Title: Broken Wide Open
Author: Susan Griscom
Genre: Contemporary Romanic Suspense
Editor: Chelle Olson from Literally Addicted to Detail
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
When your heart is broken, sometimes all you need is a gentle smile.
Grace Davidson didn’t have the smoothest childhood, but now, years later, she’s ready to start her new life with her amazing new husband—until she discovers his infidelity…with her best friend. Hurt and betrayed, Grace takes off alone for the exotic resort where she should be spending her honeymoon, only to realize it’s as lonely as it sounds. Until her hunky next-door neighbor says hello.
Leo was just a man Grace met while enjoying her un-honeymoon. They became friends, but that’s it. Yet even after she returns home, she can’t get him out of her head. Too bad she’ll never see him again.
Starting over in a new town after finding her dream job, Grace suddenly runs in to Leo in the last place she expects. But is he the man she believes him to be? Or is her heart in danger of being broken wide open?
Susan Griscom writes paranormal and contemporary romance. She’s hooked on sexy romances and is a huge fan of superheroes and bad boys confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers, and abilities beyond the norm mixed with steamy romance, of course.
She loves those days when she gets to sit around in her sweat pants, doing nothing but writing emotionally charged stories about love and violence.
She lives in Northern California in wine country and one of her favorite weekend excursions is wine tasting with the love of her life. Together, she and her romantic husband have five great superhero kids and eight mini-superhero grand kids, so far.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/SMGriscom
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2efYV8l
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/SMGriscom
Buy Link: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ksiquU
How many times can a heart be broken?
I wasn’t sure, but my mother, Sofie Davidson—formally Sofie Santini—always said that the death of a spouse was easier than going through a divorce. She ought to know, she’d been through both. Her divorce from my stepfather two years ago had been devastating for my mother. But their divorce didn’t break my heart. Oliver Davidson had raised me as if I were his own daughter from the time I was six, and to my mother’s dismay, Oliver was still in my life, still playing the role of doting father. He’d even walked me down the aisle today when I got married, with my mother flanking my other side.
My biological father, Patrick Santini, died when I was four. Some freak accident that my mother never wanted to talk about. That had been a dark day. My mother had stood at the front door, crying while two policemen politely tipped their hats, saying how sorry they were for her loss. The rest of the conversation remained jumbled in my head. All I remembered understanding at the time was that my daddy wasn’t coming home. My heart broke wide open that day—like a seed. There was no telling what would take root or what would whither after that devastating moment. Something I didn’t fully understand until much later in life.
I squeezed my eyes shut as I thought back to that day, wishing my dad could be here with me now. But in truth, I couldn’t have asked for a better father than Oliver. Everything with my dad was in the past. Today was my future. I took a deep, cleansing breath to embrace the new life I was about to embark on. The ceremony had turned out perfectly. Sprinkles of red rose petals had flanked each side of the white-papered aisle as we approached the archway where Craig had stood with his entourage of best friends. Along with his best man, Joel, there were five groomsmen standing by, which meant I’d had to come up with five bridesmaids in addition to my maid of honor, Lissa. I didn’t really have that many friends. Two would have been my choice: Kristen and Lissa. But Craig had insisted that we have his six good buddies in the wedding. I’d asked a couple of the girls from the restaurant I managed along with Craig’s two younger sisters. It had turned out to be just right. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ceremony. Craig had looked gorgeous in his dark tux with the white rose on his lapel; his light brown hair combed back away from his face instead of hanging down over his forehead like it normally did, partially shielding his beautiful blue eyes. Earlier, those eyes had sparkled with love. Or maybe it was lust. I had to admit, I’d felt a little lusty myself when I saw him standing there as I walked down the aisle. Then, the way he’d grinned during the ceremony…I had to hope he was thinking of what we’d be doing later.
Now, the reception hall exploded with joy: music, food, and laughter. Twenty round tables, each with ten chairs and graced with a white rose bouquet centerpiece, circled the dance floor where Craig and I had just finished all the customary dances. I’d danced with Oliver, while Craig had danced with his mother. Shortly after that, Craig had excused himself, kissed me on the cheek, and took off toward a group of his college buddies. I’d watched him walk away, his cool swagger igniting a heat within my core. He was gorgeous. He was mine. All six feet two inches of taut muscle and smooth flesh. All mine. Lust stirred as I thought about what the evening had in store for us. When he’d reached the guys, he took the shot glass one of them held out for him—something golden in color that I assumed was Jack Daniels.
A fast tune blared from the speakers as the DJ stood behind a large, black console pushing buttons on his equipment. Couples danced, mostly women bopping to the beat with each other as their husbands, boyfriends, or dates stood around drinking beer or cocktails, solving all the problems of the world.
“Grace! Come on. You can’t miss this. It’s your wedding.” Kristen grabbed my arm and tugged me into the line dance that had quickly formed in the middle of the room. Her soft green gown flowed across the floor along with her, and I giggled, trying my best to step to the left then to the right without looking like a dork. Line dancing wasn’t exactly my strong suit. I managed a restaurant and bar. Or I had until last week.
I’d always been the one standing back, watching all the fun from the other side of the bar. Until the night Craig had walked across the room. His eyes had caught mine. He’d smirked then proceeded to ignore me for an hour. I only knew he was ignoring me because I couldn’t stop glancing over at the table where he sat with his back to me while he laughed and joked with his friends. It was almost an hour to the minute before he came up to the bar and asked what time I got off work. I’d been completely taken by surprise. Here was this gorgeous man who could probably have any woman in the place—of which there were at least half a dozen beautiful ladies milling about—and he was asking me what time I finished my shift. At first, I’d taken a step back, unsure he was even speaking to me. To this day, I still wondered what it was about me that had appealed to him that night. I hadn’t exactly dressed with the intention of attracting a man, especially someone like Craig. I’d had very little makeup on, and my hair hadn’t been washed for three days. In fact, I’d had to pull it back into a ponytail just to make it through another day before shampooing again. My hair was waist-long and took forever to dry and style, so I only washed it every third day, sometimes I could let it go for four if it wasn’t sticking to my head yet.
When I didn’t answer Craig right away, he’d asked again. I’d stammered a bit, but then found my voice and told him seven thirty. He then informed me that he’d be waiting for me at the front door because he was taking me to dinner. I’d thought for sure he was kidding, but right at seven thirty, he stood waiting at the door as I approached. I wasn’t in the habit of dating customers, but there was something about Craig that I couldn’t resist.
Kristen grabbed my hand, pulling me out of my reverie. She gave me a, what’s-wrong-with-you look, and I realized I’d been so engrossed in my thoughts of Craig that I’d been standing beside her still as a statue.
“Sorry.” I smiled and began to copy what the other dancers were doing, but as hard as I tried to follow the gal’s steps in front of me, I still messed up. Just as I was beginning to get the turns down, the confusing and exhausting line dance ended. I wrapped my arms around Kristen as we laughed and hugged each other.
“That was nuts,” I proclaimed, holding my hand over my chest, trying desperately to catch my breath.
“It would have been easier if you’d moved your feet more in the beginning, you would have caught on faster.” She laughed. “You must have been daydreaming about Craig. I know I would have been. Grace, you just married the most eligible and richest bachelor in this county. You must be ecstatic!”
Not to mention maybe a little overwhelmed, I thought to myself as I smiled at her. Then I ran my fingertips down the delicate white lace and pearl gown I wore. I’d found it online. At first, my mother had squawked at the idea of purchasing a wedding dress off the internet. She couldn’t imagine not being able to try it on first, and she was a little disappointed that she couldn’t go out shopping for it with me. She’d always told me that was something she’d been looking forward to since the day I was born. And as for not being able to try it on first, I had assured her that no matter what, it could always be altered. When it had arrived, all her doubts fled as soon as I lifted it out of the package. It was the most gorgeous gown we’d ever set eyes on. It was sleeveless with a scalloped bodice that dipped low in the back followed by a line of tiny pearl buttons. The delicate material hugged my rear end, then draped to the floor, fanning out behind me.
“The wedding was beautiful. And you make the most gorgeous bride, Grace. It was obvious Craig was utterly enamored with you today,” Kristen said. “He couldn’t keep his eyes off you during the ceremony.”
I hadn’t been able to tear mine away from him either. This had been a fairy tale wedding day to be sure. Kristen embraced me then bounced her way back onto the dance floor to join a small group of ladies bopping to the tune of AC/DC’s, You Shook Me All Night Long. The giddiness building up inside made me want to shout with glee, and I couldn’t contain the smile on my face as I went in search of my new husband. New as of about three hours ago. I believed it was time to cut the cake.
Glancing around the large ballroom of the Terra d’Oro Winery, elated about referring to Craig as my husband, I didn’t spot him anywhere. I strolled across the wooden dance floor and headed for the door to the outside patio, passing decorated tables cluttered with empty and half-full glasses of champagne, sidestepping guests with a polite, apologetic, I’ll-be-right-back gesture with my finger, in search of the man I’d be sleeping with every night for the rest of my life. The patio was set up much like the inside and was strewn with partially filled glasses of champagne and other mixed cocktails. Oliver hadn’t skimped on the amenities, that was for certain. He hadn’t even made a remark when my mother had announced that there had to be an open bar at her only daughter’s wedding. I never had any doubts about Oliver’s love for me. He’d adopted me as his own shortly after he married my mom. When they’d divorced two years ago, he made it quite clear that he would always be a part of my life. That I was, for all intents and purposes, still his daughter and always would be. So, of course, when it came to funding the wedding, he was all in. It wasn’t necessary since Craig’s family was wealthy and had offered to fund the event, but Oliver wouldn’t hear of it.
At least Craig’s parents were pleased with the way the wedding had turned out. His parents lived on the Tiburon Peninsula, a ritzy neighborhood in the hills across the bay from San Francisco where the average-priced home ranged from one-point-five million to fifteen million dollars—their home being somewhere toward the upper tier of that range.
I searched around the small gatherings of various guests for Craig but didn’t see him anywhere. Where was he?
“Gracie,” Joel, Craig’s best man singsonged my name as he sidled up close to me and draped his arm around my shoulders.
I laughed. “Joel, are you drunk?”
“Nope. But I’m on my way. It’s not every day one of the seven kemosabes gets hitched.” The endearing term used by the seven grown men since the tenth grade—or so I was told—came out a bit slurred but was most definitely understood. “You’ve stolen him away with your beauty and charm. Our little private club will never be the same.”
I laughed again. Joel was a charmer, but I liked him. He always made me feel special and pretty, even during those times when I wore raggedy old jeans and a T-shirt and my hair was dirty. He always complimented me in some way or another. “Trust me, I’ll do my best to make sure Craig always stays close friends with all of you.”
“You’d better, or I’ll just have to steal you away from him. You’re too good for him anyway.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, but…have you seen Craig? I haven’t been able to find him.”
He pursed his lips, making tiny wrinkles appear above his mouth as he peered over me, his eyes narrowing as he searched the area. “He’s not out here. Last time I saw him, he was at the bar with Clancy.”
“Okay, thanks,” I said and slipped away before he had a chance to stop me. I went in search of Clancy, aka Les Clancy, another member of said kemosabes. Clancy was right where I thought he’d be: still standing at the bar where I’d seen him last. But Craig was nowhere in sight. I sighed. I didn’t want to talk to Les, I just wanted my husband.
“Grace!” Kristen caught my arm again. “Come dance.”
“Later. I need to find Craig. Have you seen him?”
She shook her head. “I’m sure he’s around here somewhere. It’s his wedding.” She gave me that silly grin she got whenever she’d been drinking and twirled back onto the dance floor, ignoring me. God, was everyone drunk at this shindig except me? I just hoped Oliver was still okay with having to pay for all the booze that seemed to be slipping way too easily down everyone’s throats. I walked out into the hallway. I might as well take advantage of the time and visit the ladies’ room, which was all the way down at the other end of the corridor. I passed a couple of closed doors on my way and strolled by one left slightly ajar. I stopped as I heard someone moaning. I took a small step back and heard it again. Thinking someone was ill, I pushed the door all the way open and stared at the two bodies entangled in a frenzied heat.