Lena Diaz presents: THE BODYGUARD
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My newest book, THE BODYGUARD (rated 4 1/2 Stars in RT Magazine), is one of the most difficult books I’ve written so far. This book touches on a very sensitive subject, spousal abuse. I say “touches”, because other than the very first scene, there isn’t any abuse “on page”. That was a deliberate choice on my part because I didn’t want the story to be about the abuse. The story is about the aftermath and how a woman transforms from victim to victor and learns to rely on herself. She learns that she doesn’t need a man to feel whole and she can take care of herself. But once she has become the person she was always meant to be, she is then able to let love into her life and plan a future with the one man who treated her with respect all along – the bodyguard who saved her life.
I’d like to thank my fellow author, Rachel Grant, for giving me some critical information about this delicate subject. Rachel used to work a hotline for victims of abuse. The information she gave me was crucial and really helped me to understand how the heroine in the story would feel and react in various situations. Rachel also provided information on The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which I put in the dedication of the book. That dedication appears below:
This book is dedicated to abused women everywhere. It’s not your fault. It’s NEVER your fault that someone else chooses to hurt you. You deserve a life without fear. Please, don’t wait until it’s too late. For information or help, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org. (The website has a quick escape option in case your abuser monitors your Internet activity). Or call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
This book isn’t a treatise on domestic abuse. That’s just one element in this poignant love-story with action-packed scenes of the hero and heroine running from an unknown killer. But if someone in an abusive relationship picks up this book, I hope they read the dedication, and draw strength from the story…maybe enough strength to make that all important phone call that could possibly save their life.
Below is the back cover copy for THE BODYGUARD. (Print edition available 4/15; Ebook edition available 5/1.)
SHE HAD NO ONE TO FIGHT FOR HER—UNTIL ONE POWERFUL BODYGUARD REFUSED TO LEAVE HER SIDE
Her perfect marriage was a sham and Caroline Ashton had the physical and emotional wounds to prove it. With nothing left to lose, Caroline is ready to walk away—and hires Luke Dawson as her personal bodyguard. But before he can do more than secure her a safe house, Caroline stumbles upon the body of the man she’d fought day and night to escape. Now, as Caroline is confronted with fears beyond anything she ever imagined, Luke is the only man she can trust. Putting her life in someone else’s hands isn’t easy, but Caroline knows survival never is. Besides, Luke’s proven himself to be a worthy protector—one who’ll stop at nothing to see she never suffers again….
And here’s the excerpt from Chapter One:
The monster sat across the breakfast table from Caroline, looking deceptively handsome in a dove-gray, thousand-dollar suit that emphasized his broad shoulders and the bulging muscles in his upper arms. The tanned hand that flicked the page on his electronic tablet was elegant, strong, with perfectly groomed nails.
They should have been talons.
Talons would have warned people who didn’t know Richard Ashton III that those hands were lethal, especially when they were clasped into fists.
He skimmed through the latest stock-market figures, then looked pointedly at the untouched food on Caroline’s plate.
In spite of the worry that had kept her awake most of the night, the worry that had nausea churning in her stomach this morning, she picked up her fork and took a bite of egg the cook had prepared exactly to Richard’s specifications. She dabbed her napkin on the corners of her mouth as he’d taught her, before training her face into the carefully blank expression she’d learned was the safest.
His brows lowered. “You’re getting too thin, Caroline. That displeases me.”
She stilled, her fingers curling against her thigh.
“I…I…I’m sorry, Richard.”
She fought back the fear that so often jumbled her words. “I’ll eat everything on my plate. I promise.” She took another bite of egg.
Tiny lines of disapproval tightened around his eyes.
Her stomach clenched. What had she done? She raced through a mental checklist. Her hair was neat and curled to drape over one shoulder in the style he preferred. She’d painstakingly applied the makeup he’d selected for her, natural looking but polished. She held her napkin in her left hand in her lap, her fork in her right, no elbows on the table. What had she missed?
“Don’t look so alarmed,” he chided her. He cocked his head, his eyes narrowing. “Or have you done something that requires further instruction?”
“No, no, no, I’ve been good. I don’t…n-need another l-lesson.”
“Don’t stutter, Caroline. It’s unbecoming of an Ashton to stutter. Tell me, why aren’t you eating enough?”
Her hands went clammy with sweat and shook so badly she almost dropped her fork. Desperation had her scooping another forkful of eggs into her mouth. As she chewed, she smiled across the table at him, trying to placate him.
He shook his head. “You’re being rude. I asked you a question, and now your mouth is full. You’re making me wait for an answer.”
. She should have answered him first and then taken a bite. She swallowed hard, forcing the lump of eggs down her tight throat without taking the time to chew.
“I’m so sorry,” she rushed to assure him. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I w-wanted you to be proud that I was obeying, that I was eating.” She wiped her moist hands on her pants.
“I’m still waiting for an answer.”
She blinked. What was the question? What it? She couldn’t remember. He’d said something about her being too thin, and then he’d said—
“I asked why you aren’t eating enough.” His voice was clipped, harsh.
“I’m s-sorry. I guess I’m just…tired. Not hungry.”
One of his elegant brows arched. “And why, , are you tired?”
She grasped for an excuse, anything but the truth—that she’d lain awake most of the night, going over her plans, trying to build her courage.
“I…I don’t know. Perhaps I worked too hard in the garden yesterday. I a bit sore.”
The slight reddening of his face had the blood draining from hers, leaving her cold and full of dread. He would take her comment about being sore as an accusation against him, a complaint. Because, as he frequently reminded her, it was always fault when he was forced to teach her a lesson, fault he had to punish her.
“You’ve worked in the garden plenty of times without being sore.” His voice lashed out at her like a whip. “I’m more inclined to believe you’re complaining that you forced me to teach you a lesson yesterday.”
She dropped her gaze, her pulse slamming in her ears. A whimper bubbled up inside her, but she couldn’t let it escape. Crying was undignified. Ashtons did cry.
“Look at me when I’m speaking to you,” he demanded.
“Please,” she whispered, trying to appeal to the man he to be, the man that must surely still be there, somewhere, hidden deep inside, the man she’d loved once, so very long ago. “Please, Richard. It was a…poor choice of words. I’m sorry.”
He plopped his napkin on the table and stood. “Yes, it certainly was, a very poor choice.” He stalked to her chair.
She shrank back, and hated herself for it.
GIVEAWAY! To celebrate the release of THE BODYGUARD, I’m giving away TWO print copies. Leave a comment for a chance to win and then check back on Thursday. Note: If Non-USA address, book will be mailed directly from The Book Depository (unsigned).