Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Flip - K.L. Montgomery

Title: The Flip
Series: Romance in Rehoboth
Author: K.L. Montgomery
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: July 20, 2017
Andrew and Sonnet hated each other in high school. Always rivals for the best grades and top academic honors, there was no love lost between these two nerds after graduation.
Ten years later, they've both been named heirs to property in Bethany Beach, Delaware, after the passing of its owner, Penelope Vaughn. Ms. Vaughn was Andrew's Great Aunt and Sonnet's beloved next door neighbor growing up. 
The quaint beach cottage needs serious work before going on the market. Andrew and Sonnet are both willing to bury the hatchet in exchange for drills and saws, especially since they stand to make a pretty penny with the beachfront property, which will finance Drew's dream of opening a business and Sonnet's plan to earn her doctorate in astrophysics.
But when they face a multitude of home improvement obstacles, will these two former adversaries be able to pull off a successful flip? Or did Great Aunt Penny have something else in mind with her bequest?

Goodreads Reviewer 5 Star - “The humor in this story made it a 5 star read! I haven't chuckled this much reading a book in such a long time.”
Goodreads Reviewer 5 Star - “Fun read with plenty of twists and laughs along the way.”
Goodreads Reviewer 5 Star - “This book had me laughing from the beginning. Loved every second of this story!”

Check out K.L. Montgomery's Author Page for Giveaway

By the time we’ve finished up at the house that night, Sonnet and I are both beat. We came inside during the heat of the day to work on stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen. It didn’t matter how many “stripper” jokes I made, I don’t think she ever cracked a smile. See, that’s why we never got along. She could never lower herself to be even slightly amused by the comedic stylings of world-renowned funnyman, Andrew Clark. I was elected Class Clown for a reason, you know.
“What did I do with my shoes?” she asks as soon as I crack open a cold one from the trusty cooler I packed up this morning. “And don’t you have to work tonight?” she asks when she eyes me taking a nice, healthy swig.
She’s such a buzzkill.
“A) I don’t know where your shoes are and B) nope, I’m off this weekend. Fuck yeah!” I wink at her, quickly deciding not to let her sour mood ruin mine.
“How did you manage that in the middle of the season?” she questions, getting a curious look in her eye.
“I told my boss I really needed to work on the house this weekend. She knows we gotta get this place fixed up, so I sweet-talked my way into a weekend off once a month this summer.”
“Well, good for you. I’m probably going to take some time off too once we figure out what the contractor is going to handle and what we’re going to do ourselves. If we only work on this place on the weekends, we’ll never finish before the end of the summer. And we really need to get this thing on the market by August first or we might as well wait until spring.”
That gives us almost two months, I calculate. “Agreed.” Well, at least a quick turn-around time is one thing we can both agree on. I notice she has found her shoes and slipped them on. “Where are you going?”
“I think I’m going to walk over to the boardwalk and grab something to eat,” she answers. I know she sees my eyes light up because her lips turn up with the tiniest smirk. “Do you want to come with me?”
She said the magical words.
But wait. Going with her means being seen in public with her. Willingly. It seems a little….odd. A little too much like a….date. But my stomach is growling, and it gets to make any decisions Drew Jr. isn’t going to make, so I agree to dinner.
As we're trekking along the few blocks to the boardwalk, I notice Sonnet is walking funny. "What's going on? Did you hurt your foot or something?" I ask, remembering my mother's admonishment not to be a dickhead. Of course, she didn’t put it so…colorfully.
"I think there's something in my shoe.” She sighs as she glances down at her hideous neon-colored running shoes, the kind that looks both ludicrous and outrageously expensive at the same time. "Hold on a sec, okay?" She gives me a little smirk.
I stop walking and watch her take off her shoe. The sunlight is fading into an rusty orange streak as it slips toward the purple horizon, so she fails to see anything when she peers inside. But when she turns the shoe upside down, a small object falls out onto the sidewalk. It looks round, almost like a dollop of poop or something, so of course I have to bend down and inspect it.
"Ewww, it's a millipede!" I stand back up to poise my foot over it, preparing to smash it to smithereens.
"Wait, no!” She forcefully grabs me by the arm, and even with her tiny body, she manages to shove me a yard or two away from the creepy-crawly creature. “What do you think you’re doing?!” she demands with obvious moral outrage.
"Uh, protecting your honor?" I retort. Come on, she was violated by that stealthy multi-legged worm! Or at least her shoe was.
"It's just a harmless millipede! It didn’t do anything wrong!” She smiles, crouching down to have a closer look at it. It's all curled up into a ball, it's million legs completely hidden by its hard brown shell. It slowly unfurls and starts to wiggle across the sidewalk. "See? It's so cute!" she fawns over it, her face all animated with a grin.
"Yeah, real cute." I shake my head.
We manage to have a fairly enjoyable dinner. She eats a huge salad heaped with every vegetable known to mankind, while I scarf down a steak and its rightful, god-ordained companion: steak fries. She tries not to get too grossed out by the salacious way I'm savoring my medium rare rotting cow flesh (as she referred to it multiple times), and I try not to get too grossed out by her unexplainable enthusiasm for broccoli. 
"I'm dying to see the estimates," she says as we head back to Aunt Penny's house. “I want to get this show on the road!” I nod in agreement, noticing the sun has completely surrendered to the moon, which is hanging over the ocean like a giant pearl. I can hear the waves crashing on the shore from a block away. I'd ask her if she wanted to go down there and take a look, but that feels a little too romantic – i.e. icky – in my book.
"What is the deal with my foot tonight?" she asks as I swing the front door open to what will hopefully soon be a charming beach cottage. "First the millipede, and now it feels...weird and kinda tingly.” She scrunches up her nose with the last word as if she can’t quite decide if she’s freaked out or in pain.
She promptly sits on the plastic-covered couch to take her shoes off. She stretches her sock-covered feet out in front of her, examining them as I head into the kitchen. "Huh, seems normal,” she proclaims. I'm grabbing a beer from my trusty cooler when I hear a loud gasp, quickly followed by a sharp shriek.
I take my time prying the cap off my beer bottle before heading into the living room to see what the fuss is about. I find her gripping her left foot in her hand, her eyes approximately the size of the full moon we saw hanging over the shore.
"Andrew!" she chokes out. "Oh my god, look at my foot!" She moves her hand away to reveal large purple splotches up and down her skin from her big toe to her heel.
"What the hell is that?" I ask. "Looks like purple dye!"
"It’s BURNING!" she screams as the air begins to circulate around her foot.
"What do you mean ‘burning?’" 
She doesn't answer me. Her face turns red as she hops up and down on her right foot all the way into the kitchen where she hoists her slim, perfectly toned leg up onto the counter. She shoves her whole left foot under the faucet, which is turned full-blast on cold.
"Wait, did the millipede do this?" she gasps again. "The millipede!" She turns around to look at me with her dark eyes on fire. "Google it, google it!" she demands, bouncing up and down on her right foot.
"Google what?" I ask her, still confused as hell but highly amused by the scene unfolding in Aunt Penny’s kitchen.
"Google whether or not millipedes can hurt you!" she replies as if I'm a complete moron. It's the same tone I remember her using in 9th grade when I screwed up the animal we were supposed to dissect in biology class.
I whip my phone out of my pocket, and my thumbs furiously fly across the keyboard until a set of search results appear. My eyes grow to the same size as Sonnet's as I read aloud: "Certain types of millipedes release a harmful substance if they are threatened or if you handle them roughly. The harmful chemicals in millipede toxin are Hydrochloric acid, Hydrogen cyanide, Organic acids –" I throw my phone on the counter. "Holy shit, Sonnet, you've got millipede poisoning!"
"Oh my god, what do I do?" she screams back at me. Her face is contorted with fear and pain, her arms flailing as she wildly gestures at me. I have never seen her look so worried, not even in sixth grade when I snapped her bra so hard the strap broke, and she had to go to the nurse's office to get some help fixing it. Man, I was such a jerk! No wonder my mom told me to be nice.
I pick up my phone again and continue reading, giving her the highlights, "You may notice a brown stain and/or intense burning and itching."
"Yes, yes, go on!" she urges me as the cold water continues to run over her splotch-covered foot.
"It says you should wash with soap and water and go to the ER if it's in your eye. It's not in your eye, right?"
She shakes her head with a slight sense of relief.
I finish speed-reading the WebMD article. "Looks like you're good." I lay the phone back down. "Carry on then,” I encourage her with a little wave and a bow. 
Her eyes narrow as she processes my flippant response. "What? That's it? I'm just going to have these purple marks on my skin or what?"
"Yeah for a while, or so the all-powerful intrawebz say," I reassure her. I open one of Aunt Penny's drawers that I suspect contains dishcloths. Turns out I'm right. I hand her one and she pats off her foot, examining the dark patches of skin.
"Oh my god, they're HOT to the touch!" she gasps.
"Yeah, it's a chemical burn," I confirm.
She shakes her head. "Who knew we had poisonous millipedes around here?!"
I laugh. "I bet you wish you'd have let me stomp on it now, don't you?"
"Don't even!" she fires back. "Poor little defenseless thing. It's not its fault my big ole foot tried to squish it!"
"Really?" I look at her incredulously.
"Yeah, it's still a living creature. I wouldn't want to harm it!"
"Even though it harmed you?"
She nods emphatically. "I'll be fine," she assures me. And just like that, all traces of panic are gone from her face and voice.
I'm honestly impressed her freak out session was so short in duration. Hell, I would have freaked out a lot more. Better her than me, that’s for sure.
K.L. Montgomery grew up in Greencastle, Indiana, and studied psychology and library science at Indiana University. After a career as a librarian, she now writes novels and wrangles three sons and four cats at her home in rural Delaware, which she shares with her husband and the aforementioned creatures. She has an undying love of Broadway musicals, the beach, the color teal, IU basketball, paisleys, and dark chocolate.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Losing Battle by Annie Stone - Chapter Reveal




















Hunter has left home to join the Marine Corps, leaving Mackenzie behind, confused and unsure about her feelings. She loves Carter, she really, really does, but could there be a spark between her and Hunter, as well?

Mackenzie does the only thing she can in the circumstances: she buries her conflicting emotions in her work. But when she sees Hunter again, she knows the time for a decision has come.

Little does she know, time is running out for the both of them.








Coming July 24th

















Hunter

When we get out off the bus at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, we’re told to step onto the yellow footprints, our first formation for close-order drill. They used the bus ride to give us a first impression of our new life as Marines. To sum it up: nothing here is even remotely gentle or pleasant.
We’re allowed to call home and inform our next of kin that we’ve arrived safely. But, obviously, I don’t. I can’t risk Mac picking up. Hearing her voice would kill me. What if she sounded sad? I’d be on my way home in an instant—but that would make me a deserter. And what if she sounded happy? My heart would turn to dust.
After people have made their calls, we’re given uniforms and a “high and tight”—that hot Marine-style haircut. I already wear my hair short, but after they’re done, I’m practically bald.
That first day, we have to fill in forms, then we get some vaccines and undergo medical examinations. And then? They give us our first weapon.
For three days, we’re up and running without any sleep whatsoever. After that, we have to take the IST—the initial strength test—to see whether we’re fit to be Marines.
First, we’re required to do sit-ups—at least forty-five in two minutes. I’m glad I’m in good shape, thanks to football—and Shane. While it’s happening, I don’t really have time to see how the others do, but I do notice some of them giving up. So far, I haven’t really talked to anyone. But after three days without sleep, expecting anyone to get anything done is pretty much a miracle.
Next, we do pull-ups. We have to do three, which seems laughable. I can do way more, but no need to show them. After that, we have to complete a one-and-a-half mile run in less than thirteen and a half minutes. Not a problem. Even when groggy and sleep deprived. But this is how they separate the wheat from the chaff. I would be embarrassed to be failing already, but some of these guys really do not measure up to what’s expected of a Marine.
I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. You know when you’re dead tired, but then you keep going and get beyond that point? No? I don’t either. I’d fall asleep standing up if they’d let me. But there isn’t a quiet minute to be had. The only good thing about all this? There’s no time to think.
I reach my limits on “Black Friday.” We meet our drill instructor, who yells at us and intimidates us, pushing our psychological limits. Shane told me about this—including the fact that they make the initial stage of boot camp as confusing and disorienting as possible to let us know that civilian life is over for us, and life as a Marine is something completely different.
But it’s tough. In my family, there’s never been a lot of yelling. Dad probably yelled at me for the first time in five years just last week. And suddenly there’s this guy yelling directly into your ear, not giving you an ounce of the respect you’re used to, the respect your father always said you deserved. Your initial impulse is not to stand there and take it. Growing up in liberal California has made it difficult to take that kind of abuse. But I do anyway. I know they want total obedience so that we can function in extreme situations, and this is what I want.
But that was only the Receiving Phase.
As soon as we enter Phase One, I’ll want to go back to the first part of our training—or to any other part of my life, for that matter. Phase One will take four weeks, and they’ll break us down psychologically, trying to expel every last ounce of civilian behavior from our bones. Because we are no longer civilians. We are Marine recruits. Everything we’ve done in our lives thus far is wrong and bad for us if we want to be proper soldiers.
Strict discipline, endless training, and the same routines over and over again—these are the building blocks of our first few weeks. Training is easy for me. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I knew it was going to be bad. I’ve been preparing myself for this, which makes it easier. I can take it. But what I really hate is all the stuff they do to rob us of our individuality. Your entire life people have been telling you to choose your own path and stop being like a sheep following the herd, and suddenly it’s the exact opposite they want from you.
We’re not supposed to be individuals. We’re supposed to be a team. And it makes sense. We need to be able to rely on each other. In combat, we can’t be successful if we’re not a cohesive unit, but it’s still tough. We’re only allowed to talk about ourselves in the third person, saying things like “This recruit understands” and stuff. Everything inside me rebels against it, but I know that’s part of it all.
At night, I lie awake trying not to think about Mac. She is my strength and my greatest weakness at the same time. I want to make her proud, show her what kind of a man I am. But thinking of her also opens up wounds inside me. It’s hard to love and not be loved back.
On the other hand, intense physical and mental exhaustion makes it impossible to give too much thought to anything. It may sound strange, but I embrace the rigidity. I don’t want to think about all the things that are going wrong in my life, and instead focus on surviving this. And it’s like the drill sergeants know it. They make sure that if they ever give us a free moment, all we want to do is sleep.
We learn about the history of the Marines, the rank structure, first aid. We study formations and uniforms. We learn how to handle our weapon, clean it, and always have it with us. We start our close-combat training. Without weapons, with repurposed weapons, and with our rifle, which is going to accompany us throughout boot camp.
We don’t talk much. Usually we’re half dead when they stop yelling in our ears. But the first friendships develop somehow. Killian Hastings is my bed neighbor. Cool guy. A natural-born soldier, a natural-born Marine. He passes every exam like he was made to do this. If he wasn’t cool, I would hate him. But he’s a team player, always thinking about others first. He is not a leader and never will be, but he is the glue you need to build a team.
Joey Montana is the second comrade I would call a friend. He’s a joker, always up for some banter. And let me tell you, I need it—especially in the third week when we start our swimming and water survival training. The pressure is getting worse. Because this is the first time they can kick us out of boot camp. Fail twice, and you can forget about being a Marine.
It’s enough to drives you to despair. But we don’t have time for that, either. We are not supposed to think, and our superiors take that idea seriously. And they’re really good at it.
Our training gets harder by the day. The stronger we get, the more they expect from us. The more our bodies get used to the strain, the tougher it gets. We’re made to repeat everything, in order to engrain it into our brains and make it muscle memory—so that we’re able to do every exercise in our sleep. It’s tiring. But nobody ever said boot camp was going to be easy.
It does help against heartbreak, though. The harder I work, the less I think of Mac, simply because my brain’s capacity is insufficient to deal with anything beyond survival.
And then there’s the part of Phase One I dread the most. The gas chamber. I don’t want to go in. But we have to. If we leave it, they send us back in. If we don’t obey, they kick us out of boot camp.
I’m standing there with my gas mask doing calisthenics when they tell us to take off our masks. I take it off and feel panic trying to conquer my insides. I can’t do this is the only thought in my head. I can’t do this, but I have no choice. I can’t give up because I wouldn’t know what else to do. I can’t go back home, back to that situation. That might make me a coward, but the thought of it just rips my heart out. Every time Dad kisses her, I want to grab her from his arms and punch him in the face because he’s kissing my girl. But I don’t think the caveman method would sit too well with him.
No, I need to stick to this. It’s all I have.
There comes the command to put our masks back on.
It’s over. My panic recedes.
The threat of Mac has saved me, even if I wish I could entertain more positive thoughts of her.
Before we go to bed, we get one hour of square-away time. It’s not every night, only when our DI says so. We have to make sure our gear is up to scratch, and while we’re not allowed to shower or sleep, we’re allowed to shave, which feels good. We’re also allowed to read and write letters. I keep getting letters from Carey, but I don’t read them, and I don’t write back. I just can’t. It makes me too sad. I feel horrible about leaving him. The only thing that makes me feel a little better is the idea that I’ve left him with Mac.
“Hey, man,” Joey says, sitting down beside me. “There’s this girl I like. She wrote to me, and I want to write back, but all I can think of is the fact that I want to stick my dick inside her.”
I smile.
“Something makes me think that wouldn’t be such a good idea,” he says. “Can you help me out?”
“It depends where you are in your relationship. Have you ever had your dick inside her?” I ask.
He smiles. “Everywhere.”
Across the room, Killian laughs. “I don’t believe you. If you’d actually been inside her ass, you’d know what to write to her.”
“A sonnet to her juicy ass?” Joey asks, laughing.
“Thinking of her juicy ass, I can survive the harshest gas,” Killian says with mock severity.
“Oh man, that was horrible,” I laugh, wiping tears from my eyes.
“When I see her juicy ass, I want her to blow my brass,” somebody else quips.
“Dude, I lose my fucking wits, sucking on her awesome tits,” yells another bard from the other side of the dorm. I laugh because it just feels good to be young and stupid for a change.
“Let me be blunt, I’d fuck her cunt.”
“She sucks my dick, it’s hard as a brick.”
“Good thing none of you have to make a living as a poet,” Joey says. “I actually like her, okay?”
“Hey, man, there’s no need to wallow. She might like you too—does she swallow?”
“Well, if she doesn’t suck it up, you can serve it to her in a cup.”
We laugh and laugh until we hear: “What exactly is there to laugh about, recruits? Free time’s over. A hundred and twenty seconds to get showered. Go!”
A hundred and twenty seconds isn’t that long, but you learn really quickly to only wash the important parts. Normally, this would include my dick—just in case it gets sucked—but there’s nobody here I would want on the job. And besides, I kind of swore an oath I would only ever let Mac do it.
Fuck. I really didn’t think that promise through.
Overall, it gets easier. A person can get used to anything. The tough training becomes second nature, and it gets easier to adjust to the whole drill. Phase Two is mainly weapons training. We’re sent to Edson Range, at Pendleton, for three weeks, where we practice marksmanship. We have to pass several exams, but they prepare us well. And let’s face it. We’ve been through worse. Still, when we get our first badges for marksmanship, it feels good to have achieved something tangible, to get to tick some boxes.
I don’t know whether it’s because we’re going through the same experience, or maybe you just get used to each other more easily in times of crisis, but Killian and Joey become like brothers to me. I don’t want to put Carey down, but I would entrust my life to them before him.
It also quickly becomes clear why the buddy system is such a hit. It is much easier to make it through difficult situations when you have moral support. We cheer and egg each other on—whenever we’re not too tired to open our mouths. Without my two buddies, this would be much harder.
Killian is from Texas and looks like an all-American boy. Normally. There’s hardly anything left of his blond hair, but his blue eyes still shine, even at the ends of the toughest days. He’s tall, not as tall as me, but then again, few are. He has a sunny disposition, and nothing can faze him. He’s always cool, never reacts to people teasing him. Not that a lot of them would try. I guess with his looks, you’re predestined to be respected.
Joey, on the other hand, is small. Sometimes I wonder aloud how he passed the minimum height and weight requirements—but only to tease him. He’s not actually that small, and he has endless strength and endurance. Where Killian and I have trouble with our height, Joey always gets through. Not that I’m jealous or anything.
At the end of our marksmanship training, the platoons compete with each other, and we win, breaking out into enthusiastic cheers. This really lifts morale on our team, and it also earns us a bonus. We’re allowed to make phone calls. A privilege I don’t use…
Still, the next week feels like we’re on break. They take our measurements for our gala uniforms, and any medical conditions are treated. It’s only four weeks left. Then we’re done. The goal during our final phase is to put everything we’ve learned together and polish our initial skill set. This includes an exam and a performance test that I pass with flying colors.
I’m stronger than I was a few weeks ago, not just physically, but mentally, too. I no longer have any doubt: I know what my life is going to look like, and I have accepted it. Physically, I’m somewhat wider, having built up more muscle. And it’s made me feel more at home inside my body. Often, when you’re tall, you subconsciously hunch down in order not to stand out. And even though I’ve always been relatively confident, I’ve always had to bend down to communicate with other people. Which messed with my posture. And, in psychological terms, it does the same to you as walking through life with a bent back.
But now? Now I have a completely different outlook.
Boot camp has given me a new confidence, the type of confidence you can only gain knowing that you’ll be able to defend yourself in any situation you’ll ever face—be it with words, weapons, or your own bare hands.
At the end of boot camp, we’re divided into groups to do a final exam lasting two days. It’s a combat simulation testing us in different stress situations, including sleep and food deprivation, and danger to your body and your life.
It is difficult, but it’s surprising how you can turn into a completely different person in such a short period of time. Twelve weeks ago, I would never have believed I could do this. Now, it seems like I was born to do it, like I’ve never done anything else in my life. And it feels good. It shows what I’ve achieved, what I can achieve if I make up my mind. A lot of it is physical, but it is the mental strength I’ve gained that really surprises me.
After twelve weeks, we’re done. Finally, I want to say. But that’s not how I feel.
Now it feels like I’m leaving my family all over again. It’s not a good feeling.
Joey wants to join the infantry, while Killian and I are going to do twenty-nine days of Marine Combat Training before joining the Marine Combatant Divers. At least it’s good to know I don’t have to leave everybody behind again.
After graduation, we’ll get ten days off. Killian has invited me to Texas, and I’ve decided to accept because I still can’t imagine going home. And I have nowhere else to go.

Everybody is desperate for our graduation ceremony. Not just because it means we’ve made it, but because they’re proud. They want to show their loved ones what they’ve achieved. Personally, I don’t care about that part of it, but I haven’t told the others that when I’m done here, I won’t have anybody waiting to congratulate for me.
At the ceremony, we stand in formation to listen to the final talk, the finish to this chapter of our training. As Marines. All around me, my comrades are hugging their mothers, sisters, and girlfriends. All around me, there is love.
But I’m all alone.
“Hey, soldier!” I hear the voice behind me but don’t turn.
For a moment, I stay completely still, certain I’m hallucinating. Finally, I turn around.
And there’s Mac, standing in front of me in a summer dress. She is so beautiful my breath stops for a moment.
“Marine,” I say softly.
She smiles. “Hey, Marine.”
She comes closer, somewhat unsure about how to act, before throwing herself around my neck. I hug her back, pick her up, and squeeze her really tight.
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers in my ear.
Fuck, hearing that from her really turns me on!
When, after half an eternity, I put her back down, I look into her teary eyes. “How did you know?”
She shrugs. “I’m stalking you.”
I smile. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful in my life. “Oh, really?”
“I knew you wouldn’t tell me, but I wanted you to know how incredibly proud of you I am. I knew you’d make it.”
Right now, I feel ten feet tall instead of six. No, wait! I’m not even mortal. I’m a god!
My girl is proud of me. Is there anything in the world better than that?
“Carey’s here, too,” she says.
I look around and see him standing a little off to the side. He looks insecure, like he doesn’t know whether he’s welcome here. I hate myself for making my brother question whether I care about him. I run over to him and pull him into my arms.
“I’ve missed you, bro,” I say quietly, patting him on the back
“You never wrote back,” he says, his fingers clawing into my uniform like he never wants to let me go again.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t. I always wanted to, but I couldn’t. It would have broken my focus.”
Carey nods. “I thought…”
“I’m sorry, man. I always want you in my life. You’re my brother. The only family I’ve got.”
“You’ve got Mac, too,” he says quietly, and I look over at her. She’s standing a few steps away, her cheeks shiny, looking at us but giving us privacy.
I nod. “I’ve got Mac, too, but not like I want her.” Oops. That just came out. I wasn’t planning to tell Carey.
But he says, “I know.”
I give him a surprised look. “You do?”
“I’m not blind. Your goodbye kiss was pretty obvious,” he says. “And I’m not deaf, either. Dad and Mac fight about you all the time.”
“That bad?”
He shrugs just as Mac steps closer. “Is everything okay, boys?”
I nod, putting my arm around her shoulders to pull her close again. I plant a kiss on her head.
“Hey, Tilman!” Joey calls, coming toward us.
“Hands off,” I joke before I introduce him. He kisses Mac’s hand and smiles at Carey.
“My parents want to go grab a bite to eat. They wanted to invite my friends. You coming?”
I look at Mac and Carey.
“They can come,” Joey says quickly.
Mac shakes her head. “Thanks, that’s really sweet, but I need to go.” She avoids my eye, and I know she’s thinking about Dad.
I make an effort to hide my disappointment as I tell Joey, “Carey and I’ll be there in a second.”
“I’m sorry,” Mac whispers.
“It’s okay,” I say, even though nothing is okay. In that moment, I realize—no, remember—that she’s never going to leave Dad for me.
This needs to stop. Otherwise I will not survive it.
“How long do you get off?” she asks.
“Ten days.”
“Are you coming home?”
“Home. Nice word, but I no longer have one,” I say, shocked at the bitterness in my own voice.
She nods, tears running down her cheeks. “I—”
“Let it go, Mac. Let it go.”
She quickly presses herself against me and runs away without turning around again. I look after her.
“Hunt…”
“She’s never going to leave him, is she?”
Carey shrugs. “No idea, man. But I wouldn’t wait for it.”















I'm a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie



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