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Lizzie Ashworth: Refuge in His Arms (Excerpt)
Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Ideas for this story rolled around in my head for years before I started trying to write it. I am one of those who learned to hide under my schoolroom desk in case of an atomic bomb attack, so yeah, that kind of gives away my age group. When I met the right guy and we wanted to start a family, we still had that idea of an imminent attack. So we grew our own food and stored salt and prepared in a hundred other ways to ensure our survival when doomsday arrived.

I’m happy to say that the Cold War ended, and we’ve (hopefully) moved away from someone’s finger hovering over the red button that would start a nuclear war. But that threat remains, as well as many other newer threats, and not all of them caused by a political adversary. Nature has a whole bundle of tricks up her sleeve as well.

What happens if/when the power goes out, not for an hour or a day, but for weeks—or longer? What happens if our cars don’t work? I wanted to explore these ideas—and somehow make it a romance.

There’s nothing new about a massive earthquake in the Los Angeles area, but every time that story is told, there’s an annoying focus on the adventure aspect of it, people dying, sirens wailing, etc. I wanted to create a romance forced by circumstance. I also wanted to delve deep into what it would mean to do away with conveniences like electricity and transportation. I tossed it all in and stirred.

Refuge in His Arms is the result, and I’m proud to say it’s a compelling story with circumstances based fully in scientific facts. It’s also rich with the sensual connections between two people who had to come a long way together, figuratively and literally.

Right now, the book is FREE in Kindle Unlimited. Take advantage of this countdown deal to grab your copy for as low as 99 cents. The deal runs from November 24 through November 30, and if you know about countdown deals, you know that the 99 cent price won’t last long.

Refuge in His Arms

Strangers meet in a cataclysmic crisis and despite their prickly acquaintance, circumstances force them to cooperate. Not what Mackenzie expected or ever wanted. Not what David could have ever imagined, and yet here they are fleeing Los Angeles together. Bad turns to worse as a geomagnetic storm wipes out the power grid and stops the car, leaving them stranded in Flagstaff.

In this journey in search of food and shelter with her faithful German Shepherd Captain by her side, Mackenzie Kilpatrick denies her attraction to this man. He’s forced himself on her, an opportunist who only needs what she has. He might be the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen, and he might have hidden talents, but she’s totally not interested. Is she?

Tumbling down from his rock star success, David Evans thought he’d found bottom. But this is worse, dependent for his very survival on an angry woman who barely tolerates him. He’s hanging on, trying to do right, but how can he ever meet her impossible standards? He just wants to hold her, wrap his arms around her and ease her pain.

Is there a place for them to find safety?

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Excerpt from Refuge in His Arms

They spent the rest of the morning gathering wood from a few vacant areas surrounding the shopping center, piling it on either side of the spot Mackenzie deemed best for a fire. David settled into his assigned role as helper, convinced that if he expressed his concerns or ideas, she’d send him away. Did that make him a weakling? The way he saw it, he didn’t have much choice. Every time he caught her looking at him, she was frowning like he was so much excess baggage.

Maybe that was her default attitude, all hostile and wound up tight. He’d like to unwind her, button by button until her delectable body stretched out before him like a feast of epicurean proportions. He already knew she’d taste delicious, those long legs spread open to reveal the soft pink folds of her intimate womanhood. Damn. Why did his mind conjure up such fantasies when his rational mind knew there wasn’t a chance in hell of making it reality? He shifted the load of dead brush in his arms in order to adjust the pressure on the front of his jeans.

The place she designated for the fire sat halfway between two small trees in the median near her car. No chance of fire spreading from there. Plus it was near enough to the car they didn’t have to shuttle supplies very far. He spent an hour gathering rocks to create a decent boundary for the fire.

Memories flashed, times he’d visited his grandparents’ farm when he was little, a rundown place somewhere in Kentucky. His granddad took him fishing at the pond, and he’d proudly come home with a catfish. Step by step, Granddad showed him how to gut and fillet that fish with a knife that had been sharpened so many times the blade was razor thin. They’d built a fire in an outdoor fire pit. The fish sizzled in a big iron skillet as the flames twisted and curled, orange and red, his granddad squatting beside him. Even without words, they shared something important, watching that fire. That fish tasted better than anything he’d ever put in his mouth.

He loved those people. They didn’t live in a fancy house. His mom smiled there and in some of his earliest memories, his dad had helped Grandpa out in the barn, working on an old car. They had a garden, chickens, and a hog with a bunch of little piglets running around. If he was there now, he’d figure it out. Do things. But he was in fucking Arizona in the middle of a parking lot, his future entirely too dependent on a woman who apparently wished he’d disappear. If this woman needed to keep him at arm’s length, he’d do it just to survive. If he pushed his luck with this crazy attraction he felt, he would end up alone.

He sighed and stood up to squint at the sky. “About noon.”

She glanced at her watch and looked at him with a strange expression. “Noon.”

Whatever that meant, he didn’t try to figure out. After her comment about a husband, as if she didn’t still have a husband—well, he had an idea that the man had died and she had shut down. Not something he could ask about. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, sorry for what she must have suffered, still suffered, this woman with the sad luminous eyes.

They knocked then waited at the side door of the supermarket. Sun beat down, baking the top of his head and searing his shoulders through the shirt. A black t-shirt was definitely not the ideal garment for standing in full August sunlight even if it was threadbare. His skin prickled as sweat rolled down his sides.

They knocked twice again.

“Do you think there’s someone in there?” he said finally.

She looked up at him. Streaks of amber and black shot through her brown irises. How had he not noticed the thick fringe of long dark lashes or the expressive narrow eyebrows, one of which now cocked as she glared at him.

“Did you have an appointment somewhere?” she asked.

He exhaled. “Christ, you’re hard to deal with.”

“No one is forcing you to be here.”

“Yeah, someone is. You. You think I could walk away from you, leave you here with your dog and your stuff and no one to help you?”

“You mean, walk away from your only resource? Someone who has food and water and a safe place to sleep?”

He wanted to punch something. His fist opened and closed. Was she right? Was it all about him? “That’s not why I want to be here.”

“Bullshit.” She knocked again, slamming the side of her fist against the metal door.

“Not bullshit,” he said, straightening his shoulders as anger rose up his spine. He’d just about had it with her insults. “You may think you’ve got it all figured out, but you need me, and lady, if you don’t know that, then part of your brain isn’t working. You’ve needed me since you got stuck between that lamp post and the fence.”

Her eyes blazed as she rested her fists on her hips. “I could have handled that on my own. You were looking for a way out of there.”

“I didn’t have to choose between trying to salvage every fucking thing I own and going along to help you.”

“No, you absolutely did not.”

“Or leave behind every professional contact, every hope for a future.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “You probably didn’t have any hope of a future or you wouldn’t have been so quick about leaving.”

Her words hit him like a fist to bone. He sucked in air, momentarily speechless. This was what he couldn’t do, and here he was, standing in the boiling sun in a sparring match with the only person who could help him. A real bitch. Maybe he should walk away. He could find another way.

“Fuck you,” he said harshly. “You know nothing about me. I’m trying to be nice.”

The slightest flash of concern crossed her face. Or maybe he imagined it. How bad did he need her, really? There were a thousand other women he could charm in this town alone.

“Just pointing out the facts,” she said. “Sorry if you don’t want to hear it.”

She folded her arms across her chest and turned to face the door. Her shoulders looked almost fragile under that thin shirt, reminding him of a wounded animal that would bite you before it would let you help it. He wanted to grasp those shoulders, pull her back against his chest, and whisper comforting words in her ears, stroke her hair until she calmed and relaxed.

Which was fucking ridiculous, because she’d just find a way to throw that back in his face, accuse him of trying to manipulate her or some other selfish motive. He could read the anger in her frame, right down to the tense angle of her lovely neck.

*~*~*

PLEASE HELP! This book needs reviews. Load up your friends for a holiday read-fest and knock this one out of the park! And, as ever, a big THANK YOU from Liz!

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