Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Unexpected Betrayals


Unexpected Betrayals
by
Liza O’Connor

Blurb
Mary Campbell was tired of servicing half the town. Ever since she reached puberty at the age of twelve, all the boys and men in her town wanted her. Nor could she refuse them. Despite all her pleas to stop, they would take what they wanted, certain she liked it. And the reason they believed this was because in truth her body wanted them. While her mind objected, her body did not. She would have sex with anyone, even if she hated them. Finding her life intolerable, she had decided to move to California and start a new life where no one knew her past.

Excerpt
Chapter 1
Mary Campbell wrote down three phone numbers and closed out of the website before any of her family noticed what she was viewing. As she slipped the paper into her pocket, she looked out the window. A cold gray sky left little doubt that soon it would begin to snow again. Nothing unusual for a Minnesota winter day, but Mary was tired of it; tired to the bone.
After dinner, she lifted the wireless phone from its cradle and carried it upstairs to her bedroom. Her brother was in his room listening to country music, her parents were downstairs: Mom in the kitchen and Dad in front of the TV, no doubt sound asleep, even though it was barely eight p.m.
Mary dialed the first number. If this didn’t work, come the next phone bill there would be hell to pay for these long-distance numbers. She had barely explained why she was calling when the girl cut her off with a quick, “It’s rented,” and slammed the phone down. The second person was nicer, but the news was no better. “Third’s the charm,” she whispered, as she dialed the last number.
She explained why she was calling and held her breath waiting for the bad news….
“Yeah, well, it’s like not much,” the girl replied, “But it’s cheap.”
Mary paused, surprised to find a rent of $800 a month considered cheap. “Then…it’s available?”
“Yeah, you interested?”
“Yes, oh, yes.” She was more than interested. She was desperate.
“Come by tomorrow morning, 1606 Anderson, first door on the left, fifth floor.”
“Wait!” she panicked. “It will take me a day to get there. Can you hold it for me?”
There was a pause. “Sure, you sound like a nice person. I’ll hold it.”
***
Mary was shaking as she disconnected her call. She had done it. She had a place to live in sunny California. She snuck downstairs, returned the phone to its cradle and then hurried back to her room to pack. Terrified that someone might walk in while she packed, she gave little thought to what she tossed inside. Once the suitcase was full, she slid it beneath her bed, so her Dad wouldn’t notice when he came to say good night.
She removed her gown and studied her naked body before the mirror. Everyone said she was prettier than the movie stars. She hadn’t always been so beautiful. Her life had been normal as a young girl, but when she reached puberty and her body changed, everyone loved her. The teachers, the boys…even the girls. Within a single year, she turned from being a wallflower to the most popular girl in school.
At first, the constant admiration pleased her but as time progressed, she grew jaded. No one knew anything about her. They loved her on sight, because of her looks, not because of who she was.
When she graduated from school two years ago, she went to work at a dentist's office. Getting the job had been easy, but keeping it required more than she wished. Recently her boss had been pressuring her to get an apartment so he could be with her beyond work hours.
She had admitted she would like her own place, and gratefully accepted the money he offered so she could afford to rent an apartment.
She suspected he’d be a bit angry when he discovered the apartment she rented was in California, but she never actually said she’d look in Minnesota.
She was in bed when her father softly opened her door and eased inside, closing the door behind him. “You awake, sweetie?” he whispered.
She hesitated before answering. It would be over faster if she admitted she was. She rolled to her back. “Yes, sir.”
***
She awoke to the banging of pots as her mother fixed breakfast. The clock said it was almost four a.m. She rolled from the bed and grabbed her robe, stumbling to the bathroom. Her heart raced as she realized this would be the last morning she’d rise before the sun.
Breakfast was always a silent affair. It was too early in the morning for anyone to have much to say. Once the meal was consumed, everyone went about their chores on the farm. Only Mary was exempt from farm work. She had a job at the Dentist’s office, which brought in hard cash. Her dad had been after her brother Jeff to bring home a wife to help Mom with the house chores, but so far, Jeff hadn’t complied with that request.
Mary sighed. It was good she was leaving. She suspected Jeff would never marry as long as she remained at home.
With everyone about his or her chores, Mary was able to toss the suitcase from her bedroom window, walk downstairs, retrieve it from the hedge and put it in the car without notice. It was easy, yet the whole time she held her breath, expecting something or someone to stop her from escaping. Even as she drove to the airport, she expected a car accident to block her way or a tire to go flat. She didn’t relax until the plane lifted into the air
Finally, her life was her own!

This book is available at multiple places.
Release Date: April 1, 2020
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Liza O’Connor has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. However, I am still working on the 46 books I have yet to publish. So, don’t give up on me.  I’m still here.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Dazzle of Innocence by Liza 0'Connor


The Dazzle of Innocence
by
Liza O’Connor


Blurb

David Santiago has no interest in acquiring a wife. He came to England in a desperate attempt to save his sisters from being sold into white slavery.
Meriden Ford is searching for an interesting, educated, young husband who will recognize her superiority and become her decoy, while she runs the family fortune.
At their very first dance, they promise not to fall in love. However, their mutual admiration ensures a strong friendship. When bombarded with tribulations that would destroy most people, they survive by pulling strength from each other. Yet even as they realize their true feelings, others work to tear them apart forever.

A Victorian Romance thriller bringing the characters of A Tangled Affair and the Xavier Thorn series together for a delightful, nail-biting tale. A definite read!




EXCERPT
“Allow me to introduce you to the best student I ever encountered during my years at Cambridge. So much so, I have kept him as a dear friend since he graduated.”



While David had not expected the same greeting his friend had received, the chilly glare he received took him by surprise. His extended hand was ignored by Garrison, and Sara went so far as to turn away and speak to the woman beside Samuel Hawkens.

Jonas stepped in, trying to soften the tension in the air. “You might recall my mentioning the boy that I took home for a summer and gave him leave to enjoy my library.”

Oddly, it was Samuel Hawkens who replied. “I’ve heard that story second hand from Garrison. Not only did he read every book you owned, but he categorized and evaluated them, placing the most interesting, close at hand, if you ever got time to read them yourself.”

Jonas chuckled. “And once I retired, I discovered what a damn fine job he did.”
While Mr. Ford and his wife continued their chilly reception, Samuel took special effort to bring David into the conversation with him and his wife. Samuel somehow knew he had just come from Spain. Was it possible he had made inquiries after receiving David’s request for a visit?

Mr. Hawkens questioned him on the political upheaval in his homeland. He answered as honestly and openly as possible, including the ladies in the conversation as Jonas had advised. He was in the midst of supporting the reason he thought King Amadeus would abdicate his throne when Mrs. Ford’s hand gripped her husband’s hand. “Where is Meri? I cannot see her!” Fear contorted her lovely features.

Everyone’s eyes, including David’s, searched the dance floor. Upon seeing the girl, David’s focus returned to the excessively nervous mother.

Mr. Ford stroked his wife’s back and pulled her closer to him, kissing her temple. “I have my eye on her.” His eyes betrayed an unfashionable degree of love and affection for his wife. “Perhaps I should acquire you a chair so you may see over the heads of the crowd.” He then did the most shocking thing: he kissed her on her downturned lips.

“She is fine. The Queen could not have better protection. The boys have refused all suitors as of yet. At this rate, she’ll be unmarried and underfoot even in our dotage.” He chuckled, as if the idea pleased him.

Sara blushed and looked at David. “You must think us absurdly protective.”
David paused. In fact, he did think just that. However, his need of Samuel Hawken’s help to save his sisters required him to respond to her question with prudence. “While your daughter is clearly a cut above most young ladies, she must be quite extraordinary to claim such protectiveness from not only her mother, but from all who know and love her.”

“She is extraordinary,” Mrs. Ford assured him. “And I worry. This is the first time she has been introduced into society.”

David focused on their daughter, dancing with her cousin. He wondered why they felt the young lady’s introduction to society warranted greater concern than any other debutantes. God, if his problems were only this ridiculous.



As he watched the young lady in question glide about in an elegant waltz with one of her brothers, he had to concede there was nothing ‘ordinary’ about the girl. The other young ladies seemed stiff and self-conscious in comparison. While Miss Ford danced beautifully, she did so with little apparent attention to her steps. Her main focus appeared to be arguing with her brother, and by his pained expression, she was winning the battle. He suspected that she was warning him to stop scaring off her suitors.



“Well, she is doing most spectacularly. I’ve never seen a better waltz” Or arguer for that matter. He appreciated that she refused to accept what others wished to impose upon her. He only wished his mother and sisters had a touch of her fight within them. Then perhaps they would not be in their current danger.

David refocused on Mrs. Ford and smiled. “However, her brothers and cousin are going to eventually have to let her dance with some gentlemen or the poor girl will wonder why she had bothered to come to London.”
He hoped they would offer him the honor of dancing with their daughter, but his subtle suggestion was ignored in chilly silence.

Available at the following sites: 
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Monday, February 17, 2020

The Dazzle of Innocence by Liza 0'Connor

The Dazzle of Innocence
by
Liza O'Connor

England, 1898


Blurb

 David Santiago has no interest in acquiring a wife. He came to England in a desperate attempt to save his sisters from being sold into white slavery.

Meriden Ford is searching for an interesting, educated young husband who will recognize her superiority and become her decoy, while she runs the family fortune.

At their very first dance, they promise not to fall in love. However, their mutual admiration ensures a strong friendship. When bombarded with tribulations that would destroy most people, they survive by pulling strength from each other. Yet even as they realize their true feelings, others work to tear them apart forever.

A Victorian Romance thriller bringing the characters of A Tangled Affair and the Xavier Thorn series together for a delightful, nail-biting tale. A definite read!





Excerpt

The young lady captured David Santiago’s attention the moment she entered the ball. While a beauty, there were several others just as attractive. Yet this one radiated with such confidence, yet innocence and something else… glorious expectations perhaps.

He was not the only one to notice her. In fact, all eyes seemed to have turned to the elegant brunette. In less than a minute, she managed to bring the ball to a momentary stutter, something David had never seen occur before, neither in his home country of Spain, nor here in London.

The topic of everyone’s interest seemed completely comfortable with the effect she had on the crowd as if it were only natural everyone would find her intriguing. Oddly enough, he didn’t perceive an ounce of vanity in her assumption, only innocence, as if such notice was nothing uncommon.

Somehow, she dazzled so bright that everything else dimmed in comparison. 
Surrounding her were four similar-looking young men. They reminded him of a finely set of matched horses. He sensed their intent was to protect rather than court her.

“Has England acquired new royalty since I was last here?” David asked his friend, Jonas Quibb.

Jonas pulled out his spectacle and held it to his eye, squinting. A faint smile came to his lips. “If I am not mistaken to the identity of the young lady, I believe she is Meriden Ford. I deduce this solely by her surrounding guard. They are Garrison’s boys and his nephew. And while I am familiar with the boys, the young lady has never stepped foot into London before today.”

“She does not look like a young girl in her first introduction.” She had far too much confidence for a debutante.

His friend turned and faced him; his brow wrinkled in amusement. “And pray tell, what is the difference between the newly introduced young lady and those in their third year?”

“It’s the difference of terror fed by insecurities rather than determination fed by desperation.”

Jonas chuckled. “There is truth to that observation. However, Meriden is the grandchild of Samuel Hawkens, so you could hardly expect her to behave in a predictable fashion.”

“Samuel Hawkens…” David tensed in his own case of ‘determination fed by desperation.’ Only in his case, it was not marriage he sought, but the salvation of his four sisters. He had sent his card with a request for a meeting two weeks ago, but the request had been denied. Mr. Hawkens’ schedule did not allow for unsolicited visits.

“Ah, see the very lovely woman behind the girl, the one with the worried eyes? That is her mother, Sara Hawkens Ford. She hasn’t changed much since she was last in London seventeen years ago.”

“Seventeen years? What could she possibly do for society to ostracize her for seventeen years?

“I’m not certain whether society shunned her, or she shunned society. Even at her lowest point in life, the Hawkens name provided her and her sister invitations to all the balls. But after she married Ford, she never again stepped foot into London. And I can’t say I blame her.”

“But she is here tonight.”

“For her daughter. Nothing less would have brought her out.” He squinted into his eyepiece and smiled. “And there is the man, himself, Samuel Hawkens.”

David studied the wizened old man who entered through the doors and joined the group. He emanated power and strength as he took in the room, almost as if assessing a battle. The elderly but elegant woman who stood at his side must be his wife. The entire family had all come to protect their little princess, the dazzling Meriden Ford. “Any chance of an introduction?”

Jonas raised his right eyebrow in challenge. “As a suitor or investor?”

“Perhaps both.” He dared not leave any card un-played. He’d already been shot down once. He could not fail again. His sisters’ lives depended upon it.

“I am not well acquainted with Samuel Hawkens, but I can introduce you to Garrison and his wife, Sara. Garrison and I are good friends. But allow me to give you a bit of advice first. If you wish to get on with the family, then neither flirt nor ignore Sara Ford. You will be judged on how you treat Garrison’s wife.”

Never in his life had he received more ridiculous advice. “Why would I be anything but respectful?”

“Why indeed,” he agreed. “What happened was not her fault.”

“Perhaps you should tell me a bit of her past before my introductions?” While David would never intentionally slight a lady, clearly there was something in her past that left her open to insult.

“No, you are safer in ignorance.” Jonas straightened his white bow tie and started towards the couple. “Don’t ask for an introduction to the girl right off. And if you are discussing anything of intelligence with Garrison or Mr. Hawkens, include the women in your conversation. Chances are they’ll know more than you about whatever topic you’re discussing.”

David smiled at the warnings. He had not had half so many cautions when he had been introduced to the queen the prior day. In fact, the only advice he’d received was focused on the depth of his bow.



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