Saturday, October 22, 2016

Breaking Hearts -- Simon's Story-- is AVAILABLE NOW!

Nothing in the world mattered to Danielle Ranier quite as much as Simon Hunter. Until he dumped her, that is. Then all she had on her mind was REVENGE!

But even the best laid plans go off the rails, and coming back to Storybook Lake was never in her plans. But there she was...home, with a crazy husband stalking her every move and a whole town wondering who fathered her baby.

Some secrets are better left kept, but in Storybook Lake, there's no such thing as secrets.


When normal people ran into an old boyfriend, they did it in a grocery store or a shopping mall or even at work. When I ran into my ex-boyfriend—this time, at least—I did it with a car. I plowed my mom’s front end into the back of Simon’s patrol car as he waited for a stop light to turn to green. I couldn’t claim distraction by the new window embellishments at Marry Me Now Weddings. I hadn’t taken my eyes off the light bar on top since he turned out in front of me. I’d continued to stare at it rather than his tail lights then smacked into the trunk as he’d stopped and mom’s car kept rolling. He stepped out of his squad car, which I’d pushed out into the intersection, and strolled back to my mother’s Buick.
Mrs. Ranier?” I wanted to crawl into the trunk before he had a chance to reach the window. When he got closer, a smile lit up his face. “Dani?”
Jeepers. His uniform was one of those hot fantasy bonuses that I mentally filed away for later. Black cargo pants highlighted his long legs and emphasized every toned muscle—front and back—before tucking into shiny black boots. A T-shirt with the word “Police” emblazoned across the back stretched tightly over his mile-wide chest and shoulders before tapering to a slender waist. He had a gun on one side of his belt and a badge on the other. If I was going to be arrested, he was the guy I wanted to pat me down.
Hi, Simon.” Heat flooded my pores. I tried to open the door and get out, but the hood and front fenders of the car crinkled towards the back end prying the door shut.
Are you okay?”
Yeah, but I think I’m stuck.” I pulled the handle twice more to prove my problem.
He leaned in the window, held onto my shoulder for a second until I wriggled from beneath his electric touch. “Can you climb out?” His radio crackled as he called for a tow truck and an ambulance.
I think so.” Holding the back of short my dress with one hand and grasping the passenger headrest with the other as I twisted my body, I slithered over the window ledge onto the street. His bulging eyes said my attempt at modesty had been much more attempt than success. I tugged at the skirt.
He licked his lips then brought his gaze back to my face. “Oh, shit, Dani.” He strolled to his car. Jogging back to me, he stepped closer—close enough I closed my eyes and inhaled the citrus-y scent of his cologne. He leaned in and investigated the gash on my head. “You’re probably gonna need a couple stitches.” With a gentle touch, he pressed the patch of fabric over the cut. “That hurt?”
No.” The tingling in the lower half of my body overpowered any pain further north.
I didn’t care that we were standing in the middle of the street or that he belonged to someone else. His soul-melting gaze held mine and one hand cradled my face as he used the other to stop the trickle of blood coming from my hairline. Another police cruiser pulled up and Simon stepped away, giving orders to divert traffic and then made way for the ambulance he’d called to check me out. All business Simon was hot. After about an hour, the cars had been towed off, a deputy retrieved Simon’s personal Jeep and I sent the ambulance on its way.
We stood on the sidewalk facing each other, grinning like a couple of goofy teenagers waiting for that first big kiss. He reached out a hand to once again touch my face and I closed my eyes, savoring the whisper of his hands on my skin. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
I nodded, still under the power of his special brand of magic. Any words I might have spoken stuck in my throat. Breaking the spell, he cleared his throat and pulled his hand away.
I swallowed hard and stepped back from his car. “Well, thanks for not writing me a ticket. I should go.” I turned and hurried away, past the jewelry store and the wedding shop. As I neared the beauty parlor his mother once owned, I slowed. Through the window reflection, I watched Simon’s gaze following me.
Probably thinking I was some sort of beauty parlor stalker, Gatlin waved from inside. The sight of Gatlin brought a small smile to my lips. Aside from Keaton, he’d been the one member of their little group I’d always gotten along with.
Hey, Dani, wait a second.” Simon’s voice held a mixture of curiosity and urgency.
I stopped as he jogged around his car toward me. “Wanna get together? Have some lunch? Maybe catch up?”
Don’t you have a girlfriend?” My heart pounded at the idea of “catching up” with Simon, but I’d turned over a new leaf and boyfriend stealing had a big red line through the list of acceptable behaviors I kept on a post-it in my mind.
I asked if you wanted to catch up.” A smile tipped the corner of his lips heavenward. “Not have an orgy.”
I wasn’t thinking orgy. I was more the one on one kind. “Well, you gotta clarify. Catching up with you could mean a lot of things and it puts pictures in a girl’s mind.” He chuckled. “Pretty pictures.” I over-exaggerated my sigh. Okay. Baby steps on the reformation.
He ducked his head and chuckled while I chewed my lip for a split second. “Catching up sounds good.” He put a hand in the middle of my lower back and guided me to his SUV.
Almost before I knew it, we arrived at Hood’s Hideaway, a new restaurant on the outskirts of town that bordered on the resort property where Keaton had worked after college. The building, a glorified tree house with a thatched roof over top of steel beams, had fake vines and plants “growing” inside. The “trunk” grew up through the middle of the floor dividing the room into fours.
After our waitress served frothy coffee concoctions with whipped cream and sprinkles, she strolled away leaving us alone, shielded by artfully designed foliage. I took a sip of the hot brew and swallowed quickly. My chest burned as the scalding liquid made its way down to my stomach. I sucked in a breath and blew it out. “So what happened with you and Hollywood?” As far as I knew, Kelly Devlin never came home from Los Angeles after she graduated college. 
He smiled just a little and my heart hammered in my chest. “She decided to stay out in California, and I decided to stay here.” She wasn’t willing to give up a crappy magazine job for Simon? The fool.
He took a big drink of coffee, pulled his lower lip between his teeth and smiled. “That’s hot.”
I nodded. “I could have told you to drink slow.” I dialed the conversation back to his relationship status. It was the only information I really wanted anyway. “And now you are consoling yourself with a sweet from the bakery?” I was proud of the way I had said it—witty, without a single hint of jealousy or malice. I held my breath, though, hoping he would deny it.
Such a way with words.” He grinned. “And I’m not consoling myself with Lizette. I really like her.” He narrowed his eyes and glared at me for a moment before his face relaxed.
I held up my hands in surrender. “Okay. You made a love connection. I’m happy for you.” But my stomach turned at the thought of Simon—my Simon—with the only woman I’d ever met in person who matched his six feet four inch height.
Eager to change the subject, he said, “And what about you? Anybody lighting your fire these days?”
I shook my head and ran my finger around the rim of my cup. Keaton and I never discussed what or how we would tell Simon about all that happened while we were away, but he and Simon had been best friends for years. I wasn’t going to be the one to destroy that.
So, you and Keats are finished?”
What? I, um, I, what?” I knocked my coffee over in surprise then quickly snatched my white linen napkin off the table and began sopping up the cooling brown liquid.
Simon says you can’t keep secrets from a guy like me, Dani.” He chuckled and shook his head. “I’m his go-to guy for everything. Plus, Joss is my sister and I don’t want to see her get hurt, so I asked him.”
Oh.” My hands stilled as the waitress wiped our table clean then left to get me another drink. She’d probably put it in a sippy cup. “I should have figured Keaton would have already told you.” These weren’t guys who kept secrets from each other. “Well, then yes, we’re over. He still loves her too much to be with anybody else.”
Is your little boy his?”
I’d never outright lied to Simon. Ever. And to keep from doing so, I had to stop this now before it went any further. “I don’t talk about Kieran’s daddy.”
I just don’t.” Well, this was awkward. “So, sheriff, huh?”
He chuckled. That ended all serious points of conversation. Instead, we chatted about Arizona’s dry air, his Mom’s rekindling of her marriage to Alex Rogers, his move into Gatlin’s apartment, my dad’s new horses—everything except the one thing I was dying to discuss—us. After a few hours, he drove me back to my mom’s and pulled up in front of the house. “This reminds me of the old days.”

Me, too. How many nights had he brought me home then sat out in front of the house steaming up the windows to his car? Just the thought of steaming up windows had my blood pressure climbing. “Yeah.”