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A PASSIONATE PLAY By Jessica Lauryn

Hello, Manic Readers!  I’m excited to be here today, sharing a bit about my latest release, A Passionate Play [The Rabourn Theater Series], a contemporary romantic suspense, set in a majestic theater in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

As people who are constantly on the go, we do and are responsible for doing many things in any given day.  But one thing that I always look forward to—and make the time for—is reading.  Fiction is so powerful as it holds the ability to transport you, the reader, to another place and time.  It does not subtract anything from the world around us but rather, it enhances our world, stirring our imaginations and giving us jolts of inspiration that fuels creativity into our thoughts and into our lives.

Whenever I am asked the single most important piece of advice I’d give to other writers, I say, “Write the story that’s in your heart!”  I have great respect for writers who follow trends, who strive to give readers the popular sub-genre of the moment, which takes a large deal of effort and dedication to deliver.  But for me, I like to take a different approach, go where the wind takes me so-to-speak. Sometimes it only takes a moment, for a thought, a phrase, or a person I encounter to inspire and single story. And after one magical night at the theater I was filled with the inspiration that was to blossom into 5 action-packed stories full of drama, romance and passion so strong my characters would kill for it, and in some instances, do!  I hope you enjoy this preview into the world of Rabourn Theater. It promises to be a most suspenseful ride!

On the heels of a major performance, theater actress Alicia Coleman is attacked in an alleyway. She is struck over the head with a pistol and the blow causes her to lose her memory. Injured and afraid, Alicia struggles to remember the details of her life. The only person who appears to know who she is, is the man she fears may also be her attacker.

In the midst of several failed attempts to escape, Alicia comes to know the man whose home she awoke in and realizes that the two of them share a complicated past. Though Nick refuses to tell her much beyond her first name, a series of dreams, in which she and he are sharing a lot more than the second story of a secluded mansion, cause Alicia to suspect the most outrageous of possibilities—that the man holding her prisoner may actually be her lover. Surrounding threats, including that of a midnight intruder, cause Alicia to realize that proving her theory true (or not) may be her only chance of keeping her attacker from coming after her a second time.

 

“I mentioned to you that we’re in Mohegan Lake,” Nick said some time later, “in Westchester County, New York. Does the name of the town, the county, or the state sound at all familiar to you?”

“Not really.” Alicia racked her brain. “Should they?”

Nick shrugged. “Only if you think they should. So, you really don’t remember anything about your life, your friends, or your career before waking up in this house?”

“My career?” Alicia dropped her empty glass onto the table. Having felt a sensation comparable to an electric shock when he’d said the word career, she asked, “What is it that I do, exactly? Am I a lawyer? Do I perform surgeries alongside of a team of brain surgeons?”

“Something like that,” Nick answered with a secretive smile.

Furious that he refused to tell her whatever he knew about her life, Alicia said, “You must be holding out on me because you’re familiar with my work and the knowledge of my success makes you feel completely emasculated.”

“I never said—”

“Understandable. Considering that you appear to spend the majority of your time hiding out in the woods, collecting the latest additions from Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn.”

Failing to offer anything in the way of a response, Nick grunted.

“I may not remember what I do for a living but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m capable of doing a lot of interesting things.”

“Are you now?” Her companion gave her a thoughtful glance. Coming to his feet, he extended his hand and said, “How about sharing a dance with me?”

Alicia’s face became as hot as the candle flames. Looking from Nick’s open palm to the empty room around them, she swallowed and said, “There’s no music.”

“Well, I think we can do something about that.” Nick wandered across the floor to the area behind the curio cabinet. There was a stereo there that Alicia hadn’t noticed before. He pressed a button, causing the room to fill with soft, romantic music.

Nick extended his hand once more as he came toward her. His smile was cool but also insistent and it contained a hint of danger. Dark brown eyes looked into hers, willing her to trust, to comply with her very mysterious and yet compelling desires.

Allowing herself to operate on pure instinct, Alicia slipped her hand into Nick’s. His warmth surrounded her and she felt a hint of anticipation as he urged her gently forward. Nick led her into the middle of the floor. Placing one large hand against her waist, he brought her beside his powerful, broad frame.

They began to move and Alicia swayed in unison with her partner as though they had danced together a thousand times before. In her mind, she was in the arms of a stranger, but her body reacted as though he was anything but, as though he were someone whom she knew intimately. Nick’s eyes, his scent, the very feel of him seemed familiar to her, and as his hand slid from her hip to the small of her back she realized that she ought to be telling him he was getting too close. Except she didn’t want him to back away—it felt good, being close to him like this.

As her partner drew her closer still, Alicia felt chills, yet at the same time she began to let go of the tension she was holding. She was encased in a blanket of heat, and as that blanket spun her around and brought her back against its softness she was taken into a realm of comfort and dreams. Dancing with her captor felt right to her and in a strange way, safe. Nick had gone out of his way to make her happy tonight and she got the feeling that wasn’t something he did every day. Letting her eyes fall closed, she inched beside him and when he didn’t resist she rested her head against the cushion of his shoulder.

Nick’s arms enveloped her, and Alicia became aware that he didn’t only smell of pinewood but of something darker, something she couldn’t quite define. She sensed a degree of rebelliousness in this man and for some strange reason the idea of that intrigued her. Strength seemed to emanate from every part of him and she wondered what it would be like to taste that strength. Filled with the strongest desire to do just that, she settled her hand against the back of his neck and tilted his head so that she could just about feel what she wanted to so desperately.

“Kiss me,” she insisted, lifting her chin.

Nick stilled but didn’t comply. She opened her eyes to find his lips were looming above hers.

“Alicia, I….”

The music stopped playing as if on cue. Nick held her, not quite letting go but not doing what she’d asked him to, either. After a long moment, he released her. He cleared his throat and shifted his eyes, making sure that she was steady on her feet before backing away. He paced the length of the room.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better.” Stopping in front of the table, Nick said, “I’ll get this cleaned up. You ought to get back to bed. You’ve had a hell of a day, and even though you slept a good bit of it you still need your rest. I’ll be up to check on you in a few hours. Good night, Alicia.”

Turning to hide a face that was surely as red as it felt, Alicia walked to the door. She offered a cool smile along with a wave before slipping soundlessly from the room.

Alone in the foyer, Alicia placed one hand over her trembling mouth. She released it a moment later, body braced against the wall as she said to herself quietly, “Good night, Nickolas.”

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Jessica Lauryn is the author of the bestselling romantic suspense series, The Pinnacles of Power. The Romance Reviews says that her debut release, Dangerous Ally, has, All the twists that a good suspense should have with just the right amount of passion and romance! Jessica is a proud member of Romance Writers of America as well as her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers, for which she has served on the executive board in several capacities. She has a talent for remembering her dreams, many of which are explored in detail in her stories. Though she resides in central New Jersey, her heart will forever belong to the picturesque White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.

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