Author: Melissa Brown
Publisher by: Independent
Published on: July 21, 2014
Page Count: 286
Lipstick. Bright, red lipstick. Nothing but lipstick.
Even though it’s against our faith to wear a color that screams of sexual promiscuity and deviant behavior, I’m not allowed to protest.
But, I want to.
You see, there’s more to me than the braid that spills down my back.
More to me than the layers of heavy fabric that maintain my modesty.
And so much more than the oppressive wedding band that adorns my finger--the same band that each of my sister wives wear.
So much more.
To protest would be sinful.
I must keep sweet, that is my duty.
So I’ll wear the lipstick. I’ll do as I’m told.
And I’ll do my best to silence the resistance within me, to push him from my mind.
If only my heart would do the same.
Excerpt #1: (Brin and Porter against the wall)
“Wait.” Porter hopped up from the couch and ran in front of me, closing the door. He turned, forcing me against the wall of the hallway. Then he placed his hands on the wall on either side of me, and stood much too close to me.
My heart thumped inside my chest and sweat formed on the back of my neck. He was trapping me. How could I have been so stupid? Why did I come here? What did I expect to happen?
Porter tilted his head, narrowing his eyes as he asked, “Why are you really here?”
“I-I already t-told you.” I clenched my eyes tightly, scolding myself for stumbling on my words.
“No, that’s not why. Tell me the truth.” He leaned in closer, whispering into my ear, “It’s okay, you can say it.”
Slowly, he inched closer. I felt like his prey as he backed me into the wall, one arm above each of my shoulders. With my back pressed against the wall and his breath on the sensitive skin of my neck, my anxiety ramped up and the area between my legs began to throb.
“Say what?” I whispered, finally allowing my gaze to meet his. His eyes had darkened, become intense, and focused on me as if everything else in the world had ceased to exist. No one had ever looked at me like that.
He sees me.
Really sees me.
What on earth have I gotten myself into?
“You’ve been thinking about me, haven’t you?” he asked, his voice low. He lifted one hand from the wall and tucked a stray piece of hair behind my ear.
I shook my head.
“You’re lying,” he insisted. “I know it.”
Again, I shook my head from side to side, closing my eyes tightly, resisting the urge to place my lips on his, just like I had in my dreams.
“I’ve been thinking about you,” he said softly. “I don’t want to, but I can’t stop. Ever since you came here that day, I can’t get you out of my fucking head.”
I flinched. That awful word made my shoulders tense. But my heart fluttered at the idea of Porter thinking of me, wanting me, dreaming of me like I dreamed of him. I said nothing, but met his stare with my own.
“Tell me something,” he whispered when I didn’t respond to his confession. “Do you love him?”
Again, this wholly inappropriate question. Only this time, I wanted to answer. I wanted to scream it through the apartment. I wanted him to know that Lehi Cluff could never own my heart.
When I didn’t answer, he moved in closer, so close I could feel the thumping of his heart against mine. I shook my head in answer to his question, and he sighed.
“I see.” He nuzzled the hot skin of my neck with his nose, before he pulled back to look into my eyes. “Tell me something else.”
I glanced away quickly, afraid to look back into his icy eyes.
“Does he make you come?”
I wanted to pretend that I knew what he meant. But I didn’t. I had no idea. I glanced up, searching his eyes for an explanation.
“C-come where?” I asked finally.
He chuckled again under his breath. “Come,” he said again as he ran his finger down the side of my neck, then skimmed it along the neckline of my dress.
“It’s not a place, it’s a feeling,” he explained. “A feeling so intense you come apart.”
Porter continued to drag his fingers gently across the delicate skin at the base of my neck. I held my breath, but the rise and fall of my chest didn’t stop.
“It’s what happens when a man knows how to touch a woman the right way. Make her feel things no one else can. Make her respond with the lightest touch, in just the right place.”
His face was inches from mine. I could taste his breath. Feel the heat.
“Oh.” I swallowed hard. My throat was dry, my breath harsh. He was talking about orgasms. Rebecca had explained them to me, about losing herself in Burt. I’d never lost myself, but something told me I could easily lose myself in Porter. Part of me was already lost in him, in his smoky voice, in the heat of his breath on my ear, in the tip of his finger against the fabric of my dress.
“I’d make you come . . . so hard.” His voice was rough as his finger continued to dip down beneath the cotton.
The pulsing in my private area increased, so much that I had to press my thighs together to numb the sensation. He glanced down at my crossed feet and smiled.
“Come on, Brin. Admit it,” he insisted softly. “You think about me, just as I think about you. I know you do.”
Involuntarily, as if somehow detached from the reasonable side of my brain, my head nodded up and down. Slowly. So slowly.
“Brinley, wake up.” The raspy voice interrupted my dreams as fingers poked at my ribs. My sister wife Aspen stood above my bed, urging me to wake. My eyes were heavy and refused to cooperate, and the nudging grew more persistent. “You must wake up!”
“What is it?” I grumbled sleepily.
Aspen pulled me to a seated position, and pulled off the covers. “It’s happened. They’re here.”
I glanced at the clock. It was four a.m. . . . way too early for cryptic statements that needed translation.
“What are you talking about?” I yawned, wiping the sleep from my bleary eyes.
“Rebecca’s been reassigned.”
That word . . . reassigned . . . it woke me up. Completely. My stomach felt heavy, a brick of apprehension weighing it down.
“To Lehi? To us?” I asked, swallowing hard. An eighth wife, one with four children. Not only would I be the only childless wife of Lehi Cluff, but now I would no longer be the last one to enter the family. My lies would catch up to me. Rebecca’s reassignment would see to that.
“Yes. The prophet had a revelation.”
“And Elder Jameson?” I asked, my fingers trembling as I held them against my lips. I knew what had happened. Burt Jameson had lost one of his wives and four of his children. They would no longer call him Father. They would no longer give him hugs and kisses. Those tokens of affection would be transferred to Lehi, a man who didn’t even know their names. He was their new father and there was nothing they could do about it.
Aspen shrugged, her eyes cold and dismissive. “I guess he’ll learn, won’t he?”
Message From Melissa Brown
Why I wrote this story…
Quite a few people have asked me why I decided to write this story— why I chose this subject matter instead of writing another light romance like the “Love of my Life” series. For some, this book seems out of character for a “Melissa Brown book.” The best answer I can give is that I just had to. I’ve been fascinated by this lifestyle for years, unable to wrap my brain around how a woman could share her husband.
The idea for Brinley’s story came to me over a year ago, and it stuck with me. I kept seeing the characters in my head and I knew that eventually I had to tell her story. Whenever I shared my idea with friends, they were intrigued. I think we’re all drawn to taboo subjects such as polygamy. We’re curious about those who live their lives so differently than we live our own. I’ve read several autobiographies from those who have left polygamous compounds, and have been fascinated. For everything I learned, I wanted to learn more. So, I watched documentaries, read more, devoured all of the information that I could. If I was going to tackle this topic, I knew that I had to be accurate.
For my readers who have enjoyed my contemporary romance novels, I hope you will give this one a try, as well. It’s different—that’s true. It’s a little darker, it pushes boundaries in a way that my other books have not. But, as a writer, this excites me. I want to continue to push myself as my career continues. I am not finished with light romance, but I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself in this way. And for that reason, this book has become my very favorite of anything I’ve written. And I promise, within the darkness there is still hope in this story. I can’t completely abandon my inner optimist.
Thank you for reading!