Carolyn Wren – Empathy (Emotional Chains Book 1)
Release Date – March 23rd 2015
Carolyn Wren is the award winning author of the romantic suspense series, The Protectors.
Having spent her working life as a book-keeper and finance officer for international companies, she discovered a passion for fiction writing in 2009. Assuming it was some sort of mid-life crisis, she kept it a secret for six months. In an impulsive move, she entered The Emerald, a prestigious writing contest for unpublished authors run by the Romance Writers of Australia. Much to her utter shock, she won it. This was followed shortly after by a finalist placing in the unpublished division of the International Daphne Du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
After braving a submission letter to Secret Cravings Publishing, her debut published work Diplomat’s Daughter (Protectors Book 1) won the RWA ‘Ella’ award for novella of the year.
To date, The Protectors series has received four award nominations, resulting in two trophies.
Carolyn’s other works include a very naughty ghost erotic novella Ghosts of Grace Cottage that she wrote during a stormy winter day. Her new series, the murder mystery urban fantasy Emotional Chains is her latest writing obsession.
When not in front of the computer, you’ll find Carolyn glued to the TV. She loves classic 1960s spy dramas, and is a self-confessed sci-fi geek who owns every single Star Trek, Dr Who, and Buffy dvd ever made.
She lives in the hills of Western Australia with a husband she adores, and a varied assortment of native wildlife.
What if you could sense the emotions of everyone around you?
What if you fell in love with someone you’d never even met?
Oliver Lord belongs to one of three special families, empaths who feel emotions as a physical sense. Quiet and reserved, and accustomed to keeping his abilities hidden, Oliver is drawn inexorably to a woman he’s never met. The woman who made his brother’s last year of life so happy.
When Zoe Daniels, talented sculptor, loses her fiancé before their wedding, she can’t imagine finding love again, until she meets Jasper’s unknown brother, a man so different, yet so achingly familiar to the man she adored. What is Oliver’s secret, and why is he so determined to keep her at arm’s length?
A violent kidnapping and murder forces the empaths from the shadows to seek justice for one of their own. Oliver turns to Zoe, needing her comfort and love. Can she accept him for who he is?
Oliver and two powerful empathic friends need to track down the kidnappers before they strike again, but how do you solve a murder, when your only clue is emotion?
Zoe sat with her back to the tree as she always did, knees drawn up. Thin cords dangled from her ears, attached to the smart phone at her hip. Her feet tapped out a rhythm to a tune Oliver couldn’t hear. She put down the book in her hands and tilted her head to the dappled sunlight peeking through the branches. A smile lit her face as the beams played like mischievous children on her closed eyelids. The old forest was lush and vibrant, a calm oasis of another age. Jasper had always loved spending time here, lost in the peace and quiet. No doubt he’d brought Zoe here. That she’d feel close to him in this isolated place they’d shared was understandable.
Oliver shut his eyes and reached out to read her. If he looked deep inside, he could find the essence of the brother he missed so much. He tried not to. The first time it had seemed an intrusion, but sometimes he couldn’t help himself. She was warmth and goodness. Her calm was a soothing balm to his nerves and a link to a beloved lost sibling. He indulged himself and took a tiny moment. She’ll never know.
“Why don’t you come out from behind that tree?”
Oliver’s eyes flew open at the sound of her voice. He’d not planned on being seen, and normally when he chose that option, he wasn’t. It was a simple, foolproof empathic trick, one he’d been able to do since childhood. Remaining silent and unmoving, he projected a low level of emotion in her direction. Disinterest. Indifference. Boredom. Every gentle empathic nudge was designed to increase her need to walk away and not look back.
She continued to talk as she stood. Brushing leaves from her trousers, she walked toward him with determination in her blue eyes. “If you keep lurking, it just looks suspicious.”
The moment their gazes met, he caught a flare of something. Surprise? Confusion? Oliver regained his composure. “I’m sorry if I scared you. I was enjoying the sunshine. You looked as if you were deep in thought. I didn’t want to disturb your privacy.”
“What about all the other times? Were you concerned about my privacy then, too?”
She’d noticed him before? Oliver’s much vaulted confidence of his own abilities took a distinct dive. “I’m sorry. It’s a pleasant spot, somewhere I enjoy and find calming.” Only because you’re here. “I won’t intrude on your peace any longer.”
“Do I know you?” She tilted her head to one side. The filtered sun caught the blonde strands of her short feathered haircut, making them shine.
“Do you know who I am?”
“May I ask you another question?”
Oliver frowned. “Of course?”
“Why are you lying to me? And who were you to Jasper?”
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She sighed and leaned forward. “I’m about to tell you something. I would appreciate it if you’d listen with an open mind, because it’s going to shock you.”
Mike mirrored her position, leaning his elbows on the table. “Very little shocks me these days, Miss Baron.”
“I prefer Meredith, or Merri.”
He inclined his head in acknowledgement. “If you have information on this case, I need to hear it.”
She fiddled with the spoon from her chocolate. The first non-confident move he’d seen her make. “I think Freddy may have been killed because of abilities he had.”
“Freddy was empathic. He could feel emotions as a physical sense.”
Mike sagged, fighting a keen sense of disappointment and a growing anger. He thought they were on to something, but no. She was one of those loopy new-age nut jobs—a very beautiful new-age nut job.
“You don’t believe me.”
Mike shoved his coffee cup aside. “No, I don’t believe you, and if you’ve finished wasting my time, I have real work to do.”
“Wait,” she said as he stood.
“I’m a busy man, Miss Baron.”
“What happened in the alley?”
Mike hesitated with his palms flat on the table. “Nothing.”
“Liar. You had a panic attack.”
“Fine. I had a panic attack. I work ninety hours a week on a good week. I don’t eat or sleep properly, and I see a lot of terrible things. Sometimes the stress gets to me, okay?”
“I did it.”
“This would be so much easier if you just believed me, but I see I’m going to have to prove it.”
“Prove what?” A rush of pure erotic heat raced through Mike’s body and headed straight between his legs. He sat down with a thud as those same limbs turned into wet noodles.
She leaned further across the table. “It’s funny, isn’t it, how we accept some emotions as a normal part of our daily life? Fear, pain, worry, anger, anxiety, guilt? We put them down as a standard occurrence caused by traffic jams, a suspicious person in our peripheral vision, a horrendous story on the evening news. You know what I mean, all sorts of things. But, sexual excitement? Desire? Lust? Arousal? Those we can’t explain away quite so easily, can we, detective?”
Her voice was a husky edged blade running over his skin. Heat. His whole body was a mass of pulsing aroused heat. Mike fought the almost uncontrollable urge to jerk his hips forward and sink into soft firm flesh. I’m having sex. Jesus, I feel like I’m having sex. All of the sensations were there. A series of highly carnal scenarios ran though his mind like a movie. Supple limbs wrapping around his, warm silky skin rubbing against him, moist lips panting with hot breath, fanning his face. His erection pressed against his zipper, and even that was unreasonably erotic. Mike was lost in a sensual storm, held captive by luminous blue eyes. The pressure built in his lower back, culminating in a blast of sensation, a tightening of his groin. Christ, I’m going to come.
Meredith broke eye contact, relaxed back in her chair, and picked up her hot chocolate.
Mikes impending orgasm, and all the associated sensations, vanished. He slumped against the table, heaving in great lungful’s of air. “Jesus Christ!”
“Nope. Just me.”
He gaped at her, his fingers curled into claws against the solid wood, and heart beating in double time. “What are you?”
The look she gave him was a mixture of exasperation and annoyance. “I’m not a what. I’m an empath. What do you say? Are you willing to listen to me now?”
“Yes,” he said, through a clenched jaw.
“Good.” She slid a gilt edged business card toward him, before standing and hitching a leather bag on her shoulder. “My place at eight tonight, address is on the card. Be prepared to listen. Oh, and Stone, drink your coffee. You look like you need it.”
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