FREE TO WISH
Amaryllis Series #8
by Tracey Jerald
Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: October 4, 2021
Amy Q / QDesigns
Genre: Contemporary romance
Trope: Age-gap, second chance, family saga
Wish upon the right star.
Known as the face for Amaryllis Events, Jenna Madison is a familiar sight on social media platforms around the globe. Even before she met her soon-to-be stepmother—renowned fashion designer, Emily Freeman—Jenna made a pact with herself to make a difference in the world of fashion. She didn’t realize how much she’d have to endure along the way to achieve success.
In the five years since Jenna graduated college, she still can’t forget the last day of her international marketing class. After all, despite the spark that arced between them, Professor Finn O’Roarke pushed her away after he finished ravishing her body.
And her heart.
Finn has spent the last five years mourning the loss of Jenna from his life. When granted his wish to speak with Jenna, he doesn’t know how to convince her of his intentions. He has one chance to repair the damage he’s wrought.
As for Jenna, can she relinquish the past? Or will she be left forever wishing for love based on respect, trust, and faith?
*** This story was previously released as a 1,001 Dark Nights short story. It has been expanded with additional content & features a new cover.
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“It’s just a few days until the O’Roarke wedding,” I remind Em over a FaceTime call.
“What do you have left to do?” Em’s head is ducked as she takes notes on a pad.
“I was at the salon with Maura yesterday. The dress is perfect, of course.” Em hums her pleasure. I go on. “Day-of assistance, including makeup. She has this ridiculously beautiful red hair that reminds me of Holly’s.”
“We should tie her down and shave it,” Em mutters.
“The bride?” I gasp.
“Holly. I’ve always envied her hair. I wake up and your father has to look at a rat’s nest. Holly wakes up and she’s ready for a photo shoot.” Em’s head snaps up, and there’s an evil gleam in them as she contemplates shaving her younger sister’s hair—likely just for fun.
“Em, I can’t stop a family war from thousands of miles away,” I warn her.
“I wonder if Phil would…” she starts.
“No!” I shout just as the door to my suite opens. Finn pops his head around the corner, holding up two cups of to-go coffee. I nod desperately and hold out my hand. “Nothing that starts ‘I wonder if Phil…’ anything ends well, Em! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Em gives it two seconds before she bursts into gales of laughter. “Oh, Jenna. I’d be more inclined to shave Phil’s head than Holly’s. You should know better than that.”
“Consider that retribution from me and Dani hearing about the not really new man in your life when we had dinner with your mother yesterday. And as a result of having to sit on your cousin to prevent her from screaming in the middle of a restaurant, we ended up with an adorable mention in StellaNova. Not.”
I groan. “I’m so sorry, Em. Things are happening so fast.”
“I don’t need all the details, sweetheart. I just want to know if you’re happy so when the time comes, I can reassure your father.”
My eyes drift upward from the little green dot and meet Finn’s silver ones. “That’s all you want to know? Am I happy?”
“For all of my children—and you know I consider you one of them, Jenna—that’s all I’ve ever wanted for any of you.”
My eyes still haven’t left Finn’s. “I’ve never been closer to the true happiness I’ve been taught to reach for than right now.”
Finn’s face intensifies with all the emotions he’s feeling: passion, determination, and love. And even as each one is tattooed on my heart, I feel myself drawn upward. His lips brush lightly over mine. “Mo chroí,” he whispers before letting me down back into my chair and moving away.
My eyes track his every movement, taking note of the way his tailored pants lovingly cup his rear when I hear Em ask, “Are you still planning on coming home after the wedding?”
My attention returns to her. “Right now, that’s the plan.”
Her perfectly groomed brows raise, asking me without words a million questions—none of which I have an answer for just yet. So, I just shrug helplessly. Her amused laughter rings out. “Michelle believes differently.”
My lips curve. “And so do you, I take it.”
“I’ve always believed in a lot of things when it comes to family, Jenna. What are you and your professor’s plans for today?” Finn whirls around, slack-jawed over Em’s astuteness.
“We’re heading to Waterford. I’ve never had the opportunity to go,” I remind her.
“I should send you money to go shopping for me. The holidays are coming.”
“And take away my ability to shop for the whole family at once? You’re crazy, Em.”
“One of the many reasons I’ve survived in this family. I’ll pass along your love to everyone.”
“Please do. Especially Dad, Jonas, and Talia.”
“Always. Professor O’Roarke,” Em calls out.
Finn jerks. “Yes, ma’am?”
Em’s grinning like a lunatic, even as she uses the voice she typically scolds her brother with. “I’m not in the mood to clean up another broken heart anytime soon.”
Before Finn can utter a single word, she winks at me and disconnects the line, leaving me grateful that the remarkable woman my father fell in love with healed not only my body but my mind when I needed it.
“Did your stepmother just call me out?” Finn’s flabbergasted.
I close my iPad and place it to the side. “The Freemans are terribly protective of family, and none of them are discreet about hiding it. That includes the immediate family, spouses, cousins, and those of us they’ve adopted over the years.”
Finn steps in front of me. “She knows about us?”
“Each of the members of my family has had a difficult path to love, Finn. They were worried about me. One night in Paris, Dani and Em supported me by being there when I finally let my emotions out. I wasn’t fully living. They supported me and wanted to let me know they were there for me as they always have been.”
“I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, then. All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy, Jenna.”
I rest my hands on his chest. “They’ll make you pay it.”
His arms slip around my waist. “How’s that?”
“That family dinner they’re talking about? They’re a regular thing. If this goes the distance and you attend one, you’ll be on the hot seat, Professor.” I stress Finn’s honorific much like Em just did.
His smile is slow and seductive. His head bends until his lips are a whisper away from mine. “Not if, Jenna. When. And I will take anything so long as I have you next to me.”
My heart begins thumping wildly in my chest. Judging by the look on Finn’s face, he knows how his words have affected me. But his words have always had a way of sneaking past my defenses. Now, I have to weigh them against his actions.
And right now that means shopping for things that will sparkle when they arrive back home.
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About the Author
Tracey Jerald knew she was meant to be a writer when she would re-write the ending of books in her head on her bike when she was a young girl growing up in southern Connecticut. It wasn’t long before she was typing alternate endings and extended epilogues “just for fun”.
After college in Florida, where she obtained a degree in Criminal Justice swearing she saw things she’ll never quite believe and never quite forget, Tracey traded the world of law and order for IT.
Her work for a world-wide internet startup transferred her to Northern Virginia where she met her husband in what many call their own happily ever after. They have one son.
When she’s not busy with her family or writing, Tracey can be found in her home in north Florida drinking coffee, reading, training for a runDisney event, or feeding her addiction to HGTV.
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