Destined Hearts Excerpt and Contest

My new book, DESTINED HEARTS will be released with Alinar Publishing on February 24th. I’m very excited about the release of this book! It’s the first original story I ever tried my hand at and has taken me close to 5 years to complete. These characters led me down a path I wasn’t expecting and they told me clearly, that the story was theirs to tell…not mine.

I’ve posted the summary and the first chapter for you. Details on the contest I’m running at after the excerpt. Enjoy!!

Destined Hearts by Lily Graison

A love that transcends time. A Passion that couldn’t be denied.

Caitlyn Edwards has lived her life between two worlds. One…in the hustle and bustle of modern day Boston, where she spends her days taking care of her widowed father and helping him run their small auto repair shop. The other…in the arms of a man she only sees in her dreams. Her nights are filled with promises of a love so passionate, she’s spent the last fifteen years trying to find out who he is.

William Davenport is a man torn between duty and what he wants. He’s led a life only the privileged and very rich can afford, but his controlling father still feels the need to dictate his every move. A chance encounter with Caitlyn triggers dreams of a life he can’t remember living and soon a woman he can’t seem to forget, starts to invade his every day world.

Will Caitlyn and William discover their past in time to change their future? Will the mistakes of years gone by repeat themselves? Or will a love once denied be reunited?

Prologue

The minute Olivia saw Mr. Holland’s horse trot down the wooded path, she knew her future with Daniel would never be. The mayor said he’d never allow her to be with his son and it looked like he was about to prove his point.

She panicked when he neared her. The mayor’s most trusted servant scared her. His eyes were cold and dispassionate. This man cared for nothing or no one beside himself. What he planned to do now terrified her.

She glanced behind her to the path Daniel always traveled. Why wasn’t he there yet? His note said to be here at sunset.

She turned her attention back to Mr. Holland, straightened her spine and met his gaze head on. The look on his face was stoic when he pulled the reins on his horse and stopped by the stream.

He sat high upon his horse and stared at her for a second before he reached into his coat pocket and pulled a revolver from the dark fabric. Olivia’s eyes widened, her heart racing in fear when he lifted it and aimed it at her.

The birds singing in the trees vanish. The bright path of sunlight streaking through the canopied treetops dimmed. The beautiful area she and Daniel spent their time turned dark in a matter of minutes.

No more would this be a refuge but a place of death.

Hers.

* * * *

Daniel raced toward the forest. His horse panted for breath, its movement’s jerky. He pushed the animal harder to get to Olivia. Fear laced his body for her safety while his father’s words replayed over and over again in his mind.

He knew his father was an evil man. The lengths in which he’d gone, to keep a hold on his life, made him realize what a monster he really was.

Deception in the foulest way possible had been planned and carried out without his knowledge. His future with Olivia would never be. His father wouldn’t allow it, just as he’d said.

Daniel’s fear grew with each passing moment. He needed to reach her in time. Mr. Holland would be nothing, if not cruel.

When the clearing came into view; he knew he was too late. Mr. Holland sat upon his horse and Daniel’s body turned cold when he saw him.

A lone shot from a gun rang throughout the forest and his horse jerked to a stop. It reared up and threw him from its back. He screamed out Olivia’s name as he hit the ground.

The gunman turned and rode off when Daniel climbed to his feet. He watched Olivia’s body sink to the ground. He ran to her and saw her eyes flutter then close.

She blinked up at him when he lifted her body and a pained smile curved her lips. Daniel’s tears already clouded his vision.

She lifted her hand and laid it on his cheek. “I will always love you, Daniel Turner,” she whispered. “Forever.”

“Please don’t leave me,” Daniel cried. He placed soft kisses across her face and held her to him. Her large brown eyes were unfocused and the sparkle he always saw there faded. “I love you Olivia, please don’t leave me here.”

“I will always be with you, Daniel.”

He kissed her cheeks, his lips fluttering across her skin. When her hand slipped from his face, Daniel watched her eyes close.

He cried into her hair when he heard her whisper “always” and her body fell limp in his arms. He clutched her to him, inhaled the soft fragrance of flowers present on her skin and screamed out his pain.

Without her, he was nothing. She was the only thing in the world that mattered to him, and with her death, she took his soul.

Chapter 1

Present Day – Boston

Caitlyn Edwards screamed and slammed her fist down to stop the offensive noise pulling her from sleep. She heard the plastic crack, the noise stopped and everything went quiet.

She peeked one eye open, the lights blinked on her now ruined alarm clock and dimmed before going black. She heard her father laugh from the door.

“So, how many does that make now?” he asked.

“I’ve lost count.” She sat up and pushed her hair out of her eyes and yawned.

“Well, until you learn to push the snooze button instead of beating on it, you can count on replacing those clocks.”

“Yeah, yeah. Go start the coffee.” She smiled at him when he walked away. He whistled an old tune; his usual cheerful morning mood made her feel more retched. She hated mornings. Always had.

Pushing the blankets away, she crawled from bed and stretched. She yawned again then slipped her bedroom shoes on and made her way to the kitchen.

The day started like every other. The sun greeted her when she stepped into the kitchen of their small two-bedroom apartment. She blinked to try and block the light and let her eyes adjust.

The brewed coffee smelled warm and inviting. She yawned and opened the refrigerator. “What would you like?”

“Toast is fine.”

Caitlyn turned her head to him and lifted one eyebrow. She stared at him when he reached into the cabinet for their mugs. “You know I`m not going to send you off to play with those old fogies with nothing but toast on your stomach.”

“They`re not old fogies,” he laughed. “They`re all my age. Are you saying I`m old?”

“No, daddy. You`re as spry as–well, a spry thing. Eggs okay?”

“Eggs are fine, Caitlyn.”

She reached into the refrigerator and pulled the egg carton out. She saw her father out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at her. She turned to look at him as he walked to the table and sat down. “Something on your mind?”

“No,” Jack said. “Why?”

“Because you were giving me that look.”

Jack smiled. “You look tired. Can I not worry about my only daughter?”

“That was more than a worry look. That was a `what’s wrong with her’ look.”

“There you go again, letting your imagination get the best of you. Did you not sleep well?”

“As good as any other.”

“More dreams?”

“When do I not have them?” Caitlyn grabbed a bowl, cracking the eggs into it and gave them a good whisk. “It wasn’t that bad, this time.”

“Oh? Anything you want to share?”

She glanced at him and grinned. “Uh, that would be a big fat no.”

“So your mystery man made another appearance last night then?”

Caitlyn flushed as she recalled her latest dream. The mysterious man who haunted her dreams revealed himself to her.

For years, her dreams were the same. A man invaded her dreams, confessing his love and vowing to never leave her. His voice was melodic to her ears and his hands were strong. She felt a connection to him unlike anyone she knew in her life. He made her feel loved and cherished.

Her dream man only had one fault. His face was void of any characteristics.

Well, until last night.

Bright, piercing blue eyes met hers for the first time. Her breath caught in her throat thinking about him. The sound of his voice, the way he’d looked at her and the way she felt wrapped in his arms was beyond anything she’d ever experienced.

In her dreams, she felt truly loved, and the dream last night had been completely different from any she’d had before.

Feather light kisses turned passionate. Every sweep of his lips seared her flesh. The gentle stroke of his hand raised the hair on her arms even now as she recalled the vivid dream. She felt her cheeks burn hotter at the memories.

“Must have been some dream,” Jack chuckled. “Are you sure you don’t want to give the sleep therapist another try?”

Caitlyn snapped out of her thoughts at her father’s voice. She turned and looked behind her. “Did you say something?”

Jack laughed, unfolding his morning paper. “I asked about the sleep clinic. Just wondering if you wanted to give it another try?”

“We’ve already been over this,” Caitlyn said, returning to their breakfast. “That Doctor is a quack.”

“He might have been onto something, Caitie.”

Caitlyn shook her head. “I spent two months going to the clinic, daddy, and the best explanation anyone could come up with was reincarnation? I might want to make sense of the dreams, but even I’m not thick enough to believe that one. Besides, Dr. Shoemaker would have told me anything to keep me coming back to his clinic and giving him our money.”

“I can get the money, sweetheart.”

Caitlyn turned at her father’s soft-spoken voice. Her bad mood, from being pulled from her dream world, vanished.

She smiled while looking at him. His salt and pepper hair had thinned a lot in the past few years. He was still the same stocky man he’d always been, but fuller around the middle. Wrinkles now gave his face a worried, used look people sometimes get when they aged. He was the only thing in the world that mattered to her. He was her life. He was all she had.

He tried hard to give her everything and he worked every waking minute to do just that. Even spending every dime they had to try and help her with the dreams.

Turning back to the stove, Caitlyn removed the pan from the heat, turning the stovetop off and filling the two plates beside her.

She sat their plates on the table and took her seat, deciding to change the subject. “So, what do we have lined up for today?”

“Well, Peterson’s old Buick is due to come back in, but I don’t want you down there.”

Caitlyn looked up in surprise. “What? Why not?”

“You don’t need to come down there today, Caitie. Maggie will be here this evening and she said the new hours you will be working were long. You’ll need your rest before starting tonight. I can handle the shop today.”

Caitlyn groaned out loud at the mention of her new job. She wondered for the thousandth time why she let her best friend talk her in to it. If they weren’t desperate for the money, she’d never stoop so low as to be cleaning up after rich, snotty businessmen.

“Jesse will be there this morning,” Jack said. “It’s not like we have a ton of stuff to do anyway. We’ll be fine. Everything is under control.”

“Daddy, you know I don’t mind helping you out,” Caitlyn said, looking up from her breakfast. “And I’m a far better mechanic than Jesse ever dreamed of being. He can barely walk and talk at the same time.”

Jack laughed. “Well, let’s see how tonight goes and if you feel like helping out tomorrow, then you can come down.”

Caitlyn sighed and wondered if she could get him to change his mind. He jumped at the opportunity to get her out of the garage, saying a proper lady had no business there; no matter how much they loved it but she knew he needed the help.

“I’m not a little girl anymore,” she said. “I’m twenty-eight years old. I can’t see myself doing anything other than helping you. Besides, you can’t afford to hire anyone. The last equipment purchase wiped us out. You can’t do it all by yourself.”

“I know, Caitie.”

Caitlyn frowned. The business was everything to him. He built it from the ground up right after she was born and now, with fancy cars littering the roads with onboard computers, their little business suffered. The equipment to fix the newer cars was expensive and buying what they needed to keep their little garage current left them near penniless. It would take years to pay off the debt.

She sighed and took a bite of her breakfast. He wasn’t going to budge. She could tell by the set of his jaw and the look in his eye. He wanted her out of the garage, plain and simple.

Like it or not, come nightfall, she’d be a new member of the working elite.

* * * *

Caitlyn parked her bike and killed the engine of the fully restored motorcycle. She stood and removed her helmet, peeking into the garage bay to see where her father was. It was a little after three in the evening and as usual, he was up to his elbows in motor oil.

She walked in, ducking down so he wouldn’t see her. It didn’t work of course. He saw her moments after stepping inside the building.

She tried to not roll her eyes when he started yelling at her for not resting. She listened to him rant, nodding when appropriate but his words fell on deaf ears the minute she spotted the sleek, powder blue roadster resting in the bay.

Walking toward the workbench, she placed her helmet down without looking and stood there staring at it.

“She’s a beaut’, isn’t she?” Jesse asked her smiling.

“Understatement of the year,” Caitlyn grinned. “Do you have any idea what this is?”

“Uh, a really old car,” Jesse joked.

Caitlyn looked up at Jesse and rolled her eyes. He smiled at her, the innocent look on his face amusing her but he was anything but innocent. His large green eyes held the mischief he never failed to find. His gangly, six foot tall frame was thin and even though he was close to thirty, he didn’t look a day over twenty-two. A head full of wild blonde curls fell over his ears and his boyish smile caused her to smile in return.

“You’re such a dork, Jesse.” Caitlyn shook her head and looked back down at the car. She laid her hand on the hood, touching the sleek machine with a light stroke. She drank in the smooth lines, letting her eyes roam over every surface. She was grinning ear to ear when she turned back to Jesse. “This, my friend, is a ’65 Corvette Sting Ray.”

Jesse shifted his weight and nodded his head. “I knew that.”

“No you didn’t,” she said, glancing up at him.

“Yeah well, I don’t get off on cars like you do,” Jesse said, shrugging his shoulders.

Caitlyn walked around the car, peeking inside the window. It was a two-seater with black leather interior. The upholstery was in pristine condition. The odometer read thirty-seven thousand miles and she grinned before standing up straight. She inspected the roof, noticing it was a hard top convertible.

She looked to the front of the car, wondering what was under the hood when Jesse said, “Go ahead, you know you want to.”

Caitlyn ran to the front of the car and popped the hood open. A dreamy smile covered her face as she took in the engine. She sighed while looking at it. “Man what I wouldn’t give to be behind the wheel of this thing. It has a 425 Big Block.”

Jesse laughed. “Now who’s being a dork?”

“Shut up,” Caitlyn grinned. “So, why is this here?”

“I brought it in. It broke down on the freeway and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The owner saw me and flagged me down.”

“No way!”

Jesse laughed. “Yeah. The guy was standing on the side of the road, cussing up a storm. His briefcase was lying in the middle of the road and papers were flying everywhere. I wish you could have seen it.”

“Any clue what’s wrong with it?”

Jesse nodded his head and walked to her side, looking down at the motor. “Not real sure, but my guess is the engine is locked up.”

“What makes you think so?”

“This.” Jesse pulled out the dipstick and held up the bone-dry oil gage.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Caitlyn said, shaking her head in disgust. “Who in the hell buys a $150,000.00 classic car and doesn’t put oil in it! I swear rich people are the dumbest creatures walking the earth.”

She reached inside, checking the oil reserve and snorted in disgust. “I mean HELLO…flashing red light that says oil should be a good indication something needs to be done. Just goes to show you,” she said before straightening, “money doesn’t buy everything. Sure it’ll get you a classic car, but it won’t buy you brains.”

Jesse snorted a laugh, tapping her on the arm. She leaned down over the motor.

Another tap on the arm from Jesse followed by a series of coughs as he cleared his throat caused her to look up. He was trying too hard to get her attention. She turned her head to him and said, “what.”

The look on his face puzzled her. She raised an eyebrow at him when he glanced over her shoulder several times, looking between her and the spot right over her shoulder. His face held an amused look. His eyes were wide and imploring and he kept looking behind her at something. When he covered his mouth with his hand and coughed out the word, “behind you” and nodded his head to the office door, Caitlyn gasped. “Shit,” she said as she closed her eyes. “The owner’s standing right behind me, aren`t they?” she whispered.

Jesse grinned and nodded his head. The look on his face told her he was trying to not laugh.

Caitlyn swallowed the lump forming in her throat and took a deep breath of air. She put a smile on her face before turning around.

“So, do you think it can be fixed? Seeing how stupid I am for letting it get this bad.”

Caitlyn froze. A man stood in the doorway, his business suit looked more expensive than her entire wardrobe. He pushed off the doorframe he’d been leaning on and she was mesmerized watching him cross the room to stop in front of her. He stood a good six-foot tall with thick black hair. He was smiling at her and no matter how refined he looked; nothing held her attention like his eyes.

The bluest eyes she’d ever seen met hers and her breath caught at the sight of him. The world around her slowed down before crawling to a stop. Tingles raced up her spine and her heart rate increased.

An onslaught of images invaded her mind. A dewy meadow and a forest with sun-dappled trees ghosted across her memory. The sound of his voice, low and husky in her ear, the feel of his hands on her skin and the weight of his body pressed against hers. Soft kisses and gentle caresses caused her cheeks to flush.

She’d seen this man before…in her dreams.

_________________________________________________________________

Contest:

I’m giving away 4 eBook copies of this book. The contest will run until February 22nd and the winners announced on February 23rd. Since my story deals with reincarnation, the contest will center around that theme.

The contest is simple…I want to know if you had been reincarnated (or have been *grin*) who were you in a past life. Were you someone important? Did you live an adventurous life? Were you Elvis? Answers will be seen ONLY by me. There’s a writer in all of us so use your imagination and entertain me!

All you have to do to enter is email me at lily.graison@gmail.com (subject line: Contest) with your answer. I’ll pick 4 names randomly out of all entries received. Winners will be notified by email so please, leave a valid email address. Good Luck!!

All material &copy2005-2012 to Lily Graison
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About Lily Graison

Lily Graison is a USA TODAY bestselling author of historical western romances. Her Willow Creek Series introduced readers to a small Montana town where the west is wild and the cowboys are wilder. Lily also dabbles in sci-fi, contemporary and paranormal romance when the mood strikes and all of her stories lean heavily to the spicy side with strong female leads and heroes who tend to always get what they want. She writes full time and lives in Hickory, NC with her husband and a house full of Yorkies.

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