The Aris Effect

Aris Series  |  Book 2


Being in love?
REALLY loving someone??
Two totally different things…

Aris Collier is a masterful artist but, when it comes to the art of love, she couldn’t be further from her comfort zone…

For Luke and Aris, it’s all fun and games until their work and general differences get in the way. Soon, Aris is falling from cloud nine into the reality of a live-in life with Luke where she’s failing forward almost every day. On the flip side, Aris is thriving in her new career. It’s much easier to navigate and a lot less complicated…especially the synergy she finds with Troy Murphy, her partner-in-art whose mere presence begins to undermine her life with Luke.

As Aris struggles to maintain a practical balance, she learns that loving Luke Donovan is effortless…but maneuvering the nuances of a real relationship? Not so much. It’s a simple truth that she quickly discovers the hard way, forcing Aris to either confront the contradictions within herself or continue to take unnecessary gambles that just may end up costing her the love of her life…

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“I eat plums in summer.”

Aris’s words lingered in the air as she continued to poke the mixture of salad greens in her bowl with a shiny fork, fully appreciating the artistry of it all but really wishing it would magically transform into a plate of tacos.

Luke tapped his leg against hers underneath the table causing Aris to look up and glance at him. He raised a brow, the amusement in his eyes contradicting the serious look on his face. Her bratty behavior and flippant quips weren’t doing him any favors at the moment so Aris straightened in her chair and leaned forward, ready to deliver the more appropriate response that she had agreed to share when presented with the always-pretentious, “so…what do you do?” question that perfect strangers always ask each other for lack of more worthwhile conversation.

“I’m a make-up artist,” she added.

More silence followed as the men at the table drew blank expressions while their wives seemed to silently assess the fact that outside of several strokes of mascara on her lashes and a few swipes of gloss across her lips, there wasn’t a drop of makeup on Aris’s fresh, flawless face.

“How…interesting,” Georgine Harris finally uttered with a pleasant smile. “Brides and models, I presume?”

“Ghouls and zombies, mostly,” Aris replied, sweetly. “Though I guess they’re all pretty much one and the same these days…wouldn’t you say?”

Georgine pressed her lips together in disapproval as her husband, Bart, and a few of the other men at the table released amused chuckles masked as hearty grunts. Aris felt another tap underneath the table and she risked another glance at Luke. He didn’t look her way this time, but his mouth twitched. Lifting his glass from the table, Luke took a long sip of water to hide his grin then lifted a dark linen napkin from his lap, swiped it across his mouth, relaxed his posture and expertly changed the subject.

As the group began yet another conversation that was above Aris’s pay-grade, she felt Luke’s hand on her thigh. He knew she hated suffering these boring business dinners as much as he did, but it was a necessary evil in his line of work. They would be on their way back to their hotel soon enough so Aris conjured up her most genuine smile and listened quietly as Luke engaged the other dinner guests in more stuffy conversation…and inched his hand up her thigh. Basically, his slick way of reminding her that—if she endured this for him just a while longer—there would be fun times ahead.

Spreading her legs slightly to give Luke better access, Aris accepted his challenge and widened her smile.