Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Release Day: Derailed is now available!

Happy book birthday to Derailed, my latest book under my Anne Wentworth pen name! I'm not going to lie, I have a tendency of falling in love with my male characters, and Yves is one of my favorites. This book is also a love letter to France, one of my favorite places in the world, and every time I read it I close my eyes and imagine all the beautiful things I saw there and all the fabulous food I ate. My hope is that when readers delve into the pages of this book they'll experience their own corner of France, wherever they are.

In honor of the release, I thought I'd share one last chapter of Derailed with you. If you like what you read, you can pick up a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo, and you can add it to your shelves on Goodreads. Want to see some of the sights that inspired the book? Check out my Pinterest Derailed Inspiration Board, where you can see photos taken by yours truly and by my awesome hubby during our Normandy adventure.

Missed the previous installments? You can find them here: cover reveal and book description, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9.

Chapter 10


“It was a beautiful party, wasn’t it?” Julia asked the next morning, a dreamy smile on her face. There was a faraway look in her pale blue eyes that made her seem even more like a forest sprite than she normally did. She ran her hands over her stomach, her expression making it plain that she was lost in her own imagination.
“It was,” Lou agreed, glancing at Blaine to see him goggling at his wife like a lovestruck teenager. He seemed only half-conscious, and his messy hair was a wonder. Lou hid her smile behind her coffee cup. The two of them were so adorable together it was a bit nauseating, but she kept that petty thought to herself.
Covering her mouth, Lou let out a jaw-cracking yawn. She had thought American receptions were wild parties, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the rollicking celebration she’d attended the previous night. It hadn’t begun to die down until almost three o’clock in the morning, and Lou had been tempted to sleep right through breakfast, but she didn’t want to waste a moment of her trip. Even so, she was beginning to question the wisdom of her decision. Keeping her eyes open was proving an almost insurmountable challenge, and she suspected she looked like a twitchy creep due to all the blinking she had to do to keep the bleariness at bay.
She thought of how Melinda had looked as she and Benoit had hopped into their car, waving to everyone before driving away. Melinda’s face had glowed with love and pure joy, the light of the outdoor torches catching the fire in her auburn hair and making her eyes luminous. She’d worn a cream-colored, lacy A-line gown that was gorgeous on her, accentuating her soft curves. Benoit had been absolutely smitten with his bride, his dark eyes warm and shining as he took her hand and led her to their car.
Over the past three years, Lou had watched her best friend change in heartening ways. Melinda was still the same person she had always been, but she was becoming comfortable in her own skin. Where she’d once hidden behind baggy clothing and derided her own appearance at every opportunity, she had grown to accept her figure, and it made her all the lovelier. It hadn’t escaped Lou’s notice that Melinda had long believed herself physically inferior to Lou, and she was glad to know this was no longer the case. Lou knew she had been lucky to hit the cosmic genetic lottery, but in her eyes Melinda had always been just as beautiful, and Melinda’s new confidence in herself made her more eye-catching than ever.
“She’s happy,” Blaine said, jolting Lou out of her reverie. She let out a muffled gasp, wondering if she’d actually dozed off over her breakfast. “It’s good to see her so happy.” He sounded as satisfied as Lou felt. When he and Melinda had worked together he’d often been her sounding board, and he was every bit as aware of just how miserable Melinda used to be as Lou was.
“She deserves every happiness she gets,” Lou said, stifling another yawn.
“So do you,” Blaine said, turning his gaze to Lou and raising an eyebrow that told her he wasn’t at all unaware of how mixed up she’d been since she’d arrived in France.
“Thanks, Blaine. I think I understand now why Melinda has put up with you for all these years.”
“Put up with me,” he scoffed. “It’s been her privilege to be in my presence. We’re talking about me here. I am irresistible.”
“Julia, how did he ever convince you to marry him?” Lou asked in mock exasperation.
“Well, he does make me laugh.”
“Yeah, he’s good for that, isn’t he?”
Blaine sniffed, turning his nose up at them. “If you’re not careful, I’ll leave the two of you here and head off to Paris with that handsome French friend of Ben’s. We’d be two single men on the prowl in Paris. You can’t begin to fathom the damage we could do.” He yelped as Julia whacked his arm.
“Yves is single?” Lou asked, the words slipping out before she could think about them.
“Yes indeed.” Blaine gave her a sly look.
“No. Stop right there. It just surprises me, that’s all. Before you go all off on a tangent, let’s not forget that he’s French and lives in London while I’m American and live in Michigan.”
“That’s so like you, to fixate on his flaws.”
Lou rolled her eyes and blew out an impatient breath. “Keep this up, I’ll ship you off to Paris on your own. You’re skinny enough for me to stuff into a moderately-sized box if I fold you up. The postage wouldn’t cost more than a few euros, I’m sure.”
“How dare you insult my manly physique.” Lifting his arm, Blaine attempted to flex his tiny bicep, and all three of them laughed.
“It’s a very manly physique,” Julia said, petting his arm, her lips twitching.
“See what she does? It’s called humoring me, and she’s excellent at it,” Blaine said happily.
“We all are, Blaine. We all are,” Lou told him. “Don’t you have a rental car to return before we catch our train? I’d suggest we get moving.”
“Yeah, we’d better,” Julia said. She made a move to get up from her chair and Blaine hurried to help her, making her smile. “I’m fine, Blaine.”
“You sure? We were up so late last night, I’m worried you didn’t get enough sleep. You need to let me know if you get tired,” he said, his forehead creased in concern.
“Relax, sweetie. We’ll be sitting on a train for hours. I think I can handle it. I’ll sleep if I need to.” Her voice was full of affection.
“I’ll go grab my suitcase and meet you guys by the check-in desk,” Lou said.
Eschewing the tiny elevator, she took the stairs up to her room. Her bags were packed and waiting. All she needed to do was grab them and head back down, but she lingered in her room for a minute, throwing the windows wide open and leaning on the sill as she gazed out over the small town. She would miss this place, she thought. She hadn’t felt any real urge to go to Europe before, and she found she was glad that Melinda’s reception had provided her with the impetus. Here it seemed like anything was possible. She felt like she could breathe, think.
Closing her eyes, she drew air deep into her lungs, taking in the scent of the lavender, which she knew would be impossible to describe. She had bought some sachets and handmade soaps so that she could bring something of the scent home with her, but she knew that it wouldn’t be long before the memory was all she had left. The thought made her a little sad, but it also made her realize how lucky she was to have this moment, this chance to experience something outside of herself, to get out of her own head a little. She didn’t know if it was her job or her nature, but she’d spent so much of her life fixated on the microscopic that she was starting to think she’d missed the fact that there was a big world outside her door.
How much have I given up?
It surprised her to realize how little desire she had to return home. It wasn’t that she wanted to stay in France, it was more that she was loath to lose what the trip represented.
Stasis. It’s like I’m in stasis.
It might not have been wise for her to flee from her problems rather than face them, and they’d still be there for her to deal with when she returned, but the trip had provided her with a welcome reprieve. Far from home she could stop thinking about Louisa Carmichael’s responsibilities, at least for a little while. In a way it was like Louisa Carmichael didn’t even exist. In France there was no Wayne State University, no failed career in the biomedical research department. No one knew her; hell, they didn’t even speak the same language she spoke. They didn’t know that her career was a spectacular failure, didn’t know that she’d lost her head and poured gasoline all over her bridges before burning them. She was just a blank to the people here, just another ordinary American, looked at and then dismissed. The thought was comforting.
With a great deal of reluctance she closed the shutters and hefted her bags, heading to the lobby. As her feet carried her down the stairs she felt like the magnetic pull of the earth was tugging her back toward home, back toward all the things she didn’t want to face. The trip wasn’t over yet, she reminded herself. She still had a few days left to spend in Paris, and she intended to make the most of them.