A TOUCH OF DAWN Chapter 2 & 3 Excerpt on Eat Sleep Write

A Touch of Dawn - Chapter 2 & 3 by Erica Sutherhome
posted by Adam Scull
February 27, 2014

Chapter 2
            Jack sat in a plastic chair out in the hallway.  He pulled on the ends of his hair and covered his face, sighing.  He had already received the news from the doctor, and it was just what he’d expected.  But, it never got easy, hearing it.  It was still as fresh as his first case.  According to the doctor, she had been raped far too many times to count and they had to stitch her where her soft, feminine skin was torn.  He shuddered with that reality.  She wasn’t pregnant or disease-ridden, and that was a wonder.  But, sometimes in these situations, the human body could fight an invasion on that level.
            They had given her antibiotics, some pain medicine, extra vitamins for strength and some sleeping pills, but nothing more.  Guess there wasn’t a cure-for-all for the worse trauma imaginable. 
The one thing he had found unbearable, though, was her tears.  He had heard her crying hysterically in the room several times.  It wasn’t the result of what had happened to her, though in a way it was the reason for it.  Her circumstances hadn’t hit her fully yet.  No, it was the shame of feeling human touch, however kind it was, a humiliation she could not bear for a long time.  He knew this from experience.  Touch was equated with an invasion, with terrible cruelty, a reminder of that worthlessness, and until she saw otherwise, it was going to be rough for her.
            The door opened and he got to his feet, suspecting it was one of the staff.  Maybe he could wring more news from them.  Sometimes he felt so powerless as a consultant. 
But, Caitlyn came out then, the nurse behind her, and he saw her clearly for the first time.  Caitlyn’s hair was still damp from the shower and the hospital had lent her a pair of blue scrubs, a robe and some house slippers.  He sucked in a breath. 
She was striking with pale skin, large, luminous brown eyes and straight brown hair.  She had dark circles under her eyes, but that was to be expected.  It was her that he couldn’t get over.  He wasn’t supposed to notice it, but she was beautiful.  It was a damn shame that her innocence had been taken so swiftly.  Even as an adult, a person could be so violated that they were never the same again.
            Curiosity was in her eyes as she stared at him.  “Are you Jack?”
            He nodded.  For one, he still wore the uniform he wore on rescues to make people more comfortable.  “Sorry you couldn’t see me clearly until now.”
            She shook her head.  “It could not be helped.”  Her eyes closed and she lifted a hand to her temple.
            “The lights again?”
            “They’re worse inside the hospital than out.  Once we get in the car, you’ll feel better.  I mean, if you want me to take you home.  I could just as easily have a uniform take you.”
            She shrugged.  “The current arrangement is fine.”
            Jack slowly made his way over to her, then drew her to his side until her face was pressed against him.  “I can get you out now, if you’re ready.”
            “Yes.  Thank you,” came her small voice.  He heard pain and weariness there, which made his throat tighten.
            A doctor saw him and headed in his direction.  Jack waved him off.  “Please.  I’ll take care of everything later.”
            With a nod and a grim look, the doctor turned away.
            He tightened his arm around Caitlyn’s back and led her down the hall to the emergency doors.  “Easy,” he said as she tried to navigate the steps without her vision.
            “It’s strange, this.  I haven’t walked around much for awhile.  I mean, I did a little in that cellar.  But, not much.”
            A long breath came out of him.  “Did they feed you?”
            She shrugged.  “Some.  Not much.”
            “You’ve lost weight then.”
            “I don’t know.  I…”  She shuddered.  “I’m not sure I want to look in a mirror right now.”
            “I’ll be your mirror, if you like.”
            She laughed a little. “Do I look as terrible as I feel?”
            “No, Sweetheart. Other than the fact that you’re obviously tired and you’ve been through something awful, you look okay.  You were patched up down there, I assume.  But, from what I can tell, most of the scars are on the inside.”
            She pressed her face into his jacket and he wondered if she was trying to stifle the urge to cry.
            He spotted his car, then led her straight out to it.  He urged her into the vehicle, then closed the door behind her.  He got into the driver’s side, reached over and clicked her seatbelt into place.  He did the same for himself.  Then he shut his door and turned the car on.  He waited until they’d left the parking lot before he spoke. “Okay. I think you can open your eyes now.”

 Chapter 3
            Caitlyn could see the town a little in the darkness. There were streetlights here and there, but they didn’t hurt her.  It was so odd to see things now.  It was pretty routine what he was doing, she could tell that clearly enough. But, it meant more than she knew how to express.  He had taken her out of that dark place. He had removed her from the situation.  Now, she would have to deal with life again. 
            Oh, God.  The idea of it was so daunting.  Life.  Real life.  Not being in a cellar, kept for someone’s needs. Doing something for herself instead. How was she supposed to do that?
            “Where are we going?” she asked Jack.
            He seemed to hesitate.  “Your apartment was vacated long ago.  Supposedly, the landlord would not cooperate.  I thought of taking you to your mother’s.  Is that all right?  We could get you a hotel room instead, if you’d prefer that.  If it would make you feel better, I could have an officer placed outside the door for security.”
            She shuddered.  There was one thing she knew instinctively.  She should not be left to her own devices.  After what she’d been through, her grip on herself was tenuous.  She had struggled to stay sane in the cellar.  But, if she had the opportunity, she might try to kill herself.  Part of her wanted the release from life.  And part of her was terrified of dying.  “I should probably go home.”  Home.  Wasn’t that a strange word?
            He nodded.  “Okay.  We can do that.  I already called your mother after we found you.  So she’s expecting you.  She would have gone to the hospital, of course, but I told her you should be treated before you had visitors.”
            Her stomach clenched a little.  So her mother knew she was coming. What would the woman expect of her?  How could she possibly live a normal life?
            She glanced over at Jack.  He had an olive tone to his skin.  He had dark hair and blue eyes.  His face was a bit scruffy as if he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days.  It made him more attractive.  Mysterious.  But, really, what did it matter what the man looked like?  She had too many issues to worry about her reaction to him.  She had been raped.  How in the world was she supposed to deal with that, and somehow move on?
            “How far away is she from here?” she managed, trying to give her mind a distraction.
            “A good twenty minutes.”
            “Oh.  Okay.”  She sighed.  “How long has it been?  I mean…how long was I gone?”
            He sucked in a breath.  “Three months.”
            Was that all?  It was unfathomable.  She shook her head.  She couldn’t wrap her mind around that information.  “How was I found?”
            “Your case was never dropped, though the officer in charge was afraid the trail was cold.  The police knew who had taken you, just didn’t know their location.”  He sighed.  “One day, a random citizen called in claiming to see one of the men that had been on television.  We had put out a bulletin to see if anyone would find you.”
            She had been on TV?  That was strange.  “And then what?”
            “We looked into it, of course.  Traced the receipts to the establishment they’d seen him in.  He was using an alias though.  We eventually found the house they were using.  And here we are.”
            She was quiet for a moment.  It was a lot to take in.  She just couldn’t dwell on it all right now.  She wet her dry lips with her tongue.  “I don’t remember my family.  My life.  I only remember fragments from the past.  But, nothing informative.”
            “I know.  It will come back to you.”
            She nodded, then bit her lip, aware that ever since she’d been rescued, the tears were closer to the surface than ever before.  “Is it always like this?  The way it was today?”
            “It never gets any easier.”
            The strange tone in his voice caused her to glance at him.  She couldn’t dismiss the brief flash of pain in his eyes.  “I’m sorry.”
            He frowned.  “What do you have to be sorry for?”
            She shrugged.  “It must be hard on you, too, is all.”
            He didn’t respond to that.
            She sighed.  “Is this what you specialize in?”
            He gave a brief nod.  “Yes.”
            They were quiet for several more minutes.  Caitlyn was exhausted.  She leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes.  God, what she wouldn’t give for oblivion.  Her life back.  Her memories.  Why couldn’t she remember who she really was?
            “Your eyes still hurt?”
            She looked at Jack, saw the naked concern in his eyes.  “No.  Not in the dark.”
            He nodded and grew quiet again. 
            It was for the best.  Caitlyn feared she would be terrible company besides. 
            “We’re here.”
            Her eyes snapped wide and she glanced out the window to see a small one story house.  The details were fuzzy at night, but it looked cozy.  But really, what did it matter where she was as long as she was out of that cellar?
            “Are you ready?” he asked gently.
            “I think so.”
            She followed Jack out of the car, felt better when he put his arm around her as they walked up to the house.  The lights were on inside.  They stood on the porch for a few moments.  She glanced at Jack.  “What will she want from me?”
            He shook his head.  “You’re her daughter.  I think she just wants you safe.”
            Caitlyn wanted that to be enough, but suspected her mother would want her to remember her life.  And she couldn’t do that right away.  She feared she never could. 
            All of a sudden, the door opened.  She saw a brief swatch of dark blonde hair before the woman flew at her.  She wasn’t prepared for the embrace or the tears from her mother.
            Jack frowned.  No way was Caitlyn ready for this reunion.  She was barely coming to terms with what had happened, let alone the fact that she was finally safe.  Now she would have to heal.  It was hard to do that with her mother’s emotions overwhelming her.  But, he supposed it would be much worse if she didn’t care about her daughter.
            The woman pulled away, tears streaming down her face.  “Oh, Caitlyn.  My baby girl.  What did they do to you?” she asked as she examined her daughter’s appearance. 
            Jack fielded that question by clearing his throat.
            She blinked.  “Oh, I’m sorry, Officer.”
            “Actually, it’s just Jack.  Jack Thomas.  I’m a consultant with the police.  We spoke on the phone earlier?”
            “Oh.  Well, thank you so much for bringing my daughter home.”
            “You’re welcome.”
            She frowned after a bit.  “Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Thomas?”
            With a glance at Caitlyn, he led the woman aside.  “Kidnappings are very traumatic on the victims.  That is why I offer my services anytime this happens.”
            She crossed her arms over her chest.  “What…kind of services?”
            “Counseling, anything I can do to help a victim get back in touch with the world.”
            She nodded.  “I do appreciate it.  But, I’m sure we’ll be fine.  I can help my own daughter.”
            He frowned.  “I’m afraid you can’t.  Not alone.  And you’ll see the reason soon enough.  What happened to Caitlyn was terrible, and I'd be amazed if she could cope with it.”
            The woman’s face hardened.  “We’ll handle this on our own, as I said.”
            He had dealt with overbearing mothers before.  “Sure, but just think about it.”
            Jack turned back to Caitlyn.  “You need anything, you let me know.  If you just want to talk, that’s fine.  If you think of anything, call me.”  He handed her his business card. 
            Caitlyn managed a small smile.  “Thank you, Jack.”
            He hated gratitude sometimes, especially in relation to a kidnapping.  Or a rape.  Or both, he thought with a grimace.  “Don’t thank me.  I just want to help you if I can.  You just get on with the business of living, okay?”
            She nodded.
            Mrs. Johnson tugged at Caitlyn’s arm.  “Come on, honey.  Let’s go inside.”
            “Yes, Mother,” she replied stiffly.  And he could clearly see the agony in her eyes as her mother led her away.  He knew she wasn’t ready for it yet, but he hoped the family home would allow her to break through into some happy memories.

Exciting New Review for UPON YOUR RETURN!

Goodreads Review

Jonel Boyko's review
Feb 23, 14

Read from February 17 to 23, 2014

Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender This novel was very smoothly written, allowing the reader to immerse themselves fully in the storyline. Lavender stays firmly in the time period that she’s chosen, weaving her tale in and out of the social norms of the day (which she does take the time to point out for her audience, rather than assuming that they know). This is not only an intriguing and unique historical romance, but it was also historically significant. Lavender brings everything together in a multilayered storyline that’s about more than just the romance.

I quite enjoyed the diversity of characters in this novel. I really felt for the main character. She was left questioning social norms while trying to fit into them, despite the difficulties that her desires set in her way. I was left with one lasting question about the characters however. What in the world was up with the main character’s mother and her uncle. It was made out as very important in the story yet was never explained.

This was a sensually sweet story that had me smiling and cringing in turn. I quite enjoyed this novel and would definitely look further into works by this author.

Please note that I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

February Message

I know I'm a bit late with this.  It's the same message I sent out in my monthly newsletter so in case you missed it, here it is.

February Newsletter

Hi, readers!  To kick-start our monthly newsletters, I'd like to tell you a bit about what's happened to me so far.  As you probably already know, Upon Your Return was released through the Summer Solstice division of Solstice Publishing in February 2013.  The print version came out in May.  Upon Your Return did very well, earning bestseller status on Amazon.  As part of my launch of the book, I began to focus more on blogging and in that time, I maintained two blogs, Marie Lavender's Books! and Writing in the Modern Age.  In March, I began to accept guest authors on Writing in the Modern Age.  It's been quite a fascinating journey, helping other writers promote their articles and books.  In June, we started accepting poetry on the blog.  It has been so rewarding to meet new authors this way and see how talented they all are.  We have had writers from different walks of life and it has been very exciting to read about their journeys.  At the end of March, I also had my first author interview on RC Bonitz's site and I have had many more author interviews and character interviews on other sites since then.  I have also done guest blogging.

During the promotion of Upon Your Return, I began to do more blogging of my own on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog.  If you check the archives of the blog, you can see my past articles.  You will also find that I noted official book reviews and promos for Upon Your Return.  In May and June, I updated all of the covers on my self-published novels.  I have published 17 books to date.  In that time, I received some new reviews for those books.  I also moderated three discussion groups on LinkedIn and Facebook during that time.  I am still a moderator, but since then, I have formed a partnership with the moderator of the Eat Sleep Write site to help other authors promote their books better in one of the groups.  I also began writing more love poems, a long time hobby of mine.  Though I can't claim to be an official poet, I do it for fun.  You can see some of them listed on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and some I have published in my anthologies.  In September, I experimented with creating my own book trailer, and that was certainly an experience.  It is available for viewing on Youtube.

In October of 2013, I was the featured author of the week on Maurice Tudor's blog and in the same month, I made the top 50 on Authors Database.  In November, I received a contract with my publisher for a paranormal romance.  It should be out soon.  In the same month, I released a new book, a romantic suspense called Leather and Lace.  In December, I received the Liebster Blogger Award for Marie Lavender's Books! blog.  Leather and Lace also received its first review that month, and it was a five star review.  In December, I also entered the MARSocial's Author of the Year CompetitionUpon Your Return was the book I entered.  In January, I discovered I was a finalist in the competition.  At the end of the month, I learned I was a runner-up in the book competition.  Recently, I also found out I earned Honorable Mention in the January Readers' Choice Award on the Time for Love blog.  So...it's been busy so far.  LOL.

What are my future plans?  Well, as aforementioned, my paranormal romance Magick & Moonlight will be out soon.  I also have an anthology lined up to be released.  I plan to re-release all of my books under Marie Lavender eventually, as they are all penned under different names.  You can still find them all on my website though.  I am always working on something, as my family, friends and writer pals can attest to, and currently I am editing the sequel to Upon Your Return for submission.  It is titled Upon Your Honor, and I am quite proud of how it's turned out.  Chloe Waverly and Gabriel Hill, the main characters, will wow you, especially if you liked the first book.  I plan to write another sequel, thereby making the Heiresses in Love series a trilogy.  You might ask, "What else does Marie have in the works?"  Well, I am also writing a sequel to Perfect Game, one of my self-published books.  It is called A Game of Love, and Haley Stewart, the main character, gets into more trouble this time.  I have tons of works in progress, and you can see them all listed on my website in the Projects and Writing section.  


Considering what month it is, I'd like to give some thought to the subject of love.  I know I've probably already bored you to death with my rant, but I'll try to be quick about this.  Valentine's Day is a time for love in all forms, either familial love or romantic love.  And we love our friends too, right?  "Love" is my favorite subject as I'm a romance author.  All of my books cover the topic in some form or other.  But, as we are thankful for what we have around Thanksgiving and Christmas, let's think about what we are grateful for at Valentine's Day.  Who do you have in your life that you are thankful for?  A loved one, probably.  Is it your family?  Your spouse?  A boyfriend or girlfriend?  A close friend?  Several pals who surround you?  Who is that person in your life that you cannot imagine doing without?  I know I can list mine easily, but everyone has someone to be thankful for.  Maybe it's a pet or a neighbor, or just someone you can count on.  But, as Valentine's Day approaches, let's just be grateful to those we love.  That's what the season of love is about really, recognizing those who mean the most to us.

With that said, thank you for reading my newsletter.  If you want to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to visit my website or my aforementioned blogs.  I love my fans!  Have a good month, and I'll catch you next time.  :)

New Review for UPON YOUR RETURN!

I just found this:

Sylvia's Reviews > Upon Your Return


's review
Feb 19, 14

bookshelves: historial-romance, smashword-allromancebook-othersites
Read from February 06 to 10, 2014

Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender This book is a sweet historial romance with many twist and turns. I was pulling for this couple. It took a great deal of time for the events to come together. I much admired Fara for what she had to endure in her life and become the lovely woman she is. I just love Grant, even tho I was a little upset with him for his absence. He was always there for Fara. I would recommend this book when you have many hours to get lost in this romance.

A Character Interview with Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return on Snow Tigra's Blog

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Character Wednesdays: Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return

Welcome to Character Wednesdays! 

This is where I'll be interviewing character from different books, novels and short stories.  If you're an author and you would like your character to be interviewed, please send me an email.

Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return

Tell me a little about yourself and the world you live in.  

My name is Fara Bellamont.  I am eighteen years old.  I live in France in the city of La Rochelle.The year is 1863 so, as you can imagine, this is a precarious time for women.  I live in a fairly large house with my uncle, who became my guardian after my parents’ deaths.

Tell us your most closely guarded secret?

I have a dreamer’s heart.  There is nothing I want more than to have many adventures someday and to somehow find love.

Tell us about your single most important memory.  What was it and how does it affect you now?

I have many, but the ones that I hold onto include my parents, specifically my mother.  I remember sitting on her bed faced away as she brushed my hair gently.  We would chat about everything.  Sometimes I would just listen to her talk, whether it was about something my father did or her thoughts on issues of the day.  Her voice was so calming to me.  I suppose those memories are all I have, all that keep me sane at times.

What type of person are you?  Are you a hero or do you shy away from conflict?

I can’t say I like conflict in any way, but I am not a coward either.  If I believe in something, I will fight for it.

Do you have any hobbies, any special talents?

I can play the pianoforte fairly well and I like knitting.  I also love literature.

And in that line, what would be your ideal day?

My ideal day would be to comb the stacks in my uncle’s library, select a book to read and settle down in the parlor.  I would immerse myself in that world for a time.  I go to afternoon teas and dinners, of course, but I prefer my own company to that of a crowd.

Do you have anyone close to you, any family or friends of interest?

I do have one friend, Helene, that I met at the convent I stayed in as child in Burgundy.  We have been fairly close for years.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is the gold locket I wear.  It has my parents’ pictures inside.

What initially spurred your actions in this story.  Obviously it had to start somewhere for you, give us an idea of where that starting point is and where it all started.

I blame my parents.  I could always see the love between them.  It was special, and I wanted that for myself. I knew I would wait for love.

How do you envision your future?

I picture myself happy, perhaps with a family, with people I care about and who care about me.

Tell us where we can read more about you?

You can read more about me in Upon Your Return, which is available now, and the other books in the Heiresses in Love series when they are published.

Author:  Marie Lavender
Buy link:  http://www.amazon.com/Upon-Your-Return-Marie-Lavender/dp/1484978099/
Author's blog or website:  http://www.marielavender.webs.com/
Author's facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender

"The First Kiss" and A Suprise Giveaway

Hi, readers!  I wanted to alert you to the fact that yesterday was the one year anniversary of the release of UPON YOUR RETURN.  To celebrate this momentous occasion, I'd like to do a giveaway.  I am willing to give away up to five e-books of UPON YOUR RETURN if you comment at the end of this post.  That means we could potentially have five winners!  Please feel free to tell me if you want a copy of the book and any past Valentine's Day moments you'd like to share.

Being that it is Valentine's Day, what better day is there for a romance writer to talk about love?  Thinking about this special day reminds of the "first kiss".  That's right.  The first kiss.  If you have a significant other, I'm sure you remember it in the finest detail.

I'll share mine with you, if you're interested.  Back when I met my fiancĂ©, we had both decided to take things slow.  That's what happens when you go through a couple of crappy relationships.  So, we kind of danced around each other for awhile, unclear about signals and all that.  We got into some conversation and I said, "Well, you haven't even kissed me yet."  And then he looked at me and smiled.  Lord, that smile. And those eyes.  I don't think I've ever been affected by a man like that before him.  

So, that went on for awhile.  He walked me to my door.  We were standing on the porch.  The stars outside were so bright and the night was perfect as well, not too cool and not too hot.  And he leans down and kisses me.  Oh.  My.  God.  That was simply the best kiss ever.  I'm talking fireworks and the knock-your-socks-off kind of kiss.  My mind was completely blown.  I'd never had that kind of kiss.  It was perfect.  He took his time, and I kissed him back, of course.  We said our goodbyes and when I went inside, I probably didn't come back to myself for a full ten minutes.  I was floating! 

Needless to say, this is the man I've spent years loving through ups and downs in our lives.  We both suffered financially and experienced deaths in our families.  It's been a lot to handle.  But, through all of that, one thing stayed true.  Our hearts, our connection to one other.  I couldn't have asked for a better man to lean on or to love.

Well, so that was my first kiss with my soul mate.  I would also like to treat you all to a teaser of a first kiss from a work in progress.  Don't forget to comment on the post for a chance to win a free copy of UPON YOUR RETURN.  

Here is the teaser.  Enjoy!

Adrienne couldn’t look away no matter how much she should.  His dark gaze was sympathetic and yet there was something more.  A bright glint lightened his eyes.  Was it desire?  Robert used to look at her that way, but he was such a gentleman, he’d never acted on his feelings entirely except for the occasional brief embrace or chaste kiss on her forehead.
            The tension between them dropped away until there was a comfortable moment of silence, and the look between them heightened into something more.
            Her heartbeat thudded softly, and her lips parted as she looked up at him.
            He touched her cheek and then her jaw, caressing it with his thumb and fingertips.  With a gentle grasp on her chin, he pulled her towards him by degrees.  Her gaze dropped to his lips and she caught her breath as she knew his intent.  His lips moved onto hers and she sighed into the kiss.  He was patient, steady as he kissed her, allowing her the chance to reject him if she wished.  But, she did not.  His arm encircled her, pulling her tighter against him and she rested her hands on his chest comfortably.  He sought her essence, dipping his tongue, meeting hers in a very pleasurable moment.  She murmured in encouragement, lifting her arms to loop them around his neck.  She kissed him back gently, trying to keep up.  Her breasts felt sensitive as she lay against him.
            Christian pulled back slightly, looking at her with a slight smile on his face.  He caressed her cheek once more.  “I didn’t want to startle you.”
            “You didn’t.”
            He nodded.  “Good.  I’ve been wanting to do that since I met you.”
            “You have?”
            He grinned, then sobered a little.  “You’ve never been kissed like that before, have you?”
            She shook her head.
            “That’s what I thought.”
            She frowned.  “Did I do something wrong?”
            “Not at all.  It was perfect.”
            Perfect.  That was the right word for what she’d felt.

Giveaway Book

Blurb:  Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…

Leave your comments below for a chance to win!  Please tell me about your "first kiss" as well!

Taking a Break from MLB

Yes, readers, that's right. I'm on hiatus for a while. I know I haven't posted for a bit, and that's really the reason why I...