“Things you will need for this book.Danielle Lynn Reads
2. Wine. Only if you drink
3. An animal to cuddle
4. Message the author to tell her what a beautiful story this was.”
“This is a power story of love, loss, and finding your soul mate. This story will bring the tears multiple times and take you on a who journey. What an exceptionally well written story that pulls you in and gives you every emotion.”Stacey
“This is such a beautiful story, full of love and joy, hope, second chances, heartbreak and happiness, secrets and many surprises you will not see coming. This is a story that will grab onto you from the very beginning.”Marni
“Seriously, everyone who has said you need tissues for this book is not lying! It’s a beautiful slow burn romance that will bring you on an emotional rollercoaster ride.”Darlene
They say time heals all wounds. But some wounds never fade.
Fletcher Lockwood hopes to rediscover his muse at a northern California retreat.
What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love.
After weeks of zero inspiration and no new music, Fletcher’s manager suggests a break. Time away from the studio and city noise. Two weeks at an exclusive retreat on the Pacific coast. With nothing to lose, Fletcher packs his bags, hops on a plane, and leaves life behind.
On the first night, Fletcher spots her on the other side of the room. The quiet, demure beauty lost in her own thoughts. A brittle sadness in her facial expression and body language. And he can’t look away. Until he gets caught.
But that doesn’t stop his wandering eyes. Or his indescribable need to know this woman.
Once he summons the courage to talk to her, Fletcher and Madeline share two incredible weeks at the retreat. Form a connection to rival others. Without effort, their relationship blooms into the unexpected. Until Madeline leaves the retreat early without notice.
No way to keep in touch.
On tour a year later, Fletcher looks up from his guitar to spot the woman always on his mind. Madeline. With one look, the inseparable bond they shared reignites. Within days, their connection eclipses all others.
But there is something Madeline has yet to share. Her heart belongs to another.
Will Fletcher be able to win Madeline’s heart?
Or will the ghost of her past keep her from moving on?
Release date: December 7, 2021
Publisher: Between Words Publishing LLC
Print pages: 348
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Listen to a sample
Behind the book
The premise of Transcendental was inspired by a song I'd heard in 2018. I pictured a woman who'd lost the love of her life, but couldn't let go. She fights moving on until an unexpected man comes into her life. And their love story is beautiful and gentle and slow-building, but fierce.
Once my forever after,
You faded from my grasp.
All I have are memories,
Mental images of us last.
My mind won’t let go,
But my heart says it’s time.
Will you forgive my weakness,
If I make another mine.
I crumple the paper and throw it across the room with the pencil.
Dropping my head in my hands, I grind the heels of my palms to my eyes. Pain lances the backs of my eyes and I gladly endure it. Physical pain at least lets me know I feel something. Something other than failure.
“Fletch, take five.”
I peer up and catch Jonathan’s worried gaze. “Yeah, sure.”
Placing the Fender Redondo on the stand, I take a deep breath and rise from my lucky chair. Which hasn’t provided much luck as of recent. I walk out the studio door, down the hall, and step into the early summer sunshine.
The sun beats down on my skin and I close my eyes. Absorb the ultraviolet and bask in the heat. After a beat, I amble across the lawn toward the hackberry tree and sit on the wood bench near the trunk. Tipping my head back, I gaze up at the lush greenery and the kaleidoscope of butterflies fluttering between the branches. They flap their delicate wings without a care in the world. I envy them that.
“You feeling alright?”
I startle as Jonathan sits beside me. His eyes on my profile as I keep my focus on the mass of butterflies. The single question loaded with several behind it.
Am I alright? It’s a legitimate question. Because I don’t feel like myself. Haven’t for some time. And I have no idea how to fix what is wrong. Wouldn’t know where to begin.
“Not so much.” I drop my gaze from the tree and meet his eyes. “I feel… lost.”
He props an ankle on his knee. Laces his fingers in his lap. Bites and releases his lower lip, again and again. Pondering how to broach the subject of my obvious blockage. Then he meets my gaze. The corners of his eyes crinkle as they turn down. The corners of his lips following the same action.
If I knew, would I be in this predicament? That is what I want to say. But I keep the thought to myself. Instead, I think back over the last few months. Over the time just before. Think of all the possible reasons why my creativity seems to have flown out the window and drifted with the wind.
What of significance has happened in the last three to four months?
I broke up with Renee. But honestly, that was more a relief than burden. She had been driving me up the wall with her constant need to know where I was and what I was doing and who I was with. We had only been dating two months and she acted as if we’d been married a decade. Not that I think marriage equals partner paranoia, but she definitely took the concept and ran with it.
If anything, breaking things off with her inspired me. The sudden urge to write songs about crazy exes sat at the end of my pencil. But, in the end, I thought it better not to take that avenue.
I stare at the house Jonathan and I use as a recording studio, zoning out with my eyes glued to the pale blue siding. My mind surfs through countless memories in search of something, anything, that may stand out. That may give me an indication as to why I am failing at the one thing I love and do well.
And just before I throw in the towel, a memory slaps me in the face. But I don’t feel this one moment is the sole reason for my recent lack of inspiration, but it definitely left its mark.
“Not quite sure. Only thing I come up with is a conversation I had with my father in early April. But it was the same shit as usual.”
Jonathan nods subtly. “Only my business if you want to share. But if you want to talk about it, I’m here.”
I stare down at my lap, feeling less myself than ever. Curling in on myself isn’t generally my style. If anything, I usually grab shit by the horns and tug with every ounce of force. But why does my father make me feel this way?
Small. Meager. Pointless.
Unlike the man beside me. Jonathan North. Not just my music producer, but also my stepfather. More of a father figure than my own has ever been. Never once has Jonathan made me feel worthless. Or like my music had no soul or purpose or voice. On good days and bad, Jonathan has always lifted me higher.
I huff and focus on speaking rather than feeling. Because if I actually feel the words my father spoke to me, I may believe them.
“As usual, he asked when I was going to grow up. When I was going to get a real job. Earn a real living.”
“And what did you say to him in return?”
“That I am a grown man. That my music is more real than his lackluster managerial job.”
Heat spreads across my chest and up my neck the more I think about it. About the man who has never believed in a damn thing I have done; not as an adult or child. Never supported my dreams. Never praised me for the unbelievable recognition I have received in the music industry.
It pisses me off. Makes me volatile and pushes me to the breaking point.
“Sorry you’re having to still deal with this, son. But don’t let him get under your skin. You’re so much better than that. Don’t stoop to his level.”
Jonathan is right. I know this. And yet, for some reason, this single event resonates deeper than any previous. I just suppressed it along with every other time my father has deemed my career worthless. Not as if he has been a role model in any capacity.
But is it too much to ask for him to care? For my father to actually say something positive about me or my life. He may not have been the man I spent most of my time with growing up, but he is still my father. And for some reason, at twenty-nine, I still want him proud of me. Of my talent and skill and accomplishments. To hug and congratulate me for all the blood, sweat, and tears I have poured into my music. To smile and say, “I’m proud of you, Fletcher.” Why is extending positive accolades so difficult?
“Trying not to, but damn is it challenging.”
I lean forward and rest my elbows on my knees. Stare at the grass and fallen leaves beneath my sneakers. Jonathan rubs his palm on my shoulder briefly in an effort to soothe my internal wounds.
At least I have him. At least I have someone who smiles and cheers me on when I turn out a new song. Someone who gives me positive feedback when I play a new tune I’ve been toying with.
“You need a break, son.”
I peer over my shoulder at him. His face more serious than ever. More sympathetic than harsh.
A break. I roll the idea around in my head. Ponder over the possibilities. At this point, not like I would lose valuable time in the studio. I haven’t written or produced a new song in so long, no one would notice me taking time off.
But I can’t just take time off. Time away should be enlightening. Invigorating. Rejuvenating.
“Say I take a break.” Jonathan nods. “What the hell do I do with myself? Lounging around by the pool isn’t the answer. If anything, it may create worse problems.”
“Agreed. Let me talk with some buddies in the business. I remember Chad or Bonita mentioning a retreat one of their musicians went to last year.”
“Retreat? Like sit in a circle and talk about your feelings?”
Jonathan laughs. “No. More like a place away from the city. Hiking and scenery and doing artsy shit to inspire yourself. There may be organized events, but from what I remember, they aren’t required attendance.”
A retreat. Going to the middle of nowhere to find myself. To find my muse—because she definitely abandoned ship and left me high and dry.
No harm, no foul. Right?
Honestly, I am open to anything at this point. And if going out of town to who knows where is what I need, then I am game. There is nothing to lose by me going off and getting away from everything that bogs me down.
“Talk with whomever and get more information on this retreat.”
Jonathan pats my back before rising from the bench. “Once we finish up here, I’ll touch base with them. As soon as I know more, you’ll know more.”
Standing, I come eye to eye with Jonathan. Time has been good to him over the years. Probably has more to do with how happy he is with Mom. Their constant smiles and need to be near one another. You would think it easy for me to be inspired by them alone. Wish it was that simple.
Although Jonathan isn’t my biological father, although my biological father still resides aboveground, I have always deemed Jonathan as Dad. For me, the title gets awarded due to his tenderness and desire to see me fulfill my dreams. As a boy, he told me I didn’t need to call him dad out of obligation. I simply stated he felt like my dad.
“Sure thing. Let’s clean up and call it a day.” I nod and follow him inside. “And if you’re interested, your mother is making her famous garlic chicken. Ann will be over for dinner too.”
Family dinner actually sounds great after another frustrating day. And passing on Mom’s garlic chicken is out of the question.
“Count me in. Should I see if Mom needs anything?”
He opens the door to the studio, shaking his head. “Nah. You know how well stocked our pantry is. I’ll call and let her know to add another plate. She’ll be excited.”
We go about our own routines of straightening the studio. Nothing extensive, just picking up trash and setting things as they were when we arrived. Although this is mainly my studio with Jonathan, he works with other clients here. So, we do our best to behave as if it isn’t ours.
On our way out, I toss the trash in the bin outside. I wander over to my car and holler to Jonathan that I will meet him at the house after a brief stop at my own.
As I start the engine and buckle my seat belt, I stare at the quaint house in front of me. The pale blue siding and white trim. The landscaped yard, neatly trimmed hedges, and blooming flowers.
This studio has always been my happy place. My solace. A place where I felt most myself.
And for whatever reason, that peacefulness has evaporated. Hopefully this retreat Jonathan mentioned can help lead me back. Back to myself. Back to inspiration. Back to life.
Because without my music, who am I?
The plane hits the tarmac at the small county airport in Northern California and the first thought I have is I landed in the wrong place. Although the sight of old warplanes intrigues me, I cannot help wondering why they just sit here. Unused. For incoming passengers to view.
As the plane slows to a stop, I peer out the window at the structure smaller than most homes in Los Angeles and wonder how this place exists. How such a minuscule building houses all the necessities to shuttle people into the sky and bring them back safely to the ground.
Once the plane reaches a stop, two workers on the tarmac wheel over a large metal ramp, butting it against the plane door. Minutes later, the door flings open and the steward announces we may disembark. Gathering my carry-on from the bin, I weave my way off the aircraft and step out into the early Northern California sun.
The bright sun pelts my exposed skin as my hair ruffles in the gentle breeze. I slip my sunglasses down from the top of my head. Stare across the cloudless skyline and take my first deep breath during my time away. The cooler air coats my lungs and wakes me up. Starts the process of revitalization.
This is exactly what I need. A different view. Less city noise. Quiet that only comes with solitude.
July in Southern California isn’t quite as pleasant as here in the north and I welcome the change. Until recently, there has not been a time where life warranted change. A time when my originality ceased to exist without change. The whole shift has me befuddled.
But that is why I am here.
Many people shrivel under change. Others stand on the sidelines, silent. But I am neither of those people. Me? I am the type to stretch my arms wide and demand change. As a musician, change is essential. Yes, keeping to the root of who you are is vital. But not evolving into a better version of yourself is a setup for destruction.
“This way, sir,” an older woman calls from the small building. “Your luggage will be at baggage claim momentarily.”
For a split second, I open my mouth to ask where baggage claim is, but stop myself knowing I will see it as soon as I enter the small structure. And I prove myself correct.
While I wait for my suitcase to appear on the small belt, I open Uber on my phone and request a driver.
Suitcase acquired, I roll my luggage out the door and into the parking lot, waiting near the curb. Minutes after I have my luggage, my ride drives up and I am on my way.
The petite woman driver, maybe in her early forties, makes idle chitchat as she heads for my destination. Nothing monumental, just questions as to my visit.
Less than twenty minutes pass before the car turns onto a narrow two-lane drive. I gaze out the window at the forest of tall redwoods flanking the path. The greenery dense and serene. Other trees fill the landscape as well. Moss dangles from high limbs. Ferns grow on the bark of others. Wind rustles the foliage and the dancing leaves have me mesmerized. A sea of brown and green. Off in the distance, I spot a deer, eyes focused on the car as it passes.
After a few minutes, the trees thin. The Maya-blue sky becomes more visible. And the drive weaves more to the right and splits off from the opposing traffic. I lean forward, staring ahead as if this will help my vantage from the passenger seat.
My first thought… the images online do this property no justice.
An enormous mansion comes into view. The exterior cloudy gray with charcoal-gray tiles on the rooftop. Walls jutting out and retreating to form the oddest construction. One end of the building mimics an updated castle turret. While the opposite end resembles modern, angular architecture. Not a single wall is without windows. Some small single panes. Others ten feet tall.
The landscape between the drive and the mansion is packed with sculpted shrubs and bushy trees. A small walkway from the drive to the building winds around flowering plants and beneath small pergolas covered in blossoming vines.
My driver rolls to a stop at the entrance of the pathway under a tall, stained timber-frame carport. Without a word, she exits the car, retrieves my luggage from the trunk, and sets it off to the side of the car. I exit the car and meet her beside my suitcases.
“I could’ve gotten them from the trunk, but thank you.”
“No problem.” She smiles. “Part of my daily workout.”
And before I manage another word, she strolls back to the driver’s door, gets in the car and drives off. Unlocking my phone, I add a healthy tip to the ride before I forget.
Then, I stand alone. Under the covered patch of drive, I inhale deeper than ever and allow the cool air to pierce my lungs. Shiver as it fills each lobe and fissure in the mirroring organs. Close my eyes as the breath passes out through my lips.
When I open my eyes, I take another look around. Absorb the earthy tones—rich browns and mossy greens. Inhale the robust scent of the soil, piney evergreens, the perfume of blossoming flowers, and salt in the air. Everything about this place is vastly different than where I live. Not just the potent smells and stimulating scenery, but also the heady energy buzzing in the air.
I haven’t been here ten minutes yet and already feel invigorated.
Steering my luggage up the winding path and through the gardens, I approach the main entrance to the retreat. Tall doors made of glass and oak welcome me. Soul Sanctuary Retreat etched in the panes.
The door swings open as I reach it. A woman with gray hair and laugh lines near her eyes leans against the panes with a larger-than-life smile. Clad in a loose white linen top and matching pants, Birkenstock sandals, and a chunky purple crystal hanging from her neck, she radiates light and positivity as she welcomes me with open arms.
“Mr. Lockwood, I presume.”
I stop and extend my hand. “Please, call me Fletcher.”
She reaches for my hand with both of hers and cradles it. “Jessimine Hill. Welcome to Soul Sanctuary.”
I glance down at our joined hands and question how her touch is so warm. So gentle. A combination of the best hug and the slow radiating warmth you feel when drinking hot coffee or tea. Although the embrace extends no farther than my wrist, it feels as if she holds me close.
“Thank you. Happy to be here.” I wheel my luggage inside and she shuts the door behind us.
She guides me toward a tall counter, steps around it, and taps on the keyboard hidden from view. A few clicks of the mouse and she peers back up. Laying an open folder on the counter, she explains more about the retreat and my stay.
“Mr. Lock— Fletcher, looks as if we’ll have you here for two weeks. We have you set up in the Buttercup cottage.” She removes a brochure from the folder, unfolding it to display the map. Pointing, she continues, “If you follow this path when you walk out back, it will lead to your cottage. Yours is at the tail end of the path, past the Elderberry and Snapdragon cottages.” Jessimine hands me a key. “The cottage has a full kitchen if you decide to use it versus dining here. If anything is missing—linens or amenities listed—please let me know.”
I take the key as she folds the brochure and tucks it back in the folder. Glancing around the open main residence, I note several of the branched-off spaces used for the workshops mentioned online. The website spoke of several workshops—painting, yoga, music, meditation, and more. No doubt the folder in my hand provides a long-winded breakdown of them all.
Tucking the folder under my arm, I wheel my suitcases away from the check-in desk. “Thank you, Jessimine.” She smiles as if we have been friends for years. “Think I will get settled and read over all the retreat has to offer.”
Jessimine steps out from behind the counter and escorts me toward the back area of the main residence.
“Let me get the door for you.” She opens the door and points off to the left. “That will take you to your cottage.”
I exit and head for the path constructed of large slate pavers, soft fine grass growing around the edges. As I stroll along the trail, I gaze at the abundance of colorful flowers. They grow in bushes. Lush and radiant. Perfuming the air and waking my eyes.
As I near the end of the trail, my home for the next two weeks comes into view.
A rustic wooden cottage painted the same cloudy gray as the main residence. Two large windows sit on either side of the white door, a wreath of greenery and yellow flowers at the heart. A pair of Adirondack chairs on the porch with a table nestled between them. And a sea of small yellow flowers on the tips of grassy bushes surround the cottage.
I unlock the door and step inside. The sun filters through the windows and brightens the largest one-bedroom home I have set foot in.
To my left is a small dining area with a rustic wooden table for four—the wood various shades of brown, red, and sand—a cushioned bench against the wall and two chairs opposite. A black geometric light fixture hangs above the center. At the heart of the table is a black runner and a small vase of buttercup flowers.
Beside the dining, the kitchen looks much the same. Open wooden shelves line the wall over the sink, housing canisters and dishware. Mugs hang on black iron hooks, resting against a white subway backsplash. Granite countertops rest over black cabinetry with silver hardware. Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling, nestled in silver cages. And off to the right, pots and pans dangle from more black iron hooks.
Off to my right, the living quarters and small hall to the bed and bathroom.
The living room is quaint. On the windowless wall is a small white sofa resting on a rope-corded rug. A low wooden coffee table inches in front of it with potted greenery and candles at the center. Opposite the couch sits two matching chairs with a small table between them and beneath the window. A stone fireplace at the end of the room with an alcove to hold logs. Black light sconces on the walls above the couch and chair. Ivory curtains dust the floor and frame each window.
“Wow,” I breathe out. I haven’t been here long, yet feel as if I landed in some alternate reality. One filled with nothing but opportunity and peace. Exactly what I have searched for.
Rolling my suitcases toward the small hall between the kitchen and living area, I step into the bedroom and breathe deep. It may not be the decor I would choose for my own home immediately, but there is something so serene about the space I can’t ignore.
The far wall is mostly windows. A small, padded bench at the base lined with pillows. The perfect view of the Pacific just past a small cluster of trees. An iron-framed king bed swallows the center of the room, adorned with a plush white comforter and mountain of fluffy pillows. A walk-in closet with a stacked washer-dryer on the wall butting against the bathroom. Framed botany photos artfully placed on the walls. And a tall, handcrafted wooden dresser opposite the bed.
I park my suitcases near the foot of the bed and wander across the hall toward the bathroom.
“Will I want to leave this place in two weeks? Jesus.”
The large clawfoot tub screams for my attention as I enter the bathroom. Silver antique fixtures with a handheld sprayer at the center. On one side, a matching pedestal sink. On the other, the toilet with wooden shelves above matching those of the kitchen. Fluffy towels, wicker baskets, and small plants and candles resting on the wood.
“Seriously, how the hell did Jonathan’s friends hear of this place.”
One thing I note, there is no television in the entire space. Nor a radio—although I did spy a record player and wireless speaker in the living room. Other than that, entertainment is solely up to me—whether I join people in the main residence or discover something to do in my cottage.
Either way, I have a feeling the next two weeks will be the best I have had in months. Maybe years.
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