Title: Beautiful Ties
Author: Alicia Rae
Genre: Contemporary Romace, 18+
Publish Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Self Published
Cover by: Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.
~ Book Synopsis ~
While watching her brothers find their happily ever afters, Abbey dreams of falling in love. Smart, fun, and sexy, Abbey is also independent and works hard alongside her brother, Kyle. When Kyle joins his business ventures with his wife’s cousins, Jason and Damon, Abbey struggles with keeping things professional.
Jason is instantly enamored with Abbey, and he becomes determined to win her over. Although she does not want to mix business with pleasure, he uses his good looks and sweet charm to work his way into her heart. All the while, Abbey begins building a friendship with a neighborhood child, Pearl. Abbey’s heart warms to Pearl, and their friendship quickly blossoms into a loving relationship.
Can Abbey find a way balance her growing feelings for Jason and her need to take care of Pearl? Or will Abbey need to sacrifice one relationship for the sake of the other?
Inspiration behind Beautiful Ties
I couldn’t wait to start writing Abbey and Jason’s love story in Beautiful Ties.
Jason is instantly enamored with Abbey, and he becomes determined to win her over. Although she does not want to mix business with pleasure, he works his way into her heart with his good looks and sweet charm.
Pearl, Abbey’s seven year old neighbor, came to me completely out of the blue. From the first minute she arrived at Abbey’s door to sell Girl Scout goodies, I knew those sweet emerald green eyes of hers were about to make a permanent imprint on both of my character’s hearts.
I hope you all love Pearl as much as I do.
About the Author
Alicia Rae is a Contemporary Romance Author who lives in Dekalb, Illinois, with her husband and three beautiful boys. Alicia has a passion for reading all types of romance, writing to bring a story to life, and photography.
Thank you to my dear sister, Kels, who showed me a few years ago how much I truly missed reading. And to my loving husband, for not throwing away my Nook, and planting the seed of writing into my mind. I am forever grateful. Xo
Readers, words cannot thank you enough for supporting me along this incredible journey. I hope you enjoy my novels as much as I do writing them. I thank each and every one of you.
Believe in yourself and follow your dreams...
I usually write upstairs in my bedroom or outside on our back porch. When I find myself needing a change of scenery, I drive out to an open country road, park on the side, and let my fingers pound away at the keys while hoping the occasional passing car doesn’t think I’m crazy.
Ten things that inspire me…
Top Ten Favorite Books That Inspired Me
Beautiful Ties Excerpt 1
By eleven o’clock, he had taken off his shirt during a break from tearing out the old carpet. My eyes would sneak quick glances at him here and there, wanting to memorize every fine detail of his bare upper physique. With every yank on the Berber, his muscles rippled from his arms all the way up to the wide expansion of his sculptured shoulders. His body was in prime condition. Watching him was way more intriguing than wetting the wallpaper and scraping it off with an oversized razor blade. I vowed to myself right then and there that I would never own a house with wallpaper, no matter how cute of a design it had.
After finishing lunch, Jason tipped his head back to chug his bottled water. My gaze lingered on his exposed stomach, and suddenly, I started counting. He didn’t have a six-pack. He had an eight-pack. I recounted to make sure my eyes hadn’t been playing tricks on me. His body started vibrating when I reached the number seven this time, so I glanced up at him. He was looking at me with a mixture of heat and amusement.
My mouth parted. I was uncertain what to say at being caught gawking at his strikingly attractive body.
“Cat got your tongue?” he teased with a wicked glint in his eyes.
I struggled to find words, racking my brain for a quick denial. At the last second, I noticed the radio behind him. An idea popped in my head, and I pointed toward the music. “Nope. I was just trying to read the display behind you to see what station this is.” I felt guilty for lying, but I could not give him the satisfaction of knowing he had been right.
He actually turned to look at the radio, and then he turned back to me. His mouth lifted with a mischievous grin. “Nice try.” He winked.
I rolled my eyes at his confidence. He was probably one of those men who knew he was hot and flaunted it. I was the innocent moth, and he was the flame. I spontaneously decided to live in the moment and play with fire. My breathing paused while I slowly walked toward him. His eyes watched me curiously as he tried to figure out what I was up to.
Winging it, I kept my voice as even as possible as I said, “Seriously, this station stinks. Can we change it?”
I could tell from the look he was giving me that he knew I was bullshitting.
He humored me anyway. “You don’t like Third Eye Blind?” he questioned with a lively spirit evident in his tone.
“I do,” I drawled, deliberating on my next thought. “But I’m in the mood for something more…upbeat.”
His brows rose as he observed my every move while I continued to stroll over to the radio.
“Upbeat? Is that code for chick music?” he asked.
“No.” I laughed.
Jason moved to stand at my right as my hand changed the station. I stopped on one of my favorite stations. LadyAntebellum’s “Just a Kiss” poured from the speakers. The alluring slow-paced song instantly transpired the air in the room. Of all the songs that could have been playing on this station, it was this one—romantic and about the beginning phase of falling in love.
Tilting his head at me, his gaze bore into mine as we both absorbed the words.
“This is the kind of music you listen to?” he asked in a soft and heartfelt tone.
I saw a certain softness in his eyes that I had never seen before. The way they pulled me in deeper each time made it seem as if time was standing still. The effect intrigued and terrified me at the same time. My chest tightened, taking all of the air from my lungs, and my blood thundered ferociously in my veins. I knew I needed to look away, but I couldn’t. He was so close to me, and I felt hypnotized by him. The strong attraction brewing between us was becoming harder and harder to deny. Every minute I spent with him made me feel a little more and fall a little deeper, and I was beginning to forget all the reasons why I was supposed to stay away.
Jason wordlessly outstretched his right arm, hooking it around my lower back, and he tugged me closer while never breaking eye contact. His hard body pressed along my softer one. The sensations of his hands on me caused a warm spark to ignite within me. My breathing accelerated—or maybe it was his. I was not sure whose it was because all my concentration was on those sky-blue eyes burning into me. I lifted my hands to his chest for balance. I splayed my fingers outward to feel his toned curves, and I felt his heartbeat increasing beneath my palms.
The familiar energy between us blossomed to new heights.
“How long are we going to ignore this between us?” he finally questioned in a low, husky tone, dropping his gaze down to linger on my mouth. Then, he glanced back up at me. “Because I don’t believe your reasons for staying away,” he added.
Beautiful Ties Excerpt 2
Suddenly, I felt a warm breath right next to my ear, and I inhaled a familiar husky cologne, the same scent I had smelled for the first time only hours ago.
“If I catch that garter, Abbey, I get to dance with you for a whole three minutes, and you won’t be able to run off,” Jason whispered seductively in my ear.
I kept my gaze on the couple in front of me. There was no way I could fall for his sweet charms since we would be working together soon. However, I couldn’t resist a good challenge. I was competitive in every sense of the word, and I also couldn’tignore the effect he had on me.
I tilted my head to look up into his eyes, ignoring the way they made me feel inside. “Then, I hope you miss,” I replied, stifling my smile.
He let out a throaty laugh, causing delicious goose bumps to break out across my skin.
“Oh, Abbey, one thing about me you’ll learn quickly is that I never back down from a challenge, and I never miss a good catch,” he responded confidently.
Before I could figure out what he’d meant or voice my retort, the crowd roared with clapping and laughter. I brought my attention back to Kyle, who was holding a small football in his hand. My jaw dropped. Surely, he had not pulled that out of Lily’s dress, but the look in his eyes told me differently. I had to chuckle at Lily’s creativeness. Kyle ducked his head again and went back under Lily’s dress for round two.
As I wondered if a garter was even under there, Jason bent forward and spoke lowly in my ear, “A football?” He grinned. “The odds are definitely in my favor now.”
I bit my lip, praying an all-star college quarterback wasn’t behind me. Out of all the single men here tonight, I had to have a good chance that someone else, anyone else besides Jason,could catch that damn football. I was not sure if I could survive having his hands on me for three minutes without wanting to taste his lips.
Kyle reappeared from under Lily’s fluffy white dress, and he sat back on his haunches with a lacy garter between his teeth. Kyle’s eyes beamed brightly as he let the white material fall from his mouth only to gracefully catch it with his free hand. He leaned forward to place a smacking kiss on his bride’s mouth. Then, he rose to his feet and snapped the garter in place around the football.
“Who wants this bad boy?” Kyle grinned, raising the football in his hand.
I shook my head in pure awe as every single man practically ran to the dance floor.
“Game time,” Jason whispered before strolling over to join the other men. He stood right in the center of the dance floor, and then he tilted his head at me, releasing one wicked grin, before redirecting his gaze back at Kyle.
Brooke came to stand at my side. “Holy crap,” she breathed in wonder, shaking her head. “Have you ever seen so many men jump in line to catch a garter?”
I laughed. “Nope. But I’m pretty sure they just want that football.”
“That sounds about right.” Brooke chortled.
The DJ counted to three. All the single men seemed to brace themselves in anticipation, and I surprisingly found myself doing the same. Kyle faced away from the men. He raised the football and whipped it backward. I held my breath as it went flying. Jason was the only one I was watching. He moved with lightning speed and jumped up as he lifted his hands in the air.
And he caught the ball.
My mouth dropped open in shock. What are the odds?
“Well, hot damn! Looks like he is quite the catch!” Brooke joked. “And he’s extremely determined to dance with you, Abbey,” she added teasingly, nudging my shoulder.
Still speechless, I continued to gawk at Jason. His eyes found mine just then. They were shining with a mixture of triumph and mischief. The look made my heart pound frantically in my chest, and my insides warmed, weakening my knees. If he could melt me into a puddle with just one look, I had no idea how I was going endure the feel of his strong hands wrapped around me for an entire song.
Lily appeared at my opposite side, squealing with delight. “Holy shit! Jason caught it!” she cried.
I turned my wide eyes to her.
“Don’t give me that look! I’ve seen the way you two have been eyeing each other all night,” she purred, pointing her finger at me.
Before I could voice my weak protest, Lily’s twinkling eyes turned back to the dance floor. The DJ announced that the two winners would dance to “19 You + Me” by Dan and Shay, and Lily squealed with excitement. From the corner of my eye, I could see Jason approaching us.
Lily spoke first, “Did you come to steal my new sister-in-law away from me?”
My gaze shifted to Jason.
“I did,” Jason replied throatily with a mischievous grin. Meeting my stare, he outstretched his hand to me, sending my nerves into a frenzy all over again. “Abbey, I believe you owe me this dance.”
Lily’s eyes bounced between the two of us. As I hesitantly lifted my hand, Lily took a backward step, stretching her arm out behind my back, and she pushed me forward into Jason’s arms. A smile tugged at his lips as he placed one hand at my waist, steadying me. He lowered his eyes to my hand as he reached forward to enclose his much larger hand over my slight one. His touch was warm and strong and confident.
Jason was silent as if absorbing the feel of me, of our first contact since the ceremony earlier today.
Our attraction was palpable and undeniable, like a fierce electrical current brewing among us. I had only known this man for a few mere hours, yet I was already worried about my heart surviving the intensity of his touch for the next three minutes.
Jason slightly lowered his head toward mine. The movement was slow and graceful. His expression was thoughtful as if he, too, was processing what was happening between us. He finally broke the silence. “Ready?” he asked gently.
I was unable to say anything, afraid my voice would squeak, so I answered with a nod.
This day sure had taken so many intriguing yet unexpected turns. My mind was reeling, and I had butterflies in my stomach. In that instant, I decided to hand over the cards to fate, opening myself to whatever it might bring, as I embraced this moment.
Our chosen song began to pour from the speakers. Without another word, he led me to the center of the dance floor, and everyone gathered around the edge. They observed with drinks in their hands as they talked among themselves.
Jason twirled me under his arm once, and I could not help but smile up at him. Even as I wore heels, he towered over me. Then, he pulled me close against his chest and wrapped his arms around my waist. I rested my hands on his firm chest, feeling the toned muscles beneath my palms and fingertips. I tried to keep my movements subtle, but my hands wanted to feel more of him. He let out a deep breath while keeping his eyes on me. He continued to move us in tune to the music, never faltering his stride. The slight caress of his hands on the small of my back was nearly my undoing. My skin warmed under his touch. I was unable to stop the urge, and I slid my palms up each curved muscle until I reached his shoulders.
Even with my smaller frame, I seemed to fit against him perfectly. The thought was soothing and nerve-racking all at the same time.
The tangible energy intensified between us with every step. The room around us was quiet, and I had to remind myself that our family and friends were watching us.
“You look stunning in this dress, Abbey,” Jason said in a soft tone while his thumb stroked back and forth against the silkiness of my black bridesmaid gown.
“Thank you. Lily let us each pick out our own,” I answered.
My gaze caught Lily while she was watching us, and I could practically see her eyes shining brighter than the sun.
I glanced back at Jason, smiling softly. “She really is great. I’m so happy she came into my brother’s life.”
“She is. Lily is one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met,” he agreed affectionately. Then, he led me into another spin and brought me close. “But I must say, I’m glad to finally meet you after hearing so much about you,” he said with a sexy-as-all-get-out smile.
I blinked in surprise, wondering how much he had heard about me, so I took the bait. “And what have you heard?”
Jason lowered his head, and when he chuckled, I could feel his warm breath on my exposed throat.
“That you’re beautiful and smart”—he led me backward, never relinquishing the lead—“a hard worker”—he pivoted us to the left while keeping his hold on my waist and eyes on mine before dipping me as the song came to an end—“and stubborn.” He gave me an impish grin.
“Very stubborn,” I breathed, nearly speechless.
I swung the door open, and my eyes went wide at seeing Pearl standing on the other side with a backpack clutched to her chest. Her eyes peeked up at me, and at first, they were filled with sadness, then relief, and finally happiness as she seemed to slip her mask into place. Pearl had never been here this early in the morning.
As I noticed her holding her bag so close, I became overwhelmed with concern, and I lowered down to her. “Pearl, sweetie, are you okay?”
She nodded rapidly. Her eyes moistened with tears, but as fast as they had appeared, she blinked them away.
“Yep,” Pearl said in a wavering tone, shifting nervously on her feet. “Um…” she murmured. Her expression turned hopeful. “Do you mind if I hang out with you today?”
“Of course you can,” I answered without hesitation, regarding her.
She was once again dressed in worn clothes that were way too small for her body. Her eyes were slightly puffy as if she had been crying, and her hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in days. Her appearance cut me deep. My gut told me something was wrong, really wrong, and I needed to get to the bottom of it, but I knew I needed to tread lightly.
When she didn’t respond, I motioned her inside. “Come on in, sweetie. I’m just about to start breakfast. Do you like pancakes?” I asked, shutting the door behind us.
We walked into the kitchen, and her eyes lit up. “I lovepancakes!”
“Okay.” I smiled, wishing I had awesome cooking skills right about now. The pancake mix I had was the kind that only required water to be mixed in, so that would have to make do for today.
I pointed to the stool in front of the kitchen counter. “Why don’t you hop on up there, and you can watch me?”
Jason emerged from around the corner. He was dressed in his clothes from yesterday. His eyes were perplexed, and then they filled with understanding as he glanced back and forth between Pearl and me.
“Good morning,” he politely greeted the two of us.
“Hi!” Pearl said in delight. Then, she frowned. “Um…what’s your name again?”
“Jason,” he said, extending his hand out to her.
Pearl looked down and then back at him again, outstretching her hand to shake his. “Hi, Jason,” she said in a shy voice. “What are you doing here so early?”
Jason nervously met my stare, and then he saw the pancake box and mixing bowl. He returned his attention to Pearl. “I’m going to have pancakes,” he replied smoothly, but I could see that he was stifling his humor.
“Me, too!” Pearl exclaimed with excitement.
Laughing, I pulled out a pan and set it on the burner. Then, I prepared the batter in a bowl, sliced a banana, and peeled a few oranges.
“Would you like some help?” Jason offered.
“No, that’s okay. I’ve got it.” I smiled at him. “You go ahead and have a seat.”
He sat on the stool next to Pearl, and she immediately started firing off questions.
“Do you have a dog?” she asked him.
“No, but I want one,” he answered kindly.
I poured the pancake mix onto the hot pan, and then I started to pull plates, glasses, and silverware out of the cabinets. I peeked glances at the two of them conversing as I set each item on the kitchen counter. It was so cute to watch him interact with her. He had such a soft side.
“What kind?” she asked.
Jason leaned on his elbow, dropping his chin to rest on his palm. He seemed to enjoy talking with her. “Hmm…maybe a Siberian husky or a Great Dane,” he responded.
Pearl’s eyes widened. “Great Danes are huge!” she nearly shouted.
I flipped the pancakes with a spatula.
Then, Jason asked a question. “Do you have a dog?”
She frowned. “No, Diane won’t let me have one. She said they’re expensive and too much work. But when I grow up, I’m going to have three dogs.” She sighed dreamily.
“Three?” Jason chuckled.
“Yep,” Pearl answered. Then, she rested her head on her hand, mimicking Jason. “Maybe four.”
“I hope you have a big yard.” He laughed softly again.
“So, did you have a sleepover last night?” she asked.
Her question caught me off guard. Spatula in hand, I whipped around to face the two of them.
“Uh…” Jason mumbled, stalling for a response.