Tag Archive | romantic novel

Ebook Romance Stories: Dreams by Starlight, Chapter 1


Dreams by Starlight Final 1-17-2014Dreams by Starlight

The Dreams Series, Book 1

by:  Staci Stallings

Chapter 1

Grateful for the minimal shield her wire-rimmed copper and gold glasses afforded, Camille Wright sat in the counselor’s office digging her fingernails into her palms and praying that things could get no worse.

“I have to be honest, Camille,” Gerald Marsh said as he shook his head, streaked with gray and silver. “I am looking at this, and I’m saying to myself, ‘Okay, she’s got the grades, but I want somebody with something other than just academic abilities.” He held up her transcript. “I see nothing here that leads me to believe you would do well with anything other than books.”

Camille let the long, limp strands of her dead-weed, dull hair fall into her face as her shoulders shrank over her chest. “I thought that was a good thing.”

“It is, but so are other things—like speaking and sports and music,” Mr. Marsh said. “I’m just saying if you’d take a class that’s not purely academic, it’d sure help your chances of getting into Princeton.”

She didn’t say anything—she couldn’t. Her stomach was wound around the air in her lungs so tightly that even breathing was asking too much of her system.

Mr. Marsh held the class schedule across the desk so she could see it. “I was thinking you could choose between debate and drama.”

“How about Journalism?” Camille asked, her voice squeaking on the word.

He shook his head. “You’re not hearing me. You need something where you have to get up in front of people.”

“Band,” she said quietly as her finger pushed back her hair and then let if fall back exactly where it had been.

“The marching band has already been on the field working for three weeks, and the symphonic band is your only other option.” His narrowed eyes surveyed her. “But if I’m not mistaken you don’t even play an instrument.”

“I could play the tambourine or something. That can’t be too hard.”

Slowly he looked at the transcript on his desk and then back up at her. “Drama or debate?”

It sounded like a death sentence. She didn’t want to do either. She wanted to take another math class or computers, anything other than the two classes staring at her from that class schedule.

Her gaze finally dropped back to her fingernails. “Drama.”

“Good.” Mr. Marsh wrote the course choice on her schedule. “Now, about your SAT scores.”

*~*~*

“Hey, it’s J.P. and Ariana, back from summer vacation,” Seth Taylor said, ambling up to his locker with his black and gold backpack slung over his shoulder.

“It’s the S man,” Jaylon Patrick Quinn said, raising his hand, which Seth immediately hit in greeting. “Senior year. Can you believe we finally made it?”

“Are you kidding? I was born for senior year.” Seth’s arm stuck out from under his off-white-and-red plaid, button-down shirt as he opened his locker and shoved his belongings into it. “How about you, Ari? You excited about this new adventure?”

Putting a long, slender hand to her mouth, Ariana Vandivere yawned as if she had never been so bored.

Jaylon laughed. He laid one arm across her shoulders and shifted his books to his other hip. “So what do you have first thing?”

“Chemistry,” Seth said as an annoyed smirk crossed his freckled features. “You?”

He hadn’t even been yet, and Jaylon was already tired of it. “English.”

“English?” Seth raised his red-blonde eyebrows. “Yikes.”

Jaylon shrugged. “You have English sometime, too. Don’t you?”

“I wouldn’t know. I haven’t looked that far down my schedule yet.”

Jaylon shook his head, causing his feathery brown locks to fall across his eye. Retrieving his hand from her shoulders, he swooped his hair back as the tall, leggy brunette by his side yawned again.

Seth laughed. “You know, Ari, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you didn’t get enough sleep last night.” He slammed his locker just as the bell sounded above them.

With a kick, Jaylon pushed away from the lockers. “Let the agony begin.”

*~*~*

“Maybe I could go to the nurse’s station and tell them I’m sick,” Camille said, actually feeling more sick than well at the moment.

“For the whole year?” Lexie Everson, Camille’s best friend, asked with a shake of her head. “I don’t think that’ll work.”

Camille’s slender shoulders sank even lower until they almost touched the table. “There has to be some way out of this. I mean, drama? Ugh.”

After a slow survey of her friend, Lexie shook her head and laughed.

Camille narrowed her eyes in frustration at her friend. “What?”

“You act like you’re being sent to the gas chamber.”

“I am,” Camille said pitifully as the table pulled her head all the way down.

“It could be worse.” Lexie’s cocoa-colored hand brought another bite to her mouth, and she ate that bite while Camille’s mind searched through its files trying to find anything that could conceivably be worse. “Marsh could’ve signed you up for debate.”

Camille lifted her head only inches from the table. “Ha. Ha.”

Lexie’s almond eyes gazed back at her friend playfully and then caught on movement by the cafeteria doors. Her shoulders did a slow seductive relaxation at the sight. “Besides any class where you can look at Jaylon Quinn all period is okay in my books.”

Camille glanced over her shoulder at the strong face, framed by the wispy, brown hair that seemed disheveled and perfect at the same time, and she shook her head. Still watching him cross the cafeteria, a flicker of hope slipped through her. “The only good thing is, with Ariana around, I don’t have a prayer of getting anything more than a line or two.”

“True,” Lexie said, and then she looked at her friend and shrugged. “So don’t worry about it. They’ll probably put you on make-up detail or something.”

Her mind said she should be offended by the comment, but Camille’s heart hoped that the universe would be so kind. “From your mouth to God’s ears.”

*~*~*

“Class,” Mrs. Allen called from the stage as students milled about the auditorium. She clapped twice in a vain attempt to get their attention. “Please, come on up and take your seats.”

With an exasperated shake of her head, Camille pushed away from the shadow she was hoping to hide in for the next year. Keeping her gaze on her feet, which were swathed in darkness somewhere beneath her, she walked down the center aisle and slipped into a fourth row seat. The majority of the class sat in the first three rows until it was clear that she and two other similarly be-speckled and reluctant thespians would be the only ones in the fourth row.

“Good.” Mrs. Allen, a forty-ish ex-dancer with cinnamon-colored skin and a voice that seemed to come from her toes, moved like grace personified from the edge of the auditorium to the center. “I’d like to welcome you all to Theatre Production. I’m sure we are going to have a wonderful year together. First, I’d like to go over the ground rules.”

Camille studied the chipped peach paint on her fingernails. No matter how hard she tried, she could never keep polish on them. She forced her attention back to the stage.

“…and no matter what, remember that every person is here to learn. There will be no making fun of anyone. Is that understood?” Mrs. Allen’s gaze swept across her audience.

In front of Camille, heads nodded, and although she was in the back, it felt like every gaze in the auditorium was on her. With her around, the others would have plenty of laugh material. She closed her eyes, slid further down into the seat, and pursed her lips together trying to remember why it was she was here.

“Good. Now, I’d like you all to come up onto the stage,” Mrs. Allen said, pulling them forward with welcoming arms that looked like a willow trees branches blowing in the wind.

Students stood, filed out of the rows, up the steps, and onto the stage. They stood in various spots around the stage shifting their feet and their gazes nervously even though there wasn’t a soul left in the audience.

“Okay, we’re going to start with breathing exercises.” Mrs. Allen pulled her body and shoulders up a full inch.

Camille swallowed and pushed up her glasses. Breathing. That couldn’t be too hard.

*~*~*

An hour later when Camille walked out of the auditorium after stuffing her new drama book into her backpack along with the others, she fought to stay invisible in the middle of a crush of students. The air flowing into her lungs stung.

“So, how was it?” Lexie asked as Camille grabbed most of her books out of her locker.

“Awful.”

“Really? What did you do?” Lexie asked with concern.

Making as much noise as possible, Camille slammed two books back into the locker. “We breathed for a whole hour.”

Lexie raised her jet-black eyebrows. “Yeah, that sounds like real torture.”

“I know how to breathe.” Camille swung her backpack to her shoulder angrily. “I’ve been doing it for 17 years now.”

“So, great, an easy A then.”

“Yeah, real easy,” Camille said just as Lexie grabbed her arm in a death grip. “Hey. That hurts.”

“It’s him.” Lexie’s eyes widened into two full moons as she gazed down the hallway.

Camille looked in the direction Lexie was staring and shook her head. Jaylon Quinn. He was good-looking but really, he wasn’t a god or anything. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?” Lexie asked in surprise.

“Single dipped cones on me. To celebrate making it through our first day of senior year.”

*~*~*

“I’d like everyone to get a partner,” Mrs. Allen said the next afternoon as Camille and the rest of the class stood on stage. Very few were even brave enough to make eye contact. “We’re going to practice mirroring.”

A collective groan went up from the group, and Camille looked around wondering what mirroring was and knowing at the same time it would be far worse than breathing.

“Want to partner?” a nice looking blonde-headed guy, who suddenly stood at her elbow, asked.

Camille pushed at her hair with her finger and shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Okay.” Mrs. Allen walked among her charges. “The object of this exercise is to create a perfect mirror for your partner. Choose which of you will go first, and the other person is to match their partner’s body language and facial expression as perfectly as you can. Basically, you are to be your partner’s mirror. You may begin.”

The blonde-headed guy who was at least six inches taller than Camille glanced at her shyly. “Umm, you want to go first, or should I?”

“I don’t care. You can—if you want,” Camille said, looking around at their fellow-students who were already well into the exercise.

“Okay,” her partner said with a small smile. He struck an innocent pose with his head slightly tilted to the side.

Camille cocked her own head and watched him for his next cue. Slowly he raised his arms in a stretch and then bent to one side, which she followed to perfection. It felt strange to be only inches from someone she didn’t know but even more strange was watching that person without being able to look away. They both came back to the center, and her arms followed his down.

Her entire concentration was focused on him—not as a person but as her own reflection. He put his arms out at his sides and twisted, an action that baffled her for a moment as she started to turn in the same direction he did and then realized that a mirror would turn the other way. Immediately she reversed her course, just as he reversed his. Her body jerked from the fluidity of the previous moment, and the concentration dropped from her grasp.

She squeezed her eyes closed trying to get it back, but when she opened them again, her partner was doing a cross-body toe-touch that she had somehow missed. Quickly she tried to imitate him just as he straightened back up meeting the top of her forehead on the way down.

The crack of her skull sent tiny white pulses spiraling through it. “Oww!” she yelped, backing away from her partner but her heel snagged on the student behind her and before she realized what was happening the hardwood stage floor was rushing toward her. “Ahh!”

In less than a heartbeat she hit the wooden slats with a thud.  For a minute she didn’t know what part of her body hurt worse—her head or her tailbone. In the next breath, however, she realized that every other person on the stage was staring at her.

Like a displeased drill sergeant Mrs. Allen walked up as several students around the stage snickered. “What’s going on over here?”

“I’m sorry,” Camille’s partner said, clutching his own head as he offered Camille a hand up. “I didn’t see her coming down.”

Mrs. Allen regarded them with a look that could’ve cut glass. “You see, class, this is a perfect example of what happens when you break concentration on stage for even a second.” She planted both hands on her hips and shook her head in annoyance. “Learn from this people.”

She walked away from the disaster as Camille scrambled to her feet and resumed her place in front of her partner.  Once there, however, she had to blink twice to get her head to stop spinning.

Her partner leaned in to her. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she whispered back, brushing her jeans off and readjusting her glasses as she willed the heat pulsing through her ears to subside. “It was my fault.”

“Okay,” Mrs. Allen said with a clap of her hands. “I see that mirroring is a little advanced for the second day, so we’re just going to try to do some more breathing exercises. Maybe we’ll try this again next week.”

Oh, good, Camille thought. Something to look forward to.

*~*~*

“Hey.” The blonde-headed guy sprinted up the aisle to Camille’s side as she tried to make a quick exit. “I didn’t catch your name.”

Her spirit surrendered to the mortification. “Why would you want it?”

“That was an accident,” he said, mirroring her steps through the hallway. “Besides, somebody had to break up the monotony.”

“I hear you there,” Camille said still walking but no longer trying to get away from him.

“So?” he asked after they had walked several steps. “I still didn’t catch your name.”

“Camille.” She swung her braid to the other shoulder and put out a falsely positive hand. “Camille Wright.”

He smiled a toothy white smile. “Well, Camille Wright. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Nick. Nick McGee.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Nick,” Camille said, wishing he hadn’t just been witness to her most embarrassing moment ever.

“Well, Cami,” Lexie said, apparently not realizing Camille’s shadow was actually walking with her. “So, how bad was drama today?”

Heat seared over Camille’s ears. “Lexie.” She cleared her throat, and swung her braid in the other direction. “I’d like you to meet Nick McGee.”

Camille watched as Nick stopped in the same breath that Lexie’s face fell in utter shock.

“Hi,” Lexie breathed as Nick took her hand and smiled.

“Hi.” Their gazes locked, and for a full second Camille felt totally invisible.

“Well, I’d better get going,” Nick said, finally dropping Lexie’s hand but not her gaze. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Camille.”

“Sure,” Camille said, knowing neither one of them heard the word.

Nick turned and disappeared into the crowd, but Lexie never moved.

“Oh, man.” Camille turned to her locker in exasperation. “That’s got to be the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me, and for me, that’s saying a lot.” She looked over at Lexie who hadn’t moved. “Lexie, hey!” Frustrated at having no one listening to her plight, Camille waved her hand in front of her friend’s face. “You still in there?”

“Sure,” Lexie said, but Camille knew Lexie hadn’t even heard her own voice.

*~*~*

“They really should have two separate drama classes—at least.” Ariana clicked her tongue in annoyance as they sat in a small booth at Sal’s Place, the local kids’ hangout, Friday night. “I mean really, are they kidding me, putting someone like her in a class with us? Jeez. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.”

“It was that bad?” Seth asked over his cheese fries.

“Worse,” Ariana said, shaking her head.

Jaylon nodded, trying to be more diplomatic about the situation than his girlfriend but not really succeeding. “We started with breathing yesterday. Breathing. That’s like preschool drama, and you should see these kids. They couldn’t breathe right if someone did it for them. Does not bode well for the Spring Production from what I can see.”

“Ugh! If I don’t get into Julliard, my life will be over,” Ariana said like the drama queen Jaylon had so gotten used to appeasing over the past three years.

“Don’t worry, honey.” Jaylon rested his arm over her side of the booth. “We’re going—just like we planned. Even Mrs. Allen can’t mess that up.”

Dreams by Starlight Final 1-17-2014

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The Story: Coming Undone

Coming Undone Final 1-15-2014#1 Religious Fiction, #1 Religion & Inspirational Amazon!

Coming Undone

by:  Staci Stallings

Ben Warren had life all figured out. At 35, he’s successful in his work and free as a bird everywhere else.  He has no desire to be tied down like some of his friends, and he sees no reason to change that.  Then the unthinkable happens and causes him to rethink everything about everything.

Kathryn Walker can’t figure out what she’s doing wrong in the dating department.  The rest of her life makes sense.  She’s compassionate, strong, honest, hard-working and still alone.  She wonders if she is doomed to spend forever single.  Little does she know that fate is taking a major turn in her life.  In fact, she doesn’t even see it happening until it has.  Can she ever get past the fact that Mr. Right didn’t show up in the way she thought he would?

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Behind the Story

Thoughts on Coming Undone

The Story: Lucky


Lucky New 2-2014Lucky

The Harmony Series, Book 2

by:  Staci Stallings

Kalin Lane had his dream in hand. Then, on the cusp of mega-stardom,  Kalin’s world crashed down around him in a hail of stupid choices.  Five years later, Kalin is back, reaching for his dream once again; however, time hasn’t erased his past. Will the lessons of the past be enough to save him from himself this time around?

Danae Scott thought she was headed toward the future every girl wants.  However, in one night that belief is ripped into unrecognizable shreds.  Devastated and confused, Danae is an anguished mess when an angel trips over her.  Does this angel have the answers she didn’t even know she needed?

One man,

One woman,

One night that changes everything.

Lucky is a story of redemption, redemption of spirit, redemption of dreams, and redemption of hope.  The saving love of our Lord and Savior manifests itself in two lives desperately in need of knowing they are good enough just as they are.  Lucky holds out hope to us all no matter how far we’ve fallen or how far off track we’ve gotten.  God is right there.  He has a plan, and He cares. Everything else is only the illusion we call life.

In “Lucky”, romance author Staci Stallings has done it again. Weaving a story of hope for two characters whose past would hold them captive, she reaches past the pages of her novel to touch the lives of those who read the words.

One minute you are deep into this compelling story, the next you are hit with a truth so clear you know God is talking to you. –Mary Foster, ACFW Member

Some books are entertaining. Others challenge our faith and inspire growth. And still others touch our hearts on a deeper level. Then, there are the rare books that do all of the above. Those are the great books. Lucky is a great book.  Kalin and Danae are colorful, real characters. Readers will instantly connect with them and have to keep reminding themselves they are only characters.  –Chandra Lynn Smith, ACFW Member

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The Story: Deep in the Heart

Deep in the Heart Cover Final 1-18-2014

 

#1 Amazon Best Seller:  Religious Fiction Romance, Religion & Inspirational Romance, Literature & Fiction Romance!

Deep in the Heart

by:  Staci Stallings

Just out of college and completely alone in the world, Maggie Montgomery has one shot left to save her life from an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. Clinging to the last shred of fuel and hope, she arrives at the mansion of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayers. Although Maggie is clearly not what Mr. Ayers and his wife have in mind for a nanny, they agree to hire her temporarily until they can find someone more appropriate to fill the position. However, Maggie’s whole world is about to be up-ended by two way-over-scheduled children and one incredibly handsome hired hand. As she struggles to fit into a world she was never made to fit in, Maggie wonders if she can ever learn to become a perfect version of herself so she can keep the job, or is she doomed to always be searching for a life she can never quite grasp?

Keith Ayers despises his life. As the son of Texas billionaire Conrad Ayers and the fiance to a Senator from Texas’ daughter, it looks great on the outside, but inside, he is dying. He would vastly prefer to manage and train his father’s racehorses. However, everyone else thinks that is beneath him. He needs to get into industry and build on his father’s success. Suffocating under the constrictions of his life, he meets Maggie who begins to teach him that wealth and power is not everything in this life. But can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart?

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The Story: The Price of Silence

The Price of Silence Final cover 1-18-2014The Price of Silence

by:  Staci Stallings

Where do you turn when the watching eyes are everywhere?

Where do you go when no place is safe?

Who do you turn to when saying anything could get someone killed?

Who can you trust when “they” could be anyone?

Robyn Lockhart liked her simple but predictable life in the small Iowa town she grew up in. But when her mother moves them to the big city, Robyn has no choice but to brave the tumultuous high school she’s thrust into. Then, with barely a blink and as an outsider looking in, Robyn begins asking questions that no one seems willing to face. Is it possible to stay silent while simultaneously shouting from the rooftops that something is deadly wrong? And if you shout, beyond those watching every move you make, who will even hear?

~*~

“Stallings takes a much darker turn with this novel than in her previous three outings and she does so very well. The sense of desperation and anguish on the part of Robyn is palpable and you definitely find yourself sympathizing with her. Stallings has created a very memorable character here… an Atticus Finch styled hero who refuses to let threats stop her from seeking the truth and justice. It would be interesting to see the author continue using Robyn Lockhart in future novels.”

–Kevin Apgar, Fun With Dead Trees

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Character Interviews — Robyn Lockhart, Hero or Villain?

The Story: Princess


Princess final 1-14-2014Princess

by: Staci Stallings

From the outside looking in, Anthony Russell has it all. As the star basketball player on a winning college team, everybody knows him and loves him. His face is plastered on publicity poster after publicity poster. He’s even gotten offers from the pros to forego his senior year for the glitz and glamor of the Big Show. But Anthony has a secret that’s threatening to swallow his life whole…

Heather Nolan would be the perfect poster-girl for academic overachievers. She’s got straight A’s and every professor in her cheering corner. But the life Heather thought she was studying so hard for is in danger of coming to a neck-snapping halt if she can’t come up with a way to pay the bills. Bitter and angry that the basketball team seems to get the royal treatment while “real students” are forced to scrape by, Heather spitefully takes the only job available-tutoring. However, the lessons she teaches about English and what she learns about basketball soon pale in comparison with what she learns about herself.

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The Story: Reunion

Reunion Cover Final 1-17-2014Reunion

The Dreams Series, Book 2

by: Staci Stallings

Camille Wright and Jaylon Quinn met in high school and fell in love, but their dreams under the stars took them in two different directions.  Now an aerospace engineer, Camille is successful in her career but struggling in life.  Jaylon’s life had taken him where he never expected to be, and now he’s building a life that looks perfect—from the outside.  Both remember the love they shared but understand that love once lost hardly ever comes back around…

From the author who brought you

Dreams by Starlight

comes…

Reunion

Ten years later.  Lives have changed. Dreams have changed.
Or have they?

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The Story: A Light in the Darkness


ALID Cover New 1-10-2014A Light in the Darkness

The Faith Series, Book 3

by:  Staci Stallings

Holly Jacobs can run from her mother’s past no longer.  She is unceremoniously summoned to her mother’s new fiance’s home in Napa Valley.  The place is wonderful, but Holly can’t enjoy it because she knows that just like all the others, it can’t last.  When her mother begins pushing Holly to make permanent plans with a young man Holly has no interest in, Holly takes off, never expecting to find a light in all of her darkness.

The final chapter of the Faith Series begins…

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Romantic Excerpt from “Lucky”

Romance is in the air in this excerpt from the Christian Romance Novel, “Lucky”
by:  Staci Stallings

Danae’s gaze fell. She sat there without saying anything for a long moment, and then she tossed her hair back when she picked her gaze up to meet his. “So does that mean I get free tickets to your concerts?”

Kalin laughed at the 180-degree turn they had somehow made. Skepticism poured through him. “I don’t know. Do you want free tickets?”

There was only teasing in her face when she looked at him. “Yeah. And I’m thinking I’d better get them now because they’re going to be impossible to get in a month.” Letting the rest of the serious conversation go, she spun slightly and leaned back into him as the sun reached for the horizon opposite the river.

“Yeah? You just want to see Ashton Raines,” he said, pushing the possibility of what she could be telling away from him.

“No.” Her finger traced up and down his arm, sending electricity corkscrewing through him. “I’ve heard Phoenix Rising has this hot new singer all the girls are going to be crazy for.”

Throwing his head back, he laughed out loud at that. “And how do you know that?”

She arched her neck and smiled up at him. “Because I’m already crazy for him, and I’ve got really good taste.”

He shook his head slowly as he bent his lips to hers. Crazy was the least of his worries.

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Ebook Romance Stories: Review of “Lucky”


Lucky New 2-2014Review by Tammy

“Lucky” by Staci Stallings

Excellent love story. It is a great reminder that we should never settle for less than we deserve. God has a plan for each of us and it is often better than the one we dreamed for ourselves; it just may not come in the package we always thought it would.

About Lucky:

Kalin Lane had his dream in hand. Then, on the cusp of mega-stardom, Kalin’s world crashed down around him in a hail of stupid choices. Five years later, Kalin is back, reaching for his dream once again; however, time hasn’t erased his past. Will the lessons of the past be enough to save him from himself this time around?

Danae Scott thought she was headed toward the future every girl wants. However, in one night that belief is ripped into unrecognizable shreads. Devastated and confused, Danae is an anguished mess when an angel trips over her. Does this angel have the answers she didn’t even know she needed?

One man,
One woman,
One night that changes everything.

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Read more about “Lucky”