Family Bonds- Emily & Crew

Emily Rauch was proving to be a powerhouse in the hotel business at a very young age. She and her sister had a vision and she was making it come true come hell or high water. She had to be tough in a man’s world and had no problem with it. Even in her family’s world…the Bonds. But she was determined to come out on top. If it meant staying single because men were intimidated by her, then so be it.

Crew Ackley was just a middle class kid until his parents hit the lotto and left it all to him when they died tragically. Then he learned that everyone wanted to be with him for a handout only. Fed up with not being able to figure out who was real and who wasn’t, he left the area and was starting over on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. He thought that’d make him happy until he found a woman he wanted to get to know better who didn’t see him as anyone other than the man delivering her mail. But if he told her his worth, would she only see that?

Family Bonds- Mac & Sidney…Prologue

Prologue

“You’re later than normal.”

Sidney took a deep breath, prepared to put up with more shit tonight. When she decided to study abroad for her senior year of college she never expected the headache of feeling trapped when she should be enjoying her time. Poor choices on her part once again.

“It was busy tonight.”

“Or you were too slow,” Rod said back. Rodney Enfield was older than her by five years. But at just twenty-seven, his law degree and family money were turning him into a colossal douche. She wished she’d realized it months ago before she moved in with him and gave up her spot in her cramped shared apartment. Now she was stuck with him for another month until the semester was up and she could get the hell out of London.

He didn’t seem so bad at first and maybe it was the newness of the relationship, but the longer she was with him, the more she wondered who the hell he was.

“I have no problem keeping up,” she said back and moved to the kitchen. The flat she shared with Rod was three times the size of the one she’d shared with two other people. She’d take those close quarters back if she could. Instead she had to walk on eggshells to see what kind of guy he was going to be tonight. Loving, sweet, funny or downright rude and in your face asshole. Sometimes scary if he’d been drinking, but she’d been able to handle him most times.

And whenever the undesirable attitudes came out and she told him to cut the shit, he’d apologize and give her gifts the next day. After she’d walked away from him, proving he’d pushed too far.

She was pretty much over it now.

“Oh, then maybe someone wanted a bit more action than a drink tonight?” he asked, grabbing her arm when she tried to walk away.

“No.” She said, pulling her arm away. “But you’ve been drinking tonight I see.”

She knew enough to stay away when he had been. Looked like the asshole was out tonight. Long gone was the guy that was trying to romance her back to his place. She fell for his English charm and would always regret it.

The first time he put her down, she just figured it had to do with his upper crust personality. That he was making a joke and she wasn’t getting it. She even called him out on that and he’d confirmed it.

But then she started to realize that, no, he actually enjoyed putting her down. And when she was pissed off enough, he’d apologize and try to make it up to her and tell her she was too sensitive.

She’d never felt she was a sensitive person. That was Anne. Sidney was more pragmatic and realistic. Then why had she fallen for someone telling her she was more like her twin when he didn’t even know she had one?

Knowing she didn’t have much time left, she was trying to keep the peace as best as she could. He seemed to think she was going to stay here when the month was up even though she’d been talking about going back to Montana. Yep, she was the backwoods country girl he’d called her a few times too.

If there was an insult he could throw at her or demean her, he’d done that.

Sidney didn’t care. The simple life was all she ever wanted. Somehow she got sucked into more here and wished she hadn’t. She just thought it was the chance of a lifetime and did it more because Anne couldn’t. She was doing it because her twin never had the chance.

A stupid reason she’d have to live with.

“Nothing more than what you’ve been serving all the blokes that were hitting on you. I know I’m right,” he said, his hand gliding down her cheek.

She turned her head away and went to move, but he gripped her arm harder and held her in place. “Let go of me. It’s been a long night and I’m tired.” He was scaring her but she didn’t want to let on. Lately he almost seemed like multiple people to her.

“Don’t walk away from me, bitch. You should know better than that.”

This was new…and frightening. Talking down to her was one thing. Insulting her too. Threatening was another. She didn’t take shit from anyone. This country girl knew how to fight back.

“Let go of me now,” she said, her voice low, her eyes narrowed.

It was the wrong thing to do. His arm came up and backhanded her.

Stumbling a few feet back, she tasted blood, felt it pooling in her mouth from where her lip cut on her teeth. She turned and swung at him, but he blocked it and wrapped her up in a bear hug. She started to scream and kick, fight with everything she had. She wasn’t going down without leaving some of her own marks.

She was making enough noise that the tenants next door started banging on the wall and wanting to know what was going on.

“That was stupid,” he said low in her ear, releasing her and shoving her away. She caught herself before she hit the wall.

Marching to the bathroom, she slammed the door, locking herself in for now and trying to get control of her shaking.

An hour must have gone by as Sidney sat in there and cleaned up, hoping he’d pass out. There were tears in her eyes and she let them fall while she figured out her next move. First thing in the morning she’d be out of here when he left for work.

When she thought it was safe, she opened the door and saw the lights out in the flat, knowing Rod must have gone to bed.

She grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch hoping to fall asleep.

When morning came, she pretended to be sleeping as she heard him moving around. He stood over her, looking at her, she knew. She could feel his eyes on her.

His hand came out and touched her arm lightly, and he whispered, “I’m so sorry, Sidney. Please forgive me. I don’t even remember much of last night. I hope you can forgive me. I must have blacked out. I just love you so much and the thought of you working last night while I was here alone sent me to drink more than normal.”

She battled back the snort along with the tears. He liked to make that excuse, but she knew better.

And when the door shut behind him, she jumped up and turned the deadbolt, then packed up her stuff. She would be gone within the hour and he’d never touch her again.

Family Bonds- Mac & Sidney

Mac Bond, Chief of Police. He came from the black sheep side of the family and he carried it wrapped like a noose around his neck. He was tough, he was strong, and he was cocky. Women loved his hard side at first, then ditched him when they realized he couldn’t be anything but. He was sick of feeling like he’d never measure up and figured he’d be alone for a long time.

Sidney Hollister has a few secrets in her life. She liked being alone and minding her own business. Then good old Mac Bond, Chief of Police, starts to flirt with her one night, and her eyes were opened to what a great guy and wonderful personality he actually had. And when a past threat enters her life, she finds that the tough, strong, and cocky side that other women complained about was actually what she loved the most.

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.