Writing has commenced on the third book in the Southern Discomfort series. You might wonder why I titled the series Southern Discomfort. It’s because the journey to love is rarely a smooth ride, but if you work at it, love always wins. To preorder your copy so it shows up on your ereader on the morning of December 27, go to your favorite store and hit that preorder button! Reserve your copy on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple, and Google Play. Sorry, it’s not available for preorder on Smashwords yet, but will be soon. Here’s the prologue to the novel.
Carter- Three Years Ago
“I’m not getting on that thing.” I bitched. “You know I’m afraid of heights!”
“Then, why on earth did you want to go skiing? You know, on big, tall mountains thousands of feet above us?” Asher pointed at the white peaks surrounding us. “The only way up is in these gondolas”
“Karina told me how much fun Telluride is. But she didn’t mention mountains.” I huffed. “This haircut she gave me makes my chin look small.”
“For God’s sake, Carter. You’re the best-looking man in Richmond, and that includes your dimpled chin.” Asher took my hand and pulled me toward the shiny red gondola. “According to the sign, we’ll only be in the air for a few minutes, then we’ll…”
“I will hurl if I get in that thing.” I crossed my arms over my chest and felt stupid. Ever since I started dating Asher, I’d done all the rich-people stuff he was used to. Taking tennis lessons, joining the very expensive Country Club of Virginia, and now skiing in Colorado. According to my hairdresser, Telluride was the place to be if I wanted to up my social status. But did I have to be carried hundreds of feet in the air to do it?
“What if the cable snaps?”
“It won’t.” Asher sighed, then he held his hand out for me to take. “Let’s have a drink first. Maybe that will calm you down.”
“You want me to go skiing for the first time, drunk?” I took his hand, and he pulled me away from the gondola and back toward the main street. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of snowy Switzerland.
“We don’t have to go skiing, Carter.” Asher murmured. “The whole point of this trip was to get away from our mothers and their friends. We never get to be alone.”
Asher had a point. Mom and I worked together as interior designers, while Asher worked at his mother’s law firm. Our lives were a constant swirl of bridge games, parties, and family gatherings. And you only learned how to play bridge for love. “So, you won’t be mad if I won’t go up on that gondola?”
“No.” Asher stopped walking, and I bumped into him, nearly knocking both of us down to the icy sidewalk. “I just want to be with you. But who knows, maybe a cocktail will calm you down enough to get on the stupid thing.”
“I love you, Carter. Please, believe me, I really, really, do.”
“Even if I’m not from a wealthy family?” That slipped out of my mouth before I thought about it. It was difficult being his boyfriend sometimes, because he was wealthy. I lacked something that was innate to him, and constantly struggled to act like living in mansions while being waited on by servants was normal.
“I wish you’d stop being weird about that.” Asher reached across the table and took my hand. “I can’t help it if I was born a Yates, and you can’t help that you were born into, well, a normal family. Though your mother is hardly normal.”
I smirked and took a sip of my gin and tonic. “Mom is a unique woman, but my business wouldn’t be flourishing without her help. She keeps everything running smoothly, so I can take impromptu trips to Colorado with you.”
Asher bit his lip, then squeezed my hand. “You’ve had three cocktails. Think you can brave the gondola ride now?”
“You really want me to ski for the first time with a buzz?” I giggled, and Asher shook his head and smiled.
“I have a surprise for you on top of Palmyra Peak, and it has nothing to do with skiing.” Asher gazed into my eyes, unblinking, and my pulse ticked up. Whenever he surprised me with something, it was always out of this world. Just a month ago, he’d blindfolded me, dragged me to the airport, and two hours later we were sitting in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. I hated opera, but damn, talk about an over-the-top treat.
“Fine.” I emptied my glass and Asher signaled the waiter for the check. “But if I get sick hundreds of feet in the air, you’re paying for the victim on the ground’s cleaning bill.”
* * *
We had the gondola to ourselves, thank God, and I kept my eyes shut the entire ride. “I’m going to throw up, I can feel it.”
“You’re fine, baby, only two more minutes.” Asher kissed my cheek. “I can see the station where we are landing.”
“It feels like we’re on a wobbly boat.” I opened my eyes for a second and saw Asher typing something on his phone. His lips twisted for a moment, then he shoved the phone back into the pocket of his beige parka. The gondola shook, and my eyes snapped shut again. “We’re going to die!”
“No, baby. Trust me, we’re going to be just fine.” I felt his breath hot against my cheek. A moment later, the gondola shook like we were in the middle of an earthquake. “We’re docking at the station, that’s all. Open your eyes, and you’ll see everything’s okay.”
I did as instructed, and was relieved to see he was right. It was strangely empty, except for a single person staring at our gondola. Once we were out of it, the stranger strolled up to us.
“Are you Asher Yates?” It was a woman’s voice. She was bundled up in a parka similar to the ones we were wearing. Asher smiled and nodded. “Come with me. We’ll be there in less than five minutes.”
“Who is she, and where is she taking us?”
Asher didn’t respond to my question. Instead, he placed his hand on the small of my back and pushed me forward. Once we were outside the station, I saw what appeared to be two sparkling blue snowmobiles. At least, I thought they were. I’d never seen one outside of the movies before.
“Here are our rides.” The woman gestured toward it. “Get in the one on the left and follow me.”
“Do you know how to drive one of these things?” I whispered, and sank down into the rear seat of the contraption. It had a seatbelt, so I snapped it in place and clutched the sides.
“Yes. I grew up driving these things around Telluride.” Asher grinned and started the engine. Being around him was surreal at times. Like, when we arrived, I expected us to stay at a hotel. A fancy hotel, of course. Instead, we were staying at the family compound, an enormous log mansion with fireplaces you could literally stand inside of. Moments later, we were heading up a mountain.
The sound of swooshing snow and the engines made conversation impossible, so I tightened my hat and kept my face down to keep it from getting wet. Suddenly, we came to a stop.
“We’re here.” Asher said. “C’mon, get out and look at the view.”
I did as he asked, though when I stood up, I almost fell flat on my ass. My legs were shaking, and I smiled nervously toward Asher and the strange woman. She strolled through the snow until she was a few yards away. Asher gently pushed me forward until we were next to a giant boulder.
“Isn’t it amazing.” Asher put his arm around me, and for a moment, I forgot how to breathe. “I asked you here for a reason.” He murmured, and if I wasn’t mistaken, his voice was trembling.
“What is it?”
“Now that we’re away from our crazy families, I want to ask you a very serious question.” Asher dropped to his knees in the snow. My heart hammered in my chest. He grabbed my gloved hand and stared up at me. “If we were back in Richmond, everyone would make a big fuss over this, and I just want it to be you and me.”
“Yes.” I whispered. “Go on, ask me.”
“Carter Camden, I love you with all my heart and soul. Will you do me the honor of becoming my husband?” Asher asked, and at the same time, a bunch of snow blew on us. He waved his free hand in front of his face while I stared into his cobalt eyes. I opened my mouth to respond, but nothing came out. I wanted to say yes, scream it actually, but it was like I had a sudden onset of laryngitis. “Please, answer me, Carter.”
I nodded and croaked out, “Yes, of course, I’ll marry you.”
Asher leapt to his feet, let go of my hand, and cupped his hands around his mouth. “He said yes!” Asher screamed into the valley lying at our feet. I heard a clapping sound, and remembered the strange woman who’d come with us. She was strolling through the snow toward us when Asher pulled me into his chest and kissed me.
“Gentlemen, are you prepared to do it now? Or do you need….”
“Now.” Asher exclaimed, and the biggest smile I’d ever smiled stretched across my cheeks. “You have the license and stuff?” He asked her, and she nodded.
“You planned this all along?” I asked, amazed at the romantic gesture. Asher nodded.
“My name is Linda Crawford and I’m a non-denominational officiant, licensed by the state of Colorado to perform weddings.” I heard her say, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Asher. The man I loved more than anything or anyone else in the world was marrying me, a man who’d grown up poor on Richmond’s Southside. He could have had anyone he wanted, but he’d chosen me.
“I love you, Asher, more than you’ll ever know.”