Sunday, March 16, 2014

Don't Break My Heart by Laurie Kellogg Excerpt

Don't Break My Heart: Book Six of the Return to Redemption Series by Laurie Kellogg

Join the town of Redemption celebrating!

Architect Justin Riverá doesn't know a thing about raising a fifteen-year-old girl. Nor does he have the slightest clue how to cheer up his orphaned goddaughter, Haley, who's facing her first Christmas without her parents.

When his brother's family (which includes Haley's best friend) are invited to a Christmas Eve destination wedding--which involves a three-day vacation at a mountain ski resort--his brother insists they should join them for the holiday. For Haley's sake, Justin agrees, never suspecting one of the other guests is his first and only love, who, for some mysterious reason, disappeared sixteen years ago, deserting her family and all of her friends--including him.

When high school counselor Trisha Mason sees her unforgettable college boyfriend at a wedding, she's tempted to run the other way. Much to her dismay, he's hunkier than ever, and his goddaughter is a determined matchmaker. Consequently, when Justin attempts to resume their relationship by seducing Trisha, she can't resist falling into bed and in love with him all over again.

Trisha has always had a soft spot for troubled teens, and would love to be Justin's wife and Haley's stand-in mom. But despite being eager to spend more time with her in and out of bed, Justin still seems as anti-marriage as he was in college. Regrettably, Trisha has no choice but to end their fling after their vacation. Otherwise, she'll be forced to confess her secret.

Trisha tried to eat only half of each course, but the fettuccini Alfredo with grilled shrimp and the perfectly cooked filet and lobster tail with asparagus and glazed baby carrots were so delicious, she practically licked her plate clean.
Throughout the entire meal, Justin watched every bite she took, making her so self-conscious she dropped her fork twice. By the end of ninth course, she was so on edge and full, she could barely breathe.
“You’re looking a little green around the gills, Trisha.” Justin popped the last bite of his assorted fruit and cheese plate into his mouth. “You okay?”
“I’ve just eaten too much. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle dessert.”
He rose and strolled around to her side of the table, extending his hand. “Why don’t we go work off some of our dinner?” he suggested.
She’d already danced with Cal and Tyler, so to refuse Justin would be a real slap in the face. “Okay. It’ll probably help to get up and move a little. But no fast dancing, or my seams may split wide open.”
“Mmm, I can’t wait.” He wiggled his eyebrows as he led her to the center of the dance floor and pulled her close. “As a betting man, I’d wager you aren’t wearing much under that dress since it fits like shrink-wrap. I didn’t see a single panty line.”
Great. So he’d actually been studying her butt while she’d been foxtrotting with BJ.
After a few moments silently dancing to a soft Johnny Mathis song, he said, “I guess it was a big adjustment living on a waitress’s pay after you left home.”
“It wasn’t too bad. I worked at a greasy spoon for a few months to get experience, and then I landed a position at a swanky, four-star restaurant. I made pretty good money.”
“It takes more than pretty good money to live in Manhattan.”
“Not if you share a one-bedroom efficiency in a not-so-glamorous neighborhood.”
“Precisely—a big adjustment from Philly’s Mainline. Seriously,” he said as he dipped her, “Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving? I would’ve understood. You knew I couldn’t stand your father.”
And he had excellent reasons to hate her old man even more than she had. “I simply needed a clean break. You had no interest in getting serious, so there—”
“Whoa. What do you call sleeping together every night if not serious? We were planning on renting an apartment together in January since Marc and Lindsey had gotten hitched.”
“Exactly. I’m referring to marriage. All you talked about was how Sam had ruined your brother’s life and career by getting pregnant, and how no woman was ever going to do that to you.”
“Well, obviously I was wrong about Nick’s life being ruined.” He glanced over at his brother and sister-in-law snuggled together on the dance floor. “He’ll tell you Sam, Dani, and little Chris were the best things that ever happened to him.”
“Still, you were so anti-marriage I knew there was no future for us. So why should I have told you?”
He cupped her cheek and stared into her eyes. “Because I thought we meant something to each other.”
“But not enough to spend a lifetime together, right?”
“I was eighteen, for crying out loud. You wanted me to think about marriage when I still had five years of school and three interning before I could begin making any real money?”
“You’re thirty-four now, and you’re still single. So I don’t imagine anything would’ve changed. Otherwise, I’d be dancing with a married man.”
“Cut me a break. I just haven’t found the right woman.”
“In all these years?”
The muscles in his throat visibly convulsed. “Have you considered maybe you were the right one?”


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