Against the quiet that’s consumed the entire run, a loud rumble a short distance away instantly distracts me. Hearing the annoyingly loud noise quickly approach, I step to the roadside just as a large, lifted white pickup truck flies past, sending dust in every direction. What the hell? I cough as the dust lifts, ready to shoot a middle finger into the air and choose a few colorful words for whatever jackass has just passed, when the truck comes to a halt with lit lit-up brake lights. Oh hell. This isn’t good. Abduction comes to mind as the truck slowly backs up in my direction. Should I run? Would Judge attack if I needed him to? My heart is beating gigantic palpitations in my chest.
The truck slows to a stop so the tinted window of the driver’s side is even with me, then rolls down, emitting the sound of some twangy country song—Silver Wings I think—that’s playing on the radio. The driver is now visible, and I am startled by an unexpectedly good-looking guy, slightly older than me, by the looks of him. He has a wide, all-pristine-teeth grin, dark blonde, yet sun-kissed, hair cut short but a bit unruly, and rich, dark eyes with flecks of hazel in them.
“Hi there, pretty lady.” ,” The the stranger speaks with a rugged voice and a sultry drawl.
I don’t know whether to read him the riot act for his crazy, asinine driving, or stare in awe at his surprisingly handsome features. I decide on the smartass route.
“What the hell is your basic malfunction? You could’ve creamed me if I hadn’t heard you coming.” Judge sits calmly at my side, but perks up his ears with the sudden raise in my voice.
“Whoa, sassy.” He lifts his hands above his head as if under arrest. “I apologize, young lady. It’s not everyday people decide to take a walk on these country back roads.”
He returns his hands to the steering wheel. I quickly glance over the vehicle, noticing a large, black, duffel-like bag in the back of the truck. It makes me nervous.
“What is that?” I point at the black bag peeking out of the bed of the truck.
“What?” He looks surprised. “Why don’t we just start with, hiHi, my name is Maxwell Bara,
Max to most. Yours?”
I feel slightly—slightly—bad for my ill manners, so I momentarily reciprocate. “Taylor.” I strive to give away no hint of emotion, feeling my lips struggle to hold a hard line and not shift into a smile.
“Oh, she has a name…Taylor. Beautiful name.” He grins, again revealing his salacious smile. “Boy, you come on strong, don’t you, Maxwell?” I try hard to hold my ground.
“Like I said, most people call me Max, but Maxwell works, too.” He presses his lips together. I can see he’s not accustomed to his full name, and it beckons my devious side.
“Well, Maxwell, would you like to answer my question?” I point again to the back of the truck.
“Oh, the bag again.” He glances back at it and then to me, and offers a mischievous grin. “That’s where I hide the bodies.” ,” He he half laughs, half acts serious.
“Huh?” I don’t know how to take his answer, shifting my attention once again to Judge. “Well, this is my dog, Judge. He’s very protective, so you may want to steer clear.” I, of course, announce this as Judge rolls over on the ground to have his belly rubbed. Lovely timing, Judge.
“Uh, huh….terrifying. But he’s a good-looking dog anyway.” Max props himself up slightly to see
Judge out of the passenger window. After taking a gander at my dog’s antics, his eyes travel the length of my body before meeting mine.
Title: Diverted Heart
Author: Beth Ann Stifflemire
Genre: New Adult Romance
Texas summers are no doubt some of the hottest you’ll find. The heat encountered during this summer is not at all what Taylor bargained for. She’s at a crossroads between childhood and womanhood, rummaging through the emotions of first love versus passion. Two young men tangle a web of needs and desires in her heart. The summer before college begins, Taylor is thrust from her childhood home in Houston to an inherited family farm on the outskirts of Schulenburg, Texas. Eric, her first love, has gone states away to play college football. Low-spirited and merely trying to get through an expectantly boring summer, she is nearly run off the road by her new country neighbor, Maxwell. Ruggedly handsome, devilishly charming and everything Taylor seeks to avoid, Maxwell does something to her emotions she’s struggling desperately to interpret, as they spend the summer filled with each other. Boundaries are tested and the scales of lust tip despite hesitations. A final decision must be made. Did she ever truly love Eric? Is Maxwell simply a lustful thought, or is there more to uncover beneath the surface? One thing is for certain, this summer will change Taylor in every possible way: mind, body and soul.
Beth Ann is a wife, mother, blogger and book lover from Texas. Her passion is writing stories that draw a reader into a world where they can become the characters and experience a gamut of emotions. When she’s not writing, she loves to be home with my family and two yellow labs. In addition she’s a sucker for super sappy romance movies, loves trying out Texas wines, is an avid hot tea drinker and enjoys checking items off of her ever-growing bucket list.