A Beauty Dark and Deadly
Heather C. Myers
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Emmy Neal needs a job. Desperately. Her grandfather, the only family she has, is in and out of the hospital due to various illnesses and the medical bills are stacking up. It’s difficult to find a steady job in South Haven – everything is either taken or seasonal, except one.
Jason Marshall needs a maid. His cabin and his eating habits have been declining recently, though, to be fair, they have always been in a slippery slope. Being out o the public’s eye for the past five years has given him time to remember why he started rapping in the first place and work on his fourth studio album. The problem is, everyone still believes he killed his wife and her lover even though he was legally acquitted on a technicality, which makes the prospect of a comeback difficult to come by. If he can get one person to give him a chance, he knows others will, too.
In this modern retelling of a classic fairytale, Emmy will learn that beasts can be beautiful, love can be dark, and attraction can be deadly.
Heather’s books are being published in a fun, non-traditional way: you sign up for a newsletter after which you’ll receive roughly a chapter per week (~1,000 words). Subscribe for A Beauty Dark and Deadly here! For Heather’s other books:
- Love in Neverland – the sequel to Death in Neverland (which is free here, so if you’re interested in this, please download your copy!) **Clean YA
- The Art of Persuasion – A young woman falls through time and into a naked pirate’s bedroom. In the Eighteenth Century. *Romantic Comedy (possible swear words, sensuality, but no graphic sex)
- Inheriting Starlight – Two sisters with claims to the throne of their galaxy. Both our lost, waiting to be found and waiting to find themselves. **Romantic Sci-Fi.
Read Chapter 1
The first thought Emmy Atler had upon seeing him was how someone so beautiful could kill his wife and her lover. Because Jason Marshall was beautiful; any woman (and even some men) who could see (and anyone who could not see most certainly could feel) his beauty. While he was relatively short for a male, standing at five foot ten, he had incredibly angular features. His face was heart-shaped, with high cheekbones. His eyes were dark, deep, and soulful, hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses. Emmy made sure to note not to stare into those eyes in fear that she might lose a piece of her in them. His lips looked soft and shapely, his top lip only slightly smaller than his bottom lip. Oddly enough, it was Mr. Marshall’s nose that Emmy was fascinated with the most; it was pointed and defined, the nostrils flaring out almost like the wings of a bird. His hair was dark and shaggy, constantly falling into his face on its own accord. It was longer than normal, coming down to about his chin. His shoulders were broad, hidden by an old, tattered robe. Emmy noticed that for a man of thirty-eight, his body was still in good shape as evidenced by his clinging muscle shirt and loose pajama pants.“I’m here to answer the ad,” she said, mentally scolding herself for how small her voice sounded. Emmy was usually more forthcoming; she wasn’t used to being intimidated by anybody.
However, Emmy was beginning to expect that Jason Marshall was a different man entirely. He had begun to develop a well-known reputation as an esteemed author after he published his first book. The man was talented, and because of that, he started making money. As always, however, night did accompany day. Jason began holing up in his home office, plagued with deadlines, appearances, and writer’s block. The papers interpreted his isolation as a strain on his marriage and even managed to uncover his wife’s secret, seven-month affair. Jason had to discover it in the papers. Next thing he knew, his wife and her lover ended up dead in a Motel 6 and he was being accused of committing the act. Two years later and after clearing his name, he took residence in his old cabin in Lake Tahoe. He was also a rapper, something Emmy was much less familiar with, publishing three platinum albums on top of his writing career. He did not tour, and performed only rarely. From what she knew of his music career – which wasn’t much to begin with – he was an amazing rapper.
He smiled at her, causing Emmy to look away. The sun seemed to shine differently when he smiled.
“You seem to be the only one to do so,” he told her in a soft-spoken voice. Emmy had seen Jason being interviewed on television a few months back, and she found it rather baffling that the man had a voice that sounded articulate and mumbled at the same time. It was a low tenor and gave her chills; she hoped it was because she was intimidated by him.
“I guess that means that you’re hired,” he continued, opening the door wider – a silent invitation to come in.
She hesitated, and glanced at her two suitcases idly on the cement porch on either side of her. It had been rather presumptuous of her to assume that she would get this job, but she highly doubted that anyone else would be applying, and upon seeing his surprised look when he first saw her, she assumed that he felt the same way.
As Emmy stepped over the threshold that would mark the beginning of the end for her, she began to reflect on why she had decided to take the cleared murderer up on his job offer. Her grandfather was a wounded war veteran who barely managed to make ends meet with merely his disability check. He was the only thing Emmy had in the world and she loved him more than anything. She was currently a senior in college, about to graduate, but instead of finishing at the moment, she saw this opportunity to help him out and decided to take it. This, of course, was against her grandfather’s strictest wishes. It broke her heart that she had to leave him, but the pay was good, and they needed it.
“Well, I assume you want the tour then,” he said, glancing at the ground as he scratched the back of his neck.
“Actually, could you just show me to my room?” she asked. Even Emmy could admit that she sounded rather forceful and she quickly looked away to avoid that penetrating stare of his.
Jason paused for a beat as he stared at her intensely, before he nodded once. This caused his hair to fall in his face and his hand reached up, his long fingers pushing the locks out of his face; a chain of events that Emmy expected to happen quite often.
“Uh… yeah,” he said, and then began to lead her through the unkempt living room up to the base of the stairs.
Emmy watched his movements with interested curiosity. They were swift and fluid, however somewhat ungraceful as well. She noticed a rather large hole in the train of his robe, which was flittering behind the man in hopes to keep up with him. To be honest, Emmy was somewhat surprised that she was carrying both of her suitcases. She had been raised by a man who had lived in the time where chivalry was an unwritten rule, and expected the men of today to have some form of familiarity with etiquette, despite it being practically extinct.
As though Jason Marshall could read her mind, he stopped abruptly and spun around, causing his hair to curtain his face once again. Emmy had to strain her muscles to stop so that she would not run into him.
“I apologize,” he said, after brushing his hair back. “I seem to have forgotten my manners.” He looked at her bags before meeting her eyes. “May I?” he asked, raising his firm brow.
Emmy’s face betrayed her thoughts by turning an unattractive shade of red. Deciding not to trust her voice, she nodded and handed him her bags. Emmy made it a point to avoid accidentally touching him, and once the two bags were in his hands, she mumbled a meek word of thanks. The corner of his lips curled up in response and again, he nodded, before turning and finally ascending the narrow staircase.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Full disclosure: I am an acquired taste. I'm a typical blonde Orange County suburbanite who says 'like' more than necessary, laughs loud and probably obnoxiously, and loves to dance in the rain. I'm a 23 year old college graduate with more than a few tricks up my sleeve, and I also happen to be a pretty big Ducks fan. Oh, and I'm a writer. Like, for real.
What inspired you to write A Beauty Dark & Deadly?
I knew I wanted to do a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of my favorite fairytales. However, it was important to me to ensure that my story was different. I love darkness, but still sappy romances. I also majored in Criminology, so legal technicalities, miscarriages of justices, and public perception of celebrity legal issues are things I’m interested in. As such, the story took shape and I wrote. I also want to raise uncomfortable questions to make my readers think: would you be with someone who murdered his wife in cold blood for having an affair? What if he was found not guilty? What if you could never be sure one way or the other? What if you did?
Can you tell us about the love story between Emmy and Jason, without giving too much away?
Jason is isolated and lonely. He’s dealt with betrayal of the worst kind, and stood trial for murders he may or may not have committed. He knows he’s famous and there will be women who want to sleep with him and be with him because of his money and notoriety, but he genuinely believes true love will not find him anymore because of his baggage. Emmy, on the other hand, is young and reserved. She’s helping her grandfather with medical bills and taking care of him as best as she can. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so she goes to work for this man everyone believes killed his wife and her lover. She wants to hate him – she’s afraid for her life – but she realizes there’s more to him than media perception, and as much as she doesn’t want to explore that, she does.
Serializing your novel entirely for free is almost unheard of in the publishing industry – both traditional and indie. What made you decide to do it?
I read a lot business books, and the best advice I ever got was to change your perception on making money. Don’t ask what value you can get from your readers, ask what value you can give to them. I’ve found the most successful I’ve ever been is offering some of my work for free, providing a professional, entertaining product on a consistent basis, and that is my intention here. It’s a different way to get my work out there, but I’m excited at the new adventure this will be!
A Beauty Dark & Deadly is not the only serialized novel your launching next week. Can you briefly describe them and provide sign up links if anyone is interested?
Love in Neverland – sequel to my dark YA retelling of Peter Pan. The first book, Death in Neverland is available to download for free here: http://amzn.to/1J1qMSG in case anyone is interested and wants to catch up. To sign up for the sequel, all you need to do is go here: http://eepurl.com/bLoM91
The Art of Persuasion – a clean (though very sassy) time traveling new adult romantic comedy. A young woman wakes up in the bed of an infamous pirate captain wearing nothing but a short dress. All she wants to do is go home. All he wants to do is rescue her. And save his sister from a hanging. Whichever comes first. Sign ups are here: http://eepurl.com/bLoMJr
Inheriting Starlight – a dark romantic science fiction novel. One sister is thought to be dead. One sister is set to inherit a galaxy she does not want. Both will have to find each other and themselves if they are to receive what they truly desire. Sign ups are here: http://eepurl.com/bLoNxf
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