Title: Breathe For Me
Author: Rhonda Helms
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Synopsis: Isabel’s been cursed since the Middle Ages.
Desperate to escape an arranged marriage, she made a hasty bargain with a demon, asking for liberation from an oppressive husband-to-be and the excitement of travel. But the demon’s “gift” came at a steep cost. Each time he moves her to a new city, her memory’s wiped. No one can touch her bare skin without injury or even death. And she sees the lifespan of every living being (and is, in fact, immortal herself).
All a constant reminder that she’s different than other teen girls.
But New Orleans seems to accept her as she is. She has friends and a real life in this quirky, hot city. Then Isabel meets Dominic, whose deep soul and strong character draw her to him. Her growing love gives her the courage to confront the demon, insisting the curse be broken. But the demon’s price for freedom is much, much higher than she could possibly give.
Rhonda Helms started writing several years ago. She has a Master's degree in English and a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing. She also edits for Carina Press (an imprint of Harlequin Publishing) and freelance edits.
When she isn't writing, she likes to do amateur photography, dig her toes into the sand, read for hours at a time, and eat scads of cheese. WAY too much cheese.
Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her family.
“You okay?” Dominic asks me.
I look over at him. His brows are bunched together, his irises dark. He reaches a hand toward mine, then stops and pulls it back. I can’t interpret the look in his eyes.
Disappointment at his withdrawal creeps through my veins. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I say. Inside my head, I scoff at my stupidity. How quickly I forget who I am when I’m around him. I force my attention back to my paper. “Let’s just concentrate on our project.” My words have a strong bite to them, one I don’t try to hold back. It’s better this way, anyway.
He sighs, turning away from me.
For the rest of the period, we work in silence. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him writing furiously.
I wish I could say I’m productive, but my mind is blocked. No words will pour from my pen. I feel mute, silenced by my own emotions, by the heat from his body that warms my side. The soft scratching sound of him writing on his paper is absorbing, and I close my eyes and just listen, shutting out the world around me. Opening up my heart for one moment in the only safe way I know.
The bell rings, jarring me out of my fog. I gather my books and stand quickly, edging away from my desk.
Dominic grabs my hand.
The gesture stops me in my tracks. The warmth from his palm seeps through my glove, absorbs into my skin, fuses with my cells and tiny hairs and molecules and veins.
I turn to face him.
He rises from his seat, still gripping me. “Please don’t run from me anymore,” he asks, his voice raw. His eyes are wide, piercing mine with a tiny sliver of hurt and...some other emotion. It seems a little familiar, but I can’t quite figure it out at the moment. I’m too distracted by the sensory overload of him.
“I’m sorry,” I say, pouring earnestness into my voice.
He shakes his head slowly. His eyes swirl with shades of blue, and he peers down at me with no disguise or veil to protect himself. In this moment, I can see everything inside him. I recognize that emotion in his gaze as desire.
The air whooshes from my lungs. The stirrings of my own longing match his, slamming to the surface of my skin in a heated fervor. My pulse speeds up.
“No more apologies, Isabel,” he says, then loosens his grip on my imprisoned hand, his thumb sliding down the center of the covered palm.
I shiver at the sensation, exhaling a shaky breath. “I... Okay.” I can barely think, barely move. I am captured, locked in a state of perfect being. Frozen in one perfect moment.
“Read this,” he says, pressing a folded paper into my hand.
And then, he’s gone. I remain in my spot for a moment, holding on to this feeling.
Tucking it safely away in my mind, where I can experience it over and over again for as long as possible. I force myself to take several slow breaths to focus my mind, slip the note into my pocket for when I can read it in privacy. Then I head to my next class, carrying secret thoughts of Dominic with me.