Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Elaine Gibbs has been defined by other people’s words for much of her life: autistic, shifter, adopted, genius, Royal Marine. She has spent a year having her entire world spun around and just when she hopes things have stabilised, a zealot threatens everything she holds dear, including her life.Alim Kader grew up knowing his family’s expectations and is required to fall in line. Life, however, threw him a massive surprise in the body of the most fascinating woman he has ever known. Now if he could only convince her that his sole desire is to stand beside her, not rescue her.
Will love be enough for two people from different worlds to brave a storm of evil and come through the other side unscathed?
On sale for half price!
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Dahlia Donovan started out working in the insurance world. After ten years, she morphed her love of investigating accidents and studying people into writing about them. She’s a bit of a hermit and despises being in front of a camera. Her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.
On paper, as individuals, I suppose Elaine and Alim from my upcoming novel, The Misguided Confession, don’t have much in common. They come from completely different worlds and backgrounds. Opposites do attract, but it’s not immediately apparent when you see them on their own.
As the only living heir to a wealthy and connected Moroccan export dynasty, Alim had the best of everything growing up. He’s well-educated and well-travelled. The quintessential posh businessman who lives in Armani suits and has a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.
Elaine, as the adopted daughter of a merchant marine and his wife, grew up a wee bit rougher. Being both autistic and a cougar shifter, she has frequently struggled in her life to find her place. Her mannerisms and speech have always been misunderstood by the neurotypicals around her.
On paper–they don’t work. And yet, they’re brilliant for each other. Their romance is sweet and genuine.
Given his upbringing, one might expect Alim to be a spoiled and driven by money. He has infinite patience with his mate and approaches Elaine on her terms. Their romance moves at her pace, not his. He loves her as she is, never seeking to change her as others might’ve done.
She is autistic and has worked hard to accept herself.
Alim often struggles to understand, yet they find stumbling along together is far better than going it alone. They compromise, him more than her, admittedly. He never begrudges her need to be herself–to find her own way to deal with life in a world built for neurotypicals.
S0–why do they belong together? To be trite and cliche–love conquers all. Patience, laughter, and lust help as well.
Part three of the romantic short for Alim & Elaine, hope you enjoy – Find Part One Here and Part Two Here.
The first two times Elaine had flown on Alim’s private jet had been an experience in torture for her heightened senses. The carpet made the oddest sound whenever someone walked across it, the lights were too bright for her eyes, and the blankets thrown across the seats made her skin crawl. It had been enough to induce a rather humiliating bout of sensory overload meltdown.
She’d thought at the time she managed to keep it under wraps.
Walking up the stairs into the luxury jet for the third time, Elaine immediately knew she’d failed. Alim had obviously noticed. The carpet was now soft, plush, and blissfully silent. Gone were the expensive, but cringe-worthy blankets, replaced with silken cashmere throws. The lighting had been dimmed ever so slightly.
Elaine turned toward the man in his impeccable suit standing by the door. “This wasn’t necessary. I can deal with my bloody issues.”
“This, I could fix easily.” Alim strode purposefully across the cabin to step in front of her. He brought his hands up to cup her face then kissed first her forehead, then the top of her head. “This? Your brilliantly beautiful mind? It is perfect and needs no fix.”
Elaine frowned in response to avoid blubbing like a sodding twit. She mumbled a rather ungracious ‘thank you’ and moved to the relative safety of one of the new couches. She sank down only to find herself stunned yet again; it felt like one of her soft bean bags.
“How did you get a sodding…”
“You would be amazed as to the lengths others are willing to go to when they realize funds are unlimited to accomplish my desires.” Alim lifted his shoulders in a graceful shrug. “Is it comfortable?”
“I’m so shit at this.” Elaine scrubbed her fingers across her face in frustration. She let them fall away when Alim knelt in front of her. “The answer is no.”
“I would never propose to you on my jet when we’ve barely been dating for a few months.” Alim scoffed at the idea. He tapped his finger very lightly against the side of her knee. “I do not expect you to respond as my niece or Ivy would to my gestures of kindness.”
“Why precisely are you on the floor like a blithering idiot then?” Elaine wished for about the millionth time in her life for some sort of filter for her mouth. “Bollocks.”
“I do not believe you would appreciate my looming over you like the men tend to do at the firm.” Alim eased back so he was sitting on his heels. “Are these small changes making your flight more comfortable?”
“Then the cost and effort do not matter. Your gratitude is equally unnecessary.” Alim tilted his head slightly so his dark eyes met hers. “If I have made any part of your life easier, I consider it a success.”
With those words, Alim had apparently said all he intended to say. He stood and made himself comfortable in a seat across from Elaine. It allowed her space, but kept him in her line of sight—a move her cougar greatly appreciated.
Her cougar also wanted to curl up beside Alim to be petted. Elaine’s cougar tended to be as anti-social as she was. The level at which her other form felt comfortable with Alim had been a massively inconvenient surprise.
Her cougar could sod off at the moment.
Elaine liked routines, privacy, and plenty of space. She didn’t enjoy change. Alim had brought a lot of it into her life. Being a shifter often helped with some of the more painful or frustrating aspects of being Autistic; it couldn’t remove them completely.
The reason Alim had included a stuffed toy in the care package was often cuddling one helped soothe Elaine’s anxiety. She peeked over the one in her arms at the man who was studiously avoiding putting any social pressure on her. He didn’t acknowledge her gaze, simply focused on reading his newspaper.
A thought occurred to Elaine about how Alim always seemed to know how to put her at ease. He skirted the edges of things which would bother her with an ease no one else around her possessed. Most of her family and the Blackbird Pack worked under the assumption that she could manage without their help.
“You did research.” Elaine flung a pillow to get his attention. Her words came out more accusatory than intended. “You sodding researched my broken brain.”
“Different is not broken, as you are well aware.”
Setting his paper to the side, Alim once again crossed the cabin to sit beside her. He held his hand out on his thigh with it turned palm up. It took several moments for Elaine to realize he was giving her the option of holding hands. She hesitantly placed her hand on his, letting her fingers thread between his.
“Alicia informed me of the fact shifters tend to mate for life.” Alim tightened his hold slightly when she made to jerk away from him. “How many years have you spent trying to make our world work for you? You cannot change who you are. I can, however, do research to adjust things to ease your path. You are not broken, and you know it.”
“I’m a little cracked, let’s be honest.” Elaine had no illusions to how much her neurological differences affected her. She wanted time to process everything, but trapped inside a jet didn’t provide it. “Will your staff be shocked by the presence of a massive cougar?”
“They will not enter the back cabin without my permission.” Alim moved down toward the far corner of the couch to provide her space.
Shifting into her cougar, Elaine hopped up onto the couch and turned around a few times before flopping down with her head resting on Alim’s thigh. It was closer than she would feel comfortable in human form at the moment. A purr rumbled in her chest when his fingers began threading through the tawny fur around her ears.
Alim bent forward until he could whisper in her ear. “I will have you for my own, hayati.”
Part two of the romantic short for Alim & Elaine, hope you enjoy – Find Part One Here:
The night before Elaine left for her holiday with Alim, Elaine panicking about everything. Natasha and Ivy came bearing gifts of her favourite fizzy drink, and what appeared to be packets of fish and chips with gravy. They sat on beanbags in her bedroom critiquing her packing skills, much to her annoyance.
Snagging a chip heavily laden with gravy, Elaine tried to remind herself friends did things like this. Men, in her experience, didn’t sit around nagging one another about packing ‘pretty tops.’ She didn’t own any bloody ‘pretty tops.’
“How about this one?” Ivy held up a turtleneck which had been a gift from Elaine’s mum.
She cringed at the high collar. She didn’t like anything which would lie heavily against her neck or throat. “No, no ruddy way. I don’t even want to think about wearing the sodding thing.”
“So that’s a no?” Ivy teased.
“You can bugger off now.” Elaine darted forward to grab the large packet of chips. “I’m keeping these to nosh on.”
Her overwhelming relief when the two women left was staggering. Elaine could only handle so much social interaction before she went completely nutty. It greatly influenced her highly narky personality at work.
Though the prats deserved it most of time.
She lifted one of the chips from the pond of gravy and considered the weathered, dusky green kit bag on the floor. It had been her adopted father’s once upon a time. He’d gifted it to her when she joined the service. She nudged the bottom of the bag with her toe.
Alim likely had a suitcase which cost more than her bloody annual salary. Elaine gripped the zipper on the bag and yanked it closed with a sigh. She couldn’t turn herself into some wealthy toff for a man.
To his credit, Alim had never seemed to mind her outfits of jeans, t-shirts, or oversized jumpers. He’d taken her out on a date after Christmas to fancy restaurant and didn’t even bat an eye-lid at her rather rumpled attire. Elaine had done more than bat an eye-lid at the way his tuxedo had shown off his muscular frame.
It did incredibly confusing things to her emotions.
“What the bloody, buggering hell am I doing?” She flung herself down on one of the nearby beanbags with a groan of frustration. “I am losing my sodding mind.”
Grabbing her nearby Xbox controller, Elaine decided to lose herself in a few rounds of one of her favourite games. It might keep her from obsessing over this weekend date. She reached out to grab the stuffed cougar which had been part of Alim’s care package to hold it close.
Alicia had spilled the beans to her uncle about the dual nature of the members of the Blackbird Security Firm. She’d been attempting to dissuade him from shooting Josh who’d been in panther form at the time. The entire story had unexpectedly been sprung on the man who’d apparently come the closest to fainting that his niece had ever seen.
He took it well.
Given the extremely quick nature of Alim’s intelligent mind, it hadn’t taken him long to piece together everything. Two days afterward had found him pounding on Elaine’s door in the middle of the night looking frazzled. He’d demanded answers in the most bizarrely polite manner that Elaine had simply stepped back to allow him inside and told him everything.
She still couldn’t believe she’d voluntarily allowed the man into her flat.
No one ever came into her flat unannounced.
Her cougar had been inordinately pleased with this turn of events. Elaine hadn’t initially felt as pleased when she shifted into her cougar form for him. It had been soothing to her chaotic mind when he’d run his fingers through her fur.
It seemed such a mild term to use for an emotion which Elaine had never felt before in her entire life. Calm. She’d never met another shifter who had Asperger’s Syndrome, or any other form of Autism. She had no idea if this was simply how her mate should make her feel, or if it was something else entirely.
Maybe it was simply Alim.
In celebration of reaching 2,000 likes on Facebook, I decided to have a giveaway & event on Feb 14th, as part of that, I wrote a four part romantic story for Alim & Elaine. I hope you enjoy. This story, while not a rough draft also wasn’t sent to my editor (who will probably yell at me).
Elaine ignored Darren, who tried to catch her attention while she bounded down the hall as fast as her feet would carry her. Alicia had warned her about an incoming gift from Uncle Ali for Valentine’s Day. The cougar shifter wanted to intercept the gift before the wankers she worked with caught sight of it.
The bastards would never let Elaine live it down if she went all weak over a gift. She refused to allow them to have anything else to tease her about. She grabbed the package from the messenger when he stepped into the office then dashed into the loo to hide behind the locked door.
She plucked the envelope off of the top of the small parcel and frowned at it. She ran her finger along the side to open it, cringing at the sensation of the dry parchment along her skin. The letter held the briefest note from Alim in his elegant script—nothing at all like her barely legible chicken scratchings.
Allow me to indulge you in my world for a weekend? I’ve spent time in yours…let me show you mine.
She would never admit to having run her finger across the ‘yours’ at the end of his note. Romance never mattered before; it shouldn’t matter now. Her hand clutched the letter to her chest despite her inner grumblings.
With a quick text to Alim to answer ‘yes’ to his invite, Elaine lifted the lid on the parcel to find what could only be described as an Aspie care package. It included ear plugs, several fidget puzzles, a soft and cuddly toy cougar, a heavy fleece blanket and— most importantly—one of the new portable gaming systems she’d been drooling over for months.
So new, it hadn’t been released for sale yet.
How the bloody hell had Alim gotten a hold of it?
The man had clearly done quite a bit of research to determine what he’d need to make her comfortable on a flight. Elaine couldn’t remember anyone in her life going so far to accommodate her needs as an autistic. Her adoptive parents were wonderful, but nothing to this level of thought and care.
A twist of the door caused her to glance up as someone picked the lock and then stepped inside. Elaine breathed a sigh of relief as Natasha snuck inside and promptly relocked the door. The fox shifter stepped over to read the note Elaine held out to her.
“He did good, yes?” Natasha raised a questioning eyebrow while glancing through the care package. “This is good?”
“It’s brilliant.” Elaine fidgeted uncomfortably while the beautiful, icy blonde ran her fingers through the soft fur of the stuffed toy. “How do I…fucking hell, I’m worthless at this.”
Natasha swatted her sharply on the arm. “You are fine. You say ‘thank you.’ If he wanted more than a thank you, he is the one who is worthless. I like this Alim.”
“You would,” Elaine groaned, feeling slightly overwhelmed at his gesture. She set the note inside and replaced the lid on the box. “He’s so fucking out of my league. I’m hopeless.”
Natasha glanced briefly down at her perfectly trimmed nails then over at Elaine. “Fihnya.”
“It’s not bullshit.”
Elaine flicked the edge of the grey ribbon which had been wrapped around the jet black box. “I’m not equipped for this romance shit.”
Natasha tapped her finger against the edge of the package. “You can enjoy it, yes? Nothing else should be required. He enjoys the romantic ‘shit’ and you enjoy receiving it.”
“Do not mock me, cougar; I like you, but not that much.” Natasha’s harsh words were couched by the amused smirk on her face. She nudged Elaine in the arm. “We are friends, yes?”
“Da,” Elaine mimicked the Ukrainian’s earlier tone.
“Then trust me when I say, all you have to do is enjoy it, even if it feels awkward at times. Kader will not be bothered by the inelegance of your gratitude,” Natasha shrugged indifferently. She gestured toward Elaine’s flushed cheeks. “And I would wager he’ll enjoy the blushes.”
“What the bloody hell are you two doing in there for so bloody long?” Josh banged loudly on the door. “And can I get pictures?”