Ember-Raine Winters started out three years ago writing Young Adult Dystopian fiction. She lives in California with her two young children and loves to read and write. Beautiful Delusions is her first Romance novel and the first in a series of four. The series is about living with the many different forms of PTSD and other mental illness. The cause is something that is very close to her heart. Her one hope in writing this series is that someone who may be going through tough times will read it and realize they are not alone.
Excerpt from Beautiful Delusions
“Kay? Where did you go there?” Griffin asked.
“I was just thinking,” I replied.
“You know I will protect you from him, right?”
“Yeah, but who is gonna protect me from you?” I asked sullenly.
“I’ll never hurt you, Kay,” he replied fiercely and pulled me closer.
“You will, but its ok. Once you realize that my particular brand of crazy isn’t worth the effort. You will leave and it’s ok, I’ll live with it. I’ll deal,” I replied unconvincingly.
My eyes started to burn with onset of unshed tears. The realization that I was in so much more trouble than I thought washed over me.
“Kaylee,” he said sternly and lifted my chin so that I would meet his eyes. I closed them because I knew that if I looked at him right then I was going to lose it. I had cried enough already I didn’t need to cry anymore.
“Look at me,” he sighed. “Please?”
I opened my eyes. I kept telling myself the whole time ‘do not cry’ I looked at him with a watery smile and froze at the anger I saw in them.
“You really believe that?” He asked barely controlling the edge in his tone. “You believe that I would ever think you weren’t worth it? God Kaylee.”
He stood up and began pacing. I sat there numb and seriously confused. I knew what was going to happen eventually, it always did. I would eventually push him away and he would get tired of it and realize it wasn’t worth it.
“I looked for you for years, Kaylee! Years! Now that I have found you there is no way I could ever think all that time and energy wasn’t worth it!” He bellowed.
I flinched at the harshness of his tone. He blew out a strangled breath and instantly deflated.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I can’t help it my mind races constantly. The anxiety is all-consuming most of the time. It’s always there taunting me. I’m not worth the effort, Griff. Eventually, you will see that it’s true and I will be left broken…Again.”
“I got you a new therapist,” he blurted.
“What?” I asked, confused. He sat back down next to me and set his hand on my leg and squeezed gently.
“I have a friend from the service who did the same thing that I did. She is one of the best in her field. She deals specifically with women with non-combat PTSD,” he replied gently. “She lives in Baltimore, but when I told her about you she agreed to phone appointments twice a week.”
I was stunned. He really did it. I mean he said he was going to, but I was still shocked. I sat there with my mouth hanging open for a long time.
“Why?” I asked, finally.
“I told you, Kay. I never expected to feel this way about you. I can’t continue to treat you when I want so much more with you,” he said softly.
“Why?” I asked, stupid.
“You really don’t know, do you?” He asked, confused. “When I look at you, I don’t see someone who is crazy or broken. I see someone who is so strong and brave. You have been through hell Kaylee! No matter how bad it hurts, you get up every day take care of your kids and do what you love to do. You have passion and spirit like I have never seen. You have been horribly mistreated by the people in your life. I want to make it my mission to never let that happen again,” he said fiercely.
I couldn’t take it anymore. Reaching over I grabbed his face in both hands and kissed him hard and fast. When he broke the kiss, he pressed his forehead to mine and smiled.
“What was that for?” He asked, breathless.
“I’m falling for you, Griff. With every sweet word and kind gesture, I fall a little more and I don’t know what to do! I’m scared, what if I fall completely and then you just can’t handle the craziness. I’m not affectionate I have personal space issues. What if you wake up one day and realize that it’s not worth the trouble? That I’m not worth the trouble?” I asked sadly and looked down at my lap.
“It’s not gonna happen, Kay. Cause I’m not falling. I have fallen already. Every little thing you do makes me want you more. Sometimes, the need to be close to you is unbearable and I have to at least touch you just so I know that you’re real. I think I have loved you since we were kids.”
I stopped dead and looked at him slack jawed. This was my biggest fear. That he wanted the little girl that I used to be. The one that no longer existed.
“Griff, if you’re in love with that girl I used to be or the idea of her than we have a problem. I’m not that girl anymore. She’s gone. I tried for years to remember who I used to be. I wanted that girl back too. I realized though that I could never be that girl again. My experiences hardened me. They changed me and I don’t think it was for the better,” I said sadly.
“No, Kaylee,” he said authoritatively. “I don’t want that girl. I want the woman she became. I want you and all the baggage that comes with you.”
“How could you want that, Griff? I have a semi-trailers worth of baggage,” I replied on a sigh.
“I have baggage too, Kay. Everyone who gets to be our age does,” he said sadly.
I looked at him then, and realized how little I knew about his life and the man he had become.
“Ok,” I said quietly.
At first I didn’t think he heard me and after long minutes of silence I looked up at him. The heat was back in his eyes and he was smiling so wide I couldn’t imagine how that smile didn’t hurt his face.