The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks—these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace. The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think—to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs. Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset. Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.
All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him—fill his hours. Bring him focus. Until she enters his life. She dredges up memories of the past—the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared. A story he keeps buried below the surface.
Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?
Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart. Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected Publication Date October 14th 2014
As I descended the few stairs to the beach, I was surprised to see the large golden retriever as well as the mysterious Zachary. I stood for a minute, observing him in private. He was standing, barefoot in the surf, staring out over the water as his dog frolicked close by. Zachary was a tall, dark silhouette against the sand and stormy, strange-colored sky of the late afternoon. Wearing dark jeans and the same overcoat that showed off his broad shoulders, a beanie once again pulled low on his head, he stood with his hands in his pockets, motionless, as the water swept across his bare feet. The rolled-up edges of his pants were dark with the ocean spray clinging to the material. I shivered just watching him. The water had to be freezing.
Seeing her new friend, Dixie let out a happy, little yelp, which had the retriever bounding over to her, once again licking her head and huffing as he greeted her. The two of them took off, heading right toward Zachary. He leaned down, greeting Dixie, allowing her a sniff, then patted her head and straightened up. He didn’t turn around or acknowledge my presence. With a roll of my eyes, I walked forward, stopping when I was close enough to be heard, but not have my feet in the frigid water. I waited, but he said nothing, ignoring me completely.
“That’s Dixie—my dog.”
His chin dipped with a brief nod. “Elliott.”
I couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice. “You or the dog?”
His lips quirked at the edges. “My dog.”
“I’m staying at the Harpers’ house.”
“I’m not Karen—I’m a friend of hers.”
His sarcasm was thick. “I realize. I have met her—more than once. There is a slight resemblance, perhaps, but I can see you aren’t her. Your hair rather gives that away.”
“I’m sure it was a thrill for her,” I murmured, surprised to hear the trace of a British accent in his voice. I chose to ignore the remark about my hair.
“They’re letting me stay here for a while.”
I shook my head. Was he for real?
“I’m Megan. Megan Greene.”
I searched my brain for something to say. “Looks like a storm’s coming in.”
I frowned at him—definitely rude. His voice, however, despite its unwelcoming tone, was low and rich sounding, his subtle accent curling around the words when he spoke. I wanted to hear more than a few monosyllables from him, and to hear him say my name.
“Aren’t your feet cold, Zachary?”
He glanced down and shrugged, still facing the water, not even acknowledging the fact I knew his name. “Not really. I’m used to the cold.”
I decided to try a different subject—maybe one that would open him up a little. “I saw your work at the gallery in town; you’re very gifted.”
Again, he nodded.
“Your Tempest painting is”—I searched for the right word—“exceptional.”
“It’s not for sale.”
Disappointed at his words, I studied his partially hidden profile. Again his jaw was covered in stubble, and all I could really see was his nose and the downturned set of his full mouth. Some wayward hair sticking out from his beanie was blowing in the wind; its color not easy to make out. I was sure it was dark, but I couldn’t see enough to determine if I was correct. I wanted to step forward, force him to look at me, but there was something about his tense stance that screamed “back off.” He was obviously uncomfortable with me being this close, so I remained where I was, even though I felt some bizarre sort of need to get closer. I had to struggle not to move beside him, slip my hand into his, and offer him some sort of comfort; to loosen the tense set of those broad shoulders. I shook my head at the strange urge.
“Would you perhaps reconsider?”
“No. Jonathon already inquired on your behalf. I have it on loan to the gallery as a personal favor. It’s not for sale—at any price.”
I smiled, attempting to tease him. “Everything has its price, Zachary.”
I wasn’t prepared for the venom in his voice when he spoke.
“I’m fucking aware that’s the way most of the world works. I don’t conduct my life that way.”
Then he turned and walked away, his long strides eating up the distance, his unbuttoned coat billowing out behind him. He whistled for Elliott, who dropped the stick from his mouth and chased after his master.
Both Dixie and I stood staring at the retreating figures. Not once did Zachary pause or look back, while Elliott raced ahead of him. I waited until he had climbed the stairs and disappeared from sight, never taking my eyes off him.
I blinked and looked over the water.
Now I could say I had met my neighbor.
That went well.
Megan stood gazing at me, her head shaking slowly back and forth, but she didn’t move. “You don’t mean that.”
Why wasn’t she listening to me? Why wasn’t she leaving?
“Get out of my house. Leave.” I pointed to the door, making sure she understood. “Now.”
“You wouldn’t send me out into a storm, Zachary. Your words are just empty threats to try and get me to hate you.” She came closer, her voice soothing and calm.
I barked out a harsh laugh as I stepped back. “You should hate me.”
“I don’t.” She edged forward again.
I frowned at her. Why was she coming closer? She should be backing away; even if she knew I wouldn’t throw her out of the house, she should want to move as far away from me—from my hideous face—as possible.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m not afraid of you.” She moved forward, closing any remaining distance between us to mere inches. I tried to step back, but I had nowhere to go, my back hitting the stone of the fireplace. I dragged in a shaking breath, only to have my already overloaded senses fill with her warm scent, shutting my eyes as it settled around me like a soothing blanket. When I opened them a moment later, it was to her wide, dark gaze. There was no revulsion or pity in their depths; only a simple calm, beseeching stare. She looked vulnerable as we gazed at each other, the room around us ceasing to exist.
Why was she looking at me like that? What did she want?
“Zachary,” she whispered.
It was too much. She was too close and too—
I lifted my hands to push her away, except when they wrapped around the top of her arms, it was as if they had a mind of their own. Time seemed to stop as my fingers caressed the smooth, silky skin not covered by her T-shirt; the warmth of her burning through my fingers to my very core. My arms flexed as they dragged her closer until our faces were almost touching. Her hands held tightly to my loose sweater, bunching the fabric in her small fists so hard, I knew the cuts on her palms would reopen. I knew her blood would seep into the material, forever staining it with her essence. It didn’t matter; I couldn’t let go of her. I held her so close it was as if I was trying to mold her into my skin and make her part of my body. Her hot breath washed over my face, and I could hear my own ragged, harsh breaths filling the room.
Still, neither of us said a word as we stared, clutching and holding each other, the heat between us burning brighter every second that passed. A small whimper escaped her lips, a pleading, needy sound and I was lost. My mouth covered hers roughly and I jerked her flush to me, not allowing a sliver of space between us. I groaned into her wet, warm mouth as I felt her hands slip into my hair, holding me close to her face. Her tongue was like silk on mine as we caressed and tasted, our tongues stroking and entwining. The taste of her was as sweet as I knew it would be, her lips as soft and her effect on me crippling. I plunged my hands into her hair, tilting her head to deepen the kiss, directing her where I needed her to go with my touch. Megan gripped me tighter as I claimed her; needing and wanting more. Her heart hammered powerfully in her chest, so I knew she could feel mine as well. Small sounds from deep in her throat filled my ears as I ravished her mouth, lost in the heat and wonder that was Megan.
“Don’t feel sorry for me,” I snapped. I hated pity.
“I’m not feeling sorry for you. I said I was sorry people chose to be unkind because of your scars. There’s a difference,” she snapped right back. A dull flush tinged her cheeks, her eyes glinting and fiery with annoyance as she frowned at me. Despite her anger, I found her incredibly attractive and my lips quirked.
“What?” she spat at me.
I shook my head as I chuckled and grabbed the bottle of wine to top up our glasses. I might be low on food, but I never ran out of wine. “I was thinking how I wanted to capture you on film again, looking exactly like that.”
“Like a kitten trying to act like a tiger. All growls and swipes of your little paws as you hiss at me, putting me in my place.” I reclined back, taking a deep swallow of my wine as I gazed at her over the rim of the glass. “You’re very sexy when you’re angry. Did you know that?”
“It’s true. Your eyes flash, and the color on your cheeks is sublime. Your glare, which I’m certain you mean to be angry, is more of a turn on than anything.”
“I am angry at you. You twist everything I say.”
I tilted my head in acknowledgment. “I know. It’s a bad habit I picked up after years of being lied to.” Lifting her hand, I kissed the knuckles. “I apologize. I’ll try harder.” I placed another kiss on her skin. “But I still want to capture you when you’re angry.”
Rolling her eyes, she stood up, taking our empty plates. “Somehow, Zachary, I have a feeling you’ll get what you wish for without much effort.” She sighed as she walked to the sink. “You seem to be able to make me angry faster than anyone I’ve ever met.”
I closed the distance between us in two large steps. Cupping the back of her neck, I brought her mouth to mine. “Anger is simply another form of passion,” I murmured against her lips.
“A tiring one,” she returned in a whisper. “And I won’t ever lie to you.”
“No, they don’t. Whatever world you were in where they did, I’m glad you’re out of it.” She paused, frowning. “I’m glad you’re here—with me.”
I didn’t want to talk anymore. I didn’t want to think about the past, or groceries, or even what was going to happen tomorrow. All I wanted was to lose myself with her again. To block out everything else.
I picked her up, striding down the hall with her cradled in my arms, my mouth covering hers.
She wanted me to be happy. Having her wrapped around me, buried inside her, made me happy.
My Cast of Characters for Beneath the Scars…
Zachary Adams – Henry Cavill
His eyes are so expressive and he has that sense of ruggedness about him that reminds me of Zachary. There is something strong about his demeanor and when he smiles it is like the sun coming out. He was the perfect choice.
That pretty next door look, with a beautiful smile. Add a few freckles and brown contacts, she is exactly as I pictured Megan.
Jared Cameron …Ryan Gosling
Good looking and he knows it. He knows how to use it. I think he’d portray a great Jared with enough smarminess to give you the shivers.
Karen Harper … Anne Hathaway
Anne portrays that confident beauty Zach described. Sure of herself, outspoken and loyal. All traits I think she possesses.
About the Author
Known as the quiet one with the big laugh, Melanie works for the sporting teams of a local university. Her (box) office job, while demanding, is rewarding as she cheers on her team to victory.
While seriously addicted to coffee, and somewhat challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties and socialize, and also enjoys traveling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.
Melanie delights in writing a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative story lines to her even more inspired tales, for all to enjoy.
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