by Rosalie Redd
Love in a Bottle Book Two
Worlds of Lemuria:
Earth Colony series
Jo McCallum has a penchant for bad boys, the ones that screw up her life then run when things get tough.
Charlie Ridgefield has had enough of princess-type girlfriends with mile high expectations.
When Charlie stops to aid Jo and her disabled car, it’s more than the car’s engine that gets overheated.
A Lemurian god’s love potion falls through a portal and lands in Portland, Oregon’s Forest Park. Once discovered, the alluring liquid can ignite adventure and passion, perhaps leading to a meant-to-be love for those that open it—if they're brave enough to take the risk.
Genre: Fantasy RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Aliens, Magic, SciFi
Release Date: April 2, 2016
Excerpt & More
Jo popped another candy between her lips. Her mouth watered as the crunchy outer shell mixed with the bittersweet taste of chocolate. Was there anything better? She pressed her back against the VW Rabbit’s seat, but the lumpy frame poked into her ribs. The evergreen trees lining the winding road seemed endless, and a long sigh eased from her chest.
She’d borrowed the car from her roommate, Cassandra, so she could visit Emily in Scappoose. The thought of her sister brought a round of tears to her eyes, and she clenched her teeth. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Even as she willed herself not to, the tears streaked down her cheeks.
She wiped them away with a quick swipe and pounded her fist on the steering wheel. “Justin, you cheat!”
Emily’s long-time boyfriend had dumped her for another woman, and Jo had raced to her sister’s side to offer what comfort she could. Her sister’s puffy eyes were a reminder that men could be cheats. She’d told Emily that there was a better man out there for her, but her sister wasn’t convinced. Jo’s heart clenched—not like she had a sterling example.
She’d met her last boyfriend at a bar, drawn to his leather jacket and motorcycle helmet. His risk-taking attitude and rebel nature was an attraction she wasn’t able to refuse. When he’d asked to borrow her car, she’d let him—stupid mistake. He’d promptly rear-ended a pickup truck, totaling her old reliable Corolla. That was the last time she’d seen him, well over a month ago.
She clenched the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white. “I guess we know how to pick ’em, don’t we Em.” Grandma had always said their soulmate was out there, somewhere. Jo shook her head. Based on the men she’d seen so far, that was pure fantasy.
The Scappoose-Vernonia Highway wound down the hill toward Highway 30. Once there, the drive was a quick trip back to Portland and the apartment she shared with Cass. A brilliant display of orange and pink lit up the clouds as the late winter sun called it a day. A few stars twinkled in the darkening sky, and the pine trees lining the road seemed to welcome the night into their embrace.
Eerie shadows appeared on the blacktop, sending a shiver up Jo’s spine. She flipped on the car’s lights. Two strong beams illuminated the pavement, chasing away the darkness.
Her stomach clenched around a ball of frustration. Tears threatened once again. Suck it up—Jo. A need to ease the ache raced through her veins. Chocolate. With her gaze intent on the road ahead, she reached into her purse. Her fingers grazed the top of the sack, crinkling the bag shut.
A narrow curve came into view, and she pulled her hand free to grip the wheel. Tires squealed as she rounded the bend. Her heart fluttered. Tapping the brakes, she eased the car into a slower pace. A lone car passed going the other way.
Her stomach rumbled, and her sugar addiction pulled on her psyche full force. Grabbing the handle on her purse, she yanked the bag closer. The soft leather rested against her thigh, and the scent of her favorite confection filled her senses. She shoved her hand inside. The deluxe-size bag of candy evaded her reach, as if it had a mind of its own.
“For Pete’s sake!” She rummaged around, her hand grazing pens, a small notebook, her lip gloss, a mirror, a—
Her fingers closed over the small vial Cass had given her a couple of months ago. She’d forgotten about the special bottle.
Cass had found the strange flask while on a hike in Forest Park. She claimed it contained a love potion, insisting the bottle had brought her and Adam together. With a sly smile, she’d given the vial to Jo and made her promise not to open it until she’d met the right man. Cass seemed so happy, but a magic love potion? Hardly…
Jo shoved the vial aside, intent on getting to her favorite candy. The bag crinkled as her fingers gripped the wrapper. Success! She reopened the top and grabbed a handful of colorful delight. After a mouthful or two, the sugar buzz raced through her veins, making her scalp tingle. Even knowing she should stop, she popped a few more into her mouth.
Ok, enough of that.
She tossed her purse onto the backseat, out of reach.
Darkness descended, the winter sky—almost black. Goosebumps rose along her arms and even through her coat, she shivered. She reached for the heater.
A deer burst from the bush and raced across the street. The car’s headlights lit up its white tail as the doe disappeared amid the trees. Jo took her foot off the gas. Deer usually roamed in groups—
Another white-tail bounded from the bushes. Jo slammed on the brakes.
Time seemed to slow.
A flash of black fur and the glint of white teeth reflected in the headlights.
A loud thump.
The car shook from the impact.
Jo’s forehead slammed into the steering wheel. Pain exploded at her temple and radiated down her neck. White spots formed in her vision and she fought for consciousness. Through the windshield, the trees seemed to race toward her. The car came to rest on the road’s soft shoulder, mere inches from a giant fir tree.
Headlights dimmed then went out. The engine died. A deafening silence made her ears ache, or maybe that was a result of her spinning head.
She leaned back in the seat and rubbed her forehead. Blackness enveloped her, but she held on to consciousness. Thanks to the last bite of candy, a wracking cough burst from her lungs. Her head pounded all the harder, but the pain kept her awake.
When the fit was over, she glanced out the window. The deer…
Jo loved animals, and her heart clenched. What if the doe was hurt or worse? Wait. The last animal she’d seen wasn’t a deer. She’d seen what? A large black cat…a panther?
She pulled on the handle and pushed against the heavy door. A loud, angry screech rang into the night as metal scraped against metal. Heart pounding, she escaped. The door shut with a renewed wail.
The stars didn’t provide much light, and the moon was barely a sliver, but a quick movement from the middle of the road caught her attention. As she focused her eyes on the form, a loud cry emanated from the creature and echoed through the trees.
The hair on her scalp stood on end.
A large cat pulled itself to a standing position. Even in the meager light, its dark fur gleamed. The creature shook its head, as if clearing away the effects of the crash.
Jo gasped and held her breath. Her mind screamed “run,” but her legs felt thick, like tree trucks firmly rooted to the ground.
The panther turned toward her, and a pair of yellow eyes glowed in the darkness. A slow snarl built into another scream, and the cat loped into the bushes.
She bit her lip. Maybe I’m losing my mind. No more chocolate for me.
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