Under Her Skin by Mary Winter
erotic paranormal romance, Greek Gods
Length: 30,000 words, approx 60 pages
Release Date: 11/28/15
Cover Art by Ash Arceneaux
A wilted flower never gets sent. A scarred woman never finds love.
Ari intimately knows these two truths. She works as a florist. Her job is to create beauty. But a horrible car accident left her permanently scarred. She’s buried herself in her work and stayed to busy to think about her lonely nights and empty heart. A trip to Greece changes her life forever.
When Ari falls asleep in the ruins of an ancient temple, she dreams of a place where her outside is as beautiful as her inside. It’s just a dream, but even so they wake the Greek God of healing, Asclepius. It’s been so long since anyone has prayed to him, and he knows he’s just the man to give Ari everything she desires. He takes mortal form and comes to her with only one goal: to show her she’s as beautiful as her floral arrangements.
Her tears woke him. His passion will heal her heart.
This is a re-release of a previously published book by the same title.
The nearly steady jingle of the bell over her shop door and the chatter of customers made up for having to be back at work. Her first day back since her Grecian vacation, and she hadn’t had a moment’s rest. Of course, that was her fault. Catherine, one of her two full-time employees, offered her a long lunch, but Ari had declined.
“Better throw myself back into it,” she had said and waved dismissively at the offer to go down to the corner café. Eric, her cashier and delivery driver, clucked over her like a mother hen. Finally, she sent him out for floral deliveries with the promise that she’d take a break.
“I’ll leave a list for the next order in your office,” Catherine called through the open space separating the cashier’s area from the workroom.
“Thanks.” Ari twirled a long-stemmed rose in her hand and stared dreamily at the display before her. The note said the arrangement had to be special and elegant. Tiny bachelor’s buttons surrounded the three long-stem roses and greenery. Ari released a breath and set the fourth rose into the arrangement.
Catherine poked her head into the workroom. “That’s gorgeous.” She picked up a can of diet soda left on the counter and took a long swallow. “Wow, that was quite the rush.”
“I trust you’ve kept things running well in my absence.” Ari turned the arrangement, studying it from all angles. She’d really fallen in love with her work. Some very special lady would be quite happy. Ari smiled. That’s what made her job worthwhile.
She rose from her seat and studied the arrangement from across the room. She walked over to the table and tweaked the tilt of a flower, then stepped back again. It looked wonderful. Before she could make any more changes, she inserted the sealed card and wrapped the flowers for delivery. Eric could take them out with his afternoon run.
The next order took only a few moments, a bunch of carnations with some baby’s breath, but she arranged it as carefully as the arrangement before. Once she had it wrapped and ready for delivery with the other five bouquets, she sat back in a plush chair. Memories of her trip filtered through her mind. The food, the people, the beauty, all of it came together in her mind, only to be trumped by the dream.
He said to call him a god, and even a week after she’d met her dream lover in a Greek temple, her body still hummed for his touch. Closing her eyes, she pressed a finger to her lips, thinking about how he’d kissed her, loved her, and made her feel beautiful. She glanced down at her long-sleeved light jacket and the slacks that went to her sensible shoes. The only skin in sight was her hands and face. Lightly, she ran her finger over her lips, imagining his gentle touches. If only she could bring that sense of beauty into her personal life.
Ari squared her shoulders. She caught Catherine looking at her through the window, her employee’s attention quickly pulled away by the jingle of the bell over the door. A young woman, her stomach rounded in pregnancy entered. She paused by the arrangement cabinet and grinned. “That one,” she said before turning to the counter
“Welcome to Floral Fantasy,” Catherine said. “Looks like you found something you like.”
“Yes.” She pointed back toward the cabinet. “The purple arrangement. It will be perfect for my mother.”
Catherine smiled. “Great choice.” She walked over to the cooler and quickly brought the bouquet back to the counter. In moments, she’d totaled the purchase and packaged the flowers for a safe ride to their destination. Eric returned, then quickly left with the van loaded full of bouquets to be delivered.
Ari tidied the workroom and checked her office. A sudden need to be home with the memory of her dream lover filled her. Work could wait. After all, she owned Floral Fantasy and this was her first day back from vacation. “Do you mind if I head home?” she asked Catherine. “I think I’ve done enough for today.” She slipped her purse over her shoulder. She’d promised herself she’d take it easy after her vacation.
“I can finish things here. Thanks for doing those bouquets. Why don’t you go put your feet up and enjoy a drink?” Catherine waved her hand toward the door as she checked the day’s receipts.
“Thanks. I think I will.” She sketched a wave in the air and went out to her compact hatchback. It looked like an egg on wheels, but it made getting around in town so easy. Moments later she merged into traffic, determined to have a good evening. She had a book on her nightstand she’d started on the plane from Greece. Maybe she’d start reading, or perhaps head out to the nearby botanical garden. Either way, she knew she’d enjoy herself knowing her shop had survived her vacation and Catherine had everything under control.
Ari pulled into her driveway. A few moments later, Bea, her neighbor rushed out. “Ari, dear. I have a delivery for you. It was left at my house.”
Ari opened the door and stepped out. “Oh, thank you. I’ll come over and get it.” She grabbed her purse and crossed her small front lawn to Bea’s little white bungalow. Bea stepped inside and emerged carrying a huge bouquet of flowers.
Ari’s breath caught in her throat. The long-stemmed roses, the greenery. Even the elegant vase. She recognized the arrangement as the one she’d completed earlier today. She hadn’t seen the address. Eric handled all the receipts when he made deliveries. “Oh my goodness,” she said as she took the flowers from Bea. “I wasn’t expecting these.”
Bea smiled. “You work too hard. Some young man should send you flowers more often. So tell me about him. Who is he?”
Ari shook her head. “I’m afraid I don’t know. I haven’t ‑‑” She swallowed hard and tried to calm her racing heart. “I haven’t met anyone. I don’t know who would send me flowers.”
“Well, take them inside and enjoy them, dear. And find out who sent them. He might be a keeper.” With a wink, Bea returned to her house.
“Thanks.” Ari tried to wipe the bemused grin off of her face as she stared at the flowers and carried them inside.