Title: Beautifully Wounded
Author: Susan Griscom
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Reveal Host: Lady Amber’s Tours
“This was a wonderfully gripping story about rising above oppression, finding salvation, discovering beauty and joy in the little things, and the transformative properties of true love…” — Literal Addiction Book Club After a not-so-wonderful young adulthood—shuffled from one foster home to another—Lena Benton had hoped marriage would be her ticket to happiness. Wedded a year after high school graduation, Lena was certain she’d found her knight. But when Troy Harington’s true colors surface shortly after their glorious day of elopement, things aren’t quite as rosy as Lena had envisioned. When an unforeseen event turns ugly, all she can do is … run! But does she run far enough? Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming carefree sort of guy, known for his eagerness to help injured animals find their way back into the wild. When Lena Benton walks into his bar, he’s once again swept off his feet with concern and desire to help the wounded. Will he risk having his heart torn apart again when the memory of the fawn he rescued as a child resurfaces? 18+ due to sexual content and mature subject matter. This will be a two book series, but both books in The Beaumont Brothers can be read as a standalone.
The late afternoon sun filtered through the window shining right in Lena’s eyes, and making her squint from where she sat on the sofa. I got up and closed the drapes, which made the room dark, so I flipped the switch on the lamp beside me. I sat in the old easy chair that my uncle spent many nights in, blowing on his harmonica. Uncle Joe once played and sang in a band when he was my age, and from what I’d heard by the awesome sounds he’d produced just sitting in that chair, he was pretty good. He’d been my musical inspiration, and I thought of him as I strummed out a new tune on my guitar that had been floating around in my head for several days. The words were coming together, and as I jotted them down, rearranged the flow, their meaning hit me like a crate full of bricks. I was writing a song about Lena. Like the fawn I’d nursed back to health when I was a kid. A song about a broken spirit on its way to healing, I hoped.
Brodie had been right, of course. I had wanted Lena from the moment I first set eyes on her. I knew when I watched her walk in the bar she was beautiful, even with her black eye. She was a beautifully wounded and broken soul that I couldn’t turn my back on. I had been instantly drawn to her as her bruised, damaged body limped from the door to one of the stools at the bar.
Lena spent the days lounging on our sofa, and nights in the spare bedroom with the door locked. Though she never said anything about locking the door, I heard the click each night when she shut the door. I couldn’t blame her, not after what she’d gone through. I let Rufus stay with her at night to give her a sense of protection. Not that Rufus would or could protect her—he was just a lovable lump of pure unconditional love mostly. Well, at least he’d keep her feet warm while she slept, I mused. It’d been hell every night, knowing she was sleeping right in the next room. However wrong it was to want her, I couldn’t shake the feeling. I knew it would have to be her decision though. If there was ever going to be something between us, she would have to initiate it. I could wait. If she even wanted me.
Lena was healing and gaining her strength back. I figured she was still pretty sore, but she smiled a little more often. I’d gone out and purchased some more clothes for her. I bought three pairs of jeans and about seven tops. I also bought her a pair of running shoes and some workout clothes, as well as a baseball cap. I told her, once she was well enough, in addition to self-defense training she had to start going out with me on my daily run.
By the end of the first week, the swelling in her eye had subsided, and the black and blue hues surrounding it turned a greenish yellow tint. Though I didn’t know firsthand, she told me the bruising on her side also showed signs of healing and had turned to the same light color.
I heard Lena sigh from where she stretched out on the sofa, and I glanced up. She looked bored silly. I turned over the paper I’d been scribbling notes and lyrics on, and went to fetch my spare guitar. I handed the wooden six-string to her and sat beside her.
“Do you know this one?” I asked, strumming a tune.
“No, teach it to me.”
She listened then strummed, mimicking my fingers.
“You’re quick,” I said.
I played some more, and she copied each note immediately after me. I nodded. “That’s it. Let’s start at the beginning.” We strummed the tune as if we’d been playing together for years. When the song finished she laughed, the sound of her laughter filled the room with warmth. “That was fun,” I said.
I played a few notes of the song I’d been toying with, and she quickly picked up the tune and followed along. She was good. “What is that?” she asked. It’s really pretty.”
“Thanks. Just something I’ve been playing around with in my head.”
“Well, it’s beautiful. I hope you finish it.”
“Does it have any lyrics?”
“I’m working on them. Come on, let’s run through that other one again.”
We played a few more tunes that she knew until she stopped and grinned. “Oh, I’ve missed this. Troy smashed my guitar into pieces early on in our marriage. He came home one evening when I’d been working on a new song, trying to work out the kinks you know. Anyway, dinner was on the stove simmering.” She’d hardly touched the wine I poured for her, but picked it up and took a small sip, placing it back down before repositioning her fingers along the strings. “He’d come in complaining about something at work and wanted to know why his dinner wasn’t on the table. At that moment, I realized I should get up and see to it, and when I put my guitar down, he picked it up and smashed it against the wall. He said his dinner should have been my first priority when he came home. He expected me to be attending to him, not sitting around playing with toys, so he smashed my guitar. He said next time it would be my face.”
I cupped her chin in my palm. She must have felt self-conscience at the gesture and flinched.
“Sorry.” I lowered my hand.
She looked down at the guitar and gently splayed her fingers across the frets. Picking up the glass of wine with her other, she took a quick sip then frowned. “I think I need some water.” She leaned the guitar against the side of the sofa and stood.
I stood as well and tenderly took her arm at the elbow, stopping her from leaving. She turned and looked up at me, bewilderment evident in her eyes. She was close to me, our chests nearly touching. “I’m sorry he treated you so badly,” I whispered—my lips just a couple of inches from hers.
Apprehensive, I searched her blue eyes, looking for a clue, a hint as to what she might be feeling. How would she react to my touch? The last thing I wanted was to stir up memories of unwanted dirty sex.