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Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, Book 2: The Bloodmoon Curse (Paranormal)
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Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series, Book 2: The Bloodmoon Curse (Paranormal)

Score: 5.00 (votes: 3)

Nestled on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin is a small, secluded town called Bloodmoon Cove with volatile weather, suspicious folk...and newly awakened ghosts.

Don't close your eyes...

An unsuspecting nurse is lured to an ancient family mansion said to hold both ghosts and horrifying secrets in order to care for three orphaned children.

Amberlyn Lyons has recently suffered a devastating miscarriage that has torn her marriage apart and shaken her faith. She quietly takes a nanny position at an isolated mansion in Bloodmoon Cove without electricity, telephone, or ease of passage. 

The moment she walks into Bloodmoon Manor, Amberlyn deduces that all things aren't as they seem. The eerily similar owners distrust doctors who, in thirty years, have been unable to cure their severely deformed daughter Katerina. Katerina both idolizes and despises Amberlyn for her beauty. Childishly cruel, Katerina enjoys tormenting the orphans by telling them tales of the malicious ghost that haunts the decaying mansion.  

Amberlyn discounts the paranormal legends as made-up stories until she hears the shuffling of footsteps in the cold, dark halls and feels that she's being watched at every turn.  She knows the ghost is real and she must protect the children.  But when she discovers a graveyard behind the mansion filled with babies who died at birth or shortly thereafter, she realizes the ghost of Bloodmoon Manor is really a family curse and she was brought there to uphold the family legacy of that curse. Either she finds a way to escape with the children...or she becomes the next bloodmoon bride. 

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  • Karen Wiesner
    Jan 4, 2018, 16:37
    2006 Dream Realm Award Finalist
    2006 eCataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award Nominee
    2015 BTS Red Carpet Reader's Choice Award Nominee
    5 star review from Huntress Reviews
    5 star review from Fallen Angel Reviews
    Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read Award
    5 star review from EuroReviews
    5 star review from Sime~Gen
    5 star review from eCataromance
    5 star review from Gotta Write Network
    5 star review from Linda's Reviews
    5 star review from The Romance Reviews
    4 1/2 star review from Once Upon a Romance
    4 1/2 star review from The Romance Studio

    2015 BTS Red Carpet Award nominee and 4 Stars! "THE BLOODMOON CURSE has everything it needs to be a good story. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop because I couldn’t wait to solve the puzzle of what was really going on at Bloodmoon Manor. This really was a good read. There is mystery and suspense that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. A lot of surprises." ~BTSemag
    5 Flags! "THE BLOODMOON CURSE is a horror story that really gives a new meaning to the word horror. Once you start reading this book, it's impossible to put it beside you. You can't stop yourself from finishing it. At Bloodwood Manor, the dead people are as important, in a terrifying way, as the live ones. The living people take care of the dead ones, but the dead ones are very demanding in an atrocious way. I'm really very excited about this book, and especially about the so-unexpected end. In my opinion, Karen Wiesner has written a page turner, and those of you who like horror will agree with me. Believe me, you don't want to miss out on this story. If possible, I would give this book 6 flags!" ~EuroReviews
    5 Stars! "This modern day Gothic thriller grips the audience from the moment that villagers warn Amberlyn not to go to Bloodmoon Manor, where no taken for granted conveniences exists; and the gripping plot never slows down until the expected final confrontation. The contrast between Amberlyn and Katerina adds to the feel of foreboding that grips readers who anticipate bad things happening to the heroine and her three wards. The final twist to this tense tale will stun readers as few suspense thrillers can, as Karen Wiesner provides a frightening paranormal novel starring a woman who risks her life to try to save three small discarded orphans." ~Sime~Gen Reviews
    5 Stars! "Karen Wiesner delivers one of her best stories with THE BLOODMOON CURSE. I was enticed from the first paragraph and didn't want the story to end. This is an author who has a seemingly unlimited imagination for character and plot, and I plan to read everything she writes. THE BLOODMOON CURSE is a fascinating read, worthy of a reread. This is an author I can consistently recommend, and I rate THE BLOODMOON CURSE one of Ms. Wiesner's exciting best." ~eCataromance
    5 Angels and FAR Recommended Read! "THE BLOODMOON CURSE is an intriguing read that sent spine-tingling sensations through this reader. I could feel the helplessness that Amberlyn felt with the loss of her babies, and the way Cain and his mother treated her was very unfair. I wanted to reach through the pages and offer her help. The story was so engaging that I couldn't stop reading. The ambience and mood of the surrounding events, especially at Bloodmoon Manor, was quite exciting. Ms. Wiesner makes the manor, along with the cemetery, so visual that I could almost feel and see the sights and sounds encircling Amberlyn. She allows this reader to sense the emotions and dread that lace the pages. This captivating read kept this reader practically hypnotized with all the actions. Unique and wonderfully written, this is one satisfying tale that this reader highly recommends. The story flows so consistently that the ending was something I never anticipated. Bravo to Ms. Wiesner for one story that I find a recommended read. I absolutely loved the cover, too." ~Fallen Angel Reviews
    5 Stars! "Love, romance, faith, Gothic-style suspense, horror, and mystery at its best. What a story! You have everything in this book by author Karen Wiesner, from deep faith in God, mystery, murder, terror, horror, suspense, romance, and evil. It left me gasping for breath. Good heavens, what an attention-grabbing novel. What an imagination Ms. Wiesner possesses. Author Karen Wiesner has included everything needed to hook readers and hold their attention. It held my attention from the first page. I could not get to the last page fast enough. I read this book straight through, long into the night, as I could not stop. I had to know what was going on in this awful place with these awful, evil people. Get ready to be surprised and appalled. Cain's growth was grand to watch as Ms. Wiesner developed his character. Amberlyn's character growth from depressed and despondent to caring and defending the children was masterly done. Ms. Wiesner also skillfully created the mystery and evil surrounding Bloodmoon Manor and its residents. You will never decipher the mystery until the revelations. Ms. Wiesner had many threads to weave in this tale and she did so very well. Ms. Wiesner created characters that were multifaceted and she skillfully developed each character. Her descriptions of Bloodmoon Cove, Bloodmoon Manor and the inhabitants were so vivid I could see them in my mind's eye and I could feel the evil seething in this place. Ms. Wiesner had several plots in this story and each was an eye-opener and surprising. My mouth fell open as the plots and mysteries were revealed. Ms. Wiesner has the ability to pull you into the storyline. This is a fast paced, well-developed, skillfully crafted novel. I loved it. Well done, Ms. Wiesner, well done!" ~The Romance Reviews
    5 Stars! “Hold onto to your seats! I couldn't stop reading the second book in the Bloodmoon Cove Spirits Series. The story is most fitting for Halloween! I felt sorry for Amberlyn and Cain with the loss of her baby after her accident. They so badly wanted a child, but time after time they were denied. Cain and Amberlyn's faith had been tested with one disappointment after the next. Amberlyn decided to leave Cain and accept a nanny position at Bloodmoon Manor in order to take care of three children. THE BLOODMOON CURSE was a little scary, but I could not stop reading. I can't wait for the next book!” ~Linda's Reviews
    5 Stars! "Multi-published award winning author, Karen Wiesner, writes a suspenseful contemporary mystery with Gothic overtones in THE BLOODMOON CURSE. The fast-punching conclusion will take your breath away, as God's direction vs. the ancient evil found at the blizzard snowbound Manor at Bloodmoon Cove. There is plenty of heart-wrenching pathos in this Gothic-flavored tale of pediatric nurse, Amberlyn Lyons. Her husband, Cain Lyons, hasn't even realized that his wife is missing. He thinks she has gone back to work to salve her grief after losing her pregnancy. Only her good friend, Daniel Reynolds, intuits that she is in trouble. Not having confided her intent to anyone, no one knows where to start looking for her. After answering a desperate advertisement for a nanny, Amberlyn finds herself a virtual prisoner at the lonely, snow-bound, ancestral holdings of Bloodmoon Manor, where she has been hired to care for newly orphaned children. Caught in a blizzard and unable to contact the outer world, Amberlyn is desperate to protect the three children and herself against the diabolical forces haunting Bloodmoon Cove. The entire Bonaiaris family, deformed in body and spirit, live in the past. They worship their ancestors with unusual rituals, and Amber finds herself struggling to defend herself and the three children against the evil that pervades the entire ice-cold four story stronghold. This book will definitely keep you turning pages well past your bedtime." ~Gotta Write Network!
    4 1/2 Hearts! "THE BLOODMOON CURSE is an eerie, suspense-filled tale of murder and insanity by Karen Wiesner. This emotionally stirring suspense will keep the reader anxiously waiting the answers at the end of the book. Be prepared to not put this one down once you start reading. Amberlyn is a woman like many that tried to balance a marriage and career. She marries a man whose parents believe women should stay at home. When she suffers another miscarriage she feels responsible and she feels that her husband holds her at fault. This is heartbreaking as the two each deal with their pain alone and find themselves not sharing their true feelings. The story is fascinating as well as highly suspenseful. Something walks the halls of Bloodmoon Mansion and it is coming for Amberlyn at the time of the full moon. This is what she is told and later comes to believe when she comes to work at the mansion. Even as the reader believes they have it all figured out there is still surprises left to experiences throughout the story. The fear builds as the reader worries about the safety of three small children and a woman that comes to love them. Amberlyn prays for help and struggles to figure out a plan of escape. The anxiety is almost overwhelming when escape seems impossible. Love and God will be called upon to save them from the danger that stalks Amberlyn. The storyline is highly imaginative and the descriptive skills of Karen Wiesner make the scenes come to life for the reader. THE BLOODMOON CURSE is a frightening gothic tale filled with anxiety building suspense and inspirational romance." ~The Romance Studio
    4.5 Stars! "THE BLOODMOON CURSE is a freaky tale. As I read I kept thinking these characters are like out of an X-Files episode. I enjoyed the suspense as it slowly wound through the book building up the tension.Amberlyn, though seemingly a quiet character initially, has a gentle strength and resolve not to be a victim. And, although the character of Katerina is a nasty piece of work, I felt strangely sorry for her towards the end of the book. There is a strong theme of faith and spirituality throughout the book. However, it never comes across as too preachy. It's more that the characters beliefs are strong enough to overcome anything. What I liked about this book is it cannot be categorized in one particular genre. There is something for every reader in THE BLOODMOON CURSE. It's a modern day gothic tale, where the heroine is battling evil and relying on the power of love and faith to get her through. It's an excellent read. After reading this book, all I can say is be careful of any answering any 'nanny' advertisements. You may get more than you bargained for." ~Once Upon A Romance Review
    4 Stars! "One cannot help but become emotionally invested in Wiesner's broken characters. This gripping romantic drama, with paranormal elements, also has a surprising amount of inspirational content. This novel will pull at your heartstrings while scaring you to pieces." ~Romantic Times BOOKreviews
    "Ghosties and ghoulies abound in this book of the paranormal bent. Combining the seemingly difficult genres of gothic romance, inspirational views, and a paranormal twist provide the reader with a different type of book. One that shows that faith in God is always rewarded and that the power of the heart heals all wounds." ~The Long and the Short of It Reviews
    "A story about a spooky old house and its strange inhabitants, THE BLOODMOON CURSE is a frightening tale and more of a horror story than a paranormal romance. The members of the household talk of the dead as though they live among them. Is that why the doors are locked and the windows sealed? Katerina claims that an evil ghost walks the halls. Amber knows she made a mistake when she didn't let anyone know where she was going, and prays that God will come to her aid. A fate worse than death awaits Amber and the children if she is unable to find a way out. It is very scary as she roams through the house and the mausoleum looking for a way to leave the house of horrors. The secondary characters add to the story, particularly Katerina, who delights in the anguish of Amber and the children, but who is obviously miserable herself. Daniel and Cain are good guys who only want to find Amber. If you are in the mood for a well written, frightening story, THE BLOODMOON CURSE is sure to fill the bill." ~Romance Reviews Today
    "THE BLOODMOON CURSE starts by sending the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions. I felt sadness for Amberlyn's loss of a child, fear for the children of the manor. Trying to feel like she had a place after four miscarriages, Amberlyn who feels responsible, runs from her husband who she believes blames her and his parents who she knows do. She finds herself working at Bloodmoon Manor among a frightened maid, the deformed Katerina, orphaned children and a ghost she realizes is a family curse. This story has many Gothic overtones that make you feel like you are watching midnight horror film. I found myself praying with Amberlyn for strength and aid. This frightening, thrill ride was just what I was looking for and the amazing writing skills of Karen Wiesner pull the reader in this suspenseful story and never let go." ~WRDF Reviews
    "Karen Wiesner's romance novel THE BLOODMOON CURSE chills to the bone! THE BLOODMOON CURSE is filled with unfolding mystery from beginning to end! As always, author Karen Wiesner creates fabulous characters to bring her stories to life. THE BLOODMOON CURSE is an edge of the seat read!" ~Rolling Seas Reviews
    "This story kept me riveted and turning the pages... The development of the older children was great; I watched them go from totally terrified of anyone and anything in the house to accepting, trusting, and even loving Amberlyn. I felt for the protagonist... I understood her evil, her family intermarriage mental and physical problems... I would give this book a three and half wings for the plot, supporting characters and the fact that [Wiesner] fit a gothic tale in a contemporary setting very well." ~Classic Romance Revival '

    “THE BLOODMOON CURSE is an emotional rollercoaster, full of anger, despair and fear with the Amberlyn’s love of the children and her husband holding it all together.” ~Manic Readers

  • verasbookreviewsandstuff
    Aug 24, 2017, 03:05
    Love, Romance, Faith, Gothic Style Suspense, Horror, And Mystery At Its Best

    What a story! You have everything in this book by Author Karen Wiesner from deep faith in God, mystery, murder, terror, horror, suspense, and evil. It left me gasping for breath; good heavens, what an attention grabbing novel. What an imagination Ms. Wiesner possesses.


    Cain and Amberlyn Lyons are at a cross roads in their life and marriage. After several miscarriages and loosing a son just before birth, they are floundering in guilt, despair and grief. Cain's faith is shaken. Even though Amberlyn is deeply in love with her husband, her grief and guilt force her to run. Unfortunately, she runs to a position as nanny to three helpless children at Bloodmoon Manor; an isolated place of mystery and evil.

    Come journey with Cain and Amberlyn as she fights for her life and the life of the children at Bloodmoon Manor in this Gothic style mystery romance by author Karen Wiesner.


    Author Karen Wiesner has created a fantastic Gothic style mystery thriller romance. She has included everything needed to hook the reader and hold their attention. It held my attention from the first page; I could not get to the last page fast enough. I read this book straight through, long into the night, as I could not stop; I had to know what was going on in this awful place with these awful evil people. Get ready to be surprised and appalled.

    Characters, Cain and Amberlyn, have deep faith in God and deep love for each other which is tried and tested. Cain growth was grand to watch as Ms. Wiesner developed his character. Amberlyn's character growth from depressed and despondent to caring and defending the children was masterly done by Ms. Wiesner.

    She skillfully created the mystery and evil surrounding Bloodmoon Manor and its residents; you will never decipher the mystery until the revelations. Ms. Wiesner had many threads to weave in this tale and she did so very well.

    Ms. Wiesner created characters that were multifaceted and she skillful developed each character in this novel. Her descriptions of Bloodmoon Cove, Bloodmoon Manor and the inhabitants were so vivid, I could see them in my mind's eye and I could feel the evil seething in this place.

    Ms. Wiesner had several plots in this story and each was an eye-opener and surprising. My mouth fell open as the plots and mysteries were revealed. Ms. Weisner has the ability to pull you into the story-line. Ms. Wiesner talent is obvious as she skillfully developed this novel which will leave you gasping. This is a fast paced, well-developed, skillfully crafted novel.


    I loved this novel. This is a clean, mystery, suspense, romance, thriller with a Gothic touch. It is suitable for anyone that loves an original story-line, that is well structured and developed with fascinating characters, some of which are evil incarnate. Well done, Ms. Wiesner, well done!
  • Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews
    Aug 24, 2017, 03:04

    ***** FIVE STARS! There are so many of us out there that recall those old Gothic Romances with great fondness. Those romances had a bit of the supernatural within them and, in rare cases, not all of them had a perfect ending. But that is what kept me guessing back then. Would there be a perfect and happy ending or would it end with a bit of creepiness? In the not so distant past, Gothic Romances came back but always had a happy ending with all loose ends tied up. Again, so many of us loved them and yet the Gothic Romance would disappear for several years, reappear a bit different, disappear, reappear a bit different, and so on. Well I am thrilled to say that the Gothic Romance seems to be coming back again thanks to Karen Wiesner. (Woo-Hoo!) So I bet you are wondering what the “a bit different” is this time. Karen Wiesner includes a bit of the modern time. The story has the same spine chilling creepiness, but is set in the present time and includes modern troubles. This tale involves a couple who has undergone a recent, personal tragedy which is compounded by Cain’s parents’ ethics. (They care about Cain being hurt by Amberlyn, just as the two ladies before her did.) The pair have not been married long, a couple of years, and Cain is adrift, unable to realize how much his distraught wife needs him.

    Karen Wiesner’s writing style is easy to read and understand. She creates well developed characters and gives each their own personality. I have read many of her books in the past – she has written in various genres – but I believe the Gothic Romances are her best ever. Highly recommended to one and all. *****

Chapter 1

February 13


She was suffocating. Her breath stilled just as her baby's had inside her womb. She'd been so close to holding a child of her own at long last. Now she couldn't seem to find the reason or desire to breathe again.

Samuel. I don't understand how we could have lost you.

Amberlyn Lyons suffocated in her husband Cain's strong, loving arms. Unable to face him, she remained rigid with her back against his chest in the bed where they'd made love, conceived Samuel, played and laughed for the past two years.

She felt like she was dying. Tell me you love me, her battered heart bled without a sound. Tell me your love didn't die with Samuel. With all the miscarriages. Please say you don't blame me for the accident that caused his death, Cain. Not the way your parents do.

She wanted to weep until she felt nothing except numb acceptance. But she couldn't allow herself, her grief, to become Cain's burden. Hadn't that been the very first vow she'd made when he said he loved her, too?

Why do you hold me so tightly? she wanted to ask him in a whisper that wouldn't cause more pain. Why do you come to me if you can't share your heart?

She wasn't sure she could bear to see his wounds again, not like the tears he'd cried in the hospital when he thought she was asleep. She'd never get the sound of his weeping out of her soul. For that reason, she didn't let him see her own grief.

In the week and a half since she'd lost her baby, she'd been more confused than ever, torn between overwhelming emotions that were impossibly contradictory. During that time, she'd close her eyes and forget how to sleep. Avoiding Cain's gaze and staring at him whenever he didn't face her, she'd insist he go to work--she was fine. Only then had she confronted the death of her heart at his eager withdrawal.

They'd married only two weeks after they met and agreed eagerly to start a family right away. Things hadn't worked out as smoothly as they'd expected. She'd lost four babies in two years. Her body seemed unable to sustain a pregnancy for longer than a few weeks. Cain was supportive through their devastation, accepting her doctor's explanation of "these things happen" each time, while his parents whispered the exact opposite behind her back. Amberlyn worked too hard, they said. If she would just quit her job and devote herself to her family, none of the miscarriages would have happened.

After the first one, she had cut back to eight hours a day, five days per week--no more overtime. The last time, when she'd found out she was pregnant again, she'd curtailed those few hours even further, to only three per day. Her duties had been light, without stress. She'd passed her first trimester with a healthy baby inside her womb. Only then had she and Cain become infused with a tiny ray of hope that the pregnancy would stick. Four months went by. Six. Then eight. So close. They'd abandoned a flicker of hope in favor of all-out excitement about holding their first son in less than a month. They'd felt God was finally answering the prayer of their hearts.

Now she wondered. How much of their life had been real in the past two years? Following each disappointment, Cain had pulled back a little more to protect himself from hope. In a way, she knew he couldn't understand why God had taken the children they'd wanted so badly, this last one in so cruel a manner.

Cain's faith had been shaken. He'd withdrawn, too, because his experiences with love had taught him not to give everything. After all, loss could happen in the blink of an eye. Each time they suffered another devastation, he'd nearly killed her with his need to protect himself. But she'd loved him all the more to make up for the bad experiences he'd endured. He might not recover this time, and she no longer had the strength to help him when she didn't even know how to help herself. Every time his sister Janine came over asking to pray with her, pray for her, to listen if she needed to talk, Amberlyn had wanted only to be left alone. She'd told Janine that the last time she'd come, painful as it'd been.

She couldn't be here anymore. In less than two weeks, she'd become a stranger in her husband's arms.

She closed her eyes tightly when Cain moved behind her, putting his head on hers, his rough cheek to her smooth one. She relished the scratch of his well-trimmed beard and moustache against her skin, even while it felt like daggers straight through the heart to be so near him, and yet worlds away. The intoxicating scent of his cologne brought the sharp sting of tears to her eyes.

No, I can't cry! I can't show him how much I need him now. I can't lose everything, Lord. She didn't want to believe she already had lost it all. That she'd failed.

Cain's breathing, timed to hers, came harsh with emotions she couldn't make herself open her eyes and see. If he only played a part, waited for her to recover so he could tell her it was over... I can't stay here and wait around for my own death sentence.

"You okay, baby?" he asked softly. She nodded without opening her eyes. He brushed his familiar fingertips over the hair falling across her cheeks, pushing it back and tenderly tracking the curve of her face. When he urged her to turn and face him, she couldn't resist. He kissed her, and she couldn't shake her desperation to escape the agony. Everything had changed. How could it ever be the same between them?

His mouth swept hers again, and he whispered, "You sure?"

She nodded, squeezing her eyelids together tighter. "I'm okay, Cain." Her voice trembled in the thick, barely-there whisper. She hadn't spoken in more than twenty-four hours, not even in the fervent prayers that usually sustained her.

Propping up on an elbow, he leaned down and kissed her forehead. "I love you," he murmured.

Seconds later, his weight rolled, and she instinctively reached to stop him. She watched him turn back to her instead of leaving the bed, confusion in his breathtaking, navy-blue eyes.

"Cain, do you... do you blame me?" she asked, wiping frantically at the tears blocking her vision. She had to see his expression. "Do you think there was anything I could have done to prevent the accident or the miscarriages?" Her voice sounded rough and shaky to her own ears.

He held himself rigidly, making every effort to hold her tearful gaze, she knew. But then he swung his head away. For an instant, she saw his tears... and the truth he couldn't articulate. He held her responsible for everything, for the death of Samuel, their son.

Oh God, please, it can't be happening.

After endless, agonizing minutes of holding the sob... the scream... in her throat, she watched him rise from their bed. Amberlyn curled into a ball, listening intently while he put his jacket on. For an instant, he hesitated at the door, as if he didn't want to leave her. Abruptly, he walked out. She strained to listen to his departure until she could no longer hear anything. Only then did she allow the grief to rip her soul in two.

* * * *

Dragging herself out of bed, Amberlyn went to the closet. She bypassed the eight-hundred-dollar floral tapestry luggage set and pulled out her old, oversized duffel bag. She would take only what she brought into their marriage or purchased with her own money.

Carefully avoiding the memories she knew would come if she looked closely at anything around her, Amberlyn dressed and packed. Those tasks completed, she faced the jewelry box on her dresser. Her mother-in-law insisted expensive jewelry was the crowning glory of a truly worthy female, especially a Lyons' female. Amberlyn could never be that kind of woman. She was all about comfort in her own skin. In every way, she tried to be who she was, nothing more, nothing less. Cain had told her often that she was the only 'real' woman he'd ever met. He loved that about her.

She couldn't help glancing at her reflection in the mirror--at her easy, straight hairstyle so unlike his mother's expensive coifs; her pale, unmade-up face, too full lips--the top one without the little cupid's-bow a true beauty possessed. Pregnancy's glow had disappeared. Even in her own estimation, her wide, tipped eyes looked hollow and devoid of life.

Amberlyn lifted her left hand and looked at her wedding ring. As Cain had done so many times, she raised the ring to her lips and kissed it. Then she brought her fingertips to her mouth where Cain's had rested not long ago. Knowing she didn't feel comfortable in huge, sparkling rocks, he'd nevertheless spent a small fortune on the intricately carved and inset band of white gold. She fought the memory of the day he'd slipped the wedding ring onto her finger, vowing to love her forever with God's strength should his own fail.

Though she'd never felt completely comfortable in Cain's home because a part of her couldn't accept that she belonged there, in the last week she'd become a stranger to her familiar surroundings. The two-story, look-on-in-reverence-but-don't-touch log cabin was anything but rustic. It was sophistication in the first degree. This past week had forced her to face a truth his parents had been whispering in his ear since she'd met them, a truth she'd never wanted to accept: she didn't fit into Cain Lyons' well-ordered, high-class world. No matter how much the two of them wanted to fight that truth, the horror of the past couple weeks had brought them both to a place where they couldn't hide from the fact that they didn't belong together.

"Who are you to expect to be pampered? Are you royalty? No. You have hands, you work. You have a brain, if you want to use it. You get nothing out of life; you don't deserve anything out of life. You work so you don't become a burden to those around you. If you don't, you fail." The words echoed from her past, when both her mother and grandmother had drilled those concepts into her. Now their view of life testified to Amberlyn's failure.

You've let everyone down. You have to take care of yourself. You can't allow anyone else to do that for you. Not even Cain. Especially not Cain.

God help me.

But deep down she knew she wasn't willing to let Him or anyone else help her.

She removed the ring and pressed it into the jewelry box. After she snapped the lid closed, she made the bed carefully, then grabbed her duffel bag and fled the room.

She got behind the wheel of her decrepit, but usually reliable, Tercel, jammed the key in the ignition...and found she couldn't breathe. In only two, blurred years, she and Cain had lost so much. I'm suffocating here, and I'll suffocate when I leave. Leave Cain...leave the only man I've ever loved. The only man I will ever love...

She gripped the steering wheel and held on in a strangling grip when the crush of loss slammed into her full force.

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