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About Land of Falling Stars:
After her parents die in a fire, Sophia Whitfield struggles to save her beloved home, Arbor Rose. The Civil War has devastated the South, and another blue coat has come to steal her meager possessions. Before the hated enemy inflicts his destruction, she shoots him . . . and then discovers the soldier is Gavin, the champion of her childhood.
Gavin's dark secret lurks in Sophia’s future. When she discovers the truth, she's torn between a burning hunger for the man she truly loves and loyalty to Jesse, their childhood friend. The despicable acts of war have changed everything Sophia and Gavin once cherished. Yet somewhere deep in their hearts, the mystical Land of Falling Stars still exists.
Setup and Excerpt: (Gavin, Jesse and Sophia are best friends from childhood. Both men have loved her for years. In this scene, Gavin has returned from the war with a horrific secret about Jesse. When Sophia finds a letter in Gavin's haversack, she confronts him about Jesse's death on the battlefield.)
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Sophia dropped the letter into her lap. Shock froze the blood in her veins, delivered tremors to her limbs. Jesse was dead. Oh, God, please don't let it be true. She hadn't said goodbye. When did it happen? Gavin knew and he'd kept it from her all these weeks. Tears slid down her cheeks, soaking her nightshirt. Cold reality slapped her in the face. Gavin hid the horrific accounting of Jesse’s death, had spun a tangled web of lies and deceit. He took her virginity knowing the entire time she waited on a ghost. She wept aloud, unable to control the shock waves consuming her. Long minutes later, her distress replaced by virulent anger, she gathered the contents on the floor and stuffed them into the haversack.
The door flew open and Gavin walked in carrying a tray. "Ricochet's need to go outside delayed me."
Seething with anger, her head came up.
His eyes searched hers before they moved on to the haversack and the letter in her hand. "Sophia, I can explain―"
She heaved herself from the floor and charged, her arms and legs lethal weapons, her teeth barred. Gavin assumed a defensive position and buffeted her assault the best he could but seized by rage, she managed to deliver a series of solid kicks to his shins.
"Damn it, Sophia, stop!"
She clamped her teeth down on his shoulder and tasted blood. He picked her up, tossed her onto the bed, and pinned her wrists over her head until she cried out. She writhed and bucked beneath him and succeeded at working a leg loose. In the breath of a heartbeat, she kneed him in the groin, reveling in his pained groan. Taking full advantage of his incapacitated state, she clamped her teeth down on his cheek like a rabid dog. Blood, warm and sticky trickled into her mouth.
With a hard slap, Gavin sent her head reeling. "Listen to me, you little hell-cat."
Sophia rallied quickly, despite the sharp pain in her cheek. She twisted beneath him, his weight and her anger cutting off her airway. "There's only one thing I want to hear from your lying mouth—where is Jesse?"
He closed his eyes and sucked in air.
"Where is he!" she screamed. "Where is he!"
His voice broke. "Dead."
An anguished whimper fell from her lips. "Oh, God, no, please, tell me it isn't true. He can't be dead."
"I'm going to let you up now." Gavin's calm tone belied the agony in his eyes. "If you don't go berserk, I will tell you everything." He lifted his weight from her body and waited to see what she would do. Releasing her slowly, he rose and stood beside the bed.
Sophia scooted back against the headboard and choked down the bile in her throat. "When–when did he die?"
Tears flowed freely. "The dream was no dream. Oh, God, he came to say goodbye."
"I reckon that's true."
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Thanks so much for reading about LAND OF FALLING STARS, Keta