Can this rugged mountain of a man really protect her, teach her to trust and love again? Or will the choices she's made in the past destroy her future?
Having managed to break free from an abusive relationship with a cruel and dominating ex-boyfriend, Australian artist Mandy Magenta—a.k.a. Amanda Smith—should be terrified when she first meets the enormous bulk that is Jonathon 'JT' Thomson. He is fierce. Not only is JT the biggest, most muscular man Mandy has ever set eyes on, but he makes a living playing the brutal sport of Rugby League.
So why, then, does Mandy's body go into lust overdrive at the mere sight of him? She doesn't feel a hint of alarm as the colours that exist in her mind, created and inspired by her own emotions and her artistic talents, explode with vibrant and passionate intensity. Could JT be the man to remind her that she is still a sensual, amorous woman, a woman deserving of love and tenderness—and can he protect her from the threats her ex has promised to deliver on?
Reader Advisory: This book contains references to abusive past relationships, including allusions to rape.
General Release Date: 21st January 2013
Mandy had not been expecting her ex-boyfriend to grab her by the throat, not in such a busy nightclub. When she’d noticed him heading her way, she had tried to hide her instant, mind-numbing terror by standing as tall as her short-statured body would allow. Though she’d had a little too much to drink, she’d tried not to sway as she’d planted her black boot-clad feet firmly on the ground. With her legs spread slightly apart, head up and chin stuck out defiantly, she’d done her best to portray the image of a strong woman, and not that of the vulnerable victim she had been. But the rough feel of his fingers as they’d wrapped around her throat had been something she could not have prepared herself for.
Mandy, shocked by the suddenness of his attack, feared for her life, believing that he was there to follow through on what had been a constant barrage of threats to kill her. He would do it there and then in this grungy, dark club. The sounds from the heavy metal band would be the last thing she would ever hear. The colours swirling in Mandy’s head were in synch with her terror—sable and claret, violent reds and angry yellows spinning into a kind of black, angry vortex in her mind, making it hard for her to react.
Mandy always saw colours in her mind, ones that matched her emotions. She had since she was very young, not just the typical 'black means sad' and 'red means mad', but combinations that could rival any home decorator’s paint charts. Depending on her mood, varying shades, tones and shimmering hues—too many to even describe—splashed and swirled throughout Mandy Magenta’s head. Her mind’s colours, usually a comfort to Mandy, were now doing nothing to help stabilise her emotions. She needed to get a grip on her fear, push through the angry vortex and find some shades of power to give her the courage to fight.
As Conx—her biggest mistake—started dragging her by her throat towards the exit of the club, Mandy used all the strength she could muster to try to slow him down. She dug her heels ineffectively into the club’s sticky carpet, hitting and scratching at the hands gripping her throat, which had delivered so much pain in the past. Her efforts brought no response from her vicious ex, so Mandy began flailing her arms wildly to try to get someone to notice what was happening and intervene.
Perhaps the doorman will help me? If I could just get his attention, she thought.
Con leaned towards her and whispered, "Amanda, you’re a bad girl, hiding from me. It has taken up a lot of my time and energy to track you down. I told you what I would do to you if you made me angry again, and you know how much I enjoy our little games. It’s time to play."
The familiar, threatening tone had an instant effect. A paralysing ripple of fear travelled through her body, leaving a cold fever in its wake. Mandy was unable to stop the rash of goosebumps from breaking over her skin as a heaviness formed in the pit of her stomach, accompanied by memories of pain and degradation.
Mandy was now way past frantic. She couldn’t let Con take her out of the building. She had to fight harder.
I may as well die here, instead of in some back lane, probably more painfully. Fight him—kick, scream! C’mon, girl! she told herself, trying desperately to inspire some extra burst of inner strength to overcome her terror. But as she found the courage to continue her struggle, her efforts were quickly defused.
Con spat in her face. The shock of this disgusting action and the feel of the sticky glob of wetness dripping down her cheek made her gag, and she stumbled. The pain in her shoulder as Con jerked her upright again was so severe that it was all Mandy could do to stay conscious. As all hope faded, Mandy simply prayed that she would survive another of Con’s brutal attacks.
Mandy wasn’t sure what happened next. One second she was being choked, terrified for her life, in pain and being dragged away. The next she was standing behind a behemoth of a man and Con was in a heap on the floor.
She was crying. Big, fat tears rolled uncontrollably down her cheeks. She could not believe she had escaped from Con again. Her throat was painful and sore, but she would live.
JT had saved her.
What is he doing here? How could I have missed him in the club earlier? The air around her usually seemed to spark when JT was near. Mandy hadn’t thought this club would be the type of place he frequented—not that she really had a clue what type of place JT did like. She loved it there though. Because of the loud music and grungy look and feel of the place, Mandy fitted in—or at least, didn’t stand out. She knew some of the regulars, fellow stallholders from the local flea markets around Sydney. Markets like Glebe and Paddington, with a trendy and slightly feral feel about them. Places Mandy could sell her art and handmade jewellery, or draw portraits.
Con had always hated these types of clubs. It was probably another positive in the club’s favour, in Mandy’s opinion. He had preferred chic, trendy clubs full of what she suspected were superficial people just wanting to be seen in the 'right crowd'. In fact, the more Mandy thought about her relationship with Con, the more she couldn’t understand why he had even been interested in her at all. Mandy was not the 'in crowd'.
None of this thinking answered her original question, though.
What was JT doing there? Should she check and make sure that he hadn’t killed Con?
Not that she was worried for her ex. It was more that Mandy knew that Brodie, her neighbour’s boyfriend, would be pretty pissed off at her if he lost his Sydney Jets teammate to a jail cell.
Everything was going to be okay!
Sydney-born Donna Gallagher decided at an early age that life needed be tackled head on. Leaving home at fifteen, she supported herself through her teen years. In her twenties she married a professional sportsman, her love of sport—especially rugby league—probably overriding her good sense.
The seven-year marriage was an adventure. There were the emotional ups and downs of having a husband with a public profile in a sometimes glamorous but always high-pressure field. There were always interesting characters to meet and observe, and even the opportunity to live for a time in the UK.
Eventually Donna returned home a single woman, but she never lost her passion for watching sport, as well as the people in and around it.
Now happily re-married and with three sons, Donna loves coffee mornings with her female friends, sorting through problems from the personal to the international. But she's on even footing with the keenest man when it comes to watching and talking rugby league.
Donna considers herself something of a black sheep in a family of high achievers. Her brother has a doctorate in mathematics and her sister is a well-known Australian sports journalist.
An avid reader, especially of romance, Donna finally found she couldn't stop the characters residing in her imagination from spilling onto paper. Naturally, rugby league is the backdrop to her spicy tales of hunky heroes and spunky heroines overcoming adversity to eventually find true love.
A multiple ARRA awards finalist in 2013 & 2014 for her League of Love series, Donna is spreading her genre wings In 2015 with the launch of her new romantic suspense Haven Security Series and the re-release of her contemporary erotic novella A Fruitful Intimacy.