Noelle Fournier has dreamed of being a bride ever since she was born.
After a devastating broken engagement five years ago, she’s now engaged to the dashing Dmitri Orlov and more than ready for her happy ending complete with an antique diamond tiara and Tiffany blue wedding cake.
Her world is suddenly shattered when Dmitri reveals on their wedding day, he’s given his heart and soul to someone Noelle never imagined would hurt her. Chaos ensues.
Here is some of what you need, If any of this is wrong just let me know.
This young woman would be the perfect wife.
Noelle Fournier was lovely, poised, well spoken, and according to her paperwork, he thought she might be single. Dmitri Orlov felt an urge to smile at how easy it would be to capture her.
Instead, he continued the examination. Leaning forward, he easily moved the tip of his finger against her chin, and gently positioned her head closer to the chin rest. Her skin was like silk.
“Can you read the chart from top to bottom?” She read it clearly, loudly, and with a hint of something exotic in the inflection of her voice. Her posture was straight as an arrow.
It was time for him to marry. Why not her?
Noelle had decided to see Dr. Orlov for her eye exam after hearing his radio ads every morning and evening on her drive to and from work. She liked his voice.
Had she known when she walked into his office that he was going to be a late-thirties, sapphire-eyed, stunner of a man, she probably would have dressed differently.
When she caught sight of him in the waiting room, she’d been shocked. With a small gasp, she did a once-over of her outfit and decided she had unknowingly captured sexy without the dash of slutty her younger self might have attempted to add.
Throughout his standard questions about her medical history, he maintained eye contact. She had to wonder if it was just her or if he gave this level of intensity to all his patients.
When he’d darkened the room and rolled a stool immediately in front of her, she noted how good he smelled. If she wasn’t mistaken, he was wearing the barest amount of Tom Ford Noir, her favorite men’s cologne.
Yeah, he was hitting all her personal triggers. She wondered how easy it would be to get his attention.
Please don’t let him be gay. With her losing streak, he was more than likely happily married to the man of his dreams. Worse would be if he was straight but seriously minded the fact that she was a size sixteen.
“Ms. Fournier, are you aware you have a slight astigmatism?” His voice on the radio had been sexy. His voice in person, in a darkened room, mere inches from her was almost more than she could handle.
She cleared her throat, embarrassed. “No. I wasn’t. My eyes started to hurt after my contacts were in for only a couple of hours. I figured I should come in for an eye exam before I couldn’t spend my usual endless hours in front of the computer screen.”
He nodded and stood to turn on the lights. Noelle blinked at the sudden brightness and sat back from the exam equipment. Her posture, always perfect as drilled into her brain by her mother, highlighted her generous cleavage for his viewing pleasure.
The moment his eyes dipped, she noticed and high-fived herself mentally. Most men, no matter their personal “type” could avoid appreciation of her girls.
Raising his gaze, he studied her thoughtfully for a long moment. “There’s no need to worry. You can still wear your contacts.
There’s a specific type designed for patients with astigmatism called toric lenses. You’ll like them. They’re very easy and comfortable to wear.”
He flashed her a brilliant smile that showed her his straight, white teeth. “Other than that and the nearsightedness, which I have as well, your eyes are in excellent health. Overall, you’re just about perfect.”
The last part was murmured under his breath and he turned to finish writing up her exam results.
“Thank you,” Noelle said quietly, momentarily taken aback. Was he attracted to her? She concentrated on aiming every open and available vibration in the universe squarely at Dr. Orlov.
“Miss Fournier or is it Mrs. Fournier?” he asked while still scrawling away, facing away from her.
“It’s miss. As in never married.” Noelle hadn’t intended to sound so eager when she replied.
A small sentence she wasn’t sure how to interpret. Hell, she was probably reading far too much into this. She sat on the edge of the exam chair, praying she would be able to stand gracefully if he asked her the question she hoped he would.
“Miss Fournier. Would you like to go to dinner on Saturday?” He asked the question as if he wanted to borrow a pen.
In a split second, the end of her former engagement flashed through Noelle’s mind. How she hadn’t been able to process the sensory overload of the rejection. How still she’d been as she struggled to remain upright.
She’d gone to his apartment in the middle of the day to drop off custom, sterling cufflinks as a surprise for their wedding day.
She loved giving little gifts to people she cared about.
He hadn’t been expecting her and was talking to someone on the phone.
She only realized he was home when she heard him say, “I will. I’ll tell her tonight.”
He abruptly ended the call as she stepped through the door to his office. He must have felt Noelle’s eyes boring a hole in the back of his head because he slowly turned around. Their eyes locked and somehow she knew he was thinking of a lie to buy himself time.
With crystal clarity, she knew exactly what was happening and what he needed to tell her. The betrayal she knew was coming felt similar to the falling sensation one had while dreaming.
For Noelle there would be no safe awakening to discover it was just a dream.
He shrugged in resignation, threw his hands in the air, and vomited out his oh-so-simple explanation. Every word had the ability to slice through bone.
He was in love with someone else and did not want to marry her anymore.
Just moments before her interruption, he’d discovered his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his child. Not so ex after all. In that instant he realized he was in love with her…not Noelle. He had been in love with her all along. He didn’t want to marry Noelle. He felt pressured by Noelle.
“I didn’t ask you to marry me,” Noelle said through gritted teeth.
“Not in so many words. It’s everything about you.”
It was that sentence said so bluntly and coldly that still stung. As if there was something wrong with her. As if her desire for love and marriage made her abnormal in some way.
He began to recite all the things he found wrong with her – things that suddenly occurred to him once he could no longer hide the fact that he’d been fucking his ex-girlfriend behind her back.
He needed to shed some of that weighty guilt and what better way than to list her many faults? Who could blame him for being a lying, cheating piece of shit when she had so many character flaws?
Noelle was overwhelming with her thoughtful little gestures – who could compete with that? She did things for him without asking like a puppy always eager to please – didn’t she realize how annoying that was? She was hyper-organized – no one human should be so structured and it drove him crazy. She never got tired – what was she, the Energizer bunny?
Noelle listened as he rambled on. Her engagement was over. In less than one minute, this man had dashed her dreams of becoming his wife by getting another woman pregnant – and then had the fucking nerve to blame her.
She picked up the large, tan-striped Jonathan Adler vase from the side table in the living room and hurled it at him.
Then everything went dark.
Noelle woke up in her own bed, in her own apartment, with no idea how much time had passed or how she’d gotten there.
Her mother, her best friend, her stepsister, and her mother’s-boyfriend-of-the-month all stood over her. Each of them had foreheads creased with worry. Their expressions ranged from concern and worry to sheer pity and mild disgust. Then Noelle laughed manically and passed out again.
She had been unceremoniously dumped one month before her dream wedding.
It had been four years, one month, and three days since her ex-fiancé broke her heart into a million pieces. She had pieced her heart back together with gorilla glue and duct tape.
She thought she might be ready to take a chance on another relationship.
“Ms. Fournier? Would you like to go out with me to dinner?” he asked again. She could tell he was wondering at her long hesitation. Probably thinking he’d misread her signals or was trying to think of an excuse to turn him down.
She shook herself from her unwanted trip down bad memory lane. “Yes, I would.” she answered clearly and stood up gracefully.
“What time, Dr. Orlov?” Her smile was confident yet demure.
“It’s Dmitri, please,” he told her.
“I know.” It was her turn to flash her megawatt smile.
“May I pick you up at seven o’clock tomorrow?”
“As delightful as that sounds…I’d rather meet you.” She was eager, not stupid. What if he turned out to be a psychopath or a stalker? “These days, women can’t be too careful.
Dmitri Orlov was handsome. The fabric of his button-down light blue oxford seemed to ripple off his shoulders. His hair was black as coal and his eyes shone like blue flames.
He owned a successful business – he was a doctor – but still…he could have a cage under his bed just waiting for his next sex slave.
Her train of thought meant his next statement caught her completely off-guard.
“I agree completely. To allay suspicion, I prefer to stalk my victims in daylight,” he teased her with a straight face but ruined it with a wink. He took out his cell. “Do you have a food preference or any allergies I should know about?
“Food allergies?” She had to laugh but admitted it was sweet of him to ask. It showed concern and forethought. She could get used to that again.
“No. No food allergies but will there be dessert?”
Here was her first subtle test. If he flinched or even squinted to indicate in the slightest that dessert should be the last of her dinner desires then there would be no dinner, ever. She wasn’t going to deal with that again. She dared him to do anything other than admire her endless curves.
“Oh, there will be dessert, Ms. Fournier.” His dark eyes traveled to her lips and the slight smile at the corner of his mouth gave off an air of male smugness.
She liked his confidence.
Noelle was barely five-four. She always made sure she wore heels and they had to be at least three inches. The higher the heel, the stronger she felt. She didn’t care how they pinched or hurt her feet at the end of the day. She felt taller and that made everything better.
Her curves hit in all the right places and he glanced briefly in admiration at her full breasts. Yes, sexy and available had won. She reached up and brushed a lock of her dark auburn hair behind her left ear. He followed the movement. She was wearing gray pearl stud earrings, luminescent against her pale ivory skin, and her burnt-umber eyes stayed on his.
For just a moment, she wondered if he was thinking about kissing her. He had that look in his eye that waiting until their date might be too long.
Dmitri returned to making the dinner plans and she mentally sighed.
He swiped away at the small screen on his phone. “I know this nice Italian restaurant. The owner greets you personally and they make an Ossobuco that you will never forget.”
“I mainly go for the tiramisu but I’ve never been disappointed in anything I’ve eaten there.” He glanced down at his phone screen. “May I have your phone number so I can text you the address?”
“Of course.” Noelle rattled off her number too loudly in the quiet exam room and wished she could act coy and disinterested.
The thought of going on a real dinner date – with this man – had her positively giddy with excitement.
She hadn’t been with a man in six months. Since she’d snuck out in the middle of the night, it wasn’t exactly something she wanted to shout from the rooftops.
He’d been handsome, charming, fun, and great in bed. He just wasn’t husband material. He wanted to date her but marriage didn’t interest him.
For Noelle, marriage was priority number one. She was thinking about her future. Her mission was to find the right man until death do us part who would be a decent role model for her future children.
Her one-night-stand wasn’t that man.
Dr. Dmitri Orlov might just be the right man.
“Excellent. I’ll see you tomorrow at Lombardi’s.”
“I look forward to it, Dmitri.” He nodded and flashed a dazzling smile that sent her mind spinning off into a thousand possibilities.
She inclined her head and left his office. She could feel his eyes on her ass as she paid the receptionist, slipped her sunglasses over her eyes, and stepped out into the bright afternoon.
Dmitri watched Noelle leave with a sense of anticipation. She would be easy. He would make her fall in love with him and he’d marry her. Finally, he would have the life he needed. He wasn’t getting any younger. He wanted a wife and possibly a family.
He would try to be good to her and she would never know about his damaged past. He would forget all about the other one, the one that tore his soul apart.
(Published on Smashwords)
My latest book is a free story called the Grind (a Smashwords Exclusive). The inspiration for it was taken from one of my novella’s Jilted Again.
The main character’s stepsister in Jilted Again, Jaden Jablonsky was such a funny, take no prisoners character that she gave me irritated looks and snarky comments until I decided to tell her story.
Jaden owns the Green Beanery a cafe in Portland, Oregon. She’s the type of woman that appears very non-expressive. She doesn’t ever fully let you in and you’re often wondering where you stand with her.
I wanted to show you a pivotal point in her life several years ago. The story takes place when Jaden was starting her business. It’s this particular story that sets her on her current path, but also allows you to see behind her emotional iron curtain, and gain a deeper understanding of her motivations.
Jaden knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. I enjoyed the fact that she’s fearless and unafraid to become emotionally involved even when she know’s it’s going to cost her.
I’ve always been a storyteller and an insatiable reader. My primary medium of self-expression was visual arts. I started drawing before I could write and I’ve always sketched and painted.
In my sketches I would create comic book style stories that would span several notebooks. I often entertained my younger brother and sister for hours on end when they were little with demented and slightly off-kilter fairy tales.
I’d been very successful in design as a career field, but there was this part of me dying to get free and share the worlds and characters I created. I pushed it down and tried my best to ignore it.
I think fear of not being good enough held me back. I remember in my creative writing class in 9th grade, I wrote a story I was immensely proud of and the teacher gave me a D+. (Yes, she added the plus to the grade.) She recommended that I stick to art, because I’d never make it as a writer. That planted the seed of doubt and effectively froze my writing career for a very long time.
Then I read several books by Steven Pressfield, “Do the Work,” “The War of Art,” and “Turning Pro,” those books changed my thinking and my life. Also my best friend Shayne McClendon believed in my writing and her insights were inspirational.
It helped me get beyond myself and realize that my readers and future readers needed my unique view of the world and the stories that I write.
I went the indie route and became an indie author because I’ve always believed that you can have success on your own terms. I’ve bootstrapped all of my businesses, had parents that arrived in this country with nothing and were very successful. I knew being an indie was the way I wanted to create my success as an independent author.
I enjoy creating characters. I’m a people watcher by nature and I’ve always been very aware of body language, subtle shifts in perception, and unspoken behavior. One of the best things about being a writer is creating a person so alive on paper you forget you’re reading and start to believe you know this character as a real person.
The emotions and the scenarios you can create to push a character over the brink of insanity or give them a flash of brilliance are pure joy for me to develop. Knowing that the character is a wanderer in the story until I give them their purpose makes it extremely fun.
Every character is different for me. Some pop into my head fully formed, I know who they are the minute I start writing. Others are like onions the layers get revealed as the story progresses. Some are just tough, I know I need this character but I’m not sure what to do with him or her. When I crack the tough ones and find their place in the story everything is magic.
Writing is like baking to me. You need to be precise to produce a cake that rises and tastes delicious. It’s the same with creating a story that grips the reader and doesn’t let go.
They mean everything to me. Without my fans I wouldn’t have a readership and without them it would be pointless. My fans come from all different walks of life and various ages.
I know some authors have aspirations of being the next Hemingway or Koontz. For me it’s different, I want to entertain my fans first and foremost and give them an escape. I love that they value my work and are on this journey with me for the long haul. I write stories that my readers connect to on an emotional level.
When one of my readers e-mails me or messages me on my Wine & Drama Facebook page and tells me of how they’ve identified with one of my characters or one of my stories made them appreciate their value as a person, that touches me deeply. It turns me into a big pile of mush and I’ll go on about it for days. It’s a blessing to be able to make someone laugh, feel better about themselves, change their outlook, or lift their spirits. I love my readers and I thank them for letting me be a part of their lives.
Ohhh…my bag of tricks runs deep and the rabbits keep on multiplying. I’m working on several different projects. That’s just the way I work. I’m finishing up the third book in the Just a Little Series with Shayne McClendon called “Just a Little Extra,” to be released early September.
Of course Jaden and Pierce from “the Grind” have a sequel coming up…there may be a third adventure in store for them.
Then “the Seventh Floor” and “Violet Sky.” An interlaced but standalone trio of novellas, “Ideal,” “Released,” and “Unchained”. Then another set of compilations with Shayne McClendon, “the Hollow Series.” Along with adding my existing books to Smashwords. That’s just for this year.
I love this question because it’s so difficult. There are so many authors I love, but I’ll narrow it down to two different genres. I’ve always been a romantic. I’m not talking sappy bodice rippers, I’m talking about authors with heroes and heroines that kicked ass.
I’ve also always been obsessed with mystery and crime thrillers, if I wasn’t so scary in real life I would have been a spy. However all the running around, dodging bullets, and trying not to get killed messiness, gets in the way of me wanting to get my hair colored at three in the afternoon.
Romance authors: Ancient Greek mythology (technically more crime & drama, than romance, but let’s just leave it here.) Jane Austen, Charlotte & Emily Bronte, Diana Gabaldon (Even though she’s multi-genre, it’s hard to classify her work.), Evelyn Anthony (When I was a pre-teen I would sneak and read all of my mom’s books by her. Then when I hit the big time and had my own library card, I would secretly check out her books in between my research books for school.), & Phillipa Gregory. I was big into historical romances growing up.
Crime & Mystery authors: the King James Patterson, the Queen Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta and I were BFF’s in college, in my head of course.), Lee Child, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Dominick Dunne, & Daniel Silva.
To make a better life for myself and my family. I’m very goal oriented and I have certain milestones for my life that I’ve set. Making my dream happen through consistent action everyday is what motivates me to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, and just do it.
There’s little stuff or major obstacles that threaten to derail my progress on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, I know no one owes me anything. The fact that I’m alive is proof enough that I was meant to live my life to the fullest. I could wish, hope, and feel that I need help or someone is supposed to make my life easier, but that’s really an excuse. I know what I want and I know it’s only up to me to make it happen.
I’m not looking to write the next blockbuster, if that happens great. But what really motivates me is that I can actually make a difference in someone’s life. I can make someone happier than they were before they read one of my books and leave them satisfied. That to me is everything.
Ideas and thoughts are unstoppable, ideas change civilizations and thoughts move mountains. I want to give my reader something to enjoy. There’s enough tragedy in life, I want to bring my reader entertainment, let them escape for a little, and leave them with hope that they can have the life they want.
I’m usually working, I run another business that’s completely separate from my writing and demands a lot of my time. So I work six days a week.
I don’t work on Sunday’s because that’s my day, no exceptions. I need one day to take care of my personal stuff and spend time with my friends and family since I’m a loner by nature. Other than that I’d have twenty people knocking down my door looking for me. I can keep them at bay until Sunday.
I enjoy yoga, drinking wine, sitting on my patio, and watching small children wreck havoc around me. My indulgences are Dr. Who, Sherlock, Luther, and any sci-fi or crime thriller on BBC that I can get on Netflix or DVR. I usually watch my shows on Sunday, since during the week I don’t watch television.
I also love to cook. I’m an excellent cook, I can make anything. That comes from being taught how to chop onions and scale fish at four years old. (No, I’m not kidding. I grew up in a large family that constantly had five to ten family members randomly appearing for dinner. You’d put your kids to work too.)
Yes, it was to torture my younger brother. There are several years between us and I was tired of him following me everywhere. I couldn’t play with my Barbie’s in private because he always insisted on He-Man raiding the dream house.
So, I made up this ridiculous story when I was ten years old about the Cheese Man who lived behind the encyclopedia’s in my parent’s office. He was made of Cheddar cheese and was invisible to the naked eye.
The Cheese Man was originally created to terrify my brother, but the story flopped as a horror. My brother loved it. I mean hardcore loved it, he and the Cheese Man became friends and they would have adventures daily. My brother also insisted that I tell him about the Cheese Man’s life before he became his best friend.
I wrote a story and illustrated it for my brother who was five at the time. Ultimately I was the one who was tortured and my brother made me read him “the Adventures of the Cheese Man,” nightly.
It turns out ten years ago, I came across a book in Barnes & Noble and the title was “the Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales,” it was written in 1992. Since my stories were written in the late ’80’s I’m confident mine are the real deal and that book is an impostor. Besides the Cheese Man we knew, would never allow himself to be called ‘stinky’. *wink*
I’ve always been an artist. Drawing and painting are my first loves. Cover design to me is a fluid process. Since my background is in professional design and marketing, I know the design process inside and out.
The cover to me represents the capture of the intangible feeling behind the book. Once I distill the book into the feeling that I want it to evoke in the reader then I design the cover.
I choose to use abstract images that represent the identity of the book rather than people. I feel that a muscled chest or a frilly pirate blouse doesn’t take you to the emotional place where you can connect the idea of the book with the title. To me the cover needs to merge the written title with the feeling and the mood that book will inspire in the reader.
It has to sell itself. In our hyper-visual world images sell first followed by persuasive words. If you don’t capture the readers imagination it’s hard to capture their readership. I know first hand from the hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with that capturing an idea in the visual form is often the hardest thing to do, because it’s subjective. There’s no right or wrong. You only know it when you see it.
Also a great cover helps me stand out and catches attention. It’s easy to get lost in a crowded space, having a visually stunning cover helps move me forward.
It’s made of mahogany wood and rather small. Most people assume I have a stately desk, since I work from home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I do have two huge monitors on my desk that take up most of the desk space. I like to keep my desk empty, it helps me think clearly. If I see clutter on my desk, I’ll get distracted until it’s cleaned up. Which means I’m cleaning and not working.
I keep a notebook to write down notes mainly for business meetings and planning. My idea file is on my laptop and Evernote. I also keep a lot of pens on my desk in a holder.
In the morning there’s a huge cup of coffee on my desk and during the day a Tervis tumbler filled with ice water and lemons. Sometimes I get fancy and fill the tumbler with sparkling water and cucumbers. If it’s after nine o’clock at night more than likely the water is replaced by red wine.
About the Author
Alexandra Andersen is a romance author, online editor, and founder of Wine & Drama. Alexandra is an avid traveler and spends her time drinking coffee and wine in between writing. It is her firm belief that the universe expands to allow you to realize your inner most dreams and desires.
She believes you can get everything you want and deserve out of life. You deserve love. You deserve happiness. But, most of all you deserve a good life. Be passionate always. Your life is truly what you choose to make it.
She plans on moving one day to a little cottage in the English countryside. Where she can write in peace and finally meet a horseback riding, whisky drinking, foxhunting Darcy-esque Lord to shack up with. For now, she’ll settle for sushi, pedicures, small unruly children, crème brulee, and Malbec wine.