Title: Blind Love
Author: Kishan Paul
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
She doesn’t need a hero. But a sexy Marine…that’ll work.
At twenty nine, psychologist Lauren Baxter has a successful counseling practice. Since becoming legally blind at fifteen, her world has been a blurry mess of colors. Her greatest fear is also her ultimate reality. One day that fuzzy realm will forever turn black. Refusing to let blindness define her, she builds a life for herself with her dog, Jack Sparrow, and best friend, Sunny Daye.
Lauren has no tolerance for pity or for Superman swooshing down and rescuing her. She is capable of saving herself just fine. That is until Gabe, the great smelling, former Marine, from Texas moves in next door. Her attraction to him is immediate and, unfortunately for her, mutual. When Lauren’s ex-husband shows up begging for another chance, she is confused and fragile. She also finds herself in the arms of her secretive neighbor. Little does she realize that her decision for a steamy roll in the hay with Gabe will suck her into his mysterious past, thrust her ex-husband back into her life, put her in the middle of a murder investigation, and place her life in danger.
Gabriel Briggs has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Short term flings are all he can afford for more reasons than one – reasons he never plans to share. Until he moves in next door to the beautiful, green eyed, feisty, Lauren. One night with her and he’s reconsidering promises he made almost a decade ago. When a woman from his past is murdered, his world is turned upside down. Secrets are revealed and innocent lives are threatened. Can Gabe win Lauren’s love and save her life before it’s too late?
Product Warnings: Contains a blind therapist who doesn’t consider herself impaired; a meddling, erotic-novel-writing best friend; a hot ex-Marine with a shady past; and a loyal guide dog that howls “I love you” and is probably the sanest one of the bunch.
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EXCERPTS: PLEASE CHOOSE ONE TO INCLUDE WITH YOUR POST
Excerpt 1: Her chocolate German shepherd, Jack Sparrow, nudged her leg as soon as she approached the front door. After rubbing his neck, she grabbed hold of his harness and stepped outside.
A beautiful mix of greens and blues touched with red swirled around her. After several blinks, her eyes adjusted to the brightness. She pointed in the direction of the neighboring townhome.
“Jack, Mrs. Rourke’s door.” A pang of guilt ran through her. She and her former neighbor had been close until Lauren placed her in a nursing home. It was one of the hardest things she’d ever done, but when an eighty-five-year-old woman sat in one’s kitchen butt naked talking about the weather, it left few options.
Jack tried to warn her but she ignored him and sent the poor dog to the backyard. She cringed at the memory of Mrs. Rourke’s bare skin under her hands when she hugged the old woman; it was one she wouldn’t soon forget. Since the episode, Lauren made a concerted effort to pay better attention to her guide dog’s whimpers and barks.
Together they made their way across the lawn. Once at the door, Jack sat down and waited for her to do the rest. Taking a deep gulp of fresh Denver air, she held it for a few seconds before slowly releasing.
Calm and patient.
That’s the person I am and that’s the person he’ll see.
Lauren felt the wall for the doorbell and pressed the plastic control. A few dozen doorbell presses later, realization hit. If he’s banging away in there, how’s he going to hear the doorbell? She slammed her knuckles into the wood for what seemed like an eternity but still no response.
Okay, time for Plan B. Since her home connected to the demolition man’s, they shared a common backyard.
He rose, maneuvering them back. Together, they marched into their townhouse, through the living room, and out the backdoor. Jack guided them across the lawn, straight to the offender’s patio. She banged her knuckles against the glass pane. After they were raw and felt like they were on fire, his hammering stopped. A few minutes later, she heard the sound of plastic blinds shifting. Lauren plastered on her biggest smile and waved. Metal slid against wood and the door opened.
The faint smell of sandalwood mixed with cedar filled her lungs. It was the same scent she’d gotten whiffs of the past four weeks since he’d moved in.
“Can I help you?” His soft Southern drawl flowed through her skin, warming her face. The image of a shirtless man in a cowboy hat and jeans leaning against the doorjamb popped into her head. For a moment, she forgot why she’d come.
“Umm, hi, I’m Lauren.”
“Hello, Lauren.” The amusement in his voice pulled her out of her cowboy fantasy.
Jack nudged her leg, reminding her they were there on business, not to drool. “I live in the townhouse next to yours.”
“I see you two jogging the park in the evenings.” From the angle of his voice, he sounded about six feet tall. She could hear the smile in his words. When he shifted his weight, the doorjamb squeaked. She wondered if his shoulder leaned against it, like the half-naked cowboy in her head.
Thank God I changed out of my onesie.
“They have some nice jogging trails.” Her voice came out husky and she caught herself playing with her hair when she responded.
What the hell?
Lauren dropped her arm and grabbed a fistful of her jeans to curb her need to twirl, flick or touch her hair—or him for that matter.
“I maht have to try them out.”
Maht? Yup, definitely a country boy. Images of tight jeans and cowboy hats filled her thoughts.
He cleared his throat. “Would you like to come in?”
Her heart thudded and her palms moistened at the prospect.
“No, I wanted to ask a favor.”
“A favor?” The evil man continued his flirty tone, successfully melting her organs. “What kind of…favor?” The way he said the word had her brain exploring all the inappropriate things he could do with her—for her.
Stop it! You are stronger than this. Focus.
Lauren cleared her throat for the hundredth time. “I work from home and spend most of the day on the phone with clients.”
He chuckled. “Ahh. So putting in crown molding isn’t helpful, is it?”
Her stomach fluttered.
Speechless, she smiled and shook her head.
“Well, what time are you finished with work?”
“Five, tonight. But it varies.”
“So if I work on the molding after five…”
“I’ll be very grateful,” Lauren finished.
“How about giving me your number so next time I have a project I can find out your schedule before I start?”
Wait? Was that a line or sarcasm? He can’t be hitting on me.
No. It made total sense he needed her number. After all, sometimes she did have evening clients. “Okay, you want to get a pen?”
Lauren’s face heated.
Yup, he’s flirting.
She wiped her clammy palm on Jack’s back and rattled off the digits.
“I’m Gabe, by the way.”
“Hi, Gabe, and thank you.” She turned to rush away before she agreed to more than her phone number.
“Since you’re done with work at five, how would you like to go to dinner with me tonight?’”
Excerpt 2: The banging and Jack’s barking grew louder. Lauren ran her hands through her hair and made her way down the stairs with Sunny close behind.
At the door, her best friend leaned over her and peeked through the blinds.
“Oh Sweet Baby Jesus, who’s that?” she whispered.
Lauren pushed her away and blocked the entrance with her body. “If I could see, I’d tell you.”
“It’s a man. Open the door,” she ordered and tried to pull Lauren’s hand from the knob.
“No! We don’t know who he is,” she hissed.
“Lauren, it’s Gabe.” The way her name sounded in the baritone voice of his had her stomach doing the funny flipping thing again like it did yesterday in the backyard.
“Yes, Lauren, it’s Gabe,” Sunny imitated. “Now open the fucking door.”
“Hi, Gabe. Everything okay?” she asked, her voice huskier than she’d like.
“I heard screams. I tried calling a couple times and when you didn’t answer, thought I’d come over and check things out.”
“The neighbor with the power tools?” Sunny hissed. “The man is eye candy beautiful.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s not a rapist or serial killer,” Lauren hissed back.
Boney arms wrapped tight around her waist, lifting off the ground and planting her a few feet away from the entrance. Disoriented, Lauren was still figuring out which direction she was facing when the door rattled and opened.
“Hey,” Sunny said in her most seductive tone. After rolling her eyes, Lauren walked toward her friend’s voice.
“Hi,” Gabe cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, I was looking for Lauren.”
“I’m right here.”
“Sorry to bother you two. Like I said, I heard screaming…”
“So sorry; we were having a disagreement,” she answered before Sunny got a chance to give her interpretation of events.
“I’m Sunny.” Her voice sounded deep and breathy. Lauren cringed and resisted the urge to hit her.
“Hi, Sunny, I’m Gabe.”
“Nice to meet you, neighbor with the power tools.”
“Anyway, we’re fine. Thanks for checking.” Lauren reached over to shut the door but Sunny wouldn’t let it go.
“How sweet. Did you hear, Cat? He came here to see if you needed to be saved.” Since when did she start speaking with a Southern accent?
“I don’t need to be saved,” she muttered.
“That’s all relative now isn’t it, sweetheart? Why don’t you come in, Gabe? I just made some fresh coffee.”
“I’d love some. But if you don’t mind, let me go put some clothes on and I’ll be right back.”
A few seconds after he disappeared, Sunny blew out a breath and closed the door. “Honey, I do mind if you put on more clothes.”
“What’s wrong with you? You can’t let strangers into my home,” Lauren growled.
“Rule number one: When a man who looks like him walks up in nothing but hard muscles and a thin pair of boxers, you invite him in. Rule number two: Keep rocking those low-cut tank tops and short biker shorts, ’cause he couldn’t keep his eyes off you.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I can’t help you,” the cabbie said.
Gabe put the last of the supplies into the large metal toolbox and padlocked the lid.
“He’s a guide dog. Isn’t it against the law for you to refuse services because of him?” Lauren asked.
He bit back his urge to help.
For him, the girl spelled trouble.
“The sign right there says no animals.” The driver pointed to the backseat window.
She grinned. “And if I wasn’t blind, I’m sure I would have seen it.”
Gabe chuckled. He loved her fake smile. Leaning against the truck, he watched the performance.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t—I mean, you don’t look blind.”
Still grinning, she cleared her throat and pulled on the dog’s harness. “I am. Which is why I need my guide dog. He goes everywhere with me.”
The beast raised its ears and looked at Gabe. He averted his eyes, pulled off his baseball cap and tucked it into his jean pocket. Her monster of a pet was making him feel guilty as hell.
“I’m sorry, but I’m allergic to animals. He can’t come in my taxi.”
“I can pay you extra for your troubles. The place is a few blocks after the highway. It would only be ten minutes of your time.”
“Look, ma’am. It’s not going to happen. If you want, I’ll call another car to pick you up.”
After a long pause, she shook her head and bit her lip. “No, it’s fine. I understand. Thank you.”
A few seconds later, the cab pulled away. Lauren stood cross-armed, staring out.
Gabe gripped the truck to make sure his legs didn’t get any crazy ideas.
This is not my problem. Maybe if he said it enough times, he’d believe it.
“Come on, Jack. It’s time for Plan B,” she said and grabbed the dog’s holster.
Stunned, he watched the two stroll down the road. She said the place was a few blocks after the highway. Which meant they’d be walking alongside one of the busiest boulevards in Denver for a few yards before she’d ever reach the interstate. He looked at his watch. Four fifty, on a Friday afternoon. The two would be smack dab in front of the I25 overpass during rush hour traffic—a dangerous situation for anyone, much less a blind woman.
She wouldn’t, would she?
When Lauren got to the end of the street and turned left, he cursed under his breath.
Yeah, she would.
Gabe stayed on his knees with the kid wrapped around his neck. The two men stared each other down.
“Hey, there. My name’s Lauren. I’m your neighbor. What’s your name?”
“Evan.” His voice came out muffled from having his nose pressed into Gabe’s shoulder.
“Hi, Evan. This big dog beside me is Jack Sparrow. We call him Jack.”
The dog wagged his tail and licked Lauren’s face. “Jack, say ‘I love you’.”
Both of Gabe’s hands were where visible, but Ben stayed on alert.
When the dog yodeled his response, Evan turned his head. The kid’s eyes doubled in size.
Lauren smiled. “Dogs can’t talk, right? And they can’t. But sometimes they can make noises that sound like they’re talking. And Jack’s a special dog. He’s trained to smell when people need help. Like me. I need his help a lot because I’m blind.”
“You are?” Now Evan had turned completely around and peered into her face.
“Yup, I am. Jack’s my guide dog. He helps me get places and do things.”
Both Evan and Gabe gazed at Lauren with looks of awe on their faces.
She smiled and kissed the dog’s neck. “He is wow. But what makes him even more wower is he can tell you’re a little scared and he wants to help you.”
“Yup. What he wants to do is to give you a kiss and let you hug him so you’ll feel better. I do it all the time with him when I’m scared. If you’re okay with trying, why don’t you give him your hand and see if it helps?”
“Gabe?” Evan said, still glued to his dad.
“It’s okay, Sprout, he won’t hurt you,” Gabe whispered.
The kid reached out his palm. Jack put his paw on it and panted.
“He wants me to shake his hand,” Evan announced, giving the furry foot a shake.
When Jack licked his cheek, instead of screaming, he laughed.
Acid burned in the pit of Ben’s stomach, from the way the man was eyeing Lauren.
“Thank you. For everything,” he said to her.
Lauren’s smile faded. “I didn’t do it for you.”
Ben cleared his throat but said nothing. She nodded. “Well, I better get back inside. Jack, you coming?”
The dog whined back his answer.
“He seems to want to hang out with your son.”
Gabe had yet to blink much less look away. “It’s mutual. Would you mind if they played together for a little while?”
Lauren bit her lip and Ben prayed she’d say no. “You wouldn’t hurt him would you?”
“Do you think I would?”
She shrugged. “You’re obviously capable of a lot more than I realized but no, I don’t think you will.” She got up from her spot. “He’ll come home when he’s ready to, or send him over when you guys are done, whichever happens first.”whichever happens first.”
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Blind Love Trailer: http://bit.ly/1JQAVju
About the Author
From daring escapes by tough women to chivalrous men swooping in to save the day, the creativity switch to Kishan Paul’s brain is always in the “on” position. If daydreaming stories were a college course, Kish would have graduated with honors.
Mother of two beautiful children, she has been married to her best friend for over seventeen years. With the help of supportive family and friends, she balances her family, a thriving counseling practice, and writing without sinking into insanity.
Her novella, Taking the Plunge, is currently available in the Love Least Expected Anthology on Amazon.
She can be found at:
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