Breaking the Rules
Publication date: April 15th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Love isn’t supposed to hurt.
Hedge witch Shannon Baldos isn’t looking for love. She isn’t even looking for sex. She’s looking for the courage to finally leave her gaslighting husband’s ass. So the last thing she needs is a distraction, like the town’s land-grabbing yet oh so sexy property developer, Adam St. John.
Then again, maybe a little distraction is exactly what she does need.
Growing up under the domineering thumb of her maternal grandmother, and then married to a misogynistic husband, thirty-nine-year-old Shannon Baldos has learned that love hurts. For almost seven years she’s lived under the thumb of her abusive husband, all with the guise of wanting to give her son a stable home. The truth? She’s stayed because she’s a coward. Still is. But maybe, with heart fluttering, groin throbbing, Adam St. John by her side, or on top of her, under works too, she might discover some hidden courage and finally take her son and escape. As for falling for St. John and his pirate grin, not a chance. Rule #1: Don’t fall in love.
Referred to as an emotional train wreck, Wexford’s successful developer, Adam St. John, has rules. A lot of them. Created to keep him well-insulated from further pain and disappointment with regards to life, and love. At forty-nine, he’s quite happy with his life of solitude. With three divorces under his belt, he’s in no hurry to add a fourth. Besides, there are more than enough women willing to keep him warm at night. But when he meets the town’s green-eyed witch with the freckles splattered across the bridge of her nose, and the hips that sway under her flowing skirts, one night of passion leaves him craving more. Maybe it’s time to break a few rules.
In her newest novel, Breaking the Rules, Tinthia Clemant has woven a story about one brave woman’s determination to take back her life as she learns that love doesn’t always hurt.
Dee collected the dishes and stacked them at the edge of the table. “No, Peg thinks you should have an affair. I think you should be happy you have someone to take care of you and Chad and call it a day. Life on the outside sucks. I’ve placed enough divorcees in condos in this town to know. They’re all lonely—out drinking and partying; they’re miserable.”
Peg chuckled. “Drinking and partying sounds like fun to me.”
“This isn’t funny, Peg. Shannon will never find someone like Justin again.”
“I hope not,” Shannon replied.
Dee tapped the table with her finger. “Listen, Shannon, I know you don’t believe in God, so I suggest you pray to whoever or whatever you worship. Pray to the trees or a rock for all I care but do not tell Justin you want a divorce. You will be making the biggest mistake of your life.”
“Back to my suggestion,” Peg said. “What you need is a hot guy to help smooth the ragged edges. Believe me when I tell you it works.”
Shannon and Dee turned their eyes on Peg. “Do tell?” Shannon asked.
Waving away the question with a flip of her hand, Peg said, “Some other time. Right now we’re discussing you.” Peg nudged Dee. “Do you think he’ll do it?”
“Leave him, and me, out of this. An affair is against the church’s rules.”
“Screw the rules. Guys do it, so why can’t we?” Peg was a woman on a mission. “Pretend for a moment we ask him. Do you think he’ll do it?”
“If a woman is breathing, he’ll sleep with her. However, he has his own rules, and hooking up with Shannon would be breaking the top two. Besides, Shannon is no match for him. She’ll get trampled.” Dee picked up the dishes and slid from the booth.
A quick glance at the front door put a scowl on Dee’s face, and she demanded they drop the entire conversation. She then carried the dishes over to the server’s station where they landed with a crash.
Peg looked at the entrance and clapped her hands like a child at Disneyland. “This is great. You’ll get to finally meet him.”
Dee returned to the booth and pointed at Peg. “This has gone too far, so stop it.”
“You’re a poop.”
“Who are you talking about?”
Shannon tried to stand, but Dee forced her to stay seated.
“We’re not talking about anybody.” Dee grabbed her bag. “Shan, promise me you won’t do anything until we’ve talked about this some more.”
“I promise. Now tell me who you’re talking about.” Shannon half-stood and rested a knee on the seat. “Dee, move. You’re blocking my…oh, my.” The guy shaking hands with Jimbo was vaguely familiar, but his head was angled, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face. However, she liked what she could see. He wasn’t as tall as Jimbo, maybe Justin’s six-foot height, and he had broad shoulders, and an ass worthy of grabbing. “Who is he?”
While he talked, Mr. Hotty ran his hand through his straight, dirty-blond hair. A stray piece fell over his forehead, and a thrill raced through her body as she imagined that very strand hanging over her as he drilled her.
Jimbo leaned across the counter and said something, to which Mr. Hotty laughed, releasing rolling waves that made their way across the room and into her blood. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes but enjoyed the way he rubbed at the scruff on his chin before he spoke, a gesture that elicited a bellow of laughter from the owner of the Beans. She’d be able to endure anything Justin dished out if she had this guy to run to. Maybe an affair wasn’t such a bad idea… Or, a one-night fling? The tanned, defined arms extending out from the rolled-up sleeves looked quite capable of holding her against a door, wall, tree…anything sturdy¾even a dumpster would work.
Jimbo pointed toward their booth, and Mr. Hotty settled on her a pair of the bluest eyes she’d ever seen and suddenly a vision of a snowy afternoon opened up in her brain. She was in the car with Chad while Justin walked around the property with the developer who’d built the massive house where they now lived. “No, no, no. Absolutely not.” She sat and folded her arms. “I can’t believe you two thought I would sleep with Adam St. John.”
“I didn’t—it was Peg’s idea,” Dee said. “Anyway, I’m leaving before Miss Blabbermouth makes things worse. I’ll call you tonight.”
Dee walked away. Shannon rose, and Peg joined her. St. John met Dee and gave her a peck on the cheek. It was obvious from the way Dee was waving her hands at the door she was trying to get him back outside. And from the way he was shaking his head, he wasn’t having any part of it. He nodded toward the table and hooked his hand under her elbow.
As they walked in her direction, Shannon held her lip between her teeth and gripped Peg’s forearm. St. John had a deliberate way of walking, not quite a swagger but a movement that said he was confident in himself. His eyes held her in place. If she’d wanted to look away, she wouldn’t have been able to, his pull that strong. But who said she wanted to look away? Sure, the guy was a land-grabber, but he certainly had a way of getting the old heart pumping and the juices flowing, especially to her groin.
“You’re drooling,” Peg chided.
“I am not.” Shannon released Peg. “I admit he’s smoking hot, but he’s still Adam St. John.” She met Peg’s satisfied-looking grin. “He’s a jerk, and I already have one of those, thank you very much.”
Peg gave Shannon a hip bump. “Never believe gossip, especially Dee’s gossip. Adam’s a sweetheart. Besides, I’m not suggesting you fall in love. Just use him when things at home get out of whack. Think about it. I’ll be right back.” She added a pat to Shannon’s shoulder and joined Dee and St. John.
Shannon sat with her back to the trio. In a matter of seconds, she’d officially meet Wexford’s developer extraordinaire. Even if she did sleep with him, which she shouldn’t…wouldn’t…what did they have in common? She was a hedge witch, and him… well, to him, the only good tree was one in the shape of a two-by-four. But then again, if he was as good in bed as he looked like he might be, there wouldn’t be a need for conversation. No, she sighed, she couldn’t sleep with him, and besides, he probably had a tiny penis. That was why he built such huge houses; he used them to compensate for his pitiful manhood.
By the time she’d chased her thoughts like a dog chasing its tail, the trio had moved to the table’s edge, continuing their exchange above her head: Peg asked St. John if he was dating anyone, and Dee told Peg to stop and insisted they didn’t have time for chitchat. St. John stated he hadn’t met their friend, and Dee doubly insisted he and she needed to leave.
While they talked, Shannon kept her eyes on the inky liquid in her mug. She tried to calm her frantic heart rhythm by counting her breaths, but St. John’s scent distracted her. A tanned, strong-looking hand extended under her eyes, and she sucked in her breath. He had a great hand. Rugged looking. Not too big. Fingers perfectly shaped for delivering mind-blowing pleasure.
“We haven’t met. I’m Adam St. John, but most people call me St. John.”
His voice, smooth and fluid like melted chocolate, flowed under her skin and into her core.
She opened her water and let her eyes follow the length of his arm up to his face where she met a lopsided grin that reached the corners of his eyes, the weathered skin crinkling along the edges. In another life, he’d have owned a pirate ship. And she would have gladly been his wench.
She placed her hand in his and jolted at the charge that shot through her, understanding perfectly why so many women fell to their knees when they met him.
Dee shoved St. John. “Okay, you’ve met Shannon. Let’s go.”
St. John kept hold of Shannon’s hand. “What’s the hurry? If nobody has to leave, I’d like some coffee.”
“Fine with me,” Peg said and reclaimed her seat. “Adam, Dee’s sitting next to me, so you sit next to Shannon.”
Dee flashed Peg a look that said she’d deal with Peg later, to which Peg shrugged and smiled.
“Fine,” Dee said. “One cup, but St. John, you sit here.” Dee tugged on St. John’s arm, trying to direct him into her spot.
St. John claimed the end of Shannon’s side of the booth. “Too slow, Denise, and relax. I’m not going to eat the poor woman.” He turned his attention to Shannon and grinned again. “At least not right now.”
Shannon met his eyes. She imagined she was wearing a seductive hint of a smile, alluring and coquettish. Unfortunately, the muscles around her mouth announced her lips were open too wide. She was saved from further looking like a fool when Dee’s arm shot across the table. “Okay, stop the bus. Back off, St. John. Shannon’s married.”
Peg pulled at Dee’s back pocket. “You’re making a scene.”
St. John didn’t seem to hear Dee because he remained facing Shannon. “Who’s your husband? I might know him.”
Shannon’s lower lip disappeared between her teeth. She couldn’t answer. She was too busy drinking in his aroma. White musk, cedar, a hint of pine. Earthy and intoxicating. And body melting. She felt like a marshmallow suddenly dropped into a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
“She’s married to Justin Baldos. So leave her alone,” Dee said.
“Baldos?” St. John scratched the gray-and-brown scruff on his chin and seemed to consider the information. “That’s a shame.” He added the last part as if he was disappointed.
Shannon found her voice. “Why is that?” She had no idea why he thought her marriage to Justin was a shame, but she could offer a few reasons for him to consider, starting with the fact that Justin sucked. She did, however, enjoy thinking St. John might be disappointed to learn she was married. Maybe he’d wanted to play pirate and wench too.
“He didn’t mean anything,” Dee said. “St. John, weren’t you going to get us more coffee? We have to be in Salem soon.”
“I have a class too, so please hurry up, Adam,” Peg said. “Make mine an iced hazelnut.”
“Mine too,” Dee added.
“And what would you like me to give you, Shannon?”
“For crying out loud, St. John, stop it,” Dee demanded. “She’ll have the same as us. Now go.”
“I’m on it.” St. John hopped from the booth, but before walking away, he leaned in close to Shannon’s ear and murmured, “Save my spot.”
When he pulled away, the hot area of her face rapidly cooled, leaving her wanting more.
He needn’t worry. She would save him any damn spot he desired.
Tinthia Clemant was born in Medford, Massachusetts, over sixty years ago. Her childhood was a happy one. She lived in a loving home with her three siblings, mother and father. Her imagination soared as she passed the days enacting the scenes from the stories that spun through her mind.
Tinthia always wrote. From the time she first picked up a pencil, or perhaps it was a crayon, she wrote. Stories about searching for secrets. Stories about joy and sadness; friendship and betrayal; and, of course, stories about true love.
She self-published her first book by stapling six pages together. Her marketing plan was simple–give the book to her mother for Mother’s Day. Marketing her indie-published books has gotten a whole lot harder but she pushes on, knowing the worlds she creates will take each reader on a magical journey.
A romantic women’s fiction author, Tinthia fell in love with romance when she witnessed, at the impressionable age of five, the power of true love. On the silver screen of the Meadow Glen drive-in, she watched Prince Phillip defeat Maleficent’s tangled web of thorns and the fire-breathing dragon so he could save his lady love. As Phillip pressed his lips against Sleeping Beauty’s, she understood the power of true love’s first kiss.
As a hopeful romantic, Tinthia has searched far and wide for that special someone who will take her breath away. Unfortunately, she has yet to find love’s magical kiss. However, she learned a lot about herself along the way and uses these lessons to weave her stories and the strong (and older) heroines she brings to life.
Tinthia lives on the banks of the Concord River and spends her time teaching science at a local community college, gardening, painting, tending her flock of Mallards (follow her natural history blog at: concordriverlady.com), reading, and, of course, writing about journeys, disappointment, joy, and true love. Her two favorite men are Ben and Jerry and she wishes they would bring back the summer flavor, Blueberry Cheesecake.