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.
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…
It’s funny how differently we view life when we’re young.
Arrogant. Egotistical. Playboy.
Three words that perfectly describe Atlas Keaton.
My twin brother’s best friend.
The absolute bane of my existence.
And my new college roommate.
It wasn’t by choice of course.
The last thing I wanted was to be forced to endure a full semester living under the same roof as him and my brother.
But when a housing mix-up leaves me three thousand miles away from home with nowhere else to turn, I don’t really have another option.
It’s only four months, how hard could it be, right?
Because when you’re dealing with a man like Atlas Keaton, nothing is off limits.
Professional baseball player turned Hollywood actor.
A conceited, self-absorbed, womanizer who thinks no one is immune to his charm.
I deal with men like him every day.
Men who think the world bends to their will.
Men who think they can have anything or anyone they want.
I’ve learned to overlook it.
As a high-end real estate agent in Los Angeles County, you kind of have to.
So, when Treyton interrupts one of my showings like he already owns the property, I barely even bat an eye. That is, until he makes an offer. A very generous offer. One that would nearly double the commission I’m set to make.
But there’s a catch…
The offer is only good if I agree to go on a date with him.
I know it’s a bad idea.
Because when you’re dealing with a man like Treyton Tyler, there’s always more to the story.
And once he has me in his grasp, he has no intention of walking away until he gets exactly what he wants…
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.
They say everything happens for a reason- that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. For the longest time I didn’t think that was true. I had stumbled around in the dark for so many years that I didn’t think I would ever find my way out. But when I finally did, it came in the most unexpected way.
Miles Hollins had been my brother’s best friend for as long as I could remember. We didn’t like each other much growing up. Or rather, we couldn’t stand each other. But after ten years of being gone, a lot had changed.
He wasn’t the same boy I remembered. I wasn’t the same girl either. So much had happened.
I moved away and got married.
Miles joined the military.
We both returned home broken in our own way.
I struggled to find my place in my new life. Miles struggled just to get through the day. But together we slowly began to heal. I quieted his demons and he gave me a sense of belonging. For a while that was enough.
But this is real life, and in real life nothing stays perfect forever. In real life not every story ends with a happily ever after. Sometimes the scars we carry are just too deep.
I promised him I would fight.
He promised me I would lose.
I’ll do everything in my power to prove him wrong. Because it’s when you find the one thing you can’t live without, that you truly find yourself.
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.