Title: Out of My League
Author: Jessica Prince
Series: Hope Valley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
After years of war, Lincoln Sheppard thought he’d left the violence and ugliness behind. He was content with the life he built for himself. Then the woman down the street came in and shook everything up.
All Eden Brenner ever wanted was to have a place to call home. She finally found that in Hope Valley. Then she went and fell in love with the man a few houses down the first time she laid eyes on him. There was just one problem. Women like her didn’t catch the attention of men like him. He was totally and completely out of her league. And to make matters worse, when her past comes knocking, the beautiful world she’s built for herself is at risk of crumbling to the ground.
When danger forces Eden into his arms, Lincoln begins to see her in a whole new light, and he suddenly finds himself wanting things he never expected. And he wants them all with the shy, clumsy woman from down the street. But when the truth comes out, that proves nearly impossible. Now he’s fighting the hardest battle of his life, and the stakes are higher than ever. Protect the woman he’s falling for while trying to win her heart at the same time.
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“What the hell was that?” I finally managed to ask on a heavy exhale.
“Two weeks, buttercup,” he said on a growl. “Two fuckin’ weeks I’ve had to watch you at a distance, and the first words you speak to me in that time are to jump down my goddamn throat.”
I tried to step back, but his arms tightened. “Well, what did you think I’d do when I found out?”
“Exactly this,” he said smugly.
“Wait. You wanted me to come in here and blow up at you?”
“If that’s what it took to get you to stop pretendin’ like I don’t exist, then yeah. I’ve been going outta my goddamn mind for two weeks, Edie.”
“That makes two of us!” I cried. “Only mine’s all your fault.”
“It was a means to an end. One way or another, I was gonna keep you safe. I wanted to do it my damn self, but you wouldn’t allow that, so I did the next best thing, with a little added incentive to my boys to do everything in their power to annoy you to the point that you’d let me back in so I could look after you.”
Putting my hands to his chest, I shoved as hard as I possibly could. It was like trying to move a mountain. “For god’s sake,” I gasped. “Do you have any idea how insane that sounds?”
“Haven’t been feelin’ all that fuckin’ sane the past couple weeks, buttercup,” he clipped in return.
I gave him another shove, and another, and another until he finally relented and let me go. “Don’t say that,” I snapped back just as hard, causing him to tilt his head in confusion.
“Don’t say what?”
“Don’t call me buttercup like that. Not when you’re pissed. You gave me that name when we first met, and I’ve freaking loved it ever since. Don’t you use it sarcastically. That’s not fair.”
Everything suddenly shifted. Lincoln’s anger and irritation faded away, and his face took on that soft warmth that made my heart flip. “I’m sorry, baby,” he said so gently that I thought I might break down and cry right then and there. “I promise not to do it again.”
God, I was a wreck. I was so off-kilter I didn’t know up from down. “Jesus, Linc. What are we doing here? This isn’t normal behavior. It’s totally unhealthy.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, and for the first time since storming in, I actually noticed what he was wearing. Running shoes, a pair of loose black basketball shorts that hung tantalizingly off his narrow hips, and another Under Armour shirt, only this one was white and sleeveless. And damn, did he look good.
He watched me closely as he leaned back casually against the door, cutting off any hopes I might have had of escaping. “You’re right, Edie. Nothing about this is normal, but I’m fine with that.”
“How can you say that?” I asked in frustration, the tsunami of emotions inside of me making it impossible to think straight. “How could you ever be okay with this?”
“Because I’ve never cared about someone the way I care about you. I was just fine with the way my life was before you came along, Eden. I never considered marriage or kids or settling down. As far as I was concerned, none of that shit was for me. Then I met you.”
But he wasn’t finished. “You told me that what we had was real for you from the very beginning. What I didn’t realize was that it was the same for me too.” All the air expelled from my lungs on a painful exhale. “When I held you on the dance floor that first night, everything changed. You’re genuine and beautiful. I don’t just want you, Eden, I want to know you. You’re different than any woman I’ve ever been with.”
“I make you laugh,” I whispered, the words spilling out of their own accord.
He nodded and lowered his voice. “You make me laugh.” Pushing off the wall, he closed the distance between us and placed a palm on either side of my neck, using his thumbs to tip my face up. “And you make it so easy. I didn’t think that was possible, baby.”
“Nona told me you don’t laugh a lot,” I said quietly. “I didn’t believe her because I’d seen it myself every time we were together.”
“That was because of you, Edie. Only you.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. Lifting onto my toes, I slammed my lips against his and kissed him with everything I was.
Out of My League is a sweet, sexy, small-town, alpha, slow-burn romance. From the moment that I “met” Eden I just wanted to read more and more and more. I wanted to be friends with her. There was just something about her that was so real. I absolutely adore reading “real” characters ones that have depth and flaws and just aren’t too perfect to be able to relate to. Jessica has a real knack for delivering these types of characters. Lincoln and Eden were so great together. I can not wait to return to Hope Valley to read more about this new town and all the intriguing characters we met there!
Born and raised around Houston Texas, Jessica spent most of her life complaining about the heat, humidity, and all around pain in the ass weather. It was only as an adult that she quickly realized the cost of living in Houston made up for not being able to breathe when she stepped outside. That’s why God created central air, after all.
Jessica is the mother of a perfect little boy–she refuses to accept that he inherited her attitude and sarcastic nature no matter what her husband says.
In addition to being a wife and mom, she’s also a wino, a coffee addict, and an avid lover of all types of books–romances still being her all time favs. Her husband likes to claim that reading is her obsession but she just says it’s a passion…there’s a difference. Not that she’d expect a boy to understand.
Jessica has been writing since she was a little girl, but thankfully grew out of drawing her own pictures for her stories before ever publishing her first book. Because an artist she is not.
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Title: Your Honor
Author: Kristi Pelton
Genre: New Adult Romance
He’s about to overrule her world.
There are no accidents. People cross paths for a reason.
I’m not sure why ours crossed but within a second, I realized, she could destroy everything.
There’s a code of ethics in some professions where certain relationships are frowned upon.
She’s the prosecutor. I’m the judge. Sleeping with her is all sorts of hell no!
Ethic review boards could remove me from the bench—as in “You’re fired.”
Even worse, my father would kill me if his name were tainted. But it would kill me more not to have her.
They say rules are meant to be broken. But is she worth the risk?
The only thing I was sure of—I wanted to completely overrule her perfect little world.
The moment the words were spoken, my heart began to beat out of my chest, this was it. My first official court moment. Everything i’d studied and prepared for. I was so nervous. It wasn’t until Jenner strolled through the chamber door in a pressed black robe that I felt faint. Literally faint; my head swam.
No. No. No. No. This wasn’t happening. Jenner Weber? Judge Jenner Weber? The Honorable Jenner Weber? Dear God. Indiana Jones—virginity nabber.
“Thank you. You may be seated,” he announced and I sat or collapsed.
He hadn’t seen me yet. I watched waiting for his eyes to land on me. My heart beat like the rattle of a snake. The folder he reviewed had to be the case we were here for.
“The court calls the case 17JC2091. May I have the appearances please?”
There it was. His eyes lifted to meet mine. A brief moment of hesitation. The last time his eyes were on me, his dick was inside of me. Ok…not quite, but close.
I stood, my knees trembling. “May it please the court, Lucy Edwards appearing for the State.” I had no idea how those words came out.
His serious eyes shifted from me to the guardian ad litem with almost no appearance of recognition. It required effort to listen to her words. Then it was my turn again.
Jenner roughly cleared his throat. “Ms. Edwards, State’s position?”
Wobbly knees and all, I got to my feet again. “Yes, Your Honor. Um. Based off the state’s petition, we are requesting the newborn respondent be placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Yesterday, the newborn tested positive for opiates and heroin, after delivery. The baby remains in the neonatal unit suffering from withdrawals. The mother, Heather Cook, admitted to using prior to going to the hospital to give birth. Clearly, Your Honor, the health, safety and welfare of this child are at risk. The State is requesting the child remain at the hospital in the temporary custody of the agency. Thank you.”
“Thank you, Judge. I concur with the state and would ask for a no-contact order with parents unless DCF can secure supervised visits at the hospital.”
Damn it. I should have thought of that. Jenner wrote something down and then his eyes moved to the parent’s attorney.
“Your Honor. Parents are not objecting to custody. However, they are opposed to supervised visits. They have not shown any indication of fleeing with the baby or any indication of putting the child at risk.”
I shot up out of my chair. “We object, Your Honor. They haven’t put the baby at risk? The mother used heroin prior to birth, drugging herself and her baby with a highly addictive drug. The baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, Judge. The State would be opposed. If the parents can provide a negative urinalysis prior to the visit, then we would not be opposed.”
Jenner’s eyes bore into me, then quickly flitted back to the bench at the papers before him. As much as I should have been thinking about that baby, the only thing on my mind was the shock in my heart and the heat between my legs. So many things flashed through my mind. He knew my name. I knew his.
“Based on probable cause, the court is ruling in favor of the State. The child will immediately go into police-protective custody until DCF can get workers assigned. I’m ordering UA’s on the parents to begin prior to any supervised visit. This matter will be set for pre-trial on the next docket September 17. All parties are ordered to reappear. Is there anything further to come before the court at this time?”
“No, Your Honor,” I said softly, and all other parties stayed silent.
“Hearing nothing further, this matter is in recess,” Jenner gruffly spat out and stormed from the courtroom, file in hand.
“Wow, he seems even testier than normal,” Deb whispered.
Offering a nervous smile, I stacked my papers, not caring anymore about their organization. I’d organize and take notes of what happened when I returned to my office. When my brain could work again. I silently prayed my legs would get me there.
“Hey, Lucy. It wasn’t you. You did nothing wrong,” Deb said, sliding her file in her briefcase.
Oh my God. If she only knew. If she only knew? If anyone knew! My breakfast from earlier churned in my stomach, threatening to come right back up.
“Lucy? You ok?”
“Yep. Just taking it all in. My first official court appearance.”
Free from the courtroom and finally in the hall, the air cooled my face as I walked. My erratic breaths were starting to settle, but my brain synapses couldn’t keep up with the mile-a-minute activity snapping off. The second I got to my desk, I found my cell phone to see if there was something…anything… from Jenner. There wasn’t. Weber? So, he was related to Supreme Court Justice Weber… like United States Supreme Court Judge… Fuck me.
That night at home, I kept my phone by my side. Hoping. Waiting. Dreading. I started to text him fifteen times. I typed out long texts, shorts texts and finally, I settled for simple.
HI!! I am Kristi Pelton…wannabe author of fun, sexy romance books! I am married to a man who tolerates me carrying my computer everywhere with me (26 years) and i have two of the best sons in the world. They are 20 and 17 and watching them and their friends provides interesting writing material… 🙂 I love Mexican food…chips and queso are a staple in my life as well as Dr. P! You will find out when you read my books that i am a BIG Kansas Jayhawk fan, Oregon Duck fan and Chicago Cubs fan! I usually write about things i love! Please feel free to follow me on my author Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter! Now…sit back, have a glass of wine and pick up a good book! Cheers!
Title: Michael’s Heart
Author: Lori Thomas Harrington
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t hear the music.
She longs for some other way,
they both could stay
lost inside forever
that now echoes yesterday.
What if the love of your life was on the other side?
Music has always captivated Colbie, and she was sure that music would escort her to her destiny. But then, lying on a cold operating table, Colbie’s heart stopped, and her life ended. Then, something miraculous happened. In an inexplicable new world, Colbie comes face to face with Michael and she realized that she has always heard the music.
What if you had to choose between love and life?
When she wakes up in the sterile hospital room to a painful recovery, she longs for the peace she abandoned when she returned to Earth. Back in her own world, Colbie is struggling with fate as she tries to once again, hear the music.
Will fate and love strike the right chords for Michael and Colbie?
Her world suddenly came crashing all around her in an instant. It all made sense somehow. The music, the familiarity of him, the connection she now clearly felt — as if he had stepped right inside her core.
“You… you’re him,” she said placing her hand over his fingers. “You are my… my…”
As she searched for words, he reached out with hands physically shaking, and softly ran the back of his fingers down her cheek. She was overwrought when she heard his breath audibly catch in his throat. She knew that her emotions where mirroring his own feelings of abandonment as she became immersed in him standing before her.
Hesitantly, she slowly touched his face with her hands, staring at him as his gaze held her in a memorizing trance. Now shaking as well, she shifted one hand, and with a single finger, she slowly traced his lips until she was completely lost in him. All the years of an unseen force that had guided her was now standing before her. It was him.
Born and reared in Mississippi, Lori Thomas Harrington loves the South and all the charms its borders provide. A true southern Belle, she cherishes time with her friends and family. In her spare time, Lori writes music and participates in community theater, but she is often plotting her next novel, with coffee in hand. Lori loves her fans, and she is so thankful that her debut novel, The Point, is a favorite on Amazon and Goodreads. She believes that everyone has a dream, and Lori is proof that it’s never too late to transform dreams into reality.
Series: Slater Brothers
Author: L.A. Casey
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult, Romantic Comedy
What Damien values…
…Damien fights for.
Alannah Ryan had always suffered in silence, until that silence became so deafening she spilled secrets that she never intended to. At one point in her life, she yearned for adventure, a nail biting journey … something other than the mundane life she led. Her pleas were answered in the form of a tall, handsome heart breaker with a mop of white hair.
Alannah’s dreams for an exciting twist in her life were shattered because of a teenage mistake. One that has haunted her for over five years, and left her in pieces.
Damien Slater was the reason for every bad thing in the lives of those he loved most. A decision he made when he was just fifteen destroyed his brothers’ lives, and there was nothing he could do to change the things they had endured. Ruining them hurt, but ruining the only woman who wanted him for more than one night hurt a hell of a lot more.
Running away helped Damien heal, and returning to Ireland only caused Alannah more pain. Pain he intended to eradicate and replace with the passion he knew they both shared. Breaking down her walls was not the only challenge Damien faced. Another had plans of his own, and his intentions weren’t for physical vengeance, but something far worse.
Damien values Alannah above all else, and what Damien values, Damien fights for.
“Little bastard,” Alec said, breaking the silence.
Everyone looked at him.
“What?” Damien asked.
“You’re a little bastard,” Alec repeated.
Damien looked at Dominic, then back to Alec and said, “Not understanding why I’m a bastard.”
Damien’s lips twitched at Alec’s correction.
“Sorry, I don’t understand why you’re calling me a little bastard.”
Alec scowled. “Isn’t it obvious?”
“No,” everyone said in unison.
“Unbelievable,” Alec said with a shake of his head. “You’re a little bastard because you bought the woman a star. A fucking star. How the hell can we compete with that?”
The question was put to Kane.
“Buy your girl two stars?” he suggested.
Alec scoffed. “It wouldn’t be impressive since buying a star has been already been done by the little bastard.”
“You could buy me a black hole,” Keela suggested. “I get sucked into one whenever you start talkin’ so it’d be perfect.”
L.A. Casey is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who juggles her time with her mini-me and writing. She was born, raised and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. She enjoys chatting with her readers, who love her humor and Irish accent as much as her books.
Casey’s first book Dominic, was independently published in 2014 and became an instant success on Amazon. She is both traditionally and independently published and is represented by Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group.
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Title: Where There’s Smoke
Author: Kathy Coopmans
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rockstar Romance
Don’t miss Where There’s Smoke, an emotional Rockstar Contemporary Romance from Kathy Coopmans!
The lives of Dean Wagner and Tatum Fields have been ruled by the hand of fate.
The past six years of my life have been consumed by guilt. Since we lost Landon to a fire, I’ve done everything in my power to protect my daughter, Leila, from finding out the truth about how her twin brother died. Nothing in my life means more to me than her.
Not my band, not my reputation. Nothing.
Until I see Tatum, the woman I saved on the beach the same night she dealt with a loss of her own.
The daily routine I’ve settled into is what keeps me going. Work at my chocolate shop, pay the bills, repeat. I don’t date. I don’t trust. And I have never forgotten the man who walked away from saving my life without allowing me to thank him.
I know how to reach him, but I avoid him at all costs.
Until fate decides to make another appearance.
This is a story of how destiny ends up bringing these two souls back together, and how fate, the word very little people believe in is really their friend, after all.
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Five years ago
As I gaze across the endless dark water of the ocean, the fiery sun begins to set. Waves lap against the shoreline creating an intricate pattern along the smooth sand, and as I lift my face to the half-lit sky, I try to listen for the voice that assures me he’s doing okay.
I can hear his laughter against the waves as they crash against the shore. I can feel the warmth of his tiny hand touching the side of my worn face, and I can smell the sting of the saltwater; it burns and reminds me of a time in my life I never want to forget. I love this peaceful beach, but it’s what I see when I come here that makes the guilt leave a trail of hot fire up my flesh.
I remember his young life as if it were yesterday, a little boy laughing along with his twin sister as they buried me in the sand. Two little toothless kids filled with excitement, bright-colored ribbons trailing behind them as they took off running with kites in one hand while holding hands with the other.
My kids were like night and day, but they had as much love for this beach as they did for each other. Landon always the protector and Leila the one he thought needed his protection. He stood up for her even when she stood up for herself. Which was daily with her being below average in both weight and height. She grew out of it, and eventually the kids who teased her did, too. Landon, though, he watched his sister like a hawk. I’ve never seen two kids glued to each other as those two were. And visualizing how they’d be if he were here is buried under the poisonous guilt spilled all over my dark and secluded mind.
With a heavy sigh that stabs my chest, I observe the familiar beach. There are a handful of people sitting around. Soon, families will fill this place up. Dads will be helping their children show off their colorful kites the same way I used to with mine, and the annual week-long kite fest will be underway, and not a single one of them will know I’ve been here.
Today, it’s just the way I like it. Quiet and peaceful. Still, I’d give everything I have not to be sitting here wondering where in my life I went wrong.
I come to this spot where I vacationed with my kids on the coast of the state of Washington several times a year. It was my son’s favorite vacation spot. The place where my daughter, Leila, and I watched the urn holding his ashes float until it slowly sunk to the bottom of the deep blue water, and now parts of him are scattered everywhere. It’s the way he would have wanted to be.
My boy has been gone one year today, and this place is where I feel closest to him. It could be the memories of a little boy who would throw a fit when it was time to leave are vivid here, could be because here is where I said my final good-bye. I’m not really sure why; all I know is, I feel his spirit soaring when I sit here. It’s the one place that brings me as close to him as I will ever be again.
Landon loved kites; he loved anything with the vibrancy to soar. He was a free-spirited teenager, a good kid who, despite his mother being a junkie and me fighting my own demons of a tortured past through living with an uncle who damaged me more than the abandonment from the woman who gave birth to me did, was tougher, stronger. And unlike his sister, he was determined to find the mother he once knew. At least that’s what he told me, and at first, I believed him; until he started showing signs I recognized all too well.
He was fourteen when I started missing concerts or taking him with me because I thought he was high. I refused to let him see his mother until I could test his blood and his piss. He was squeaky clean. We fought practically every day over my suspicion. Me in his face wanting to know how he hid it every day he denied it, and the parent part of me that believed my son wouldn’t do drugs because of the downhill battle his mother struggled with eventually won. I believed him until that knock came at my door. Several police officers and CPS standing on the other side to give me news no parent should ever have to receive.
I shake those thoughts away. Today isn’t the day to let anger twine its way around my chest and choke me. Except it does. It swirls and mocks, drops seeds of guilt in my veins, and they spread. A disease I’ll never be rid of.
“Damn, I miss you, kid.” There hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t thought about him. Wondering what kind of man he’d be growing up to be. If he would have kept up with his love for playing the drums like me, or if he would have chosen a different path to spread his wings and fly.
When I lost Landon, my world collapsed. Shadows took over the light, and the pain has left a constant ache in my chest. It goes on and on like the rippled waves across the sand.
And my mind; it calls out for me to come back to the man I once was. A continuous fight of trying to fit together who I used to be. It’s wrung me out and left me hanging to dry.
Losing a child is a loss I wouldn’t know how to begin to explain. There will always be a hole in my soul that will never again be completely filled, and I’m a resentful man because of it. Losing him stole the man I was away from my daughter. It took me from my friends, and on behalf of the life I have yet to live, I haven’t a Goddamn clue how to get it back or if I even have the strength to try.
The kids’ mother and I were never together. Landon and Leila were created during a drunken night I don’t remember. I mean, I was nineteen, met some random chick at a party I was having. Fucked her and went on with my life. That is until she showed up to give me the news. And like most men, I denied it. Made her get a paternity test. Reality snuck in when the results came back saying they were mine, and they are without a doubt the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ll never accomplish anything greater than being their dad.
I press my hands to my temples. I can’t think of the way my kids came into this world. Not when what I did brought me the only two people I love unconditionally.
“Talk to me, Landon. I need to hear you and get these painful memories out of my head.”
Silence rings in my ears. Guilt claws at my throat. I usually find a sense of peace here, but for some fucked-up reason, all I can think about is what eventually took my son’s life.
Somewhere along the way, the kids’ mom, Kate, got hooked on prescription pills; those turned to weed, and it escalated to the heavy stuff from there. She was out of control and blamed everyone but herself. One day it was my fault because I wouldn’t have a thing to do with her; the next she complained the kids were too much for her to handle. She was a fucking wreck waiting to happen.
I tried getting her off the drugs. I paid for several trips to rehab, and then the day came where I took her to court. Won full custody of the kids and settled into a routine with a nanny to take care of them after I hooked up with Roman and with a stroke of luck we found Miles and Brock. Together we took ourselves to fame.
I wasn’t the perfect parent, but I made sure to fly home whenever we had a break from the tour. I flew the kids to me on the weekends they didn’t spend with their mother, and things were going fine up until Kate claimed she was pulling her life together and asked for more time with the kids. I called bullshit, and so did Leila. But Landon, he went to stay with her as often as he could. A kid set out to save a woman who didn’t want to be saved. And up until the day he died, I still felt that gnawing ache in my chest he was doing something.
The guilt ate me alive when the truth came out of how they were both killed.
“I should have made you go into rehab.” Then what? Would he have gotten out and started right back up like his mother did? “Fuck!” I scream, gaining the attention of a family walking the beach. I close my eyes, suck in a breath, and bow my head between my drawn-up knees.
My son was a drug addict like his mother. They were high the night they died. The forensics experts told me they were making meth and it blew up, caught the house on fire and killed them both.
“I fucking hate you for what you did to him. You were his mother, for fuck’s sake. Flesh and blood, and you dragged him to hell with you. Put our daughter through the worst nightmare she will have in her life.” Regardless of not ever allowing the anger to bubble to the surface whenever I come here, for some reason today it does.
My heart and brain become a game of tug of war—anger versus heartache—and I begin to shake. The tart taste in my mouth turns bitter, and every nerve ending dares to explode.
If she hadn’t died alongside my son, I would have killed her.
I glance around the beach that has been my solace and wish the sand would calm me down like it usually does. It doesn’t do a thing for some reason, except make me angrier. It’s a damn good thing Leila isn’t here to see me like this.
My blood rushes to my head, and my fists ball at my sides. I need to stop and find the man I once was again. Some kind of fucking calming of the soul is what I need. Something besides beating the hell out of my drums. Which I won’t be doing for a while now that we’re done recording our album and the band is taking some much-needed time off.
Every positive emotion I’ve tried to find is spread across the wide span of this ocean. I fake my way through the happy times with the happy disposition I’ve perfected. The problem I’m having now is, all the space inside of me is overflowing with negativity. I’m finding the bad in the good, and every day it’s becoming so much harder to ignore. The gap in my chest and the inner pain are almost too much to bear. It’s a lame and deadly excuse, but not even the rush of a cigarette calms me anymore, or watching Leila turn into the loving woman she was meant to be. My head is fucked up, and my guilt is slowly killing me.
“Damn it,” I grumble and turn my head when I see a woman frantically stripping out of her wedding dress at the shoreline. She tosses it into the water and crosses her arms over her chest. Her long black hair is blowing in the wind. “Christ, what the hell is she doing?”
I study her for a silent beat. There’s something about the way she’s gazing out into the ocean as she stands there in a white strapless bra and lace panties that grips me in the chest. I should pay more attention to her because despite whatever has her beaten down, she is absolutely exquisite. I wish I could hold on to the beautiful profile of her face, because it’s obvious she’s troubled over something, but the man standing several feet behind her in a black tuxedo spikes my anger. I dig my hands in the sand to stop me from standing up and walking toward him to knock him on his ass.
His tall frame is bent over with his hands on his knees as if he’s trying to catch his breath, and when he glances this way, every part of me begins to shake.
Sam Borst, a reporter for Hollywood Living. A young punk in his mid-twenties. I hate him nearly as much as I did Kate. The last thing I need is for him to see me and pop his mouth off. The guy is the biggest gossip talker this side of the Mississippi. Gives his opinions freely and exploits celebrities with misguided information. The fucking world eats out of the palm of his hands. He hosts a two-hour radio show where he asks their opinions, has them call in and stir the pot even more. Hollywood gossip. It all makes me fucking sick.
I’ve kept my personal life hidden since the day half of it was stolen from me, yet this man has never given up on trying to dig up the truth of why I buried my son.
The bastard didn’t come along and stick a thorn in my side when he first started talking about their deaths; he stuck a Goddamn knife in me, twisted it, and left it there when he opened a forum on their website for opinions on how the public thought it all went down. Our publicist told me to let it go when all I wanted was to kick his teeth in.
He didn’t give two fucks I was mourning and at the same time trying to bring my daughter back to life. For months, all I did was make sure she was going to be alright. I might have been slowly dying every day, pretending I was strong, but I had a responsibility much larger than taking care of myself, and that was her. So, I let him rattle off and ignored the prick the best I could until the rest of the paparazzi started coming around, digging for the one piece of dirt they they will never find.
I beat the shit out that motherfucker six months ago. Broke his nose, fucked up his jaw, and spent a solid thirty days behind bars. The worst part of it was, I lost my temper in front of my daughter.
It was hard as hell trying to explain to Leila that she had to stay with one of the guys while I sat in the hole wishing I had let it go like I was told. She ended up staying with Miles because his apartment was closer to her high school.
At the time, I was thankful Leila didn’t watch the news or listen to gossip, so, at first, she had no idea what the hell was going on. It drained me to make up some lame-ass excuse as to why I fucked him up and to make sure she stayed away from anyone with a camera or microphone, and to this day, she’s the only one close to me who doesn’t know the truth about Landon. But I’d bet my ass this fucker here would plow her over if he knew death wouldn’t come to him the minute I found out he talked to her. Protecting Leila is the reason why everyone close to me took a vow to keep quiet and stay away from the paparazzi.
I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my daughter from people like him, and when I say that, I mean it with a vengeance that would cause the earth to shift.
The vindictive assholes who stalk us would sell their soul to the devil for a good story, and the truth behind my son’s death would have every one of them lining up to see which one the devil would take first if word got out. My bet would be on him.
It was bad enough she watched her mother whittle away, but to have her think poorly of her brother or blame herself because she didn’t see the signs would kill me. Leila loved Landon more than she loved anyone, anyone, and I need to keep her heart from tainting his memory.
I pull my ball cap lower over my head and exhale. Pisses me off that my time with my son was already ruined by my anger, and now it’s doubled that he’s here.
I’m up on my feet when the woman catches my eye again as she starts walking into the water, the waves coming up to her knees, her waist, and then her neck. “Shit, she’s going to drown.”
“Damn it, Tatum, you’re my fiancée. Let me help you. Stop!” Sam’s voice that reeks of panic and fear loops around my feet. I start running toward the freezing water.
I couldn’t save my child, but I’ll do whatever it takes to save her.
USA Today Best Selling Author Kathy Coopmans is a Michigan native where she lives with her husband, Tony. They have two son’s Aaron and Shane.
She is a sports nut. Her favorite sports include NASCAR, Baseball, and Football.
She has recently retired from her day job to become a full-time writer.
She has always been an avid reader and at the young age of 50 decided she wanted to write. She claims she can do several things at once and still stay on task. Her favorite quote is “I got this.”