Thursday, October 28, 2021

I Adore You by J.M. Buckley


“That was a hundred times better than I ever imagined,” Tyler murmured as he drank in Rachel’s flushed cheeks and dazzling smile. “And trust me, I’ve imagined a lot about you.”

A shattered marriage.
Thirty-three-year-old Rachel never expected her life to turn out like this. A terrible secret comes to light and destroys her marriage. Much to her dismay, she finds herself rebuilding her life from the ground up. Starting with a new position as a photographer at a nearby university.

A brand-new life.
But she soon realizes that there is far more in store for her than a job. For when nineteen-year-old Tyler, a stunningly handsome student guide enters her life, she finds her heart captivated as it has never been before. And though Tyler seems to return these feelings, there’s one problem: he’s way too young for her.

A sudden and unexpected romance.
Tyler is immediately enchanted by Rachel and knows that she’s nothing like any girl he’s been with before. But she’s wary of him, and he realizes that if he wants to win her heart for good, he has to show her that love knows no age.

Can Tyler and Rachel overcome their preconceived notions about one another? And give in to their hidden desires? Or will they risk losing a chance at true love?

Author J.M. Buckley offers a fun, sexy, humorous, and flirtatious take on love after heartbreak in “I Adore You.”

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Read an excerpt:



The dark didn’t envelope Rachel like it usually did, comfortable and peaceful. Instead, it crushed her with its weight as she sat alone at the dining room table, a storm roiling inside her. The same storm she’d been weathering the past two weeks. A slanted moonbeam streaming through the window lit up a corner of the laptop in front of her. Its lid lay closed. The colossal secret lurked inside as it slept. Waiting to, much like the dark, crush her all over again.

As she sat there in quiet solitude, she fought the deep sense of dread within her. For when her husband, Jack, comes home, she’s going to demand a divorce. Then she’s going to walk out the door, taking only a duffel bag with a week’s worth of clothes with her. Never to see or hear from him again, if she was lucky. The temptation to leave him before he arrived back home from his so-called ‘business trip’ had been overwhelming. So instead, Rachel decided she wanted to see his face when Jack finds out she discovered his secret. A secret he had kept from her for over fifteen years. A secret that made her marriage a complete lie, a shameful sham.

Rachel stared at the front door, expecting Jack to pull up and walk through anytime.

With a sigh, she reviewed for the millionth time the fateful day, two weeks prior, when Jack walked out the door in a hurry. In his rush, he left behind his laptop. When she called to let him know, Jack had no time to return and still make his flight. Once again, Rachel tried to remember what possessed her to turn on the laptop. Where a password screen kept her from logging in. Jack never did give her the password and made sure to never type it in in Rachel’s presence. She’d never thought it odd until that night she stared at the password screen with an underlying sense of trepidation.

Perhaps, in the back of her mind, she suspected there were secrets contained in it. After a decade of an unhappy and empty marriage, she finally had to know why. As it turned out, the password was Jack’s mother’s birthday, and it took dozens of attempts until she stumbled upon the correct one.

With a trembling hand, Rachel had used the trackpad to look around inside. What she discovered shocked her to her very core. Not in a thousand years would she have ever guessed the secret. Although, hindsight said that she should’ve. After all, there were indicators, events, and even comments expressed by others in her presence. They hinted at the sordid truth of her husband, but she didn’t want to listen. She ignored them, or laughed off their concerns. Then, eventually, alienated them from her life.

When the rumors at their high school spread around, she put it down as just a bunch of girls being jealous that her and Jack were dating. That was the earliest hint that she had ignored, and there were many more since. But, in the end, she had turned a blind eye to it all. Jack was the most handsome boy in high school, and Rachel was highly flattered that he chose to be with her. He charmed her with his suave personality, flirted every day with her, and took her to fancy restaurants on their dates. It wasn’t just his looks and charms that dazzled her, but the prestige of his family and the money he would be set to inherit. All of it factored into her decision to be with him, and she was more than willing to ignore the haters.

For Rachel, there was no reason to pay attention to anyone else including her close friends and family. So when they told her that Jack was no good for her and that she made a mistake marrying him, she pushed them away. Even though, deep down, she started to agree with them. Over the years of their marriage, Rachel felt compelled to alienate them even more, including her best friend, Madison. It was easier to do than to admit to an embarrassing mistake. Jack, for his part, encouraged her isolation. Saying that they were jealous and wanted to bring their marriage down. As a result, she spent more time with Jack’s family than with her own.

The sound of the front door’s lock turning broke Rachel out of her nightmarish thoughts. She rested her hands in her lap to hide the tremors. Her heart pounded thunderously between her rib cage, but she schooled her features into stillness so Jack didn’t pick up on her fear. And rage.

Jack stepped into their home with his tie loosened and his suit looking rumpled from sitting on an airplane for too long. He dragged a large luggage with wheels behind him and headed toward their bedroom. Jack reached out and flicked on the lights, then jerked to a stop when he saw Rachel.

“Jesus Christ, Rachel! You scared me! What the hell are you doing sitting in the dark?” When he saw the laptop sitting in front of Rachel, he frowned. “What’s going on?”

In answer to his question, she lifted the lid on the laptop. When the display turned on, she entered the password and logged in, then gazed at him in expectation. The screen showed two windows had been left open. One was a folder with a bunch of image files. The other was a program showing all of his text messages from his phone.

A muscle in Jack’s clenched jaw started twitching. Staring at the screen, he said nothing to Rachel. Not even an acknowledgement of the secret she had uncovered. He wore a look she knew well, and tried not to quail in the face of his growing and unpredictable anger.

Steeling her resolve, Rachel was proud that her voice didn’t waver when she asked, “How long, Jack? How long has it been?” When he didn’t answer, she continued. “How long have you been in a relationship with Marcus? How long have you known that you prefer men? Is that why you’ve been so cold and distant toward me for most of our marriage?”

“I don’t prefer men,” Jack ground out between his clenched teeth.

“No? All the sexts with Marcus were from someone else? You forget, Jack I know what your tiny little dick looks like. You’ve sent hundreds of selfies to Marcus, some of them with your face in it. Then there’s your browsing history on this laptop, full of visits to gay porn sites. I guess you let someone else use the laptop, huh?”

“Don’t you fucking take that tone with me, Rachel.”

Rachel slapped the table, furious. “Seriously? That’s what you have to say after all that? My fucking tone? You have a lot of nerve, Jack! Why don’t you answer the question? How long have you known? Before we got married? When we were dating in our junior year? Before you met me?”

“I don’t have to put up with this. I’ve had a long flight I’m tired, I need sleep. We can talk about this tomorrow morning after you’ve calmed down. We can go over this like rational adults after breakfast.”

Jack grabbed his luggage and turned toward their bedroom, but Rachel stopped him when she said, “I want a divorce, Jack. I’m leaving, so I won’t be here in the morning. There’s nothing to talk about, aside from you answering my questions.

“Did you marry me, so you could get the trust fund? That was a stipulation, wasn’t it? Would you have lost it if your family knew the truth about you? They’re hardcore Catholics, so I’m guessing you would’ve been disowned. I bet there was another stipulation for when you fathered a child on me. You were pretty intent on getting me pregnant for a few years there, remember? But then you found out about my low chances of pregnancy after the doctor diagnosed me with endometriosis. Suddenly, Jack, you had no interest in me anymore. You’ve discarded and ignored me since that diagnosis. I’ve always wondered why, and now I know why.

“God, I can’t believe I’ve been so blind! Does Marcus even know about me? When the two of you were texting back and forth, talking about adopting a son, I noticed you didn’t point out to him that the boy would have a stepmother. Do you tell Marcus that you’re going on long business trips when  you come back here?”

“Enough!” Jack shouted, breathing hard. “I’m not answering your silly questions, and we’re not getting divorced!”

Once he got himself under control, he said, “Look, I’m sure we can come to some kind of arrangement. Just don’t do anything rash and

“Rash?” Rachel laughed in derision, then shook her head. “I’ve had two weeks to stew on these revelations and make a decision, Jack! You’re lucky that I’m even here right now telling you in person because you don’t deserve even that. I don’t

“You know what? No. Fuck you, Jack! You married me under false pretenses!” Rachel stood up and stormed toward the front door. “You’ve been lying to me since the beginning, and strung me along for more than fifteen years! I can’t believe I wasted half my life with you. You’re worried about me being rash? Fuck you. I’m leaving!”

Rachel grabbed her duffel bag, then snatched her car’s key fob from the entryway table. She screamed when Jack forcibly spun her around, grasped her shoulders hard, then slammed her against the front door. With his face looking sickly pale and full of anger, Jack sneered at her.

“You’re not going anywhere!” Jack shouted, spittle sprayed her face. He shook her hard, then in a low, menacing tone, he said, “If you say one word about this to anyone, and I do mean anyone, I’ll be sure to make your life a miserable hell. I swear, Rachel if you breathe one word

Hysterical and light-headed with fear, she laughed. “You’ve already made my life a miserable hell, Jack! Don’t you get it? What else could you possibly do to me that you haven’t already done? Your threats are empty!”

They stared at each other, breathing hard.

Glaring at Jack, Rachel said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell anyone. That’s on you, Jack. And I don’t even care that you’re gay. What pisses me off is that you made me an unwitting wife in a lavender marriage. I’m not Rock fucking Hudson! You had no right to do this to me! Let me go!”

Jack’s fingers dug into Rachel’s shoulders hard enough to leave bruises, the pain sharp and biting. She struggled to escape his grasp, but he shook her roughly until the back of her head smashed into the door behind her. The shock and pain from the impact blinded her momentarily. Frozen with fear, she tried to clear the fog from her mind.

Then, suddenly, she realized that she couldn’t breathe. Jack’s hands were wrapped around her neck and kept squeezing. Finally, she opened her mouth, desperate to get air into her starved lungs.

Rachel could feel her heartbeat skyrocket as she reached up and tried to pry his fingers off of her throat, but they were like an iron vise. Jack’s bloodshot eyes were wide and brimming with anger. She slapped at his hand in a futile effort to get him to let her breath, her vision going gray around the edges.

In a dead monotone, oddly calm given what he was doing to her, Jack said, “You’re going to stay as my wife. You’re not leaving. Nothing will change, Rachel. You’ll keep spending my money, living in a nice house, and do whatever you want when I’m not here. You’ll keep going out with me to visit my family, to meet friends for dinner, and you’ll even look nice and pretty for everyone. You’ll keep doing this because you have no other choice. Do I make myself crystal clear? Nod if you understand.”

It took all of Rachel’s will to stop struggling. Instead, she dredged up the memory of the self-defense training she received a few years ago. Although, she never would’ve thought she’d need it to defend herself against her own husband.

Then, with terror giving her strength and the conviction of her actions, she used the palm of her hand to punch upward under Jack’s chin, stunning him. Next, she brought an arm down on top of his to make him lose his grip on her neck. Then she grabbed his shoulders and kneed him twice in the groin as hard as she could. There was a final step, a blow to the side of the face, but she didn’t need it.

Jack fell in a boneless heap to the ground, then curled up upon himself. The cords in his neck strained as he opened his mouth wide as if he couldn’t breathe. His mouth opened and closed like a fish. Rachel gaped at him, frozen in horror at what she had done. Finally, with a hoarse gasp, Jack laboriously sucked in air, then he started groaning loudly and writhing on the floor.

Rachel kept a wary eye on him, having no idea how long he would be incapacitated for. She knelt on the ground and sucked in sweet air into her own starved lungs, then coughed when it burned. Rachel gingerly touched her neck, and felt swollen flesh. Rachel winced at the pain, then coughed again when she stood up and looked down on Jack. He had curled up even more into a fetal ball and was moaning over and over again. It was clear he was in a great deal of pain.

With a voice made rough and gravelly, Rachel croaked, “That’s the last time you’ll ever put your hands on me. In fact, this is the last time you’ll ever see me. You know why, Jack? Because if I so much as see you ever again, I’m telling everyone what you’ve done to me and who you really are. Your parents, your sisters, all your friends, co-workers, the family priest, your boss, Marcus everyone. Don’t even think of coming after me. I’ve saved and transferred everything from your laptop to a safe place in the cloud as evidence.” She placed a hand over her chest and coughed again, then cleared her throat. “Expect a call from my lawyer. And don’t worry, I don’t want anything from you. You can keep the house and everything in it. I’ll keep the car, though.”

Fighting an impulse to kick him in the face on her way out, Rachel shouldered her bag again, then bent down and grabbed the key fob from the ground where it had fallen. Then, with one last look at Jack over her shoulder  to ensure he wasn’t getting up, she moved toward the front door. She snatched up her purse from the entryway table, then left the house in a hurry. Opening her car’s door, she threw the bag and purse onto the passenger seat and got in.

A few blocks later, she started shivering uncontrollably. Her teeth chattered together as she clenched her jaw to hold back a despairing moan. Her hands trembled as she turned into an empty cul-de-sac, then turned off the car. Her breathing sounded laborious in the sudden quiet. Struggling to not hyperventilate, Rachel plucked her phone out of her purse and dialed the only number she knew to call. A violent convulsion wracked her body, and she bared her teeth while her phone rang.


The large wave of emotions crashed over Rachel. “Maddy! I need help!” she sobbed as tears poured down her cheeks and dripped onto her top.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“No, I’m n-n-not,” Rachel cried, then shivered again. “Jack a-attacked me, and I left him. I g-g-got away, and I’m in my car, and I h-have nowhere to go, and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Rachel … Rachel, hang on.” The volume of Madison’s voice lowered. “Sean, babe? Yeah, it’s Rachel. I need to go to her; she needs my help. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” There was a pause. “Okay, Rachel, are you safe where you are right now?”

“I think so. I’m parked … somewhere. A few blocks from my house. Maddy, I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to drag you into this. I’m so sorry, I can

“Shush, there’s nothing to be sorry about. Just stay right there. Don’t move, okay? I’ll come get you, it’s not safe for you to drive in your condition. Look at the map on your phone and tell me exactly where you are.” Rachel gave her the address. “Okay, the GPS says I’ll get there in about twenty minutes. I’m getting in my car right now. When I get there, I’m taking you home with me, and we’ll get your car tomorrow. You can stay with us for as long as you need. Hello? You still there, Rachel? Did I lose you?”

Hands wiping her cheeks, Rachel nodded, then remembered that Madison couldn’t see her. “Yes, I’m still here,” she whispered.

“Let’s just keep talking on the phone until I get there, so don’t hang up. First off, are you hurt? Did Jack hurt you? Do you want me to call the police on that son of a bitch?”

“No, I don’t want to call the police. I’m so tired, Maddy. I don’t think I can deal with going through with everything they’d put me through. I’m fine, really just shaken up.”

A silence settled between them. Rachel rested her forehead against the steering wheel, trying to modulate her breathing.

“Do you remember that time in sixth grade we both dressed as Britney Spears for Halloween?” Madison asked with a chuckle.

“Oh God,” Rachel sobbed out a laugh. “We didn’t look anything like Britney Spears! We both used so much makeup that it took us an hour to remove it all. We stayed up until two in the morning eating candy until we got sick.”

“My baby girl will be twelve in four years. I dread what she’s going to be like as a pre-teen. She’s a riot already at eight. I swear, if she tries to dress up as … whatever girl is en vogue in four years, she won’t ever leave the house. Honestly, I’m surprised my mom let us get away with it that Halloween.”

Rachel’s heart clenched at the mention of Kylie, Maddy’s daughter. The last time she saw her, she was a newborn, and it was also the last time she saw Madison. Filled with guilt, she felt more tears spill from her eyes.

Gasping for breath, Rachel said, “Maddy, I owe you a huge apology. I know it’s too late, but I just want to say that I know now what you were trying to tell me all those years ago. You were right about Jack. God, everyone was right about him! He wasn’t good for me, and it’s even worse than that. I’ll tell you about it later, but I just wanted to say I’m so sorry for pushing you away. I hate myself for doing it to you, of all people in my life. You didn’t deserve that.”

Madison didn’t reply right away. Finally, she said, “I’ll accept your apology if you stop beating yourself up over it. I understand why you did it, even though I wish Jack never came between us. But, babe, it’s all over now, okay? It’s all in the past. I’m here for you now, so let’s deal with the past another time. We just need to get you away and safe. You’ve helped me in school, and now I can be there for you when you need me. And to be honest, even though I hate that you’re hurt and suffering right now, I’m so glad you got away from that bastard. I’m glad that you can be in my life again. I want us to be friends again.”

“Thank you, Maddy,” Rachel whispered. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Lucky for you, you will never have to find out.”

Madison kept a running monologue about her life and family, making sure Rachel stayed on the phone. Finally, after a while, she said, “Okay, I’m about five minutes away. Hang in there; I’m almost there. Turn on your headlights, so I’ll know it’s you.”

The headlight’s beams lit up the trees and green shrubbery in front of Rachel, startling a bird from the trees. She reached over and grabbed her duffel bag and purse. With both bags resting in her lap, she looked for Madison, who gave her quick updates on where she was. Her updates and assurances were calming to Rachel the closer Madison got. Soon, she saw a red SUV pull up next to her car. A second after the engine cut off, Madison hopped out of her car. Rachel got out, then dropped her bags as Madison ran toward her with her arms wide open.

“Maddy!” A sob escaped Rachel as Madison crushed Rachel in a fierce hug and held tight, crooning soft words to her over and over. Rachel didn’t process what she was saying to her. Still, Madison’s tone, familiarity, and solid presence were all that she focused on.

An indeterminable time later, Madison stepped back, her hands on Rachel’s shoulder. Her concerned gaze raked over Rachel. The tip of her pink fingernail gently pushed up on Rachel’s chin, exposing her neck to the light from a nearby streetlight. Madison sucked in a breath through clenched teeth. “That fucking bastard!” she snarled. She lifted her phone to turn it on.

“No, please don’t call the cops, Maddy,” Rachel begged. “Not tonight, please. I want to go to your home and sleep.” She raked her hand over her face, feeling both mentally and physically drained. “I just want this night to be over.”

Madison hesitated, then said, “Fine, but I’m getting photos as evidence. You’ll have to get a restraining order. That’s non-negotiable, Rachel, I mean it. Also, give me his phone number. I’ll have my husband, a fine lawyer as you may remember, make sure Jack never comes near you again.”

The flash from Madison’s phone made Rachel blink as she took close-up photos of Rachel’s throat. Even though it hurt to do so, Rachel chuckled drily and said, “Actually, I already threatened him. Although, I’m not sure he could understand me because he was in so much pain. I kneed him in the balls twice as hard as I could.”

“Good!” Madison snarled with satisfaction. “I hope his fucking balls shrivel up and fall off!” She rubbed Rachel’s shoulders. “Alright, let’s get you home, babe. Sean, Alex, and Kylie will all love having you live with us, and you’re going to love them.”

Madison grabbed Rachel’s duffel bag while Rachel shouldered the purse. Leading her to her car, Madison continued. “Of course, you know I’m going to love having you with us even more. We’ll stay up late at night, drink up all the wine, watch movies, gang up on my husband, and catch up on everything we missed. Hey, how about a spa day this weekend? A girls’ day out, with some shopping, good food. Just you and me and my husband’s bottomless credit card?”

Before she got into Madison’s car, Rachel threw her purse on the seat, then turned around and hugged her friend. Too overwhelmed to tell Madison how thankful she was, she tried to convey her gratitude by holding her tight.

Madison kissed Rachel’s cheek, then said, “Let’s go home and meet the family, then we’ll get you squared away in the guest bedroom. We’re going to have so much fun together, just like in the old days! You’ll get through this, I promise. We’ll do it together.”

For J.M. Buckley, writing became an outlet to explore an overactive imagination and to answer those pesky what-if questions. A former journalist, web designer, and computer technician, Buckley draw on these experiences to create a uniquely realistic perspective as an author. Residing in Florida, Buckley has amassed an eclectic assortment of outdoor creatures. They include four sandhill cranes, one blue heron, two raccoons, four cats, and a murder of crows. Yet, oddly enough, they all seem to get along.

A voracious reader of romance, historical fiction, thrillers, and fantasy novels, Buckley creates exceptionally intricate narratives, which thrust readers into compelling plots and involve them in the provocative lives of each character.

I Adore You and its sequel, You Adore Me, are the most recent publication from a collection of contemporary romance novels.

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those book that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

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