“… Zalesky did not disappoint. [In Darkness], while not having as much racing elements, is just as intense. As more secrets are revealed, more troubles arise for Loren and Graham, and their relationship is put to the test.” – Amazon Reviewer
“Wow! Didn’t expect this book to be even better than the first. It carries on the story of Loren (with less cycling involved) trying to live with her past and present demons threatening to be the undoing of her whole being – really good recommended read. Can’t wait to read the third!!” – Goodreads Reviewer
“[In Darkness is] packed with drama, romance and is just as intense.” – Goodreads Reviewer
It’s not over. It’s not.
Loren Mackenzie let out a sigh, her eyes following the blinking lights of a jetliner as it disappeared into the distance over Kennedy International Airport. He’s just going back to work in California, and I’m going home, to England. She let out an even longer sigh. Two more races and I get to take a real break. How perfect would it be to go lie on a beach somewhere with him.
Her gaze refocused on the reflection of a man approaching her in the window. His long, confident stride and athletic form quickened her pulse. She turned to face him, but her smile dissolved into a hard frown when he was stopped by a bunch of fawning teenagers, begging for autographs and selfies with him.
Yep, I had to fall in love with an A-list actor. As Graham Atherton separated himself from the group to continue toward her, Loren forced a smile, but it didn’t stick as he stopped again to become engrossed in his mobile. He looked up from the screen to continue on his way.
“Sorry about that, love,” he said to her. “Just a text from Ron. He said he’ll ring you when he gets into London to discuss setting up a meeting. Is that alright with you?”
She squinted an eye. “So, I have people now?”
“I do come as somewhat of a package deal. All that, you know.” He thumbed at the disbursing crowd behind him. “And Ron’s a bit more than just my agent. He’s my best mate, and I trust him.” She nodded, turning back to the window as Graham came up behind and wrapped his arms around her.
“Talk to me, love.”
“This is the longest we’ve been physically together, and I don’t want it to end.” Her shoulders drooped. “I’m sorry I’m whining. I’m just tired.”
“No, darling, you’re not just tired,” he murmured. “You’ve been completely shat on.” He kissed her neck then tightened his arms around her. “You won the time trial Championship in Richmond, but you had to put up with all the nonsense from the press. And then losing the road race, which even that BBC reporter, Theo Arnold agrees was not your fault.” Graham released her to face her with pinched brows.
“But if that weren’t enough, you had to deal with me throwing your past in your face.” He cupped her cheek. “I still feel awful for that, and I want to help you, but I have no idea how.” Loren kissed him, then put her arms around his waist to hold him close.
“I want this, and more of it when I see you again.” He gave her a squeeze then drew away to glance around them, frowning. “Graham?”
“Grab your bag and come with me.” As he bent to pick up his carry-on, she drew her messenger bag over her head, then he led her to a private seating area, far away from prying ears and eyes. He motioned for her to sit on the small sofa, putting down his suitcase and sat next to her. Her stomach jumped to her throat when he took her hand with both of his.
“Darling, I know how hard it was for you to talk about your mother and sister with your aunt, and I’m awfully proud of you for doing that,” Graham said and glanced down at their clasped hands. “And I know Maggie gave you all the photos and documents she found in the attic, and I gave you the file my father’s man put together.” He breathed in. “I would ask that you don’t look through all that again by yourself.”
She blinked. “Is that all? Here I thought you wanted to have a quickie or something.” His stare was somewhere between being shocked and wanting to laugh; his laugh won.
“I love you.” But his mirth died out as his bright blue eyes studied her. “I have a present for you, and I was going to save it for your birthday, but it’s burning a hole in my pocket.” He leaned to remove a small red velvet box from his jacket.
Her jaw dropped. “What are you doing?” He didn’t move from his seat, only handed her the box, smirking.
“I’m not asking; I’m giving. That’s all.” Her hands shook as she took the box and opened it. Nestled inside was a platinum ring of two clasped hands holding a red stone shaped like a heart, capped with a crown.
“It’s a Claddagh. It’s beautiful,” she said, smiling at him. “What’s the stone?”
“It’s a garnet,” he replied. Taking the ring out of the box, he slipped it on her left ring finger, with the hands facing outward. Graham held her gaze as tightly as her hand. “With this crown, I pledge to you my loyalty. With these hands, I offer you my service, and with this heart, I give you mine.” Loren stared at him as her brain reset.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything, love,” he chuckled. “The stunned look on your face says it all.” A laugh mixed with a sob bubbled up her throat.
“I didn’t want to cry in public, dammit,” she hiccupped, covering her mouth with her hand. He pulled her into his lap and cuddled her close, but she suddenly pushed him away. “Wait a minute. You had this with you the whole time we were together, and you’re just giving it to me now?”
“Well, yes and no,” he replied, avoiding looking at her. “It belonged to my great-grandmother, so I’ve had it for a while, but it needed to be resized. It’s a complicated process, you know.” Loren huffed a chuckle and kissed him, then moved off his lap to the sofa next to him.
“It’s beautiful. Thank you.” She settled her head on his shoulder, his cologne sending ripples through her. “I don’t want you to go,” she whispered, brushing her lips against the scruff under his jaw.
“I don’t want to either, but we both have jobs to do.” Graham held her tighter. “I’ll be home before you can miss me.”
I miss you already. She squeezed her eyes closed against the sting.
“Loren,” he cleared his throat, “about the file–.”
“Who am I going to talk to, other than you or Maggie?”
“You can’t talk to Cece about it?”
“How can I talk to her about something I’ve never told her?”
“Then, perhaps you should,” he said, and Loren let out a breath.
“I need to talk about all of this with my brother, my real brother,” she replied. “I need to find him.” Graham moved back to see her, the corners of his mouth curling down.
“Will you wait until I come home to do that?”
“Yah, I can wait. Hell, I don’t even know where to start looking,” she grumbled, and he kissed her forehead.
“I do love nothing in the world so well as you,” he murmured.
“Je connais.” Loren slid her arms around his neck and kissed him.