Centuries after the asteroid that sent Earth into the ice age, the remaining humans live in underground sanctuaries. As the Impact Bi-Centennial Anniversary approaches, Bethanie Greene prepares to take her place as the Government's new leader. Or so she thinks.
With her life planned out, Bethanie trains to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. Until six weeks shy of taking office she's kidnapped by extremists; then rescued by a handsome stranger.
Harboring a deep-seated resentment of the government, Howard James struggles to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist. Ironically, he finds himself rescuing the soon-to-be head of the government, Bethanie Green. Torn between his resentment of everything she represents and her beauty, Howard shows Bethanie a different side of life in Oceania, while at the same time opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.
Can Bethanie trust this man? Who is this handsome stranger who fights everything she believes in?. And he gets under her skin like nobody has even dared before.
Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.
A yawn creeps up my throat and I suddenly feel like I haven’t slept in weeks. The temptation to curl up and go to sleep is strong, but my body is telling me I need a trip to the bathroom first.
I head down the hall to the door at the end. It’s ajar, so I push the door open—and freeze. The bathroom is not empty.
Howard stands at the sink, naked from the waist up, cleaning his teeth. Without clothing, his shoulders look twice as wide as before and every curve and dip in his muscles is clearly visible. Down the middle of his back is what looks like a big, black T. I have this crazy inclination to trace it to see how it feels.
Howard clears his throat and my gaze shoots up to find him watching me in the mirror. “Do you mind?”
He winks at me.
“Sorry.” I pull the door shut. I’m mortified to have been caught staring. I also have butterflies in my stomach again, stronger than ever, and my heart is pounding. I fan my face with my hands in an attempt to calm myself down.
Before I can get everything under control, the door opens and a still-shirtless Howard walks out.
I mentally slap myself for such an inept reply, but the view of him from the front is even better than the back. He has one of those washboard stomachs I’ve heard Gail talk about. I never understood what she meant, but now I can see how apt the description is. Once again, I find myself unable to stop staring.
“Good night, Bethanie,” Howard says strolling down the hallway.
“Howard? What’s the T on your back?” I ask, curiosity getting the better of me.
He stops and half turns towards me. “It’s a tattoo, and it isn’t a T, it’s a crucifix.”
“Yeah, it’s the cross Christ was nailed to. It is a symbol of the weight I bare in the name of justice.”
“Huh. I’m sorry, I don’t really know what you’re talking about. It’s nice, though.”
“Thanks,” he says, “but I better get to bed if I’m going to be up early to take you to the post office.”
“Night,” I call after him.
“Sweet dreams,” he calls back.
I smile. They might just be.
Melissa Kendall is a forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of four published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.
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