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Lost And Found by K.L. Donn

Continue reading “Lost And Found by K.L. Donn”

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COVER REVEAL for Only the Positive: Only You #1 by Elle Thorpe

 

Title: Only the Positive

Series: Only You #1

Author: Elle Thorpe

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Design: Kassi Jean Formatting and Design

 Release Date: September 20, 2018

Pre-order Links

99c for a limited time

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Will only be available at the following 

retailers until September 20, 2018

 

Blurb

Only the Positive Teaser 2

Reese

I made a mistake that might have ruined someone’s life. I’ve moved to Sydney to avoid the glares and the questions from the people back home, but there’s one thing I can’t run from—the guilt and pain that follows me relentlessly. All I can do is dull it with alcohol and casual sex. But then my new boss, Mr Dark and Delicious, deserted me, mid kiss, with my skirt hiked up and my shirt discarded on the alley floor. I should hate him―him and the secrets he’s keeping. But I can’t stay away. Because the pain and guilt he’s hiding mirror my own.

Low
All she wanted was one night. That, I could do. I’m the king of casual. Love them and leave them, before they leave me. With chemistry off the scale, we couldn’t even make it home, both of us too impatient, ripping each other’s clothes off in the alleyway outside the bar. Then my phone buzzed, and one text message stopped everything. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe. All I could do was run. I’m toxic, but I can’t tell her why. I can’t bear the look of horror I know would cross her face. But I also don’t know how to keep something so life altering from the woman I’m falling for. Not when I need her just to survive it.

 

 

Giveaway
Chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card
Author Bio
Elle Thorpe lives on the sunny east coast of Australia, about an hour out of Sydney. When she’s not writing stories full of kissing and chemistry, she’s a wife, and mummy to three tiny humans. She’s also official ball thrower to one slobbery dog named Rollo. Yes, she named a female dog after a male character on Vikings. Don’t judge her. Elle is a complete and utter fangirl at heart, obsessing over The Walking Dead and Outlander to an unhealthy degree. But she wouldn’t change a thing.
Author Links

NEWSLETTER

FACEBOOK

FACEBOOK GROUP

INSTAGRAM

WEBSITE

GOODREADS

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellethorpebooks

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Cover Reveal for NOT QUITE PERFECT by Rebecca Norinne

Today we are celebrating the cover reveal for NOT QUITE PERFECT by Rebecca Norinne. This is the first standalone title in The Rocky Cove Series, and it releases on September 26th. Check out pre-order links, and a trailer for the book, below!

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Pre-order NOT QUITE PERFECT Now

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Books2Read Universal Link

Add the book to Goodreads!

NOT QUITE PERFECT by Rebecca Norinne

Releasing September 26th

Blurb:

I can’t believe I met the perfect man …

On the ferry to my mother’s wedding, I met the most amazing man—his love of Faulkner notwithstanding. Professor David Carstairs was funny, intelligent, and had the sexiest hands I’d ever seen.

A conversation about classic American literature led to a romantic dinner at his house … and then a whole lot of dessert afterward. I’d never done anything like that before, but what we had was something special.

Unfortunately, everything came crashing down the next day. Because my supposedly perfect professor? His dad just married my mom, and now he’s my stepbrother!

Thanksgiving dinner just got a whole lot more complicated.

I’ve finally found the perfect woman …

En route to watch my father marry yet another young gold digger, I met the perfect woman—her hatred of Faulkner notwithstanding. Victoria Witherspoon was kind, witty, and had the most kissable lips I’d ever seen.

We spent the day together, and then stayed up all night exploring each other’s bodies. I don’t do relationships, but for someone as perfect as Victoria, I was ready to make an exception.

If only her mom hadn’t just married my dad, putting the object of all my fantasies firmly in the “off limits” category.

And I thought the holidays were awkward before.

Watch the Book Trailer!

 

——————————-

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Norinne writes sexy romance from the heart. Her heroines are bold and headstrong, and her heroes will do anything for the ones they love.

When not banging away at the keyboard, she is watching rugby, enjoying a pint of craft beer, or traveling the globe in search of inspiration for her next book.

Originally from California, Rebecca currently resides in a small coastal community outside of Boston where she’s renovating an antique colonial built in the 1700s and trying valiantly not to be eaten alive by mosquitos.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Join Rebecca’s Newsletter List

 

RELEASE BOOST for Kiss My Ash by Leddy Harper

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Title: Kiss My Ash
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Released: August 9, 2018
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

 

Blurb

Ash Jenkins was the typical boy next door. Wait, who am I kidding? There was nothing typical about that boy.

He was tall, ripped, and had the voice of a man twice his age. Intelligent, sexy as sin, and barely legal.

Sent to live with his dad after getting in some trouble with the law, he was definitely someone I needed to stay away from.

But he had his sights set on me, and he didn’t try to hide it.

Did it still make me a cougar if I was the prey?

My Review by Cee Cee Houston

I found my boundaries and comfort zone getting pushed to their limits with Kiss My Ash by Leddy Harper. I knew from the blurb it was an older woman/ younger man scenario, but what I didn’t know was how much older Kristy was, and that Asher was only seventeen when he set his sights on his next door neighbor. I was slightly uncomfortable when I discovered this. It was just so unlikely in my eyes, and even though Leddy wrote it extremely well, the discomfort kept plaguing me.

Asher’s character is so much more mature for his age, that Kristy fell for him so easily. But, the actual reason for how this maturity came about was never explained. We got his background, but that didn’t have the impact needed to make such a profound change, from the troubled youth he had been less than three years earlier.

Then there was Asher’s sexual experience. To my mind, those scenes, while hot and steamy as they were had me shaking my head in disbelief. Yeah, I know it was fiction lol.

Still.

All that aside, I didn’t hate this story, I didn’t love it either but that doesn’t prevent it from being really well written. The sexy banter and somewhat dirty scenarios made for an interesting few hours to while away an afternoon. If you enjoy this type of trope, then you will love this book. For those on the fence, take a chance, you might be surprised. I know I was.

Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio

Leddy Harper had to use her imagination often as a child. She grew up the only girl in a house full of boys. At the age of fourteen, she decided to use that imagination and wrote her first book, and never stopped.


She often calls writing her therapy, using it as a way to deal with issues through the eyes of her characters.

She is now a mother of three girls, leaving her husband as the only man in a house full of females.

The decision to publish her first book was made as a way of showing her children to go after whatever it is they want to. Love what you do and do it well. Most importantly Leddy wanted to teach them what it means to overcome their fears.

Author Links
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EXCERPT REVEAL for GORGEOUS by KRISTY MARIE

Meet Cade in this juicy excerpt for GORGEOUS by Kristy Marie! Don’t forget to add it to your TBR!
Contemporary Romance
Stand Alone
Cover Designer: Letitia Hasser of RBA Designs
Photographer: Lauryn Alvarez Photography
Cover Model: Joshua Butler

Blurb:

Breck

My name is Brecklyn Brannon, and I’m not who I claim to be.

A year ago, I packed up my promising life in the city for a man I saw only once.

Accepting a temporary job with Cade and four blazing hot veterans should have been my way in.

Except, Cade acts like he would rather be tortured than speak to me.

He can resist all he wants, but I made a promise that I intend to keep.

Even if it costs me everything.

Cade

I’ve watched her for over a year.

There’s something about her that seems familiar… but now that she’s living here for two weeks, I could care less what it is.

I just want her gone.

Breck is temptation personified, and some lines can’t be crossed.

I’m Major Cade Jameson, and I made a promise, too.

One that I can’t break.

No matter how hard it gets.

EXCERPT:

Cade Jameson has entered the building, and holy alien babies, he’s wearing a motherfucking tank top with his dress shirt hanging open. Those delicious pecs toy with my emotions as they flex underneath the snug fabric, taunting me with ridiculous requests like: Bite me, Breck.

Crazy, right?

But Cade has some serious voodoo going on because I take an unintended step in his direction when he snaps, “Are you seriously getting him drunk, Hayes?” Cade charges over to the two drunks and snatches the bottle of liquor from the table before turning and pouring it down the sink.

“Aw! Come on, Major. I was just having a little fun with him. He had some nerves.”

Cade mumbles something low that sounds a lot like stupid motherfuckers.

“Cade.” Theo’s glassy eyes meet mine like he just realized I was here. And then he smirks at me. “Jameson,” he mutters.

“Don’t talk to me right now, Von Bremen. Commander is going to be fucking pissed that you’re drunk two hours before the wedding.”

“Jameson.”

Shoulders hunched, Cade sighs at the sink before straightening and walking to the table, sliding a glass of water in front of Theo. “Drink all of it.”

Theo laughs at the glass of water and tries to lay his head down on the table. “No, no, no. Stay upright,” Cade scolds, his tone laced with exasperation, pulling him up in the chair by his shoulders and then glaring at Hayes. “This is your mess. Sober his ass up right now.”

“Jameson.”

Cade loses his temper, yelling into the kitchen with the voice of a Marine. “What, Theo?”

Silence.

You could hear a mouse burp in China. That’s how quiet it is in this kitchen until Theo snorts and points to me.

“Your jelly girl is behind you.”

★★NOW AVAILABLE★★
Free with Kindle Unlimited!

https://amzn.to/2lsOi2d

 

About the Author:

A self-proclaimed reader enthusiast, Kristy started her writing journey back in 2009, reading and writing when her daughter was napping. Establishing her place in Corporate America (because something had to pay the bills), writing became her dirty, late-night secret.

After eight long years, she released her debut novel, Commander in Briefs. It was a long road, but she can honestly say, the road less traveled had the most beautiful sights.

The only thing Kristy Marie loves as much as reading and writing is sports! Especially those that require muscles and a nice ass. Her favorite is, and always will be, baseball. She’s such a fan, that she even married her small town’s high school’s centerfielder where they still live with their three badass kids.

Commander in Briefs is her first series but definitely not her last.

Author’s Links:

Kirsty Marie

 

EXCERPT REVEAL for The Doctor by Nikki Sloane

 

The Doctor will see you on August 29th.
Keep reading for an excerpt!

Title: The Doctor

Genre: College Romance

Release Date: August 29th

Pre-Order Links

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2KLO59c
Amazon Universal → mybook.to/the-doctor
iBooks → https://apple.co/2zrLiNh
Nook → http://bit.ly/2KMNBQp
Kobo → http://bit.ly/2ulcSWE

ADD TO YOUR TBR → http://bit.ly/2u5LxIR
FOLLOW Nikki on Bookbub → http://bit.ly/2qWuztn

 

BLURB

For years, he was a part of my life. I watched him rush to the hospital countless times, his beautiful surgeon hands racing to save lives.

After all this time, I can’t escape the truth.

I want Dr. Lowe.

Lust chokes each moment we’re together. He promises to fulfill my fantasies—every dirty, naughty desire we can dream up.

Only, I can’t have him.

He’s confident. Experienced. Seductive.

And he’s my ex-boyfriend’s father.

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EXCERPT:

It was a nicer waiting room than where I’d just been, but much smaller. Only enough room for six people or so. This had to be the place where doctors delivered their post-op summary to families.

I turned to face him, and all the air whooshed from my lungs.

Greg was essentially wearing a suit. He wore black dress pants, a white collared shirt and a cobalt-colored tie. His suitcoat was fitted and white, and he completed the look with a turquoise stethoscope slung around his neck. My gaze traced the blue lettering over his right breast.

Gregory Lowe, MD

Trauma Surgery

It didn’t matter that he had faint lines around his eyes hinting at his fatigue, or that his normally perfect hair looked disheveled, as if he’d run a hand through it one too many times. It didn’t matter because he looked fucking perfect. My dirty doctor fantasy come to life.

And he gazed back at me like he wanted to eat me whole, which was more than fine with me. He sauntered over, and his confidence seemed to build with each step, widening his wicked smile.

His voice was deep and sinful. “What seems to be the problem?”

“Problem?” I whispered.

“You’re flushed. Breathing hard.” He seized my wrist, pressed his index finger to my pulse point, and peered down at his watch, counting the seconds. “Your pulse is elevated.”

I had no idea my wrist was an erogenous zone, but in Greg’s hands, every inch of my skin felt that way. I swallowed a breath. “I’m having a reaction to something.”

God, his expression was corrupt and victorious as he walked me backward toward a wall. He feigned concern. “Any idea what’s causing it?”

He wasn’t playing fair, but I liked it. “No . . . Doctor.”

The second the words left my mouth, we burst into flames. His lips slammed against mine at the same instant my back hit the wall. His hands were on my waist, then under my shirt, sliding over my belly and skimming upward. I clenched the lapels of his coat as our tongues tangled with each other, battling for control. He won, of course.

It made sense that our kiss was electric because I was a live wire tonight. His broad chest flattened against me, his hands molding to my bra-covered breasts while he pushed me against the wall. I tore my mouth from his and turned my head to the side so I could drag air into my lungs, and his hot, wet mouth latched onto the sensitive spot below my ear, biting and sucking until I let out a moan.

It was wild what we were doing, and how fast we attacked each other, but the where we were doing this was craziest part of it. He didn’t seem to have any concerns though. “Undo your pants,” he rasped into my ear. “I want to check and see how severe this reaction is.”

“Oh my God,” I gasped. Without thinking, my hands moved to follow his command. He pulled his lower body away from mine, just enough to allow me to do it. The snap of my jeans popped open, and I couldn’t get my zipper down fast enough. Should I be worried about someone catching us?

I wasn’t. I trusted him. Greg wouldn’t put either of us in a position for that to happen, and his calm, focused expression reinforced it. He looked absolutely in control, both of me and the situation.

His dark eyes sharpened on mine, studying my response while he slid his hand down the front of my panties. My lips parted as his fingers found me hot and wet for him. What did I look like, clutching his arms right above his elbows as his fingers twitched on my swollen clit? I shuddered with pleasure. Had my pupils dilated? Could he tell my heart rate was racing through the roof?

His lips peeled back in a smug smile. “That is quite the reaction.” Those skilled fingers stirred me further, and I tightened my grip on his arms, biting off a louder moan. Shit, his touch was magic. It lit me up. He could tell too, because his eyes burned with enjoyment. “And you’re still not sure what’s causing it?”

He liked this scene as much as I did. Maybe more.

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About the Author:

Nikki Sloane

Nikki Sloane landed in graphic design after her careers as a waitress, a screenwriter, and a ballroom dance instructor fell through. For eight years she worked for a design firm in that extremely tall, black, and tiered building in Chicago that went through an unfortunate name change during her time there. Now she lives in Kentucky and manages a team of graphic artists. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, is married with two sons, writes dirty books, and couldn’t be any happier.

Stalk Nikki:

Website: http://www.nikkisloane.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikkisloaneauthor/?fref=ts
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AuthorNSloane
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fsTzpI
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/NikkiSloane

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#TeaserReveal #TheEarlOfLondon #LouiseBay

 

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The Earl Of London by Louise Bay is releasing August 28th.

Pre Order exclusively on iBooks: https://apple.co/2N3gFjj

Add on GR: https://bit.ly/2zsysyl

 

Synopsis

I believe in love. It just doesn’t believe in me.

I date. I’m all for giving guys a chance. I’ve just never met the one.

Until on a spring morning in the English countryside, a tall, dark stranger emerges from the mist. Logan Steele is all tousled hair, hard chest and lips so perfect I want to reach out and touch them just to check they’re real. I’m sure that’s a thunderclap of chemistry I feel between us.

Did I mention he’s an Earl with a self-made fortune?

A billionaire who works tirelessly for charity?

And he’s so hot, watching him is like staring at the sun.

But like I said, love isn’t rooting for me.

When I find out Logan Steele is out to destroy everything I’ve dedicated my life to protect, the chemistry disappears and the hope that had blossomed my chest turns to rage.

It no longer matters that he quickens my pulse just saying my name, weakens my knees with a single touch and that he might just be the greatest kisser that ever lived.

I might believe in love but Logan Steele is definitely not the one.

A standalone romance.

╔═══.••. ═══╗☆ ҉ ☆Cover Reveal for The Boy Next Door By Louisa M. Hughes☆ ҉☆  ╚═══ . • • . ═══╝

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ebook

Release Date: 1st October 2018
Cover Designer: Holly Webb
Editor: Karen Sanders Editing

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Blurb:

From a young age Alistair had always been there, we have always been friends!

Meeting in Reception at the age of five, he always called me, his ‘ angel.’
we’ve grown and changed but one thing that’s always been strong is our love, we had our whole future to enjoy, until a horrific accident and now I can’t forgive myself.

Will I ever get over the accident? or will I walk away from the one man I’ve always loved because I don’t feel worthy of forgiveness? or will Alistair be able to bring me back to life?

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☄Author Bio ☄
My name is Louisa May Hughes, I’m 35 years old and live in the Midlands, UK; with my gorgeous husband and three gorgeous children.
I have always wanted to be writer but started as a avid reader from an early age, I got my reading needs from my nan who was also a avid reader, we read things from Torey Hayden to Mills and Boon.
We both loved the escapism from the written words and loved to live in a fantasy world but losing my nan five years ago, I lost my way and needed to find a new release; so here I am. Living a dream I never knew could be possible, I was told many times at school that I wouldn’t be anything but I am proving them wrong; one word at a time.
So, here I am on the cusp of my first release, I love Romance Novels and the whole thing of growing up with your best friend and falling in love, sets my heart beating.
When I’m not writing, I’m supporting my sons playing football, reading and taking pictures of wildlife.
My favourite music is R&B and love to watch Rom-coms and comedies.
My favourite saying is:
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
I think that applies to so much in life, in marriage and in friendships, nothing’s perfect but you can always make perfect moments out of nothing.

#Friends2Lovers #TheBoyNextDoor
#Romance #Jenna & #Alistair
#LouisaMHughes #NewRelease #MustRead #ComingSoon

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Louisa.m.hughes2018/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/louisam.hughes/

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Review & Excerpt Tour for BLIND KISS by Renee Carlino

Title: Blind Kiss

Genre:

Release Date: 14th August 2018

 

AVAILABLE NOW

AMAZON | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

BLURB

From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably-decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

 

HARD BLACK

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Can you tell from just one kiss whether the person you are meant to be with is ‘the one’ for you?

Gavin and Penny signed up to participate in a psych test, and had to kiss while blindfolded and without knowing anything about each other.

Sparks flew and it seemed like they would be the perfect pairing… only-

Things happened, Penny had so much going on with her school life and being a ballet dancer, she believed she didn’t have time for a relationship as well. She held herself apart from Gavin, asking for him to wait until she was available, even though she wanted to be with him.

Gavin tried to make things work, but one rejection too many and he started to pull away from her and turned his attention to other women. But, he swore he’d always be there for her.

Until the night he wasn’t.

This set in motion a series of events that would take years to unravel.

Fourteen years later, Penny is married with a young son soon to be leaving for college and she’s not happy. Not with her life or her marriage. Gavin is in and out of her life, never leaving long enough for her to be able to let go of what might have been.

This story was convoluted, frustrating and heartbreakingly good. I wanted so much for these two characters. I needed to see them together, but it was a long haul getting there. I wanted to shake both of them at times, and hug them at others. They made so many stupid decisions and mistakes. They hurt each other needlessly at times and when they should have called it a day, then just went and made things ten times worse.

This book is filled with angst, with heartbreak, it’s a veritable rollercoaster that will rip you apart before gentle picking you up and brushing away your tears. If this is what you love in a story, then grab Blind Kiss today but har those tissues handy.

 

EXCERPT

WE SAT AT the bar of the pub as I continued to stare at him, a mixture of curiosity and fear boiling in my gut. He ordered a beer, and I ordered Chardonnay with beer-cheese pretzels.

“That’s different for you.”

I usually stuck to salads, an old habit from my dancing days, but I had lost a lot of weight in the past few weeks. “Don’t think you can distract me so easily. Tell me what’s going on. Did you break up with Briel?”

He took a long pull from his beer and stared straight ahead. “Don’t be mad, okay?”

I stared at him, wordlessly, the fear fully boiling over. And then he dropped the bomb on me.

The next few minutes were hazy as Gavin, the bar, and my glass of Chardonnay swam together before my eyes. I tried to reach for the glass but found it suddenly empty. That’s weird. It was full a minute ago. I motioned to the bartender for another, then poured it down my throat in a steady stream.

I was breathing fast when I slammed the glass on the bar, shattering my fugue state—and bringing Gavin into sharp relief. I was reeling.

“Shit, Penny! Be careful. You almost shattered your glass!” He practically yelled.

“You’re moving to fucking France?!” I yelled back.

The bartender jerked his head toward the door, and within minutes Gavin was forcibly dragging me out of the bar by the arm. I slipped out of his grip and stood in the middle of the parking lot, seething, very much drunk, and fully freaking out. “So, do you love her?”

“Briel? What kind of question is that?”

“Just answer me.”

“Fuck, Penny. That’s not what this is about. I don’t really have a choice here, though, do I?”

“You always have a choice.”

He glared at me. “That’s fucking rich, coming from you.”

I shook my head vigorously. “Totally different situation.”

“Like hell it was.”

“When do you leave?”

“In two days.”

“WHAT?!”

He ran up and shook me by the shoulders. “Jesus, if I knew you were gonna take it like this, I wouldn’t have told you in public. Pull yourself together.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs and then made a guttural sound as I hunched over and held my stomach.

“First Milo, now you?”

“Don’t you put that on me. I’m not the reason why you’re about to be alone and unhappy.”

“Fuck you, Gavin!”

“Fuck you, Penny!”

He didn’t turn around—he just stormed off in typical Gavin fashion: petulant, recalcitrant, and a total shithead. People in the parking lot were gawking, appalled, covering their children’s ears. But no one made a move to leave. When Gavin and I got like this, we were like a car wreck by the side of the road, impossible to look away from.

Gavin slid into his ’67 Chevelle and fired up the engine. I hated that car because he loved it so much. It had a black leather interior, a flawless paint job, and tinted windows, like it belonged to some kind of celebrity—which Gavin definitely wasn’t. It was his only possession worth a dime, besides his garage, a few guitars, and a Zippo lighter he swore River Phoenix had given to him at the Viper Room the night of his death.

I ran to the exit and stood in the middle of the lane, daring him to run me over as he ripped out of his parking spot and raced around the corner toward the exit. “We’re not done talking, you coward!”

He slowed but let the car idle while he revved the engine. “I dare you!” I yelled.

He stuck his head out the window, leaned his tattooed arm against the door, and actually grinned at me.

So smug. What a dick.

“You look ridiculous standing there. Get out of the way!”

I walked toward his window and noticed that his demeanor had completely softened. There was even humor in his expression. He wanted me to block him, and he knew I would.

“Can’t you have a proper fight without running away?”

“You were lecturing me, yet again. I have a mother, thank you. You have a child you can order around . . . and a husband you can control. I don’t need your shit, okay? Don’t you realize that I’m freaking out, too? I’m going through the hardest time of my life, and you’re making this all about you.”

“You’ve been going through the hardest time of your life for the whole fourteen years I’ve known you.”

“And as my friend, do you think you’re helping my situation right now?” he spat back, his mood shifting once again. “Don’t even. Don’t you dare act like I haven’t been a good friend to you. You’ve put me in the most awkward situations, you’ve bolted on me, you’ve stopped speaking to me for weeks at a time, but still . . . I make myself available to you. I’ve been here for you, always. And now you’re moving thousands of miles away when I need you most?”

He shook his head slowly. “That’s right, Penny. You have been here. You’ve been right by my side, lecturing me, rolling your eyes at me, pressuring me to get serious about Briel, all so I could go and fuck up my life even more while you sit in your nice house, with your KitchenAid mixer, your Oracle espresso machine, and your fucking yellow Lab.”

“Don’t talk about Buckley that way! He’s a good dog. And you love our espresso machine.”

Gavin’s lips turned up at the corners. “You’re so messed up, Penny. You definitely have a chemical imbalance.”

I pointed to my chest, shocked. “Me? Look who’s talking? Please, pull into a parking space. I don’t want to stand here anymore, making a spectacle of myself. Some parent from Milo’s school is probably watching this whole thing. There’ll be whispers at the next PTA meeting. Is that what

you want for me?”

“Don’t pretend like you go to PTA meetings. And look around; everyone’s gone. It’s just us.”

He was right. The parking lot had cleared out. Gavin was sitting in his idling car while I was standing outside his window like a moron.

“I resent you for saying I pushed Briel on you. And yes, for your information, I do go to PTA meetings.”

You encouraged me to go out with her, then you needled me about it until I finally did.”

“You were horribly depressed! I thought you were gonna jump off a bridge. I told you to go out with her and to have some fun. She’s a nice girl. I didn’t say turn your life upside down, pack up, and run away with a foreigner! You’re thirty-six-years old, Gavin. I think it’s time you grew up.” I shook my head. “God, I can’t believe you.”

He jerked his head back and squinted. “Great band but not totally PC to call someone a foreigner, Penny.” His voice was low.

“Are you going to become a French citizen now, too? You better brush up on your French.”

“Everyone speaks English there.”

“No, they don’t! People always say that, but you’ll see. They might be able to communicate to a degree, but it’s not conversational English.”

Why am I still standing here, screaming about French people?

I needed to tie this conversation up in a pretty little bow. I needed closure. I couldn’t say good-bye to my best friend without it. He was leaving, going to France to chase a girlfriend

I knew he didn’t love. I was losing him. And it was my fault. We couldn’t leave each other angry.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Try not to make me feel worse about my situation, though I know that’s hard for you.” “Your situation? It’s always your situation. What about my situation?” He just stared at me. He was hurting; I could tell. But I was hurting, too. “Listen—”

“What?”

“Don’t interrupt me.” I cleared my throat. “Gavin . . . it’s just . . . I’m going to fucking miss you, okay? I’m having a hard time right now, and life is about to get a whole lot harder the second you leave.” I started to cry.

He hated it when I cried, but he didn’t ask me, “Why are you crying?” He never had to ask. He took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it forcefully in a burst of frustration. A second later his car stalled. He put it in gear, got out, and swooped me up in a bear hug. “Penny, Penny, Penny . . . my crazy girl,” he said as he rubbed my back. I was wiping my snot-covered nose on his black T-shirt and he didn’t care one bit.

He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”

He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”

“Why?” I said, fully bawling against his shoulder. He brushed a strand of my hair, damp with tears, behind my ear. “I have to go, and so do you. You need to be with your family now.”

I felt the lump in my throat growing. “You don’t have to constantly remind me that I have a family. I love my family. But you’re a part of it, too, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m fucking crying in the parking lot in front of Bank of America.”

He pulled away and we stood there, two feet apart, staring at each other, as if we were committing each other to memory. Allowing one another to really look at and take the other person in, stripped down to our bones, without scrutiny.

“Is this it?” I asked.

“This is it, P.”

I shook my head, leaned up on my toes, and wrapped my arms around him. We hugged again for a long time before he got into his car. I tried to hold on to the feeling of having him in my arms, or maybe I was trying to hold on to the feeling of being held in his.

He started the engine as I stood there, waiting for him to leave.

“We’ll talk on the phone or email or something, okay?”

“Okay,” I told him.

He swallowed nervously. Looking up at me from the car window, he said, “I wish it were you, Penny.”

That was my bow. He knew I needed it, good or bad—no matter what feelings it shook loose from our long and complicated history together.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

 

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