26 days left to nominate this book
Back to top

First pages

Chapter 1

“Are you kidding me?”

The tug pulling Hannah’s gray pea coat back towards the red sedan she just exited jerked harder than she anticipated. Since she hadn’t realized she’d shut her coat in the door, that anticipation had been non-existent. The motion would’ve sent her down to her knees, if she wasn’t tethered to the car. Instead, she was merely surprised the coat hadn’t ripped in two, or at the very least need to deal with a giant tear. Her luck usually leaned towards the disastrous side of things.

There were better words rolling through her head than the somewhat mundane question she asked, but Hannah tried her hardest to curse as little as possible. It was something that took some getting used to. Her new boss at work hated cussing, and Hannah was tired of meeting the end of one of her scowls. As a girl who grew up with four older brothers, cussing usually came as second nature. Before said boss lady came into her life, getting stuck in a car door would’ve resulted in her screaming the F-word at least a few times.

“I’m not going to ask how you managed to get a coat that barely covers your hips stuck in a car door.”

Nina’s voice held a touch of amusement, along with her usual annoyance. Hannah doubted Nina knew her words always sounded like she was pissed off about something. If she did, one would think she’d do something to lighten her tone. Although, Nina had made it clear when she was just a kid that she didn’t care what people thought of her.

Hannah reached behind her and fumbled with the door handle. She couldn’t turn to open the door like she’d normally attempt, which only made the situation more awkward. Being known as a klutz wasn’t Hannah’s favorite trait. She liked to think she was smart, but her brain power rarely shone through when people witnessed her dropping ketchup on her shirt and tripping over her own feet.

Glaring at her friend as she finally opened the door, Hannah sighed and stepped away from the door before turning and closing it. Nina had no problem getting her always polished self out of the car without incident. The woman had already made it over to the driver’s side and was looking at her phone. It surprised Hannah that she’d even noticed the dilemma.

“If you don’t mind, let’s just keep it between us.”

The fair-haired woman in the duo looked up from her phone perplexed, which may have been the look she got passing gas for all Hannah knew. Nina generally didn’t squint her eyes and the way her dark red lips pursed out wasn’t her usual come-hither appearance.

“Why would I make a point of telling anyone how clumsy you are? Since we’re attached at the hip, it looks bad for me.”

Obviously, it wasn’t only Nina’s tone that made her sound like a word that rhymes with witch half the time. Hannah and she met the first day of second grade, so Hannah was used to dealing with what others may call a snob. Snob was mild compared to what Hannah usually heard people call Nina. Twenty years of friendship meant that there wasn’t much Nina could do or say that would surprise Hannah. Her concern for how people perceived her was typical Nina. At the root of it, she didn’t care, but she liked to pretend she did.

“I’m just saying, you know, in case the alcohol gets flowing and you start blurting out random things, let’s make sure that’s not one of them.”

Hannah busied herself smoothing out the black dress she’d picked out for the reunion they were about to walk into. It was their ten-year high school reunion to be specific, an event Hannah had begged not to attend. Facing anyone after even just a decade wasn’t on her to-do list.

She’d feel differently if she had actually accomplished anything in those ten years, like Nina had. In high school, Nina had been voted most likely to be running a business, and not surprisingly she was. Thankfully for Hannah, her friend was kind enough to bring her along for part of the journey. Hannah was sure the only reason that had happened was because Nina knew there was no way her thunder would be stolen. It also helped that Hannah balanced Nina’s somewhat crazy nature. When she got close to the ledge, Hannah was there to pull her back.

The shining light on the years since high school was that Hannah did like her job, maybe even loved it. She wasn’t too keen on the woman Nina had hired to head up the accounting department, but she was still trying to come to peace with it.

When the job had been posted, Hannah had briefly considered putting her hat in the ring. She had seniority over the three other number crunchers in the department, and there wasn’t any doubt whether she could boss them around, but management had never been her strong suit. Plus, she really didn’t want to hear the whispering that she only got the job because she was Nina’s friend.

“Are you going to stand there and ponder whatever insipid thought crossed your mind all night, or can we go in? I think we’ve waited just long enough for me to make a grand entrance. I can’t wait to see all the old and chubby faces taking in the fact that I’m still as beautiful as I was ten years ago.”

In the shimmering silver dress Nina wore, which reminded Hannah a little of a disco ball, Hannah didn’t doubt her friend would be making an entrance anytime she walked in. The blonde turned heads everywhere she went. That fact drove Hannah’s decision to still hang out even when Nina grated on her nerves. When Nina was anywhere in a room, people generally ignored Hannah. She hated social occasions. Sitting in a corner was about the only way she could make it through them, and Nina made that task easy.

“It wasn’t insipid, and you know how much I hate it when you think my thoughts are nothing.”

The principle of Hannah’s thought being her own drove the comment. She could have been thinking about something important, like whether or not she shut off the stove. Since Nina lived in the same apartment building, that thought would have been just as important to her. The idea that Hannah would ever leave the house without checking the stove at least three times made it a bad example, but it was the thought that was important.

“Whatever,” Nina said as her heels clacked on the pavement underneath them.

Just being in the parking lot was more of a social setting than Hannah preferred, so while Nina had made herself busy more than likely checking all her social accounts and emails, Hannah had tried to stand as still as possible after adjusting her dress. She sometimes hoped she’d turn into a statue with her stiff stance.

Nina didn’t turn around to see if Hannah followed behind her. She didn’t need Hannah as an anchor to make it through the night, even though she’d forced Hannah to accept the invite. Other than maybe being part of an anecdote or two, Hannah would be forgotten the second Nina walked through the doors of the high school gymnasium.

It was better that the reunion was there instead of some fancy restaurant. Hannah had done some research on the internet about what to expect at a reunion and those seemed to be the options for locations. The closer quarters of a restaurant would have had her hyperventilating the second she stepped inside. It was bad enough knowing where there were some good hiding spots to sneak away from everyone.

Hannah stood motionless in the parking lot for a few more seconds. She was curious whether Nina would notice her shadow wasn’t behind her and hoped that if she went unnoticed, she never had to move from the spot. The universe never worked in Hannah’s favor, so it was no shock when Nina’s voice echoed through the parking lot.

“I know what you’re doing. Stop it.”

Adding on to her already harsh tone, Nina added her CEO voice to the mix. The woman could bark orders at anyone, or anything, and her directions would be followed. Hannah swore it stopped snowing once because Nina screamed out the window for it to stop. It was unnerving to spend so much time with someone who had that kind of power.

A brief thought to sigh was ignored as Hannah started following in her friend’s footsteps. At least the reunion was at the end of summer and not winter. There were no signs of snowflakes in sight. Good news, simply for the fact that snow usually means ice and Hannah and ice were never friends.

Nina stood at the door and fluffed her curly locks to make sure they bounced. At least that’s how Hannah interpreted the soft pushes at the bottom of her hair. Not having an ounce of vanity in her blood, Hannah had trouble understanding why anyone would bother. The motion just looked weird.

The few boyfriends she’d had seemed to think she was okay to look at. Hannah thought it was more the fact that her metabolism often functioned in overdrive that wooed her suitors. She’d always been basically flat as a board, so she didn’t know how other body types meshed with dating, but every one of those boyfriends often commented about how much they loved how skinny she was.

There shouldn’t be any mystery about why those boyfriends were all exes. Hannah wanted to feel a connection with someone, and someone who was with her because they didn’t like a little meat on a woman’s bones wasn’t someone she saw her spending a lot of time with.

It wasn’t solely the fact that they were shallow. Hannah could write a novel filled with all the reasons those relationships didn’t work. Walking into her past wasn’t exactly the best time to think about horrible relationships, but Hannah’s mind tended to wander aimlessly when she headed towards stressful situations.

“Oh my god, Nina.”

Nina had barely opened the door all the way before the vultures descended. Hannah wasn’t sure which one of them had squealed, but it had to be one of the three women who were quick to rush over and wrap their arms around Nina. Cooing ensued while Hannah returned to her statue stance. She couldn’t force herself inside with the bodies blocking her way.

Something made the hairs on the back of Hannah’s neck stand up. Hearing anything over the rapid catching up going on was impossible, yet her body reacted to something. It was like she’d stuck a fork in a socket. The charge was that strong.

“Once a shadow, always a shadow?”

Hannah was surprised her body reacted before the gruff words made it to her ears. The second she recognized the voice, her whole body shivered, much to her horror. There was no reason Curtis’ voice, or presence, would mean a thing to her, but it quickly brought back about every insecurity she could remember from high school.

He was clearly speaking to her. That didn’t mean Hannah bothered to turn around and dive into a conversation. She couldn’t have even if she wanted to. Her statue stance had never been more on point.

There was a part of her that wished Curtis meant more in the words than just teasing her. There wasn’t a girl in high school who wouldn’t have died to be attached to the guy in some way. Hannah had followed his hockey career from afar and knew the years hadn’t changed that desire.

He was still drop dead gorgeous, and as far as any research indicated he was single. Not even a mention anywhere of a divorce. He’d never shown signs of swinging for the other team, but Hannah found it hard to believe he’d made it to almost thirty without a wife.

The talking around her stopped and Nina, along with her other friends, focused their attention above Hannah’s left shoulder. Hannah couldn’t see Curtis, but heat rolled off his body, making her think he was even closer than she’d originally thought. She hadn’t let herself believe he was less than a foot away, because that would be crazy on his part.

“Curtis Power as I live and breathe.”

Nina fanned herself as she spoke. It was well known that Curtis was the one guy from high school Nina wanted and never got. Nina had pulled out all the stops to try to get his attention, and she was often successful in making sure she was noticed, but a relationship was never in the cards for the duo. At least not when they were eighteen. Hannah had to concede that the successful CEO vibe Nina had going for her could change that.

Then again, Hannah remembered some tension between the two of them that she’d never understood. She’d asked Nina about it, but her friend had always waved the questions off.

“Nina Hughes. I see you haven’t changed a bit. I think I’m going to go grab something to drink.” There was a shift in the heat in the air as Curtis moved to step around Hannah. “Hannah, if you get a moment later, come find me.”

Another shiver sneaked up her back as a chill settled. No man should have that kind of power.

Hannah focused on Nina’s reaction. Her friend didn’t take rejection well, and Curtis didn’t seem to give her a second thought as his long legs took the few steps needed to get inside. The squealing women probably didn’t even know they parted to make way for him as they stared with their jaws dropped open slightly.

Nina rolled her eyes and took in a deep breath. Hannah wasn’t sure if she was taking in the slightly minty scent that seemed to follow Curtis, but it clouded Hannah’s thoughts for a second.

“Is there something you failed to mention?”

The question was directed at Hannah, but between the changes in temperature and the fact Curtis had spoken just moments before, she wasn’t sure what the question meant. She thought for a second about what she could’ve forgotten to tell Nina.

“Never mind. If you find yourself curious about what he has to say, just make sure you grab me.”

There was nothing else to discuss, evidently, as Nina spun and sashayed after Curtis. Her grand entrance dimmed slightly by the professional athlete walking in just before her. Hannah felt there was a little poetic justice somewhere in the action.

Nina still got plenty of ohs and ahs, making it easy for Hannah to slip in and head towards the refreshments Curtis had mentioned. She wasn’t searching the man out, but the way the night had started made it clear she wouldn’t get through it without plenty of alcohol.

Chapter 2

Curtis didn’t want anything to do with the vast majority of the late-twenty-year-olds crowded into the gymnasium. Crowded exaggerated the atmosphere a little, but Curtis felt the walls closing in on him as group after group swarmed him to hear anything they could about his life. He tried to sound as dull as possible, but even if he droned on about getting teeth pulled, his audience would’ve found it fascinating.

Being one of the most successful people among the group post-graduation made the reaction predictable. It didn’t mean Curtis had to like it. The crowd itself didn’t bother him. He dealt with crowds just fine almost every other day of the year, sometimes in the thousands. It was the stupid questions he had to come up with answers to.

His love life wasn’t interesting, yet he’d had to tell people ten times that fact, as it seemed to always be the first question out of someone’s mouth. Everyone thought he had to have a secret affair going on behind the scenes that hadn’t made the gossip chain. The questions and comments made it clear that no one in the room had grown up beyond their high school persona.

Curtis didn’t have that kind of mentality even in high school, which was why he barely got along with any of the hundred or so former co-students and their spouses. He hadn’t spoken to a single one of them since graduating. There was no desire on his part, and frankly, he didn’t have the time.

The only reason he’d come to the reunion was because a teammate dared him to once he heard about it. Curtis’ teammates could be just as childish as his former classmates, but unlike the classmates, his teammates had the ability to make his life hell. Even with the dare, Curtis didn’t figure the punishment for not following through would be that bad, but the dare bolstered his resolution to finally do something he’d wanted to since high school.

As it was, listening to John Martin drone on about his kid’s dance recital was some form of hell. At least the conversation had turned away from Curtis so he could try to find Hannah. They had been at the reunion for at least forty-five minutes and she still hadn’t found him. He wasn’t hiding, but he remembered from high school how easily she disappeared.

She was flighty then, and from the little interaction he’d had with her in the ten years since, she was still scared of her own shadow. The trait could be frustrating, but Curtis found it enduring. He couldn’t stand people like her friend Nina, who said anything they wanted without a care who it hurt. That particular bitch was someone he could’ve gone the rest of his life without seeing again.

Hannah’s red hair easily stood out as Curtis scanned the room. All he had to do was follow Nina’s voice and then look a few feet away to where Hannah was awkwardly holding up the wall behind her. A small part of him was jealous of the wall for being able to feel her body lean against its white cinder blocks. Being jealous of a wall was foolish, so Curtis tried not to think about it.

During the years they’d known each other, Curtis had never hinted he wanted to get to know her better. For one, he didn’t think the declaration would go over well when her best friend was busy throwing herself at him. Curtis didn’t like that Hannah followed Nina around like a lost puppy dog sometimes, but he didn’t have a say in what she did with her life, so he remained quiet. Necessity eventually made Curtis forget about asking Hannah out, but he was doing his best not to think about those days.

He’d expected to see them together, since he knew they worked together, but he’d hoped Hannah would have asserted herself at least a little over the years. The woman was beautiful in an understated way. She never wore makeup, and yet her green eyes popped and lit up a room. There was no fuss to Hannah, which was probably the number one reason Curtis had always had a crush on her.

“Excuse me for a second. I think I need a refill.”

Curtis’ clear plastic cup was only half empty, but the words rolled off his tongue before he could think of a better excuse. He didn’t bother waiting for questions or anyone to mention they’d tag along. The whispers that followed him tried to guess his sudden distraction. Not surprisingly, the consensus was his feet carried him towards Nina.

The distance between the group he left and Hannah was about twenty feet, and it didn’t take more than five feet for Nina’s loud mouth to be the only thing Curtis could hear. She had a group gathered two people deep all around her, so clearly, she had to speak up. Curtis briefly wondered if she’d brought her own microphone.

Hannah stared off into space. Curtis assumed when she did that she was deep in thought. He’d always played a game trying to predict what she was thinking. They were never serious thoughts, just funny things that might be traipsing around her mind.

“So.”

Curtis allowed a second to make sure Hannah knew he was speaking to her. They were on the outside of Nina’s fans, without any of them too close, so it should’ve been obvious. Hannah never seemed to believe the obvious, though, as he remembered her often questioning everything.

“Are you thinking a deep grave or cement shoes?”

The look that crossed Hannah’s face elicited a chuckle out of Curtis. He didn’t mean to laugh, but the way her eyes scrunched for a second and then her brows lifted, all while her mouth moved to form words that didn’t come out was pretty funny. She wasn’t running away, which was all Curtis initially hoped for.

“Did I miss something?”

Hannah started blinking somewhat rapidly as her eyes darted around while she tried to fill in the blanks. The fact that she wasn’t frozen in place seemed like a good sign as far as Curtis was concerned. She had a tendency to turn into stone anytime attention turned her way.

“No,” Curtis said as he smiled and shook his head. “You just looked like you were thinking about something serious, so I guessed it was how to dispose of a body. I’m guessing that isn’t the case.”

A smile or laugh would’ve been a nice reply, but Curtis didn’t expect them. The horrified look he saw was exactly what he thought would happen. It was a clear sign that nothing had changed since high school. As odd as it sounded, that was a relief.

“I’m just joking around, Hannah. Everyone here knows you are the least likely one of us to kill someone. If I remember right, the honor for the most likely was Nathan,” Curtis’ voice trailed as he tried to remember the guy’s last name. It wasn’t someone Curtis had ever gotten close to.

“Perkins,” Hannah provided. “And I’m pretty sure he’s in jail for killing someone in a drunk bar fight or something.”

Curtis wasn’t sure if there was hard evidence backing that up or conjecture, but he wasn’t going to argue the statement. He’d already made a decent mess of opening up a conversation between them.

“I guess they should be more careful handing out those awards. They seem to be self-fulfilling prophecies, or whatever you want to call them.”

Having stood in front of Hannah to gauge her reactions, Curtis decided to turn and stand next to her with his back against the wall after he finished speaking. No one seemed to notice them, which was a little peculiar based on how much attention had been bestowed upon him. He wasn’t about to complain, but he’d planned on trying to find a space a little further away from the others to talk.

“Yours was most likely to be on the cover of a sports magazine, which I believe you’ve done.”

Hannah paused as she held up her hand and counted four fingers. Curtis was surprised she went that high. Most people only brought up what was considered his “big interview.”

“Four times. I know there are other papers and rags you’ve been on the cover of, but I’m pretty sure only four of them were authorized interviews.”

The explanation was a little overkill. Curtis didn’t follow himself in the media, so which interview appeared where wasn’t on his radar. He only did them because his agent said it was good for his career. Curtis had played with the same team all of that career, and his contract kept him there for at least three more years.

“I’ll take your word for it.”

Curtis stood close enough to Hannah that it was easy for him to “accidently” brush his hand against hers. It was nothing more than a soft touch, but he wanted to gauge her response. Her hand didn’t move away. An audible intake of breath was all he could pick up. Curtis pictured some kind of facial expression, like a little eye widening or her jaw dropping open slightly.

He’d never been the one looking to pursue a relationship. The girlfriends he’d had over the years came after him, so he wasn’t sure exactly how to broach the idea of asking someone out. He couldn’t just come out and say it, not after ten years of not speaking and little interactions even before that. It was a mess, and he blamed Nina for it. She was the one who told him to stay away from Hannah in high school, and somehow he had to explain that. The task was much easier said than done.

“How long are you planning on staying tonight?”

Both of them had kept their voices down throughout the conversation, but Curtis lowered his even more when he asked the question. He tried to keep his tone mild, or at least that was the word that came to mind. He didn’t want to make her think he was just looking to fool around with her because it was convenient.

“I’m the designated driver.”

She didn’t have to specify she meant for Nina. Hannah was at the woman’s beck and call. The thought made Curtis grind his teeth together.

“So not only do you probably hate to be here, but you can’t drink either? I might have to kidnap you for your own good.”

It was easy to picture throwing Hannah over his shoulder and running from the building. The woman couldn’t weigh much more than a hundred and ten pounds. At two-twenty, much of it muscles, Curtis wouldn’t have an issue picking her up.

The concept of kidnapping was probably a little too strong for the conversation, but it still didn’t send her running from him. Hannah laughed slightly. The noise took Curtis a second to classify and register since she’d rarely made a noise even remotely similar in his presence.

“I actually forgot for a few minutes earlier and had a glass of wine in hand ready to drink before I was reminded of my purpose tonight.”

Curtis was happy he missed that interaction. It was bad enough he could picture Nina waltzing over and saying something rude. He could even see her grabbing the glass out of Hannah’s hand and guzzling it down in front of her.

“What if I order a car to take the princess wherever she wants to go? I assume she could do that herself, but is too used to you being around to pick up the phone.”

It was hard not to sound bitter. Nina’s actions had never really cost him anything, other than his chance with Hannah, but he had an inkling of the toll it took on Hannah over the years. All he wanted to do was whisk her away somewhere Nina couldn’t find her for a while. He wondered if she’d open up more without the constant presence of Nina blocking out the sun.

Hannah’s focus had remained in front of them, but as Curtis turned his head to look at her a little better, he could see her looking over at him out of the corner of her eye. Her bottom lip was firmly between her teeth as she nibbled on it.

“We both know you’re not going to kidnap me, so I think we can go without car service. I can give you a list of other women who would love for you to pull the kidnapping act.”

The thought turned Curtis’ stomach. He didn’t audibly make a barfing noise, but it was pretty loud in his own head.

“No, I wouldn’t kidnap you.”

Curtis let his hand caress hers again, this time keeping the contact for a couple seconds longer. The first touch didn’t reveal how cold her hand was. Curtis spent a lot of time on the ice, and that was exactly what her hand felt like. He fought the instinct to grab her hand and try to warm it.

He wondered whether that was normal for her, or if something about the situation chilled her. There were so many things he didn’t know, yet over the years had let himself imagine. Curtis needed at least a decade with Hannah just to figure out if his imagination was anywhere near the real thing.

“I would like to spend some time with you, though. I’m in town this week, so maybe we can go out for dinner some night.”

A little shrug meant to make the words casual. Casual wasn’t what he thought of when Hannah was on his mind, but he feared too much direct intent would scare her away.

“I don’t understand. Are you looking for intel or something? Nina isn’t dating anyone right now, at least not anyone serious. You don’t have to go through me to get to her.”

“I’m not going through you to get to anyone.” Curtis moved so he was back in front of Hannah, making sure she could see the intent in his eyes. “I’m asking you out on a date. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years. The timing just never worked out for us.”

A slew of questions, and maybe a shocked expression would’ve been appropriate, given the suddenness of the request. Curtis could have dealt with those reactions without second thought. Seeing Hannah’s eyes drift close and her head rapidly gravitate towards the ground as her knees buckled wasn’t something Curtis had envisioned when he thought about the moment.

Even momentarily paralyzed from the reaction, Curtis was quick enough to catch Hannah before her body fully hit the ground. It wasn’t the way he expected to find her in his arms, but he didn’t miss the chance to let it sink in that she was. If only they were anywhere other than the reunion and she was conscious, he would’ve called it the perfect ending to the evening.

Chapter 3

“Don’t you think we should call an ambulance?”

Even in Hannah’s dreams, Nina’s voice sounded like fingernails going down a chalkboard. Not necessarily the scraping, squealing noise associated with the action, just the fact that it grated on Hannah’s nerves. Only in her dreams could Hannah admit something like that. In real life, she wore her friend like a shield and was thankful for any and all protection it provided.

“What we need is for you to give me some room. I’m surprised you broke up your court to come check on her. Since you did, I’ll go ahead and tell you that I’m taking her home. I can get a car to come pick you up or you can ask one of your many adoring fans to give you a ride.”

Hannah felt motion, but she was too busy analyzing the male voice to react to her body being moved around. It had been a long time since she’d dreamed about that particular voice. In high school, it had been a fairly common occurrence, because back then she allowed her imagination to run a little more freely.

It was one of the only times she allowed herself to be foolish. Her experiences around the time made it stupid, but she always thought he was different than the other kids in school. Since she felt the same way about herself, it was easy to gravitate towards thinking about him as more than just another kid in school.

Once she joined the grown-up world of jobs and responsibilities, she didn’t let herself fantasize about Curtis. That wasn’t completely true. When an article came out about him, she sometimes had little thoughts of what it would be like to be in his world, but it never included hearing him tell Nina off.

“Excuse me? Put her down. I’m her best friend and the only person here qualified to make decisions based on her welfare. You’re not taking her anywhere.”

It would have been nice to have a visual sense of what was going on. Hannah couldn’t remember a dream only in audio. It felt like she was sort of floating around as the two of them fought. She hated only being able to imagine the expressions that went along with the words. Both of them sounded pissed, but without seeing Nina, in particular, she couldn’t tell how nuclear things were.

“You really think you can stop me? You haven’t had Hannah’s best interests in mind since long before high school, so don’t give me that crap about you being qualified for anything when it comes to her.”

Curtis’ voice stopped for a second and Hannah heard a deep breath from close to her head. Realizing that the reason she couldn’t see anything in the dream was more than likely because her eyes were closed, she blinked a couple of times and let her eyelids rise. A simple solution to the problem, which seemed to cause only new ones to appear.

Her brain should have put it together that dream Curtis had picked her up, but she wasn’t ready to see the black button-down shirt he was wearing up close and personal. Nor was she ready for the peppermint smell that she associated with him to instantly overwhelm her. Her extremities began to tingle, starting a sensation she didn’t remember crawling around her body. It felt like she was going to crawl out of her skin.

“Just because you make a few hundred thousand more than I do a year doesn’t mean you can come in here and throw your weight around.”

Hannah wanted to turn to see Nina as she responded, but she couldn’t look away from the defined edges of Curtis’ chin. Chiseled described the man perfectly and up close it wasn’t easy to resist reaching out and running a finger along the skin making up those defined edges.

“You need mental help, Nina. I’d think with all your money, you’d have plenty of doctors begging for you to spend some quality time with them.”

Curtis looked down and acknowledge with a wink that he saw Hannah’s eyes were open. The smile that spread across his face softened his coffee-colored eyes a little, but he still seemed pissed.

Hannah didn’t want to think the actions going on around her were reality, but out the corner of her eye she saw pale green lockers as she was carried down a hall. Most of the reunion had felt like her just going through the motions, but they were motions in the real world, not dream world. She didn’t remember exactly what would’ve caused Curtis to carry her around, but Hannah came to the realization he was, and he wasn’t struggling at all to do so.

“You don’t even know where she lives, and I’m not going to tell you, so put her down and let me take care of her.”

Nina actually sounded like she cared. Her tone didn’t change that much, but there was more assertion than she usually mustered for mundane conversation. Hannah still couldn’t see her, but she had registered the sound of her high heels against the polished white floor working overtime to keep up with Curtis. The man’s strides were probably one for every two of Nina’s.

“There you go again making assumptions. You have never known anything about me, Nina. Thankfully, Hannah is up and can make her own choices. Since she hasn’t tried to escape from my arms, I don’t think she has a problem with me giving her a ride home.”

“All that means is she isn’t rude. Hannah, tell him to get lost and I’ll get you home and tucked into bed with some food to get your blood sugar up. I knew you should have had more than that salad at lunch today.”

Nina said the words, but in the twenty years they’d known each other, she’d never played nursemaid. Hannah didn’t see that starting anytime soon, so the promise felt like it was about getting Curtis out of the picture. Hannah figured that was more about the fact he’d taken charge of the situation and wasn’t listening to a word she said.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Amber Lynn has always had an obsession with reading. The more she read, the more she found new and different worlds building in her mind. Eventually she decided it was time to start writing about them, and five years ago she finished her first story. Thirty-some stories later, the worlds are still building themselves. When she's not writing, or doing yard work, she's out on her motorcycle, getting inspiration from the open road.

Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
At the root of the stories there's a change that needs to be made in the characters for them to find happiness. I love hockey so I enjoy including that aspect in my contemporary romances, but it's the connections between the characters that really bring everything together.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
This book came out of nowhere. I was working on a YA paranormal book and I started picturing Hannah and Curtis and the crazy things that could happen to them.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
I write because I'd probably going insane if I didn't. I have so many ideas rolling around in my head all the time that I need an avenue to get them out or I'd just wander around talking to myself.

Next in:
Romance
One Hundred Reasons
Fresh starts, hope, and happily ever afters.
A Second Chance Summer
Searching for a new life and an old flame
A Delicious Death
Stress City in a Small Town with Big Secrets!