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.
A Thousand Cuts
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…
For years I’ve been planning my escape.
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.
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.
I met Thad Mitchell for the first time when I was just a child. I didn’t remember much about him- except that he pushed me off a swing set when I was four years old and broke my arm. Not the best thing to remember about a person but there it is.
He moved away a couple years later and soon became a distant memory. That is until I walked into my parent’s house after being gone for four years to find him sitting at the kitchen table with my family like he’d been there all along.
The second his blue eyes found mine it was instant- the attraction, the spark, the zing as some people call it. In that moment my entire world shifted. Every second, every minute that followed became a whirlwind.
Thad didn’t just turn my life upside down; he ripped through it– an unstoppable force of nature that wouldn’t be satisfied until there wasn’t a single facet of my life left unturned. And yet somehow at the end of it all he was still the only thing I wanted.
Haunted by a past he can’t escape- the only question that remains is can I find a way to calm the storm that rages inside of him or will I end up just another causality in his unrelenting path of destruction?
Time heals all wounds…
That’s what they say anyway.
But I believe some wounds never actually heal.
Like the hole left in my heart where Kyle used to be.
The pain a permanent reminder of what I had, and what I lost.
A piece of me died with him that day.
A part of myself I thought I’d never get back.
But then he happened.
Unexpected and exciting, he’s everything I shouldn’t want and yet somehow, exactly what I need.
He challenges me in a way I’ve never been challenged.
He makes me see the person I used to be- the happy carefree girl with her whole life ahead of her.
It doesn’t matter that he’s older than me, or that he’s my brother’s closest friend.
All that matters is how he makes me feel…