A Rose By Any Other Name by Landra Graf
Zombies don’t belong in fairy tales…at least not those with a good chance of a happily ever after…
Jason Prince, Charming's once-upon-a-time star jock, only attends his Charming high school reunion to find his way into the heart of a certain wallflower who had no date for the prom.
Shy, geeky, chemical engineer, Emma Fay has been keeping her love for Jason a secret because she knows Jason and Rose belong together. But, when Rose Briar pricks her finger, fulfilling a prophecy about death and a plague, she throws a wrench into the class reunion that not even the best planning committee can tackle.
Can Jason and Emma stop Zombie Beauty Rose before she turns their loved ones into her undead court and sends them forth to spread the infestation to the rest of the world? Or will human flesh become the daily special at diners everywhere? And will there be enough left of Jason and Emma for romance to blossom?
Her eyes darted back toward the examination room. He couldn’t hear anything that gave the impression things were worse than they’d been a few moments ago. In fact, the silence in the room made him anxious, and he started to tap his boot on the linoleum floor. The rising tension around them or the number of feelings invoked knowing someone he cared about lay suffering in the other room failed to help as well. He gave a little shiver and involuntarily gripped Emma’s hand tighter. She tried to pull away, but he wanted to hold on to her a little longer.
“All right then, let’s break up this mood. I’m going to read your palm.” He hoped the ploy would cast away her urges to break their bond.
“Palm reading?” One brown eyebrow lifted, but her frame and hand relaxed at his touch.
“Yes, I’ve studied with the finest masters fair corn dogs can buy.”
“I can tell you your future, Miss Emmaline Fay,” he said with a grin. She gave one back and the effect was breathtaking. She’d always possessed a beautiful smile, one known for lighting up rooms, and he enjoyed being the recipient.
“Fine, Master Prince. Tell me my future.”
Jason turned her palm over in his, trailing his fingers along the lines. Leaning in for a closer look, he picked up on the scent of vanilla, flowers, and a hint of something he couldn’t identify beyond pure Emma. The power of the smell made his groin swell again, something he didn’t need at the moment. One glance downward and she’d see the evidence of how she affected him.
So he thought about cold showers and his grandmother’s gnarly hands and focused on the soft palm covered with lines.
“Ah, your life line is extremely long. I also see a man in your love line. This is a man who has loved you for a long time and watched you from afar.”
She scoffed. “Sounds kind of creepy. I don’t know if I want a stalker in my life.”
“Not a stalker, but an admirer. He’s always appreciated your loyalty.” Jason locked eyes with her green ones. “Your kindness and bravery, too. And your ability to push ahead. Strength like that is rare.”
She leaned forward, her nose barely touching his. “How rare?”
“Uh.” His words caught in his throat. To have her so close, too close...exactly where he’d wanted her since he’d seen her sitting behind the wheel of her car. “Rare enough that I’ve only known one other person to possess it. I—”
“The fever is coming down,” Dr. Mason announced, bursting into the room, face filled with relief.
Jason silently swore as she jumped out of her chair and moved toward the entry. “Can we go in?”
“No, not yet. I want you both to stay here, though, in case you come down with the same thing due to proximity. We've taken blood, and we're doing everything we can, but I don’t know if this is contagious.” The doctor moved to a cabinet on the far wall and removed two blankets.
“You can camp out in the waiting room.”
“Completely understandable, Doc. I know we won’t leave until Rose is able to, anyway. We’ll want to be on the nurse-Rose-back-to-health team.” Jason stood to accept the blankets.
Her momentary excitement deflated, Emma shuffled back to her chair. “That’s right. I’ll be nursing our girl back to health or whatever else it takes, so I’m staying until everything is perfectly fine.”
“Good. I’ll see you both in the morning,” Dr. Mason said, leaving by way of the kitchen door. Jason could only imagine the amount of coffee the doctor planned on consuming for the night.
Emma curled up in her seat, slipping her feet out of her brown cowboy boots.
Jason sat down next to her and leaned back in his chair. “He certainly knows how to offer comfortable beds.”
“And there’s the sarcasm I know so well.” She leaned her head on his shoulder.
He tried to ignore how right it felt. “Yes, and that’s why you should just close your eyes and rest. Don’t worry. It’ll all be better in the morning.”
Author Bio: Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.