Bloom Cover Reveal!
Today is the day! A day of love, flowers, chocolate, and the cover for Bloom!
And because I love you, I also added an excerpt! Enjoy and make sure you join the Facebook Party, Support the Thunderclap and Pre-order the book if you're feeling like spreading that love! Also, subscribe to my Newsletter to see an exclusive excerpt not shown anywhere else!
Bloom releases February 28, so mark it on your calendars! :)
Fawn was born into a life shaped by the rich and powerful. Given to The Grimm Order as an infant, sold at the age of nine to a Suitor who would protect her from the “Mainworld”, Fawn always believed the people around her had her best interest in mind. However, with the cruel man who bought her freedom, she finds just what the Order is about: money, control, and status for the Owner and humiliation and abuse for those they own.
Sent back to the Compound that sold her, Fawn goes from golden girl to maid, content to live in the shadows of the Order as long as she isn’t Owned again.
It’s been ten years since she disgraced her former Owner’s name, and now the brooding Frenchman Elliot Lyon wants her. Master Lyon is kind, smart, and unlike any man she’s met. She doesn’t want to admit it, but Fawn is drawn to him despite constantly planning her next escape.
Even the prettiest flowers have thorns, and Master Lyon is hiding secrets that will uproot everything.
It was hot. I was sweating and my face was flushed. When I opened my eyes, everything in front of me spun and I had to blink a few times before I could see clearly. I was in a hotel room, the walls around me a dark brown with generic paintings of fruit. The bed was large, the blankets on top of me too thick and heavy. I was alone, and for a minute I panicked until I heard the sound of running water. Someone was taking a shower. My heart pounded faster as I slipped out of bed and realized I still wore the ugly shirt and jeans they had dressed me in that morning. No buttons were undone and nothing was amiss. The only thing missing were my sneakers, which were sitting neatly lined up by the door.
My hands shook and my knees wobbled as I made my way across the small room to the door and put them on. There was probably security, alarms at the very least, but I didn’t care. This could be my only chance before my new hell began and I wasn’t going to waste it.
Of course it was locked; the only way to open it was with a key. I thought briefly about searching the room for it but stopped myself. Whoever was in the shower wouldn’t just lock me in a room with the key. Instead, I turned my attention to the wide window near the bed. It was darkening outside and there wasn’t anything to indicate where the hotel was located. All that stared back at me were lights from other windows with their blinds drawn; we faced only more rooms. We could be at the end of the earth for all I knew. These thoughts crossed through my muddled mind as if blown in by a sudden gust of wind. I was getting ahead of myself. I needed to take this one step at a time and get the window open. I could worry about where I was going once I was outside.
Surprisingly, there was only the standard latch and when it popped open no alarms sounded. The cool winter air hit my face and I welcomed it for half a second before I directed my attention back to the task at hand. The space was small and narrow; any other person wouldn’t be able to fit through—which was probably why they hadn’t bothered securing it. But I hadn’t eaten anything substantial in a week and I was thin enough to squeeze through. I was confident in that.
“You know,” came the voice with the French accent and I froze, my gaze locked on one of the windows outside, the fading possibility of escape mere feet away. “For a smart girl, you do not act very intelligent.”
That was it. My chance was gone. Now I would have to face consequences I couldn’t begin to guess.
“Turn around and face me.” He sounded bored.
I could do nothing but obey. If I didn’t it would only make it worse for me. Keeping my eyes on the white carpet, I turned towards the direction of his voice.
I took a few steps forward, preparing myself for a slap or the bite of a belt across my cheek.
I heard him exhale an exasperated breath. “Mon Dieu,” he said. My God. “Stop staring at the floor.”
My eyes snapped up to him and there he was, the man who had bought me. His hair was damp from the shower, but he had tied it into a knot again. He wore a dark blue, long sleeved shirt and jeans, rich brown shoes.
His brown eyes traveled the length of my body before he spoke again.
“I will let you have this one, ma petit.”
I gulped. There was no way he was going to let me get away with this. The last time I attempted an escape, I was beaten so badly that I couldn’t walk for three days. He sighed as he crossed his arms over his chest like he wasn’t sure what to do with me now.
“Come sit at the table,” he said nonchalantly, and I heard the sound of a chair quietly sliding on the linoleum in the kitchen area. “I was just sitting down to dinner when you arrived. I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow morning.”
I stared at the glass tabletop as I moved forward. It took a moment for me to realize that he had slid the chair away from the table for me—a perfect gentleman. With Master Jäger, I was lucky to eat at all, let alone at a table with utensils. I instead took the closest chair and sat down for myself, lest he decide to pull it out from under me the second I sat down.
He sighed, but he allowed it; he sat in the chair he had pulled out for me.
“They couldn’t wait to get rid of me, sir,” I mumbled, half aware I had said it out loud.
I sensed him leaning back in his chair. “You have a sense of humor.” I could almost hear his smile. “I like that.”
I held my tongue before it could get me into trouble. Between the hunger and the unbearable unknown that stretched before me, I felt tears already welling behind my eyes. I was sure they were about to run freely down my face when he spoke again, pulling me away from my racing thoughts.
“Are you going to stare at everything else but me all night?” he asked, sounding every bit still amused but almost on the verge of annoyance. His voice was just as deep as I remembered.
As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. Waiting to finally look at him, like pretending to be asleep, only prolonged things. Only made them worse when the actual events happened.
Slowly, I raised my head.
He smirked. “Better.” But his grin turned to a frown almost as quickly. He suddenly stood from the table, coming to my side, a hand on my face.
I winced immediately, his touch sending pain through my bruised skin and the slight smile he still wore making my stomach churn. He murmured something to himself in French that was so low I couldn’t catch it.
“Did you struggle?” he asked.
The question was so blunt that it almost knocked me off balance. Instead, I swallowed the feeling. “No,” I answered. “No, sir.”
His gaze was trained on me, studying the damage. He didn’t look like he believed me. “This is worse than before, no?”
I could only offer a shrug. I was sure it was, but I hadn’t seen it myself.
His grin returned. “They really do not like you.”
Pride swelled in my chest and it was hard to stifle my own smile. “No, sir.”
He let his hand drop and made his way back to his seat. I felt the air restored to my lungs as soon as he put distance between us.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
The words were like needles in my stomach. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction, but the hollowness made it impossible. Take what you can when it’s given to you, I reminded myself. That was something I had learned a long time ago. Pride and self-preservation were important, but not more than surviving. Food was survival. Let him think what he wanted. My mind was mine and always would be. He wouldn’t know my thoughts, no matter how much money he had or how much control he claimed to have over me.
“Yes, sir,” I answered.
“Can you at least look at me when you speak?”
I hadn’t realized that my eyes had been fixed on the silver dome in front of me on the table, my only thoughts on what lay underneath and how it would nourish my body. My eyes shot up to him. If this was the only obstacle standing between me and food, I would remove it. He sat with his arms across his chest, a bemused expression playing on his lips.
“Sorry, sir,” I said, happy with how strong my voice sounded even as it remained soft, docile; everything he wanted. “Yes, I am hungry.”
He nodded his approval, reaching across the table to uncover the food in front of me before doing the same with his own plate. It was a large slab of meat, mashed potatoes, broccoli. Somewhere I knew the meat was steak, the juices running onto the white china pink with blood. I looked up at him with skeptical eyes as he handed me a fork. This had to be a trick.
“Should I worry about you using this as a weapon?” he asked, both of us holding onto it over the middle of the table.
“No, sir,” I rushed out, eager to eat what was in front of me. I would use my hands if I had to.
He relinquished the utensil and I grasped it in my shaking fist, spearing my food faster than my eyes could follow. I ate mostly the vegetables, and he cut the steak up into pieces for me with a knife, probably too cautious to let me do it myself.
I barely tasted anything. I was lost in it, the smells, the sensation of something coating my tongue other than bile. I was nearly finished before I remembered where I was, that someone sat across from me.
I had already broken a golden rule: never eat first. Always wait for your Owner to eat unless he says otherwise.
But Master Lyon stared at me with an emotion I couldn’t place. His arms were still over his chest, head cocked to one side as he took in the display in front of him. I wiped a trail of juice from my chin, mindful to at least use the cloth napkin.
Back at the Compound, such lack of manners would earn me a beating. “I-I’m sorry, sir.”
“How long have they been starving you?” he asked, indifferent.
I swallowed the half-chewed food in my mouth. I was overjoyed that he didn’t seem to care that I had committed such a crime as eating without his permission. “What day is it, sir?”
Master Lyon paused for a moment as if it hadn’t occurred to him that I wouldn’t know. His world was so much different than mine. He had freedoms and abilities I reserved for dreams; things I never had and only saw on the few movies and TV shows I glimpsed here and there. “It’s Thursday,” he answered.
Thursday. Swan’s birthday was on Tuesday—she had pounded it into everyone’s heads with her cheery, annoying voice. In the Mainworld, she would have been cute. In mine, she was another lost soul. A loud one that set my nerves on edge. “Tuesday,” I said.
Master Lyon blinked a few times, resting his hands on the table as he thought. “What was the last thing you ate?”
My mind flashed back to the sugary pink icing I thought was worth the starvation at the time. “Cake.”
His lip twitched with a fought smile. “It was someone’s birthday.”
“And you do not get such privileges,” he said. “Being the girl you are.”
I set down my fork, taking longer than needed to wipe my already clean mouth. “No, sir, I do not.” I made a point to look him in the eye as I spoke this time, unwavering and searing into him.
Whether it was my eye contact or my statement, I wasn’t sure, but he smiled and slid his mostly untouched plate over to me. “I knew you were a bit underweight.”
I couldn’t believe he was giving me his food and though I wanted to question it, I wasn’t about to act ungrateful for something I didn’t think I would have this morning.
“Thank you, sir.” I looked into his eyes again, finding a kindness there I hadn’t seen before.
No. I wouldn’t let myself think he was kind. He couldn’t be. Normal people didn’t buy women. Kind people weren’t in the Order. This was all part of the game. The players constantly changed and the rules slightly differed, but the way I maneuvered around these variables didn’t. He wanted me to think he was being nice so it crushed me that much more when he showed his true self.
But for now, I had food. I would allow him to think I believed him if it took away the emptiness in my stomach.
I am so, so, so beyond happy to be back to releasing books for you guys! See you again on February 28 for some more Bloom goodness, giveaways, and the story behind the story!