Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Book Release - How to See With Your Heart

My new book How to See With Your Heart is now available on Amazon!





I really loved writing this book. It gave me a greater appreciation for those who struggle with visual impairments.

Here's the Description:

Brooklyn Reese has a thriving flower shop but isn’t as lucky in love. Having a lowdown, cheating fiancé is bad enough, but add a meddling mother and catty sister into the mix, and it’s sure to spell disaster. 

A rollerblading trek around the lake near Brooklyn’s home comes to a calamitous close when she accidentally plows into a man and his dog. To make matters worse, she realizes the guy’s blind and it was his guide dog that she dragged into the lake. Then she recognizes him—the illustrious and dreamy Dax Preston, former Nascar racing superstar. The very guy she’s had a crush on since the eleventh grade!

Captivated by Dax’s charm and his loyal guide dog Tucker, Brooklyn falls hard and fast as a tender romance blossoms. But Brooklyn and Dax’s idyllic relationship is threatened by an unexpected treatment that could wreck everything. Can Brooklyn put aside her fears and learn to see with her heart? Or will she let the love of a lifetime walk out of her life? 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Afterwards, people would ask if Dax sensed something bad was about to happen. Sadly, Dax would have to answer the truth. No. The only thing he felt getting in the car on that balmy, sunny day at the Daytona 500 was the fevered sensation of competition as a shot of adrenaline buzzed through his veins. He was in the zone, in complete control. Knowing he had the torque to win the race, had victory within his grasp. Then in the blink of an eye, everything changed when his tire blew and he hit the wall going a hundred and eighty miles per hour. The next seconds rolled into a ball of terror. Metal crunching like an aluminum can. Glass shards cutting like razors. Pain wracking his body, feeling ripped apart limb by limb. Then came the startling realization when he came to in the hospital—not only was his body bruised and broken, but something far more terrible had happened to him.
Everything came to a screeching halt. Life as he’d known it was over.
                                        ……………………………
Afterwards, people would ask if Brooklyn sensed something bad was about to happen. Sadly, Brooklyn would have to answer the truth. Yes. She felt like things were off between her and Justin. But she never could’ve fathomed he would do something so calloused. She assumed they were going through a rough patch and things would get better once she got her business underway.
They’d planned to go to dinner and a movie, but Justin postponed their date, complaining of a sore throat and chills. So, Brooklyn made him a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup and took it to his apartment. She got the shock of her life when she opened the door and discovered him locking lips with her sister.
Everything came to a screeching halt. Life as she’d known it was over.



Chapter 1

            The cool wind felt good against Brooklyn’s hot cheeks as she lurched forward increasing her pace, rollerblading across the asphalt with jerky, persistent movements. The setting sun had softened the sky to pink and orange swirls, and a pleasant breeze was blowing. The perfect summer evening in Utah, but Brooklyn had no appreciation for it. She kept her gaze fixed forward, slicing through the air with a vengeance. Normally, she enjoyed rollerblading around the lake near her condo. But today, all she could think about was the phone conversation with her mother. Brooklyn still couldn’t understand why it was her responsibility to fix every stupid problem in the family.
“It’s time for you to put aside your petty grudge and reach out to your sister,” her mother said with an authoritative tone leaving no room for argument. “You’ve got to dig deep and forgive Madison. That’s the only way you’ll be free of this thing.”
Brooklyn gritted her teeth. The only freedom she needed was from her mother’s constant rants.  Every time Brooklyn had one of those little heart-to-hearts with her mother, she felt like a teenager again … and not in a good way. It didn’t matter that Brooklyn was a grown woman—a college graduate and owner of a flower shop. In her mother’s eyes, she would always be the docile child who was supposed to drop everything and do her mother’s bidding.
Petty grudge? Really? Brooklyn clenched her fists, her jaw hardening. Two years ago, Madison had stolen Brooklyn’s boyfriend and married him. That was not a petty offense. A petty offense was borrowing a shirt and forgetting to return it, or leaving the car lights on and running down the battery. But this! This was full out war. And now that Madison and Justin were having marital problems, everyone expected Brooklyn to forget that her sister was a backstabbing witch and lend a helping hand. Well, it wasn’t gonna happen.
Not now.
Not ever.
Madison made her own bed, and now she had to lie in it. Even as Brooklyn thought the words, guilt churned like acid in her gut. Her mother sounded so fragile … broken. After Brooklyn adamantly refused to visit Madison, her mother erupted into tears, declaring she wished she lived closer so she could help. Then, she went on about Brooklyn’s dad Tim and how he was under a ton of stress at work. “If your dad didn’t need me here, I’d hop a plane today,” her mother said regretfully.
Brooklyn let out a long sigh, knowing deep down her mother would eventually wear her down to the point where she’d go visit Madison, simply to shut the woman up.
The old familiar hurt pricked Brooklyn. Fraternal twins were supposed to have close ties with one another. Madison should’ve been her best friend, but from the time they were little, Madison viewed Brooklyn as competition. If Brooklyn longed for a particular toy or book, then Madison made it her mission to acquire it first. Unfortunately, as they got older, the toys and books were replaced with boys, then men. In high school, Madison was a cheerleader who ran with the popular crowd. She ridiculed Brooklyn for being studious and hanging out with the geeks, as Madison called them.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket. Brooklyn didn’t bother answering.  It was probably Ramsey Smith calling to ask her on a date. Just before her mother had gotten off the phone, she informed Brooklyn that the son of her best friend would be calling. “You need to be nice to him,” she instructed. “The two of you are good together. Give him a chance,” she urged.
Brooklyn had given Ramsey a chance … several chances, to be exact. They’d gone out a few times and it went okay, until Ramsey started droning on about his legal cases. And he was so precise and measured about everything, like how he made a point of counting every carb at the restaurant when they had dinner together. Maybe she was expecting too much. Just because Ramsey didn’t sweep her off her feet didn’t mean she should write him off. Fireworks only happened in movies, not real life. Brooklyn was levelheaded enough to realize she didn’t need fireworks … but she did need the guy to be somewhat interesting. Brooklyn scowled. Her qualm wasn’t with Ramsey. He was nice enough, and moderately cute. In another circumstance, Brooklyn might’ve even been flattered by his attention. But unfortunately, Ramsey was a not-so-pleasant reminder that her mother was pulling the strings, trying to control her life.
As if dealing with Madison and their mother weren’t enough, things were crazy busy at the flower shop. June was traditionally hectic with weddings. But this year, nearly every Saturday until fall was booked. Luckily, Brooklyn hired extra staff for the busy season. Yet, they were still having a hard time keeping up. She supposed it was a good problem to have. Her first year in business was so slow Brooklyn nearly went broke waiting for things to pick up. Then suddenly, it was as if a switch had been flipped and business became steady. Just when Brooklyn was getting used to the pace, things got super busy.
“Passing on the left,” Brooklyn called as she approached a couple of ladies walking. She nodded a greeting to them as she continued up the gentle slope leading to a wooden bridge. Crossing the bridge on rollerblades was bumpy. But the reward came from the rush she got from the downward descent on the other side. Though the slope was mild, it was enough to pick up speed. As she bladed over the bridge, holding onto the rail, she saw a couple of teenage boys kayaking below. They were splashing water on each other with their paddles, their hearty laughter floating up. A father and son were fishing on the nearby pier. Brooklyn smiled, momentarily forgetting how ticked she was at her mother. The strong sense of community and family was what drew Brooklyn to the Daybreak area. Nestled at the base of the Kennecott Copper Mine, the land had been empty fields and sagebrush before it was developed. Thanks to the ingenuity of the mine owners, it was now a master-planned community spanning 4,000 acres. The majority of the homes were patterned after the historical areas of Salt Lake like Sugar House and The Avenues with their cheerful colors and neatly-lined picket fences. And yet, there were a few modern cube homes of concrete and steel thrown into the mix, offering an artful blend of the timeless and trendy. The sprawling lake outlined with ribbons of walking trails made up the heart of Daybreak. Brooklyn’s gaze took in the cluster of quaint homes nestled like stair-steps on the ridge, the Qquirrh Mountains stretching protective arms around the back. The scene was a cross between a Norman Rockwell Painting and the coast with seagulls flying overhead.
Before moving here, Brooklyn lived with her parents in the neighboring city of Sandy until they moved to California for her dad’s job. Living alone had been intimidating at first. Brooklyn considered finding a roommate to share expenses, then decided the hassle outweighed the benefits. In retrospect, living alone was a good decision, especially here, because she never really felt like she was alone. Being in Daybreak made her feel part of something bigger … something meaningful.
As she stepped off the bridge, she tucked her arms into her sides and increased her pace, liking how the wind kissed her face as she sped down the trail. For one small moment, she felt free from the constraints of her problems. She was soaring … a feeling of exhilaration gushed through her as she closed her eyes and held out her hands, the air whipping through her fingers. 
She opened her eyes and let out a shriek, a sense of horror rushing over her. There was a man and his dog, directly in her path. And she was going too fast to stop! Even as her mind grappled with what was happening, she barreled into the man with the force of a renegade bowling ball, knocking him to the ground. The dog yelped, and the man swore as she toppled over them. Her hands flailed out, clutching empty air as she tried to stop, but the momentum sent her sprawling belly first into the lake, taking the dog with her. The water was only knee-deep, but there were large rocks. She maneuvered to her hands and knees, but the dog jerked. The movement caused Brooklyn to fall, sending sharp pains through her hands as they hit the rocks. Then she realized the leash had gotten tangled around her leg. She unwound it as fast as she could, releasing the golden retriever as it scampered across the rocks onto land.
Brooklyn attempted to stand up, but the wheels from her blades mired into the slippery goo, and she had the impression she was trying to balance on butter. She scrambled over the rocks on her hands and knees, which required superhuman effort, considering her feet were concrete blocks.  As quickly as she could, she undid the laces, removed the rollerblades, and stood.
A hot shame covered her as she looked at the guy. The golden retriever shook himself off before resuming his place beside his owner. “I-I’m so sorry,” she stammered. From what she could tell, the dog seemed to be okay. Too bad she couldn’t say the same about herself. A thin line of blood was trickling down her shin, and her hands were scratched.
“You ought to be sorry,” the man roared, his face tight with fury. “You could’ve seriously injured my dog! What were you doing?”
“Rollerblading,” she gulped.
The man scowled, then reached out and ran a hand along the dog’s fur, checking for injuries, before clutching the leash like it was a lifeline. “Are you okay, Tucker?” he asked, rubbing the dog’s head, his voice going kind.
“I—I didn’t run into you on purpose. It was an accident.” Brooklyn was about to say more, but the words died on her lips. The retriever was wearing a harness. And there was something unusual about the guy. He was looking in her general direction, but his eyes weren’t focusing. It was at that moment Brooklyn realized two things simultaneously—the guy was blind, and she knew him! A laugh convulsed in her chest. And then she wanted to cry. She leaned forward, studying him. “Dax? Is that you?”
A deep furrow creased his brow as he cocked his head. “Do I know you?”
Dax was every bit as good-looking as she remembered, but the soft lines of boyhood had yielded to the sharper angles of manhood. His chestnut hair was messy, his features an interesting mix of rugged and sophisticated. Something she’d read about him stuck in her mind. During the heyday of his success, he’d been dubbed the Tom Cruise of Nascar by a reporter, and it had stuck. He did resemble Tom Cruise, but was taller with sinewy muscles. Brooklyn hadn’t seen Dax in person since the eleventh grade of high school. But she’d followed his racing career and seen the multitude of pictures of him online. Photos of him standing on the winner podium after races proudly displaying trophies for the camera, his trademark quicksilver, victory smile stretched over his face. Pictures of him with gorgeous girls on his arms. Photos of him partying it up in LA with the famous model Cassidy Cline. And then there was the tragedy that snuffed out his charmed life. Brooklyn had read all about the racing accident that left him blind, but hadn’t realized he was back in town. What she remembered most about Dax was the ever-present twinkle in his dark blue eyes suggesting he could break into a hearty laugh any minute. A pang shot through her as she looked at his blank eyes, lifeless and disconnected from the rest of him—two dead spots amidst a sea of vibrant life. Even back when they were teenagers, she’d known Dax was destined for greatness. His take-charge attitude demanded the world stop and pay attention to him. And it had. He was a shining star that had lit the cosmos in a brilliant flash before plummeting to the ground. An overwhelming feeling of sadness engulfed her as she lamented all that Dax had lost. It was grueling to see someone as strong as Dax defeated and beaten. Then she got a closer look and had to re-evaluate her assessment as she caught the familiar nuance of his defiant stance. No, Dax wasn’t defeated. The essence of him was still there … as strong as ever. He was very much the same imposing force he’d always been. For some inexplicable reason, butterflies flapped in her stomach, making her feel sixteen again. Crazy that he still had this effect on her after all of these years, even though he was blind. Back in the day she’d had a huge crush on Dax Preston. And as embarrassing as it was to admit, still fantasized about him from time to time … in her weak moments. When she first read about his accident, her first impulse was to contact him, tell him how sorry she was. See if there was anything she could do to help. But that was absurd. She and Dax had been high school buds, nothing more. And even that hadn’t ended well. While their paths crossed for one small moment, Dax had been out of her league in high school and was even more so now.
“Do I know you?” Dax repeated, annoyance hanging heavy in his voice.
It crossed Brooklyn’s mind that she could skulk away without telling him who she was and save herself more embarrassment. “Um …” she bit her lower lip.
“So, are you gonna tell me who you are, or not,” he huffed, his jaw tightening.
A tremor ran through her. It had been terribly irresponsible of her to close her eyes. But it was only for a moment, she’d looked ahead beforehand not seeing anyone on the trail. Dax and his dog must’ve been standing off to the side, out of her view. It lay on her tongue to tell him all of this, defend herself, but no words would come. The withering look on Dax’s face made her want to shrink back, make herself smaller than the gravel rocks beneath her feet. But she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t own up to this. She was a grown woman, for goodness’ sake! She straightened her shoulders, tightening her grip on the rollerblades. “Brooklyn Reese.” She braced for the backlash, which was sure to follow.
Recognition flittered over his features. “From Bingham High School?”
Was it her imagination, or had the tiniest of smiles crept over his lips? “Yeah,” she said, then the words rushed out. “I-I’m sorry about your accident. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so successful, then watch it all go up in flames.” She bit down, clamping off the words as she saw his face tighten. Oops … poor choice of words. He couldn’t watch anything. “Um, I didn’t realize you were back in town. I hope your dog’s okay.”
            “Yeah, I hope so too,” he flung back. “If he’s not, I’ll let you know.”
            The warning edge in his voice chilled her. “Uh … okay.” A knot formed in her stomach, reminding her that she was not sixteen and this was serious. Hot prickles covered her, then she went cold. Colliding with a person and his dog was bad enough, but a guide dog. Not good. Her mouth went dry as she swallowed. “Like I said, I’m really sorry.”
            He scowled. “Do you see my sunglasses anywhere? They flew off when I fell.”
            “Oh.” She looked around wildly. “Let me see if I can find them.” She walked around, combing the area, but after five minutes of searching, was forced to admit defeat.
            “They must’ve fallen in the lake.”
            She felt like the biggest louse on the planet. “Yeah,” her voice sounded small in her ears. “I’ll be happy to buy you a new pair.”
            “No need,” he said curtly.
            Compassion welled inside her as she looked at him, standing there with vacant eyes. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be blind. To have risen so high, only to have it ripped away. “Please, let me do something. I feel so terrible, especially considering that you’re—”
            “That I’m what?” he fired back.
            “Um, I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just trying to help.”
            He cut her off, his voice hard. “You’ve done enough.”
She rocked back, at a loss for words. Then anger took hold. Yes, she’d accidentally run into him, but he didn’t have to act so rude about it. She straightened her shoulders. “Well, if there’s nothing else you need, I should be going.” The rollerblades felt heavy in her scratched hands as she looked down at her leg. A half-laugh escaped her lips. “You can’t see it, but I’m a bit of a mess, and my leg’s bleeding.” Then she realized her phone was in her pocket. No doubt ruined. She groaned inwardly. The perfect end to a lousy day.
Something shifted on Dax’s face as he frowned. “Are you okay?”
            “I’ll live.” She felt like such an idiot. “Well, Dax, it was nice seeing you again.” She cleared her throat. “Err … sorry it wasn’t under better circumstances. Have a nice life,” she squeaked, then clutched the rollerblades to her chest and walked away as quickly as she could, not looking back.


Read more of How to See With Your Heart HERE.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Second Chance for The Second Chance Series





I just rebranded two books with new cover and titles. Forgive Me and Love Me (Parts 1 & 2 of The Second Chance Series) are now available. (Formerly The Secret Song of the Ditch Lilies, Parts 1 & 2.)

This series has a special place in my heart because it's patterned after the community where I grew up. There's more of me in these books than in anything I've ever written. I recently told the story of how this series came about to my newsletter subscribers, so if you read it there, I'm sorry for being repetitive. But I wanted to share it on my blog as well, since it's been on my mind. 


People always ask me where I get ideas for stories, and I tell them they come from many different places--sometimes I can't even pinpoint the moment the seed started to germinate. But in the case of this story, I remember the exact moment the idea came to me. My husband and I were driving down a lonely stretch of highway. The landscape was stunning with the rolling hills and lush vegetation. I looked at my husband, a trace of awe in my voice. "Isn't this the most incredible place you've ever seen?" He looked from side to side, growing thoughtful before he answered. "I dunno," he finally said, "all I see are a bunch of trailers, pines, and power lines." I about jumped out of my seat as a rush of excitement went through me.  "What did you say?" He repeated his statement. "That's a great title," I exclaimed. I called my mom and told her the story. Then I asked:  "Do you think we could write something that involves trailers, pines, and power lines?" Little did I know at the time, but that simple question would morph into a touching and tender story about redemption and a second chance at love. (It would take us two years to finish writing these books.) While I grow attached to all of my characters, there's more of me in these books than in anything I've ever written. As I was going over edits and formatting these books, I found myself getting caught up in the story all over again and crying and laughing with the characters. I hope you'll take the time to read it and that you'll come to love it as much as I do!

Both books are only 99 cents each. If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited you can read them for free.



Description:

Spine-tingling suspense meets sweet romance in this touching and tender story about the power of redemption and second chances. 

What if the one thing you wanted most was the one thing you could never have? What If you’d done something so terrible that you could never go back? 

Delia Reynolds has it all—money, social status, a husband that loves her. Then why is she so miserable? Why is she haunted by her past? 

Delia tries to mold her daughter, Sybil, into her debutante life, but it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Needing a new life, Sybil flees the fast-paced life of Atlanta and takes her daughter to, of all places, Delia’s hometown, nearly sending Delia over the edge. Faced with the trauma of losing her daughter to the place she spent a lifetime trying to escape, Delia is forced to relive the trauma of the past—trauma that began when her younger sister fell for the son of a snake handler. 

Sybil takes a job at a real estate office and unwittingly becomes entangled in an explosive battle that escalates to murder. She becomes involved in a tempestuous relationship with Kade Langston who’s everything she ever wanted in a man and more. She starts to suspect there may be more to him than meets the eye when one of the partners in the real estate group turns up dead. 

Will Delia and Sybil get the second chances they so desperately seek, or will the secrets of the past destroy them?




Also, something extra ... My friend Marnie Pehrson interviewed me about these books when they first came out in 2014. If you want an in-depth look about these stories, check it out.









Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Moms need their books too!

In my house, I'm surrounded by creatives. I'm always writing 24/7 (according to my husband) LOL. And he has an advertising agency, which our sons are a part of. Needless to say, we're always creating. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to join with author authors in combining my love for writing with my husband's expertise.

We created a commercial ... about reading clean romance. 

I'm really pleased with how it turned out! As a mom, I can relate to this. I'm sure you can too.

Here's the Youtube Link for the Commercial


Each author featured can be found at the Amazon Links:











Monday, March 13, 2017

The Lost Groom by Taylor Hart is now Available!

Not only do I enjoy writing clean romance, but I love reading it too. It gives me great pleasure to recommend books that are well-written and entertaining.

My good friend Taylor Hart has a new book out. I beta read this one and loved it. I know you will too!


Luke Freestone ventured out on his boat to celebrate the deal of a lifetime, never expecting to run into the ex-girlfriend--the woman who had eloped with his best friend ten years ago. After apologizing for missing her husband’s funeral, she slaps him, and he kisses her -- revealing the sparks he'd long since hidden.
Savannah Loveless, matchmaker extraordinaire, ventured back to Park City to visit her family and save enough money to get to California. There was no room in her fresh start to deal with Luke Freestone or the secret she’d kept for ten years. As far as she was concerned, the past could just stay in the past.
But Luke wants closure, so she agrees to help him find a wife--she is a match maker after all and if she can't find a match for someone she loves--used to love--then she might as well walk away from the business. However, the more time she spends with Luke the harder it is to tell if the feelings she’s having are from the past…or from right now.
As things heat up, they have a choice to make—stay lost because of the past or let love find them once and for all.

Read more HERE

Excerpt:

The lake was like a good woman, Luke thought, captaining his way across Jordanelle Reservoir right outside of Park City, Utah. Soft and easy when she wanted to be, or treacherous and uncooperative if she felt like it. Leaning back, he sucked in a long breath and grinned—today she was smooth and easy.
Checking his phone, he saw there were no messages from his brothers, who were late. Where were they? It was time to celebrate. He was a day away from getting them the deal of their lives, a deal that would make him a billionaire and his brothers millionaires.
Grinning, he thought of the luck he’d had two weeks ago when Nathan Pennington, who’d recently married a girl from Midway, Utah, and relocated, walked into his office. Nathan wanted Luke to broker a project, and asked that he and his brothers’ company develop and build it. Bam! Just like that.
Tomorrow he would meet with all the power players and hash it all out.
Fate had smiled down on him. His mother would say it was God. After she was taken by cancer when he was twelve, he hadn’t decided if he believed in God or not.
Today, he put his water bottle up to the wind. “Okay, Mom, today I’ll let you win the argument. God exists. If I get this deal, I’ll believe He exists forever.” It was something he did, talk to his mother. She was the only woman he really talked to about everything.
A face flashed into his mind. Savannah’s face.
“Fine, Mom, I used to talk to Savannah, but that was ten years ago, okay? We’ve talked about this. I … she married Sean.”
He thought of being a little kid again, when he, Sean, and Savannah all lived next door to each other and had been best friends. Luke’s throat closed up with all the memories of Sean. It’d been a year today since he’d died.
He blinked and shook his head. Man, why was he thinking about this? “I don’t need this today, Mom. I know I did things but she messed it up.” He insisted in his imaginary conversation.
The memories continued. He discovered over the past ten years since they’d betrayed him and gotten married that once the memories started, he had to let them come up for a little bit before stuffing them back down into deep storage … or else they would refuse to leave him alone. So he saw them, all of them—in the tree house, jumping on trampolines in the backyard. The laughing. The bike riding up in the mining shafts, which they secretly hoped they’d get dropped into. They would yell their heads off and savor the adrenaline rush.
Even this boat had been part of it. He thought about his father bringing all of them out here when he was young, before his mother died. If Luke had to come up with the perfect memory from his childhood, it was being on the lake with his best friends. The smell of pine. The clear blue calm of the lake. The laughter as they splashed, and Savannah’s reluctance to jump into the lake until he and Sean mercilessly splashed her to the point of soaking.
Then everything had happened, and now that memory had a weird, bitter, dream-like quality. In a rush, he was back to the present.
Sean’s face still lingered. Luke had almost gone to the funeral, but he knew Savannah wouldn’t have wanted him to. Could he blame her? Today was the anniversary of Sean’s death.
His phone buzzed. He shook his head to clear it, then pressed answer on his ear bud. “Where are you lame-os?”
“Busy,” Nick said. “Damon got stuck doing an extra shift at the firehouse and I’ve been pulled in on a case.”
“Seriously? I’m about to make us all a ton of money and you can’t show up to celebrate properly? C’mon!”
“Dude, we have jobs.”
“And I don’t have a job?”
Important jobs.”
The barb stung. Yes, this had been the way Nick and Damon always got Luke’s goat. “Whatever.” He didn’t need this today.
Nick laughed. “Kidding.”
Luke scowled. Even if Nick had been kidding, it felt like he had thrown a personal attack.
“You’ve been edgy lately,” Nick said. “Why don’t you invite one of your women out?”
“I don’t have a woman.”
“Yeah, about that. What’s been going on with that lately? Where’s Vanessa been?”
“We split six months ago.” Luke felt defensive.
“Oh, wow. Why didn’t you say anything?”
“It wasn’t a big deal.” Luke replied, not wanting to think about Vanessa or how she’d sent a text to let him know it was over.
Nick laughed. “So that’s what’s made you so touchy.”
Luke reflected he hadn’t thought about her much at all, hadn’t even thought to tell his brothers. “I’m not touchy.” But his tone sounded defensive, even to him.
“O-kay.” Nick said quietly.
“And when was your last date?” Luke demanded.
Nick sputtered. “Hey, everyone knows I’m married to my job, but you … I don’t know, it’s like you’ve been a little lost or something.”
“Lost? Lost? You think I’m lost? Did you not get the memo explaining how this deal will put me in the billion-dollar club?” Luke’s mood darkened. “I gotta go.”
“Wait.”
“What?”
“Tomorrow night, after your final meeting, we’ll meet for pizza at Antonio’s.” Nick said it like a peace offering. “And we’ll celebrate it’s done.”
Deciding not to let his brother’s sense of responsibility ruin his day, he rolled his eyes. The gas was low, so he turned for the Marina. “Fine. Bye.”
“We’ll buy your pizza.”
Luke grunted. “Yeah, you will.” He ended the call and circled to the dock.
It wouldn’t do to be mad at his brothers. Nick was right on some level—their jobs were pretty important, as far as saving people’s lives. A cop and a fireman. He snorted. It made the life of an attorney look … attorney-ish. But Nick was totally off about him being lost. So he hadn’t had a woman on his arm in a while. So what? Truth be told, lately he hadn’t felt like dating.
He wouldn’t call himself lost.
No.
Just … in limbo.
Waiting for something.
Or someone.
Maybe it was the fact Damon would be getting married in less then a week and he and Samantha were so annoyingly happy together. He let out a breath, feeling guilty for even being a little bit jealous.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t happy for Damon, he was. He was just … he pushed away those feelings and focused on the deal.
The deal!!! Tomorrow he would become a billionaire! That was huge! He shoved his bottle of water into the air. “It’s still a good day, Mom.”
Docking the boat, he killed the engine and grabbed the gas can. He’d put a couple more gallons in and grab a sandwich from the snack shop, then bask in his own awesomeness … all by himself. Trudging to the marina, he was kind of bugged at how the day had gone. It was supposed to be spent with his brothers.
Forget his brothers. He didn’t need anyone to celebrate with. Frankly, he couldn’t wait to blast the music, lay in the sun, clear his head. It was better he got today by himself anyway.
Opening the door to the marina, he went right to the treat aisle. Usually, he didn’t like a bunch of junk, but he picked up his favorite candy bar, a Snickers, and then went and grabbed a bag of popcorn. Pity food. Redeeming himself he grabbed some Smartwater and a sandwich.
“Look, this wasn’t the deal,” someone said in a loud, somehow familiar voice.
“Well, baby, your sister said you’d be a lot more fun of a date. That was the deal for me.”
Luke frowned at the tone the guy was using. He quickened his steps to the front of the cashier.
The woman said, “I’m here to interview you, sir, but I don’t think I want to represent you.”
“Well, maybe I don’t want your stupid company to find me a woman anyway.”
“Ouch! Let go of me!”
Luke turned the corner and froze. As if plucked from his mind, the vision of Savannah stood right in front of him. Her red hair had been long before, but now a short A-line framed her face; otherwise, she looked exactly the same.
He blinked and swallowed.
“Let go!” All her focus was on the guy holding on to her bicep and trying to pull her out the door.
It seemed like time had frozen and Luke couldn’t find any words. He looked at the cashier, who picked up his phone, likely to call the cops.
Then time lurched back into motion. The gas can and everything in his other hand dropped and he moved forward. “Let her go.” His voice didn’t sound like his own. In fact, it felt like he was having some kind of out-of-body experience. A million questions fell through his mind. How was she here? Was it really her?
Savannah and the guy holding her arm stopped short and turned to him. “Luke?” Savannah sounded as dumbfounded as he felt.
Luke was more focused on the fact that someone was manhandling her. The guy wore a tank top, was tanned and muscle-y, and had an earring in his left ear. Luke scowled. “Get your hand off of her.”
“Luke?” Savannah asked again.
Luke was locked in eye contact with the idiot holding her.
The guy frowned and yanked his hand back. “Who are you? Some old boyfriend?”
Luke felt his hands flex into fists. “You wanna find out?”
Savannah gathered her composure. Her hand shot out to Luke as if to say stop. “Wait.” She turned to the guy. “Todd, you better just go.”
Todd frowned and jabbed a finger at her face. “I told your sister I would take you out on the lake today as a favor.” He shrugged. “I guess that didn’t work out.”
Luke hadn’t felt the need to clock someone since Tommy had fought Damon last year. Now, all he wanted was to feel this guy’s face crunch against his fist. “Walk away, man.” Luke thought of a thousand other ways he could throttle him.
The guy glared at him, then backed up, grimacing at Savannah. “I guess you have your next client right there.” He gave Savannah a mocking wink.
The door dinged as the guy left and Luke swerved his gaze to Savannah, expecting to find answers. He found her staring right back at him. Her skin paled for a second, and then she inhaled a long breath. “What are you doing here?”
“I …” All words fell from his mind like a deck of cards thrown into the air. He couldn’t quite figure out what he should say. He couldn’t even believe the woman he’d thought about only minutes ago was right in front of him. “What are you doing here?” he managed to ask.
Savannah pursed her lips together and moved for the door, yanking it back. “Leaving.”
It was ridiculous at this moment, but he noticed some fruity scent that washed over him. She wore a red halter-top swimsuit with jean shorts that flattered her curves, not to mention the high lace-up-around-her-calf-muscle red shoes. She looked good. More than good. He shook his head and followed her, forgetting why he’d come in the store, only focused on this woman and getting answers. “Savannah,” he called out, picking up his pace to match hers.
She ignored him, keeping her pace brisk. “Go away, Luke.”
Resisting the urge to do exactly what he’d gotten mad at the previous guy for doing to her, he jogged a couple of steps and barred her path. “Wait, please.”
She simply walked around him.
That’s when he caught the tears on her cheeks. There was no way he would be letting her get away. “Wait.” He stumbled through one of his old football juke moves to cut her off again.
“Stop.” She pulled herself short to avoid bumping into him and wiped beneath her eyes.
Pain flashed through his heart. She was beautiful. She was here. She was crying. It all felt surreal, like it was happening ten years ago. All the desperation rushed to the surface, and then he thought of Sean. His dead friend, Sean.
Her husband.
Her eyes met his, and it was like they were on the same wavelength. As kids, Sean had teased that they could read each other’s thoughts, and it had felt that way. They would say the same things at the same time, or he could just tell when she was feeling something.
She squeezed her eyes closed and hung her head. “He’s gone, Luke.” With a sharp intake of breath, her eyes snapped back up at him in defiance. “And you didn’t even come to the funeral.”
This time the pain turned raw, and his own eyes misted with emotion. Before he knew what he was doing, he reached out and pulled her into him. She only offered a half-hearted shove, then leaned her head into his chest.
“Shh.” He held her close, thinking of how many times he’d thought about doing this exact thing. He’d second-guessed himself so many times about the funeral and wondered if he should have gone to Texas for it. Sean’s parents had moved away from Park City after Sean and Savannah had gotten married. Luke knew Savannah had buried him in Texas.
Another round of sobbing had her gripping his T-shirt more tightly. “I still can’t believe it. Today it’s been a year, and sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday.”
Every part of him had been reduced to nothing. “I know.” All of his happiness or plans or anything in his life he’d aspired to felt like a big fat zero at this moment.
Abruptly, she pulled back from him. “I …” She shook her head, disoriented. “I need to go.” She headed toward the parking lot.
Without her in his arms, the loneliness was freezing. “Wait.” He couldn’t let her go. He had to talk with her. He needed her. It was something that had always been at the edges of his thoughts—how different his life would have been with her. He’d forced himself to let it go, to have a different life. What choice did he have?
Now, out of the blue, she was here.
His head felt detached from his body. “No.” He walked faster, maneuvering his way in front of her again. “Just wait.”
She stopped and stared up at him with those ice-blue eyes he’d thought of on his last fishing trip to Alaska. When he’d looked at a glacier for the first time, he’d thought of her. Man, he always thought of her. “What are you doing back in Utah?”
She challenged his stare, though he could see in her eyes that she was scrambling to remember. “I’m here for a few weeks to see my parents and my sister. That’s all. Then I’m leaving.”
Of course. Yes. He always did polite conversation anytime he’d seen them, but they didn’t really run in the same social circles, so needless to say he never really saw her sister or parents. Savannah’s parents hated him. He didn’t blame them, but her mother was especially vigilant in snubbing him whenever she had the opportunity. “Oh.”
They continued to stare at each other.
“Savannah,” he said eventually, “I … I’m so sorry about Sean.”
She bit her bottom lip and tears came to her eyes, just as he remembered her doing growing up when she was nervous or frustrated.
Taking a chance, he reached out to take her hand, but the tightness of her face told him not to touch her. He dropped his hand back to his side. His heart hammered inside his chest like a caged bird. There was a lump in his throat and his mouth was dry. “Can we go somewhere and talk? Please?”
Something in her eyes changed, and all the emotion evaporated. “Talk? You want to talk, Luke Freestone?” She barked out a laugh. “Actually, it doesn’t surprise me you want to hear yourself speak. You sure told Sean what you thought he should do with his life, didn’t you? Enlist. Become a soldier. And now he’s dead.”
Her words stabbed at his heart like cold metal.
“No, Luke, I don’t want to talk.” Eyes wild, she stomped away.
He went after her, unable to let her go. Ten years of this had left him desperate and wild and crazed himself. “Just listen!”
Spinning around, she slapped him—hard enough to rock him to his very core. “That’s for everything else.”
Not even reaching up to touch the pain on his cheek, he watched her walk toward the parking lot. More like stalk to the parking lot.
Once again, he found himself running after her. No. No. No. She didn’t get to do this. This time when he maneuvered in front of her, he wasn’t afraid of the gleaming hatred in her face. She stopped, and they were in a standoff again.
“I told him to enlist because he took you away from me.” The words sounded juvenile and stupid in his brain, but they were the truth. Exactly how he’d felt. How he still felt. “He took everything away from me.”
She glared at him, tears in her eyes. “Newsflash, you dumped me, remember?”
His heart pounded loud enough to drown out all reason, and he did something he’d never done before without asking her—he cupped her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers.
At first she tensed, and when she tried to pull back, he slipped an arm around her midsection and held her to him. More forcefully, she pushed against his chest, but he held on, partly because he’d dreamed of doing this the last ten years and partly because he was angry.
Then he felt her give, and at once, it was passion and glory and the first time they’d kissed after the Sadie Hawkins dance a hundred years ago when they were seventeen. He was lost, completely unaware of anything or anyone except this moment.
When he let go, she pulled her hand back to slap him again, but this time he caught her hand in midair.
She looked confused and flushed and beautiful. “How dare you!”
The confusion on her face mirrored the confusion that had struck him like a lighting rod to the heart. Quickly, he flashed her a smile. The cocky, arrogant smile he used to cover any kind of uncertainty. “I figure if I take a slap, I may as well do something to deserve it.”
Fury raged into her eyes. “I hate you, Luke Freestone!” She rushed away from him.
Watching her go, he turned back to the marina muttering, “Fine, Mom, is that what you wanted? To show me I always mess it up?”

Get it HERE!