March 1, 2017
You've been my shadow, following me through childhood—filling my days and nights with terror and uncertainty. You cleverly disguised yourself as some form of pain or suffering as I grew into a young woman. We were unwavering companions … until I severed our ties.
I traded homelessness on the streets of New Orleans for a luxurious bed covered by the finest linens.
I traded dumpster diving for dinner in the finest restaurants.
I traded myself to a stranger—Bastien Pascal.
I have a good life within my platonic and mutually beneficial companionship with Bash.
He’s my friend. My mentor. My roommate.
Until everything changes.
I’m not supposed to get goosebumps when his hand brushes my skin.
I’m not supposed to be eager for his soothing touch following one of my nightmares.
I’m not supposed to think about what might happen if I reached out to him in the darkness.
Falling in love with him? Preposterous . . . unavoidable.
Agony, why are you back with a vengeance to rob me of this life I’ve come to love so dearly?
I’m finally happy. Don’t ruin this for me.
In this epic love story, Dear Agony forges a connection between an unlikely pair—a beautiful rose entwined in barbed wire and a shipwreck sinking into the darkest depths of the ocean. This agonizing romantic novel poses some gut-wrenching questions: What does a woman do when the man she loves is planning his own demise? And how far will she go to give him something to live for?
Bastien wasn’t lying. The man snores. Loudly.
I was awake for hours after he came to my bed. I had far too many thoughts whirling around in my head to doze off.
I’m proprietor of a sadness I hold so tightly, it’s penetrated my very being. It has wrapped itself around my heart in the form of barbed vines, warning people away. I’m buried chest deep in filth—the filth of my vile past. I’m the captain and my pain is forever my first mate.
I wake to find myself held by his strong arms. Encased in his comforting touch. Strangely, even though I’m clinging tightly to the arm wrapped around my waist, I feel . . . safe in the arms of a man. This man. It’s a first for me.
Bastien is still sleeping, his snoring proof he is unaware of our entanglement. I’m glad. I want to savor this close encounter for a while longer before I pull away.
I steal this moment like a thief, permitting myself to study his face and body without his knowledge.
His chest under my head is hard, as is his stomach beneath my hand. There’s sparse hair between his pec muscles but he has a small patch on his abdomen trailing down into the front of his pants.
I gently lift my head so I can see his face. Long, thick, dark lashes rest against his lower lids. Strong, square jawline—covered in dark whiskers, and a few sparse silver here and there, a little thicker this morning than last night. A tiny dimple in the center of his chin. Full, pink lips with a deep cupid’s bow. Straight nose, slightly asymmetrical to the right side of his face. Hmm … I haven’t noticed that until now. I bet it’s been broken. Probably playing football.
Even in sleep, Bastien’s face doesn’t completely relax. His brow remains wrinkled, the shallow crowfeet around his eyes slightly crinkled.
Lines and all, he’s handsome. Extremely so.
I quickly pull away and roll onto my side, my back turned to him before he fully awakens. I don’t want that awkward moment of waking and coming to face to face, forced to discuss what led him to my bed last night.
Minutes later, there’s a brief dip in the mattress and then I hear the soft click of my bedroom door closing.
He’s gone without a word.
I roll to my back and run my hand along the spot where he was lying. Still warm. Scooting closer, I press my nose into his pillow. Mmm. Woodsy. Earthy spice. Masculine.
Savoring the warmth and smell that remains in my bed after Bastien’s departure is something I shouldn’t enjoy … but I do. Very much.
Liking these things isn’t part of our agreement.
Bastien has clearly stated he doesn’t want a romantic relationship. In fact, he’s very much against it, especially with someone my age. And I refuse to ruin what we have. I like him. I think we can be very good friends.
Georgia Cates resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author and hasn’t looked back yet.
When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing. When she’s being domestic, she’s listening to her music and visualizing scenes for her current work in progress. Every story coming from her always has a song to inspire it.
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