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Far from the World We Know (EBOOK)

Far from the World We Know (EBOOK)

Broken from past trauma, Laura heads to small-town Texas for a life of solitude and recovery. She crosses paths with sharp-witted Tess, the charming editor of the town paper.

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Full description

How far must you run to escape the past?

Broken from past trauma, Laura heads to small-town Texas for a life of solitude and recovery. She crosses paths with sharp-witted Tess, the charming editor of the town paper.

Tess is determined to break down the walls Laura has built up. Laura isn’t ready to open up again, but her feelings for Tess are undeniable…

Will Tess be able to get past Laura’s defences? And will Laura allow herself to love, and live, again?

If you love heartfelt lesbian romance, don’t miss this emotionally gripping read!

What reviewers are saying about FAR FROM THE WORLD WE KNOW:

★★★★★ "Straight-up lesbian will-they-won't-they romance!" - After Ellen

★★★★★ "Well written with a compelling story and excellent character work." - The Lesbian Review

What readers are saying about FAR FROM THE WORLD WE KNOW:

★★★★★ "The subject of abuse is difficult to write about and this story was so beautifully written."

★★★★★ "This one is a keeper."

★★★★★ "Satisfyingly deep and heartwarming."

★★★★★ "A very touching book."

Themes and tropes

  • Small town romance
  • Opposites attract
  • Recovering from trauma

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter 1

I’ve left the past behind, I think, as I flatten the last cardboard box. This one held the few books I brought. I stacked them next to Aunt Milly’s on the built-in shelves in her living room—my living room. It’ll take some time before I can think of this house as mine, especially because it’s not—not legally anyway. Aunt Milly’s name is on the deed and she’s still very much alive, though not so much kicking anymore.

Sweet Aunt Milly, who understood, without me having to say a word, that I needed to leave Chicago, if not for good, then at least for a long time. She’s the only person I know in Nelson, Texas. Speaking of which, it’s almost time for my daily visit to Aunt Milly at Windsor Oaks, the retirement home she now resides in. I offered—basically insisted—for her to stay in her house. It’s surely big enough for the two of us, and I work from home, so I could have taken care of her every need, but she wouldn’t have any of it.

“It’s time for me to leave as well,” she’d said, and, in turn, I had understood her meaning in those few words.

I put the flattened box in the garage with the rest and go in search of my running shoes. Windsor Oaks is in the center of town, about two miles from where I live. Running back and forth doesn’t come close to the distances I used to run along Lake Michigan, but it’ll do for now. I find myself exhausted after four miles these days. “This could be a result of the severe trauma you suffered,” the last doctor I visited in Chicago said. He must have been right. And then, out of nowhere, there are the flashes in my mind again. The ones I’m so powerless against. Blood pooling on the living room carpet and the sound of bone breaking, over and over again. I shake my head and refocus on tying my laces. Running is the only thing that makes that distorted movie in my brain stop.

* * *

“Are you taking care of my spider plant?” Aunt Milly asks, as she does every single day.

In response, I show her a picture I’ve taken this morning on my phone.

“How do I know you’re not showing me the same picture every day?” she asks with a grin.

“You know because I’m your favorite niece and I wouldn’t deceive you like that.”

“I have no choice but to believe you, but my favorite niece you are.” Her face goes blank for an instant. Every time it does, I can’t help but wonder whether she’s thinking about what I’m thinking about. About the events I asked her not to speak of anymore. That doesn’t mean every single second of it doesn’t still occupy my mind. 

“How was your run?” she asks. “It must be getting hot out there.” The temperature in Aunt Milly’s room is always exactly the same, no matter the conditions outside, and warm enough for the sweat to keep pearling on my forehead. “This is nothing,” Aunt Milly says, then falls silent again.

I wish, for her sake, that I was the kind of person who could make endless chitchat, but that’s not me. So we often sink into a companionable silence for minutes on end, me racking my brain for a tidbit of safe information I haven’t shared with Aunt Milly yet, and, judging by how her eyelids sometimes droop, my aunt dozing off in her chair. As long as she knows she’s not alone, I think, as I always do when I fail to come up with more words.

“Any exciting plans this weekend?” she asks, as her eyelids flutter.

“Tending to your garden.” Although garden is a big word for the patch of overgrown grass and weeds at the back of the house. After she broke her hip last year, Aunt Milly wasn’t able to take care of it anymore.

“It’s your garden now, dear.” By the time she gets to the word dear her voice has lost its oomph and I can tell she’s getting tired. She takes a few seconds to catch her breath. “Why don’t you go to Sam’s Bar on Saturday? It’s not good for you to be on your own all the time.” This last statement seems to have zapped the last conversational energy from her body.

“I’m not though, am I?” I give her a kind smile. “I have you.”

She just nods.

“I’ll let you rest now.” I push myself out of my chair.

“That’s okay, dear. Just stay a little while longer.” Aunt Milly closes her eyes.

I sink back into the chair and wait until I hear her breath steady itself and she breaks into a gentle snore. Every day I come here, we perform a different variation of this conversation, and every time, when we reach this bit—contemplative for me, drowsy for her—I think exactly the same thing: being alone is good and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

* * *

After I return home and take a quick shower, I stand in front of the fridge and realize it’s empty. I quickly push back the memory of how a not properly stocked refrigerator made Tracy feel. I can’t help but wonder whether I’ve become so lax about grocery shopping simply because I can now, then head to the supermarket. Nelson only has one and, when I first arrived, I was amazed by how spotless and brand new it looked. It’s not massive, but the aisles are wide and I never feel rushed when I push my cart through them and examine what’s on offer.

I don’t get out much—Aunt Milly is surely correct about that—so when I do, I like to take my time. I wasn’t born a hermit. And a daily run works for me now, but I know its magic will cease to be enough soon. So I make a point of nodding at everyone I encounter, sometimes even throwing in a smile. I’m not out to make friends just yet, but having a chat with someone closer to my age range wouldn’t be a bad thing, I guess. I’m just afraid of what might slip out if I let my guard down even a little.

I scan the vegetable aisle, pondering what to make for dinner, when another shopping cart crashes into mine.

“Oh, I’m so very sorry,” a woman says, but she doesn’t pull her cart back. “I was rushing again, as usual.”

“Never mind.” I give her a smile so as to reassure her that it’s really no big deal.

The woman stares intently at me for a second too long. “You’re new in town, aren’t you?” she asks. “I’ve seen you run along Main Street. I have my office there.” She paints a big smile on her face and extends a hand. “I’m Tess Douglas, managing editor of The Nelson Ledger, which basically means I do everything.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Laura.” I barely touch my palm to hers. “And yes, I am new.”

Tess flicks a strand of hair away from her shoulders and looks at me again. “Welcome to Nelson,” she says. “Are you here to stay? Where did you move from?”

“From Chicago. And I—I might be.” I start pulling my cart out of the way, anxious to get back to my shopping and not prolong this conversation.

“Do you work here?” Tess quirks up her eyebrows. She really wants to know everything.

“I’m a freelance graphic designer, so I can work pretty much anywhere.”

“Oh!” She clasps a hand over her mouth. “You might just be what I’ve been looking for, Laura,” she exclaims, her voice going all high-pitched.

I should be amused by this comment, but it terrifies me instead. What does this woman want from me? I pull my cart a bit farther away from her to indicate that I want to move on.

TNLThe Nelson Ledger—has been ready for a makeover since I started working for it in 2006… Well, actually, come to think of it, long before that, but I digress. I finally scraped a budget together and I’m ready to start talking about it to people like you.”

“I’m very sorry, Tess,” I say with a firm voice. “I’m currently not looking for new clients.”

Tess’s posture deflates a little. Then she inhales, and it’s as though the oxygen she sucks in instantly replenishes her bravado. “Maybe you can recommend someone then?”

This woman really will not let up. “Maybe,” I mutter.

She reaches into her purse and gets out a business card. “Here. Call or email me if you think of someone… or when you do have time for new clients.” She follows up with a wide smile, baring a row of ultra-white teeth.

“Sure.” I take the card and, without looking at it, drop it into the side pocket of my jacket. “It was nice meeting you.”

“Yes,” Tess, who suddenly seems a bit flustered, says. “Take care now.” With that, she spins her cart around and heads into the opposite direction.

Full on much, I think, as I follow her with my gaze. She’s tall and her full hips sway a little as she walks. Her blond hair comes to well below her shoulders and… her stare unsettled me a little. Perhaps I could have been more polite, but she made me feel so cornered, what with her cart blocking mine—though I could have just turned around.

I refocus my attention on the vegetables to steady myself. I think I’ll have sweet potatoes with my dinner tonight.

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