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Authors: Eve Marie Mont

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0758269498

BOOK: 0758269498
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Also by Eve Marie Mont

A Breath of Eyre

A Touch
of
Scarlet

Eve Marie Mont

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Table of Contents

Also by Eve Marie Mont
Title Page
Dedication
A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS
C
HAPTER
1
C
HAPTER
2
C
HAPTER
3
C
HAPTER
4
C
HAPTER
5
C
HAPTER
6
C
HAPTER
7
C
HAPTER
8
C
HAPTER
9
C
HAPTER
10
C
HAPTER
11
C
HAPTER
12
C
HAPTER
13
C
HAPTER
14
C
HAPTER
15
C
HAPTER
16
C
HAPTER
17
C
HAPTER
18
C
HAPTER
19
C
HAPTER
20
C
HAPTER
21
C
HAPTER
22
C
HAPTER
23
C
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24
C
HAPTER
25
C
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26
C
HAPTER
27
C
HAPTER
28
A Touch of Scarlet
Playlist
Teaser chapter
Copyright Page

For my mom and dad, lifelong teachers whose
greatest lessons—tolerance, empathy, and kindness—
were taught at home

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

When I began writing
A Touch of Scarlet
back in 2011, I had no idea what a long and harrowing journey it was going to be. One reason is that the book is a sequel, and sequels are notoriously dastardly for authors. Another reason is that the book is inspired by
The Scarlet Letter,
a nineteenth-century novel about a woman scorned by her Puritanical society and forced to live in exile—not exactly crowd-pleasing material. Reading it in high school had been a chore; Hawthorne’s writing is difficult, and the story itself is relentlessly dark. But Hester Prynne is the shining beacon throughout, a character known for her strength, integrity, passion, and resilience. I knew Hester was the perfect role model for Emma as she continues on her path to self-discovery.

In a way, I felt like a bit of an exile as I wrote the book. I neglected friends and family, shirked housework and other responsibilities. I often felt alone. But there were those who made the journey a little less lonely, those who read and provided feedback and support, those who loved me unconditionally and were there when I finally emerged from the writing cave.

Deep from my well of gratitude, I’d like to thank:

 

My editor, Martin Biro, for continuing to believe in me and for loving these characters almost as much as I do.

Vida Engstrand, publicist extraordinaire, and the entire team at Kensington / KTeen.

My friends and fellow writers in the Class of 2k12, particularly Kathryn Burak and Gina Rosati for beta reads, professional guidance, and all-around loveliness.

My local Philly writers’ crew—Elisa Ludwig, Eugene Myers, Tiffany Schmidt, and Kate Walton—for friendship and camaraderie throughout this crazy adventure.

My students at Lower Moreland High School for surprising me every day with your maturity, intelligence, and kindness.

My friends and colleagues for providing early reads and much-needed moral support, especially Annie Boagni, Carol Burton-Haldeman, Barbara Kavanagh, Kimberly McGlonn-Nelson, Sandy Oechslin, and Ashley Seiver.

The Krauters, Hogans, and McLaughlins for cheering me on and bolstering me up. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family.

Erin and Anna, my wonderful nieces—I can’t wait until you’re old enough to read my books!

Mom, Dad, Phil, and Pete—for being there every step of the way and never losing your enthusiasm.

And last but not least, my husband, Ken, for your boundless patience and love. None of this would mean anything if I couldn’t share it with you.

. . . somewhere between the real world and fairyland, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet . . . Ghosts might enter here, without affrighting us.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne,
The Scarlet Letter

C
HAPTER
1

T
he Scarlet Letter
was going to kill me.

Over the past week, I’d been trying to get through its 375 pages of densely packed text, and all I had gained for my efforts was a newfound hatred for nineteenth-century prose. Hawthorne never used seven words if twenty-seven were available. And so far, Hester and Dimmesdale’s forbidden romance wasn’t setting off any fireworks in my heart.

Not to mention, it was my birthday, the sky was a glorious blue, and I had the keys to the car. So why was I spending the day inside with dreary Nathaniel Hawthorne? Because I’d procrastinated and left my summer reading assignment for the very last minute. This was totally out of character for me. Then again, the entire summer had been out of character.

For one thing, I had a boyfriend. Admitting Gray Newman was my boyfriend still made me a little giddy. I’d always imagined my first boyfriend would be some sweaty-palmed thirteen-year-old, not this very grown-up guy with the hazel eyes and twice-broken nose. Over the past two months, we had seen each other almost every day, taking lazy drives to Salem and Yarmouth, window-shopping in Beacon Hill and Back Bay, hiking the trails at World’s End, walking the beach at night. Always the beach at night. Being with Gray felt as natural as breathing. The knowledge that he was leaving tomorrow for Coast Guard training made me feel like someone was slowly carving out my insides with a dull knife.

For eight weeks, I wouldn’t see him, wouldn’t even be able to talk to him or e-mail. And after the training was over, we had no idea where they might send him. Best-case scenario was somewhere local like Cape Cod; worst case was some godforsaken part of the Bering Strait, one of most treacherous places in the world, particularly if you made your living rescuing people from frigid waters.

Resigned, I opened
The Scarlet Letter
and tried to resume reading:

 

Tomorrow would bring its own trial with it; so would the next day, and so would the next . . .

 

This was hopeless. I flung the book on the coffee table.

And then I got the strange sense that someone was watching me. I glanced out the window and saw Gray’s Jeep parked in the street. He was leaning against it in this casually sexy way, just waiting for me to notice him. We were kind of psychic this way that summer, deeply attuned to each other’s presence.

I jumped from the sofa and ran outside, a smile bursting across my face. We hugged like we hadn’t seen each other in weeks, and he spun me around in a circle before setting me gently down. Then he kissed me somewhat chastely given that we were standing in front of my house.

“You’re early,” I said.

“And you’re beautiful. I couldn’t wait another second.”

“But I’m not ready.”

“Then go and get changed. I can watch . . . I mean, wait.” He cracked a sly smile.

“Very funny,” I said. “Dad and Barbara are home.”

“Oh, Barbara loves me,” he said.

This was true. Over the summer, my stepmom Barbara had become Gray’s third-biggest fan, behind me and my grandma. Gray was polite, good-looking, and attentive,
and
he was joining a branch of the military, a major plus in Barbara’s book.

“Barbara may love you,” I said, “but my dad worries you’re going to steal my virginal innocence.”

“Rightly so,” he said, swooping in for another kiss.

I swatted him away. “Rein in those hormones, Mr. Coast Guard. It’s going to be all discipline and self-denial for you from now on.”

“Even more reason we should enjoy ourselves now.”

I rolled my eyes, but my insides melted. The truth was, I had been thinking about sex a lot. I never thought I’d be ready after dating someone for only three months, but things moved quickly when you saw someone every day. And I did love Gray. But there was something so weighty and scary about that word that neither of us had said it yet.

I grabbed Gray’s hand and led him inside the house. My dad was in the kitchen, going over finances. It had been a slow summer for him. Overfishing had led to dwindling numbers on stripers, cod, and flounder—my dad’s livelihood—not to mention, the heat of deep summer tended to slow down everything with fins. Fortunately, Barbara’s real estate venture was keeping us afloat. But my dad still fretted about money daily.

BOOK: 0758269498
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