QK AGENT ROUND: 1. Madam Butterfly, Contemporary Romance

Title: The Absence of Butterflies
Entry Nickname: Madam Butterfly
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, not to mention images of Christy’s lifeless face plaguing his dreams, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son.
Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica Locke needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancé is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. Repeatedly thrown together at the most inconvenient of times by Jessica’s matchmaker uncle, it isn’t long before things begin to heat up between them once again. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica.
Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn’t the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.
First 250:
On the drive from New York City, Will Kavanagh couldn’t stop thinking about the dead actress. All day little things triggered memories of her: a red Porsche, a cluster of violets on the side of the road, a movie poster.
And when he emerged from the coffee shop that evening, he was confronted with yet another reminder.
His legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him off the sidewalk and over to the bookstore window. He would have been able to spot those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips drawn into a seductive pout.
As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor, a pill bottle upended next to her, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.
“Excuse me.”
The voice made him snap back to the present. He turned his head and saw a man standing beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “I saw you drop this. You didn’t even notice.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled.
The man smiled. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Will stiffened. “No.”

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