Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Book Release - How to See With Your Heart

My new book How to See With Your Heart is now available on Amazon!





I really loved writing this book. It gave me a greater appreciation for those who struggle with visual impairments.

Here's the Description:

Brooklyn Reese has a thriving flower shop but isn’t as lucky in love. Having a lowdown, cheating fiancĂ© is bad enough, but add a meddling mother and catty sister into the mix, and it’s sure to spell disaster. 

A rollerblading trek around the lake near Brooklyn’s home comes to a calamitous close when she accidentally plows into a man and his dog. To make matters worse, she realizes the guy’s blind and it was his guide dog that she dragged into the lake. Then she recognizes him—the illustrious and dreamy Dax Preston, former Nascar racing superstar. The very guy she’s had a crush on since the eleventh grade!

Captivated by Dax’s charm and his loyal guide dog Tucker, Brooklyn falls hard and fast as a tender romance blossoms. But Brooklyn and Dax’s idyllic relationship is threatened by an unexpected treatment that could wreck everything. Can Brooklyn put aside her fears and learn to see with her heart? Or will she let the love of a lifetime walk out of her life? 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Afterwards, people would ask if Dax sensed something bad was about to happen. Sadly, Dax would have to answer the truth. No. The only thing he felt getting in the car on that balmy, sunny day at the Daytona 500 was the fevered sensation of competition as a shot of adrenaline buzzed through his veins. He was in the zone, in complete control. Knowing he had the torque to win the race, had victory within his grasp. Then in the blink of an eye, everything changed when his tire blew and he hit the wall going a hundred and eighty miles per hour. The next seconds rolled into a ball of terror. Metal crunching like an aluminum can. Glass shards cutting like razors. Pain wracking his body, feeling ripped apart limb by limb. Then came the startling realization when he came to in the hospital—not only was his body bruised and broken, but something far more terrible had happened to him.
Everything came to a screeching halt. Life as he’d known it was over.
                                        ……………………………
Afterwards, people would ask if Brooklyn sensed something bad was about to happen. Sadly, Brooklyn would have to answer the truth. Yes. She felt like things were off between her and Justin. But she never could’ve fathomed he would do something so calloused. She assumed they were going through a rough patch and things would get better once she got her business underway.
They’d planned to go to dinner and a movie, but Justin postponed their date, complaining of a sore throat and chills. So, Brooklyn made him a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup and took it to his apartment. She got the shock of her life when she opened the door and discovered him locking lips with her sister.
Everything came to a screeching halt. Life as she’d known it was over.



Chapter 1

            The cool wind felt good against Brooklyn’s hot cheeks as she lurched forward increasing her pace, rollerblading across the asphalt with jerky, persistent movements. The setting sun had softened the sky to pink and orange swirls, and a pleasant breeze was blowing. The perfect summer evening in Utah, but Brooklyn had no appreciation for it. She kept her gaze fixed forward, slicing through the air with a vengeance. Normally, she enjoyed rollerblading around the lake near her condo. But today, all she could think about was the phone conversation with her mother. Brooklyn still couldn’t understand why it was her responsibility to fix every stupid problem in the family.
“It’s time for you to put aside your petty grudge and reach out to your sister,” her mother said with an authoritative tone leaving no room for argument. “You’ve got to dig deep and forgive Madison. That’s the only way you’ll be free of this thing.”
Brooklyn gritted her teeth. The only freedom she needed was from her mother’s constant rants.  Every time Brooklyn had one of those little heart-to-hearts with her mother, she felt like a teenager again … and not in a good way. It didn’t matter that Brooklyn was a grown woman—a college graduate and owner of a flower shop. In her mother’s eyes, she would always be the docile child who was supposed to drop everything and do her mother’s bidding.
Petty grudge? Really? Brooklyn clenched her fists, her jaw hardening. Two years ago, Madison had stolen Brooklyn’s boyfriend and married him. That was not a petty offense. A petty offense was borrowing a shirt and forgetting to return it, or leaving the car lights on and running down the battery. But this! This was full out war. And now that Madison and Justin were having marital problems, everyone expected Brooklyn to forget that her sister was a backstabbing witch and lend a helping hand. Well, it wasn’t gonna happen.
Not now.
Not ever.
Madison made her own bed, and now she had to lie in it. Even as Brooklyn thought the words, guilt churned like acid in her gut. Her mother sounded so fragile … broken. After Brooklyn adamantly refused to visit Madison, her mother erupted into tears, declaring she wished she lived closer so she could help. Then, she went on about Brooklyn’s dad Tim and how he was under a ton of stress at work. “If your dad didn’t need me here, I’d hop a plane today,” her mother said regretfully.
Brooklyn let out a long sigh, knowing deep down her mother would eventually wear her down to the point where she’d go visit Madison, simply to shut the woman up.
The old familiar hurt pricked Brooklyn. Fraternal twins were supposed to have close ties with one another. Madison should’ve been her best friend, but from the time they were little, Madison viewed Brooklyn as competition. If Brooklyn longed for a particular toy or book, then Madison made it her mission to acquire it first. Unfortunately, as they got older, the toys and books were replaced with boys, then men. In high school, Madison was a cheerleader who ran with the popular crowd. She ridiculed Brooklyn for being studious and hanging out with the geeks, as Madison called them.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket. Brooklyn didn’t bother answering.  It was probably Ramsey Smith calling to ask her on a date. Just before her mother had gotten off the phone, she informed Brooklyn that the son of her best friend would be calling. “You need to be nice to him,” she instructed. “The two of you are good together. Give him a chance,” she urged.
Brooklyn had given Ramsey a chance … several chances, to be exact. They’d gone out a few times and it went okay, until Ramsey started droning on about his legal cases. And he was so precise and measured about everything, like how he made a point of counting every carb at the restaurant when they had dinner together. Maybe she was expecting too much. Just because Ramsey didn’t sweep her off her feet didn’t mean she should write him off. Fireworks only happened in movies, not real life. Brooklyn was levelheaded enough to realize she didn’t need fireworks … but she did need the guy to be somewhat interesting. Brooklyn scowled. Her qualm wasn’t with Ramsey. He was nice enough, and moderately cute. In another circumstance, Brooklyn might’ve even been flattered by his attention. But unfortunately, Ramsey was a not-so-pleasant reminder that her mother was pulling the strings, trying to control her life.
As if dealing with Madison and their mother weren’t enough, things were crazy busy at the flower shop. June was traditionally hectic with weddings. But this year, nearly every Saturday until fall was booked. Luckily, Brooklyn hired extra staff for the busy season. Yet, they were still having a hard time keeping up. She supposed it was a good problem to have. Her first year in business was so slow Brooklyn nearly went broke waiting for things to pick up. Then suddenly, it was as if a switch had been flipped and business became steady. Just when Brooklyn was getting used to the pace, things got super busy.
“Passing on the left,” Brooklyn called as she approached a couple of ladies walking. She nodded a greeting to them as she continued up the gentle slope leading to a wooden bridge. Crossing the bridge on rollerblades was bumpy. But the reward came from the rush she got from the downward descent on the other side. Though the slope was mild, it was enough to pick up speed. As she bladed over the bridge, holding onto the rail, she saw a couple of teenage boys kayaking below. They were splashing water on each other with their paddles, their hearty laughter floating up. A father and son were fishing on the nearby pier. Brooklyn smiled, momentarily forgetting how ticked she was at her mother. The strong sense of community and family was what drew Brooklyn to the Daybreak area. Nestled at the base of the Kennecott Copper Mine, the land had been empty fields and sagebrush before it was developed. Thanks to the ingenuity of the mine owners, it was now a master-planned community spanning 4,000 acres. The majority of the homes were patterned after the historical areas of Salt Lake like Sugar House and The Avenues with their cheerful colors and neatly-lined picket fences. And yet, there were a few modern cube homes of concrete and steel thrown into the mix, offering an artful blend of the timeless and trendy. The sprawling lake outlined with ribbons of walking trails made up the heart of Daybreak. Brooklyn’s gaze took in the cluster of quaint homes nestled like stair-steps on the ridge, the Qquirrh Mountains stretching protective arms around the back. The scene was a cross between a Norman Rockwell Painting and the coast with seagulls flying overhead.
Before moving here, Brooklyn lived with her parents in the neighboring city of Sandy until they moved to California for her dad’s job. Living alone had been intimidating at first. Brooklyn considered finding a roommate to share expenses, then decided the hassle outweighed the benefits. In retrospect, living alone was a good decision, especially here, because she never really felt like she was alone. Being in Daybreak made her feel part of something bigger … something meaningful.
As she stepped off the bridge, she tucked her arms into her sides and increased her pace, liking how the wind kissed her face as she sped down the trail. For one small moment, she felt free from the constraints of her problems. She was soaring … a feeling of exhilaration gushed through her as she closed her eyes and held out her hands, the air whipping through her fingers. 
She opened her eyes and let out a shriek, a sense of horror rushing over her. There was a man and his dog, directly in her path. And she was going too fast to stop! Even as her mind grappled with what was happening, she barreled into the man with the force of a renegade bowling ball, knocking him to the ground. The dog yelped, and the man swore as she toppled over them. Her hands flailed out, clutching empty air as she tried to stop, but the momentum sent her sprawling belly first into the lake, taking the dog with her. The water was only knee-deep, but there were large rocks. She maneuvered to her hands and knees, but the dog jerked. The movement caused Brooklyn to fall, sending sharp pains through her hands as they hit the rocks. Then she realized the leash had gotten tangled around her leg. She unwound it as fast as she could, releasing the golden retriever as it scampered across the rocks onto land.
Brooklyn attempted to stand up, but the wheels from her blades mired into the slippery goo, and she had the impression she was trying to balance on butter. She scrambled over the rocks on her hands and knees, which required superhuman effort, considering her feet were concrete blocks.  As quickly as she could, she undid the laces, removed the rollerblades, and stood.
A hot shame covered her as she looked at the guy. The golden retriever shook himself off before resuming his place beside his owner. “I-I’m so sorry,” she stammered. From what she could tell, the dog seemed to be okay. Too bad she couldn’t say the same about herself. A thin line of blood was trickling down her shin, and her hands were scratched.
“You ought to be sorry,” the man roared, his face tight with fury. “You could’ve seriously injured my dog! What were you doing?”
“Rollerblading,” she gulped.
The man scowled, then reached out and ran a hand along the dog’s fur, checking for injuries, before clutching the leash like it was a lifeline. “Are you okay, Tucker?” he asked, rubbing the dog’s head, his voice going kind.
“I—I didn’t run into you on purpose. It was an accident.” Brooklyn was about to say more, but the words died on her lips. The retriever was wearing a harness. And there was something unusual about the guy. He was looking in her general direction, but his eyes weren’t focusing. It was at that moment Brooklyn realized two things simultaneously—the guy was blind, and she knew him! A laugh convulsed in her chest. And then she wanted to cry. She leaned forward, studying him. “Dax? Is that you?”
A deep furrow creased his brow as he cocked his head. “Do I know you?”
Dax was every bit as good-looking as she remembered, but the soft lines of boyhood had yielded to the sharper angles of manhood. His chestnut hair was messy, his features an interesting mix of rugged and sophisticated. Something she’d read about him stuck in her mind. During the heyday of his success, he’d been dubbed the Tom Cruise of Nascar by a reporter, and it had stuck. He did resemble Tom Cruise, but was taller with sinewy muscles. Brooklyn hadn’t seen Dax in person since the eleventh grade of high school. But she’d followed his racing career and seen the multitude of pictures of him online. Photos of him standing on the winner podium after races proudly displaying trophies for the camera, his trademark quicksilver, victory smile stretched over his face. Pictures of him with gorgeous girls on his arms. Photos of him partying it up in LA with the famous model Cassidy Cline. And then there was the tragedy that snuffed out his charmed life. Brooklyn had read all about the racing accident that left him blind, but hadn’t realized he was back in town. What she remembered most about Dax was the ever-present twinkle in his dark blue eyes suggesting he could break into a hearty laugh any minute. A pang shot through her as she looked at his blank eyes, lifeless and disconnected from the rest of him—two dead spots amidst a sea of vibrant life. Even back when they were teenagers, she’d known Dax was destined for greatness. His take-charge attitude demanded the world stop and pay attention to him. And it had. He was a shining star that had lit the cosmos in a brilliant flash before plummeting to the ground. An overwhelming feeling of sadness engulfed her as she lamented all that Dax had lost. It was grueling to see someone as strong as Dax defeated and beaten. Then she got a closer look and had to re-evaluate her assessment as she caught the familiar nuance of his defiant stance. No, Dax wasn’t defeated. The essence of him was still there … as strong as ever. He was very much the same imposing force he’d always been. For some inexplicable reason, butterflies flapped in her stomach, making her feel sixteen again. Crazy that he still had this effect on her after all of these years, even though he was blind. Back in the day she’d had a huge crush on Dax Preston. And as embarrassing as it was to admit, still fantasized about him from time to time … in her weak moments. When she first read about his accident, her first impulse was to contact him, tell him how sorry she was. See if there was anything she could do to help. But that was absurd. She and Dax had been high school buds, nothing more. And even that hadn’t ended well. While their paths crossed for one small moment, Dax had been out of her league in high school and was even more so now.
“Do I know you?” Dax repeated, annoyance hanging heavy in his voice.
It crossed Brooklyn’s mind that she could skulk away without telling him who she was and save herself more embarrassment. “Um …” she bit her lower lip.
“So, are you gonna tell me who you are, or not,” he huffed, his jaw tightening.
A tremor ran through her. It had been terribly irresponsible of her to close her eyes. But it was only for a moment, she’d looked ahead beforehand not seeing anyone on the trail. Dax and his dog must’ve been standing off to the side, out of her view. It lay on her tongue to tell him all of this, defend herself, but no words would come. The withering look on Dax’s face made her want to shrink back, make herself smaller than the gravel rocks beneath her feet. But she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t own up to this. She was a grown woman, for goodness’ sake! She straightened her shoulders, tightening her grip on the rollerblades. “Brooklyn Reese.” She braced for the backlash, which was sure to follow.
Recognition flittered over his features. “From Bingham High School?”
Was it her imagination, or had the tiniest of smiles crept over his lips? “Yeah,” she said, then the words rushed out. “I-I’m sorry about your accident. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so successful, then watch it all go up in flames.” She bit down, clamping off the words as she saw his face tighten. Oops … poor choice of words. He couldn’t watch anything. “Um, I didn’t realize you were back in town. I hope your dog’s okay.”
            “Yeah, I hope so too,” he flung back. “If he’s not, I’ll let you know.”
            The warning edge in his voice chilled her. “Uh … okay.” A knot formed in her stomach, reminding her that she was not sixteen and this was serious. Hot prickles covered her, then she went cold. Colliding with a person and his dog was bad enough, but a guide dog. Not good. Her mouth went dry as she swallowed. “Like I said, I’m really sorry.”
            He scowled. “Do you see my sunglasses anywhere? They flew off when I fell.”
            “Oh.” She looked around wildly. “Let me see if I can find them.” She walked around, combing the area, but after five minutes of searching, was forced to admit defeat.
            “They must’ve fallen in the lake.”
            She felt like the biggest louse on the planet. “Yeah,” her voice sounded small in her ears. “I’ll be happy to buy you a new pair.”
            “No need,” he said curtly.
            Compassion welled inside her as she looked at him, standing there with vacant eyes. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be blind. To have risen so high, only to have it ripped away. “Please, let me do something. I feel so terrible, especially considering that you’re—”
            “That I’m what?” he fired back.
            “Um, I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just trying to help.”
            He cut her off, his voice hard. “You’ve done enough.”
She rocked back, at a loss for words. Then anger took hold. Yes, she’d accidentally run into him, but he didn’t have to act so rude about it. She straightened her shoulders. “Well, if there’s nothing else you need, I should be going.” The rollerblades felt heavy in her scratched hands as she looked down at her leg. A half-laugh escaped her lips. “You can’t see it, but I’m a bit of a mess, and my leg’s bleeding.” Then she realized her phone was in her pocket. No doubt ruined. She groaned inwardly. The perfect end to a lousy day.
Something shifted on Dax’s face as he frowned. “Are you okay?”
            “I’ll live.” She felt like such an idiot. “Well, Dax, it was nice seeing you again.” She cleared her throat. “Err … sorry it wasn’t under better circumstances. Have a nice life,” she squeaked, then clutched the rollerblades to her chest and walked away as quickly as she could, not looking back.


Read more of How to See With Your Heart HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment