Denise Reynolds’s tightly controlled life is thrown off kilter when she’s given custody of her young cousins. There are days she has a hard enough time getting herself out of bed, never mind two precocious kids.
If that wasn’t enough, Chris Nolton comes strolling back into town as suddenly as he left it. She’d broken her own rules and given him a chance once before, only to have him ghost on her. But he’s not there for her this time. No, he’s leading the FBI Task Force intent on capturing the kids’ biological father. A man who was sent to prison for manslaughter. A man who was released five years too early. A man who wants his kids back.
The past has a way of repeating itself and once again, Denise finds herself defending the innocent against the evil of world. One wrong decision, one second guess, could have devastating consequences. To protect the most important people in her life, she’ll need to trust the one man with the power to break her.
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Denise was half-way across the yard when lightening split the sky and struck one of the trees in the field next to the barn.
Fists clenched at her side, she screamed into the storm. Everything came crashing down on her—the anger, the pain, the fear and uncertainty pressed mercilessly down on her and she could bear the weight of it any longer. Her knees bucked and she sank to the ground.
Violent sobs forced their way out of her chest. The storm raged and crashed around her echoing the one inside her. A small, rational section of her brain told her to get her dumb ass up and out of the rain, but she couldn’t make her limbs move. Couldn’t find the strength to keep pushing forward.
Hands grabbed her upper arms, jerking her out of her stupor.
Surging to her feet, she fought the person holding her, pushing away from them.
“Denise, it’s Chris!”
She didn’t care. She needed to lash out and hurt something—someone. Use her fists to transfer some of the pain and anger away from her onto someone else.
Her fist connected with a hard wall of flesh, followed by a muffled, “oomph.”
“You wanna let it out?” He shouted. “Have at it.”
“Fuck you!” She threw a left jab, followed by a right hook to his jaw, snapping his head to the side.
He turned his head back and laughed. “That’s it?”
“Fuck! You!” She shoved him and forced him back a step.
He took two forward, crowding into her space. The thin material of his t-shirt moulded to his chest and abs while water dripped from his face. He held his arms out to the side, daring her to hit him again. “Come on, Denise. I know you can do better than that. Give me your worst.”
Chris reclined the driver’s seat back a few more inches. He’d been sitting in his truck for almost three hours. Bree’s car had been in the drive when he arrived, so he’d parked a few houses down to avoid her spotting his truck. Denise had walked her to the door thirty minutes ago and a few lights had gone off.
Glancing down at this phone, he dimmed the brightness and opened his ebook app. Rereading Pet Sematary would keep him awake, even if it made him damn glad he didn’t own a cat.
The phone rang, Denise’s name appearing on the screen. “Hey.”
“Hey.” She didn’t say anything else.
“Everything okay?” He looked up the street toward her house.
“I’m not sure.”
He sat up straight and scanned around the house for anything unusual. “What do you mean?”
“I think I should call the cops.”
He couldn’t see anything from where he was parked. Was something going on at the back of the house? He thumbed the control to raise the back of his seat. “What’s going on?”
“I think there’s a creeper parked down the street.”
He paused with his hand on the ignition button. “A what?”
“You know…a creeper. Stalker. Weirdo.”
He relaxed back into his seat. “Why does it have to be a weirdo?” Guaranteed she’d spotted him and was fucking with him.
“Well, he keeps shifting around in his seat like he’s rubbing one out.”
“I’m—” A knock on the passenger side window interrupted him. Sighing, he ended the call and unlocked the doors.
Denise climbed inside and pulled the door shut. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Not rubbing one out.”
“So I can see.” She glanced down at his lap.
Tarina has spent her entire life in and around the military - first as a dependent and then as an enlisted Air Force member.
In 2015, a friend challenged her to complete NaNoWriMo. She dusted off one of the many stories she'd started over the years, threw it in the trash, and started all over.
Her debut novel, Stitched Up Heart, released in September 2016. The military gives her plenty of material to work with and she strives to create characters who authentically represent all facets of the military life - the good and the not so great.
Tarina is still active duty, a single mom of five-year-old twins, and a closet romantic. Her favorite hobby is sleep. She has delusions of retiring from the military and being a stay-at-home mom.
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