked Tyler if he could pump the gas. Tyler was on the phone and told me to pump the gas myself. We were only two miles from my parents’ house. I was still upset and crying from the funeral. I asked him again to please just pump the gas. He didn’t even bother to answer me. I got out of the car and pumped the gas myself. When I got back into the car, I told Tyler that I was upset and a little angry. What happened next was my first glimpse into the emotional abusive side of domestic violence.

“You are such a spoiled little bitch who expects the world to be handed to you,” Tyler screamed at me. “Turn the fucking car around.”

Not saying a word, I turned the car around and headed back home to drop off Tyler, who kept spewing vile words.

“You and your family think you’re so much better than me. Did daddy pump your gas for you all the time? Well guess what? You actually have to do things yourself now. It’s time for you to grow up and live in the real world.”

Tears streamed from my eyes. I still had not said a word.

“Your grandmother probably killed herself because she didn’t want to deal with you anymore. She probably got tired of your spoiled behavior and decided death was better than you. I’m glad I’m going home because I don’t want to watch your fucking family cry all night.”

When we got back home, I parked in the driveway and finally let loose.

“How dare you!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. “I just lost my grandmother! Get out of my car! Get out!”

Tyler started laughing. “Look at you. You’re a joke. You should get some help for those anger issues of yours. Don’t bother coming back, bitch. Your shit will be on the curb.”

I left and went to my parents’ house. When my dad asked about Tyler, I said we got into an argument and he’s at home. My dad, who is the family peacemaker and almost never says anything negative said under his breath, “What a night for him to pick a fight.”

About an hour into dinner, Tyler called me. He said he wanted to come over and apologize. At this point, I was so emotionally drained I really didn’t care. When he arrived, he waltzed right into the house like nothing had ever happened. He pulled me aside and told me that he blew up because he was under so much stress from taking care of me the last couple of days. Looking back at the moment, I wonder how he even had the audacity to blame my grandmother’s death for his behavior. At the time, I was just glad he wasn’t mad anymore.

The next couple of months were calm. No arguments and Tyler and I were having fun planning the wedding. Obviously, the argument the night of my grandmother’s funeral was a result of stress. We got through it and according to Tyler, it wouldn’t happen again.

Early June 2006, I was in bed reading and waiting for Tyler to come home from a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting. When he got home, he came upstairs and walked toward the bed. He stopped and asked if I smelled anything.

“No,” I said, a little confused.

“It smells like cat piss.” (We had a cat that sometimes urinated outside the litter box.)

Tyler looked around the room and picked up a bed pillow off the floor. He smelled it.

“She pissed on this pillow.”

I laughed. “It’s sad when the pillow is right next to me and I can’t smell the pee.”

Tyler didn’t laugh. “Clean it up.”

“I’ll put it in the wash tomorrow. Just throw it in the basement.”

Tyler picked up the pillow. “Bitch. You waited until I came home because you knew I would fucking clean it.” He ripped the book I was reading right out of my hands and threw it across the room. “Get off your fat lazy ass, get some paper towels  and clean it!”

I started to shake. The monster had emerged again.  I couldn’t say anything. Tyler picked up the pillow and shoved it in my face.

“Smell it!” He screamed. “Can you smell it now, bitch? Now your face smells like cat piss. You’re disgusting. Who would want you anyway?”

Tyler threw the pillow back on the floor and stormed downstairs. I just sat in bed, paralyzed from fear. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even cry.

I don’t know how much time had passed before Tyler came back. Without saying a word, he picked up two water bottles I had sitting on the nightstand beside me, unscrewed the tops, and poured water on me. He laughed and went back downstairs.

I took off my pajamas, turned out the light and rolled to the dry side of the bed. Before long, I heard Tyler come up the stairs again. I began to shake. He ripped the covers off of me.

“You would sleep in a wet bed. I should have poured cat piss on you and let you sleep in that,” he laughed. “Get out of my fucking bed and sleep outside.”

I got out of bed and put on dry pajamas. I took off my engagement ring, threw it on the bed and left. I went to Jessica’s house and asked if I could spend the night. I didn’t talk about what happened. I just told her that the engagement was off and I just needed to sleep. Jessica never asked any questions and I love her for that.

Before long, my phone rang and it was Tyler. He asked me to come back home. I was hesitant, but he convinced me to come back home and talk. I left Jessica a note and went back home.

When I got home, Tyler was sitting on the couch. “I’m going to get a six-pack of beer, drink it and kill myself.”

Shocked, I sat down next to him. “Do you want me to call someone? Should I call your sponsor? I don’t know what to do.”

Tyler kept repeating. “I’m going to kill myself.” He was crying, but there weren’t any tears.

I hugged him. “We’ll get through this. We’ll get help. Please don’t kill yourself. I love you too much.”

“Thank you,” Tyler smiled. And just like that, he got up, told me he loved me, and went to bed.

Looking back, I now realize that this was Tyler’s way of manipulation. Tyler knew he let his anger get out of control, to the point that I walked away. To get me back, he subtly blamed me for what happened by alluding that he was going to commit suicide. At the time, I felt guilty for not cleaning the damn pillow. If I had cleaned that pillow, this never would have happened. I promised myself to be more careful in the future.

The next morning, my engagement ring was on my nightstand.**
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