It’s a pleasure to welcome author Cristiane Serruya back to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her new adult romance release, LOVE PAINTED IN RED, that was selected by Amazon for a campaign on KindleScout.
In the campaign, the top rated books will be published by AMAZON PRESS. The great news is that everyone who votes for Cristiane’s book will receive its free digital copy, if published. To help Cristiane be chosen the newest author of Amazon Press, simply click HERE and then click on the blue "nominate me" button to vote for LOVE PAINTED IN RED.
Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:
Irish painter Laetitia Galen survived hell on earth. Now she works as a well-paid housekeeper in a manor in Warwickshire and sells her paintings in an obscure gallery. Tavish MacCraig, 33-year-old Highlander, was a prisoner of war for 6 months. He forsook his medical and military career to command his family's prestigious art gallery. Passion ignites when they meet, yet their pasts threaten their trust in each other and a man with a burning grudge bides his time to get his long-awaited revenge.
Cristiane tells “How this book came to be?”
In 2009, I considered writing fiction and eventually TRUST TRILOGY was born. Tavish is also featured there. His character started small and grew so much during the story, when I finished writing TRUST, I knew I had to create a story only for him.
It was an emotional experience writing of the lead characters’ pains, especially Tavish, a war veteran. The impact of war on soldiers is heartbreaking and I struggled to capture some of that pain in a meaningful way.
This book is my homage to those who dedicate themselves to make this world safer.
Cristiane is also sharing an excerpt from LOVE PAINTED IN RED…….PROLOGUE
“We’ve been doing everything we can,” the private investigator said in defense of himself. He looked pointedly at Geoffrey Callaghan, hoping for some support.
“I’ll double the reward if you find her in the next three months,” said a husky male voice. “Put more men on her. Do whatever is necessary. I’ll pay the extra cost.”
The PI nodded once and quickly made his exit, not wanting to hear the or else, which was implicit in the order. He had never been inside that room. It was the first time in years that he had to deal with a person other than Geoffrey, who was scary enough.
“They will find her,” Geoffrey said.
“If I were a suspicious man, I would wonder why you didn’t have more men searching for her.” Bluish-white smoke rose from the corner, which would be completely dark if not for an orange glow. “Or why you weren’t more careful that night.”
“You were the one who chose her.” A faint smile touched Geoffrey’s wrinkled, thin lips. “I told you she was a freak.”
He had no answer to that. “GO! Leave me alone.”
“That’s exactly what you asked of me years ago. Look what happened.” Geoffrey smirked.
“Leave me alone.” He grabbed the nearest object—a Baccarat ashtray—and flung it at Geoffrey’s head, who despite his old age, ducked, avoiding being hit by the crystal but not by being showered with butts and ashes from the homemade cigar.
“Don’t do that again, my son.” He shook his bald head at the once handsome man sitting in the dark. “Don’t forget who gives the orders here.”
“Do I ever?” A fury raced through the man’s blood. There had been a time when many things could tame his unruly desires. Not anymore. He had become dependent on the old man in front of him.
“I will go.” Geoffrey smirked. “But you need to relax. I’ll send a cup of Yagé and a devotee for you to fuck.”
The man stayed silent for a moment. “Send the Yagé and the devotee.”
“A wise decision. Be at peace,” Geoffrey said before he closed the door behind him.
The orange light glowed brighter as he dragged deeper. He imagined he could see her face and body take shape in the smoke as he exhaled.
She had become the reason he arose every day, breathed, and endured pain. She had become his obsession.
He would find her. Touch her as she had touched him. Make her scream as he had.
Until he tired.
Until she begged.
Then, only then, he would kill her.
Friday, August 29th, 2014
Some had wondered if after the war Tavish Uilleam Davenport MacCraig had become asexual. He would say he had, in a certain way. His calm, easy behavior churned to intense and controlling; his unsmiling face keeping others away. He had tried to date, but failed miserably; had not even managed to form as much as a friends-with-benefits. Therefore, he usually abstained from sex, or masturbated. But giving pleasure was one thing he couldn’t go without: it was one thing he rejoiced in, and he couldn’t well do it alone.
Tonight, he was there to give. Anything, from oral to anal, from missionary to kink would do, minus violence. He’d experienced enough violence to last the rest of his life.
Sprawled on the butter-rich leather covered sofa, Tavish sipped his whisky, observing women and men as they made passes at each other in the dimly lit bar, or made small talk in comfortable corners like the one he was in.
No one had approached him so far, but he knew it would only be a matter of time. He didn’t like to be chosen, however. He was the hunter, not the prey.
He had seen women—and men—looking at him and checking his membership profile on their iPads, reading a brief description of his body, imperfections and all, his assets and sexual preferences, and the other customers’ reviews of him.
He fixed his gaze on a brunette sitting on a stool by the bar. She would do.
In her late thirties, her hair was cut short with styled bangs falling over her forehead. With sultry made-up eyes and bright-red lipstick painted mouth, tall and more on the plump side, she wouldn’t feel breakable in his hands.
She caught him watching her and checked the iPad near her elbow, scanning for his profile.
He didn’t bother to do the same. He had already decided. He just waited for her consent.
She raised her head with a smile on her lips.
His lips didn’t even curl up in response, yet his member got hard as a rock. He unfolded to his full height, and walked toward her.
“Hi, there.” Her smile widened when she took a closer look at his face. “You should change this photo. You’re gorgeous this close.”
“My room or yours?” he asked curtly.
They were there with the same goal: sex. They had all filled in the forms, passed the obligatory exams, knew the rules, and paid loads of cash in advance for the open bar, attentive service, and a comfortable suite upstairs.
Her smile faltered and died.
Jesus! She’s not a pro. “I’m sorry. Let’s start again.” He flexed his broad, tense shoulders, and amended, “Would ye like a drink?”
She rose from the stool and stared up into his eyes; raising the stakes, she cupped his groin. “They don’t serve the one I’m thirsty for.”
He hissed through his teeth.
“I’m Eva.” She tightened her grip. “Your name?”
“Call me God.” He smiled ironically at her. “Because that is what you will be screaming all night.”
“God! Aren’t you arrog—” She stopped at his raised eyebrow and laughed.
For the first time since he arrived at the club, his lips curled up. “Shall we?”
Tavish MacCraig’s Apartment
Saturday, August 30th, 2014
Exhausted, Tavish dropped in his bed. Eva, or whatever her name was, proved to be a demanding tigress in bed. When he left her, there was a satisfied smile on her lips.
Tavish never slept at the club, not even alone in his suite. The shouts from his nightmares would disturb the other members.
He closed his eyes, hoping for some peaceful hours of sleep, but after a mere two hours, his head was already tossing on the pillow, his legs kicking away the coverlet and sheets as he fought a nightmare to no avail. Unbidden, distorted images formed, dissonant sounds filled his head; too many sensations overwhelmed him.
His breathing changed.
The candle burned lower. The shadows on the walls of the cave grew larger and darker, engulfing the light on Johanna’s eyes and smile until he almost couldn’t see her. An eerie laugh resounding off the walls. When he looked up through strands of his long, filthy, ink-black hair, he saw a black-hooded figure advancing.
On all fours, he struggled painfully to crawl in her direction. I’ll save her, even if it’s the last thing I do in my life. His eyes locked with hers. “I won’t let him hurt ye.”
His muscles strained with effort, his tendons rippling. His wrists and legs felt laden with iron shackles. One of his shoulders popped out from its socket. His breaths were squeezed out of his lungs as each inch he advanced tore and flayed his skin.
“Me, take me!” he shouted desperately, not knowing what to do anymore. He struggled against his holds, even though he knew it would be useless. Blood trickled down where the cuffs cut him. “Please, no’ her!”
A cadaverous face showed from the darkness of the hood, as a sickening, pleased voice said, “You had your chance.”
Nae. The retching feeling churning in his gut impeded him from saying the much needed words. I’ll do whatever you want. I will.
With a swift movement of an incongruously heavy-muscled arm and skeletal hand, a shining silver scythe sang in the cave.
The hooded figure vanished. She grimaced. And the wan light of the candle was snuffled out. Soft bright rays of the morning sun entered the cave, chasing away the darkness.
As though commanded, a spray of thick blood filled the cave as the woman’s head rolled from her neck. He plastered himself onto the rough wall, not wanting to be bathed in the blood, to be touched by what he had held many times in his hands so dearly. But his lover’s head sailed in a dark river to stop between his fingers.
Tavish shot up, sitting in bed, heaving and choking on his breath.
He put his head in his hands until his heart rate had calmed. Knowing he would not get any more sleep, he went to the bathroom.
The image that greeted him in the mirror was of the identical tall, handsome man of a few years ago, with a few minor cuts here and there and superficial wrinkles around the eyes. But he was not the same since he had been to war and been a prisoner for six months in Afghanistan, and that angered him, making him want to destroy something. He fused his eyes, looking at himself through his black lashes with enough contempt that he could easily hear the mirror creaking and ripping him open, like a crack in a castle of glass.
Turning swiftly away from his reflection, he walked to his living room and grabbed a tall glass and a bottle of eighteen-year-old Laphroaig Islay whisky, despite knowing that not the whole bottle—not even two, or three—would ease his mind or dim his pain. His dry laugh echoed on the walls as he served himself, and its sound irked him.
Terrible, gruesome images kept him awake for hours.
He couldn’t sleep in the total dark anymore and it was impossible to get inside a pool. The hours of waterboarding had destroyed any pleasure he could possibly feel under the water. He had turned to heavy workouts, jogging and then running until his body and mind didn’t succumb to the depression swirling around him.
I could take the rest of the week off.
The Blue Dot, the art gallery he owned and oversaw, was running smoothly since it had opened years ago, and his brother or his partners could deal with whatever came up. What good would it do? Wherever I go, my nightmares follow.
He sat sipping his whisky, watching as the sun wedged its first light over the darkness.
England, Warwickshire, on the outskirts of Royal Leamington Spa
Laetitia Galen was not her name.
In fact, before she became Laetitia, she hadn’t been anything but her, herself and she.
For sixteen years, she had been a no-one, a nothing, a shadow who hid in the dark as much as she could, having learned from her childhood that it was better that way. Until one night, almost eight years ago, when she decided she deserved to be someone.
Several meows filtered through her bedroom door. She stretched and jumped out of the bed. Cataloguing what she had to do for the day, she washed the remnants of sleep from her face, braided her hair, and changed into a turquoise maxi-dress and flats.
Another loud meow made her rush, climbing down the stairs to find Cleopatra, her cat, waiting for her at the bottom.
“Good morning.” She dropped on her haunches and caressed her head. “I’ll fix your breakfast.”
They took a turn from the front hall into the living room, where Laetitia stopped to throw the curtains open. A gray morning saluted her through the French windows, the glass wet from the frizzy rain of the previous night. She stood there for a moment, soaking in the renewing of life with the first rays of sun gleaming on the dew, before moving to the kitchen.
As she put a slice of bread in the toaster and water on the stove, Cleopatra devoured the food on her plate and lapped fresh water.
Working as a housekeeper for the eleventh Baron Beardley, Laetitia inhabited a world not dissimilar from that portrayed in Downtown Abbey.
The Baron had slaughtered his younger wife many years ago when he discovered she was having an affair with their gardener. After serving his time in prison, he returned home where his sister and her children had decided to gravitate to him, waiting for him to die and inherit his fortune.
Of a staff of twenty full-time employees who worked on the estate, she and three others worked in shifts, on weekends and bank holidays, so the Baron always had servants.
Marcella Langley, Baron Beardley’s sister, didn’t make her wear a uniform, but determined she could only dress in black, plain serviceable clothes and shoes. Laetitia hated black clothes. Yet, she never let herself think about them: having the job that required her to wear them meant she was safe.
No one told Laetitia that where she was going to live was on the other side of the property, in a lodge had once been the stables and the stable staff accommodations; nor they mentioned that the adjourning building she used as her studio had been the carriage house, and that both were in a state of disrepair. Laetitia had to spend part of her salary to make them habitable. And again, she didn’t mind. With the help of the estate staff, in a few months, she had turned them into her home.
Their morning ritual completed, Cleopatra bumped her head on Laetitia’s leg.
“We are in a hurry today, aren’t we?” The cat purred at her. “Have a nice stroll.”
They exited by the lodge’s back door at the far end of the kitchen, which opened to the back garden, each one going their own way, Cleopatra to the park and Laetitia to her studio.
Sitting on floor-easels, there were four big canvases, with amorphous stencils of card planks taped over them.
The idea for a new painting series had been developed after she discovered the Baroness Beardley’s erotic diaries hidden in the gardener’s toolbox.
She’d labored on the drawings and masks for months. Then tubes and tubes of oil paint were transferred to the expanse of the canvases partially covered by the stenciled drawings.
Her small studio was the only place where, in the safety of solitude, she could open up to the well of creativity inside her mind and heart, letting life’s symbols of wilderness, banality and darkness out; bending the dichotomy of too harsh physical reality and its imagery to her will. With colors and strokes of brushes, she reduced them to nothing more than matter in a canvas.
After a few hours, the careful slashes of the brush against the canvas, midnight-blue, grayish-blue, and finally a cold-teal-blue, blending or standing alone, made the image come together.
She stared at the painting, giving the sky a last stroke. It was supposed to be an erotic, expectant scene. It was not her first intention to give it an alarming perception.
Under a rolling thunderstorm, a naked lascivious woman, camouflaged by trees, watched a muscular man, bared to the waist, trimming the branches with a garden scissor.
Yet, it was the menace of the active man and his instrument that struck a chord, which threatened to resonate with the past inside her, but it took just a second for her to root her thoughts back into the present.
“Good job, Laetitia.”
She cleaned her painting utensils, put everything in order and crossed back to the lodge to get ready for her day.
As soon as she had donned her black clothes, a pitched screech coming from the intercom speaker made her jump.
Before another scream pierced the air, she replied, “Arriving in a sec!”
As she hitched up the hem of her skirts and hurried in a fifteen-minute headlong dash, Laetitia had no idea that, in the months to come, the world would discover her.
And then judge her.
And then judge her.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
|Author Cristiane Serruya|
She still works as a lawyer, but writing has become an essential part of her life, and a fulfilling adventure, as it allows her to make friends all over the world.
Cristiane loves to connect with readers so visit her website and connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and her Amazon Author Page.
Cristiane, thanks for stopping by today and sharing this excerpt with us. It’s always fun to get a sneak peek at a story through an excerpt.
Remember LOVE PAINTED IN RED, Cristiane’s new adult romance, has been selected by Amazon for a campaign on KindleScout with the top rated books published by AMAZON PRESS. The great news is that everyone who votes for her book will receive a free digital copy, if it is published.
To help Cristiane is very simple! Click here http://bit.ly/KS-LPR and then on the blue "nominate me" button to vote for LOVE PAINTED IN RED.
Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Do you enjoy reading excerpts of a book before you get it?