Author: Jessica Wilde
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: February 23, 2015
Release Day Blitz: February 25, 2015
It's the last thing I remembered.
I was afraid.
Afraid to fight, afraid to run… afraid to breathe.
Then, everything had gone dark. As if life was finally hearing my pleas, my cries to end the torment. To end the fear.
But even in the dark, I still felt it.
I always felt it.
My life had been a ricochet of one event leading to the next. Bouncing back and forth from good to bad. Happiness to despair. Hope to fear.
My name is Arianna West. I'm stronger now. Steady. Alive.
I can find a way to survive on my own. I can see what is coming for me. I can channel my fear into strength.
Except… I didn't see Jack.
And Jack changed everything.
For readers 18+ due to language, violence, and sexual content.
I laughed. A laugh so deep that the muscles in my abdomen flexed. How long had it been since I had felt that? Too long. I hadn't really laughed in a long time and something so simple had brought it out of me.
Jack had brought it out of me.
"God, I missed that laugh," Jack whispered.
I went silent, so suddenly that my breath couldn't keep up and it came rushing out with the emotion that had been built up inside of me.
Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and the heaviness in my chest was back.
My life had changed so much. Everything had changed.
"Ari, please don't cry."
He had turned his body towards me and was holding my face in his hands. The tears running down my cheeks didn't make it far. He wiped each one away.
He saw the moment my control slipped and I just couldn't seem to stop the tears. That's when he pulled me into his arms. Arms that had always made everything better. Strong fingers combed through my hair, down my temple, across my jaw, then retraced their way back up and into my hair once more. He was giving me whatever comfort he could while I sobbed on his chest.
I should have been embarrassed about the quick change in my mood. I should have felt ridiculous. Childish. With Jack, though, I never had to worry about being anyone but myself no matter who I was now.
"So much is gone," I said in a broken and weak voice. "So much is missing from me."
"No, Ari. You're still in there, babe, just a little harder to reach."
I shook my head. In denial? I wasn't sure. He was only half right.
"I've bent too far for too long. I'm broken," I whispered. So much regret came pouring out of me and I couldn't control it.
I had been slowly breaking for three years and my determination to move on was waning much faster than I could ever keep up with.
Jack buried his fingers in my hair and I felt the press of his lips on the top of my head. When he spoke, the tone of his voice sounded defeated. Resigned. "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places."
I sniffed as the rumble in his chest vibrated against my cheek. His shirt was wet from my tears and I knew I looked like a mess, but I looked up at him anyway.
"What is that from?" I asked.
"What? You don't think I could come up with something so profound by myself?" he teased.
"I know damn well you could, Jack."
He looked at me for a moment, his eyes searching mine and his fingers sweeping a lock of hair back behind my ear. If I didn't know any better, I would think he was reading my mind, seeing all my secrets, all my broken places. "It's Ernest Hemingway. He said that."
"Do you believe it?"
"I do. So much so that I tattooed it on my shoulder the first chance I got," he mumbled with a short chuckle.
I glanced down at his shoulder. It was too dark to see much of anything, but the moonlight streaming in the window showed enough when he lifted his shirt sleeve. The words were there, permanently inked into his skin just above a complex shape that I couldn't quite make out.
I live in Morgan Utah with my husband, daughter, and dog, Kolo. I write as often as my active daughter will let me and my husband has the patience of a saint. I find inspiration from dreams, people I meet, and life experiences. When I write, I usually end up drinking one too many cans of Peace Tea, eating three too many Fruit by the Foot fruit snacks, and accidently kicking my pup and best buddy, Kolo, too many times since he loves to sleep under my desk at my feet. I started writing as a teen, but my fear of the unknown won out every time and I threw everything out. After becoming a mother and deciding to stay at home to raise my beautiful little girl, I tried again when I couldn't stop thinking of ideas. I loved every minute, every hour of sleep lost, and every character that came to life in my mind. It's strange, but my favorite moments are when I have writer's block because I can turn to my husband and find inspiration through him by just doing what we do best together. Talking, laughing, and just being in love. He doesn't like to read, but he never stops encouraging me to keep going. Writing has become an important part of my life and every book has a special place in my heart.