Join me in welcoming Charlene A. Wilson to Highlighted Author.
She began writing in her early teens when her vivid dreams stayed with her long after she had them. The characters and worlds were so amazing she brought them to life through her books.
A member of Romance Writers of America, Published Authors Network, and Vice-President of Diamond State Romance Authors, Charlene believes in giving back to her fellow authors and her readers. She was recently voted #3 in the P&E Readers Poll for Best Author.
Charlene resides in a small community in Arkansas, USA, with her two beautiful daughters, husband, and a very chatty cockatiel named Todder.
One for Kami
Kami crosses dimensions to find true love, but her heart’s desire never left home.
Kami is faced with a heartbreaking truth; instead of being a member of the poor lower class who are allowed only one spouse, she finds the love of her life is an elite and bound by law to wed three wives to do his part to eliminate the poverty-stricken condition of their world. How can she stand to share him? Why can’t he be poor the way she thought he was when she fell in love with him?
Desperate and determined to find a realm that doesn’t have such dictates, she travels to dimension Three-Two-Three to begin her search. But is love truer in a place that only allows one spouse than it is in Ian’s heart?
What they’re saying:
“Sweet, romantic, and heartfelt. A great introduction to the author’s world.”—J.D. Brown Book Club
“One for Kami is a delightful little read.”—Jean Murray, Author
“One for Kami is a story that will have you willing to give up everything for your one true love.”—Annette, Gothic Mom’s Book Reviews
“[Wilson] spins a tale of true love spanning time and dimensions that will inspire the reader to sacrifice everything to find their soul mate.”—Debbie, Read2Review
Kami’s blouse bunched up her back as she slid down the wide oak’s trunk. She cringed as aged bark grazed her skin and snagged her hair until her bottom hit the ground. She folded her knees to her chest, buried her face in her arms, and welcomed the sharp pangs. Hurting Ian pained her more than anything she’d done in her life.
Autumn leaves crunched as he paced the woodland’s small clearing. Each stride matched two beats of her heart and crushed the sweet memories of their grove. Dust scented the air as he shuffled through a turn.
“Why are you just now telling me this?” His breath hitched, and he cleared his throat.
Words wouldn’t form as Kami lifted her gaze.
His hazel eyes shifted to the shadows of the young birch trees as he set his hands at his waist. A cloud of insects drifted through the pale trunks. Soft hums filled the air as they paused.
He ran his hand across his jaw and looked back at her. “You know I love you, Kami.”
Tears seeped beneath her lids, and she blinked to relieve the burn. “I need to be the only one, Ian. I can’t know you might love someone else more than me when you choose another wife.”
She stared at the thick roots that surrounded her and then traced the curve of one nearby with her fingertip. They wove into the caramel-colored ground, creating a perfect lounge for two lovers in an embrace. How many times had they sat there and shared their secrets, their love? How many times had he told her she was the one? She cursed the fact that she had been gullible enough to believe it could be true.
Kami forced her voice through her tight throat. “When I first saw you, you were playing in the park with that scruffy little dog. Its hair was so long and matted, I thought you couldn’t afford to pay a groomer. I thought that sock with the knot in it was all you could come up with to be his toy.”
His gaze dropped to the ground. “That stray lives at the park, and I removed my sock to have some fun with him.”
“I know that now. But then I assumed you were poor. And after the third date of peanut butter sandwich picnics by the river, I thought I knew for certain. I mean, who could love peanut butter that much? And what member of the elite class chooses such a simple activity for a date?”
She scanned his solemn countenance. His love of nature was one of the things she adored about him, alongside the fact that he didn’t feel the need to flaunt his wealth. But to keep such a fact from her under the circumstances… “I fell in love with you, believing you would make me the one choice you were allowed as a member of the lower class.”
A gust of wind lifted his black hair to dance around his face. The cheery motion seemed to mock his lips as they dipped into a deep frown. “If it were up to me, I’d have only you. Can’t you believe that? I’ve waited, pushed the age limit to wed, looking for the right one to be my first. My first, Kami. The others will never mean what you do to me.”
“If you really love me, you’d want me alone. No other. Period.” Frustration bubbled in her chest at her misconception of their love.
He tilted his head and bit his lips together. “I can’t help that I was born an elite. If it were possible—”
“If it were possible, what? You’d give up your birthright and join the ranks of the vagabonds who can’t afford food for the one wife and child they’re allowed? Or you’d buck the system and refuse to wed the other two? That would only land you earthbound, exiled to a foreign dimension, and stripped of everything but the clothes you wear. And while you’re considering it, I’d advise you to wear a thick coat and heavy boots, because I hear they choose some pretty rough climates for those who refuse to live by this law.”
The sarcastic response rolled off her tongue before she realized it, but she didn’t care. It wasn’t right. None of the counsel’s decisions on eliminating poverty were. Lower class men wedded one spouse and fathered one child, while the elite had to choose three wives and produce as many offspring as they could.
Find another way to spread the wealth than through inheritance.
She looked at him, and her voice rose. “I can’t stay here and conform to the laws of this dimension. Not when I know there are other places that don’t require such things. I need the freedom to love whomever I want, whoever they are, without the stipulation of a quota. And if that means transferring, then that’s what I’ll do.”
“If your mother was alive—”
“Well, she’s not.” Kami scowled. She had expected him to try to bring her mother into the conversation, but it hurt just the same. “But I can’t believe she wouldn’t want me to be happy. She was one of a quota, Ian — one that had only one child. Father’s attention stayed on the others.”
His broad shoulders lifted as he took a deep breath and looked back to the trees.
“I’m leaving for a six-month stay in Three-Two-Three. With me gone, you’ll be free to start your family before you turn twenty-five. I won’t stand in your way to fulfill your obligation. You’ll have time to find a woman who will happily live by the law.” She lowered her voice to a mumble. “And I won’t have to see you do it.”
Ian’s heavy brow furrowed, and his dark lashes narrowed his gaze. “And what will happen if you find someone while you’re there? That realm doesn’t know we exist, Kami. What will you tell him when you leave every six months to come back to renew your travel rights?”
“When I choose someone, it will be because our love is true. He’ll understand I need some time away.”
His mouth dropped open, and he shook his head. “What love that’s true has those kinds of secrets?” A scowl crossed his face as he drew his hand through the air. “And what makes you think a love there would be truer than my love here?”
“They choose only one. They pledge their hearts, and it lasts a lifetime.”
“Promises can be broken, whichever realm you’re in.” Orange and yellow leaves scattered as he marched across the small tract and sank to the ground before her. He took her hands in his and then looked into her eyes. “Stay here. Marry me. Be my elite choice. There can be only one first time, and I want it to be you. Let it be enough.”
It took all Kami’s strength to look away. She clenched her jaw, tried to control the hiccup that would surely release a sob.
Ian shook his head, and his voice lowered to a plea. “Please, Kami. Don’t go.”
She pinched her lips together, and the hiccup forced its way to her throat. Snatching her breath, she kept it silent, but it jarred her into action. “The consort has already granted my leave. I’ve taken the training, and temporary employment is waiting for me. If I can make it work, I’ll arrange to stay longer.”
The frank tone of her voice gave her strength as she stood. “Good-bye, Ian.”
His hands slowly released her as he rose and stepped back. His square jaw flexed. “Never say good-bye. This isn’t the end.”
Kami tore her gaze from his hazel eyes and focused her thoughts on the Inter-dimensional Courtyard. A wave of heat sizzled through her veins as her elements prepared to shift through space. The scene before her distorted, and a soft buzz filled her ears as she synced into the atrium.
Air rushed from Ian’s lungs. “No,” he uttered with his remaining breath. How could she believe another woman would mean more to him than she did? He clenched his jaw, spun, and punched at the cloud of tiny insects that had flown up behind him. “No!”
Birds quieted overhead, and the bugs slowly parted, as if to scoff at his harsh behavior. A brash breeze whipped through the clearing and blew them away. Dried leaves scattered. He kicked at the animated foliage and then raked his fingers over his scalp.
She had to realize I wasn’t one of the needy. Everyone knows the Belrose name is synonymous with wealth and elitism.
He caught sight of the bandana tied around his right bicep and lowered his arms. Surely she had known he hid the family emblem inked on his skin to make it easier to move among the poor during his service to them. He rolled his shoulders to dispel the chill traveling up his neck.
He bunched his fingers into fists and launched into long strides. Ten paces carried him to the edge of the patchy ground to face the birch trees that separated him from her housing tower. They needed to talk this out… really talk before she went through with it.
“This isn’t the end,” he said aloud, as if his words could reach her. “I refuse to give up on us.”
Heat sizzled through his veins as he prepared to sync with space. He paused before he attached his elements to the atmosphere near her suite’s entrance. If she was to the point of throwing their love away, he would need all the help he could get.
I’d better get some heavy artillery.
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