Fierce-Jade…Prologue

Prologue

Jade was in the kitchen of her townhouse that she shared on campus with three other girls. No one was home but her and she was happy for that.

She started to sniffle and pushed it back. There was more rage than anything at this point. Damn Dylan for what he’d said. For what he’d done. She’d bet if she hadn’t confronted him, he’d keep it up too.

“Are you cleaning the kitchen in a skirt and leather shoes?” Miranda asked when she walked in the door. Miranda had a room on the other side of the townhouse with Stephanie. Jade really didn’t care for Miranda much, but you don’t know everything about someone until you’ve lived with them.

“I am. If you guys were cleaner I wouldn’t have to do it all the time.”

Miranda laughed. “You don’t need to pick up after us. We aren’t that messy, but you can’t help being the control freak. So much so you can’t even change into old clothes to do it.”

She’d been too pissed off when she walked in the door and she knew the mindless task of scrubbing the kitchen and counters would help her a little. She didn’t want to lose control and break down in front of anyone, least of all her roommates who were like vultures on a carcass on the side of the road.

“So I heard Dylan ended things with you,” Miranda said in that voice of hers that gloated about everything.

“I think you heard wrong,” she said back completely in control now. Never let them see you sweat or being weak. That was how she felt.

 It was probably the last straw when Dylan started flinging insults at her and she laughed in his face and told him to stop being so childish and act like a man and admit what he did. She was fully aware he was going to trash her now and it looked like he didn’t waste much time.

“Are you and Dylan done?” Miranda asked.

She had no idea how Miranda could know this soon when it only happened an hour ago. Guess snake venom spread fast. She could lie, but there was no point. “We are.”

“He dropped you because you’re too rigid,” Miranda said. “We’ve been telling you that for years.”

Years was an exaggeration since she’d only talked to Miranda for the last two and if she’d had her way they wouldn’t be sharing a townhouse together, but she didn’t.

She’d been dying to be on her own and go to a different college than the rest of her family. Than her twin. If she’d gone to Duke she could have been rooming with her cousin Ella all along. But nope, she’d thought she was ready to do it alone.

Little good that did when it seemed like she had more conflicts with girls here than she did with all her male brothers and cousins.

She’d thought it’d be better to get out from under them and the way they intimidated all the boys she’d dated, but she found that she would welcome their interference today.

No, that was wrong. She handled Dylan on her own even if he was spreading lies. And she was going to be the bigger person and pretend indifference even if she was heartbroken once again and feeling betrayed.

“He didn’t drop me,” she said, turning and crossing her arms.

“That’s not what he’s saying.”

Jade laughed. “Of course he isn’t going to admit I found out he was kissing someone else and confronted him. I don’t care to be with cheaters.”

“Cheaters,” Miranda said. “I didn’t know you guys were that serious. Dylan has been on a handful of dates in the last month with other women. I thought you knew. We all did.”

Miranda was trying to get a rise out of her like she did most girls on campus. She thrived on it. It wasn’t happening with Jade. “Well, I was exclusive when we started dating and he now knows what I will and won’t tolerate. If it makes him feel better that he is telling everyone he broke up with me, fine. But if what you are saying is true, then we had nothing to break up in his eyes.”

Miranda flushed and Jade knew she’d called the bluff. As always Miranda wanted to cause trouble. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter. You always have some excuse as to why relationships don’t last but the truth is you need to look in the mirror.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. It’s not your brothers since they aren’t here. It’s you. You’re rigid. You’re controlling. It’s your way or the highway.”

Jade snorted. “I’d hardly say that.”

“Really?” Miranda asked. “Your boyfriend that you’ve been gaga over for weeks is caught kissing another girl and you’re not even upset over it. Instead you’re in the kitchen cleaning the way you want it done and rearranging everything to what suits you.”

She wasn’t going to acknowledge any of what Miranda was saying. Not even that she did move the silverware into another drawer that she felt it should have been in all along.

“Why do you care so much?” she asked instead.

“I don’t,” Miranda said.

“I think you do,” she said coolly. “I think you like to see other people upset and hurting. That you thrive on it and it’s just driving you insane that I’m indifferent.”

“That’s a good word for you,” Miranda said. “Indifferent. Another reason why you’ll be alone for a long time to come.”

She turned her back and picked the sponge up, Miranda getting bored and leaving now that Jade wasn’t giving her what she wanted.

When Jade knew the coast was clear, she went into her room and grabbed her pillow, then sat down on the bed, burying her face and letting the tears fall.  No one was around and if they returned they wouldn’t hear her.

Never let them see you vulnerable. People like Miranda just ate it up.

She should be used to this by now. Used to men not understanding her. Not liking her for who she was or the person she wanted to be.

They saw a pretty face and a name that carried some clout but then got bored.

When her tears were done falling, she glanced over at the clock and noticed it’d been almost thirty minutes. She picked up some clothes and went into the bathroom to shower and scrub her face clean, then put a cold washcloth over her eyes.

By the time her other two roommates returned ninety minutes later, she was cool and composed cooking dinner.

“Hey, Jade,” Kaylee said. Kaylee shared the same half of the townhouse with her. “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” she said. “Why do you ask?”

“Miranda delighted in texting me that Dylan broke up with you.”

Bitch, Jade wanted to say, but didn’t. “I see she still wants to say her own version of it.”

Kaylee grinned. “You know her. But you look fine to me. I guess I shouldn’t expect any differently. Nothing seems to bother you. I’d be all red-eyed and sitting on the couch in a blanket with a gallon of ice cream on my lap right now.”

Jade wouldn’t admit she’d had a bowl earlier. No one was around to see her. “I’m not like you.”

“You’re not like a lot of women,” Kaylee said. “You’re much stronger and you’ll be better off for it in the end.”

“Not per Miranda. She thinks strong women are alone most of their lives.”

“But if you’re strong then who cares? You don’t need anyone. That’s what I think.”

Jade just smiled. Why couldn’t she be strong and want someone by her side at the same time? That possibility had to exist, right?

Fierce-Jade

Jade Fierce thought she had it all. Many looked at her and assumed the same thing. She’s been misunderstood her whole life and was just sick of it. With all her brothers sliding into love around her, the dreams she’s had of wanting the same were suffocating her. But the last thing she plans on having done is her parents setting her up!

Brock James’s life changed forever the day a bomb exploded leaving him injured. With his military career over, he sets his sights on a new adventure. This one needing some help from none other than the sexy engineer he was partnered with at his best friend’s wedding the previous year. Only now he is worried she’s going to find out her parents might have had a hand in it and want nothing to do with him.

Falling Into Love…Prologue

Prologue

“What do you mean he’s not conscious?” Shannon Wilder asked, her voice higher than when she was screaming out during childbirth.

“Mrs. Wilder,” the nurse said. “Let me see if I can find someone to talk to you. I believe your husband came in with another man.”

“Yes. His best friend, John.”

John had called her over an hour ago to say Tyler grabbed his chest and fell to the floor in their office. They’d called 911 and got him to the hospital right away, but she hadn’t heard a word since.

She’d been home working, like she’d done for years since she’d had her son, Jeffrey. Then when Maddie came along it was decided she might as well continue to work from home. Even Tyler worked from home half the time rather than driving the hour to their headquarters in Seattle.

“Right this way. I believe he’s in the waiting room down the hall,” the nurse said.

She wanted to push the lady to move faster than the calm stroll she was taking with her rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the floor.

“John,” she said, moving into his arms. Tyler and John had lived on the same street growing up and had been inseparable. When she started to date Tyler in high school they’d become the three amigos. When John married last year, the four of them did everything together. “What is going on?”

“I don’t know, Shannon. They think he had a heart attack.”

“We’re twenty-seven years old. How is that possible? He’s in great condition.”

“It doesn’t make sense to me either,” John said. “They started to ask me all these questions about Tyler’s family medical history. I said I thought his parents were in great health.”

“They are,” she said. Her in-laws lived a few hours away and were on their way right now. Thankfully the nanny she never wanted to have was able to stay with the kids.

“I’ll see if I can find a doctor or someone to give us some answers,” he said and left the room.

Shannon didn’t know what to do with herself while she sat there staring at the wall.

This couldn’t be happening right now.

Everything in their life just seemed so perfect.

She had what she’d always wanted. What she and Tyler had talked about all through high school and then in college where they went together for another four years.

Heck, she and Tyler married as soon as they graduated and a family followed shortly after while he and John built their company up from the ground.

No one believed in those two but her. She put everything she could into it right alongside of them when most said they were nuts.

They were all multi-millionaires many times over now and living the dream.

That dream didn’t include her husband unconscious in the hospital.

She looked up when John walked back in and handed her over a can of soda. He had a large coffee in his hand that he was never without.

She opened the can and took a sip. When the doctor came in, she stood up and got one look at his face and knew her world would never be the same.

“Mrs. Wilder. I’m so sorry. We did everything we could.”

The can dropped to the floor, the brown liquid spilling everywhere, then the room just went dark in front of her.

Falling Into Love

Soft. Tender. Gentle. Not any of the words ever used to describe Ryan Butler. He’s determined, hard, and oftentimes grumpy. Women only want to be with him to change his bad boy ways. Finding love—never in the equation—and probably never will be. Not after witnessing the heartache his sister went through.

Shannon Wilder was living the dream with her wonderful husband and beautiful children. She had the picture perfect family she’d always dreamed of. Until tragedy struck and her world was flipped on its axis. Now someone from the past won’t leave her and the children alone so she does the only thing she can think of. She picks up and moves across country to a development called Paradise Place. What better way to start her life over.

Passionate Vision…Prologue

 

PV FINAL

 

Prologue

 

“How about we get some ice cream tonight?” Claire’s father asked her.

She pushed back from the table. “Deal. I’ll help Mom clean up so we can get out of here faster.”

Her mother laughed. “You two go. Your father needs some fresh air and I do better without you underfoot.”

“Looks like it’s you and me,” Claire said to her father. When they were in the car, she turned and asked, “Why did Mom say you needed some fresh air? Is a case giving you problems?”

Her father was a detective with the NYPD. But he was also a witch…just like her. Her mother was an everyday average person with no powers other than loving them both unconditionally.

“Don’t worry about it, honey,” her father said, his hand reaching over to pat her thigh and then stopping before contact. She felt bad about that but was glad he understood too. “So, what kind of ice cream are you in the mood for?”

“Hard, not soft serve.”

“That goes without saying,” he said. They lived in Brooklyn and could go into the City anytime they wanted, but she liked staying in their borough.

Once her father parked at their favorite place, they got out and made their way to the counter. “I’ll take a scoop of chocolate and one of coconut in a waffle cone.”

Her father shook his head. “Just like your mother with the coconut. I’m old fashioned and I’ll take one of chocolate and one of vanilla in a waffle cone too.”

With their cones in their hands, they turned to leave, when a man rushed down the curb coming out of nowhere and bumped into her. Her father reached out and grabbed her to keep her from falling and in that moment Claire was slammed with every case he was working out in his mind.

Dead bodies flashed before her eyes. A child that was beaten and left in an alley. The homeless being questioned. Prostitutes walking around the precinct. The images just went on and on flashing everywhere.

Her father released her arms that he’d been holding, but she couldn’t move. Her face was pale—she knew it because she felt dizzy.

“I’m sorry,” her father said, but he took her arm again and led her to the car. He moved as fast as he could, but it didn’t stop more images from floating before her eyes. Past and present. She wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she did.

When they were seated in the car, her father turned the air conditioning on full blast to cool her off and said, “Put your head between your knees and close your eyes. Take a few breaths.”

Claire did what she was told. She knew it would help. She’d done it enough in her life when this happened.

“I need to touch something happy,” she said.

She heard her father get out of the car while she stayed in that position, then come back and put something in her hand. It was a dandelion and it worked. In her mind she watched its growth, the blossom, the fluff, then the wind blowing it away. Children picking them and pursing their lips as they made wishes.

All the things that were carefree and fun and her racing heart started to slow.

“I’m better.” She lifted her head and turned to look at him. “How do you do that? How do you look at that every day and deal with it?”

“It’s not like that for me,” he said. “You know that. You’re stronger than me. Your powers. I have to center myself to see things and even then it’s not all at once. I touch you, and it floods your body. The older you get the stronger they are. I’m worried about you, Claire.”

She snorted. “I’m kind of worried about me too. It’s hard to not touch people, to be careful of that every moment, but most times I don’t see things like that.”

“I know. I think it’s time your mother and I have a talk with you about some options.”

“What kind of options?” Her father started their car, their ice cream cones long gone. She’d dropped hers and she wasn’t sure what happened to his. “Guess ice cream was a bust tonight.”

He shut the car off. “Wait here.”

When he came back a few minutes later he had two cones in his hands. The same flavors that had fallen to the ground. “What did you tell them? I’m sure they asked why you were back again.”

“I said that you were training for a speed eating contest and were too embarrassed to say all four of these were for you.”

Her jaw dropped. Her father was good at making her laugh. “That’s mean.”

“It sure is,” he said, taking a bite of his. She did the same while he drove the few minutes back home.

“What are you going to tell Mom? She doesn’t understand.”

“She does understand. She might not feel or experience things like us, but she understands. Don’t you ever forget that.”

In the house, her mother took one look at her and then her father and said, “It’s time, isn’t it?”

“I think so. We had a little incident.”

“I’m standing right here,” she reminded her parents. “Time for what?”

“That you finish your last two years of high school at the Witches Academy in New Orleans.”

“You’re joking, right? That is where Zion and Madeline go,” she said of her cousins. They lived not far from the school and knew all along they’d go there. She didn’t see her cousins often, but they talked a lot.

They and their younger sister Abigail were all witches too. Her father’s sister, Emily, was a witch, but not Emily’s husband Anthony Batisti. He was as Italian as they came and she always thought it was funny they moved to Louisiana.

But her Uncle Anthony was family oriented and he wanted what was best for his son and two daughters when he realized they were witches like his wife. That meant having them be around more of their own kind.

Unlike Claire.

She was the only witch in Brooklyn that she knew of other than her father. It’s not like she announced it to anyone and never would, but she figured she’d know if there were more. She’d be able to feel it or sense it like she could with the rest of her family.

“We aren’t joking,” her mother said. “I’m going to miss you, but we can’t leave like your aunt and uncle did. Your father’s career means too much to him.”

“I can retire in ten years,” he said. “It’s hard to give that up. But you need more than I can give you. You need to be around others and you need someone to show you how to focus and control your powers.”

“I don’t want them,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

“Then you need someone to show you how, if possible, to turn them off,” her mother said.

Her father looked hurt by those words, but at times she really wished she could do that. “I know I should go,” she said.

“School starts in a month,” her mother said.

“I’ll start making the calls in the morning,” her father said. “You shouldn’t have any problem getting in once they know you are a cousin of Zion and Madeline. If you want, why don’t you call your cousin and let her know. I’m sure she’ll ease your mind.”

“Maybe,” Claire said, standing up and hugging her mother. She hadn’t done that in a long time, too fearful of the images that would appear in front of her eyes. The sight of things no one saw but her.

And when her mother hugged her back all she saw was relief and happiness. Sadness and the past of the two of them playing through the years, but glimpses of peace in everyone’s eyes for the future.

When she stepped back she knew her father wanted a hug too, but he’d never ask. He couldn’t control what went through his mind any more than she could control the absorption of others’ thoughts, pain, grief, sorrows…visions.

“Once your mother gets everything arranged, we’ll fly down and get you settled. It’d be nice to see my sister again anyway. We all need a vacation and we might as well plan it now. It’s going to be fun. It’s a new adventure for us all.”

“Adventure is a good word for it,” Claire said but wasn’t sure she was feeling that excited over it. She’d miss her friends, the few she had, but she’d move on too.

Not many understood her and never would because she still had no intention of telling a mortal she was a witch, and if that meant being alone then so be it.

Passionate Vision

PV FINAL

Claire Snow hasn’t always been accepting of her inherited gift. Feelings of being different have forced her to live her life alone and minimize any human contact. She’s found her passion and that is all she really wants to focus on. If only she could get control of her powers enough to let her enjoy it.

Holden Montgomery doesn’t want his inheritance with the strings attached to it. What he wants is to be accepted for who he is. He wants to make his own decisions in life and his own career. He takes time away to focus on what he needs to do to succeed and finds a little help from a mysterious woman he met in the woods.

Can this witch help Holden find his focus to follow his dreams?

A waitress attending night school at the academy discovers, along with the gift of magic, she has royal blood flowing through her veins. America’s latest foodie channel sweetheart is a real charmer, who discovers not all the magic happens in the kitchen. Clair struggles with taking control of her magical powers until she meets a guy who really needs her help. A beautiful witch, empowered with the gift of creating strong magic spells since childhood, now refuses to use them––until her friend’s murder changes everything. An investigative reporter’s strange visions force her to really use her powers. When a rival tries to mess with her magic a witch must find a way to rekindle her flame.

What do eight enchanted witches have in common? They’ve all attended the Witches Academy of Sorcery in the Big Easy, the foremost school of magic in the world. From coast to coast, each of these bewitched women will work at becoming who they are meant to be, using their powers to the fullest capacity.

Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda…Chapter One

D&A

If you haven’t read the Prologue you can catch up HERE

Chapter One

Figure It Out

Fourteen years later\

“Drew, your mother is on line one.”

Drew turned to look at his secretary, Connie. “I’m not here,” he said.

His mother had been trying to call his cell phone too and he’d been avoiding her. It seemed like lately all she called for was to ask if he was seeing anyone or that she had someone she’d like him to meet. No, thank you.

“It looks like you are to me,” Connie said back.

He narrowed his eyes and went to turn into his office, but his older brother, Bode, stopped him. “She won’t give up.”

“When did you get here?” he asked.

“I came in the back door and I’m not here long. I’ve got a few other properties to check out today.”

“Anything worth investing in?” he asked. Bode oversaw all the construction and maintenance for the rental properties, Drew, the sales and negotiating, the contracts for tenants and so on. He and his older brother had taken over the real estate business a few years ago so that his father could cut back and pretty much just sit on the board and boss them around…when he wanted.

His parents had raised three boys that were all successful and it was time for them to enjoy their lives. It seemed that was what the Bonds did. Had a business that was passed down through the generations.

Or most of them at least.

“I’ve got my eye on two. Once I see the amount of work it needs I’ll have you go check it out.”

“I’m trying to figure out how you find out about these houses before me when I’m the licensed realtor and you’re the contractor.”

“Because I am the contractor. People call me for work and then when I’m there they start talking about other properties in the area or tell me they are thinking of selling. They know I’ll tell you.”

It always annoyed Drew that Bode found out things before him when it shouldn’t. Must be the sibling rivalry.

They didn’t have it with their youngest brother who chose to be a dentist. No, Coy was the smart one it seemed. Instead, Drew and Bode went into the family business and convinced his father to expand it from just real estate sales to construction and rental properties all over Massachusetts, not just a few on the island that had been in the family for years.

“Whatever.”

“Boys,” Connie said. “Your mother is still on the line.”

“I told you to tell her I wasn’t here,” Drew said, turning to look at Connie’s grin.

“I thought you were joking since you are standing in front of me.”

He rolled his eyes. Sometimes things just went over Connie’s head. Bode smirked at him knowing exactly what was going through his mind.

“Tell my mother I’m not here,” Drew said. “I’m leaving right now. If it makes you feel better then you can wait until I’m out the door.”

“Okay,” Connie said just watching him. He let out a sigh, Bode laughed, so he went to his office, got his keys and phone, and left.

He wasn’t to his car before Bode was walking out telling him to wait up. “Did she really pick up the phone when I was out the door?” he asked.

“She did. She apologized for keeping Mom waiting and said she couldn’t find you.”

“She doesn’t mind lying about that, but couldn’t say I wasn’t there?”

“Who knows what she was thinking. Where are you going?” Bode asked.

“No clue. I hadn’t planned on leaving, but I didn’t want to talk to Mom either.”

“She’s getting a little bit crazy lately with the blind dates and you. Why is that?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “She doesn’t bug you or Coy.”

“That’s because I was seeing someone so she’s probably giving me some slack. She was on my case for months before I was dating Samantha.”

“What happened with you two?” he asked. Though Bode hadn’t been dating Samantha that long, he’d seemed pretty ticked off over the split.

“The same old same old,” Bode said.

“She only wanted the name?”

“Isn’t it always that way with us? Mom has it in her head that because she fell in love with Dad in one week when she was here with friends that everyone should fall in love that way.”

Drew shook his head. “I wish she’d get over it. She’s so stuck on the myths of this island. Not everyone meets and knows right away. Things were different back then, but she won’t listen to us when we say that.”

“She’s never going to change,” Bode said. “You know she’s always been a romantic. She sees the good in everyone and always has. She’s lucky Dad was a stand-up guy and didn’t take advantage of her.”

“Which is why the three of us boys are probably so anti-romance. She should have had girls or something.”

Bode laughed. “We tried to dress Coy up as a girl when he was younger. That didn’t fly.”

“Mom was so ticked off. I don’t even remember whose dress it was. One of the cousins had it on over their bathing suit.”

“Anyway,” Bode said, “Mom doesn’t mean any harm, but she just won’t back off. Tell her you’re seeing someone.”

“Then she’d want to know who it was,” he argued.

“Make a person up.”

“And she’ll want to meet her,” he said back.

“Then make up excuses why she can’t. You’re almost as bad as Connie with not wanting to lie.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to lie, it’s just I don’t want to get tangled in something like that. I’ll figure it out.”

“I’m sure you can go back in the office now without even leaving at this point,” Bode said. “I needed to talk to you about a few things anyway.”

“We’ve been out here gabbing like two women for ten minutes. Connie won’t even realize I wasn’t gone long. Walk with me across the street for a coffee since I’m out here.”

“Only if you’re buying,” Bode said.

“You should buy since you’re older.”

“Please, the younger brother always pays.”

“Which means you never have to open your wallet for anything.”

“It’s the price of the advice you just got.”

“That’s real good advice. Lie to Mom.”

The two of them laughed, got their coffees, then walked back to the office. Bode was right, Connie didn’t seem to notice that he barely left the parking lot.

“Your office or mine?” Bode asked.

“Mine’s neater. You’ve got tools and papers everywhere.” When they were seated in the two chairs around a table he asked, “What do we need to talk about?”

“Some of the rental properties haven’t had spot checks in a few years. We’ve been so busy, both of us, that we need to really make time to go in and check them out.”

“That’s your job,” he said.

“No. We both do it. I go in when there are problems. You do spot checks and play nicey nice with the renters.”

“They don’t even know us,” he said. “We’ve always had a property management company do it all.”

“Which you know is coming to an end soon. That’s my point. It was a waste of money and Dad agreed. Half the island knows we own properties; why should we hide behind a property manager? We talked about this with Dad last year.”

“I know,” he said. “One by one as leases ran out we were going to do the spot checks, introduce ourselves, blah, blah. I’ve done more than twenty of them so far. Isn’t it your turn?”

“Nope. Because once you have your meeting they start making their lists of things they’d like to see done and then it becomes my headache.”

“Which is why I didn’t want to do this.” He understood it was a money-saving move. A smart one too. He had no clue why one of his ancestors wanted to use a property management company out of Boston all those years ago, but Bode was right. There was no hiding anything at this point and they shouldn’t be. It’s not like they even had that many properties back then.

They were one of the biggest realty companies in Massachusetts and the only one on the island. Up until the last ten years it was a handful of rental homes at most on the island. Now it was close to fifty all over Massachusetts. They owned multiple apartment buildings too with other family members.

“We already started making the changes. We’ve only gone through about half the homes we own in the past six months. Can you let me know when the next one is so I can clear my schedule for the changes or work I’m sure I’m going to be asked to look over and schedule the crew to do?”

“Fine,” he said, getting up and going to his computer. “The next house is leased to Amanda Moore. Her lease is up in less than two months. I’ll send out the letter today to find out when a good time is to stop in for a spot check and introduce myself.”

“Good,” Bode said. “And you never know, maybe she’s some hot chick and not some retiree that came to the island for a few years to live life in the slow lane.”

“I couldn’t get that lucky even if I wanted to.”

Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda…Prologue

D&A

Prologue

 

“It hurts,” Amanda said as she gripped her mother’s hand.

“Of course it does. Did you think it wouldn’t?” her mother said back, not a lot of emotion in her voice. Not a lot of caring or sympathy either.

“Why won’t they give me something for the pain?”

There was sweat on her brow and every other part of her body. Her stomach was tight and the pressure was massive. It felt like her midsection was full of rocks. She’d bet a board could be broken across her belly.

“It was too late. You already started to have contractions and were too far along,” her mother said in the same know-it-all voice she’d used on her daughters their whole lives.

“Why do I have to go through this?” she whimpered.

The tears were running down her face. As if she wasn’t in enough pain this was all going to be for nothing.

“You didn’t have to and you know it. You went against our wishes and this is the price you pay. This is why seventeen-year-olds shouldn’t be pregnant.”

She’d been hearing this for months…ever since she’d told her parents she was pregnant. Thankfully she wasn’t showing by the time she graduated and no one really knew in school.

But Randall knew. Of course he did. She’d told him the minute she knew about the baby.

He’d panicked and told his parents who wanted her to end the pregnancy. Her own parents did too. Randall never really said one way or another what he wanted, but she didn’t care. It was her child and she was having it.

Randall wouldn’t stand up to his parents either. Not when there was money involved. He went off to college at Harvard a few months ago and they’d only talked twice. The last time was well over a month ago.

She’d have to assume they were done, though he never actually broke up with her. Must be the hundred-thousand-dollar check that was delivered to her two months ago was enough for him to wipe his hands of her.

She wasn’t going to be bought. They couldn’t make her end her pregnancy either. She didn’t give a shit what anyone said.

That check was going to set her up to raise this baby on her own.

Or that had been the plan.

The plan that wasn’t going to happen now.

“I wanted this baby,” she said, sobbing.

“We don’t always get what we want,” her mother said.

Amanda let out another scream and the nurse came in. “There, there. I know it’s hard. And I know it’s painful. It won’t be much longer. Breathe through your mouth. Slow breaths. The doctor is on the way.”

Her mother shot the nurse a look as if to say, “She deserves this for bringing shame on two families.”

“How much longer?” she asked. “I can’t take much more.”

“Not long. Your contractions are really close and you’re almost ready to push.”

“It doesn’t matter though,” she said. She wasn’t sure what was worse. The pain in her body or the one in her soul.

“I know, sweetie. I wish there was another way.”

The doctor walked in a few minutes later and told her to start pushing. She was pretty positive it sounded like she was being murdered in the room, and it sure the hell felt like it, so why not shout it out.

It wasn’t just her body that was being ripped apart, but her family and her heart.

She’d be leaving this town the minute she could. She was taking her money and she was going far away.

No one supported her. No one cared about her.

Hell, the nurse was showing more compassion than her own mother.

“You’re almost there,” the doctor said. Embarrassment was thrown out the window at this point with her legs spread wide, naked under the gown. Who knew what mess was on the floor from her body and she didn’t even care. She just wanted this over with.

“I can’t do it again.”

“One more,” the doctor said. “Just one more big push. I’ve got the head in my hand.”

Hearing that was enough for her to gather all her strength, grind her teeth, and push with everything she had.

“That’s it, I’ve got it now,” the doctor said. “Just relax for a minute.”

There was silence in the room. Only her breathing could be heard, her mother looking over at the doctors and the nurses at the other side of the room.

“Do you want to see the baby?” the doctor asked her while the nurses cleaned up the newborn.

She was having trouble catching her breath. Not just from the delivery but the pain in her chest. “Yes. I want to name my baby. She’s really gone?” she asked, even though they’d told her hours ago there was no heartbeat when she had her appointment.

She was only seven months pregnant and had pain so she’d called the doctor and drove herself there. The past six hours had flown by in one instant and lasted forever in another.

“There is no heartbeat,” the nurse said coming over and running her hand on Amanda’s sweat-dampened hair. “Do you want to hold your daughter?”

“Yes,” she said, taking in a deep breath. “Please.”

Her mother got up and walked out of the room, not even looking at her daughter or granddaughter.

Three weeks later, Amanda walked out of her parents’ life for good.

Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda

D&A

Two people wondering if they were destined to be alone might be fated to find each other on Amore Island.

Amanda Moore only wanted one thing in life. A family of her own. A child she could raise and nurture better than her parents had to her. When she thought she had exactly that, it was taken away from her and she’s never been able to find it again. Now she wonders if she ever will.

Drew Bond has spent his life dodging the setups by his mother. She was adamant her sons needed to find a woman and she knew the perfect ones for them. But everyone she put in front of him only wanted two things from him. Money and his name. All he wants is to find someone himself, but the one time he did, he’d been fooled and left heartbroken. Now he wonders if he’s just meant to be alone.

Fierce- Wyatt…Chapter One

Wyatt(1)

 

Catch up on the Prologue

Chapter One

Feel The Heat

Seven years later

“I’m Dr. Fierce, your anesthesiologist for your surgery today,” Wyatt said, moving behind the curtain for his next patient while he waited for the OR to open up. Shouldn’t be much longer. “Can you state your name and the reason you are here? I’m sure you know the routine,” he said to the woman with a big smile. She was a cancer patient coming back in for another surgery after her scan showed a spot of concern. This one on her kidney.

“Ashley Brookshire. And another Dr. Fierce is going to go in and remove some tissue from my kidney that with any luck is just some fat and not cancer.”

“That is exactly what we are all hoping for,” he said, rubbing his hand on her foot.

Most of the patients coming in for surgery were scared. They were stressed. They were emotional.

It was his job to not only make sure it was a safe and painless procedure but also to try to calm them. No doctor wanted a hysterical patient on their table.

Of course that was why there were such things as “happy” juice to calm a patient down. But if he didn’t need to do it, he wouldn’t.

Ashley seemed pretty darn calm to him.

“The other Dr. Fierce—a brother by any chance?” she asked.

“Cousin,” he said of his cousin Sam that was the surgeon performing the procedure. He was in another OR right now, just finishing up. When the room was ready, Ashley was the next patient.

“So, good genes in your family,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows. He turned when the curtain opened and saw a man walk in. “Steven, this is Dr. Fierce. Dr. Fierce, my surgeon’s cousin. Wow, it might get confusing in here.”

Wyatt laughed. “It can when we have our masks on. Don’t worry, we don’t often switch positions in the OR. I’m the one who likes to put people to sleep. Guess I’m just boring that way.”

Ashley laughed. “Something tells me you aren’t very boring. But anyway. Here we are. Waiting to find out the results. My oncologist told me since the last tumor that was removed was contained and small that I will only need radiation on my thyroid. I can handle that. Not a problem.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a great attitude.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Thyroid cancer is easily treated, but that stupid CAT scan showed something on my kidney. My other surgeon couldn’t remove it and referred me to Dr. Fierce. Your cousin. Yeah, this is confusing.”

He laughed. He was used to it. “I get it. Sam—we’ll call him that, he’s good with it, even with his patients at times—is the best there is. You’re in great hands.”

“Good to know,” Steven said. “He told us that it could be nothing, but you won’t know until you biopsy it. Just wish she could be awake for it. I hate when she has to go under.”

Wyatt flipped through her history on his computer. He already knew she’d had a few surgeries in her past. “You seem like a pro to me when it comes to being operated on.”

“I don’t know about that. No one wants to be a pro at this, but I’m kind of a klutz. Or I was in school. I seemed to get injured in every sport or activity I did.”

“Which is why she doesn’t do much of those things anymore,” Steven said. “When we were younger it was fine. We’re too old for it now.”

“Now I’m also having surgery for carpal tunnel. I’m only thirty-eight. Come on,” she said, letting out a huff.

“Society spends a lot of time on computers now,” Wyatt said, holding his laptop up. He hated every minute of it too and wished more people were interested in getting out and doing rather than watching. “While we wait for the room to be open, I’ll tell you I’m a proponent of KIS when it comes to surgery.”

“You want a kiss?” she asked. “That’s getting a little personal, but if Steven looks away, I’ll give you one on the cheek.”

“Now I know why you are so laid back.”

If only everyone was like this, but Wyatt knew that wasn’t life. He’d had plenty that he walked in and saw them in tears and it just killed him. The first time that happened he threw all the things he was taught out the window about always being serious and professional at work.

When he was ready to get to work, he could toe the line with all the weight on his shoulders, but this was about the patient. This was about relaxing them and helping them. It was called humanity in his eyes so he’d done what came naturally to him.

“There are too many things to stress about. I’m going to hold out hope it’s nothing, but I need to know. It’s better to know than guess,” Ashley said.

“I agree. And I’m afraid your husband might deck me if you gave me a kiss. KIS. Keep it simple. I’m sure you’ve heard it called happy juice before, but it’s Versed. It relaxes you and makes you forget anything before you go under. Most people are anxious and need it. You don’t seem so. So I’m asking if you want it. I’ll gladly administer it, but if you don’t need it, why take something?”

Many thought he was nuts to give that option, but why inject yourself with a drug if you truly didn’t need it? He’d had plenty of patients wide awake while they were wheeled down, remembering everything, and carrying on normal conversations with him and the team in the OR before they went under.

“I don’t think I need it,” she said. “But what if I do? I mean I normally get it and though I’m not an anxious person, what if I start to panic?”

“It works fast. If you ask you’ll get it immediately.”

“I’d like to try without it. I get nauseous and they already gave me stuff for that. Maybe I’ll wake up faster if I don’t get that.”

“It could help too,” he said. “I like to give patients the choice.”

“Let’s go without it,” she said. “Will you be in there talking to me? It could distract me.”

“She’s flirting with you,” Steven said. “I can’t believe she is doing that.” Ashley’s husband shook his head. “She’s always been a flirt. You aren’t going to steal her away from me, are you? Try to woo her in the OR?”

“I don’t think I could possibly compete with you.”

“Steven is the best husband there is. You might be a treat to look at, but something tells me you break a lot of ladies’ hearts.”

He forced a grin. He’d been told that a lot in life, but he always went in letting everyone know where he stood.

Fun. That was what he wanted. He didn’t take a lot in life seriously other than his job. This took all his focus and outside of the OR he stayed clear of commitments, stress, and headaches like the devil avoided Sunday mass.

When the curtain moved aside, he was thankful that his cousin Sam arrived. “How are you doing today, Ashley?”

“Ready to get this over with. I’ve been picking on your cousin. I just said I bet he breaks a lot of hearts, but the truth is, you probably do too.”

Sam grinned. “I might have broken a few in the past, but I’ve got a fiancée now that has stolen my own heart.”

Wyatt rolled his eyes. Everyone was falling like flies around him. First Sam, then Sam’s brother Bryce, then Wyatt’s brother Drake and over the weekend Drake’s twin, Noah, got engaged at Easter dinner in front of the whole family.

He was starting to feel the heat like never before.

Did he always think he’d want to settle down at some point? Sure.

Was he looking for it? Not really.

But with everyone falling like first-time skiers on the bunny slopes, he felt like all eyes were on him. They were even dropping in birth order too. What were the chances of that happening?

“So, we are all set?” he asked Ashley.

“Yes. I’ll bypass that drug and go with KIS.”

“Is Dr. Fierce trying to get you to kiss him?” Sam asked. “He does that with all the patients.”

Wyatt shook his head at Sam. “What can I tell you, the patients like me better than you. Just like the family. You may be the oldest, but I’m the favorite.”

“You keep telling yourself that,” Sam said.

But he didn’t need to. He knew his family loved him. His family loved everyone equally. It’d always been that way. Even if he did seem to get more attention than most.

Twenty minutes later, he was in the OR talking with Ashley, asking how her Easter went and listening to the stories of how her kids were too old for Easter baskets.

The circulating and scrub nurses were moving around the room preparing lights, setting out instruments, and getting everything ready.

Sam gave him the nod they were good to go, so he said to Ashley, “I’m going to put the oxygen mask on you now and you might feel a burn with this injection. It won’t last long if you do.”

She bobbed her head up and down and was still talking. She was almost babbling a little about her holiday, but he kept it up with her until her eyes started to roll back in her head. She was still awake, not quite ready to go out.

“You almost ready, old man?” Wyatt said to Sam.

Sam laughed behind his mask. “I’m not that much older than you.”

“No,” Wyatt said, “but the big old ball and chain is going on in less than two weeks. That smacks old to me.” He glanced back down at the vitals and his patient. Her eyes popped back open again.

“Don’t be jealous,” Sam said. “You wish you had someone as great as Dani.”

“She is pretty hot,” Wyatt said back. “It was just your luck of the draw you saw her first.”

“Get over yourself. Dani couldn’t stop flirting with me the first time we met. I know how to lay on the charm.”

“You learned it from me,” Wyatt said. “I’ve lost my ride or die partner. This is the final goodbye.” Ashley was fighting it, but she’d be out soon.

“There’s always Ryder,” Sam said back.

“No, thank you. His taste in women is horrendous.” Sam’s youngest brother, Ryder, ended up with all the nut jobs. Or as Sam liked to call them, “life suckers” where they just drain the life out of you.

“You think yours is much better?”

He looked down at Ashley and stopped talking because it was time to be serious. It was time for him to do his job that he was so good at. It was time to focus. And ignore the shot his cousin took at him with lethal precision.

Ashley was out, so he finished up what he had to do, then turned to Sam and said, “The floor is all yours.”