Author: Natalie-Nicole Bates
Published: December 2013
Publisher: Gypsy Angel Books
Word Count: 54,000
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Content Warning: Contains heavy adult situations and themes.
Recommended Age: 18+
Synopsis: After a devastating accident, Barret Atkins has accepted a quiet, solitary existence. His life is turned upside down, when he finds the badly injured Kansas Smith, left for dead in a case of mistaken identity. As Kansas begins to recover, Barret must face some deep scars of his own. When the couple begin to fall for each other, their lives spin into a revival of past hurts, jealousies, and betrayals, causing Barret to put a halt to their budding relationship. Barret’s hesitation causes his best friend-turned concerned vicious rival, Duncan Craig, to pursue a friendship with Kansas. Where will this leave Barret? Can they all hold on long enough to escape Kansas’s attacker, and will they ever conquer their own inner demons intent on keeping them apart?
About the Author:
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her
uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Kansas heard this question so many times during her ten year marriage to Quinn that it now caused her head to ache. She didn’t want to talk about her ex-husband with Barret. Still, she knew a lot of people were _______ about marriage to a celebrity.
“Ex, Barret, ex. Quinn isn’t my husband any longer. But to answer your question, Barret, I’ve known Quinn since I was ten years old. When he was Sean Marshall, an ________ person, long before he ever became Quinn Michaels.”
The resentment was evident in her voice. She didn’t want him to think she lived some fairy tale existence with Quinn. In the end, Quinn was just a man with many foibles who was admired by millions _______ of a pretty face and a beautiful voice. Attributes that Quinn took full _________ of.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. It’s just…I’ve wondered why…” he hesitated.
She knew what he was getting at. “______ not prying, Barret. If you want to know why Quinn and I are no longer married, just ask.”
“Kansas,” he touched her cheek, “you are the sweetest, most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, and after his ________ visit here, I can tell Quinn still loves you.”
There was such a soft look in his blue eyes, and once again, Kansas couldn’t __________ why Barret thought nothing more of her than just a surrogate little sister. Didn’t he realize how good they could be together?
“Be that as it may, Barret, Quinn and I will never again be a couple,” she said firmly. “Once a cheater, always a cheater. I __________ the articles in the weekly rags, and the chatter on the internet for a very long time. But when Lynsey Reznor came into his life, I knew I had to get out with what little dignity I still had.”
He cocked his head. “Lynsey Reznor? That name is so familiar.”
“She’s a very __________ true-crime writer from Miami. You can’t walk past a bookstore or watch the Crime Central channel without seeing her.”
Barret averted his eyes. “Oh, that Lynsey Reznor.”
“I can’t hate her too much, though. Apparently she was as ________ to my existence, as I was to hers. She dumped Quinn when she _____ out he was married.”
He shook his head. “Men like your ex-husband give all men a bad name. If we were married, you never would have to worry that I would give a woman a ______ look. I’m loyal to a fault.”
If only, she thought.
“Well, if anything came out of it, you must be pretty well financially set after your divorce.”
For a ______, she considered lying to him, pretend to be a broken little divorcee. But in an instant, she knew she wanted to keep her relationship with Barret honest.
“My financial settlement with Quinn is public knowledge. For ten years, I receive a certain percentage of his previous year’s earnings. If I remarry, all financial support ends.”
Barret let out a low whistle _____ his breath. “I guess you won’t be getting remarried anytime soon—not for the next years, at least.”
Anger sparked inside her. “Do you really think I’m that shallow? That all I’m _________ with is a never ending tap of cash?” she snapped. “Contrary to your belief, I look _______ to marrying a man who doesn’t need mass love to feed his enormous ego. I want a home in the suburbs and a garden full of children.
_______, even if I was all about the money, one of these days Quinn will fall out of favor with his fans, and the money will dry up.”
She felt the need to not mention that even if she never saw another penny from Quinn, she would never be poor.
Kansas didn’t want to talk any more about money. To her, it didn’t matter what either of them had, if they were only ________. Even though his kisses were frequent, and his touches lingered longer on her skin, it was becoming clearer to Kansas with each passing day that she was deluding herself with the belief that she and Barret would have a _______ ever after together. Still, she would stubbornly cling to the small ____ until Barret once and for all, told her to her face that there would never be anything more between them than good friends.