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Acts Of Creation by Elisabeth Staab…Spotlight And Exclusive Deleted Scene

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About Acts of Creation:

He’s living a lie.

Dante Ramos: Champion. Ladies’ man. Party animal. Women want him, and men either want to be him or put his lights out for sleeping with their girlfriends. It’s all an act. Inside, he’s so full of self-loathing he’s on a fast-track to self-destruction.

She’s living in the shadows.

Meeting Michelle at a support group for assault survivors shows Dante a new world of possibilities. Finally, someone in his life might understand him, and she creates in him a fierce need to protect. Trouble is, Dante lives his life in the spotlight, and the only thing Michelle wants is a place to hide.

 

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About the cover:
Cover Photography by Michael Stokes | Cover Model – Quentin Elias | Cover design by Babski Creative Studios
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Excerpt (Michelle’s POV):

I plod down the church steps, taking my time heading into the parking lot. A quick summer storm must have passed through while we were all inside, and the evening is cool and damp with the smell of fresh rain. I love that scent. I love the electricity in the air before a big storm, and the way it makes everything smell fresh and brand-new after.

I’m so busy lifting my nose to the sky to take a big whiff, wishing the rain could make me shiny and clean like the streets, that I don’t at first notice Dante standing by his car. I jump a little. He’s so big that I can’t believe I missed him.

Mental head smack, Chelle.

He looks apologetic when he says, “Didn’t mean to catch you off guard.”

“You didn’t.” My mother always said I should never sell used cars. I don’t agree with her about much, but she’s right that I’m not a good liar.

With my face burning, I expect him to call me out on the fib. He doesn’t. He only gives me a winning smile and pushes away from the car. He’s got two takeout cups in his hand. “Okay. So I couldn’t make it to the meeting tonight, but I didn’t like the idea of you out here waiting alone for the bus. Wanted to make sure you got home okay. Also…” He holds out one of the cups. “I broke down and picked up a milkshake, and I hate to drink alone.”

Wow. That’s either a little weird or really nice. Under the circumstances, I decide to go with option B. I’ve always thought Dante was a player, but I’ve never thought he was a bad guy. After the last couple of weeks, I’m not even sure what to think. “What kind of milkshake?”

“Double chocolate cookies and cream. Unless that’s not your thing, in which case I’m willing to trade you my birthday-cake flavored. And I don’t give up my rainbow sprinkles for just anybody, Michelle.” He leans in and whispers that last part with a gravelly suggestive something in his voice, and even though he stops short of touching me I’m surprised at the flush of heat his nearness and his words bring to my body.

“That’s…” Ooh. Maybe he is a player. I don’t know why else he’d be acting flirty with the likes of me. I know my loose clothes and long, un-styled hair don’t do much to attract guys. I dress the way I do for a reason.

I recover and grab hold of the first cup he held out to me. “Thanks, but I wouldn’t dare ask you to make that kind of sacrifice. Anyway, chocolate is one of my favorite food groups.”

“For you, I would. But I’m glad I made the right choice.”

His eyes gleam when he smiles and leans into my space. My snap-fleeting thought is that he’s definitely being flirty. The idea nearly makes me snarf my first drink of shake. No way. “I… Hey, this is really good,” I say, pointing to the cup. Maybe I’m being a dork. Probably.

I’m not sure what surprises me more. The idea that he could possibly be making a move on me, here of all places, or the idea that I kind of would like him to be.

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DELETED SCENE (Michelle’s POV):

“So are you, like, off the diet this week?”

He pulls out a cheese stick and offers me one. It reminds me of the last time we ate them together, and my weird, sudden urge to get flirty. The memory makes my face warm.

“I guess you could say I’m having a hard time sticking to the plan, lately.” He looks down into the bag, but I feel like he’s trying to hide something. His face is cloudy, and an unusual slope to his shoulders makes my stomach tight.

“Hey.” I sit and scoot forward on the bench, pushing my drawing supplies out of the way until our knees are almost touching. “What is it that John Lennon said about life being what happens when you make other plans?” I put my hand on his leg, because it seems like the right thing to do. “It happens sometimes. Life.”

He looks up then, swiping his thumb down the side of my face. “That why you’ve been crying? Did life happen? Or is that my fault, for being a dick and bailing in the middle of the night last night?”

Damn. I blow out a breath. I’d tried to get myself under control before he showed up, but I must still have those awful tear-streaks going down my face. “My parents called with some bad news.”

He leans forward. His hand is still on the side of my face, and the size and heat of it my stomach wobble. My face gets hot.

“Then you and I should make some other plans.” The way he smiles at me this time is different. It’s not his usual life of the party grin. It’s.. I don’t know, if I was a girl who believed in that sort of thing, I’d think maybe he liked me or something. You know. “That way.”

It’s an absorbed smile that produces unsettling warmth in places I didn’t think could get warm any longer. Maybe it’s the way the sun in his eyes looks like diamonds. Or maybe it’s the fact that his smile reminds me about how lately whenever I need someone to lean on, there he is with his big, strong shoulders.

I guess in actuality he’s the one who’s needed support some of those times, but it’s been nice to be needed. It’s been nice not to be the only one with the big “BROKEN” stamp on their forehead. We’ve both got some dings, and we don’t have to explain that to each other.

I hate having to explain. I did so much of that after what happened with Craig and his crew. To the police, to the therapists. All for what?

Which is why I’m immensely grateful he hasn’t asked me what’s wrong. He’s just suggested we go do something else.

 

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About Elisabeth:

Elisabeth Staab loves passionate stories and happy endings. Her books have been called “emotionally delicious,” “action-packed,” and “gloriously snarky.” When not writing romance, she enjoys date night with her husband, reading Harry Potter with her kids, and marathoning her favorite books or TV series. Find out more at ElisabethStaab.com, follow along on Facebook and Twitter, and keep up with new releases and giveaways by signing up for her newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

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