After the unexpected death of her Dad and the haunting manner in which he died Riley Shaw built invisible walls around her heart. Barriers she created to protect her from splintering into broken pieces that couldn’t be repaired. She was unable to move forward from her past letting the guilt of her parent’s mistakes dictate her own choices.
Dean Warren was safe. Being with him was innocent and peaceful because she didn’t truly love him. His words held her captive in a false sense of security. His eyes were deceptive and his promises of never pushing her beyond what she was willing to give were broken leaving Riley Shaw in a state of regret and doubt.
Joshua Parker had the power to take what was left of Riley’s splintered pieces and ruin her completely or make her whole again. He was her best friend, her next-door neighbor - everything she wanted and settled on never having. Loving him was as easy as breathing air. The fear of losing him forever was more real to her than the feelings she couldn’t escape.
When faced with the very thing she feared the most and in the arms she thought were safe Riley finds herself questioning every decision she has made over the past two years. When she finally escapes the doubt in her head and accepts the truth in her heart is it too late?
Is taking a chance with your heart worth the escape or was it better to have never loved at all? Can forgiveness really set you free?
*Warning: This is a mature young adult novel. Recommended for readers 17+ due to underage drinking, sexual content and adult language.
*This is book one in a series however can be read as a standalone.
At school Dean approached me sitting on the bench.
“You look so sad, Riley.” He said.
I shrugged, “well, I am.” I replied truthfully.
He sighed. Probably thinking vainly that it was all about him, his ego getting a boost
from my evident pain.
“We have been friends for a long time, Riley. Even before we became more. We
were friends. Ya know? I miss you.” He told me as he sat down and grabbed my hand.
I inwardly cringed and recoiled away from him. However, outwardly—I did nothing.
“I know,” I said.
I didn’t miss him. I didn’t need him. In fact, I resented him. So why was it that I
rested my head on his shoulder? I’m asking myself that same thing as I stand in my
shower. Replaying that thought and the image I saw on Josh’s face when he walked by—
looking at us—as though something was there between us. There wasn’t.
I miss you, Josh.
I decide after my shower to toil without respite. I wrap myself in a towel and walk
across the hall to my bedroom. I have my head cast down, flipping through the playlist on
my iPod settling on, Wish you were here by Incubus. I kick the door closed with my foot
and walk into my closet.
“We need to talk,” a voice says from my bed. I jump, dropping my iPod on the floor
and nearly losing my towel as well. I step out of my closet, stand in the middle of my
room, and narrow my eyes at my best friend. Ex-best friend? Preslee’s baby daddy? Ugh!
“Damn it, Josh. You scared the crap out of me. What are you doing here?” He drags
his eyes lazily up and down my body before narrowing them on my face.
“I just told you. We need to talk. You won’t answer your fucking phone, or return
my calls, or talk to me at school. So, here I am,” he says dryly.
“Um, if you haven’t noticed I’m kind of naked here. I uh, can you like shut your eyes
so I can put my clothes on? Then we can talk?” I ask him feigning exasperated, when
actually I’m feeling flushed and nervous as hell. I’ve missed him, his nearness, his voice,
and those eyes.
The way he is looking at me. It’s so intense; I can’t help but feel affected.
He stands, and walks towards me. For every step he takes, I take one away, until my
back is pressed to my shut bedroom door. He is standing so close to me, I can feel his
breath whisper along my cheek. He puts his hands on opposite sides of my head of the
door, caging me in. He is looking down at me with such heat in his eyes that I don’t know
what to make of any of this.
“I noticed,” is all he says on a growl.
He trails his fingers along my cheek, down my throat, to my collarbone, where he
pauses, and looks up into my shocked eyes.
“Your pulse is racing, Riley. Am I making you uncomfortable?” He asks, in a voice
that is almost foreign.
I shake my head back and forth, “no, yes, no. I’m confused.” I sigh, and look down.
He tilts my chin up with his index finger. I keep my eyes cast downward, not wanting to
look into his eyes. If I look into those hazel eyes, I am afraid of what I will see. Of what it
will do to me.
“I see that, Riley. Look at me.” His voice is soft, but demanding. I don’t want to look
at him, but I can’t get my body to listen to my brain. I feel possessed. I meet his eyes just
as a tear rolls down my cheek, and then another and another. Damn it. I am so weak. I
can’t do this.
He watches my tears fall, and drags the pad of his thumb under my eyes to wipe
them away. I can’t stop them from falling.
He seems just as lost as me in this moment, looking back and forth at each of my
eyes. Studying me. Breaking me. “I’m sorry, baby.” He rests his forehead on mine, his
dirty blonde hair tickling my eyes.
I begin to shake uncontrollably. “I… I… I can’t do this, Josh. You need to leave,
please. Please, leave me alone.” I stutter as I tremble.
“I can’t. I can’t leave you alone.” His eyes flick to my mouth, and very slowly he
places his left hand on the door and raises his right hand to my face. He slowly pads his
thumb along my bottom lip that is quivering now.
I can’t help but shut my eyes and let my head fall back to the door. I feel dizzy. My
breaths are coming shallowly, and my heartbeat feels like a marching band has taken up
residence inside my chest. Thumping so loudly, that I know he has to hear it. I’m losing
control. I want him to stop, to never stop. What is wrong with me?
He lowers his head to my shoulder, his breath so hot on my neck. “Riley?” He moves
his hand away from my lips and is now tickling his fingers up and down my arm, leaving
a tingling sensation and goose bumps in there path.
“Hmm?” I didn’t know what to say anymore.
He slowly lifts his head, dragging his nose along my cheek until our lips are almost
touching. His mouth is only a breath apart from my own. I see a million emotions shadow
his eyes as he looks down at my face. His breath is minty and tantalizing me. He presses
his chest into my own, causing me to gasp. I look into his eyes, locking into a silent
debate of will. He wraps his hand around the nape of my neck, his other hand cups my
cheek, and I am certain he is about to kiss me. I don’t have the strength, or desire to stop
If I lean in, we would kiss. One last taste would put me in my coffin. Be my poison.
I’m addicted to his poison, though. I want it on my tongue, inside my mouth. Kiss me.
He doesn’t kiss me, though. He steps back, and stares at me for the longest time.
“I’m sorry. I can’t think straight with you like that. I’ll shut my eyes so you can put
clothes on, and then we need to talk.” He says, gesturing to my towel wrapped body, and
turns his back to me. It’s not up for question. We are going to talk.
I dress quickly in white shorts and a teal camisole. My mind is reeling of airing all of
this with him. What was he going to say? How would I respond in hearing it? What
should I say?
I walk over to my bed where he is sitting with his elbows rested on his knees, his
head in the palms of his hands. I place my hand on his shoulder, and he looks up at me
with wary eyes. I place my body in between his legs looking down at him.
His eyes are indecisive and full of worry. I rub my index finger along his brow line
to smooth it. “Do you remember when things used to be so easy between us? When we
used to laugh together? When you would climb through that window just to annoy me?” I
ask looking at the glass that holds so many good memories.
Tears are brimming his eyes, “I remember every fucking minute ever spent with you,
He interlaces our fingers, watching mesmerized as he does. I look at our intertwined
hands and back to his face. I bite my lip nervously. His eyes look to my lips and then
back to my eyes.
“Are you getting back together with Dean?” He asks abruptly.
My mouth falls open in shock. What’s he smoking? For real? Seriously! Like, I
would ever do that. Doesn’t he realize any of this?
Andrea Michelle was born and raised in Louisiana. She spent years in Tennessee and in Texas and made it full circle back to the boot she loves so much and is currently living in Baton Rouge. She is a mother to three beautiful daughters and married her best friend at the young age of nineteen. She is a new self published author with a debut novel in the mature young adult contemporary romance category. She is a dreamer, a true Gemini at heart and has a fascination with love stories. She finds inspirations in all things (friends beware) and loves poetry and music. Her writing journey began as a young teen where she used to escape into a world of fiction and poetry just to cope with emotions she didn't understand. She wasn't an avid reader until her adult years and then her addiction to the one clicker became an obsession that cannot be tamed. She is not genre specific as a reader and she will not be genre specific as a writer. "I am not writing to tap into a niche but writing whatever my heart feels is the story to tell. Each WIP I create will have it's own voice. Some may thrive and some may not." When Andrea isn't writing you will find her reading, listening to music or spending time with her precious family. She is excited yet nervous to share her passion with you but looks forward to the journey ahead. She loves to hear from her readers and is eager to make new friends. Links below so you can friend, like, follow and support her.