I'm excited to welcome Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy today to The Bookish Snob as part of her Love Tattoo Blog Tour with BLB Book Tours. To celebrate her romance story, Lee Ann has shared a book excerpt :) Enjoy!
Book Excerpt from Love Tattoo
Darkness softens all the rough edges, erases any ugliness, and creates a mood that evokes imagination. Nighttime Memphis delivers magic and so when we boarded that vintage trolley car, I didn’t mind so much that we were elbow to elbow with John Q. Public and his brood because I sensed that our ride would be spectacular.
With the moon swollen to almost full, silver light bathed the city with an enchanted charm. I loved it all but most of all, I adored the views of Old Man River. The Mississippi impresses at any time with such wide water and so much power. That river pulses with energy but except for a few stray glances from one of the bridges in passing, I never saw it under moonlight until that night.
With the Memphis Bridge lit up like Christmas time, that lunar light cloaked the water with luminous radiance. A few clouds scudded across the face of the moon and the stars sparkled looking like gemstones flung out by a careless child, spilled like toys. The bright lights of the city detracted a little from the overall effect but it remained magnificent.
I peered out from the trolley window, my fingers laced through Will’s, with wonder and awe. He caught my admiration and it pleased him.
“You find it beautiful, don’t you, Cara?” he asked in a voice as silken and soft as the night that surrounded us beyond the windows of the trolley car.
Then he quoted Byron, moving me to the very bottom layer of my soul. Although I chose song over literature, once the classic poets rivaled pop stars for my attention. As a teenager, I mooned over Shakespeare, Byron, Marlowe, Milton, Tennyson, and John Donne so his quotation impressed me even as it pleased me.
“Most glorious night!” Will intoned. “Thou wert not sent for slumber.”
“Lord Byron.” I returned and he nodded, his lips curling upward in approval. “Aren’t the stars lovely?”
“Shakespeare called them “blessed candles of the night” in The Merchant of Venice.”
His eyes met mine, so earnest and filled with emotion that I almost cried but instead I started singing that old Cole Porter song, In The Still of The Night. I sang it classic old school fashion like the White Satins, forgetting in those moments that we were not alone on the trolley. I sang it for Will and for the wondrous night that enveloped us.
We gazed at one another as I sang and he looked rapt, my best audience ever. After that last line, he kissed me, his lips searching and seeking until my answer yielded what he sought. Southern summer nights tend to be humid, so warm and thick that you feel like a wool blanket is smothering you but I felt a rush of coolness, sweet and refreshing as we kissed. God knows what we might have done if the other riders on that trolley did not applaud, putting their hands together in praise for my song. I think some clapped because we kissed but that would be embarrassing so I chalked it up to the song.
We got off at the next stop, blocks from where Will parked his car, and walked back to it. He kept one arm wrapped about my shoulders, protective and possessive, and I took pleasure in that.
Our stroll through the night took on a charm that felt like enchantment. Every shadow shifted as we passed almost as if they danced to our heart’s music. Our footsteps rang with almost musical resonance and we moved in tandem. For the first time in my life with a man, I felt like our thoughts, our hearts, and our bodies moved in accord and that felt heady. At his car, that sleek long boat-like beauty, he turned to me.
“Would you like to go eat something, somewhere?”
I did not. Food lacked appeal – my hunger stretched out for something else I wanted far more. To show him that I could quote romantic lines too, I reached deep into my memory and plucked words from the Songs of Solomon, King James Version.
“My beloved spake and said unto me, rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Will Brennan stilled and stared at me, those blue eyes burning like sapphires in the night. He kept silent just long enough that I thought maybe he did not understand what I meant with my quote but when I opened my mouth to speak, he lifted a finger and put it against my lips.
“Do you mean what I think, mo anam cara?” he asked and I nodded.“If you want, I will bring you home with me but it must be what you really want.”
One unexpected late night encounter, one titillating kiss detours Cara Riley from reaching Nashville for a last shot at a singing career and lands her in Memphis. Dark, mysterious truck driver Will Brennan oozes sexuality and Cara finds herself drawn to him. Will quotes Shakespeare and dresses in black. He brings her to a higher level of sensual pleasure than she even imagined could be possible. As their relationship explodes into something real, she learns he has more than a few quirks. He sleeps by day and prowls by night. Their excursions to Beale Street, the Tunica casinos, and downtown Memphis become legendary but her curiosity grows. At his home – a castle – nestled in a wooded area just outside Memphis, she learns just what his sweet love tattoos really mean and must decide if she wants another. Whether or not they find their happy ending is all up to Cara.
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