There’s only one week left until the release of Tempted. In book two of the Thornton Brothers, the rest of the Thornton Family make their appearance. Here’s a wee excerpt as an introduction . . .
Gabe tugged me further along the wall, stopping at the next photograph which was taken in a studio with perfect lighting, a staged background and formally posed stances. The two dark haired boys were older and sported serious smiles, hinting at their resistance of being made to pose for the family portrait. The baby was now a young boy and there was a toddler in the mix. A beautiful, blond haired, smiling angel of a boy with his hands on his hips and a wide smile that scrunched the rest of his face so you almost couldn’t see his eyes.
“And then came Gabe,” Gabe said proudly, looking at the photo and mimicking the exact same grin.
“You were so cute!” I let go of his hand and stepped to examine it closer.
“Were?” Gabe asked, wrapping his arms around my waist from behind and resting his chin on my shoulder.
I turned in his arms, squeezed his cheeks together and planted a firm kiss on his puckered lips. “You’re still alright, I guess.”
Gabe talked with his cheeks still mushed between my hands, his words coming out mumbled and distorted. “Dad was so pissed about this photo. I remember him telling me in no uncertain terms how I had to stand, how I had to smile, but each time the photographer counted down, I pulled this expression. In the end, they just gave up and took the picture.”
We continued down the never-ending hall as the boys grew. The smiling face of Gabe’s mother faded until she disappeared altogether. After that, I noticed Gabe’s smile faded too.
Gabe stopped at the second to last photo. “This one was taken three years ago. It’s the only one of all of us, the only one that will ever exist of all of us.”
I studied the photo, barely noticing the new woman draped by Mr Thornton’s side. It was the four boys which struck me. The dark and the light of them. Gabe looked so much like his older brother, Clark. He had his arm slung over his shoulder even though the style of the photo demanded formality, and he had this sort of half grin, one side of his mouth sloping upwards, the other laying still. Clark had the same expression as though it were a mirrored reflection.
The lack of the two smiling blond boys in the final image stood out starkly. Tyler and Jake stood tall and straight, their dark hair and handsome faces unsmiling and dressed in dark suits standing beside Hamish and his wife. The photo was taken outside, a casual snap of a shutter rather than a poised stage.
Gabe cleared his throat. “It was taken at Clark’s funeral. I refused to be in it. I was so pissed Dad insisted on taking a family photo. It was outside the fucking church for god’s sake.”
We stood in silence looking at everything the photo didn’t say. Something seemed familiar about Billie, Gabe’s step-mother, but her face was slightly shielded by the shadow caused by her large brimmed hat, and I couldn’t make out why I felt like I knew her.
Gabe tugged on my hand. “Come on,” he said. “I want to show you the house.”
– Tempted, Chapter Three Excerpt