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  • I love a short story that makes me feel like I just read a full length it is so good!
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  • I love an author that can give you such a good plot and delivery in a book that isn't novel length, this is a rare talent indeed!
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  • The Carpenter (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Reading 'The Carpenter' for the second time was easy for me because even though all of Serena's men in the 'Workplace Encounters' series are terrific characters, Tom and Matt are two of my favorites, at least so far.
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  • Maya @ readalloverREVIEWS
  • The story was well written and utterly cute, sweet and it is oriented around family and Christmas.
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  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • The first tale in the 'Gemstone Chronicles' is an endearing love story, endowed with marvelous, well-developed characters, but it also has its dark side, featuring malicious villains with hidden political agendas...
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  • This is a wonderful love story highlighting that differences in a relationship, when accepted, can strengthen that bond.
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  • If you are like me, you will enjoy the story even more the second time around.
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  • Heather @ Padme's Library
  • I love how the author has balanced fear, tragedy, and love.
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  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • 'Araton's Destiny' is an enjoyable, sweet Christmas story with passionate, wonderfully written love scenes and a great happy ending.
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  • For those of you who haven't read the story, I'd like to recommend that you do so, especially if you like a good romance with great characters, and a happy ending.
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  • MelanieM @ scatteredthoughtsandroguewords
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  • Caitlin @ Romance Junkies
  • Warning; this story will make you hungry for cupcakes and men. In addition, I should note that this is a very steamy novel.
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Thanks, Serena, for your magical touch when it comes to giving your couples the happy ending they deserve, and for making me drool all over my Kindle while describing all of the fabulous baked goods.
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Fighting for Love (Modern Battles 2)

Fighting for Love (Modern Battles 2)
Release Date: 02 September 2013
Description:

Danny McBrae is a super-rich playboy, but his devil-may-care lifestyle hides an artist with a sensitive heart who gave up on love after years of hurt. When his beloved great-grandfather, the eccentric Sir Malcolm Witherspoon, dies and leaves a rare piece of land to Oxford Hospital Trust, Danny finds new purpose. He uses some of his inherited wealth to help finance the planned children's hospital, supporting his best friend, Dr. Grayson Burrows, who heads the project team.

When Grayson is seriously injured, Danny meets Dr. Halldor Magnusson, the neurologist who treats Grayson. Halldor has some weird ideas about keeping Grayson away from James, his lover, so Danny initially dislikes him. But Halldor also has his own, deeply personal reasons for wanting the children's hospital to become a reality, and the initial mutual distrust changes into interest and attraction. When Danny’s jealous ex-lover attempts to tear them apart and someone is trying to get Halldor removed from the project team, they decide to join forces so they can win the battle.

Neither of the men is looking for love. Yet they discover it may be worth fighting for.


Pages: 204
Words: 68,506
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Book Type: E-Book, Paperback

CHAPTER ONE



“But I don’t want you to go.” Danny McBrae tried to suppress the emotion in his voice as he stood just outside his father’s bedroom, knowing full well his dad was all about sensible decisions and not letting feelings interfere with what needed to be done. Danny getting all emotional and throwing a tantrum would not help change his father’s decision. Nothing that Danny was aware of ever had.

The bedroom was one of many in Sir Malcolm Witherspoon’s expansive mansion just outside Oxford. With Danny’s parents being away so much they’d never even bothered to get their own house; instead, his French mother had moved into her new husband’s grandfather’s house when they first got married. Danny had begun to suspect it appealed to her sense of nobility, something pretty much missing in her home country.

His father’s room was about as welcoming as the man himself. Decorated in dark wood, with expensive carpets covering parts of the wooden floor, and half-drawn moss green curtains keeping the sunshine out, it emitted a vibe of rejection, of approach-at-your-own-risk. Danny didn’t dare walk in, knowing that he shouldn’t even be here. After all, there was homework waiting for him, and with his GCSE exams coming up, slacking was not an option.

At fifteen, he was too old to cry, but he was damned tempted. He hadn’t ever pleaded with them, but he came very close this time. How was he supposed to deal with his crush on Peter, a classmate he felt way more attracted to than any girl? Was he gay? What did it all mean? His parents should help him figure it out. Even if they couldn’t, what gave them the right to run off and leave him to his own devices all the time? His great-grandfather Malcolm was a wonderful guardian, and he loved the old man a lot, but he was seventy-nine and slowing down, and he wasn’t Danny’s parent.

Danny hated feeling so needy. He should have known better than to ask them to change their plans. They’d never been home for more than one or two weeks at a time since he’d started pre-school. They had jobs as aid workers in critical positions, and whether or not their son wanted them to stay with him was immaterial—at least, to them. Danny wished they’d want to be with him because he was important too, someone who counted in their lives. He would have settled for them supporting him because they loved him. Clearly, they loved their jobs more, and the “poor people of Africa” were more important than Danny.

“We’ve talked about this.” Danny’s father pressed his lips into a tight line as he continued packing his suitcase. He didn’t even turn around to look Danny in the eye. “The refugee crisis isn’t getting any better, and the negotiations for the Khartoum Declaration are entering a critical stage. Your mother and I are needed back in Sudan.”

I need you too.

“Chéri, surely you’re more than old enough to be on your own.” His mother approached from her bedroom across the hall, impeccably dressed as always. A dark blue pants suit with a light blue top made her look serious and businesslike, while the colorful shawl artfully slung around her neck added a note of elegance. The carry-on she pulled behind her said she was ready to leave. “Not that you’re really alone. Grandfather Malcolm has been taking good care of you so far. I’m sure he’ll keep doing it.”

“That isn’t the point.” Danny was at a loss: how to explain this to people who had trouble expressing their feelings, if they even had any?

“Then what is?” His father turned toward him and sighed, the frown on his forehead a clear indication of his displeasure.

“The point is that you’re my parents and you’re supposed to care about me.” It sounded lame when he said it, but it was what he really felt. “Leaving me behind all the time when you go and save the world is just wrong. I want you to stay here.”

“Oh, so you think leaving the people of Africa to their own devices is right?” His father raised his eyebrows. “All those millions of refugees who’ve lost their entire existence are less important than you? Listen, you’re well taken care of. You have a roof over your head, are getting a great education, and your great-grandfather loves you a lot. And anyway, you’re in school most of the time anyway, so we wouldn’t be able to spend a lot of time even if we stayed. What is your problem?”

Put like that, in the clinically dry analysis his father was so good at, Danny had to admit he didn’t have a problem. He had it positively easy compared to the struggling millions in the Third World. Yet, his stomach cramped in anxiety at the continued rejection from the people who should have loved him unconditionally. He looked at the floor, no longer willing to face the irritation in his father’s eyes. The man refused to listen, so he’d never get the point.

“You see? There is no problem.” His mother ruffled his blond locks as if he were still five years old. “Just some teenage hormones, that’s all.”

God, how he hated her patronizing tone, not to mention her messing with his hair. As if she had the right to touch him like that. As if she knew everything and he was an idiot. He hated feeling vulnerable, but his parents just got to him.

“Humph.” His father closed his suitcase and checked his watch. “We’ll be late if we’re not careful.”

“Don’t worry, chéri, Alfred will get us to the airport in time.” His mother turned away, pulling her suitcase behind her and turned around to blow him a kiss just before she started to descend the stairs.

“I should hope so.” Danny’s father picked up his suitcase, added the briefcase that he’d left on the floor and, with a last irritated glance at Danny, followed his wife down the stairs.

Danny just stood there, not knowing what to feel. The anger he was never allowed to show was so intense, he wanted to scream with it. He needed to hit something. The crushing disappointment that his latest attempt to communicate with his parents had failed created a lump in his throat that no amount of swallowing could dislodge.

Why did he always let them get to him like this?

Maybe it was time to put a stop to it. Maybe he needed to grow a set and move on. His parents obviously didn’t love him. So bloody what? Like his father said, he had a roof over his head, was getting a good education, and Great-Grandfather Malcolm was wonderful company, despite his advanced age.

Love is overrated anyway!




By the time dinner had been served—Great-Grandfather Malcolm believed in supporting the economy by employing numerous staff—Danny had not only made himself recover from the latest disappointment, he’d gained a new outlook on life. His parents managed to survive and do really well without any type of personal feelings, so he would do the same. He’d enjoy himself, have fun, and forget about the small voice that reminded him love was a good thing. When had it ever done him any favors? Nah, he was far better off ignoring it.

“You seem happy.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm slid into his chair on the opposite side of the antique dining room table. He moved a little slower than he’d used to, but otherwise looked like a man in his early sixties. Even at seventy-nine he was still an imposing figure. As tall as Danny at six feet, he had broad shoulders and walked with a straight back. He’d served in World War II and claimed the military training had done him good, had taught him how to stay fit and healthy. He was wearing his comfortable charcoal suit, looked utterly relaxed, and his gray hair stood up at all angles. Again.

Not one to bow to most of society’s conventions, he did pretty much what he wanted, dressed the way he liked, and hated hairdressers, or barbers as he still called them, with a vengeance. Danny had never been able to figure out why, but suspected it was Sir Malcolm’s one rebellious act against the strict dress code and buzz-cuts in the military. The fact he’d been knighted for his many contributions to charity, funded by a family fortune based on property and clever investments over the last one hundred years, had touched the old man, but his day-to-day demeanor hadn’t really changed. Danny thought that was remarkable in a world where so much depended on status, and people all over the UK were trying to either be a celebrity or at the very least stalk one. Strong tabloid sales were all the proof he needed.

“Sure.” He shrugged. He hadn’t aimed for happy, but he wouldn’t complain. His new carefree attitude certainly made him feel a lot better about things, and true happiness was sure to follow.

“That doesn’t sound very convincing.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm started eating the soup Mary, the new cook’s assistant, had placed in front of him. “And I know your parents leaving can’t be a happy occasion, so what’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Danny pretended to focus on his food.

“Not good enough.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm grinned when Danny looked up. “I’m sorry they keep doing that and I know it affects you, but they’ve always had their own agenda—much like my daughter Deirdre. God rest her soul. I think she did a good job raising your father and his two younger siblings when her faithless husband up and left in the sixties, never to be seen again. But she wasn’t one to stay at home and sit on her arse, so when she left to pursue her career as a nurse in Brazil as soon as her youngest had left home, I wasn’t really surprised.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know the family history.” He’d heard it so many times, he could recite it in his sleep. Verbatim.

“I’m glad you do.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm leaned back, having finished the soup. “But what you probably don’t realize is the effect it had on your father. He may have been twenty-seven and already married at the time, but having his mother leave him, just like his father had years earlier, hit him hard. And your mother had been nagging him to get back to work in Africa almost since you were born, so when he thought he no longer had anything to hold him here, he decided to leave as well.”

Danny frowned. He remembered that day. He’d only been five at the time and had just started primary school, but his parents getting into the big black Rolls and driving away from him without a backward glance was one of his earliest memories. Shit!

“Look, I know it’s hard on you.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm frowned, bushy gray eyebrows almost meeting in the middle. “I’ll try to help as much as I can.”

“It’s okay.” Danny dragged a smile up from somewhere deep down. “I have to grow up anyway, and I’ve decided life is too short to keep moping around, wishing for something that’ll never happen.”

“So what are you going to do?” Great-Grandfather Malcolm tilted his head, managing to look skeptical and curious at the same time.

“Have fun.” Danny grinned at the growing skepticism in his great-grandfather’s expression. “I know, I know, school comes first. But there’ll be time to relax, spend time with my friends, maybe even get a job.”

“A job?” His great-grandfather leaned forward. “Do you need a bigger allowance?”

“No, sir, I need a job.” He shrugged. “Not for the money, but I think it’ll be a good way to get some experience, meet new people, you know?”

“Well, well, well.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm shook his head as he leaned back to let Mary take his used dishes and place the main course in front of him. “And what sort of a job did you have in mind?”

“Actually….” He’d been wanting to do this for a while. “I’d love to work in one of the city’s galleries.”

“A gallery?” If his great-grandfather’s eyebrows moved any higher, they’d fall off. “You mean an art gallery?”

“Yeah. You know how I enjoy painting, and I’d like to find out more about what happens to paintings once they’re finished.” His teachers all said he had talent, but he wasn’t convinced they told him the truth. Sir Malcolm donated a lot of money to Danny’s expensive school, and he suspected they wanted to keep the man happy by praising his great-grandson. Working in a gallery would give him a better feel for what was out there, what sold, how artists managed their careers. Well, he could hope.

“Okay.” Great-Grandfather Malcolm nodded thoughtfully as he cut into his roast chicken. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.” He didn’t plan on using the man’s connections forever, but for his first job? He’d be stupid not to.

 

©Serena Yates, 2013
All Rights Reserved

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