Denise Reynolds’s tightly controlled life is thrown off kilter when she’s given custody of her young cousins. There are days she has a hard enough time getting herself out of bed, never mind two precocious kids.
If that wasn’t enough, Chris Nolton comes strolling back into town as suddenly as he left it. She’d broken her own rules and given him a chance once before, only to have him ghost on her. But he’s not there for her this time. No, he’s leading the FBI Task Force intent on capturing the kids’ biological father. A man who was sent to prison for manslaughter. A man who was released five years too early. A man who wants his kids back.
The past has a way of repeating itself and once again, Denise finds herself defending the innocent against the evil of world. One wrong decision, one second guess, could have devastating consequences. To protect the most important people in her life, she’ll need to trust the one man with the power to break her.
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Denise glanced through the peephole, then rocked back on her heels.
The bottom dropped out of her stomach then rushed up again to choke her. What the fuck? She stared at the door, trying to decide if she should open it or not.
Three more sharp knocks made the decision for her.
She unlocked the door and yanked it open.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.
Chris took a step back. Whether from the door opening suddenly, her, or her question, she wasn’t sure. He looks tired. It wasn’t her problem. Never was.
“Yes, Chris. What are you doing here?”
The lines between his dark eyebrows grew more pronounced. “What are you doing here?”
His strong jaw was covered with stubble, accentuating the lines of his mouth. A mouth that was surprisingly soft, especially when it grazed over her skin. Her nipples pebbled under her thin t-shirt. Damn her traitorous body. It’d been almost seven months since he’d ghosted, it should have gotten the message by now and forgotten him.
“I asked first.” She set her gun on the high shelf above the coat hooks and grabbed the zip-up hoodie hanging by the door, zipping it half way up.
“Why are you answering the door with a gun?” he asked.
“Because this isn’t the greatest neighborhood and some asshole was pounding on my door.” The neighborhood sucked. It wasn’t the greatest when Sarah bought the small three-bedroom house and it had only gotten worse in the last five years. She was pretty sure her neighbor two doors down was dealing. As long as he wasn’t cooking, and he kept it to his doorstep, she was willing to over look it. But Kimber and Kaden were going to her parents’ the minute the school year was over.
“Why are you here?” She enunciated the question this time. She needed a quick answer so she could work on forgetting Christopher Nolton. Again.
“I’m looking for Sarah Reed.”
Her shoulders sagged and she rubbed her hand over her eyes. “She’s not here.”
“When will she be back?”
Denise glanced over her shoulder. Sprocket sat in the opening of the short hall that led to the two small bedrooms at the back of the house. She let out a low woof and laid down, resting her head on her paws. She sensed Denise’s stress, but was doing what she’d been told to do.
Denise stepped out of the house and pulled the door shut behind her, leaving it cracked. Chris stepped back on the small concrete pad.
“She’s not coming back. She’s in the hospital with terminal cancer.”
Light dawned behind his eyes. “Shit. She’s your cousin.” Chris ran his hands over his hair. It had grown long and now curled around his ears and jawline. If it weren’t for the stubble and dark circles under his eyes, he’d look boyishly charming. Things she should not be noticing.
About the Author:
Tarina has spent her entire life in and around the military - first as a dependent and then as an enlisted Air Force member.
In 2015, a friend challenged her to complete NaNoWriMo. She dusted off one of the many stories she'd started over the years, threw it in the trash, and started all over.
Her debut novel, Stitched Up Heart, released in September 2016. The military gives her plenty of material to work with and she strives to create characters who authentically represent all facets of the military life - the good and the not so great.
Tarina is still active duty and a single mom of five-year-old twins. Her favorite hobby is sleep. She has delusions of retiring from the military and being a stay-at-home mom.
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