New Orleans native, Amber Thorpe, is shocked when she learns that her boyfriend, Tyler, cheated on her and then uploaded videos of their sexual encounters online. The situation worsens when the school employing her learns of her indiscretion and fires her. Devastated, she visits her grandmother in Austin where she meets mysterious Winston Hurley, a scarred man who plays guitar like someone possessed of either an angelic or demonic spirit.
Winston, who maintains a home in New Orleans, asks Amber to “housesit” for him, and Amber finds herself in a bizarre, sadomasochistic relationship with the physically and emotionally scarred guitarist. As she falls into the dangerous but sensual relationship, Amber realizes that Winston Hurley is not what he seems and may be harboring a dangerous secret. Life then becomes even more dangerous and complicated when Julian, Winston’s handsome son, enters their lives.
I am a teacher by day but a writer by night. As a native New Orleanian, I know the city and love its unique culture and people. New Orleans is a character in many of my novels; the city’s vibrant culture and citizens make my work come to life. “A Fair Grounds Mystery” and “The Doctor and the War Widow” contain vibrant New Orleans characters. An academic, I also love history and literature. My novels also celebrate my Irish and German heritage as well as my fascination with the historical events of the twentieth century. “Love at War” and “Jude Mooney” bring the era of Prohibition, WWI, and WWII to life. In “Buccaneer Beauty,” I ventured into Ireland of the 1500s, celebrating the life of the famous Irish pirate, Grainne O’Malley. In “The Unveiling of Amber” I delved into the world of eroticism and sexual intrigue.
My life is full and busy. I am a full-time teacher as well as a full-time writer who lives in New Orleans with my husband, the love of my life. I am a constant learner, studying German and exploring new ways to reach students through online activities, especially since the COVID-19 crisis. As I grow as an author and teacher, I hope to inspire others to achieve as well.
“What’s wrong? You seem distant.” Amber ran a hand lightly over her boyfriend’s forearm. She could feel his muscles tighten under her touch, and she moved closer to him, drinking in his masculinity. They were alone in his shotgun double in Uptown New Orleans on a cold winter night. They sat on the sofa together, sipping wine and munching on cheese.
“Look, this isn’t easy.” Tyler turned to her, his mouth set in a firm line. Her arm was linked in his. He’d poured a glass of wine for her and himself. Setting the wine aside, he said, “I’ve been rehearsing this in my mind for a long time.”
Maybe he’s going to ask me to marry him. The thought raced through Amber’s mind, leaving her with a tingling sensation. She leaned closer to him, running her lips along his cheek. He flinched and rose abruptly from his seat beside her.
Tyler ran a hand through his hair. God, how Amber loved that dark hair! It was thick and black. When he looked at her with those startling green eyes, Amber’s heart skipped a beat. Of course, none of her colleagues at her conservative local Catholic school even knew she had a boyfriend, and they certainly didn’t think she possessed lustful thoughts. School librarians kept students quiet and doggedly guarded the books. Never mind that she introduced innovative techniques and policies . . . Oh, well.
Tyler paced the carpet in front of her, fisting and then unclenching his hands. “I’ve had something to tell you for a long time.”
At that moment, the door swung open, and Adrienne, Amber’s best friend, strode inside and turned to close the door behind her. She’d barely stepped inside before she turned, obscuring them from her line of vision.
“Hey, Tyler honey, did you tell her? I can’t stand the secrecy, and—”
She stopped abruptly, turning and suddenly seeing Amber with Tyler.
Adrienne had a key to his apartment? Amber had a key as well. Did he simply give his keys to random women? And what the hell did Adrienne mean? An uneasy feeling developed in Amber’s stomach. She threw a confused look in Tyler’s direction. He’d gone white, his fists still clenching and unclenching at his side. He was clearly debating what to do.
Amber swallowed and found her voice. “What in hell is going on here?”
Adrienne approached her mouth a round O. She was in shorts that showed the cheeks of her butt; the tank top she wore showed her nipples. Never had Amber seen her religion teacher friend dressed like this. Never.
Adrienne’s mouth moved feebly before she finally said, “We’ve been together for some time, Amber.”
The words echoed in Amber’s brain. Only a few days ago, she’d lain in Tyler’s bed and reveled in the warmth of his arms. His embrace had been pure sensuality. No, this couldn’t be happening.
Amber turned to Tyler, who remained silent, and pushed his arm away. She fought back angry and hurt tears. “When were you going to tell me, Tyler? When?”
Tyler started to speak. His mouth moved, but he stayed silent. He stood, turned on his heel, and disappeared into the kitchen.
Amber then turned to Adrienne. “You do realize he was with me only a few days ago, don’t you? Did you think we weren’t having sex?”
Adrienne stared at her for a long time. She placed her purse on the sofa and said evenly, patronizingly, “Look, Tyler and I just love each other.” Her voice took on a gushing tone. “We fulfill each other in soul and body in ways that you and he don’t. He said you were too virginal to fulfill him.”
Amber blinked away tears and laughed bitterly. “Is that what he’s told you? Funny, considering we do everything.” She strode into the kitchen.
Tyler was rummaging through the refrigerator and slammed it shut when she entered. Adrienne was on his heels.
“Shit, Adrienne, I told you not to come tonight.” He held a container of potato salad in his hand but still looked ashen. “You ruined everything.”
Adrienne stared at him with wide eyes. “I ruined everything? You told me your relationship with Amber was non-existent. You said she was like ice, like a stone. You called her Sister Mary Margaret.”
Amber’s shocked gaze drifted from her once-adored boyfriend to her once-loyal friend. “Adrienne, why did you believe him? And Tyler, how could you tell anyone that when you know how crazy we can be?”
Tyler hurled the container into the sink. “You two took this shit too seriously, for fuck’s sake. What did you think? I wasn’t proposing marriage. I gotta eat dinner. If you’d like to join me and make a—”
“Screw you!” Adrienne’s face crumpled into tears, and she sprinted from the kitchen. Amber heard the door slam hard and then Adrienne shouting. “I—I don’t need you! I’m pretty. People say I’m like Snow White. My prince will kiss me awake.”
Amber almost laughed. How could the spoiled little bitch say such a thing? Well, her daddy was some wealthy executive. She’d always been taken care of in a material way.
“Well, I guess it’s still us.” Tyler turned to open the fridge again.
How could she ever have been attracted to such a callous dope? Amber fought the tears threatening to blind her. She wasn’t sure if they came from anger or grief. She’d loved this guy, and not only had he betrayed her, he was showing himself to be a royal asshole. How could she have been so blinded?
“No, Tyler, don’t be an idiot. It’s not us. Stay away from me.”
“Look, shit happens.” He shrugged and tossed the container into a nearby garbage can. “Why do you chicks take everything so seriously? I thought we were all having fun.”
“How the hell old are you? Haven’t you gained any integrity or sense over the years? Look, at what—twenty-seven—you should have some goddamned sense.” Amber blinked back angry tears.
“You suddenly get integrity? You and your friend, that perky religion teacher? I didn’t hear any complaints when you groaned like some animal.” Tyler leered at her, walked to his refrigerator, cracked open a cheap beer, and took a deep swallow. He sent a mischievous wink her way.
Amber turned on her heel, made her way to the living room, and retrieved her purse and jacket before bolting out the door.
The crisp November air grasped her like the bite of a jungle cat. She turned up her collar and raced down the sidewalk to her car. She stumbled on her own heels and fell against an oak tree. Sobbing, she leaned against the tree until her tears subsided. The old oak felt stable, reliable, and comforting against her back. Apparently, neither her friend nor her lover had her back. Amber was going home to her corgi mix. Apparently, little Alwena was the only one who wouldn’t let her down.
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