Excerpt – Hearts Surrender by Marianne Evans
(used by permission)
“I’ve been the wallflower who bloomed. But I’ve never believed in myself enough to give up the fancy trappings. I've clung to vanity-centered ideals for too long, I suppose. I’ve worked hard to fit in, and finally I succeeded. Problem is, that kind of success is a double-edged sword. That pathway, once you start to follow it, is hard to leave.”
In an unexpected, graceful motion, Ken caught her swing by the chains. He held her in place, suspended backward, with nothing but a cushion of air between them. All at once Kiara went dizzy, tempted once more by that full, supple mouth, and the satiny-looking fall of his thick brown hair. He was close enough to touch. In this moment, she wanted nothing more than to do just that.
“Some time – at some point – I’d like to hear more about that, Kiara. I’d like know how you became the woman you are.”
“I’d bore you to tears. It’s nothing extraordinary.”
“All present evidence to the contrary.” He set her gliding once again and Kiara’s stomach performed a sparkling fall-away. She delighted in his words but forced herself to brush them aside before they could take root and sway her into believing he saw richness to her spirit. After all, it was part of Ken’s persona to be gracious and encouraging.
He continued, “You're moving forward in directions that are not only admirable, but eye-opening – not just for you, most likely, but to everyone who's part of your life. Don't hold to what other people see, or expect of you, Kiara. Be who you are. And while you're at it, create the best version of yourself you can imagine. After all, the only question, with the only relevance that matters, is this: Who are you now?"
When she sailed back his way, he caught the chains of her swing once again and whispered in her ear, "I believe in you."
With that, he released her on a push, sending Kiara on another dizzying spin of sensation. He walked away, retracing his steps up the path to the cabins and mess hall. She swung to a stop then sat in silence for long moments after he left, absorbing, shivering in a way that had nothing at all to do with the cool of the encroaching night.
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