Another Chance…Chapter Two @natalieann121 #mgtab

Another Chance

The last teaser of Another Chance!! Catch up on the Prologue and Chapter One.

Here is Chapter Two

Blew Up

“So that was Matt, wasn’t it?”

Dena looked to see Amber standing next to her. Everyone had left but the two of them. They were just waiting for Amber’s husband, Zach, to pick them up and bring them home. Since Celeste hadn’t been drinking she dropped the rest of the girls off.

“How did you guess?” Dena asked, looking around the pub. He was gone now, but she hadn’t seen him leave. Once she’d walked back to her table, she angled her chair so that she didn’t have a view of the bar or the door. No reason to give into temptation.

“I saw you freeze when he walked in the door. I put the two together. At first I didn’t recognize him. Remember, you guys were a few years behind me in school.”

“Yeah,” Dena said softly. She really didn’t want to talk about this, but knew Amber wouldn’t let it drop. She never did.

“I hate to say this, and please don’t think I’m not on your side because you know I am. But damn, he has only gotten better with age.”

“I noticed,” she said dryly. Not that she wanted to, but it was hard to avoid it.

He was still just brushing six foot. Dark hair that was lush and wavy. Big brown eyes that she’d always lost herself in. He’d always taken such care with his appearance, but for some reason he looked a little off tonight. He was gorgeous as ever, his full lips so soft and kissable—she hated that those thoughts popped into her head—but he looked thinner than she’d seen before. His sharp cheekbones were more pronounced and his eyes looked tired, even troubled.

She hadn’t seen him personally since he walked out on her that night before they both left for college, but like the idiot she was, she’d never been able to put him far from her mind.

Social media posts drew her in like a bee to a flower. She didn’t follow him, but others she followed did and it was hard to avoid things about him all the time.

He was some big time lawyer in Manhattan like he always wanted to be at his stepbrother’s father’s firm. She was guessing he’d made it to the partner status he was striving for too, but wasn’t positive. It had always hurt too much looking into him more than necessary. Like holding onto the old dream knowing the outcome still broke her heart.

In the past two years if she saw anything regarding him, she clicked away. It was just too heart wrenching to keep stalking information on him. Between that and running into his mother and stepfather from time to time, she couldn’t seem to move past the shattered remains of her emotions and anger that had built up so high.

“Why was he limping?” Amber asked.

“What?” she said, turning to look at Amber now. She’d been looking off into the distance hoping Amber would change the subject.

“You didn’t notice he was limping?”

“No. I was opening the bathroom door and ran into him, but then I walked away. I didn’t see him leave nor did I watch him walk once he entered the front door.” Why hadn’t she’d paid attention to something like that?

“You had words with him when you went to the bathroom and are just telling me now?” Amber said, holding her by the shoulders. “No wonder you came back shaken. What did the prick have to say?”

Amber had always been blunt and to the point, but supportive as ever. “Not much,” she said. It was only a few words and Dena was positive Matt would be gone from Lake Placid within days. No use hashing it all out, even in her head.

But by the time Zach dropped her off at her apartment, the tears she’d been battling just let loose. Of all the freaking nights for Matt to make an appearance in her life—her thirtieth birthday with her closest friends.

She was supposed to be celebrating and having a great time. Not thinking about the past that blew up in her face like dynamite to an old abandoned warehouse.

Not wondering why she was never enough for him to come back to. Or for him to even stay. Not to even talk to her about it.

If given the chance, maybe she would have moved, but he never gave it to her.

They were both young and they had their whole lives ahead of them. He couldn’t expect her to make a permanent decision at such a time. It had been hard enough just going a few hours away from her father, but promising she’d leave forever? Please…she was only eighteen!

Once she was ready for bed, she shut the light off and climbed in, knuckled a few stray tears away and told herself that she was ready to move on with her life.

All those years ago she’d promised she’d never give him another chance—not like he was asking—but it was time to commit to that promise.

It was time to push Matt Winters from her mind once and for all.

 

***

 

Matt had been back to town for about a week now. He knew at some point he’d seek Dena out; he just didn’t know when or how and hated that it happened the way it had.

That he wasn’t prepared, when he prided himself on always being prepared for everything in life.

He was as good as he was at his job because he planned it all out. Even his life… “Take no chances” had been his motto.

He knew he wanted to be a lawyer when he was fifteen. He knew he was going to work for his stepbrother’s father’s firm too. How did he know? Because his stepbrother Randall told him.

Randall was years older than him and already practicing at that point. Whenever Matt had gone back to visit his father and stepmother, Randall would stop over to see him and take him under his wing. Tell him all about the wonderful and exciting life he had and how it could all be Matt’s one day too. An impressionable teen at that point, he was looking for anyone that would show some interest in him.

What he’d seen in Randall was someone that he could look up to. Someone that had it all together and was going to be successful. Everything Matt had wanted himself.

Sure, his father was smart and successful, but he was an engineer. Nothing exciting in that that Matt had ever seen. But moving to Lake Placid with his mother and stepfather had been the worst thing for a kid to have happen his freshman year in high school.

To go from being a short train ride to one of the most exciting cities in the US to some backwoods mountain where all you could do was ski or play ice hockey in the winter. The summer you could swim in the lake, but other than that, there wasn’t much for Matt to do. Not like he was used to. He’d never been an active outdoorsman and that was what Lake Placid catered to.

But he’d met Dena Hall and everything about Lake Placid didn’t seem so bad.

In the back of his mind he knew he was leaving the first chance he got and he’d told her so. Multiple times. She just never seemed to want to believe him. Or even listen to him when he’d come back from visits with his father and tell her about all the great things he’d done and how fun it’d be to live there.

Not even when he said he was going to Columbia University. That he was going to be a lawyer in the big city. That life was going to go back to the way it was for him before he was forced to this Godforsaken land.

Yet she still seemed so shocked when he told her the night before he left for good.

He wanted her to go with him. He all but begged her, but she’d always said, “I won’t leave my father. He’s already had one woman leave him, I won’t be the second. We’re all that the other has right now.”

“What about me?” he’d asked her. “You’d have me.”

She said it wasn’t the same and it hurt. Hurt more than when he found he’d be moving here to begin with. It seemed no one really wanted him the way he needed. No one put him first, except Randall taking him under his wing.

So he wanted her to hurt just as much and broke it off sharp and swift. He’d told himself it was better that way. That there would be no confusion or misunderstanding.

She’d know he wasn’t coming back and that she was the one who’d made that choice by not even giving him a chance, but telling him multiple times she’d never leave Lake Placid.

Well, she was right since she was still here. So then why was he wrong? Why did he come back?

Simple. He’d stared death in the eyes. He woke up in that hospital and knew that by his own stubbornness he’d thrown away what was the best thing in his life.

He’d never been able to find it again and was determined to win her back.

So he was here in this town he hated so much, but looking at it through the eyes of an adult and seeing it wasn’t so bad after all.

That everything he wanted in the big city didn’t happen the way he’d planned on it. That people made him promises they didn’t keep and used him for their own personal gain.

The question was, could he get Dena to break the promise she’d made to him years ago? Because he was determined that she’d take him back.

 

 

Another Chance…Chapter One #mgtab @Natalieann121

Another Chance

If you haven’t read the Prologue yet, you can catch up. Here is Chapter One!

Convinced Him

Twelve years later

“I’m so glad you all could come out with me tonight,” Dena said, looking around the table.

It was her thirtieth birthday and she wanted dinner and drinks with her girls. Everyone was married, or soon to be, but her, not that it mattered. All that mattered was that she wasn’t alone on this night.

“We wouldn’t make you have a solo drink,” Amber Monroe said. Amber and she had worked together for years for Dr. Max Hamilton and became the best of friends. Max’s wife, Quinn, was even sitting at the table with them.

“I needed to get away from Cole and TJ tonight. I’m not sure which one of them was whining more,” Rene said. Rene McGuire got married over the summer to Cole, and TJ was almost a year old. Rene had been working with Amber and her for two years now and fit in so well in their office.

“Cole always did whine when he was tired. They’re probably both sleeping on the couch right now,” Celeste Ryder said. Celeste was Cole’s twin sister and another close friend of the group. More like a co-worker of sorts. Celeste and Max jointly owned and operated a bed and breakfast solely catering to Max’s patients.

“How’s Jocelyn sleeping?” Riley Hamilton asked Quinn. Riley was Max’s sister, and Quinn had Jocelyn last May. Max also had two older kids from his first marriage.

“Sounds like she is sleeping much better than TJ is,” Quinn said, grinning.

“I’ll take Jocelyn anytime you and Max want a date night. I’ll take all three kids,” Riley said. “It will give Trevor and me some practice.”

Everyone at the table laughed. Trevor Miles, Chief of Police of Lake Placid, and Riley were newly engaged. “Come on now, Riley,” Amber said. “Max was telling us all that Trevor has the magic touch with the kids. You need the practice, not him.”

Riley wrinkled her nose. “I need kids in the house to practice though,” she argued.

Dena watched all the women at the table and fought back the envy. She should have been the first one married with kids by now. Not the last.

Twelve years ago she had it all planned out. She and Matt were going to college and when they were both done, they’d marry and have kids. Live happily ever after.

Sure, she knew Matt wanted no part of moving back to Lake Placid, but she’d been positive she could have convinced him otherwise. Except he dropped her like a hot potato straight out of the microwave and never gave her a chance to even decide if she wanted to move or not to be with him.

If she’d been given the choice, she might have. But she never was and it was water under the bridge of the tears she’d shed.

Now what mattered was the waitress who came over and started to take their orders. “Two bottles of wine,” Dena said. “My treat.”

“Shots,” Amber said. “My treat.”

“Just water for me,” Celeste said, looking down.

The waitress walked away and all eyes turned to Celeste. She’d been married well over a year now and had been trying to get pregnant. Since she’d had childhood cancer and extreme treatments, there was the possibility of her not conceiving. It wasn’t something that was talked about often, but right now might be a different story.

“You’re going to say it now?” Rene asked her sister-in-law.

“I really shouldn’t say anything. It’s too soon,” Celeste said, her eyes filling but a bright smile on her face. “I know you know what is going on, Rene.”

“Are you pregnant?” Amber asked, jumping out of her chair and running to Celeste. “Did Caleb’s swimmers hit home?”

Celeste laughed. “Modern medicine might have had a part in it,” she said. “We haven’t wanted anyone to know, but we tried in vitro fertilization and it did confirm I’m pregnant.”

There was a lot of squealing at the table, Dena running over and hugging Celeste too. She was jealous, but she wasn’t a bitch. If anyone deserved this, it was Celeste. “I’m so happy.”

“Please don’t say anything,” Celeste pleaded. “I’ve got to tell Caleb you all know. I mean Rene knew.”

“You kept this secret,” Amber said to Rene.

“Yeah,” Dena said, staring at Rene too.

“Please. We’re family. She had to tell us,” Rene argued.

“Leave Rene alone,” Quinn said. The quietest of the group, and though she was only a few years older than Dena and closer to Celeste’s age, she was more motherly than them all. “You all would have done the same thing, but now we know and we won’t tell a soul, but we will talk about it in this group only. Right, Celeste?”

“Yes,” she said. “But this is Dena’s night, not mine. So, Dena,” Celeste said, “any exciting plans for your birthday?”

“You’re looking at it,” she said. “I’m out with my girls and that’s the best thing to do on your birthday.”

“It sure is,” Riley said.

The waitress brought over the bottles of wine and the shots. Everyone held their shots up and Dena said, “To me. The last of the single ladies. Maybe this is my lucky year.”

“To Dena,” they all said, downing their drinks.

The minute Dena put her glass down, she turned to see the man that walked in the door, felt her face pale and had to fight the urge to not regurgitate the fireball they all downed.

“What is it?” Rene asked, looking over.

“Nothing,” Dena said, reaching for the wine, knowing she’d need it.

Amber and Celeste both made eye contact with her, but she shook her head. They’d been a few years ahead of her in school and she doubted they’d remember what Matt looked like, but she knew she’d never forget, and looking at him just now walking through the door made her heart stop as much as it did the first time she saw him in high school.

 

***

 

Matt opened the door to the bar, saw his mother and stepfather to his right, and headed in that direction without looking anywhere else. He really wasn’t in the mood to be out tonight, but hadn’t felt like going back to his childhood home for a meal either. He was avoiding the place that caused so much of his misery as a teen.

“Matt,” his mother said, standing up. “You look great. How do you feel?”

“Fine,” he said, trying not to snap. He was sick and tired of everyone asking him that question but knew he needed to get over it, as it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon.

“I’m so glad you could make time for dinner out tonight,” she said.

“It’s better than cooking for myself,” he said back.

“Don’t get sarcastic with your mother,” Bob said to him. He and Bob never got along all that well. They didn’t have a dislike for each other as much as a distaste.

Bob made his mother happy and that was all that mattered. But Bob was the reason they moved here to begin with and Matt would always cast that blame on his stepfather’s shoulders.

“I’m not,” Matt said, having no energy to argue. “I was just speaking the truth.”

“Now isn’t the time, you two,” his mother said, always the peacemaker. He knew his mother was thrilled he was here. “Have you made any decision yet on your future?”

“No. I just need to get my head on straight and then I’ll decide,” he said.

“Lake Placid could always use another lawyer,” she said.

“I don’t know.” He didn’t know what he wanted to do or where he wanted to be. Now he just needed to recover physically and mentally. He just wasn’t sure which one was going to take the longest.

“I’m just glad you’re back here.”

He hadn’t decided if he was glad or not. He didn’t know what he was feeling, but after the past six months there was one thing he knew. He wasn’t going to be able to move on until he made amends to the woman he loved and somehow won her back.

When dinner was done, he got up to use the bathroom and headed back to his table when the women’s room door opened next to him. Hot damn, the woman of his dreams was standing right there.

But she wasn’t smiling and he didn’t expect her to.

No, there was a fire in her eyes, and as much as it shouldn’t turn him on, it sure the hell did. Just like all those years ago when he had his first taste of her. A young filly that was as eager as him.

Her dirty blonde hair hung loose and flowing around her shoulders like it always did. Her light brown eyes were staring him down with emotional clouds building and making him want to jump back from the twister forming that would suck him up and toss him through the sky like a piece of useless metal.

He didn’t. He stood his ground. “Dena.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked, crossing her arms.

“Here in the restaurant? Or here in Lake Placid?”

“Both,” she said.

“Dinner with my mother and Bob. Why I’m here in Lake Placid is yet to be determined.”

He wasn’t about to lay his cards on the table at this moment. He had an uphill battle and he wasn’t sure he could even climb the stairs in his rental house half the time let alone this mountain that was going to be standing in his way.

A chisel couldn’t break her stare while she seemed to be trying to figure out her words. She never did that before—hesitated on her words—but the stare was familiar. He’d expected the frigid January temperatures of the outside to be aimed at him and he wasn’t wrong.

“I’m sure I won’t run into you again before you leave since you never planned on coming back.”

“Things change,” he said softly.

“Maybe in your mind, but not mine.”

He was afraid of that.

She didn’t bother to wait around and moved past him, but he still said, “Happy Birthday, Dena.”

Her shoulders stiffened, but other than that, there was nothing else to acknowledge she heard him.

Mount Olympus, here I come.

 

Another Chance…Prologue #mgtab @Natalieann121

Another Chance

Prologue

“Dad, I’m going out,” Dena yelled as she made her way down the stairs at the front of the house.

She was just ready to open the door when he shouted back, “We have to leave early in the morning. Don’t stay out too late. I don’t want to be dealing with all those other parents dropping their kids off this weekend.”

She giggled. “But you are one of those parents bringing their kid to college,” she said, turning to look at him in the living room. “Are you going to miss me?”

“Of course not. It will be nice to have more bathroom time.”

She rolled her eyes. It had been just her and her father in the house since she was ten. Her mother had enough of the small town living. Or the cold weather. Maybe it was her and her father.

At this stage, Dena didn’t care anymore. Her mother left one day and never returned. Didn’t even leave a letter. They would have wondered what had happened if her mother didn’t call from another state and say she was gone and not coming back.

Since then, she and her father had been on their own and it suited them both just fine.

“I’ll be back by curfew. I promise.”

“See that you are. You’ll see Matt again in a few months. It will do you two good to have a little time apart.”

“Whatever,” she said, closing the door and walking to her car.

She was in love with Matt Winters and had been since they were freshman and he moved here with his mother for his stepfather’s job. They’d dated for over three years and now they were going to college apart from each other.

It was going to be hard, but she was sure they could make it work long distance. It wasn’t that long before Christmas break when they’d see each other again. They were only a few hours apart and could visit for weekends if they’d planned it well. She had it all worked out in her head.

She pulled into the picnic area of the elementary school and got the basket out with the dinner she’d put together. She wanted something romantic for their last night together.

For ten minutes she sat on the wooden bench waiting for him and wondering what was taking him so long. He’d never been late to meet her before. She hoped something hadn’t come up. Or that he still wasn’t mad at her that they weren’t going to the same college together.

For one, she couldn’t afford where he was going, and second, the big city wasn’t for her.

Matt was going to Columbia in New York City. His father lived in Rye, New York, just outside the city with his wife and stepkids. Matt had been going back once a month to visit for years and every time he returned to Lake Placid he moaned and groaned, wishing he could have stayed with his father.

She’d tried to put all those hurt feelings aside when he’d say that, thinking he didn’t want to be with her. That she wasn’t enough for him to come home to.

After another ten minutes, he finally pulled his old Honda Civic next to her beat-up old Chevy Malibu. She stood up and walked toward him with her arms out to hug him. “Everything okay? You’re never late. I don’t want to lose a minute of the time we have left together.”

“Everything is fine. Let’s go sit down. We’ve got to talk.”

“Ah, okay,” she said, not sure what was going on. He didn’t look like everything was fine.

“Listen, Dena,” he said, taking a deep breath. “I think it’s best we take a break while we’re at college.”

“What?” she asked, wondering where this was coming from.

They were in love.

They were voted class couple.

They never fought. They’d never even talked about breaking up or splitting or anything. Ever.

“Don’t make me say it again. This is hard enough. You’re going to God only knows what small town and I’m going to Columbia.”

Not the first time he threw that in her face. Like he was better than her. That she was some stupid redneck because she wanted to go to a smaller college that was more remote. More like home. She’d brushed it off though since most of it was said in jest. She was thinking it wasn’t so much a joke now.

“And because of that you think we should break up?” she asked, her eyes filling, her heart racing and her breath lodged in her chest like she was choking on a whole loaf of bread with no water in sight.

He inhaled deeply. “I have no desire to come back here and you don’t want to leave. I’m not meant for this life and have hated every bit of it.”

“You’re right—I don’t want to leave. My father is here,” she said, swallowing past the lump.

“That’s another thing. I always feel like I’ve got to fight for time with you. I don’t get it.”

“There isn’t anything for you to get. I’ve told you. You know the story. We are all we’ve got in this world. I’d never leave my father.”

“So you’ve decided to choose him over me. That’s why it’s better to end things now. No reason to drag it out. We don’t want the same things in life.”

She was crying now. Her body was shaking and she wanted to just grab him by the shoulders and shake these crazy thoughts and words from his head. This couldn’t be the same person she’d been in love with for years.

“Why are you telling me this now? Why the night before we both leave? Why spend the whole summer with me acting like everything was fine and hit me with it now?”

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said firmly. His lawyer voice again. He was going for pre-law. She’d seen him talk like this before. Detached. Like he was holding everything in and no one could reach him. She’d tried before without much success.

“Right for you. You didn’t ask what I wanted.”

“It doesn’t matter what you want,” he said, his eyes showing no emotion at all. “You can’t have a relationship with someone if the other person is ready to move on.”

“So that’s it. We’re done? Just like that?” It actually felt like her heart was being pried from her chest by a sloth’s nails…slow and painful.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it like this. I should have done it sooner.”

“But you didn’t because you’re a coward,” she shouted at him. “You can do it now and know you’ll never see me again. But you couldn’t do it months ago knowing you’d run into me.”

“Believe what you want,” he said. “I never meant to hurt you.”

“But you are. I can see there is no talking to you about this either,” she said, running her hand under her nose. The flood of tears was more than she’d shed when she found out her mother was gone. That hadn’t been a surprise. Not like this.

“No. I hope you have a good life, Dena, but I can’t stay here another day. Good-bye,” he said, turning and walking away from her.

“I’ll never take you back,” she yelled at his retreating form. “I’ll never forgive you for this!”

He never turned around once as she sat on the grass rocking herself while a faucet of tears poured from her eyes.

Another Chance #mgtab @Natalieann121

Another Chance

Dena Hall had her life all planned out. She was already making wedding plans with her high school sweetheart and thinking of the number of kids she wanted. He’d said he wanted the same thing, only he didn’t want it in Lake Placid. But she wasn’t leaving her hometown. Rather than talk it out, he broke it off out of the blue, swift and harsh. She swore never to forgive him or take him back.

Matt Winters had everything charted out exactly as he wanted it in life. He was going to be a high profile attorney in a big city. Lake Placid couldn’t give him what he wanted, so he left his true love behind when she wouldn’t agree to move. Then life changed drastically years later, his world was turned upside down, and he realized that having it all meant nothing if he couldn’t have Dena. But she swore she’d never give him another chance and he was determined to win her over…somehow.

A Chance at a $15 Amazon CG #mgtab

I want to know what books you’d like to read next! I just finished the draft of Fierce-Cade (the 4th book in the Fierce Five Series) and will start the draft of Fierce-Ella soon. Fierce-Aiden was released and you can purchase it on Amazon.

But in the meantime, I’m trying to plan out where to go next. Many of you have sent me emails, comments, and reviews that you’d like to see more of the All Series and the Lake Placid Series along with the Fierce Five. Don’t worry, I do plan on adding to those other series as well.

So where does the Amazon gift card come into play? Hop over to my FB page by clicking on the picture below. Just comment : All Series, Lake Placid, or Fierce Five. On Friday the 18th, I’ll randomly draw and name for the gift card. Pretty easy and then I can get an idea of what you, as my readers, would like to see more of.

All Series

Last Chance…Chapter One

The last little teaser before the release of Last Chance. If you haven’t read the prologue yet, you can catch up on the post last week.

Last Chance

In the Way

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

“Riley,” her brother, Max, said, his ever-present patience missing at the moment. “My door is always open. There is more than enough room and you know it.”

She looked over at Lily, Max’s sister-in-law, as she came strolling in. “I don’t want to be a burden.”

He followed her gaze and then laughed. “You aren’t.” Lily walked back out with a bottle of water in her hand, giving them both a little wave. “Lily is only here a few more weeks, then she’s heading back on campus to work and take some classes for the summer.”

“But I’m in the way with Quinn and the baby,” she said. Max’s wife had given birth to their daughter just three weeks prior.

“You aren’t in the way at all. Quinn is going crazy right now. Having another adult in the house—a female adult—is helping to keep her sanity.”

Riley was about to argue that statement until her niece, Lara, and nephew, Davy, came rushing in arguing with each other about some TV show they’d watched last night, then started banging around in cabinets.

Unlike Quinn, Riley wasn’t used to the noise. She was used to the peace and quiet of her own little apartment. She’d actually enjoyed the solitude the last few months before she moved. Until she didn’t feel safe anymore. Until the quiet felt like spiders crawling over her skin…even in her sleep, waking her up, forcing her to sit up straight, her heart pounding. The city had been getting to her and she’d waited long enough.

Max laughed. “Kids. Enough arguing and slamming things around. I don’t want you to wake up Jocelyn.”

“Too late,” Quinn said, walking into the room with the baby squirming in her arms. “She was up.”

“Sorry, Dad,” Lara said, rushing over and stopping in front of her baby sister. “Sorry, Joce. Can I hold her, Quinn?”

Quinn handed the baby off to Lara. “You didn’t wake her. This child wants to eat nonstop,” Quinn said, walking to the refrigerator and pulling out a bottle to start to heat up. “Speaking of food, what does everyone want for breakfast?”

Riley stood up fast. “I’ll fix it. You just relax and take care of my new niece.”

She hated adding to the chaos of the house and was trying to help as much as she could, when she could. If only they’d let her do something.

“Sit, Riley,” Quinn said, testing the temperature of the formula on her hand now. “You’re a guest in the house. I can’t just lie around doing nothing. I feel fine. Women used to squat in the fields, drop their kids, and finish working. I can handle breakfast for this rowdy bunch.”

Max winked and Lara said, unfazed, “I want pancakes. Can we have them if I feed the baby for you?”

Riley was going to offer to do that, loving the feel of that tiny baby in her hands. The soft smell of freshly cleaned skin. The contented sigh when the bottle was put in Jocelyn’s mouth and the only thing that mattered was immediate satisfaction. It was a peaceful feeling that Riley hadn’t felt in a long time. But Lara looked as though she wasn’t going to release her baby sister without a stick of dynamite in front of her.

“Pancakes coming up. Max, are you staying?” Quinn asked.

“If I wasn’t, I would be now. But you keep forgetting I’ve got to take the kids to school.”

“I can do that,” Riley said.

“And give up pancakes?” Max said, looking slightly outraged. “No way. Just sit and relax, Riley. What’s going on with you?”

Every time she offered to do anything, they shot her down. “Nothing,” she said, letting it drop. The more she talked right now, the more Max would be looking closer for the truth she wasn’t ready to share. “I really appreciate you letting me stay here until my house is ready.”

“Think nothing of it,” Quinn said. “I like having someone here at night who isn’t crying and asking for food.”

“We don’t cry,” Davy said, smirking at Quinn. Riley was glad to see Davy finally out of his shell. He’d been such a quiet kid the past few years. His parents’ divorce had hit him hard and it seemed no one had been able to reach him. She was guessing Quinn did.

“I’m talking about your father,” Quinn said, walking over and filling his coffee cup for him.

Riley saw Max smile at his wife. Yeah, she was jealous. But Max deserved it after his last marriage. They all did.

Still, she’d had dreams and hopes of having this family dynamic at some point in her life. But not now. The last thing she wanted was a man until she got her life in order.

“I’ll clean up when you’re done then,” Riley said.

“That I’ll let you do,” Quinn said.

After everyone was finished eating, with the kids and Quinn upstairs getting ready for the day, Max walked up to Riley at the sink and pulled a bowl out of her hands to dry. “I really am glad you’re here. I don’t want you to feel like you’re in the way. You’re not at all.”

She turned and looked at her older brother. The person she’d looked up to so much in her life. The person she always thought she’d be. The person her father wanted her to be…but she didn’t have it in her to follow in their footsteps. It wasn’t what she wanted, and if her father taught her anything in life, it was to stand on her feet and be her own person. She was trying to find that teenager from so long ago again to do just that.

“I don’t want to be another person Quinn has to take care of.”

“She isn’t taking care of you. You’re almost invisible here. You’re staying in her old suite that was just collecting dust anyway. It’s helping her since it’s one less room she feels she has to clean, because we’ve always known how much of a neat freak you are.”

The old nanny suite was nice and private, with a separate entrance from the rest of the house. It allowed Riley to come and go as she pleased, but it didn’t change anything. The two weeks she’d been here already felt like two years. She was ready to be gone. Almost as ready as she’d been to move out of her parents’ house and head to college eleven years ago.

Max sighed, sensing her mood, like he had so much when they were growing up. “When is your house going to be done?”

She’d bought a house sight unseen. A townhouse, really. Something closer to town for her, not so far out on the lake. Not that she didn’t enjoy it here, but after living in New York City, this was too quiet for her. She wanted to look out her window and at least see a streetlight now and again. Not pitch-blackness. Things could hide easier in the dark. Fears crept up in the dark. Nightmares happened in the dark.

Dreams got lost in the dark.

Courage sometimes needed to be found in light places, at least for her.

“The floors are finally finished, so the countertops are going in tomorrow and then I think just retiling both tubs in the bathrooms. That should be all that’s left.”

She had a little germ phobia—or as Max just said, she was a “neat freak”—which was odd considering her job. She had her hands in people’s mouths all day long. Nothing was hygienic about someone’s teeth no matter how much they brushed them. The mouth was a breeding ground for nasty things that would cause most people to gag if they knew.

But when she was working, she was in a zone, taking all the precautions she needed. At home, she wanted certain things fresh and clean. And since she didn’t know the previous owners, or how clean they might have been, replacing all the counters, toilets, and showers, and refinishing the hardwood floors satisfied her slight neurosis.

“So you’ve got one, maybe two weeks left with me?” Max asked.

“Pretty much. I didn’t even want it to be this long, but they said close to a month.”

“Then let’s take advantage of it. We never got to spend a lot of time together growing up.” He pulled her forward into his arms, and settling against his larger frame, she felt safe and secure. Kind of like what she thought Jocelyn might feel when she was held. Riley hadn’t felt safe and secure much lately. Not even mentally.

“Deal,” she said. “Since I know you won’t let me cook…” He gave her a funny look, but she continued on, “I know you’ve got a thing for your wife’s cooking and I can’t blame you in the least. I couldn’t compete even if I wanted to. But my point is, if you won’t let me cook, can I bring pizza home for dinner now and again? Or something. Just name it.”

“I think Quinn would like that. She loves to cook, but it is nice to have a break from it. I’ll let you know a good time to do it.”

“Thanks,” Riley said, hoping he kept his word. She may still be his baby sister, but she was an adult now. One who had lived on her own for a long time. One who had just picked up her entire life in less than three months and kept the whole thing a secret from most of the outside world until it was finalized.

She didn’t need to be babied by anyone.

Last Chance…Prologue

Last Chance

 

It’s that time again. Time for a teaser of Last Chance.

Prologue

Riley Hamilton sat on her couch looking around her living room at all the boxes neatly stacked and labeled. Time to move on. Time to leave this place that never felt like a home to begin with.

The movers would be arriving in a few hours with exact instructions, just like the packers had yesterday. The plan was set in motion.

She took a deep breath, stood up, and walked over to her kitchen counter, sliding her new cell phone into her purse and putting her old one in the pocket of her blazer. She knew precisely where that was going to end up.

No doubt, she’d rather be in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers today, but instead she was dressed like she was going to work. Gray trousers, cream and gray shirt, a teal blazer, and gray and teal flats. She couldn’t raise any suspicions. She had to look like she did every morning, five days a week. She didn’t want questions or comments. Nothing. She’d made up her mind.

One more deep breath. She hitched her new purse on her shoulder, grabbed her briefcase filled with her laptop and all her important legal documents, then made her way out the door and toward the subway at exactly eight a.m., just like every other day of the workweek.

But today was Friday and today was different, and no one was supposed to know.

Arrangements with a friend had her SUV parked for the night in a secure location one stop earlier than her regular exit. The routine of leaving the subway, then hailing a taxi to her office was going to be interrupted today.

It’s not like she was hiding. Not like she was escaping to a faraway land where no one could ever find her. But she was leaving. She was starting fresh. Looking for the life she always wanted. The life she was going to finally have.

With her earbuds in her ears, she listened to seventies rock during her twenty-minute commute. When Stevie Nicks’s “Landslide” came on, she knew she was making the right choice. Not that she doubted herself, not really. But that song said it all. Time made her bolder and time made her stronger. She was her father’s daughter and she was moving on. He understood she needed to leave; so did her mother. They supported her, but they didn’t understand it all. She couldn’t tell them. Not everything.

The truth of what had pushed this decision so fast—and so out of left field in their eyes—had to remain a secret.

But it wasn’t abrupt in her eyes. She’d seen this for years. Seen this change and knew it was time. Time to grab the dream and make it hers.

So lost in the raspy voice of Stevie, she almost missed her stop. Jumping up fast, she turned sideways and slid through the doors before they could shut on her. Then she made the two-minute walk to her vehicle, climbed in, and proceeded on with her plans.

Ten minutes later, she was pulling in behind her office complex next to the dumpster. She hit the button and waited for her window to roll down, then tossed her old cell phone in. Throwing away everything she could at this point. It was better this way. Out with the old.

She looked over at her office, said a tiny goodbye to the place that gave her the experience she needed. Told herself she’d call and say goodbye to all the staff, keep in touch with all her friends, but knew in her heart she wouldn’t. Time to leave. Time to run.

Even if it was only from herself and the only life she’d ever known.

Last Chance…Music

As many of you know, I love listening to a song over and over while writing. I’m a HUGE Stevie Nicks fan!! I can listen to her nonstop and never tire of it. And nothing describes Riley and Trevor as much as Stevie’s Leather and Lace! Though I’ve got to say there are several Stevie songs that I listened to while writing this story.

Please enjoy and grab a copy of Last Chance!

Last Chance

Last Chance

You can run but you can’t hide.

Dr. Riley Hamilton found that out the hard way. When she’d had enough. When she felt uneasy and was scared, when no one believed her, she left town. Picked up the life she knew and made a new one. She let her guard down in Lake Placid, she got comfortable, and that was her mistake.

Trevor Miles, Lake Placid Chief of Police, always wanted to know what was going on in his town. Just because it usually had no more than small town nuisances, didn’t mean he couldn’t handle anything thrown his way. He’d seen the nastiness in the world and was ready for life in the slow lane. What he wasn’t ready for was the sexy new dentist in town who wanted to pull out his tooth. Did he mention he’s hated going to the dentist since he was a child?

2018 Goals & Plans

Happy New Year!

I’m not one for making New Year resolutions. I’d rather have goals. And those goals end up on lists because those that know me know that when I make a list, I tend to stick to it. Nothing feels better than putting a big thick line through a completed task. I’m a bit nerdy that way.

I’ve got two sets of goals. Writing and personal goals.

We’ll start with the writing goals (and some of these are actually plans in motion):

January- The release of All for Love- Road to Romance. This is the prequel to the All Series and blends in with the Road Series and how it all started so many years ago.

February – I’m in two boxed sets. Sweet and Sassy Valentine, which will also feature All for Love and A Valentine She’ll Remember which will feature Road to Redemption.

Once Fierce-Brody is done with the Kindle Scout nomination time frame (Jan 16th) then I’ve got to wait 2 more weeks while they decide if I get a writing contract. If not, that book will be published in February. But you can still vote for me here if you haven’t yet.

March- Last Chance will be released. I’ll be putting that up for pre-order in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

April – No releases that I’m aware of but I’ll be writing away.

May- I plan on releasing Fierce – Aiden, the second in the Fierce Five Series

June – I’ll be part of a boxed set called Sweet and Sassy Weddings and it will feature a new novella called Finding Love. I’ll also be releasing Finding Love on it’s own this month.

And the exciting news. Once I release the first of the Love Collection (Most likely Finding Love in June) I’ll be releasing a new novella each month for 12 months! That’s right. 12 months… in a row. New stories. A collection rather than a series.

In between those novellas, I’ll be working on the Fierce Five Series and another novel from the Lake Placid Series. Don’t hold me to those dates yet, but I’ve got them kind of planned for Summer/Fall/Winter.

That’s a lot of writing, but I’m up for the challenge and I’ve got it all down in a calendar. With any luck, I’ll stay focused and on track.

Personal Goals:

You’d think I’d have a more detailed list of personal goals, but the truth is, mine are pretty simple.

  1. Spend more quality time with my family.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff – I’m good with this, most of the time, but I need a reminder a time or two.
  3. Stay physically active and healthy. I just need to get back on track now that the holidays are over. To me, good physically health leads to good mental health. I need all the good mental health I can get.
  4. Leave the house more than 1-2 times a week. I just started working from home, and found it’s easy to get in a lazy habit of not leaving the house and looking like I just rolled out of bed. This might play in with good mental health, I’m thinking ha.
  5. Enjoy my life more. I’m healthy right now and haven’t always been. That means I should take advantage of the good times and enjoy them to the fullest.

There, 5 goals, because I tend to be OCD and when I do a numbered list they have to end with a 0 or 5.

So how about you? Any goals or plans for 2018?