This beautiful cover was designed by Jaclyn Parks of Twin Dog Designs (she also designed the cover for my debut novel, Twenty-Five). Her website is currently undergoing re-design, but you can reach her at email@example.com.
Summary: In a world where everyone is assigned a lifemate at birth by the Gods, thirty year-old Honor is still looking for hers. When her new boss, Sedric, points out that her mate probably died before they met, Honor embarks on a quest for closure. She needs to know who her mate was and what he was like so she can move on with her life. Sedric is determined to help Honor, because he understands the emptiness she's feeling. As they search for Honor's lifemate and get to know each other, they start to wonder if the only kind of love is that which is fated and if there really is only one person for everyone.
Excerpt from Chapter One:
I stumbled into work the next day a half-hour late, thanks to the copious amounts of wine at Bonnie and Caron’s house. No one appeared to notice, though, as I slid into my cubicle and powered up my computer.
“What day is it?” I muttered to myself, opening the company-wide calendar. “Ah.” Wednesday, the fifteenth day of the tenth month. A meeting for my division was listed at 10:00, so I printed the agenda and answered the most urgent emails in my inbox before heading to the lounge to grab a cup of coffee.
“Morning, Honor!” my teammate Alyscia said brightly as I added cream and sugar to my mug.
I yawned. “Morning.”
“Did you hear the good news?”
I took a sip and shook my head. “What? Did Felix sit in paint again?”
“No, silly, I found him!”
“My lifemate, of course! Look!” She pushed aside the collar of her shirt to reveal her lark, now a complete, leafy tree. The last time she’d shown it to me, too many pieces of the puzzle were missing and I hadn’t been able to make out what it would eventually be.
“Oh. Great. Congratulations.” It was a strange thing to offer congratulations on. It’s not like she achieved some major accomplishment. Everyone found his or her lifemate eventually. Well, everyone except me. I walked away without asking for more details, though I could tell she was dying to share exactly how she found him and what he said to her when they met and how perfect they were for each other. My stomach was already queasy from the hangover – I didn’t want to push it over the edge.
Besides, Alyscia was only twenty-one. She started at the consulting firm a few months out of school. What right did she have to be flaunting her lark? She hadn’t been looking for a long time. Most people I knew found their mates at some point between eighteen and twenty-four.
I slumped into a chair at the end of the conference table, as far from the front of the room as possible, and gulped down my coffee, ignoring the bitter sting as it burned my throat. My co-workers filed in, bouncing to their seats like a bunch of toddlers. A few were even discussing Alyscia’s lark at high volume. To listen to them, one would think it was the biggest news to hit Linhill all year. I blocked out the conversation by reading over the agenda for the meeting.
The leader of our division, Felix, walked in with another man I didn’t know. The new guy was tall, at least a head taller than Felix, and dressed in an expensive-looking grey suit. They took seats at the head of the table and the babble in the room quieted as Felix arranged the agenda and glass of water in front of him.
“To kick things off today I want to introduce our new division manager, Sedric Eckland. He’ll be taking over Maling’s accounts now that she’s been promoted and he’ll also be responsible for evaluating the team over the next couple of months. Sedric, would you like to say anything?”
“I’m happy to be here and look forward to working with each of you.” Sedric surveyed the room, taking a brief second to meet each individual’s eye. When he reached me, I averted my gaze.
Turnover was common in our section. It was kind of a joke within the company: head to Division Four if you’re looking for a life change. I was the longest-term employee at four years. The pool on how long Sedric would last was probably already forming in Divisions One, Two, and Three.
Once Sedric finished all of his eye contact, Felix made a check on his agenda and moved to the next topic. I sank as low as I could in my chair and rested both arms on the table in front of me. Being the senior member of the team at least gave me the advantage of already knowing most, if not all, of Felix’s talking points. I tuned him out as easily as I’d tuned out the gossip regarding Alyscia and found my eyes focused on my own lark.
When I was younger, I loved that my lark was so visible – always right there on my wrist. I could look at it whenever I wanted. I could show it to my friends, my family. It was a source of comfort and hope. I spent hours tracing the pieces over and over with my fingers. Memorizing every line, every curve. Trying to figure out what picture it would form when I found my lifemate and it completed itself.
As Felix droned on, I found myself falling back into the old habit – using my right index finger to continually follow the outline of the lark. I didn’t care what my boss was talking about. It didn’t matter. I focused my energy on tracing and willing the damn thing to just go away already. I did what I was supposed to do – I followed my stupid erratic pull as long as it led me, but it led to nothing. Nothing. If I was going to be alone, I didn’t want the horrible, ugly reminder of it staring at me day after day, week after week, year after year.
What were the Gods playing at, anyways? Giving humans these marks, determining destinies, but leaving me out in the cold wondering what I’d done wrong to deserve such loneliness and the constant reminder of it. And if it wasn’t bad enough that I could see the damn mark every day, everyone else could see it, too. My co-workers, friends, and family saw the unfinished lark and their eyes filled with pity for poor, lonely, lifemate-less Honor.
“Honor?” Felix basically shouted. I straightened up. One glance around the table told me he’d called my name more than once.
“Welcome back. Were you having a nice daydream?”
“I was. It’s strange how your voice can lull me into fantasy land every time you speak.”
His face reddened, probably with both anger and embarrassment. He’d never gotten used to my sarcasm and I knew he wanted to fire me on several occasions, but since my clients were so pleased with my longevity, the higher ups wouldn’t let him.
“Did you want something from me?” I asked, putting a sweet smile on my face.
“Um, yes, well, since you’ve been here longer than the rest of the team, you’ll be partnering with Sedric for a few weeks. He’ll be going on your calls to shadow you and you’ll be going on his calls to introduce him to Maling’s clients. You know, show him the ropes. Do you think you can manage that?”
“Nothing in the world would give me greater pleasure.” I wiped the smile from my lips and peered at Sedric. I expected eye contact again, but he was staring at my hand. No, not my hand. My wrist – my lark. Great, just great. I yanked my sleeve down and put both hands in my lap.
He looked up and faced Felix. “Sounds good. Anything else on the agenda?”
“No, we’re done for today. Back to work, everyone.”
I jumped from my seat and was the first person out the door. Practically running to my cubicle, I tripped on a loose piece of carpet and face-planted.
“Whoa – careful. Are you okay?” Sedric reached down and helped lift me while the rest of the departing members of my division looked on. I brushed myself off and wriggled out of his grasp.
“I’m fine.” I could feel his stare on me as I stormed away.
I tried not to speak with anyone else for the rest of the day. Embarrassed by the fall, the meeting, and Sedric’s eyes on my wrist, I couldn’t face the normal around me. I didn’t want my new boss to immediately know just how sad I was. It would make the weeks of having to work one-on-one with him unbearable.
Honor's Lark will be available for Kindle and in paperback on May 15, 2014.
In the meantime, if you're looking for romance, check out my debut novel, Twenty-Five. Summary: Abigail Bronsen is sure her life is going nowhere when she turns twenty-five and realizes she hasn't done anything on a list of goals she made for herself as a teenager. Ben Harris is looking to find "the one" after his last girlfriend cheated on him. When they crash into each other, it appears they've both found exactly what they wanted. A year of firsts follows: first date, first kiss, first “I love you’s.” The first fight is inevitable, but neither of them saw a breakup coming. When Abigail is offered a job overseas, they’ll discover that no relationship is perfect and even true love sometimes finds itself separated by time and distance.
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About the Author: Rachel was born in Buffalo, NY but grew up in Burlington, NC. Raised by northern parents in the south, she likes to say she got the best of both worlds. Her writing is inspired by classic authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, as well as contemporary ones like JK Rowling and Claire LaZebnik. She loves to read and has been known to spend an entire weekend engrossed in the adventures of her favorite characters. Rachel now lives in Raleigh, NC, but someday hopes to make it to London. She's pretty sure (if reincarnation exists) she was British in another life.