Awakening Veronica

By: Heather Rainier

Divine Creek Ranch 17


Thank you to Kimberly for inspiring the creation of one of the heroes in Awakening Veronica. I appreciate her so much for sharing a moment from her life that added such wonderful depth to the story. As part of the Divine Divas street team on Facebook, she is one of many women who inspire me on a daily basis with their loyalty, enthusiasm, and naughtiness. Thanks is also due to her friend, Mike, for telling me about this real life hero.

Speaking of the Divine Divas, I must add a special thank you to all of them, including their admin, Rana. In the process of writing and researching Awakening Veronica I asked them about their experiences with bullying. Even though it stirred painful memories for many of them, they shared their hearts with me and helped to bring this story to vivid life. I’m truly blessed to know each of them.

I owe Cara Covington, a.k.a. Morgan Ashbury a serious debt of gratitude for allowing me such free use of her Lusty, Texas matriarch, Kate Benedict, as well as a number of her other characters. I appreciate the trust she placed in me more than I can ever adequately voice. Oh, and when I grow up, I want to be just like Grandma Kate.

Without wonderful readers, there wouldn’t be a Divine Creek Ranch Collection. I appreciate every one of you so much. In particular, I wish to thank all those kind people who reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, and through e-mail. They are rays of sunshine in my day and I love interacting with them.

Thank you to my beta-reader, Stormy, for her part in making this story a worthy addition to the series. Her insights and suggestions show her keen love for Divine and I appreciate her thorough attention to detail.

My editors at Siren, and the rest of the staff, have my heartfelt appreciation for their part in delivering a well-written story to readers. I’m fortunate to live close enough to occasionally visit them in person and they are truly a marvelous, professional bunch.

My publisher, Diana, has my deepest gratitude and admiration for the high standards she sets and for continuing to believe in me.

Chapter One

Late October in Billings, Montana…

Veronica Benedict’s heart raced and she barely took time to blink as she tried to keep up with the rapid-fire, somewhat schizophrenic pace of the live, online chat. Several people conversed at the same time on more than one topic, all related to her latest book—her fledgling attempt at erotic romance, which had been released the week before. Normally, online promotion came easy for Veronica because she enjoyed interacting with readers, but these live chats were too much like being inundated face-to-face, which made her anxiety soar.

A smaller instant message window suddenly popped up, blocking her view of the conversation. Irritation rose inside her until she saw who it was from.

KinkyLustyMama: Hey, sweet girl! When are you coming to visit me?

Grandma Kate. Veronica pictured her kind face and her comforting voice, and the anxious knot in the pit of her stomach unwound just a fraction.

There were fifteen minutes left in the discussion and she had to stay on task or she’d lose track of all the questions amongst the chatter in the room.

Veronica Benedict: Give me about fifteen minutes, switch to Skype, and then we can talk about it, okay?

KinkyLustyMama: Sure thing, sweet girl!

Veronica closed the instant message box and gasped at what she saw.

BookAddictedWhore: I think Veronica doesn’t want to answer the question because the bitch is scared of how we’ll react.

Veronica cleared her throat, trying to rid it of the lump that grew there every time this particular reader, who had been stalking her online, started in on her. The laughing emoticon that followed the statement was meant to soften the wording for the other readers in the chat room but it didn’t fool Veronica.

Veronica Benedict: I’m sorry, guys. I got distracted for a moment. What was the question?

There was no sense in scrolling back because she’d just lose more of the conversation in the interim while she searched the messages for the question.

BookAddictedWhore: Gina Vagina asked if you plan to continue writing sweet romance or permanently change to writing hotter stories since you can make more money.

Veronica Benedict: Oh.

She thought to herself, no easy answer to that question. She liked writing both for different reasons. Before she could reply, BookAddictedWhore continued on.

BookAddictedWhore: Who would want to continue with that boring shit when we can delve into that sweaty, nasty, dirty mind of yours? I’d much rather wallow around in your cum-soaked imagination.

Once again, the laughing emoticon popped up at the end of the statement.

Veronica was trying to frame a reply when several others popped up with laughing responses, too, some along the same line as BookAddictedWhore’s statement, others framed much more nicely. She sighed. Was there even a point now in responding?