"A dancer and a Marine—two worlds collide.
Chloe Johnson is no stranger to the spotlight. A prestigious member of the LA Laker Girls, she’s in the public eye regularly. Her world is perfect.
Eric Taylor, on the other hand, is damaged, both body and spirit. Injured overseas, he returns home with fresh physical wounds, invisible emotional scars, and a bad attitude.
When Chloe becomes the object of affection to an unknown stalker, she must leave her life behind and rely on a total stranger, and the only man she’s ever met who’s never happy to see her—Eric. Can she trust this hardened soldier with her life?
Adjusting to civilian life hasn’t been easy for Eric. Swearing off women forever, all he wants is to be left alone. However, his world is thrown into chaos when Chloe appears on his doorstep as an invited guest of Eric’s twin brother. Bewitched by her innocent charms, Eric fights to keep her at arm’s length, putting his No More Women resolve to the test.
Everything soon changes when Chloe’s stalker trackers her down, making her a pawn in a cat and mouse game of Dangerous Obsession.
*This is a clean romantic fiction. There is no graphic violence, sex, or language in this book.* "
Author M.M. Roethig is a 'happily-ever-after' author whose guilty pleasure is a swoon worthy romance. Growing up, she spent her youth on various Air Force bases in many different states, which encouraged her imagination and love of make believe stories with each new city, scenery, and situation.
Finally settling in Idaho, M.M. Roethig finished her schooling years and eventually met and married her very own Prince Charming. A recent move took her to Northern Colorado, a place she has instantly fallen in love with and embraced as her home.
When she is not swooning over romance stories or writing, M.M. Roethig enjoys spending time with her husband and son who also call Colorado home. With two grown daughters and one son-in-law living in Idaho, she finds every excuse to travel back as much as possible.
Other hobbies M.M. Roethig enjoys is running, photography, baking, watching her son swim, trying new board games, and cheering on the Denver Broncos.
Contemporary Romance: Reflections
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“I’m a mess, Chloe. I don’t know which way is up anymore.” Hearing him admit it stabbed her heart. Eric dropped his arms and turned toward the pasture, propping his booted foot on the bottom rail again. He rested his forearms on the top, and looked out blankly. “Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped on a never ending rollercoaster that knocks me around at breakneck speeds, leaving me battered in the seat. I’m helpless to stop it. It’s a ride I want off, but I can’t find the emergency brake.”
“Eric, you can talk to me. If these past few weeks have done anything, I would hope you’ve learned that I’m not here to judge you. Not you.”
“I’ve seen and done things I’m not proud of, CJ. I’ve witnessed the worst of humanity in places I never wish to be again. I’ve lost more friends than I ever dreamed possible, and I’m not who I used to be.” Eric dropped his head to his hands and closed his eyes. Chloe stepped beside him. Placing both feet on the bottom rail, she curled her arms over the top and pulled herself up. She stood there, watching the horses, waiting for him to say more, but he remained quiet.
“Things happen in our lives that change us, GI. That’s not a bad thing. It makes us who we are, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Chloe heard his loud exhale. “That’s how we grow. I don’t know everything you went through, and I can’t even begin to comprehend your pain, but I know you’re not alone.”
“I lost many friends over there, some just out of high school. I’ve seen many lose their hearts to women who didn’t deserve the dirt those men walked on. I lost one of my best friends over there. His name was Tucker Hardy. It wasn’t from enemy fire, either. He took his own life.” Chloe gasped, feeling her stomach drop to her knees. She turned her gaze to him, but Eric never looked up. He looked intent on talking and she didn’t want to interrupt him now. “His wife just had their baby, a boy, and he missed the birth because the babe came early. Hardy had leave scheduled, but babies don’t come on military approved time off, apparently.”
“I don’t think babies come on any approved time frame,” she whispered and heard the soft chuckle beside her.
“When Hardy called home the day before he left, she was there with another man, his neighbor.”
“Oh no.” Chloe stepped off the railing as she turned to face Eric. He nodded.
“Tuck was a good man. He didn’t deserve that. He survived his last patrol only to find out he lost his family. The way she did it—it happens all the time. When your friend is killed by enemy fire, you know who to blame. Who do you blame here?”
Chloe ducked under his arm, placing herself between him and the railing. Instinctively she put her hands on his chest and waited until he looked at her.
“I don’t know what to say, Eric.”
“I want to blame his wife for what she did. Blame the war for taking him away from his family, blame myself for not noticing.”
“Wait, what?” she asked, reeling back in surprise. “Noticing?”
“That he was in bad shape. I should have known. I was his best friend and I should have seen the signs. I thought he just needed time to process, to think. The op we just came back from went horribly wrong. I should have done something, but instead I survived and he didn’t.”
Chloe grabbed his hands and felt them shaking. His voice was steady and he exuded confidence, but his hands shook. It was the only outward tale-tell sign he was affected, a product of the military training he’d had, she presumed.
“Eric, none of this is your fault.”
“I dream about it,” he said by way of response. Chloe was taken aback by his change in subject. She watched as he seemed to drift off to a different place. “It was hot, the air stifling. The pain wasn’t as bad as I thought, the adrenaline kept me moving. We kicked through one door, but people were shouting our location from the rooftops.”
“With Tucker?” she asked in confusion.
“No, yes, all of it. I’m not making sense, I know that.” Eric lifted one strand of her hair and ran it between his fingers. “I dream about things all the time. Mostly it’s that night I caught shrapnel in my arm and banged up my knee,” he explained. She could feel his hands still trembling, the look in his eyes distant, and she gave him a squeeze when she wrapped her arms around his waist. He blinked, and then focused on her, really focused on her for the first time since they began talking. “Sometimes it’s about Hardy and how I lost him. Last night, it was you.”
“Eric, you’re here now. You made it home, you’re here safe. It’s not a bad thing. You’re not a bad person because of it. And, I’m safe.”
“I’ve hurt you, emotionally and physically.” He pulled her into a desperate hug, squeezing her tight against his chest. She let him hold her. Closing her eyes, she inhaled his masculine scent.
“You haven’t hurt me, not really. I’ve never felt safer than when I’m here with you.”
Eric once again took her face in his hands, their breath mingling in the early morning air as he leaned toward her.
“Don’t leave,” he stated. She waited in anticipation as he closed the gap between their lips. Just as his skin pressed to hers, Chloe heard gravel kicking up as a car sped toward the house. She assumed Eric heard it too, because he sighed and dropped his arms before turning for the house.
She watched him go, admiring his subtle limp a little more than she did yesterday. He earned those outward scars with more pain that ran deeper than anyone understood.
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