Thirty nights. Two hearts. One fate.
American Beauty, Book 1
After her parents’ tragic deaths, Elisa Snow wanted nothing more than to escape her past. Eighteen and alone, she fled her quaint English village and moved to the United States. A starving science student by day and an artist’s muse by night, Elisa has slowly built a new life. She never dreamed she would lose everything again.
She’s one week from graduation when her visa is unexpectedly denied. Given thirty days to leave the country, she must face the one thing she cannot survive again—saying goodbye and leaving her home. Yet within minutes of her world shattering, she meets a man with the power to piece it back together.
After finishing his tour of duty in Iraq, Aiden Hale traded battlefields for boardrooms, becoming one of the most successful venture capitalists in the nation. But all his wealth can’t buy him reprieve from the horrific memories of war. The only thing that gives him peace is a painting of Elisa.
Drawn together by their invisible wounds, they begin a passionate affair as they race against the clock to defy their pasts—and fight for their future.
Earlier versions of this book were posted on the author’s blog under the titles of The Master’s Muse and 30 Nights of Snow, using the pen name Ani Surnois, and has since been extensively edited.
He steps inside. I think he’s trying to calm himself but it’s hard to tell with the smoke coming out of his ears. He runs a hand over his hair. What the devil is wrong with him? He takes one deep breath and explodes.
“Are you so above the rest, Miss Snow, that you will not deign to attend even your graduation from the institution that has granted you its highest academic honor? Or is this how little your own life means to you?” He speaks through gritted teeth.
Oh, bollocks! How did he find out, and why does he care? Be strong, Isa. “I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business.” I ignore his second question. Something about it makes me recoil.
He looks at me like I just insulted his mother. Honestly, I think I see fire from his nostrils. “None of my fucking business? Is that your answer?” Still gritted teeth, which I suppose is better than fangs.
“Yes, that’s my answer.” I stay calm, hoping some of it will rub off on him. No such luck.
“Over three thousand people watched President Campbell announce Miss Elisa Cecilia Snow, valedictorian in absentia, and a full minute of silence fell over the crowd, and you say it’s none of my fucking business?” He is spitting fire.
Damn it! Why would President Campbell announce it? I emailed the traitor. Well, one thing at a time. The Dragon first. “No, I didn’t say fucking business. I said simply business.”
He looks at me with flared nostrils and roars, his fists hanging down.
“What is wrong with you?”
Oh, this is rich. He is morphing into a Tolkien creature and I’m the freak? I am usually a calm, rational agent. It’s probably not apparent based on this last week, but I am. But right now, with my newly shaved legs and my lacy knickers on, after practicing his name all day in front of a stupid fan, I want to scratch his eyes out.
“There’s nothing wrong with me, Mr. Hale. However, based on your behavior these last two days, may I suggest the very real possibility that there is something seriously wrong with you? I strongly recommend that you visit a psychiatrist, sir, and soon, before you become a menace on the streets of Portland and incinerate us all for exercising our right as free human beings to go wherever we bloody well please,” I hiss, feeling a kindred spirit with Medusa because he has turned to stone.
Before I can draw a breath, he takes the two steps between us and his mouth closes in on mine, his hands like a vise around my face.
The force of his kiss slams me against the wall and makes me gasp. His lips mold with mine, and his tongue is dancing inside my mouth. My knees shake a little. As if he knows, one of his hands leaves my face, trails down my body and rests at the small of my back, arching me against him and supporting all my weight. I move my tongue shyly around his. I taste cinnamon and something else, something Aiden. My blood ignites, and another gasp escapes me. At the sound, he presses his hips against me, and his long fingers reach into my hair. He pulls my head back until my mouth opens wider. Our tongues move together, and his anger changes to desperation and then to a slower rhythm that I can follow. Of their own accord, my arms reach up around his neck and my fingers knot in his hair. He tenses, so I try to let go but he draws me closer until there is no more space left. I feel every line of his body against mine. His teeth graze my bottom lip. It takes me a moment to realize that the moan I hear is coming from me. He pulls away, his breathing harsh and labored.
“Impossible woman,” he growls.
I open my eyes. His sapphire depths are blazing. Without his arm supporting me, my knees go back to shaky and weak. Then it dawns on me. Bloody hell, I’ve just been kissed by Aiden Hale! And what a kiss it was. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have much experience with such things, but I am willing to bet my supplement’s formula that no girl, anywhere, has been kissed like this. I pinch myself discreetly to make sure I’m awake. Yes, it was real. My lips are tingling.
“Are you ready to go?” he asks, his breathing now back in control. Apparently, we are not going to talk about it. That’s good. What if his next words end this? And what is there to say regardless? By some miracle, he wants me at some level, and I want him at all levels. That’s good enough for now. Good enough for forever for someone like me.
“. . . [R]efreshing to discover a strong female protagonist, unwilling to compromise her morals and integrity for anyone, even her true love. . . I will be waiting patiently and excitedly for Book 2.”
“…Outstanding! Second to none! I consider myself very lucky to have found your story. I am so there for [sequel]!”
“I could pick out your writing anywhere, anytime and any place because you write like no other! Your style is incredibly unique and creative and rarely matched in this arena. I have several favorite authors, all incredibly talented, of which you are one. Your style certainly sets you apart.”
“. . . a must-read so good, that it is dangerous. . .”
“… This story is rich, pure, and a complete work of art on its own. . .”
“I want to read whatever you write forever. I couldn't put this down, but found myself slowing my pace to make it last longer, knowing it was soon coming to an end. I love [what] you've done with your characters, who they are, who they'll be. I would buy 100 advance copies of your book if it meant I wouldn't have to wait to read part 2!”
“I have felt a strong connection with this story from the very start, and it has been a one-of-a-kind experience watching it grow into the phenomenon that it is today. Thank you so much for this incredible ride. . . One day when your book becomes an international bestseller, I will look back and fondly remember that I was there when it all began :-)”
“. . . You have given me and many others a voice. . .”
“What you have created here is nothing short of brilliance! Seriously, there is none other like it... You cover subjects like PTSD and Immigration realistically and with sensitivity, dignity and respect... is absolutely brilliant!”
“I am a loyal reader, waking every Sunday to check for my [Thirty Nights] update, then proceeding to sit on the patio with my coffee and read (my Sunday ritual). . . Now that we are at the end of book 1 my only thoughts for you would be please don't make us wait to long to find out where these characters journey is going because [I] think it will kill me!”
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Ani Keating Bio:
Ani Keating is an attorney, daughter, sister, and wife, living in the City of Roses, Oregon. When she is not in court or at the office helping clients sort through legal issues (and complaining about the photocopy machine), Ani explores her childhood passion for writing. Her first novel, Thirty Nights, is a sexy and heart-tugging story about love’s power to save and guide us even at our darkest moments.
Thirty Nights was originally posted online on fanfiction and on Ani’s popular blog. Over the course of eight short months, the story received more than half-million hits, 63,000 visitors, over 1,000 followers, and over 3,000 reviews and messages. It will be released for everyone on November 17, 2015. Its sequel, Ninety Days, is currently in the drafting stage.
When she is not writing, Ani spends endless hours at Powell’s Bookstore, exploring classics and latest releases. She also likes to stroll through the Portland Rose Garden, drool over shoes on any store window, and dance to everything from Beyoncé to Johnny Cash.