Sallinger, Elene: Reflection (The Chrysalis Series)

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Sallinger, Elene Reflection (The Chrysalis Series)
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    Reflection (The Chrysalis Series)
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    Старинная литература / на английском языке
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Reflection (The Chrysalis Series): краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Bridget Ross is a woman with a shameful secret. Despite a life full of success and close friends she denies herself her true desires in penance for the crimes she can't take back. Connor Reynolds is a man without a purpose. His own tragic past prevents him from putting down roots and pursuing his dreams. Their paths collide forcing them to face the ultimate question … is their love worth fighting for?

Sallinger, Elene: другие книги автора

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The Chrysalis Series - 2


Elene Sallinger

This book is dedicated to everyone who thinks that what they desire is shameful. Sometimes, accepting ourselves is the hardest, scariest thing we do.


No book is accomplished without the help of others. In particular, I’d like to thank J for being willing to debate plot points and help me see where I was running off the rails. I’d also like thank my daughter for being patient when her dad and I debated said plot points.

Additionally, I’d like to thank the women of Mercer County Aware who talked with me, counselled me, and helped me see how abuse of all kinds can translate so heavily into the mental baggage we carry.

I’d also like to thank everyone in the kink community who has welcomed me with open arms. You’re too numerous to name, I’d hate to leave anyone out, but your feedback and open communication has been invaluable.

To my beta-readers … you’re all awesome. Thank you for catching all my mistakes!

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone at Xcite Books for making my entrance into the world of writing so painless.

Chapter One

Curled in the foetal position, Bridget Ross fought the agonised pleasure wracking her body. Every muscle clenched as she denied her body the release it sought. She would not allow this. She would not succumb.

Intentionally, she bit the inside of her cheek, drawing blood. Anything to distract her from the sensations her dreams had fed her. Slowly, the pleasure faded only to be replaced with the throbbing sting in her cheek. That pain she could deal with. The other –

Stop! Don’t think about it.

Horror flooded her body at the realisation of how close she’d come to falling off that ledge. One she’d vowed she’d never stand near again. It had been too close. Tears ran down her cheeks and her limbs became leaden with shame.

At her back, her pit bull terrier, Daisy, whimpered and whined and nuzzled her, but Bridget couldn’t find the will to comfort her. Not when she herself was beyond comfort.

Could a person will themself into non-existence? Simply lie there and wilfully deconstruct their cells so they merged with the universe and ceased to exist?

On the side table, Bridget’s alarm clock began to chime, informing her it was now 5.30 a.m. and time for her run. She ignored it. Eventually it cut off.

She stared into the darkness, blanking her mind deliberately. If she didn’t think, she didn’t feel and then she could tolerate this. If she allowed herself to feel in this moment, she’d be lost.

Bridget willed herself to be empty. She lay there; a lump of flesh. The only indication of life was the rise and fall of her chest and even that she would have traded if she could.

It was futile. She knew it, but still she wished for it. Memories were funny. They had a way of sticking with you no matter how deep you thought you’d buried them. She could no more escape her memories that she could will herself to stop breathing.

As if to test the notion, Bridget blew out all her breath and held herself still. She refused to inhale until her lungs screamed for air, and then she waited longer. Finally, conceding defeat, she sucked in a breath forcefully.

Despite herself, her body lightened. The clenching of her muscles relaxed. Her tears dried. Today was not the day that she gave up. Today she was not able to die.

Too bad that wasn’t the same as living.

Dragging herself from the bed, she made her way to the bathroom. She began her usual routine, going through the motions just as she did every morning. Turning the knobs on the shower, she undressed and waited for the water to reach the correct temperature.

Whorls of steam billowed out from behind the glass walls of her shower before she finally stepped in. The water scalded her creamy skin, turning it tomato red, but went unnoticed.

Drenching her loofah in Dial, Bridget wielded it the way a carpenter wields sandpaper. She scrubbed relentlessly, taking off layers of skin. Tears ran down her cheeks – whether from pain or lingering shame she didn’t know. Didn’t truly care. She ignored them. Ignored the burn and scratch as the scalding water failed to rinse away the slime she felt along her skin.

It wasn’t enough.

She became frenzied in her need to cleanse herself. She knew the stain would never be washed away. It marred her spirit as permanently as if it were tattooed on her skin. But it didn’t stop her from trying.

She reached for the soap again, only to have it slip through her cramped fingers and clatter against the tiles spilling the bright, orange liquid.

Staring in dismay at the soap running down the drain, defeat settled into her body and the loofah slipped from her fingers. Collapsing in on herself, Bridget huddled in the corner of the shower sobbing and wishing she could rinse her crimes down the drain as easily as she could the soap.

Dressed in running gear, an iPod strapped to her arm, she waited for the sky to lighten sufficiently so she could commence her run. Standing pressed against her front door, she watched the sky through the small window cut-out in the heavy, wooden door.

Clouds dyed the colour of cotton candy swirled in the sky and patches of robin’s egg blue poked through the early morning dawn cloud cover. Its beauty wasn’t lost on Bridget, but the ants crawling under her skin were winning the competition for her attention. She needed to get out of this house. She needed to get away from the memories. She needed to run.

As if on cue, a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds illuminating her street. She knew a sign when she saw it. Unlocking all four deadbolts on her door, she walked briskly down the block. When she felt sufficiently warmed up, she began to jog. Daisy trotted happily at her side, her tongue lolling out.

The music in her ears set the pace as it always did, starting out slow, building in tempo as she ran so that she would have to focus all her attention on the beat and her pace in order to match it.

Each choice in the playlist was deliberate. Each drenched and pulled her in. The music absorbed her consciousness, taking her away from her memories, burying them down deep once again. It never failed her. It allowed her to fool herself into thinking she could outrun the past.

Absolutely gorgeous.

Connor Reynolds was riveted by the sight in front of him. Perfection personified. Damn, he wanted his camera in his hands. There was no better subject. The composition took care of itself. No need to do any fancy lens work, or fiddle with too many settings. Framed by the trees lining the running trail, it was all taken care of, just point and shoot.

Without warning, he was yanked hard to the right. All thoughts of adding the sunrise to his growing portfolio flew from his brain as his ankle wrenched sharply and he went down on the path. Skin shredded against the asphalt and white daggers of pain lanced along his wrists and into his elbows as he barely saved himself from getting a massive case of road rash along his face.

‘Stop!’ a feminine voice cut through the silence. ‘Dang it! I said stop!’

Connor dragged himself up off the park trail and scanned for Lotus, his Rhodesian Ridgeback. She was responsible for this current debacle. Well, at least that was his story and he was sticking to it. Not his inattention. No, not at all. She’d clearly decided she’d had enough of running by his side and was now more interested in the dog that was currently wrestling with her. The problem, however, was that unlike his leash, which he’d quickly released once she’d yanked him, that dog’s owner was being dragged and bounced around like a leaf on the wind at the moment. What in the hell had possessed her to wrap a leash around her waist?

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