Here is my temp inspiration board. Temp, because this book has so many things going on all at the same time . So keep following my posts to find out how the story develops closer to release day November 18.
A love so Lonely is on Pre-order yes, but that doesn’t mean I stop developing and crafting my book until the last minute.
In the distance, a luminous crescent moon hangs bright over rooftops of the town and glistens off the river that snaked through the valley, past the harbor, where the ships dock. From her position upon the hill, she can see right over the tall, wooden walls of the town, count all the steeples that makes up the town’s city center of New Amsterdam with a massive structure made of stone rising up in the middle.
Violet tucks a strand of a rebellious dark curl of hair behind her ear, slowly walking around the tree, taking in the sweet, soft smell of jasmine that grows at the base of the oak. She lays her bag down on top of a big tree root, protecting it from the muddy ground. At her excitement, she begins to hum a tune, the sounds of which originates in Hungary.
Violet twirls in the breeze, her colorful skirts and beads splaying around her before she sits down on the moss-covered bark of enormous roots that come up from the ground to form a labyrinth. A soft rumble over the ocean beyond the city echoes over the sleeping town. She takes a band from her arm and ties her hair as a gust of wind whips it over her face, her bangles chiming dying down as she sits quietly in wait. Then she hears the slight snap of a branch. She manages to get to her feet on time and reaches for her dagger. But a blade is already at her throat.
Her enraged fist comes out, connecting with the attacker’s stomach behind her, and her head snaps back, hitting against her attacker’s nose really hard. She spins around with stars in her eyes and blurry vision, readying herself for a fight and kicks out, blindly
“It’s me,” Ladin shouts, one hand covering his nose, the other impeding her kick.
But as excited as she is to see him, she’s still fueled with enough anger to kick out one more time, connecting with Ladin’s hip, and manages to drive him a few paces away from her.
“My lady, if it were not me?” he explains, wiping at his bloody nose.
With her hand on her hip, she scolds him, “I would have evaded the brute, and you know that.”
“You probably would, you have a great teac—” Ladin stops mid-sentence staring at Violet, taken back by her beauty. She is the same Violet with eyes so blue they shine nearly purple beneath the shimmer of stars. Her dark brown hair longer, thicker, and streaked with gold. Womanhood suites her well, he muses.
When Ladin advances toward her, Violet moves back, the light of the moon casting an ethereal glow onto her dark olive skin. But she seems different to him since they last saw each other nearly eight months ago. Her body fuller, her skin glistening. Her lips lusher, and dare he say her bust even bigger beneath her hooded cloak, the button straining to hold the two sides together.
Still half in battle stance, Violet smiles at him as he gawks at her. “Hey, eyes up here, mister.”
His lips curl into a smile so bright it lights up her heart, “I’m going to regret telling you my full name.” She says with the shake of her head.
When a bolt of lightning zaps through the sky over the ocean, a shiver rakes over her. Violet looks up at the branches of the oak as the moonlight seems to light up the yellow, orange, brown, and red autumn-colored leaves like heavenly fire.
“Ladin.” She stops a hairsbreadth away, savoring each moment as her new life unfolds around her.
He takes her into his arms and looks up into the tree with her. “Do you remember our first meeting?”
“How can I forget such a handsome face? It was beneath this very tree we met, Ladin.”
He bows and kissed her hand. “I want to hear all about it.”
“Very well,” she teases, pretending to be shy, her eyes still gazing up at the heavenly lit tree.
“A boy coming of age, who fought off a rabid bobcat from stealing a young lady’s dinner.”
He pulls a face. “Ladies don’t climb trees.”
Their eyes meet. Violet hushes him with her hand covering his mouth, so she may continue their playful re-enactment. “She had climbed the tree with her daily hunt of squirrel and berries, chased by a fervent, gigantic bobcat up the tree. Young, innocent girl at fourteen years of age, she sat screaming at the cat from the top of a branch when a voice came from the shadowed forest a few paces away.”
“‘You think you are going to scare a wild animal off by throwing twigs and berries at it?’” he added, reanimating the scene and his very words that day.
She swings away from Ladin and keeps with the story, her bangles creating music to their play. “The young girl pulled a strange face at the boy’s sudden interruption, quickly feeling silly about her choice of action against the wild cat ‘If I had a knife…’ she spat back at the stranger.”
Ladin follows her around the tree and listens as Violet spins into him with a serious face to emphasize the drama.
“The words hadn’t left her mouth yet when the shine of the handsome boy’s blade caught her eye the same moment his blade left his hand. She yelled for him to stop.”
Ladin continues, “Startled by the girl’s outrage, he missed his target, the blade stuck in the tree.” He huffed, running his hand over the gash in the tree stump. Ladin smiles, cocks his head to the side as he replays his action of that day. “‘I wasn’t going to kill the animal,’ the dashing, brave, selfless stranger said to the young girl.”
Violet rolls her eyes at his ego.
Ladin bows before her, stretching out his hand “Then the stranger did something that made him even more desirable. ‘You may call me Ladin,’ he had said with a polite bow.”
Violet gives a soft giggle at the memory. “The girl thought the stranger a mad fool with a curtsy and an accent she couldn’t place…”
Ladin pulls a silly face. “And even though her English was so bad, he still found her very interesting, he tells her.” Staring at her back as she playfully walks before him, circling the tree just out of his reach, he says, “The beautiful girl with her wild, cocoa-colored curls and untamed violet eyes sat perched on her haunches on top of the branch, her skirts hiked up her thighs just enough to make the boy’s mind …”
Violet shoots him a look over her shoulder. “Even with her raw catch in her lap, the blood and berries staining and stinking up her dress?” she asks incredulously, interfering with his retelling.
Ladin pulls Violet toward him, her back to his chest as he gently takes her head and places it against his shoulder and undoes the one button holding her cloak. He exposes her neck and takes in the smell of her vanilla scent. With his hand gliding down the nape of her neck and down her shoulders, he adds, “Even then, she smelt of love.” He whispers.
“You are crazy,” she says out loud, feeling the desire roil inside her stomach at his tender touch.
“I missed the way you smell, the way you feel,” he moans into her ear as she lay back into him, her body aching with desire as she presses her curves to his.
“And I you.” She maneuvers her head so that their lips meet. But when she feels his hands on her body, moving down toward her hips, she whirls around and kisses him fully on the lips, leaving enough space between them to drive him crazy.
Her hands pull through his tousled blonde hair laying a kiss on her bottom lip, he gives a small growl.
“You approve,” she speaks as their lips part.
He gives a wicked grin. “You know I do.” His fingers grasping at her corset when he notices she wasn’t wearing one. Then, if it were possible, his grin grows even wider.
“Oh, I see your intentions, young lady, coming here half undressed.” His eyes flash with equal desire as their gazes meet. “What would your Anya say if she knew the youngest of her daughters roam the forest so undone?” He snatches at her as she tries to move away.
“You have been practicing your Hungarian,” she approves with a smirk.
“Now come here…” he says when Violet climbs a big, protruding root and stands fully in the moonlight.
Her hands wipe down the front of her skirts and exposes her new figure. As her hand pulls the fabric tight over her abdomen, Ladin stops dead in his tracks, his arms falling to his sides.
“Violet,” is all he manages upon seeing the bump. He knows the curves of her so well. Had etched each arc, line, and feel of her into his mind before each departure. At night, out in the vast, lonely expanses of the ocean, he remembered and replayed her from memory. His act of remembrance— his savior when the ocean threatened to devour the entire crew. He moves closer, his hand hovering over her belly. “Ours?”
She nods, too ecstatic to be upset that he’d think otherwise. Violet sees his face change as he tries to calculate how far along she is.
“Thirty-nine more days to go,” she answers for him, grabbing both his hands and places them on her belly.
“How?” his eyes remain on her bump.
Her laughter echoes into the forest. “For an educated man, you sure are stupid.”
“And for a Hungarian girl,” he retorts, “You sure know a whole lot of English insults.”
With both his hands, Ladin takes Violet’s face and kisses her on the cheek, then the other, then moves toward her mouth before saying, “Do your parents know?”
She shakes her head. “You know what that would mean for them. If the band finds out about my affair with someone outside…” She swallows at the chilling thought. “The consequences would fall onto my parents. They would suffer the disgrace of being shamed and punished. My father would be tormented with a good daily flogging for the remainder of his life. Mamma stripped of her musical instruments and sent to work in the fields. They would not be able to support my siblings.” She looks away, almost feeling ashamed. “They should not have to suffer for our love.”
“What are we to do?” He turns her face gently to study her gaze.
Violet, in turn, moves out of his grip. With her hands on her hips, she scowls at him. “Make an honest woman out of me.” She stomps her foot for good measure, not caring that the mud splashes up on her skirts.
With a soft smile, he takes her by her hand and leads her to a protruding tree root. “Come sit,”
“I’m not dying Ladin, I am with child, your child.” She lets him lead her to sit anyway.
“We need to think about this, Violet.” He lets her sit on his lap as his hand caresses the small of her back.
She sits cradled there, feeling all excitement drain away, replaced by cold, hard anger. “What is there to think about? I am to have this child.”
“If the captain finds out, Violet, do you know what they would do to you, regardless if you are with child? They will violently violate you to prove to me that you are not mine to have. The names they would call you…” He pales, his already pasty complexion turning almost see-through as his mind transports him to a very dark place. His shoulders slump, his hands leave her body, and he stares up at the moon, his mind drifting away. “I wasn’t ready for this yet.”
Violet suddenly jumps up from his lap. “Oh, I see,” she sneers, her voice barely a whisper as her heart threatens to tear itself apart and swallow her whole.
He stands, grabs her, and crushes his lips to hers. “I love you,” he admits quickly.
She pulls away, almost tasting his fear, and sees the dark determination clouding his amber eyes.
“I will make this right. I will find a way to revoke…”
. “What are you talking about?”
“I thought I had time, Violet.” He paces before her, then stops to stare at her again. “I had it all planned out. I was going to give it another year.” He paces again. “There must be some way to undo…” Although his gaze meet hers, he looks right through her.
“Ladin.” Violet’s voice takes on a serious tone.
Ladin had never been so happy in his life, but the timing is not on his side. His mind a frenzy, he continues pacing when Violet makes her way to intersect his path. “Speak to me.”
He smiles, his hands gliding over her petite shoulders. “I don’t mean to scare you.” Noting the worry in her gaze. “I will never let any harm come your way.” He cups her face between his palms.
She half-smiles, but the hesitation is still there in the brightness of her violet eyes.
, “You are the most beautiful woman in all the lands.”
“You lie,” she blushes. “Have you seen my backside? This baby sure likes cake.”
His hand grabs her bottom with a wide smile. “It’s perfect.”
Her hand cups his. “As is yours.”
Ladin chuckles. “You have been practicing your English.”
“I’m sure the animals know how to speak it by now.”
He lets go of her and grants her the gift of a little peck on her forehead.
“Ladin,” she takes in his fisted hands. “Will you tell me what is going on with you? You are avoiding something of importance.” Her head tilts to the side. “Beside of fact that you cannot handle the news of our child.” Her brow arches in accusation.
“Besides. My love, it’s besides the fact…”
She shoots him a hard glare.
There was no sugar coating it. “I joined The Brotherhood,” he says flatly, knowing not to prolong the issue any longer in fear of Violet’s temper.
Her arms cross over her chest as she narrows her eyes on him. “Why would you do that, Ladin? Even after what you had discovered from them?”
Ladin had not the patience nor the heart to address her bad grammar. His head hangs in shame while he shuffles mud around with one boot. He looks up at her through dark lashes and a tilted chin. “They made an offer I could not refuse.” There is a coldness to his tone, and Violet can see some measure of torment in the angular shapes of his features. The shadows from the night cast darker circles under his eyes, causing the hard constructs of his cheekbones to become more prominent.
“What does this mean for us?” her voice comes out shaky.
“Security, for you, our children,” his eyes on her belly, “for your parents, too.” He grabs her hand. “We could have everything we want.” It sounds to her more like he was repeating someone else’s words rather than his own.
“At what cost, Ladin? I don’t have a year. It comes down to tonight.”