We all fear being alone to a certain extent. Human beings are social creatures - we ache to be heard, to know we mean something to someone, and to have someone special who means the world to us.
This is love. This is what keeps memories alive long after loved ones are gone. It gives us the strength to open our hearts and minds to others. When we enter a new relationship, or rekindle an old one, most of us are afraid of being hurt, but I think we fear ending up alone even more. We are human. We crave love, we yearn for romance, and we reach for that connection time and time again. That's life; and living a full life is always worth the risk.
This is the central theme in my debut novel, Paramour.
Two men: one living, one dead, and both vying for her love.
Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she’s been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.
Caustic and cranky, Frank has one soft spot—Cam. Over the years, their feelings for one another have evolved from grudging friendship to an enduring love that burns white-hot until Frank puts his feelings for Cam on ice.
When she suffers the loss of her beloved father, Cam returns home to say good-bye, and confront her feelings for Frank. She finds an unexpected shoulder to lean on in neighbor, Bradley Mitchum. Cam falls hard and fast for the handsome ad man’s charming smile and passionate nature, but Brad’s easy-going exterior masks a steely backbone tempered by adversity.
Now Cam must choose— Is her heart strong enough to determine which dream could lead to a love that will last a lifetime?
Heedless of her stained jeans, Cam fell face-first onto the narrow single bed. She wrapped her arms around a pillow stuffed into a faded rose-printed cotton sham. Inhaling deeply, she picked up the scent of Cheer detergent and searched for a hint of Love’s Baby Soft that used to linger in the room.
A tinge of something different tickled her nostrils. The heady, familiar aroma made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention. The tantalizing fragrance wasn’t a trace of her father’s traditional splash of Old Spice. She raised her head, and her nostrils twitched as she tried to pick up the thread once more, but it was gone, drifting away like a memory.
Cam groaned her frustration and flipped onto her back to stare at the popcorn ceiling. She cataloged the familiar peaks and valleys while she ran through the list of things she’d need to accomplish in the next few days.
The silence hummed around her. Her stomach growled as if to chastise her for the casserole wasted on the kitchen floor. She rubbed the edge of her thumbnail over the pad of her index finger. When fidgeting didn’t prove effective, Cam pressed her hand over her heart and carefully measured the strength of each beat against her fingertips.
She told herself everything would be okay. Here in her room, she was safe. Her eyelashes fluttered with the herculean effort it took to open them.
Cam reached up and twisted the tiny stem on the cone-shaped reading lamp above her bed. A beam of light swept the length of the bed, bathing the faded comforter in a warm, golden glow. Cam basked in the soothing pool of light, safe in her girlhood room. She studied the rosebud-patterned wallpaper and silently thanked her mother for being too bohemian to collect Madam Alexander dolls. The silence throbbed like an ache. She closed her eyes and wished she could hear her father’s tuneless humming just one more time.
She didn’t stir when the edge of her bed dipped. Instead she held her breath for a moment before opening her eyes. Francis John DeLuca sat perched on the edge of the mattress.
She stared at him, drinking in the little details. She knew the leather bracelet he wore had sixteen rows of studs. The ends of the strip of coarse black hair he wore in a Mohawk curled ever so slightly. A tiny gold hoop in his ear gleamed in the light and a Metallica shirt stretched taut across his shoulders. The sleeves cut into his biceps, but the fabric made no indention in his smooth olive skin.
The scent was back, flooding her senses with the relief of homecoming. She wondered if he knew how many hours she’d spent at the men’s cologne counter sniffing samples, trying to place the fragrance. After twenty years of friendship, endless fights, and one unforgettable kiss, she’d wondered if she finally earned the right to ask questions.
“Are you really here?” she whispered, afraid she’d scare him away.
Their eyes met, and she tumbled into the depths of his dark gaze. Cam knew if she didn’t take the chance this time, she may never have another.
“What cologne do you wear?”
Frank’s eyes narrowed with typical caution. “Polo.”
“Huh. Smells different on you.”
His thick eyebrows rose, and a sardonic smile twitched his lips. “Might be because I’m dead.”
Cam swallowed hard and sat up. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“Welcome home. I’m sorry.”
She shook her head, forcing a small, flirtatious smile. “Did you miss me?”
“Every damn day.”
“Then don’t leave me again.”
Frank raised his hand. His fingers twitched. She could feel heat radiating from his palm. Those warm fingers curved along the contour of her cheek. “I’ll make sure you’re never alone.”
Cam smiled, smoothing her palm over the rough hairs on the back of his hand. “With you around, how could I be?”
She stretched out once again and closed her eyes, certain he’d stay perched on the edge of her bed watching over her as she slept. Cam drifted off, secure in the knowledge that she would never truly be alone in her room.
Thanks for reading!