Release Day Blitz: Roping The Virgin (Cowboys & Virgins #2) by Alexa Riley @ArdentPRose @_AlexaRiley

 

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 #NewRelease #Cowboys&Virgins #QuickieRead #AlexaRiley #Hot

Blake Jennings has always wanted what his parents had: a sweet, simple love that lasts a lifetime. And when he meets Luciana, he knows she’s the one.

Luciana Salazar comes from a tight-knit family that pushes her to follow her dreams. When she takes a job on the Braided Rope Ranch, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with its owner, the dark-haired man she’s seen watching her in town.

Roping the Virgin is over-the-top sweet, with a heaping scoop of sexy steam. Blake sweeps his Luciana off her feet and gives her the life she’s always dreamed of.

Warning: Ridiculous is almost close enough to describe this irresistible short story. Come back to the Jennings farm and pull up a rocking chair. You’ll like the way they treat you.
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Alexa Riley is two sassy friends who got together and wrote some dirty books. They are both married moms of two who love football, donuts, and obsessed book heroes.
They specialize in insta-love, over-the-top, sweet, and cheesy love stories that don’t take all year to read. If you want something SAFE, short, and always with a happily ever after, then Alexa Riley is for you!
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Release Day Launch: Rising Storm Season Two: Episodes 1-8 @InkSlingerPR @1001DarkNights

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Welcome to Storm, Texas…

A town nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, where everything seems like perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade.

Dark and powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. That can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams.

Rising Storm is a soap-opera style drama. A powerful series conceived by Julie Kenner and Dee Davis, full of scandal, deceit, romance, passion, and secrets.

…get caught in the storm!

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Experience Rising Storm Season Two: Episodes 1-8 Here!

A new season…a new storm – get caught!

Secrets, Sex and Scandals …Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming.

episode-1_against-the-wind-coverEpisode One: AGAINST THE WIND by Rebecca Zanetti

As Tate Johnson works to find a balance between his ambitions for political office and the fallout of his brother’s betrayal, Zeke is confronted with his brother Chase’s return home. And while Bryce and Tara Douglas try to hold onto their marriage, Kristin continues to entice Travis into breaking his vows…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

episode-2_storm-warning-coverEpisode Two: STORM WARNING by Larissa Ione

As Joanne Alvarez settles into life without Hector, her children still struggle with the fallout. Marcus confronts the differences between him and Brittany, while Dakota tries to find a new equilibrium. Meanwhile, the Johnson’s grapple with war between two sets of brothers, and Ian Briggs rides into town…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

episode-3_brave-the-storm-coverEpisode Three: BRAVE THE STORM by Lisa Mondello

As Senator Rush’s poll numbers free fall, Marylee tries to drive a wedge between Brittany and Marcus. Across town, Anna Mae and Chase dance toward reconciliation. Ginny longs for Logan, while he fights against Sebastian’s maneuvering. And Hector, newly freed from prison, heads back to Storm…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

episode-4_lightning-strikes-coverEpisode Four: LIGHTNING STRIKES by Lexi Blake

As Ian Briggs begins to fall for Marisol, Joanne and Dillon also grow closer. Joanne’s new confidence spreads to Dakota but Hector’s return upends everything. A public confrontation between Marcus and Hector endangers his relationship with Brittany, and Dakota reverts to form. Meanwhile, the Senator threatens Ginny and the baby…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

episode-5_fire-and-rain-coverEpisode Five: FIRE AND RAIN by R.K. Lilley

As Celeste Salt continues to unravel in the wake of Jacob’s death, Travis grows closer with Kristin. Lacey realizes the error of her ways but is afraid it’s too late for reconciliation with her friends. Marcus and Brittany struggle with the continued fallout of Hector’s return, while Chase and Anna Mae face some hard truths about their past…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

episode-6_quiet-storm-coverEpisode Six: QUIET STORM by J. Kenner, writing as Julie Kenner

As Mallory Alvarez and Luis Moreno grow closer, Lacey longs for forgiveness. Brittany and Marcus have a true meeting of hearts. Meanwhile, Jeffry grapples with his father’s failures and finds solace in unexpected arms. When things take a dangerous turn, Jeffry’s mother and sister, as well as his friends, unite behind him as the Senator threatens his son…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

episode-7_blinding-rain-coverEpisode Seven: BLINDING RAIN by Elisabeth Naughton

As Tate Johnson struggles to deal with his brother’s relationship with Hannah, hope asserts itself in an unexpected way. With the return of Delia Burke, Logan’s old flame, Brittany and Marcus see an opportunity to help their friend. But when the evening takes an unexpected turn, Brittany finds herself doing the last thing she expected—coming face to face with Ginny…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

episode-8_blue-skies-coverEpisode Eight: BLUE SKIES by Dee Davis

As Celeste Salt struggles to pull herself and her family together, Dillon is called to the scene of a domestic dispute where Dakota is forced to face the truth about her father. While the Johnson’s celebrate a big announcement, Ginny is rushed to the hospital where her baby’s father is finally revealed…

Amazon US ** Amazon UK ** Amazon CAN ** Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

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About the Rising Storm Season Two: Episodes 1-8 Authors

rebecca-zanetti-author-imageRebecca Zanetti:

New York Times Bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five dark paranormals, romantic suspense, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the USA Today, NY Times, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooksbestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out. Her current series are: The Scorpius Syndrome, The Dark Protectors, The Realm Enforcers, The Maverick Montana Cowboys, and the Sin Brothers series.

Visit Rebecca Zanetti’s website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Pinterest

 larissa-ione-author-imageLarissa Ione:

Larissa Ione is a New York Times and USA Todaybestselling author. An Air Force veteran, she traded in a career as a meteorologist to pursue her passion of writing. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her U.S. Coast Guard husband, her teenage son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhound, a King Shepherd named Hexe.

Visit Larissa Ione’s website**Facebook ** Twitter

 lisa-mondello-author-imageLisa Mondello:

New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lisa Mondello, has held many jobs in her life but being a published author is the last job she’ll ever have. She’s not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she’d still be penning stories with paper and pen. Her book The Knight and Maggie’s Baby is a New York TimesBestseller. Her popular series includes TEXAS HEARTS, DAKOTA HEARTS, Fate with a Helping Hand and the new SUMMER HOUSE series. Writing as LA Mondello, her romantic suspense, MATERIAL WITNESS, book 1 of her Heroes of Providence series made the USA TODAY Bestsellers List and was named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2012.

Visit Lisa Mondello’s website ** Facebook

lexi-blake-newsletter-author-picLexi Blake:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband and three kids. She began writing at a young age concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance that she found success. Lexi believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome or foursome may seem.

Visit Lexi Blake’s website ** Facebook ** Twitter

 rk-lilley-author-imageR.K. Lilley:

R.K. Lilley is the best selling author of the Up In The Air, and Tristan & Danika, and The Wild Side series. She lives in Texas with her husband and their two beautiful sons. She’s had a lot of interesting jobs, from being a first class flight attendant, to being a stablehand, but swears she never knew what hard work was until she had children. She’s been addicted to both reading and writing fiction since she can remember. She loves to travel, read, hike, paint, game, watch anime, and make the most of every single day.

Visit R.K. Lilley’s website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Pinterest

 julie-kenner-author-imageJulie Kenner:

Julie Kenner (aka J. Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 international bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas, and short stories in a variety of genres.

Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” JK writes a range of stories including super sexy romances, paranormal romance, chick lit suspense, paranormal mommy lit, and, with Rising Storm, small town drama. Her trilogy of erotic romances, The Stark Trilogy (as J. Kenner), reached as high as #2 on the New York Times list and is published in over twenty countries, and her Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series (written as Julie Kenner) has been optioned by Warner Brothers Television for the CW Network.

A former attorney, JK lives in Central Texas with her husband, two daughters, and several cats. One of her favorite weekend activities is visiting small towns in the Texas Hill Country.

Visit Julie Kenner’s website ** Facebook ** Twitter

elisabeth-naughton-author-imageElisabeth Naughton:

Before topping multiple bestseller lists–including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal–Elisabeth Naughton taught middle school science. A voracious reader, she soon discovered she had a knack for creating stories with a chemistry of their own. The spark turned into a flame, and Naughton now writes full-time. Besides topping bestseller lists, her books have been nominated for some of the industry’s most prestigious awards, such as the RITA® and Golden Heart Awards from Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Golden Leaf Award. When not dreaming up new stories, Naughton can be found spending time with her husband and three children in their western Oregon home.

Visit Elisabeth Naughton’s website ** Facebook ** Twitter

dee-davis-author-imageDee Davis:

Bestselling author Dee Davis has a masters degree in public administration. Prior to writing, she served as the director of two associations, wrote award winning PSAs, did television and radio commercials, starred in the Seven Year Itch, taught college classes, and lobbied both the Texas Legislature and the US Congress.

Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards.

Recently she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Romance Writers and has also been nominated for a Lifetime Achievement Award for romantic suspense from Romantic Times. In addition, she is Hall of Fame member of the New Jersey Romance Writers and was awarded an Odyssey Medal from Hendrix College.

To date, she has written over twenty-five romantic suspense, time travel, and women’s fiction novels and novellas. Among her latest books you’ll find her A-Tac, Liar’s Game, and Last Chance series.

She’s lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively. And although she now resides in an 1802 farmhouse in Connecticut, she still calls Texas home.

Visit Dee Davis’ website ** Facebook ** Twitter

 

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Release Day Blitz: The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay Series #2) by Jill Shalvis @JillShalvis @InkSlingerPR

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From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes a captivating story of love, second chances and new beginnings…

THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, the second standalone novel in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, is out today! Check out the excerpt below and grab your copy of this fantastic new novel today!

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If she has her way…

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…

…He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but he doesn’t even remember her. How can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish–and let the mistletoe do its work…

Order THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE in ebook or paperback

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

Add to your Goodreads

 

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And don’t miss the first novel in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, now available! Grab your copy HERE!

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Willa sighed and headed to the door.

Again Keane held the pink bedazzled cat carrier, which should have made him look ridiculous. Instead it somehow upped his testosterone levels. His sharp eyes were on her but they turned warm in a way that melted her right through her center as she moved toward him. She stopped with the glass door between them, hands on hips, hoping she looked irritated even if that wasn’t quite what she was feeling.

His gaze lowered from her face to run over her body, which gave her another unwelcome rush of heat. Dammit. Now she was irritated and aroused—not a good combo.

His mouth quirked at the saying on her apron that read Dear Santa, I Can Explain.

Drawing a deep breath, she opened the door. “You’ve got Petunia again. I hope that means your great-aunt Sally isn’t still sick.”

He looked surprised that she’d remembered his aunt’s name, or that she’d care. “I don’t know,” he said a little gruffly. “She left me a message saying that I was in charge for the rest of the week but for two days now Pita’s been happily destroying my jobsite. I’m throwing myself on your mercy here. Can you help?”

Wow. He must be really desperate since he was actually asking and not assuming. But since Petunia was a sweetheart, she knew she’d do it.

“I’ll even tell you where I went to high school,” he said, adding a smile that was shockingly charming.

Wow. He hadn’t lost his touch when it came to turning it on. “Not necessary,” she said, painfully aware of their audience.

Keane’s attention was suddenly directed upward, just above her head. She followed his line of sight and found a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the overhead display of small portable doggy pools. Mistletoe? What the hell? She glanced behind her and what do you know, suddenly Rory and Cara were a flurry of movement racing around looking very, very busy. “When did the mistletoe go up?” she asked them. “And why?”

“FOMO,” Cara said from behind the counter.

“Fear of missing out,” Rory translated. “She was hoping a hot guy would come in and the mistletoe would give her an excuse.”

Willa narrowed her eyes and her two soon-to-be-dead employees scattered again.

“Interesting,” Keane said, looking amused.

“I’m not kissing you.”

His mouth curved. “If you take Pita for the day, I’ll kiss you.”

“Not necessary,” she said, gratified no one could see her heart during the two-step in her ears. “I’ll take Petunia for the day. No kiss required or wanted.”

Liar, liar

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About Jill Shalvis:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter SignUp

 

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The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

nrwalkerThe Weight of It All: by N.R. Walker
Release Date:September 16, 2013
Pages: 244 • Format:eARC
Published By:Blueheart Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon

After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.

He joins a gym.

Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.

As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.

Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.

three-half-stars

Going into this book, I was on a constant high from the Spencer Cohen Series. I loved it, and was super happy for something else so soon from this author. I liked it, but it was definitely a low-angst story. A feel good kind for the realistic people. I did find that after a while I missed the mark with the humor. It was okay, but after so many jokes I was bored. Reed did get on my nerves about working out. I am on this journey and don’t whine this much. It was a complete turn-off to hear him constantly whining about it, and all the self doubts. I wonder if he would have these doubts if He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named ever left him.

I enjoyed Reed. He was such an amazing coach and guy. I wish I had him as a personal trainer. Good Lord, it’s hard and to see him make these changes in his life and talking to Henry from experience made my day. I truly liked him as a character. I loved that he was positive to Henry. Very motivating as well.

All in all, I liked the story. It was low on the steam side, and I had more then a few of eye rolls, but it was realistic. Everything that each of the mc went through was understanding. I look forward to more from this author as usual.

About N.R. Walker

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N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

Midnight Lily by Mia Sheridan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Midnight Lily by Mia Sheridanon 2016-03-01
Pages: 238
AmazonB&N • (Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Holden Scott is the prince of professional football. At least he was before he lost it all . . . or more to the point, before he threw it all away. Now he's out of a job, out of the public's good graces, and perhaps just a little out of his mind. So when a friend offers up his remote lodge in the wilds of Colorado, giving Holden some time away to get his life back on track, he can hardly say no. The last thing he expects is to see a beautiful girl in the woods—one wearing a white, lace dress who appears in the moonlight, and leaves no footprints behind. Is she a dream? A ghost? A product of his muddled imagination? Or something entirely different?

Midnight Lily is the haunting love story of two lost souls reaching for each other in the dark. A tale of healing, acceptance, and the worlds we create to protect our own hearts. It is a story of being lost, of being found, and of being in the place between.THIS IS A STAND-ALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY VIRGO. Non-Paranormal, New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
two-stars
Midnight Lily
Mia Sheridan
Romance
Tantor Audio
March 1, 2016
audibook
244

This book was unlike any Mia Sheridan book I’ve ever read. I also didn’t like it. The pace was snail slow and it was mostly sad. I was also confused for majority of the audiobook. Without giving spoilers, the main characters Lily and Holden had some mental issues and it affected their reality…as well as mine.

I was rooting for Lily and Holden, but I wasn’t sure if I was being reasonable. It seems like it should be more important that they get better individually before considering being a couple, right?
I can’t discuss this book without giving out away spoilers. I couldn’t figure out if I liked the Lily’s grandmother. Once I felt that I was getting a handle on what was going on, the author would throw a monkey wrench into my theories. It’s possible that this is a ghost story or that the occurrences where more in one person’s mind than actual reality.

When I finished the book and read the epilogue, I was left even more bewildered. I felt unfulfilled and unhappy. I can’t say that its a Happily Ever After because I couldn’t tell. This one was much to convoluted and I can’t recommend this one as I am not sure what I read.
*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.
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Addicted (Outlaws #2) by Elle Kennedy @TantorAudio

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads) two-stars
Addicted Book Cover Addicted
Outlaws #2
Elle Kennedy
Dystopian
Tantor Audio
June 28th 2016
audibook
9 hrs and 42 mins

This second installment was even more disappointing than the first. There is a very interesting premise/plot hidden among copious amounts of sex. This dystopian series has the crazy desperation everyone feels when their worlds have turned upside down.

Lennox and Jamie have been best friends for a long time and they have also been fighting an attraction. They both felt that the friendship was too important to risk losing it if a relationship goes south. There was the angst of the push and pull but Lennox and Jamie couldn’t fight it in the end.

There were a number of things that I didn’t enjoy but the narration ranks up there. C.S.E Cooney just didn’t do justice to the Lennox. I found myself stopping and then returning to the story. I even considered just reading this story to help me get through it. The narrator definitely interrupted the flow of the story for me.

Also,
I would have loved it if the explored how to survive physically and emotionally or even rebuilding society while exploring love too. In the show The Walking Dead, there are sexual relationships but there is huge emphasis on learning to navigate in the new reality. In this book there are mentions of teaching people how to fight, but open sexual gratification takes front and center here. Most of the sex seemed gratuitous and not essential to the development of the characters or plot. I like Lennox and Jamie but this book fell way below my expectations. I love this author’s work so I will continue with her other series, but the Outlaw series isn’t for me.

*Special Thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review.

About Elle Kennedy

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A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently writes for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

This entry was posted in Review.

Fire Bound (Sea Haven, #5) by Christine Feehan @LibraryThing

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

three-stars
Fire Bound Book Cover Fire Bound
Sea Haven #5
Christine Feehan
Romance; Paranormal Romance; Urban Fantasy
Recorded Books
April 26th, 2016
audibook
13 hrs and 26 mins

Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.

Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casmir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

Carol Monda was my least favorite narrator in this series. She didn’t quite capture the menacing tone of these highly trained yet controlled assassins.

I have been reading this series every month and this is why I tend to shy away from binge reading series. After a few books, this one was more of the same insta-love between a sister of the heart and a Prakenskii. All the other ones didn’t annoy me like this one, but the romance didn’t move me that much.

Lissa Piner was a sister that I didn’t know much about in terms of her special ability. She was definitely a leader and trusted voice amongst her sisters but I didn’t know what element she wielded until the book title.

When Lissa goes off on a secret mission, the Prakenskii brothers sent one of Their own, Casmir, to shadow her from a distance.
If you have read the books before then you know what comes next between those two.

The more interesting part of the story was Lissa’s background and the role it still played in her actions. That mystery and subsequentl revelation was the intrigue plot that kept me listening to this book.

Overall, I enjoyed the story but I would like the heroes to work a little harder to get the chick!

*Special Thanks to LibraryThing for the CD given in exchange for an honest review.
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Love Restored (Gallagher Brothers, #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Love Restored Book Cover Love Restored
Gallagher Brothers #1
Carrie Ann Ryan
Contemporary Romance
Pink Ink Books
September 13th 2016
Kindle edition
199

A broken man uncovers the truth of what it means to take a second chance with the most unexpected woman…

Graham Gallagher has seen it all. And when tragedy struck, lost it all. He’s been the backbone of his brothers, the one they all rely on in their lives and business. And when it comes to falling in love and creating a life, he knows what it’s like to have it all and watch it crumble. He’s done with looking for another person to warm his bed, but apparently he didn’t learn his lesson because the new piercer at Montgomery Ink tempts him like no other.

Blake Brennen may have been born a trust fund baby, but she’s created a whole new life for herself in the world of ink, piercings, and freedom. Only the ties she’d thought she’d cut long ago aren’t as severed as she’d believed. When she finds Graham constantly in her path, she knows from first glance that he’s the wrong kind of guy for her. Except that Blake excels at making the wrong choice and Graham might be the ultimate temptation for the bad girl she’d thought long buried.

I enjoyed this story and it was a really good beginning to a new series. This story featured one of my favorite tropes: Enemies to Friends. And this one didn’t disappoint as we got the classic push and pull distinctive of love-hate relationships.

Blake Brennen has grown up from that silver spoon heiress that many people remembered. She has returned home a mature woman who knows the value of hard work. When she hires the Gallagher Brothers to restore her new home, Blake immediately clashes with Graham Gallagher.
His first impression of her is that of a pampered princess born with a silver spoon and he couldn’t stand her. Of course his body got a different memo.

Despite the attraction, Graham treated Blake quite crudely. They spent a lot of time verbally sparring but it was clear that both Blake and Graham’s fighting was fueled by their past hurts and baggage.
Slowly, they begin to see beyond the surface and the secrets final come to life. In the end, Blake and Graham realize how much they misjudged each other and the individual healing began.

It took a while to connect with both character for different reasons, but I felt empathetic to their pain. At first glance, it appears that the author Carrie Ann Ryan wrote simple characters and plots. But as the story evolves, the reader sees just how complex and intricate the individuals truly were.
The pace was very even, and the chemistry was scorching hot. It was easy to read and I felt satisfied by the end. I look forward to finishing the Montgomery Ink series and getting more books in this series.
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Immortal Watch by Olivia Helling @katsubite and @GoIndiMarketing

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Title: Immortal Watch

Series: Godsbane Prince 2

Author: Olivia Helling

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: Sept 23, 2016

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63,000 words

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror

Add To Goodreads

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Synopsis

Bonded soul mates. Shocking secrets. Protecting the one he loves could destroy everything…

Ilyas defeated the Dark God and won the spoils of a lifetime: a new kingdom, a new soulmate, and a chance at revenge. Just when he has the chance to humiliate the brother who sold him out, Ilyas learns a closely-guarded secret. He has a son, and now he’ll do everything he can to protect him.

Jem’s life was pure loneliness before he met Ilyas. But with the Dark God thwarted, Jem is completely powerless. When Ilyas begins to devote his full attention to the baby, Jem becomes determined to win his soulmate back.

After allying with a powerful secret society, Jem conspires to deliver an uninhabited world where Ilyas’ young son can truly be safe. But Jem didn’t realize that his new alliance comes at a high price, one that may cost him the love of Ilyas forever.

Immortal Watch is a spellbinding LGBT dark fantasy novel. If you like rich world-building, captivating storytelling, and edge-of-your-seat action, then you’ll love this story of love and horror from Olivia Helling.

Excerpt

Ilyas cocked his head. “Is something wrong?”
I breathed deep to avoid stuttering. “What would be wrong?”
“Just that I miss that smile of yours.” Ilyas smiled in turn.
For a heartbeat, I expected him to clasp my cheek, to draw me close, to envelop me in an embrace, to kiss me breathless, like he had when I had awoken to find myself his tawam rohi . Ilyas closed the display box and returned it to the drawer under the berth.
I exhaled. Of course not. Ilyas had promised to teach me all about kissing, and more, but he’d spoken in the heat of the moment when I’d awoken. Perhaps the fantasy of teaching me excited him more than the reality. My stomach sank.
After all, I wasn’t a eunuch. When Ilyas had still been the prince heir of Nuriya, his harem full of buxom ladies and eager lads, the male form hadn’t seemed to displease him. So long as they were eunuchs, not proper men, as Nuriyite decorum dictated. Nuriyites heaped rules upon everything from eating to sex. Lumians didn’t care, especially when sex wouldn’t provide more mouths to feed.
Or perhaps the fault lay in me, as a person.
Ilyas sank onto the berth with a big sigh. His features seemed drawn and stressed. I perched on the bed next to him, reaching to pet his hair. He groaned, and I froze.
I wanted more. I wanted to learn how to kiss. I wanted to learn how to wrap my thighs around his waist. I wanted—
“It will be fine, Jem,” he said.
I never used to be so selfish. He shouldered the fate of Lumi, and I couldn’t help him. All I did was lie wide awake at night, planning to demand more from him, planning to distract him.
“We can play a game of Go,” he said. “And I will wipe the deck with you this time.”
“Like the last eleven times?” I teased him.
“This one is my game.”

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Meet the Author

Olivia Helling doesn’t believe in love at first sight… but maybe, just maybe, it blossoms along a few books. That is, after all, how she fell in love with her husband.

Olivia writes about the darkness and flaws from within, the struggle with self-confidence, self-perception and fear of failure, and fantasy and historical worlds that refuse to allow love between men. So be warned: happily ever after is not guaranteed.

The protagonist and love interest don’t always end up together by the end of one book. But when they finally come together, their love will be a thing of beauty.

Want to stay up-to-date on Olivia’s latest books? Sign up for her newsletter at: http://oliviahelling.com/snowmancer-emails

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The Trouble With Before by Portia Moore @ArdentPRose @Sheluvspink2013

 

Coming September 30th
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Our history made things harder.
We were associates out of convenience.
We tolerated each other.
I never saw her that way.
She never saw me that way.
She and I were never meant to be friends.
You’re not supposed to fall for your best friend’s enemy, even if the enemy is YOUR ex-best friend.
This isn’t the story of falling in love with your best friend.
It’s about falling out of hate.

 

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Chapter 1
Aidan

You ever woken up with the feeling that you were going to have a really shitty day? When everything goes wrong from the moment you open your eyes? You look out the window and the weather is crappy, and your grams forgot to wash your favorite pair of underwear, and instead of her making your favorite pancakes for breakfast, she’s out globe-trotting with her lover and you’re stuck eating old people cereal- the crappy flakes with no taste- that you can’t even make edible with sugar because you stopped buying it after her doctor suggested she use Splenda instead, and she’s never even here to not use the sugar she’s supposed to be avoiding… and you forgot to go grocery shopping to get cereal that’s actually worth eating?
Splenda sucks. It’s sugar’s ugly cousin.
I choke down the last spoonful of tasteless crap, and my stomach is still growling. The fridge is stocked with bacon and sausage, but it’s all frozen. At times like this, I question my bachelorhood and think it’d be really cool to have a girlfriend who could cook when my Grams decides to go all single twenty-year-old. That thought doesn’t last long though. It shrivels up and dies as my phone vibrates. It’s my sort-of-ex Hillary, the blond bombshell. I call her that because she’s hot and explodes all over the place, and she’s a sort-of ex because she acts like an ex, but we were never really together.
Why? Well, aside from the fact that having a girlfriend is like renting a house when you can live in a whole lot of hotels for free, Hillary pretended to be normal—like all girls do—then turned out to be bat-shit crazy—like all the girls who get on this ride are. That is exactly why I don’t do girlfriends. My track record is embarrassing.
My first g-girlfriend—I can’t even say the word without shuddering—was in middle school. Cassandra Beyers was a cute little redhead who was the first girl in our class to need a training bra, and I wanted to be the first guy to learn to take one off. I was successful and grinning from ear to ear after she let me touch what was then the Holy Grail, but afterward, for some reason, she thought I was her boyfriend and that she could tell me all her secrets. One of those secrets was that she liked to sniff her armpits.
Like, who the hell likes to sniff their armpits? I broke up with her the next day. It really wasn’t a breakup since we were never really together, but she slashed the tires on my bike, years before girls were supposed to go psycho on dudes. I had a woman before her time.
In high school, I was smart and made sure to date as many girls as possible, so my next girlfriend wasn’t until after high school. I met Shawna right after I graduated and before I enlisted in the army. Shawna was great. She was a singer, cute, didn’t want to smell any weird body parts, and had an amazing ass. But for some reason, she was intent on having a fucking kid. I hadn’t known her for more than four months before she wanted me to have a baby with her. I wasn’t even nineteen yet. After I caught her poking holes in my condoms, I got the hell out of Dodge!
Which brings us to Hillary. The moment I saw her, I knew I wanted to do her. She was one of the sexiest women I’d ever seen. She was like a potty-mouthed Kick Your Ass Barbie. I met her through my best friend Chris’s wife. We were at dinner, and Chris’s fiancée was giving his wife, Lauren, a bunch of shit. How Chris has a wife and fiancée is a whole other story, but anyway, Hillary practically attacked the fiancée, Jenna, over giving Hillary’s best friend, Lauren, shit. The way Hillary flew over the dinner table after throwing a pitcher of water in Jenna’s face, who really is a bitch who deserved it, I thought I was in love. Nah, just kidding.
I knew I was in lust though.
That night, Hillary was screaming my name louder than she’d been screaming at Jenna at dinner. It was the best sex I’d ever had, wild and passionate. She was like a fuckin’ porn star, and she got it! That I didn’t want anything serious. Well, she claimed to get it, until she didn’t. She started to want to go out all the time—which is fine, I’m always down for a good time—but then she started to get crazy jealous, which was not a good time at all. I wanted to cut her loose, but she’s my best friend’s wife’s best friend, and I didn’t want things to get ugly.
So I kind of kept sleeping with her because the sex was phenomenal.
Then she sort of started to act as though we were a couple, which was not supposed to happen. We were just supposed to be having a lot of fun. Hillary lives in Chicago, and I won’t lie, being with her there was a breath of fresh air from stale Madison, Michigan. I was going back and forth because Chris and I are opening a car restoration shop in Chicago, and it was kind of cool to have someone on speed dial there who got that sometimes good sex is just good sex. Well, until she started not to get it.
I’ve lived a lot of places. My dad was a sergeant in the army, so Mom and I followed him to so many different states: Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, New Jersey, California, Ohio and even spent a little while in Paris. But Michigan always felt like home. For one, it was where my grams lived and was always kind of our home base, and two, it was the only place that I had real friends growing up. It’s funny how a decision like where you live can change your whole life. If my dad had chosen to live anywhere other than on Pine Circle, who knows who I could have become or how I would have turned out. But since he did choose Pine Circle, it was pretty easy for me and my next-door neighbors to become best friends.
I met Chris first. If there was a picture in the dictionary of an all-American family, it was Chris’s. He was like my generation’s version of Leave It to Beaver. He was a cute kid for a boy, I guess. A lot of girls liked him, almost as many as liked me… but we were complete opposites. He was nice, and not in the fake way most kids acted when adults were around. He was nice all the time. He followed the rules and did his homework and chores without having to get screamed at. He didn’t even swear much.
I don’t know if I believe in God after all the things I’ve seen while on tour, but if there is one, I believe he gives kids who don’t have siblings amazing best friends, because if I hadn’t had Chris as a best friend, who knows what all trouble I’d have landed in. He’s like the conscience that never shut up.
My phone rings again. This time, it’s a woman’s name I don’t cringe at seeing.
“Ms. Red!” I answer.
“Hi, Aidan, how are you?” she asks.
Her good mood is contagious, and I smile. Ms. Red is Chris’s mom and has been a surrogate mother to me since my own mom checked out after my dad died. She is one of the sweetest people I know, but she’s has had her fair share of shit dropped on her, including cancer and her husband being the biggest dick ever.
“I’m good. How about you?” I ask, hoping her happiness is genuine.
“I’m doing pretty well. Are you back from Chicago?”
I hear grease popping in the background, and my mouth waters. I glance at my phone and see it’s almost eight thirty, which is way past breakfast time at the Scotts’ house. They’re up with the roosters, literally. One of the only families I know that still runs a successful farm.
“I am, I got back last night,” I tell her.
“Great, I was wondering if you’ve eaten yet? Your grandmother mentioned you might need some breakfast since she was going to be gone for a while.” She laughs.
“Hell yeah!” I say, too excited. Not only is Ms. Red an awesome person, but she’s a freakin’ amazing cook. “I mean, yes, I’m starving.”
“Great, I’ll be done in about ten minutes if you want to head over.”
“Cool, I’ll be there in five!”

***
Before I’m even up the steps, I can practically taste Ms. Red’s famous homemade biscuits, rice, and gravy. If I’m lucky, she’s made sausage.
“Aidan!”
I steady my balance, ready for my favorite little person in the world to jump on me. She runs down the steps, her blond pigtails bouncing all over the place, and I brace myself as she jumps into my arms.
“What’s up, Willa bear?” I ask, lifting her over my shoulders.
“Guess what?” she asks sneakily.
“Let’s see… you’ve grown a tail?”
She smacks her lips. “No! I got A-plus on my spelling test,” she says with all the excitement of an eight-year-old on a sugar rush.
I set her down and give her a high five. “That’s awesome!” I take her hand as I walk up to the door, but she jumps in front of me with her hand held out.
“Remember what you said?” She laughs, her eyes twinkling, and I push the thought of her mother out of my head.
I let out an exaggerated sigh and pull the ten bucks I promised her out of my back pocket. “You’re breaking me kid,” I say with fake irritation.
She snatches it out of my hand and runs into the house. I follow her inside.
“Aidan, it’s so good to see you,” Ms. Red says, ushering me over to the sink after giving me a quick hug.
“You called me right on time. I’m starving.” After I finish washing my hands, I sit down at the table.
She sets a plate of rice, gravy biscuits, and score, sausage in front of me.
“Jackpot.” I rub my hands together before digging in.
She lightly swats my shoulder before frowning at me. I sigh and bow my head to say a quick grace, then I can stuff my face. I watch her pour me a glass of lemonade, and I notice no one else is eating.
“We all ate earlier. You know us.” She smiles with a quick shrug before sitting across from me. “So tell me, how is my little one?” She rests her chin in her hand as she watches me devour my food.
I swallow a spoonful of rice before rinsing my mouth with orange juice. “Chris or Caylen?” I joke, and she lets out a small laugh. “The big one is pretty much going crazy since Lauren just hit the six-month mark and he’s going to have three women in the house soon. Caylen is keeping him busy too.”
I reflect on the couple of days I spent with her son’s family. After visiting that household, I realize how calm my life is, which says a lot. My life is far from calm, but having a wife, a little girl, and twins on the way makes my friend’s life a circus.
“I can’t wait until I get there. I’m going next week to stay with them until Lauren has the babies.” She beams.
“I’m going to take care of Daddy and do all the cooking,” Willa sings, popping up beside me like a silent ninja.
“She is. I’ve showed her how to make eggs and oatmeal, and tomorrow she learns how to make my famous French toast.” Ms. Red winks at me.
“When the babies get here, me and Dad are going to help take care of the babies too,” Willa explains happily.
I smile widely at her, even though it still weirds me out to hear her call him Dad. He is her dad, through unfortunate circumstances, but after everything, fate or destiny has a funny sense of humor. A little person who almost destroyed their family has become such a permanent fixture in all of our lives. It’s as if she’s always been around even though she pretty much fell from the sky into our lives. Kind of like a bomb dropped, she was meant to destroy everything, but instead she fixed it… I can’t help but wonder sometimes if Ms. Red is a saint. I couldn’t have dealt with accepting and loving my spouse’s illegitimate child as my own, but if it works for them, it’s not for me to judge. I don’t think Ms. Red has loved anything in the world as much as she loves Willa, and that makes me admire her even more.
“Sweetheart, I have some towels in the dryer that should be stopping soon. Can you fold them up for me how you did last time?” she asks Willa, who nods happily before running out of the room. “So how are things with Hillary? I hear that you two are getting pretty serious?”
I instantly lose my appetite. Good thing I’ve already eaten most of what’s on my plate.
“Uh oh,” she says hesitantly.
I lay my head flat on the table. If Ms. Red thinks things are getting pretty serious, it’s because either Hillary told her we’re getting serious or Lauren told her we’re getting serious because she heard it from Hillary. Either way, that’s bad, bad, bad.
“I don’t know why everyone keeps thinking that.” I clear my throat, and she gives me a disbelieving look.
“What’s that face for?” she asks cautiously.
I lean back and stretch my legs. Ms. Red has always been like a mother to me and seems as though she could give some good advice. “Okay, things got really intense really, really fast…” I’m trying to sum up Hillary’s and my relationship in the best way possible.
She nods, seemingly understanding.
“I don’t know if the whole Chris and Lauren thing is getting to her, but she wants to move waaay faster than I want to move.” I shrug.
“When you say fast, what do you mean?” she asks.
I sigh. “She’s talking about moving in together, and when I went and visited her, she took me to this jewelry store supposedly to get earrings for herself, but we spent an awful lot of time at the ring section. It was more than awkward and completely weirded me out…”
Ms. Red nods thoughtfully.
“We’ve only been dating for, like, a year, and it wasn’t ever supposed to be exclusive,” I tell her, and she doesn’t look sympathetic but almost amused. “Well, it’s really been like a few months since we live in different states and don’t see each other all the time,” I say a little sheepishly.
“Do you love her?” Ms. Red asks, and I rub the back of my head.
“I’ve never really been in love. I’ve been in lust, a lot, with tons of women. I’ve liked girls, and I’m really in lust with Hillary to be honest. She’s cool, always willing to try things…” I chuckle.
“When you’re in love, you’ll know it,” Ms. Redd says, giving my hand a squeeze with a reassuring smile.
“I don’t know if I would.” I chuckle. “Most of the girls I’ve dated haven’t complimented me on being in touch with my feminine side.”
She shakes her head. “Love isn’t a feminine emotion. I understand why you’re afraid, but love, it trumps hate, anger, even un-forgiveness,” she says the last part quietly. A moment of awkwardness slips in, but if anyone can say that, it’s definitely her. She lets out a quick breath and flashes me a bright smile. “Love can be the single greatest thing that’s ever happened to you.”
I nod, my phone vibrates, and I pull it out and see that Hillary’s calling again. Is that a sign, or just a sign of crazy?
“I actually asked you here for a hidden agenda,” she says reluctantly.
I feel my eyebrow arch. Ms. Red has a hidden agenda? That’s actually funny.
“Do you need me to kick somebody’s ass?” I ask, and she laughs. Please be your husband’s, please be your husband’s. “I mean, do you need me to kick someone’s butt?”
She shakes her head. “No, nothing like that.” She sighs.
Shit, no such luck. I can tell by her demeanor change that she’s about to say something serious.
“Umm, I talked to Lisa this morning,” she says quietly, and her eyes narrow on me.
I slump back in my chair and let out my breath. I didn’t expect to hear Lisa’s name come out of her mouth, but then again, I would have never expected her to be raising Lisa’s daughter. I never expected Lisa would drop her kid off on their doorstep like an unwanted package. I can feel myself getting really pissed off. Ms. Red must be able to tell because she wrings her hands nervously together, so I shake my head to calm it.
“She’s calls every so often… to check on things…” she explains. I can tell she’s uncomfortable even mentioning her, at least to me. “I’m really worried about her, Aidan.”
I clear my throat. Wow. After everything Lisa did to this woman, she’s worried about her. “You really are a saint, Ms. Red,” I mutter in disbelief.
She shakes her head.
“She’s not someone you should be worried about. She obviously doesn’t worry about anyone or anything else,” I say, hearing the bitterness in my tone.
“She was your friend. Your best friend,” she says pleadingly.
“She was Chris’s best friend,” I correct her. I notice I’m pouting like a kid, and she frowns at me.
“I tried to talk to Chris about this…”
I can imagine how that went.
“If Lauren didn’t have two human beings in her…” she continues.
I roll my eyes, feeling disgusted. “I don’t know why you’re worried about her. She’s only ever worried about herself. She isn’t even worried about her own daughter.”
“I care because she’s Willa’s mother.”
“If you can call her that,” I mutter. “What’s the emergency? San Diego isn’t sunny enough for her? Brett didn’t get her the perfect gift for her birthday?”
“She’s hurting.”
The tone of Ms. Red’s voice makes my heart skip a beat. It’s funny how you can write a person off after they do so much crap and hurt so many people, but a small part of you still manages to care.
“And if anyone knows what hurting sounds like, it’s me,” she continues, her eyes locking on mine.
I nod guiltily. If anyone deserves to hate and refuse to forgive Lisa, it’s Ms. Red, but somehow she’s managed to.
“When she called me, she sounded terrible. Not in an obvious way; in a way only a person who has been there can recognize,” she continues. “I tried to call her mother, but that didn’t go so well.”
I roll my eyes. The only mother worse than no mother would be Lisa’s mother. We used to bond over that fact. She had Evie as a mom, and I didn’t have one at all most of the time.
“I know that… I appreciate that you’re so angry with her for me,” she tries to explain. “But if something happened to her, you and Chris would really regret not doing anything.”
I let out a long sigh. She’s right. Lisa’s like the stain you get on a shirt that you keep wearing because it was your favorite and the stain happened on one of the best nights of your life. “You think she’s really in trouble? What did she say?”
“She called and asked about Willa, then she just started crying, and when I asked her what was wrong, she said nothing and started to apologize for what she did. She said that she screws up everyone around her… and that it’d all be fixed soon.”
I roll my eyes. “Lisa’s too selfish to kill herself.”
“She sounded really drunk or high off of something maybe,” she says worriedly.
I think of the last time I talked to Lisa, how she pretty much told me she was shirking motherhood and escaping to California. I wanted to throw up.
When we were younger, Lisa and I were friends because of our best friend, Chris. We tolerated each other because of him, but somewhere along the line, we became close. She was one of the only girls who could put me in my place, who I could hang out with without any pressure or a hidden agenda. She was smart, funny, and could hold her own with the guys. And in some ways, we were alike. Chris was always the good kid, the Boy Scout with the perfect parents and perfect home. Lisa and I were kind of the outsiders, the kids no one expected to be much. We had it a lot harder than most.
When I found out what she had done with Chris’s dad, and how she hid a whole person from us for all those years, I couldn’t believe it. Still I stuck by her. I went off on her of course, but I didn’t abandon her. I would have never left her. So for her to abandon her daughter without a thought disgusted me. Even after she told me she was leaving to go to California, I hoped she’d change her mind. I knew if she went through with it, that would be it. I’d never be able to look at her the same way. She’d lose me the way she’d lost everyone else, so when she called me and told me she’d made it to California and she left Willa with the Scotts—who Willa had never even met—to find herself in California, I was done.
I told her to never call me again, and that she was a selfish bitch who deserved to be alone the rest of her life.
It’s been almost seven months since that call. Someone I used to talk to every day became someone I pretended didn’t exist for seven months. I guess humans are so resilient that someone essential to your life can so easily be wiped out of it.
“I don’t know where she is. I haven’t spoken to her since a few days after she left,” I tell Ms. Red.
“This is the address.” She slides a piece of paper toward me.
I look at her curiously. How the hell did she get Lisa’s address?
“She called me from this hotel. Last I checked, which was an hour ago, she’s still checked in,” she explains. “There’s a flight that leaves at four today I could book for you…”
I chuckle, and she smiles sympathetically. My phone buzzes again. It’s a text from Hillary saying she’s on her way to see me, complete with an angry face and a bunch of expletives. I throw my head back in frustration, then I text her back and tell her not to bother because I’m in California, bitch! Well, without the bitch part.
Three days earlier…
Lisa

Have you ever done something so bad, so terrible, that the act stays with you, wraps around you, and completely stops you from moving forward?
Well, let’s just say that in my other life, I was a bad person. Terrible, actually. I’m not even exaggerating. I can say that now because I’ve changed. When you change, you can recognize the bad things about yourself. You can tick off things that you didn’t used to notice but everyone else did.
Once upon a time, I was called everything in the book. There’s no word that could be thrown at me that would make me bat an eye. Selfish, inconsiderate, and manipulative? Those were the kinder words people used to describe me. Whore, conniving, and cunt were some of the not-so-nice ones. But they were just words then. Until they weren’t just words. Until they weren’t just accusations thrown around and I couldn’t defend myself, especially when the people I cared about most used them.
That, however, is the past. It’s not who I am anymore. Then I was a girl who put herself before everyone else. Doing that came so easily. It was second nature, almost inevitable, a dreaded family trait wrapped around my mother’s DNA that manifested the moment my boobs became full-grown. I should have seen it coming—my grandmother always said that I was my mother’s spitting image. I had taken Evie’s long blond hair and emerald-green eyes, so it only made sense that other traits would creep out sooner or later.
She was born to the perfect family, but managed to avoid doing a single worthwhile thing in her life, and she made every mistake she could, except putting her bra on right. That includes marrying my father, who walked out on us when I was just two years old. She made bad decisions, but her beauty usually offered her a way out. By the time I was five, Evie had met and married my stepdad, a successful man who was kind and owned his own construction company. When he was around, our life was good. I don’t remember wanting for anything, but apparently my mom wanted for a lot, seeing as she got caught sleeping with his brother. Needless to say, my stepdad divorced her.
She became a single mom again, with a pissed off family and a high school diploma, but this time, she had the screwed-my-husband’s-brother tattoo on her reputation in our small town. No decent man would come near her, so she settled for the drunks, screw-ups, and passersby, and she adapted who she was to whichever guy she was with. Of course, that made life very interesting for me. I never knew which guy would be there when, who I was safe with, who I needed to hide from.
The older I got, the more I looked like her. Once, I overheard my favorite aunt, Danni, arguing with Evie. They didn’t do it much—usually my aunt was my mom’s cheerleader—but this argument was one for the ages. I remember the most scathing thing she said to my mom.
The worst thing that could happen to Lisa is that she turns out like you.
It was an attack on my mom, but I remember her words cutting through me. They echoed in my thoughts every time I saw my mom with a new guy, or whenever a woman would show up screaming at our house in the middle of the night, having followed her very married husband. The thought of becoming her haunted me so much that sometimes I’d wake up to panic attacks.
I wanted to prove them wrong, every guy who said I was the spitting image of her, the townspeople who believed it was only a matter of time until I became her. I wanted every single last one of them to eat their words. I worked hard to make sure they would do just that, and it all seemed to be going perfectly until I turned seventeen. I was in my senior year, headed to college after working my butt off to make sure I had enough to money to pay for it if I didn’t get enough financial aid and scholarships. I was still a virgin even, and I was a good friend. Then, well, genetics kicked in, and everything just sort of fell apart…
But now, I finally have a clean slate, the opportunity to start all over, and it has been scarily amazing. For the first time in my twenty-eight years of life, I’m living in a state where no one knows what I’ve done or who my mother has done what with. Here, the secrets of my past don’t haunt me or remind me of how unworthy I am everywhere I look. Now I’m not weighed down; here, I can just breathe. For the first time in my life, I feel as though the universe isn’t pitted against me; I’m not destined to fail or set on the path to make a horrible mistake. Someone up there finally gave me a break in the form of someone I didn’t treat well in the past, someone I selfishly and stupidly looked over.
Brett Steltson.
He was my blond-haired, blue-eyed dream boy, my blessing in disguise, so to speak. We met right before I made the biggest mistake of my life. A part of me thinks that if guardian angels existed, mine had sent him to me as a last-ditch attempt to keep me from wrecking my future. But I was so stupid then. I ignored the glaring warnings trying to stop me from going down a road that only led to pain and years of loneliness. I was seventeen, stuck between bad history and an unknown future, and content to listen to unfamiliar emotions instead of my brain.
Still, even then Brett saw the good in me. He didn’t see how I needed to change, the mistakes I needed to fix, or the completely catastrophic decisions so close in my future. He only saw me. Not who I really was, but someone better, which was absolutely what I needed. He saw the person I could’ve been if I hadn’t let hormones and bad decisions shape the person I would become.
He was the first boy I gave myself to, the only boy I would have shared myself with if I had been thinking straight. The guy who took me out and loved to show me off, who didn’t keep me a secret. He was a sophomore in college, nice, extremely attractive, and smart. When hundreds of beautiful girls would have gladly been his and only his, he chose me. But like an idiot, I didn’t see how special he was, how much he had to offer, and I chose an alternate route to a terrible chain of events.
Brett and I broke up right before the end of my senior year of high school. I thought I was doing the right thing, but most seventeen-year-olds don’t do the right thing, only what feels good. They convince themselves that’s the right thing.
When I bumped into Brett last year, standing in front of one of the last book stores that wasn’t named Barnes and Noble, I realized what a complete idiot I had been. It was as if the heavens had opened up their door, highlighting his bright blue eyes and smile designed for pictures. He was so excited to see me, as if he had forgotten how I had been one of the suckiest girlfriends in history during our short-lived relationship.  I can’t recall a single time he ever said a bad thing about anyone. Not even the girlfriend who didn’t want to sleep with him because she was too busy screwing her best friend’s dad. Thank God he never found out about that. I’m sure everyone has their limits.
When we broke up, I’d told Brett that I wasn’t at a good place in my life to be with him, and he seemed sad and confused. But instead of being angry, which he had every right to be since I had essentially wasted almost a year of his time, he told me he still wanted to be my friend, that he’d be there if I ever needed anything. I believe he meant it, but at that point in my life, I didn’t deserve him. Sometimes I think he’ll wake up one day and realize that I still don’t, even though I’m trying my very best to be the kind of woman who deserves a man like him.
When I ran into him that day and looked into those warm blue eyes that never judged me, everything I felt came pouring out. Right there in a little café, I gave him tears and truth. I told him I hated my job as a teacher—not the kids, but the work—and that I felt like a fraud. I didn’t tell him why I felt like a fraud though. The truth was that I had only become a teacher because the married man I was in love with and had a child by was a teacher and he seemed like the only thing I could think about. I couldn’t stand another person I cared about looking at me as if I was scum.
Without hesitation, Brett invited me to come stay with him awhile. Well, not exactly with him but in a place he owned in California. Brett was doing pretty well and had just started his own real estate company. He didn’t tell me how good he was doing, but when I arrived at his four-bedroom house off the beach—which looked like something right out of HGTV—I realized he was doing extremely well.
He let me stay on the first floor free of charge, and the only thing I had to do in return was answer phones and make appointments for his prospective clients at his office. It was the easiest job I’d ever had, especially since he already had an assistant. Amazing Stephanie is what I called her at first, because not only is she smart and more organized than a Martha Stewart catalog, she’s a sweet girl who does all the hard real estate stuff while I pretty much answer phones, run errands, and watch Selling New York.
Only a few more nights after I moved to California, I kissed Brett and not in the way that I used to, with mild enthusiasm or obligation. I kissed him with an appreciation I had never felt for anyone before, and not soon afterward we made love.
Things have been great.
More than great.
Everything is perfect.
For once in my life, everything isn’t in a shamble on the brink of complete chaos. That’s why, as I stare at the two pink lines on the stick in my shaking hand, I don’t want to throw myself off a bridge.
I’m pregnant.
Two words that once destroyed me and scared me shitless actually do the opposite. They give me hope and a glimpse into a new life, an opportunity to get it right.
“Are you okay, Lisa? You’ve been in there forever,” Stephanie asks, worry in her voice.
I wrap the stick up into a paper towel and slip it in my purse. “I’m fine. I’ll be right out,” I tell her as I wash my hands. When I come out of the bathroom, she’s looking at me, her excitement apparent.
She sweeps her bangs from over her eye and smiles nervously. “Soo?”
“Yes. It’s a big fat yes,” I say, and she grabs me in a big hug.
“Shut up!” she squeals. “I’m so happy, happy for you!”
I laugh at how different this is from the last time all those years ago. Then, I lied to my best friend about the test results. Then, I was terrified and wanted to throw up. Then, it magnified the shambles my life was in. Now it’s different. I’m pregnant by a man who loves me, who I love, and things are just right.
“Brett is going to freak out!” Stephanie says.
“Freak out?” The nerves in my body start to bubble up.
She notices and waves me off. “You know what I mean. He’s going to be so excited. Oh my God, the baby is going to be so freakin’ beautiful. You might as well sign it up for Baby Gap right now.”
I roll my eyes playfully but can’t help imagining a beautiful baby boy with my bright-blond hair and Brett’s soft blue eyes and easy smile.
“You are going to be such a pretty mom,” she squeals.
Her enthusiasm is contagious, and I squeeze her hand. She’s been one of the first friends I’ve had in a long time. When I came here from Michigan, I didn’t want to judge people, since people had judged me all of my life, but I couldn’t help but think of all the clichés about everyone in California being made of plastic and only caring about the sun. And even though I’ve seen quite a few girls and guys with surgically enhanced features, I have loved everything about being here. The people are nice. Like, really nice. Everyone is so freakin’ happy all the time, and I guess why wouldn’t they be, when every day the sun is out and it’s the perfect temperature. Being miserable here is almost impossible.
I pull Stephanie into a hug, so happy to have a friend again. Even though my childhood was pretty crappy after Evie screwed up our life, I had really, really great friends. Friends who always took up for me, who were there for me when I needed them. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. One was Amanda, my best girl pal. We were complete opposites, but she really loved me. Then there were my two guy best friends. We had been inseparable, and I could never imagine going as long as I have without seeing them or speaking to them. Now they’re all just ghosts from another life.
“You’re happy right?” Stephanie asks cautiously, and I realize my mood has sunk from thinking of the past.
I flash her a wide smile, pushing away those memories of not so long ago . “Yeah, just a little bit nervous,” I say with a nervous chuckle, and she gives me a soft smile.
When I first moved here, Stephanie showed me all the girly spots she said Brett had no idea about, like the spas and hair salons that would make you look like an A-list celebrity on a C-list budget. She even introduced me to her group of friends, who are all beautiful, smart, successful, and scarily nice. She reminds me so much of Amanda.
I haven’t spoken to Amanda since I started college. A few months after the year that changed everything.
Amanda never knew what happened to me that year. I never wanted her to know that I became everything her sisters said I would be, so I pushed her away. It killed me to not be able to share one of the most major events in my life with my very best friend, but I knew if I did, she’d never look at me the same way. I couldn’t stand seeing that look of disappointment mixed with disgust on her face, the way I saw it on everyone else I loved and cared about.
I surveyed Stephanie, with her fiery-red hair swept up into a top-knot and her warm green eyes smiling at me. Stephanie likes me, but she doesn’t know all the terrible things I’ve done. If she did, she wouldn’t look at me the same way either. But that’s a different life and a different you, I remind myself.
“So when are you going to tell him?”
“Um, I don’t know,” I say, trying to tuck my nerves deep down into my stomach. There’s nothing like finding out you’re pregnant to make you reflect on the past you’ve been blocking out for a year.
“Oh, you have to make it romantic!” she squeals, following me back to my desk in the reception area.
“I don’t know if I should tell him yet.” I sit down in my plush chair behind my three-thousand-dollar desk. I almost passed out when Stephanie told me how much they spent decorating the place. “It’s still early. A lot can happen.” I shrug.
She frowns at me. “Don’t be such a scaredy cat. You and that little bean are going to be fine. You’re how many weeks, you think?”
I let out a deep breath. “About seven or eight, I think.” I try to keep my tone casual, but I don’t think. I know. Not necessarily the weeks, but I knew I was pregnant when my period didn’t come. My period is like clockwork, but with the absence of it came the symptoms, then the nausea came… just like last time.
Stephanie starts to ask another question, but thankfully the buzzer rings, letting us know a client has arrived. Luckily for me, our slow Thursday picks up and I don’t have to deal with the hundreds of questions Stephanie will have for me that I don’t have any answers to.
***
Thursdays in the office are typically slow for Stephanie and me, but Brett stays busy meeting with prospective buyers and other brokers. Work keeps him out late, which isn’t good because I’ve been thinking too much and I just want to talk to him. My brain’s pulling out the absolute worst scenarios possible. It’s silly, because I know Brett will be excited about this. He’s going to be ecstatic! But I can’t shake that stupid nagging bitch called worry. She won’t let me hold on to any happy thoughts.
“Stop being so negative,” I mumble to myself as I do a once-over of the house again.
I don’t clean often—I usually don’t have to. Brett’s sort of a neat freak. He picks up clothes behind himself and me. He does the dishes and takes out the trash. Today though, I cleaned all the glass in the house, vacuumed the area rugs, and lit candles I picked up earlier from Bath and Body Works. If Brett has a fantasy, I’m sure it’s me in a French maid outfit.
Shoot, why didn’t I buy one of those? When you tell someone you’re pregnant, is it supposed to be romantic? Do you have sex?
I’m pulled from my thoughts when I hear the little electronic feminine voice saying, “Front door opened.”
He’s home.
I do a once-over in a mirror, making sure my boobs are perfectly lifted in my bombshell bra I bought from Victoria’s Secret. I didn’t want to get so dressed up he’d think I’m going to propose or something… not that telling someone you have their child inside you and you’re pretty much tied together for the rest of your life is any less pressure.
“Lisa?” he calls up the stairs. I meet him at our bedroom door, and a wide grin spreads across his face.“You cleaned up?”
I nod and slowly walk toward him. My heart is frantic as I jump into his arms and kiss him, long and slow. When my lips leave his, I take in his breath and lean back, looking into the blue eyes that have given me comfort and hope this year. They reminded me that life didn’t have to stop after everything I did wrong but could begin again with everything I do right.
“I’m pregnant.” The words are quick and spontaneous, kind of like me, I guess.
I had a plan to wait until the food arrived from his favorite restaurant. Then I’d give him a massage and read him the poem I wrote for him that I haven’t quite finished yet. But I can’t hold the news in any longer; I’m already holding far too many secrets from him and I feel as though if I didn’t tell him, I’d just burst.
His eyes widen and his grip tightens around my waist. A weary smile spreads across his face before he laughs. When I don’t join in, his eyes narrow on mine, and for a second, a wave of discomfort rolls through me.
Is he mad?
Is he disappointed?
Oh shit, shit, shit!
“A-are you serious?” he asks me cautiously.
After the longest second of my life, I nod. He nods too, but it’s slow and cautious, not excited how I pictured it in my head. I watch his face turn a little whiter than usual, and his grip isn’t as tight on me as it was before. I feel my heart speed up. I wiggle from his arms, and he lets me go without a fight. I expect him to look at me, into the eyes of the woman carrying his child, but instead he’s just staring at his stupid shoes. I just told him I’m pregnant, and he’s suddenly preoccupied by his stupid black loafers. I feel my anxiety surging. My chest is tighter than the waist trainer I wore once.
Calm down. Calm down. He’s in shock. People can act really weird when they’re in shock… but why would he be in shock? It’s not that unbelievable. We’re in a relationship, we’ve been having unprotected sex, so me being pregnant shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. I bite my lip and take a small breath, hugging myself since he sure isn’t doing it. Since I’ve been with Brett, I’ve grown as a person. I’m not the overemotional, “do first and think later” person I used to be. Brett’s taught me how to be calm and how to rationalize, but standing in front of him and not being able to read him after I just told him I’m pregnant with his baby is the biggest test of patience I’ve ever had.
He eventually looks at me with a soft smile, but it seems forced, the kind of smile you give your friend when she’s announcing that she’s marrying an asshole, or the smile you give someone who just told you they got the promotion you worked your ass off for and you’re super pissed and want to cry.
“I really wish you’d say something,” I mutter, trying to hold in the expletives that are itching to get out of me.
He opens his mouth to say something, but instead he walks past me and sits on the edge of the bed and puts his head in his hands as if I just told him I gave him herpes or something.
“I-I-maybe I’m an idiot, but a small part of me thought you’d be happy,” I say quietly, trying to hold on to the little bit of optimism I have left.
He looks up at me, and the expression on his face makes my blood go cold. It’s not one of anger or disappointment, but something far worse—it’s pity.
“I guess I assumed you were on birth control.” He’s just as quiet.
I feel a tear come to my eye, but I refuse to let it fall. “Why would you assume that?” I notice that I’m pacing, my steps hitting the ground at almost the same rhythm he’s squeezing his hands.
“Because we aren’t married. Because you’ve just gotten settled here. After you talked about how much you hated being a teacher, I guess I assumed that you didn’t want kids,” he explains almost in confusion.
I look at him, just as confused as he seems to be. These don’t sound like the words of a man who is in love with me. This isn’t the Brett who looked on me adoringly while I was in high school. Have I been reading this all wrong?
“We’re in love, I-I thought. You love me, and you’ve been there for me, and you’ve been the best thing that has ever happened to me.” My voice cracks, and his face falls. Tears are coming down my cheeks now.
He walks over to me and pulls me into a hug, but it’s not warm and definitely not passionate. “Lisa, I love you. I think you’re a wonderful woman. You’re wild and free and so full of emotion that it pours off you.”
His arms clasp my waist. I look away, embarrassed.
“I love that about you. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, but are you saying that you’re in love with me?” he asks, his eyes boring into mine.  
I open my mouth to answer him, but the words are stuck and there’s a tugging on my heart before my stomach drops. I-I am. Of course I love Brett. How could I not love someone who is so perfect and who does everything for me without expecting much in return? He brought me out of one of the darkest places of my life. We look good together, we work well together, and that’s what’s important, right? Not the feels…
“I don’t even know what to say to you right now,” I choke out, pushing him away. If we aren’t in love, then it’s a hell of a time for him to make that clear now.
“Don’t shut down, Lisa, talk to me,” he pleads, following me to the bathroom.
I slam the door in his face. I have so much to say and nothing to say. My vision is blurred, and my head is pounding. I slide to the floor and cry while he knocks on the door and begs me to come out.
I hate crying. It makes me feel weak. There is nothing therapeutic about it, and it takes me back to a place I came here to forget. Ironically, I’m in almost the same situation. I guess if I look on the bright side of things, Brett isn’t married, and he’s not my best friend’s dad, and at least we are in a relationship, even if it seems more like a really well-developed friends-with-benefits thing.
Brett’s the only man who would make being a fuck buddy feel like being in a full-blown relationship. I replay everything in my head since we met and realize that’s exactly what we’ve been. He’s never introduced me as his girlfriend, just his best friend… but we live together… and we have sex pretty often.
His question replays in my mind. Am I in love with him? I shake my head.
I was told by a really wise woman that love isn’t a feeling; lust is a feeling, one that’s fleeting and goes away and causes a lot of damage. I can attest to that. Lust destroyed my entire freakin’ life. So love should be what saves it. Brett saved me. How could I not love him? How can I not be in love with him? So what that I’ve never had butterflies with him? The last time I had butterflies, they got me into a whole world of trouble. When he kisses me, I don’t feel anything. But he’s a good kisser, and when we have sex, it’s good—I mean, I always cross the finish line—even if it’s not necessarily passionate. When you mature, passion isn’t important, right?
I ignore him continuing to knock on the door. His voice is pleading, but I can’t face him or talk to him right now
“Please just leave me alone.” I force the words out of my throat.
How could I have been so stupid? So wrong! How could I just see things how I wanted to and ignore reality? This is why girls need friends, real honest, in-your-face friends who call you on your shit and don’t let you live in la la land. I try to remember Stephanie’s initial reaction when I told her I was pregnant. She was excited and happy and shocked of course, but was there something I didn’t see. She didn’t say that Brett would be ecstatic; she said that he’d freak…
My mind drifts to her and the group of friends who have so openly welcomed me. I picture them all sitting at the stupid little sushi restaurant I’ve been to with them. Their eyes would be wide as Stephanie dramatically tells them about how her boss’s stupid friend thought they were together and got knocked up by him. She wouldn’t use those words of course. She’d feign concern for me and tell them in a solemn voice, and they’d all look on in pity, absorbing all the juicy details over California rolls and Sake, and why shouldn’t they? They aren’t my friends; they’re hers. Stephanie has real friends, ones who would have told her if she was reading too much into the actions of a genuinely nice man who wanted to save the girl whose life was out of control.
I haven’t had friends like that in a long time… and my friends, other than Amanda, were guys. They definitely would have seen that I was jumping into something I shouldn’t have. Too bad I don’t have any of those friends left. I pushed one away, destroyed another one’s life, and let the one person who may not have judged me believe I had outgrown her and didn’t trust her with the truth.
“Lisa, can you just talk to me?” he asks quietly.
I swallow the lump in my throat. What did I do? The same thing I always do. Screw up people’s lives! I think of the one person who’s bothered to be a real friend to me. He’s standing on the other side of the door, and giving him a baby he doesn’t want will definitely ruin his life.
“I was just shocked, Lisa. I didn’t mean to be a jerk,” he says, sincerity lacing his voice.
Brett would be an amazing father… but I am pretty damned sure that this is the last situation he’d ever want to have a child in. Brett is an optimist and sort of a traditionalist. Of course he’d want to have a child with his wife, not some girl who isn’t even in love with him. I stare at my stomach, which just a couple of hours ago was a source of hope and love. Now it feels like a fifty-pound burden. That’s what a baby would be—a burden to him and a disaster for me. I push off the floor and take a deep breath before opening the door. When I do, he looks at me with eyes full of sorrow. He has a smile on his face, but it’s not real.
“I’m happy. I always wanted to be a dad one day,” he stumbles over his words.
“I’m not even sure it’s yours,” I spit out.
His face immediately hardens. “What?”
“I’ve been seeing someone else.” I bite my lip, trying to maintain the hardest stare I can.
He steps away from me. It’s a small step, but I feel as if he’s moved a million miles away. He chuckles, but it’s hard and cold and sounds foreign. He shakes his head in mild disbelief, searching my expression. “You’re lying.”
“His name is… Jake, and he works at this bar I’ve been going to, and yeah…” My eyes are locked on his shoes. I hear him let out a frustrated breath, and from the corner of my eyes, I see his hands wring together.
The silence stretches for almost a millennium. I’m afraid to look at him, and when I do, I wish I saw anger. Instead, I see hurt and disappointment from the curve of his lip to the ocean-deep color of his eyes. It slices through me. I’ve seen that look before, but this time, it’s due to a lie.
“Listen, I never meant…”
I stop when he shakes his head before leaving the room. He doesn’t even slam the door. Shit! Why did I do that? Why the hell did I just do that?
Because you don’t know what you’re going to do.
Because you always make rash decisions.
Because you’re an idiot.
Out of every way I could have made this better, I chose to do the one thing to make things worse. What if I decide to keep the baby? If I don’t, he’ll probably still never speak to me again. Why didn’t I just keep my mouth shut?
I race out of the door, hoping he hasn’t made it out of the house yet, but he isn’t anywhere in sight. I check the rooms on the ground floor, and he’s not in any of them. I look outside and see that his car is gone. I head back upstairs, grab the phone, and call him, but it rings twice before going to voicemail.
My night continues like that, except that my calls to him go straight to voicemail now. Hours pass without a call or text from him. I’m tempted to call Stephanie, but what will I tell her? Will she even listen to me? She and Brett are friends, but would he run to her with something this personal?
These thoughts run through my head until I hear the little electronic lady’s voice announce the front door opening. I sit straight up. My thoughts are running a million miles an hour about how to fix this, how to make it right. I get up from the bed since he’s probably not going to come upstairs. Brett has never slept on the couch, but I imagine after a girl tells you she’s having a baby but it’s probably another guy’s, that’s one time you’d sleep on the couch. Even if I’m the one who deserves to sleep on the couch.
I’m heading for the door when it opens. His eyes fall on mine, and I can see that his eyes are red and sort of puffy. I can smell the alcohol on him. In college and the past year we’ve been together, he’s never had more than a shot of tequila and a few beers. Today, it seems as though he’s had the opposite.
“Are you okay?” I ask worriedly. His gaze cuts through me. “Did you drive like this?”
He lets out a bitter chuckle and clears his throat. “It’s not like you care.” His tone is foreign. He doesn’t sound like himself at all.
“Of course I care.”
“Really? That’s a shocker.” His words are angry and wobbling into each other.
I’m not used to him being like this, and I hate myself for pushing him to this point, for turning a good person into this. Tears seem to be my best friend now. “I’m so sorry, Brett.”
He scoffs at me. “No, you’re not.” His disdain for me is tangible enough to hold in my hand. “When you told me you were pregnant, it threw me off. It was just so unexpected. I wasn’t mad. To be honest, a part of me was happy.” He sits on the bed with his back toward me. “I never know how to read you. Sometimes I look at you and I see this person with all of this love to give, someone so full of warmth and passion. Being with you made me feel like one day, the wall you have up would come down and you’d let me feel a flicker of that warmth.”
I crawl over near him and wrap my arms around his neck. I expect him to push me away, but he doesn’t. He’s slack in my arms, and it’s worse than him pushing me away.
“I knew when you came here that something happened to you. The light in your eyes was so faint. Not gone but barely there. I wanted to help you get the fire back. I wanted you to see in yourself what I saw when I looked at you. Someone who’s beautiful and amazing and deserved the world,” he says.
I can hear his voice breaking, and I start to cry harder.
“When I brought you here, I promised myself I wouldn’t fall in love with you unless I saw you felt the same way, because whether you know it or not, a girl like you could break a man.” He softly cups my arms and detangles me from around his neck. He turns toward me and looks me in the eye. “You’re not in love with me, Lisa, and I need you to leave.”
His words are colder than the chill that shoots down my spine. His face is harder than I’ve ever seen.
“What?” I ask, a little confused. I knew he’d be hurt and disappointed, but I didn’t expect him to ask me to leave.
“If the baby is mine, I will do whatever I can to help you, but if it’s not, I can’t keep doing this with you. It doesn’t take a genius to see that you don’t feel about me the way you claim to, and now it’s completely clear that you didn’t even care about me as a friend. If you’ve been sleeping with some other guy who could possibly be your kid’s father, that means you’ve been sleeping with him without protection. I wish I could say that didn’t hurt me, that I expected it, but you pulled one over on me.” He laughs with tears in his eyes.
“No, I lied! I’m sorry. I didn’t know what else to say. I haven’t been with anyone except you since I’ve been here. I swear to God,” I tell him frantically, but I can see in his eyes he doesn’t believe me.
“Are you kidding?” he asks with sharp irritation.
“I promise, I just didn’t know what else to say. I was angry and confused,” I say desperately.
“I don’t know how to read you! Why would you say something like that? What type of person makes up a lie like that?” he asks, completely appalled.
I’m breathing so fast now that I can see my chest heaving, but he just looks confused.
“Are you even really pregnant?” he asks.
“I am; I promise I am. I-I-I’m sorry, Brett, I’m messed up. That’s all that I can say. I don’t know why I said what I did. I’m just scared. I can’t go through another pregnancy alone. Please don’t do this,” I plead with desperation seeping from every pore in my body.
He only shakes his head. He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a paper then hands it to me. I open it and see it’s a check for three thousand dollars.
“This is for whatever you decide to do…”
I look at him questioningly. “You want me to get an abortion?” I ask quietly.
“That’s not really for me to decide. I don’t even know if I’m the father,” he says bitterly.
“I told you,” I cry. My chin is trembling, my entire body is.
“I need you to leave. When you have the baby, we can do a paternity test. If it’s mine, I’ll be there in every way I can,” he says quietly.
I shake my head. “I’m not going anywhere. Brett, I’m telling you the truth. Please don’t do this!”
“I need you to go. If you’ve ever really cared about me, you’ll leave!” he shouts, his face red and tears in his eyes.
I take a deep breath and nod.
He heads to the door but stops dead in his tracks. He looks back at me, confusion and frustration written all over him. “What do you mean another one?”
My skin goes cold, and I drop my head in guilt and embarrassment.
He laughs icily. “Wow, just wow.”
“I’ll be out before you wake up tomorrow,” I promise.
He only glares at me before turning and leaving the room. When he does, I crumble onto the floor.
AP new -about the author.jpg
I’m obsessed with blowing kisses. I guess that makes me a romantic. I love books and cute boys and reading about cute boys in books.I’m infatuated with the glamour girls of the past: Audrey,Dorothy,Marilyn,Elizabeth.
I’m a self confessed girly girl,book nerd,food enthusiast, and comic book fan. Odd combination huh, you have no idea…
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