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Johnny (Connelly Cousins #2)(7)

Abbie Zanders


As touched as she was by those words, Lina was wrong. Stacey was not the same person. It was so easy to pretend when she was here with Lina, but eventually she had to go home and face the cold hard reality of her life again. Correction – eventually she had to go back to her apartment. It was a place, not a home.

But she didn’t need to tell Lina any of that.

“I’m glad I came, Lina.” Stacey said, stroking Lina’s hair.

“Me too, Stace.”

It was getting dark by the time they got to the cabin that night. Lina gave Stacey a quick tour of the first floor, showed her where everything was and how to use it. Kyle fashioned a makeshift ramp from some planks he’d found in the garage so Stacey could relax in the sunken living room and enjoy the spectacular view. After building a fire, he claimed exhaustion and left the two women chatting well into the night.

When Lina and Kyle left early the next morning, Lina made her promise to be careful and to call if she needed anything at all between then and the following weekend. She felt uncomfortable leaving Stacey at the cabin by herself, but Stacey assured her that she’d be fine. She was, after all, used to being alone, and wanted nothing more than the peace and solitude she needed to complete her novel. She promised Lina with a conspiratorial wink that it would be her best ever.





Chapter Three




Stacey set herself up for a marathon writing session, gathering everything she needed. Fresh pot of coffee, check. Sweet and salty snacks, check. An imagination brimming with ideas, check and double-check!

For the first time in years, she’d gone three entire days without writing a single word. Now she was rested, rejuvenated, and primed to immerse herself in the land of romantic fantasy and not come out till she crafted some magic. Her fingers tingled with excitement, anxious to begin.

Outside, it was a picture-perfect day. Crystal clear blue skies and bright sunshine provided a stunning backdrop for the purplish-gray stone of the mountains, visible only in occasional glimpses between the dark, rich greens of the forest. Stacey was able to see it all from the huge, floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the entire southern wall of the cabin’s living room. She could even look down upon the deep midnight blue of the lake from her scenic perch, capturing the diamond-like shimmers of the reflected light a mile or so away. Lina had told her that her father had built this cabin when they were kids. The man obviously had a talent for recognizing perfection.

The beauty and serenity of the place further inspired her, and the moment she opened her laptop, words began to flow effortlessly from her mind, through her fingers, and onto her hard drive. For the first time in a long time, Stacey really got into her story, using words to make the private world she envisioned in her mind come to life. She didn’t just write the words, she felt them. Trancelike, she let herself go and created a magical story of romance and passion that was sure to reach out and pull in anyone who opened the cover.

When she encountered the occasional snag, she sat back and tried to imagine Kyle and Lina in the same situation as her hero and heroine. Those two were the real deal. If she managed to capture even a fraction of the love and passion that thrummed between them, she’d have another best-seller on her hands.

Usually it took several weeks, sometimes months for her to take a story from start to finish. Each one was unique; she didn’t understand writers who made each book a carbon copy of the last, changing only a name here or a profession there.

The only constant from one book to the next (besides steamy scenes hot enough to earn her an offer for a Salienne Dulcette line of personal pleasure toys for adults) was that her stories would always have a happy ending, though what made them happy was often surprising. Stacey had a way of weaving emotions and instinctual reactions into her novels so suddenly that readers often found themselves smiling in triumph, seething with rage, crying silently as they turned the pages, or – probably the reason most women enjoyed her books – feeling a hunger in their core that had nothing to do with food.

Stacey believed that at least part of her success was due to the fact that her characters were so real to her; she often joked that she had fallen madly in love with every one of her leading men, and had a sister-close bond with her heroines. Her depictions were vivid and explicit, masterful blends of romance and passion that promised an escape from the everyday.

Today, she was unstoppable. Her fingers flew over the keyboard, struggling to keep up with the scenes forming in her mind. She wrote non-stop for hours, taking only occasional breaks to visit the bathroom or refill her snack bowl. Somewhere around mid-afternoon, she finished off the coffee and started partaking of the fruit-flavored, malt beverages she found in the fridge. They were cold and refreshing, with just enough alcohol to keep her relaxed and in the mood.

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