Irrationally His; Book 4
Published: August 5th 2015
Published by: Mad for Romance Publishing
How had everything gone so wrong so quickly?
Tex was dying. Finally, the answer to why he and Mom had put on such an elaborate celebration for only a tenth anniversary - the last they'd ever have.
But I hadn't any more than begun to absorb that news than Travis showed himself to be the jerk I'd originally thought him. How could he have fooled me so badly? How could he have wormed his way into my heart, not to mention my bed?
There was nothing left for me here. To give Mom and Tex their final weeks together, it was time for me to go.
Broken is Part Four of the serial romance Irrationally His. Parts One through Three, Bothered, Bewildered, and Brazen, are available exclusively on Amazon as well. They must be read in order for full enjoyment. Part Five, Beloved, is scheduled for publication on September 2.
I’d given in and accepted the gift of Tex’s pickup, an extended-cab Chevy. When I’d seen Mom and Tex off at the airport, I went back to the ranch to pack and wait for the next morning before making the thousand-mile drive to San Jose. It was a long drive, over seventeen hours in all, and the closest town to the half-way point was a wide place in the road called Rome, Oregon.
I pulled into a 1950s-era motel and stumbled out of the cab like a drunk on a staircase. My legs didn’t want to work, and I was hungry, having skipped lunch in favor of getting to my stopping place by dinner time. Feeling older than dirt, I asked the woman at the counter where I could get something to eat. Fortunately, the tiny restaurant attached to the nearby gas station was open. As I waited for my order of barbecue beef and coleslaw, I tried to text Cozy, only to discover that I was out of cell range.
The terrain I’d driven through was virtually deserted, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. It made me feel as if I’d dropped out of modern America and landed in an alternative universe where all the natives stared at me as if I were the alien. Ignoring the people passing by to get a better look at me, I dug into my meal with gusto, only to discover it was a far cry from the same items Mom had prepared for her barbecue on the fourth of July. How long ago that day seemed!
I knew I’d miss Cozy when I planned my itinerary. It didn’t seem right to leave before Mom and Tex did. There was a chance I’d never see him again, so I spent the last few days at the ranch trying to show him how much I’d always appreciated him. I hadn’t ever verbalized it, and it seemed too obvious to do so now, but I wanted him to know. He went along with my efforts as if I’d always brought him a fresh cup of coffee at breakfast, or baked his favorite chocolate-chip cookies in the blazing summer heat.
Now at the halfway point in my journey, I determined to stop looking back and instead look forward. I had the two canvasses in the back of the extended cab, carefully wrapped against the jostling they’d receive on the road. I had the rest of the photos, and I had the sketch. My task was set out for me.
I even had a schedule worked out. Most of the galleries didn’t open until noon, so I planned to paint in the mornings. I’d clean up and apply to the galleries for whatever positions they may have open in September in the afternoon, and in the evenings I’d search the internet for a gallery to take my series of paintings when they were done. I knew it would be a small one because I was unknown, and therefore, I needed to find one that specialized in Western art. It wasn’t a theme I’d ever studied before, so finding that one gallery that would give me a chance might take weeks. It was okay. It would take weeks to finish the series, too. And last of all, the pièce de résistance, the nude.
For that, I needed a canvas worthy of the subject. Six feet tall, almost life-sized, I’d paint Travis with all the passion he’d awakened in me. And if I was lucky, when I was done, he’d be out of my system and out of my heart. Because the brief fantasy we’d had together could never be. He wasn’t the man I’d built him up to be, and besides, there was the complication. The knowledge that always prickled the back of my neck when I thought about our trysts. He was my stepbrother. Off limits in the eyes of society.
That we’d shared not only sex, taboo as it was, but kinky sex, was a secret I’d take to my grave, except for Cozy’s knowledge. She would never tell, so it was something I’d lock away forever and try to be satisfied with whatever man I eventually landed for my own. I couldn’t imagine a future with a man like Travis in it. That would have been a fairy-tale come true.
As I went to bed that night in a lumpy old bed in a run-down motel in the middle of nowhere, I called up the memories. I’d give myself until I finished the nude painting to relive them, wallow in them, and dream about them. And then I’d banish them forever.
Just before I went to sleep, a pang of loss made me shiver. How would I cope with Tex’s death and getting over Travis, without Cozy to run to when I needed a shoulder to cry on? She wouldn’t be there when I got to San Jose. I didn’t even know where she was going. I didn’t know when I’d ever felt so alone.
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