Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Author Spotlight: Isabelle Richards

About When Fates Collide

Life can change in the blink of an eye. One moment, Lily Preston is trapped in a loveless marriage. In a split second she is free, but at what cost? Her mundane life is set into a free fall of tragedy and terror. Her husband maybe out of her life, but he left a storm of collateral damage behind and the burden is on Lily to sort it out.

Fate connects Lily with Gavin Edwards, a charmingly handsome British gentleman that has been drawn into her tangled circumstance. Gavin is everything Lily’s husband wasn’t and gives her hope that love really does exist. Gavin wants nothing more than to sweep Lily up and carry her off into the sunset, far away from the devastation left behind by her husband. Gavin has been the first breath of fresh air in her life, but she isn’t looking to be saved. She needs to clean up her husband’s mess and find a way to save herself in the process.

Does she throw caution to the wind and open her heart? Or listen to her head that tells her and go it alone until she’s found herself again?


Gavin Alt POV from Chapter 1:

Of all bloody days to have lost my headphones! I swear they were in my bag, but I tore apart the whole room and, they’re nowhere to be found. I desperately need blaring, angry music filled with furious lyrics and heavy power chords to drown out the thoughts of doubt screaming in my head. But I had to go and lose the blasted things, so now I have to try to focus on the pounding of my heart thumping in my ears and the sound of my trainers hitting the path. Anything to ignore the storm of emotions swirling inside me.

Brushing the back of my hand across my brow to catch the beads of sweat before they fall in my eyes, I catch a glimpse of my watch. Fourteen forty-five. I’ve been running for over three hours. My legs burn from the grueling pace. I keep thinking if I run faster, push myself harder, maybe I can dull the pangs of guilt. But no matter how hard I push myself, the weight of what I’ve done sits on my chest like an anvil, making it hard to breathe. I’ve betrayed my wife. I was na├»ve to think a little jog would wipe away the pain caused by my disloyalty.

“Till death do us part.” Isn’t that what we promised? “In sickness and in health, through good times and bad.” When I made those vows, I believed them with all of my heart. I thought we could make a life together. I never could have predicted our lives would veer so far off track. That Brooke could veer so far off track. She doesn’t remotely resemble the woman I married. But does that make it acceptable for me to turn my back on her? To throw her to the wolves?

She’ll never forgive me. After today, she’ll be lucky if she only has to go to rehab. The FBI thinks she’ll probably get prison time. The part that will upset her the most is the public exposure. By day’s end, the whole world will know America’s sweetheart is nothing but a junkie who’s spent the better part of two years prostituting herself to get her next high. Everything’ll come out, and she’ll be humiliated. I wish I could save her. I’ve tried, oh God, I’ve tried. But she doesn’t want to be saved. What else can I do?

I didn’t turn to the FBI to betray her. I hoped they could help me extract her from this tangled mess she’s gotten herself into. The agents, Max, Greene, and Sully, have been outstanding. They offered her everything they could to entice her to do the right thing, but she had no desire. She’s perfectly content staying in her heroin-induced haze.

My mobile rings, so I jog off the path and fish it out of my pocket. “Hello,” I say as I try to catch my breath.

“G,” Max says. “Where are you, man?”

“Went for a jog. What’s happened?” I look at my watch. “I thought you weren’t moving in for a few hours.”

“I need you to get back here.” His tone is firm, trying hard not to give anything away, but his effort is telling. Something’s wrong.

“Max, what—”

“Just get back to your hotel. I’ll send a car for you,” he says before clicking off.

With those words, I forget about my exhaustion and the ache in my legs and sprint back to the hotel. Max’s car is parked out front in the loading area. Not wanting to wait for the lift, I race up the stairs then open the door to my suite.

Max is leaning against the wall in the entranceway. “Hey, man.”

I tentatively walk into the room. “What are you doing here? You should be at the site. You promised me you’d keep Brooke safe today. How can you do that if you’re here?”

He steps toward me then puts his hand on my shoulder. “Let’s have a seat.”

Brushing him off, I step back. “Don’t beat around the bush. Just tell me.”

Rubbing the back of his neck, he looks down. “Things didn’t go according to plan today.”

I glare at him. “What does that mean?”

“Brooke was sent on an errand. Before she left, she smoked, snorted, and shot up a bunch of shit. We were watching her on the hidden cam, and we were amazed she could still walk with the amount she shoved up her nose and in her arm. She came barreling down the road, going about ninety, and hit a car head on. The cars exploded on impact.”

Suddenly, my exhaustion catches up with me, and my legs turn to jelly. “What?”

“Brooke’s dead, Gavin.”

My knees go weak, and I grab the top of the table by the door to catch myself before I fall.

“I’m so sorry. I know this was the sort of thing you were hoping you could save her from.” Max puts his hand on my shoulder. “You did everything you could.”

Shaking my head, I run my fingers through my hair. “Did I? She’s dead. If I had done everything, she’d be alive.”

“Don’t go there, G. She was one needle away from the grave as it was, you know that. This isn’t on you. She made her choices.”

I hear his words, but they do nothing to calm the fury building inside me. Frustrated, I punch the wall. “She was twelve hours away from getting out of that life. Twelve hours! Why couldn’t she just hold on?”

“You know the answer to that.” He’s right, but I can’t bring myself to say the words. “She was a junkie. Even if we had gotten her out, there was only a slim chance she would come out on the other side of it. There’s plenty of smack in the joint for people willing to go the extra mile to get it. If Brooke had proven anything, it’s that she’d do anything to chase the dragon.” He looks at my hand. “You got any ice in here? You might want to put something on that.”

Glancing at the small trail of blood dripping from my knuckles, I cross the room to the sink at the wet bar and run cold water over the scrape. “What happens now?”

He crosses the room then leans against the counter. “I need you to come with me. The accident has botched up the raid. At this point, we have no idea what Brooke’s told them. We have no idea if you’re on their radar. Until the dust settles, I think it’s best if you come into protective custody.”

I turn off the water, then Max hands me a towel from the cupboard. “You can’t possibly think they’d come after me?”

“Right now, we don’t know anything. The whole situation is one big clusterfuck. The guys she was shacking up with have locked themselves in the house and are trying to see how much blow they can consume before their heads explode. The more they snort, the more volatile the situation gets. You were a key player in racking up the evidence against them. Until we have them detained, I’d like to keep you safe.” He looks at his watch. “Speaking of the clusterfuck. I really need to get back. I shouldn’t have left, but I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else. I’ll send someone by to get you in an hour or so.” He pats my shoulder. “I’m really sorry, man. You did everything you could for her. Way more than most men would have done in your shoes.”

I can’t count how many times people have told me I’m mad for sticking by her. The lying, cheating, stealing. Every time I thought she’d sunk to the lowest point, that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, she’d prove me wrong and sink to new depths. My best mates have been telling me to divorce her for years. There certainly wasn’t anything left of our marriage to save. I can’t recall the last time we did anything together—besides her begging me for money or me begging her to go to rehab. But I refused to leave her because I was trying to prevent this.

As I shower and change, I try to process what’s happened. I wish I could say that the news of her death comes as a shock, but I can’t. I’m deeply saddened and tragically disappointed, but I’m not shocked. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. Over the last five years, she’d OD’ed four times. Three of those times, I barely got her to a doctor in time. I spent countless days by her bedside, watching her fight for her life only to run out the door and get high the moment her legs were strong enough to carry her. She broke my heart every time she left—until there was nothing left to break. I’ve never been able to stop loving her, but I fell out of love with her a long time ago. There was nothing left of her to be in love with.

Could I have done something more? One of the many addiction consultants I spoke with told me I should let the press catch wind of the truth. Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep the news out of the press. I hoped that one day she’d come around, and if she had a career to return to, it would help her stay clean. And if I’m being honest, I worried that if she were exposed, she’d off herself. So I made choices that I thought would help her, but perhaps I only enabled her.

An officer picks me up and drives me to the police station. He’s a nice chap, tries to make small talk, but I just stare out the window and try to process the fact that Brooke is really dead. When we arrive, we have to go in through the underground car park, as the entrance is swarming with press. Greene and Sully meet me in the lobby when I arrive. I point my thumb toward the mob of reporters. “Did someone tip them off?”

Sully nods. “Someone said there’s something going on with Brooke. Right now, they think she’s been arrested for a DUI. But they really don’t have anything.”

“Damn,” I reply, shaking my head.

Greene extends his hand to me. “Gavin, I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”

I give him a small nod. “Thank you. It still feels surreal. I spent the day preparing myself for her to hate me. I wasn’t ready for this.”

They nod awkwardly and look away. What can they say?

“What’s happening now? Max said the guys have locked themselves in their house?” I ask, breaking the tension.

“Yeah, that’s still going on,” Sully replies. “The wife of the other driver is on her way down. We don’t know anything about her, so we need to figure out if she’s involved in this or not.”

Greene’s mobile rings. He digs in his pocket for it then answers. “Thanks,” he says before clicking off. He looks at Sully. “She’s here.”

Sully points at one of the conference rooms. “You can hang out in there or go in the war room and hang out. All of the guys know you at this point, so they won’t care if you’re in there with them. As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know.”

I pop into the “war room,” as Sully calls it. I’ve gotten to know many of the police officers and agents over the last six months whilst I’ve been involved in this investigation. They offer condolences, which is kind and appreciated, but being in this room is just too much. I sneak out the door and spot a woman running out of the interrogation room with Sully on her heels.

She must be the wife of the other driver. She runs past me toward the door that opens to the side of the building where the press is camped out. I lunge forward to block her path, almost stepping on her toes with chipped purple nail polish in the process. Her flip flop catches my shoe, and she stumbles forward.

I put my arms around her waist and pull her away from the door. “Not so fast, luv. You’re not going to want to go out there.”

She looks at me with these big green eyes, and the sadness in her eyes guts me. This poor woman’s world has just been turned upside down. I carry her into an office to get her out of the hallway. She looks as though she’s about to crumble and she deserves a bit of privacy. As I set her down, her eyes meet mine. They look pleading, as though she’s lost. I don’t know why, but something inside tells me I should do anything I can to help her find her way.

Isabelle Richards spent years as a speech writer before tacking fiction of her own. An avid reader of all genres, Isabelle is drawn to romance novels as they provide an escape from daily life. Through her complex cast of characters, Isabelle creates a sanctuary for readers to dive into for a break from reality.

When she is not writing, Isabelle works as an advocate for persons with disabilities in Washington, DC. Her two yellow labs are her writing partners, although they frequently sleep on the job.