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…
Meet Me at Midnight
Meet me at midnight– whispered words from drunken lips.
Lips that I had spent years wanting to kiss.
Lips that I had dreamt about night after night, waking to wonder what if.
What if he noticed me?
What if he wanted me?
But I quickly learned some things are better left to wonder.
Especially where Levi Mills is concerned.
He didn’t just steal my innocence that night.
He broke every part of me.
Dismantled me from the inside out until there was nothing left of the girl I used to be.
Years passed. Moments faded into the background. Until eventually he became nothing more than a distant memory- a dream that almost didn’t seem real.
But then suddenly he’s there, standing in front of me again like he never left. And in that one heartbeat, in that one breath, I relive it all over again. Every touch. Every word. Like frozen snippets of time suspended in front of my eyes.
And then he smiles that all too familiar smile, meet me at midnight moving soundlessly across his lips.
I used to believe in fairy tales.
Eight years ago I ran.
I ran from my parents.
I ran from my pain.
I ran from him…
I never wanted to go back.
If not for my best friend’s wedding, I likely never would have.
The plan was simple.
Get in. Get out.
Easy as that.
Only I should have known nothing is ever that simple.
Especially when Westin Carver is involved.
He broke my heart once.
Or rather, he completely annihilated it.
And I have no doubt that if given the chance, he’d do it all over again.
But even knowing that, it doesn’t change the way I crave him.
The way my body reacts to him.
The way one touch completely obliterates the wall I built between us.
But when it comes to Westin not everything is as it seems.
They say love is blind. In my case, love is blinding.
Because I should have seen what was coming next…
And I didn’t.
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.
It’s funny how differently we view life when we’re young.
Everything feels possible- limitless.
If only things could stay that way forever.
Then maybe life wouldn’t be so complicated.
Maybe Jace would still be the same ten-year-old boy I fell in love with.
Maybe I’d still be that same girl too.
The girl who believed that there wasn’t anything we couldn’t overcome.
But I’m not that girl anymore.
Time has beaten me down, broken me, taken everything from me.
And it’s taken even more from Jace.
I naively believed that I could save him…
From his dad. From his anger. From his addiction.
And I nearly died trying.
It’s taken me four years to rebuild my life.
To piece my shattered heart back together.
But it all goes up in flames the moment I find myself face to face with the one person I never thought I’d see again.
He’s determined to prove he’s changed.
I’m terrified to let him try.
Because no matter how sweet it tastes, with Jace Matthews you never truly know if what you’re drinking is poison or wine, until it’s already too late.
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.
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…