Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Title: Beautifully Wounded
Series: The Beaumont Brothers
Author: Susan Griscom
Editor: Chelle Olson [Literally Addicted to Detail]
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Sometimes the only way to salvation… is to take a leap of faith.
Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming, carefree sort of guy. When the mysterious Lena Benton walks into his bar looking scared and defeated, it’s not something he can ignore. He’s immediately consumed by concern for her and driven by his desire to help. She’s just so beautiful. So wounded.
After being shuffled from one foster home to another growing up, Lena Benton dreamt of finding her prince charming. When the captivating Troy Harington sweeps her off her feet shortly after high school graduation, she’s certain she’s found her happiness. Unfortunately, Troy’s true colors surface shortly after their marriage and things turn ugly. Lena only has one choice. She has to leave him. She has to run…
Lena’s escape has brought her to Jackson, and he clearly wants to be there for her, but can she trust anyone again after what she’s gone through? And will Jackson be able to help her heal without losing his heart?
I was a little hesitant about getting out of the car. Going to the grocery store was one thing, but being out on the street with so many people frightened me a bit. Jackson walked beside me, his hand at the small of my back, coaxing me down the alley toward the music of the marching band. I did not, for a second, relax the entire time his fingers guided me along. The pressure of his touch on my back was exhilarating, a somewhat new emotion, or at least one I hadn’t experienced in a very long time.
We made our way up the sidewalk, weaving our way through the wall-to-wall people facing the street. The crowd was exciting to see. We found a spot by the curb to stand and watch as the band blasted out Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, and the cheers and shouts of all the onlookers rang through the very core of my body. People danced on the sidewalk and in the street behind the band. When the bandleader threw her baton up in the air and caught it without missing a beat, everyone cheered even louder. Behind the band came a fire truck decorated with American flags. Several attractive firefighters hung on the outside, waving their hands, and a Dalmation barked with excitement. It looked like a scene taken right out of a Norman Rockwell picture.
Jackson yelled out to someone in the parade, “Hey, Donkey!” and laughed and splayed his hands out in front of him, palms up in a ‘what the hell?’ type of gesture. Jackson shook his head. I looked up to see Brodie standing across the street just outside of Jackson’s bar. I assumed the donkey reference sparked from the conversation they’d had about me the other day when Jackson told Brodie he was an ass.
A little while later, Jackson yelled out, “Yo, Grail!” and gave the guy on the float a thumbs up. “Lookin’ good, Grail!” he added before leaning his head close to mine. “That is our illustrious new mayor, and a good friend of mine, Tom Grail. He’s only twenty-eight, and used to come into the bar a lot when my uncle owned it. He still comes in, but not as much now. ‘Mayour duties.'” Jackson raised both hands and wiggled his two fingers in the air as he said the words mayoral duties. “The ‘Holy Grail,’ that’s what a lot of people call him nowadays. He has done a lot for this small town. Good things too.”
Jackson got this little gleam in his eye when he spoke about his friend. He never seemed to hide any emotions from me. I liked that. It revealed so much about him, and I admired his candidness.
More shouts and cheers rang out around us as a small float, looking something like a huge turtle, came into view. The town’s mascot, I presumed. The turtle’s head bobbed up and down, swaying from side to side. “Oh my God!” I said as streams of confetti spewed from the turtle’s mouth and fell from the sky around us. Little strands of paper and dots of red, purple, orange and green attached themselves to our hair and clothes.
Jackson scooped me up in his arms, twirling me around and around. I giggled uncontrollably, and when he put me back on the ground, he kissed me.
And time stopped for a few seconds.
I think for both of us.
The kiss ended almost as quickly as it started. He pulled away, dropping his arms to his sides, realizing what he’d done. The music, the shouts and cheers around us became a sound in the distance as we simply stared at each other. It hadn’t been a long kiss, more just a peck really, but a kiss nonetheless.
The rest of the parade seemed to happen in a fog for me as all I could think about after that was Jackson’s kiss and what it had meant. Small as it was, and most likely insignificant to him, I didn’t quite know how to interpret it. I’m sure it was just a fun little kiss to show his excitement about the parade, but then why did he suddenly push me away and stare at me? Maybe I’d been giving it too much importance, but it stirred something in me. Something I wanted to experience again, and maybe a little longer next time. That thought scared me. I couldn’t let myself fall for Jackson. I had to keep running.
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