|COMING 29 August, 2014|
Secrets. Lies. Betrayal.
How much heartbreak can one heart take?
Melisa Dane has made it through the worst. Her heart was broken, but Florian Dane, better known as “Heat”—and the man of her dreams—returned to mend it. Now, with her family almost complete, Melisa is ready to sit back and enjoy life.
But fate isn't done with her yet. The perpetual smile on her face freezes when the second man to steal her heart shows up in her life once again. Scott Bergfeld, the husband she buried and grieved for years ago, is not dead, and he comes back bearing secrets.
Heartbroken and confused, Melisa tries to find answers to questions she never thought she'd ask, but what she learns throws her life into turmoil. Soon, cracks start to form in her marriage with Heat. As her heart is torn into two halves—between the man she loved first and the man she married first—she comes dangerously close to having her whole life destroyed again. How many people will end up getting hurt? This time, does she have the strength to make it through?
EXCERPT FROM BOOK
A stone’s throw away, under a tree with low-hanging branches, a man with a well-trimmed beard and wearing a black cap stood watching her, smiling. He took an unsure step forward as she took one back. A chill ran up her spine; her heart thumped. What the hell was going on? Was someone playing a prank on her?
The man held up a hand, palm facing her, and halted. "Please," he said, and at hearing the familiar deep and silky voice, Melisa’s blood ran cold. She clapped a hand to her mouth and stumbled back, sank to the damp ground.
"Go away... You're not." She attempted to get up but her knees were too weak to carry her weight. She used her hands to scramble backward, grabbing onto dirt and kicking her feet like a spoiled child as fear electrified her. "Leave me alone."
Before she could take another breath, the man was beside her, trying to grab hold of her hands as she flailed at him like a madwoman. It took her a moment to realize she was screaming, the sound scraping the insides of her throat raw. Finally, the strength to fight melted out of her body and fear paralyzed her.
The man held her tight and pulled her to him as she whimpered and shook. "Shhhh." He buried his face into her hair. "Melisa, it's okay, sweetheart. It’s me. I'm here."
A fresh dose of strength flooded back into Melisa and she used all of it to shove him away so hard he fell back against the earth, breaking the fall with his hands. She got back to her feet and gazed down at him with fire burning in her eyes. "Who the hell are you?"
The man's lips parted, but he closed them again. Instead, he removed his glasses. His grey eyes were unmistakable.
Melisa reached out with her eyes and made contact with his. She held his gaze, bore into it, questioned it. She swallowed the lump in her throat as she noted the pleading, the hurt, the fear in those eyes. Was she so far gone that she was now seeing her dead husband's ghost? But how could he be a ghost? She'd felt him as he held her a minute ago—the warmth of his body, his breath in her hair. She'd felt his heartbeat. A heartbeat that was supposed to have stopped seven years ago. She blinked twice to make sure he was still standing there.
He was still there, wearing jeans and a turquoise polo shirt.
The man who stood before her was real. At forty-three, with a beard and longer hair, he looked different. But the one-sided tilt of his lips when he smiled was the same one that had once sent her heart racing.
Melisa still couldn't move any part of her body. With every ounce of strength she had, she parted her lips. "Sc... Scott."
He blinked and nodded. "It's me," he said cautiously, afraid to chase her off or have her attack him again. He picked himself up off the ground and attempted to dust himself off, but his dirty hands left streaks on his jeans. He didn't seem to mind. He approached her again, slowly.
Before the rational side of her brain could take over, Melisa flung herself into his arms and buried her head into his shoulder, soaking his clothes with hot tears. As both shock and relief flooded her body, she tightened her arms around him, clutching him as if afraid he might turn into thin air any moment. He wore the same spicy cologne he had when he was... alive. She shoved him away again, wiped her eyes, and raked a hand through her hair. "I'm crazy. This... this can't be happening?" She shook her head.
"No." He blinked away tears and his Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "You're not. I'm really here."
"No... You can't be." Tears scorched her cheeks as she remembered the day he was buried, a freezing day with the scent of wildflowers perfuming the air. Pain had twisted her stomach when she'd watched his casket being lowered into the ground. A dark cloud had wrapped itself tightly around her until she couldn’t breathe. For years, she couldn’t breathe. When he died, it was as if a light switch inside her heart had been flicked off, allowing the darkness to shroud it. "What the hell..."
Scott backed away again as the relief in her amber eyes turned to molten lava. He held up his hands. "I can explain."
Melisa titled her head to the side and squinted. She didn't say a thing. She wanted to. But what could she say to a dead man? What could she say when she felt she was going crazy? But he was standing right in front of her, and it could only mean one thing. She was afraid to let it register inside her mind. "You didn't... You wouldn't..." Her knees gave way and she stumbled to the bench where she slumped back, legs knocking against each other. "What did you do? Where the fuck were you?"
Scott cleared his throat and shifted his weight. "Melisa... I can explain everything."
"You can explain?" Melisa's whole body trembled as the words spilled out of her mouth. "You can explain that you faked your death? You made people believe you were dead? You let me grieve for you even though you were alive? Oh, my God." Melisa buried her head in her hands.
"I'm... I’m so sorry." Scott didn't dare come near her again.
"Sorry?" Melisa looked up again, laughing and crying at the same time. "You're sorry? No." She jabbed a shaking finger at him. "You say sorry when you forget someone's birthday, you say sorry when you accidently step on someone's toes"—her voice rose with each word—"you say sorry when you... when you..." She sucked in a breath, but it might as well have been lined with thorns. When she spoke next, her voice was low, broken into pieces. "Faking your own death... No, you can’t say sorry for that."
She wanted to get away from him, wanted to pretend she was imagining things, and erase this day from her memory. But she was so shaken and weak that if she stood up, she was certain she'd crumple at his feet. So she wedged her hands in a prayer pose between her knees and gazed into the distance away from him. She heard him shift, and then his heavy breathing, but she was glad he didn't come closer. She wasn't sure what she would do to him if he did. He'd probably end up dead—for real this time.
After a long silence broken only by the swish of the breeze, birds chirping, and a distant car honking, Scott spoke. "I had to leave."
In a heartbeat, Melisa was on her feet again, and the palm of her hand stung. Scott had his hand on his cheek.
He kept his eyes fixed on hers. "I didn't want to hurt you. That's why I went away. It was only a matter of time before we were torn apart."
END OF EXECRPT
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