Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Saved By You - Teaser #2

Hey everyone,

I'm super busy finishing up everything for Saved By You, and I thought I would post another teaser. I loved this scene as I was writing it a while back, and loved even more when I went back over it today :)

Remember, Saved By You will be available a week from tomorrow, on July 25th! Be sure to add it to your Goodreads list, and be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get an immediate notification when the book is available.

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The parking lot was nearly empty at this hour. Soon, the sun would begin to set, and the parking lot would swell with diners. But, for now, we had our run of the place. I glanced at the Starbucks sitting next door, and cringed as I remembered walking past it with Haden, hand in hand. That moment had been one of the best and worst times since I’d arrived in Green Falls, and now that I was so close to it again, the memory was even more powerful.
Guilt rolled through me when I entered the restaurant. Memories of my childhood summers surfaced - memories with my family in this very spot - memories with Mom. Would she ever set foot in there again? Would she ever leave the hospital?
I pushed the feelings down as best I could. I didn't want to think about that right now - I couldn’t think about that right now. I couldn’t let Haden see see that weakness. I had to let him know just how strong I was — that I was capable of handling anything.
I had to let myself know just how strong I was — that I was capable of handling anything.
A young hostess greeted me and I told her I was there to meet someone. She pointed me around the corner. Haden was sitting in the far booth, and he saw me before I saw him. A huge smile spread across his face — it made me ache in ways that it shouldn’t have.
"I'm glad you made it," he said as I slid into the booth across from him. I gave him a puzzled look. “It took you a little while. I was beginning to think you’d changed your mind.”
I gave him a tight-lipped smile, not trusting myself to be too genuine. I couldn't afford to let down my guard, not when it was just the two of us in that secluded little corner. Haden wasn’t allowed inside. Not anymore.
We sat for a long time, staring awkwardly at the menu without saying anything. I wasn’t about to be the first one to say anything. This was his show. I tried my best to focus on the food, but I didn’t even have a hint of an appetite. Breakfast had been big, and I just wasn’t in the mood to eat.
"I haven't been here in forever," he said, finally. I nodded my head, slowly, trying my hardest not to look up from the menu. "It doesn't look like it’s changed much," he said with a tiny laugh.
Another awkward silence passed over us until our waitress finally appeared. She asked what we’d like to drink.
“Water, please,” I said.
“Iced tea,” Haden said. “Hold the lemon.”
She scooted off, and it was just us, again. The silence was even more oppressive than before.
"Are you going to say anything?" he asked. A hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Was there something you wanted me to say?" I asked, my eyes still locked on the appetizer section.
"I don't know.” His palms raised, dropping the menu. "Say anything."
He blew out a long breath, and drummed his fingers on the table. Then, out of nowhere, he reached forward and wrapped his hand around mine.
A shudder ran from my fingertips all the way to my shoulder. Sparks flew, and my eyes snapped up, locking onto his. Panic descended over me, screaming at every muscle in my body to jerk away from him. But my body wasn’t listening.
"I'm sorry, Maggie," he said. "I'm sorry for everything."
My heart was doing its best to melt with his every word. But I was working even harder to keep it frozen -- protected.
"You should be," I said, curtly. My mouth tried to say even more, but I kept it quiet. Anger rumbled in my stomach, and I knew that nothing good would come of me running my mouth off.
“How can you be so upset with me?,” he asked. “I wanted to tell you everything that night. I wanted to tell you all about who I was — about everything. We just got… distracted.” He fixed me with another long look. I could see the pain swelling in his eyes. “Maggie, I never meant to hurt you.”
My stomach sunk to the floor. I didn't want to think about what had gone on that night. All of the things that I had shared with him — all the parts of me I’d shared with him. There was still an emptiness deep nestled deep inside me. I didn’t think I’d ever be whole again.
"If all you came to do was apologize, you're wasting your breath,” I said. I tried to keep my voice steady and even, but the anger sharpened each word.
Haden winced, and I felt his hand twitch reflexively.
“I need you to hear me out,” he said, desperate. “You have to believe that I never meant for this to happen.”
"But, it did," I said.
The words sank into him with a certain finality. He leaned back, but didn’t pull his hand away. He regarded me for a long time, considering what he wanted to say.
"Maggie, I wasn't lying when I told you that I love you," he said. The lump in my stomach turned over, rolling and tumbling inside of me. I swallowed, hard, trying to settle myself. "I would do anything for you. Just tell me how to make this right, and I'll do it."
I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks, and the familiar wetness glazed over my eyes.
How was it possible I still had any tears left?
I pinched my eyes closed, blotting those tears away. Haden couldn’t see me cry. I had to be strong.
"I gave you everything," I said. "I gave you everything that you wanted. I shared all of myself, and you fed me lies." I bit down, swallowing hard. When I opened my eyes, again, I could see the hurt in his face. "Were you lying the whole time so you could get to me? Because, you did a damned good job of it. You're a better actor than Hollywood gave you credit for."
He shook his head, sharply.
"I didn't lie to you," he said. "It's complicated, and I didn't want to get you mixed up in things until I was certain that you could handle it."
“In my book, keeping things from me is the same as lying,” I said. "What made you think I wasn’t good enough to be included in your life? You said you liked my strength. Was that a lie, too?”
He squeezed my hand once. My arms were still frozen in place, unable to pull away from him.
"The whole situation with Kyle, and the band — its complicated," he said. "I didn't want you to think that I was just some player who was going to run off after I got what I wanted."
"But, that's exactly what's going to happen, isn't it?" I said. "You're going to run off to your big tour, and you’re going to forget about that little red-headed girl in that one little town." I shook my head, my lips pinched flat. "I'm sorry, what did Kyle call it? That shit hole.”
Haden gave me a hard look.
"I haven't run off, have I? I'm still here. Still with you." His eyes burned intensely, and he gave my hand another soft squeeze. The tears were coming on even stronger than before, but I fought viciously to hold them back. "I'm not leaving without you. I can't."
My head dipped, unable to take anymore. The look on Haden's face left no doubt that he was telling the truth. He had no intention of leaving.
“Do you expect me to just run away with you?” I said. “Is that what your game plan is?”
He shook his head. “I forgot every plan I had the moment I met you,” he said. “I just  want to be with you.”
I shook my head, trying to force away the images that were surfacing. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about a life with Haden more than once since I met him. But things happen, and fantasies don’t always happen the way you want.
Thoughts of my mom began swirling in my head. Images of her in the car were flashing. The way she looked after she had caught me with Haden was haunting me. She had always been so strong — for the both of us. She had always been someone I could lean on whenever I needed it.
Well, I needed to lean on her right now. But she wasn’t around. Now it was my turn to be strong.
"I'm not going anywhere," I said. "I can't leave my mom, and I can't leave my family."
Haden squeezed my hand, again.
"Then I'm not going anywhere, either," he said.
I looked up at him, and the tears began flooding down my cheeks. I couldn't hold them back anymore. I didn’t want to hold them back anymore.
"I can't do this," I said. "Not like this. Not right now."
With one final effort of my willpower, I jerked my hand away from him. His eyes went wide, stunned and speechless.
“I have to go,” I said. “I can’t be here anymore.”
I slid out of the booth, nearly toppling into the waitress carrying our drinks. She sidestepped me, quickly, and I all but ran out of the restaurant, never looking back.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saved By You Teaser! - Chapter 1!!

Hey everyone! Thanks for all of your support. Ruined By You will leave you on a doozy of a cliffhanger, so here's Chapter 1 of Saved By You to keep you held over until the 25th!


Don't read this if you intend on reading Ruined By You! ;)


Chapter 1

“What’s wrong?” I said, urgently. Lightning crackled all around us. The storm raged in full force. “Where is she?”
Aunt Denise gave me a stern look.
“Green Falls General,” she said. “It’s only a few miles away. I’ll drive.”
Before I could respond, hands tugged at me and led me toward the Escalade parked under the car porch — the same one I’d nearly run the ‘Vette into. Sarah piled into the truck next to me, and Aunt Denise fired up the engine. I stared at my younger cousin, disbelievingly.
“What happened to her?” I said.
Sarah’s face pinched together, and she shook her head.
“I don’t know,” she said, shrugging.
I glanced at Aunt Denise for answers, but she was focused on the road. The rain was coming down in thick sheets outside, and everything was dark.
Thoughts raced through my head, filling me with an unease I’d never felt before. I wanted answers, but everything was happening so fast. I didn’t even know the questions that needed asking.
Why is she in the hospital?
Sarah wrapped her hands around mine, and scooted in close to me.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” she whispered, squeezing my hand.
How can she say that if she doesn’t even know what’s wrong?
We drove on in silence. The darkness outside was all consuming. The lights from Green Falls were drowned out by the thick, gray haze. Thunder blasted through the sky like I was in a scene from some scary movie.
This isn’t a movie, this is your life.
How could something be wrong with Mom? She’s the strong one — nothing goes wrong with her. She was the one that had to be there to protect me — to catch me when I made a mistake. My head sagged forward, and I stared at a spot on my lap. I’d made plenty of mistakes that night, and I had the feeling that things were only just beginning.
The truck bumped along until Aunt Denise pulled into a huge parking lot. A group of three large buildings all clung to each other, with a sign over the one in the middle that read “Great Falls General”. Arrows pointed us toward the visitor parking lot, but Aunt Denise pulled into a circular drop-off area and let Sarah and I out.
We huddled together while Aunt Denise parked the car, the silence only interrupted by the fierce pattering of the rain on the concrete. Wind whipped violently, bathing us in a cold mist. Sarah’s eyes searched me, and her mouth moved like she wanted to say something - but nothing came out.
What was there to say?
Aunt Denise led us through the lobby, and back into the hospital. It was like she knew exactly where she was going. There were few people around at that late hour, and a heavy silence loomed along the corridors. Flashes of a distant time came to me — the only other time I’d been in a hospital. I had been there to visit my mom that night, too. Hospitals creeped me out. There was too much quiet. It reminded me that there were people all around me who might not wake up in the morning — who might leave behind friends and family, all huddled around each other for protection from the horrors of life.
Would Mom be one of those people?
A fiery lump surfaced in my throat, again. It had made its home their all night, and there was no sign that it was going away anytime soon.
Aunt Denise led us up a flight of stairs, and around a few turns to a closed door. Without pausing, she tapped it lightly and poked her head in. There was a shuffling from within, and then Grandma emerged. Her eyes found me, and the steely resolve she was wearing slackened. Pain erupted in both our faces, and I felt the tears stream down my face.
She wrapped her arms around me, and pulled me in, tightly.
"Oh, dear, I'm so sorry," she said. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
I hugged her back, not knowing what to say.
"Can I see her?" I managed, when we finally pulled back. My voice came out pitched and shaky. I didn’t remember ever seeing Grandma cry before.
She regarded me for a moment, then nodded.
The room was dark; quiet. Something told me that I shouldn't make a peep. It was the kind of silence that shouldn’t be broken. I shuffled my feet along as quietly as possible, not wanting to disturb a thing. A privacy curtain cut the room in two, and I could see the edge of a bed just on the other side.
Are you ready for this?
I took a deep breath - gathering any strength that might be hidden inside of me - and pushed forward. As I walked past the privacy curtain, I saw her. My hand clutched my mouth, stifling a gasp. Her body was thin — thinner than I remembered it from earlier in the day. Machines surrounded the bed. Tubes snaked and tentacles out of them and hooked into her, like they were trying to hold her in place. Beeps and buzzing thrummed and made the air vibrate.
Oh, Mom. What have I done? Why wasn't I here for you?