For years I’ve been planning my escape.
Preparing for the day when I could leave home and never look back.
But when the moment came, it didn’t happen like I had planned.
I didn’t pack up my car and drive away, watching my old life disappear in the rearview mirror like I had always envisioned I would.
Instead, I ran—quite literally—as fast and far as my feet would take me.
I didn’t know where I was going, only that I had to get away.
And that’s when he found me…
He was unlike anyone I had ever met before.
A man who lived by his own code. Who answered to no one but himself.
He didn’t care where I came from or why I was running.
He didn’t care that my father was a powerful politician that would stop at nothing to bring me home.
Once he had me, I was his.
He was the one.
From the first moment I saw him, I knew.
I had never been more certain of anything in my sixteen years on this earth.
But Alec didn’t notice me. At least not in the way that I wanted him to.
He noticed my best friend instead.
I stood by and watched their relationship blossom.
An outsider looking in, wishing things were different.
Torn between my loyalty to my best friend and the boy who had unknowingly stolen my heart.
Weighted by feelings I could never express out loud, I wrote them all down.
Every thought. Every feeling.
I poured them all into a letter.
A letter he was never meant to read.
Only that’s exactly what he did.
He read it.
Every single word.
But by then it was too late.
Even if he was no longer dating my best friend.
Even if I was more in love with him than ever.
He was leaving.
I was leaving.
And there was nothing either of us could do to change it.
Alec Murray was my almost fairytale.
The happy ending I swore I’d never get.
But our story is far from over…
For years I’ve been planning my escape.
You never get over your first love. It’s something I’ve heard countless times. Like someone has to point out that your pain will never go away. That your shattered heart will never mend.
Because that’s exactly what my heart did the day I watched Asher Evans board that train- it shattered, splintering into a million tiny fragments that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to piece back together. He was the boy I had loved since I understood what loving someone meant. The one who knew me inside and out. The one who swore he’d never let me go. It’s been six years since that day and even now the memory haunts me like it was yesterday.
I’ve done my best to move on, to rebuild, and for the most part I’ve done pretty well. But all of that comes crashing down when Asher strolls back into town like he never left.
I don’t want to want him. I certainly don’t want to need him. But that doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. Only things are different now. I’m different. I’m not the girl he left behind all those years ago. I may have been foolish enough to give him my heart once but I won’t make that mistake a second time. Or at least that’s what I tell myself until I’m standing face to face with the one man who has the power to break me all over again.
I remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cole Lincoln. It still feels like yesterday when he stumbled into my life with his messy brown hair and dark eyes. Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I knew right then and there that he was going to change everything.
From that point on Cole and I were always together—inseparable—and I naively believed we’d be best friends forever. But forever didn’t last nearly as long as I expected.
We grew up and grew apart, life driving the distance between us, but my love for Cole never faltered. Even long after he moved away, leaving me and our little town behind, I still carried a piece of him with me every single day. Because Cole wasn’t just my childhood best friend- the boy who knew me better than anyone else in the whole world. He was also my first love- a part of my very core.
When a tragic death brings us face to face again after six years, every single memory comes rushing to the surface. Only this is not the boy I fell in love with all those years ago. The man before me is hardened, intimidating, and so damn sexy I practically melt when those dark eyes meet mine for the first time in six years.
And like the first time he walked into my life, I know with complete certainty that everything is about to change.
Life is full of choices- of chances- of moments.
Chances we regret not taking. Choices we wish we could change.
And then there are the moments that define us.
Kam was my choice…
The one who stole my heart instantly.
Kane was my chance…
The one who set me ablaze with just one look.
They were my moment…
Two brothers that both owned a part of me.
Two brothers that I loved in different ways for different reasons.
One brother shattered my heart.
The other put it back together.
Both changed me forever.
I used to believe in fairy tales.
But then I grew up and I realized that life isn’t like the books I once loved so much.
There are no princes riding in on their white horses.
No magic wands or fairy god mothers.
And no happily ever afters.
Ryland Thorpe taught me the hard way that good doesn’t always win and sometimes the people we trust the most are the ones that can hurt us the deepest.
At fifteen, my world began and ended with him.
He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was my protector.
He was the boy I had loved since I was old enough to understand what loving someone meant.
And he was a liar…
It’s been five years since I’ve seen him.
Five long years and the memory of him still haunts me like it was yesterday.
Only he’s not just a memory anymore.
Prison has hardened him, changed him, altered him in ways I never expected. But beneath it all I can still see a glimmer of the boy I used to love.
When lies are exposed and secrets are revealed, I find myself questioning everything I thought I knew.
They say the first cut is the deepest.
They were wrong…
Revenge is not the answer.
There is no peace in vengeance.
These are the things my mother taught me as a child.
I used to believe she was right.
I used to believe a lot of things…
I swore one day he would pay.
One day he would understand what it feels like to lose everything.
But just when I think I understand the rules, the game changes…
Now my very life hangs in the balance and there’s only one person that can save me.
But first he has to learn the truth about who I really am…
My name is Samantha Cole and this is my story.