No blog links this week, since I got the cover art for the first in my small town contemporary romance series, First Choice, Second Chance. So, you get the first look at that instead.
I first got the idea for this back in the summer of 2013, I believe. I had just finished reading a book(Gwynneth Ever After, by Linda Poitevin), and for the first time I had ideas for a straight contemporary romance. No suspense subplot. I couldn’t get to sleep with all the ideas I had circling in my head(one reason I shouldn’t read on my phone in bed). So, I got up and started writing them down. I knew I wanted to set it in the area where I grew up(and still live not far from). I had some other vague ideas and they started to come together. I also realized there were two stories here, but they were so twisted together, they couldn’t really be separated. Hence an alternating timeline. And it just took off from there.
I know, I know, you’re actually here to see the cover, huh. So, I’ll get to that…
*Pushes papers around on desk*
*Shuffles some more papers*
Oh, here it is(I know, I’m weird.)…
Title: First Choice, Second Chance
Release Date: 8/18/2015
One wrong choice doesn’t have to lead to another
Seven years ago, he watched her drive away.
Lila Corelli was the love of Mason Akeley’s life, but she chose a music career and another man over him. He thought it would destroy him, but he’s been scraping by; on the family farm and in life. Now, she’s back in town, and he feels like he’s barely hanging on.
She made a wrong choice.
Lila knows she made a mistake. She thought she had been on the right path; to her career, love, her life. Instead, she never saw the disaster one wrong choice could cause. Now, with everything gone, she returns to her hometown, hoping to find her way to a new path.
Mason’s love for Lila has never died, but he’s afraid to open himself to be hurt again. Lila chose the wrong future once, and she worries she’ll be making another bad choice that will only lead to more destruction. But, if they can untangle their past from their present, they just might be able to find their future together.
Mason Akeley stepped out of the barn and saw his father standing beside the large red tractor. He had one hand on the handle of his cane, while the other tried to turn a wrench. A curse barely slipped past his lips before he hurried forward. “Dad, what are you doing? You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“I’ve been working on tractors longer than you’ve been alive, boy. Leave me to it.”
He ignored the words and the pain behind them and put his hand over his father’s. “Dad, please give me the wrench.”
His father didn’t even bother to bite back the curse. “If I can’t even be helpful around here, I don’t know why I bother. The damn doctors should have let me die.”
The words had something slithering inside him and squeezing around his chest. “No, Dad, don’t say that. You’re still useful. You don’t have to do this. That’s why you have me around, remember?”
The storm seemed to pass right through his eyes. His shoulders slumped, and he relaxed his grip on the wrench, letting Mason take it. “Can you go in and get my toolbox?” Mason asked. “I planned on getting to this when I finished the other chores anyway.”
“Right,” his father muttered.
Mason waited until he’d limped into the barn before he turned back to the tractor. He closed his eyes, trying to gain his composure back. His father stayed upbeat most of the time. When he got like this, he was in serious pain. Nothing seemed to take that completely away. He smacked the wrench in his hand against the tractor. “Damn it.”
His father had always been the strongest man he knew. Now, he seemed to get weaker and weaker. This damn tractor was a reminder of why. He wished he didn’t have to see it and be reminded every day. Really wished he didn’t have to try to fix it all the time. It wasn’t the tractor’s fault his father was nearly crippled.
It was his.
Her father opened the door before she had even reached it. He took the larger suitcase from her and set it aside. Then, he dragged her inside. Maybe he would wrap her in his arms like he had done when she was younger, but he didn’t. He held her away from him and looked her up and down, like he looked for any flaws. Like one of her flaws had caused this whole mess.
Maybe it had.
Then, he released her, and one of the cracks in her heart widened. “I’ll take your stuff back into your room,” her mother said, stepping forward.
She turned to look at her father, but he’d already turned away. She itched to go to him, to put her arms around him. Then, maybe he’d turn and return the gesture. She wanted something to tell her she could be whole again. She stayed right where she was, too afraid he would never embrace her again. She was too much of a disappointment for that. Tears welled into her brown eyes, so much like his, but she blinked them back. She’d caused them enough heartache in the last year. She wasn’t going to burden them with her tears as well.
“Dinner will be ready in a little while,” her mother said when she returned. “You have time if you want to take a shower and get cleaned up. I know you spent most of the day on the road.”
She was about to thank her mom again, but the words wouldn’t come. Instead tears flooded her eyes. “Oh, baby,” her mother whispered and stepped forward to offer the hug she’d wanted from her father. It didn’t take away the pain though. Neither did her father’s next words.
“You never should have let him do this to you. You were smarter than this.”
The words slammed into her, like punches right to her soul. “I’m sorry, Daddy.”
“You are sorry?” The words came out as a roar, and thick with the accent that most of the times nearly disappeared from his voice. Then, he shook his head and stepped back. “I cannot do this.”
Lila watched him leave the room then turned back to her mother, tears gathering in her eyes. “I never meant to hurt him. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
Her mother didn’t say anything. She stepped forward and slipped her arms around the young woman. “You did nothing. He blames himself.”
He held up a hand to stop her. “Give me a shot of Jack.” He caught Lila at the edge of his vision. “Actually make it a double.”
Jess hesitated then poured the drink and passed it over to him. He took the first sip and winced at the burn. He wasn’t sure if he would ever get used to it. The whiskey warmed the parts of him that had gone cold with Lila’s arrival. He kept his eyes focused on the wall across the bar as he took the second sip. He still knew the moment she stepped up beside him. He didn’t know if her scent still lived in his memory and he recognized it, or if it went deeper. He didn’t even have to hear her voice. It was in his head, in his dreams, every day and every night. When she ordered a drink, it twisted around his heart again.
His fingers tightened around the glass. He was almost afraid it would shatter right there in his fist. He dragged in some air through his nose, but it only came back out sounded strangled. He started to turn away. He needed to put some space between them. He couldn’t handle having her so close. As soon as he took a step, her hand was on his arm, the muscles in it cording tighter. “Mason.”
He was going to explode, shatter into tiny pieces no one would ever be able to put back together again. He had to get away. He didn’t even respond to her saying his name. He set the glass on the top of the bar. It must have been harder than he planned because a crack sounded when he did it. He didn’t even look back. “Put it on my tab, Jess. All of it.”
His head pounded. He didn’t think it was the alcohol or the music. It was Lila. It had always been Lila. He pushed out through the door. Then braced his hand against the side of the building and squeezed his eyes shut. The door opened again, and he didn’t even look behind him. Instead he strode across the small parking lot to his truck. She called his name again, but he didn’t stop. He checked his mirror to make sure she wasn’t right behind him, he certainly didn’t hate her that much. She still stood close to the building. She had her arms wrapped around her, and stared after him. His eyes started to burn. Then, he backed out of his parking spot and pulled out of the lot. The gravel spun under his tires, but he didn’t care. He wanted to put distance between them. Before he lost the grip he barely kept on his sanity.