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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sneak Peek for Center of Gravity book!!

Today we are doing something special!! Author Laura McNeil is allowing us to take a sneak peek inside her new book! The book is available for pre-order, but not for sale until July 14th! Don't miss this chance for an exclusive sneak peek and giveaway below!!

After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.
Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.
Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York. Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.
She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children

The truth could cost her everything. 

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

Pre-Order your copy today.  

Chapter 4
Wednesday, March 24

The Springhill ER lobby swarms with people, a busy hive of activity, with nurses buzzing from station to station and at least two dozen people waiting in the lobby. When I give my name to the woman behind the front desk, there’s a swell of chatter from a family in the corner and a blare of music announcing the latest CNN headlines on the flat screen above our heads.
Sam begins to fuss, emitting the baby whimpers that immediately tell me he’s over-stimulated and exhausted. I hug him to my chest, bouncing him up and down, and begin humming the Itsy-Bitsy Spider in his ear.
Poor little guy. I get it. The noise and confusion, mixed with the scent of day-old coffee and sweat, is enough to push me over the edge.
I step back, trying to ease my way into a quieter corner, and promptly crush someone's toe with my shoe. "I'm so sorry,"
The man behind me flashes a brilliant smile. "My fault," the stranger apologizes. “It’s a zoo in here and I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
Our gaze locks and I find myself temporarily mesmerized. His eyes are the most intense silver-gray I've ever seen, like a sliver of moonlight.
 “Mrs. Carson?” The receptionist announces.
“Oh!” My body floods with relief, and I hug Sam and rush toward the exam rooms. As one of the ER workers leads us down a hallway, I glance over my shoulder to say goodbye, but the man with the silver eyes has disappeared.
We step into a bustling ER, maneuvering around nurses and doctors.
“Ava! Sam!” Jack calls out the moment he sees us.
I paste on a brave smile, taking in the streak of blood on his shirt, the purple bruise staining the side of his cheek, and the dirt in his hair. None of it matters. He’s all right.
            “Hey,” I kiss his forehead, inhaling the scent of fresh grass and earth. I bend my head to get a better look at Jack’s chin. The skin gapes at the corners of the gash. “Oh my.”
            I glance down at Sam, who’s lodged a finger between his gums and is staring intently at his older brother. “Ja,” he says.
Dr. Max laughs and holds up his blue-gloved hands. “That’s what I thought. You’re just in time for the big show.”
            I step back from the bed, casually, so as not to embarrass Jack, but inside I quiver with relief. I can’t imagine a day, a minute, without Sam and Jack. Everything that defined my “before kids” life somehow seems irrelevant.
            I stroke Sam’s downy-soft head and drink in the scent of baby lotion. Before he was born, other moms always shared stories about the fierce love that surges in a woman the moment she gazes on her newborn’s face. How childbirth pain disappears, replaced by an intense need to care for and protect this amazing creature at all costs. It’s so true, but the remarkable thing is this: no one mentioned it could happen the other way around. The same bond can form—just as deeply, just as strong—when a child without a mother finds you first. It happened with Jack, which makes me doubly blessed. A precious baby and an adorable son. How lucky can one woman get? They’re my world. Which is probably why Mitchell teases me relentlessly that he’s neglected.
In fairness, I’ve pointed out several times that a spouse has to be home to get attention. His reply? He wasn’t quite ready for baby number two. A fact he divulged right about the time morning sickness hit me full force.
A little. Too. Late.
            I hold Sam a little tighter, melding his body to mine. I’m positive Mitchell will come around. Sam is his legacy. His namesake. Just like Jack.
The sound of an ambulance siren reverberates outside the building. A ruckus of crash carts and moving bodies erupts in the hallway.

 “Ready champ?” Dr. Max nods at Jack while he leans him back on the table, then looks up at me. “He reminds me of you, Ava, back in high school. A little bit of a free spirit, eh?” He begins suturing Jack’s chin.
“What happened?” Jack shifts his eyes to me. “Tell me!”
            “Hold still, babe,” I mock-threaten, wagging a finger. “And Dr. Max, you're under a gag order. No spilling any secrets. It’s been one of those days.”     
            Dr. Max raises an eyebrow as he stitches. “What happened?”
            My neck prickles as I shrug. “Flat tire,” I say, curving my lips into a smile to hide the worry. “Thank goodness for Mike Kennedy.”
            Dr. Max grins, snipping a piece of thread. “Police escort, eh? Nice. Not everyone gets one.”
            “Ha-ha,” I wink as Jack smirks and rolls his eyes at me from the table.
            “You made it here, didn’t you?” Dr. Max looks at me, then back down, as he finishes another suture.
“More than I can say for Dad,” Jack mutters under his breath.
This stabs at my heart. “Jack,” I chide, then soften my voice. “I’m sure he’s busy finishing up plans for the sports complex.” I glance down at his face. “Your dad’s been working so hard getting it together.”
 “That’s what everyone says.”
Dr. Max straightens up and claps Jack on the shoulder. “Well, we're done. No coming back here for at least a year. And make that a social visit.”

“I’ll try,” Jack jumps to the floor. “See, good as new!” He pretends to give Sam a high-five. His brother claps in delight. “Dr. Max, can I play tomorrow? Last game of the season.”
“Bandage that chin up really well if you do,” Dr. Max says sternly. “There’s a chance you could rip the sutures. However, I’ll leave that decision up to Ava and your dad.”
“Thanks so much, Dr. Max,” I reach out to squeeze his huge, rough hand, then turn to buckle Sam into his car seat carrier.
“Anytime.” He rumples Jack’s hair. “Look after Ava here, and your brother.”
Jack grabs his backpack and throws it over one shoulder. “No problem. I will.” In an unprecedented public show of affection, he interlaces his fingers with mine.
The floor gleams as we walk out. In the tiles, I see our wavy reflection. Sam cradled in my arms, me in the middle, Jack at my side. Connected.
Outside I take a deep breath of the warm spring breeze. The air, thick with honeysuckle, seems to welcome us.
“Let’s see if we can grab a cab to the repair shop,” I suggest. “It’s not far.”
“Sure, but what’s Dad’s gonna say?” Jack frowns.
I pause. “About the Jeep or your chin?” I ask, readjusting Sam’s carrier in the crook of my arm.
“My chin,” he replies. “I’ll bet he’ll be pissed.”
Stiffening, I frown. “Jack, don’t say that word.” I say. “Upset, maybe. Annoyed, probably. He’s under a lot of pressure at work, but he loves you. He’ll get over it. He always does.”
“But why does he get so mad sometimes? It's not like I'm trying to get in trouble,” Jack stares at his feet as we start to walk again.
My chest tightens. “You know, I guess your dad wants everything to be perfect,” I wrap an arm around Jack and give him a quick squeeze. “And that’s a tough assignment. Perfect.”
“He’s not,” Jack shoots back, his face dark.
I put a finger to my lips. “It’s true, but don’t tell him that,” I say. “It’ll be our little secret.”
Jack grimaces instead and kicks at the sidewalk. He stares into the cracks, traces the edge with the toe of his tennis shoe. In that moment, the frightened kid I met three years ago reappears. Confused. Hurt. That Jack doesn’t come around often these days.

 “Hey, think about this instead. That scar will make you look all grown up, actually. Tough. Clint Eastwood-y. Dirty Harry.”
“Um, Clint Eastwood’s old, Ava.” Jack untangles himself and tries to make a serious face but ends up laughing. “Maybe Robin or Nightwing.”
My shoulders relax. “Okay, okay.” I pretend to pull away from him. “Just trying to make you feel better.”
“Thanks.” He chuckles. “It’s kinda working.”
I stop walking and face him. “Jack Carson, I love you no matter what.”
His face softens. The words, somehow, are magic, a salve. “No matter what?”
“Absolutely.” I solemnly cross my heart. Corny, but I don’t care. “I promise.”


I'm so excited to read the rest!! I've checked out all 5 chapters and it definitely leaves you wanting more! Go check out the other blogs to read each of the chapters featured there and then go get your copy and enter the giveaway below!

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