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Alyssa Boyd had big plans. Big plans that included getting the hell out of the little town she’d grown up in with her two best friends. When she decided it was time to let one of them know her true feelings for him; a change of plans resulted in a tragic turn of events. Now, Alyssa is left alone to find her way out of the darkness that an untimely death has left in its wake. Jesse Vaughn was never good at letting people in. He’d learned a long time ago that it’s easier that way because people leave, or, unfortunately, die. The one person he wanted to let in doesn’t want him anymore. The only problem is he can’t stop thinking about her. Jesse returns to the childhood home he left behind with one goal in mind… to convince her that they should be together. When Jesse finds Alyssa she’s not the same girl he left behind. She’s wild, reckless and hell-bent on not giving Jesse a second chance. Lucky for Jesse, his stubborn streak has always been a mile-wide and he’s not about to give up on her. When your life has been shattered can you really pick up all the pieces and move on?
Jesse Vaughn was back.
Was he the one who took me home from the party last night? Why didn’t I remember? How drunk was I?
It had been nine long months since I’d last seen him, or even heard from him for that matter. I turned back to face January and Hap in utter disbelief.
“Yep.” Hap nodded with a confirming smile. January’s expression matched her boyfriend’s. They were excited about the possible reunion of Jesse and me. January knew everything that almost happened, so it went without saying that Hap was clued in. I hated to break it to them, but this wasn’t going to be the happily ever after that they’d hoped for. As much as I wanted to run up, wrap my arms around his neck and tell him how much I’d missed him, I couldn’t fight the dormant anger that I’d let be suppressed by the sadness and guilt. He left me. It was bad enough that Garrett was gone, but that wasn’t his choice. Jesse had left because he wanted to. I brought my hands up and covered my face, hoping he would walk back out the door before I had to face him.
“Hey, Lyss.” The tone of his voice was hesitant, surely he knew I was in shock to see him. “How are you?” It was hard to tell if he meant, “How are you? It’s been nine months since I last saw you.” or “How are you after getting completely shit-faced last night?” Just hearing his deep, raspy voice sent a ripple across my skin. I really thought he was gone.
I looked up to see him standing beside our table. He looked the same. He’d let his hair grow out, just a little bit longer, but it was same jet-black color and messy tousled look I remembered. The glow of his suntanned skin led me to believe that he’d been hiding out somewhere sunny as opposed to what I’d assumed, which was that he must have crawled under a rock and died, or fell off the face of the earth. Why else would he have just completely disappeared from my life? Everything that had happened the night of Garrett’s accident flashed in my mind. I couldn’t even begin to form a complete sentence. Instead, I pushed out of the booth and looked directly in the eyes I’d tried to forget.
“Don’t,” was all I could come up with before I ran out of the diner.
“Alyssa, please.” He followed me out the door. “Can’t we just talk?”
“No!” I yelled out, not breaking my stride as I walked across the street.
His hands stopped mine before I could pull the car door open and escape. The contact of our skin sent a shock up my arm. “Please.” I turned to see the desperation in his eyes. He pulled his lip between his teeth and brushed a stray hair from my cheek. His hand rested on my cheek. I caught myself turning my face into his strong, warm hand and quickly pulled away. As much as I wanted to fight it, everything that I’d felt for him was still there. I still wanted him to touch me. To kiss me. The guilt and anger that accompanied the desire was too much.
“I can’t do this, Jesse.” I pulled my face from his and quickly sunk behind the wheel of my car. I drove away, leaving him alone on the street.
I wasn’t ready to talk to him. To ask him the string of questions that had been running through my head for months. To explain my erratic behavior the night before. I wasn’t ready for any of it. So, I did the only thing I could think of to avoid the entire situation. I went home, opened the desk drawer and retrieved my new foolproof method of not dealing with it.
ABOUT ELIZABETH LEE: When I'm not writing or playing the part of wife and mother, you can find me dancing back-up for Beyonce, singing back-up for Miranda, or sunning myself on the beach with a drink in hand. Here's the thing about being born and raised in a small town—you have a very vivid imagination! Now, I channel it all to create stories where the girl always ends up with the right guy, first kisses are magical, and a happy ending is just that!