Photography – Perrywinkle Photography
Cover – Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative
A Man without a past
meets a man without a future in
by Melissa Collins
~ Synopsis ~
Liam Davis is a man without a past. That’s what he wants everyone to believe, anyway. Hell-bent on erasing any memories of his previous life, he knows that starting over is all he can do. Hiding who he is, where he’s from, why he’s running, and especially who he’s left behind, Liam has run away from everything he’s ever known. His plan works perfectly until one day when Parker Ryan threatens to expose his carefully concealed world.
Parker Ryan is a man without a future. Sure, he’s a partner in one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, but he’ll never be more than a failure in the eyes of his boss, his father. Rather than break away from his father’s standards, he finds himself mindlessly pursuing them, in turn sacrificing anything that would actually make him happy.
When Liam’s and Parker’s lives collide, the ugly truth about who they really are, and who they hope to become reveals itself when they least expect it. As both of their lives become wrecked beyond all belief, they’ll learn how to rely on each other in their journey to become Repaired.
~ Excerpt ~
It was only the sound of tires coming to a halt in the lot of the shop that pulled my attention away from drying the last droplets of water from Parker’s windshield. The sleek black sedan had to be Parker’s. It definitely wasn’t the usual ride of our clientele. Tucking the towel into my back pocket, I walked toward the car. Stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of Parker’s long legs stretching out of the car; my mouth actually went dry. Lying to myself, I chalked it up to working all afternoon without eating or drinking. If I wanted to be honest, it had everything to do with him. His long, strong legs were showcased perfectly in a pair of uppity khakis—khakis I should hate, but ones my fingers itched to rip from his body. It became impossible to look away from him as he swiped his aviators from his face. His biceps flexed under the thin cotton of his black polo, making swallowing a challenge. When he pushed them up into his sandy blond hair, it was almost as if I could feel the silkiness of the strands as they flopped back down into his eyes. His mouth fell wide open as he took in the sight of his car behind me. Turning around quickly, he thanked the driver for the ride and then shooed him away.
After clearing my throat, in some vain attempt at finding my voice, I managed a simple, “Hey.”
Parker looked down at my hand, extended for him to shake, with frustration that bordered on anger. It wasn’t lost on me that he was constantly reining in his emotions when he was around me. Tracking his gaze, I realized my hand was still dotted with specs of grease, though not enough that it should warrant that look.
He nodded his hello, not uttering a word. Shame forced me to tuck my hand into my pocket and walk him toward his car.
“Flat’s been changed,” I explained, squatting down to the new tire. “New rim and the damage to the under carriage is all taken care of, too.”
“I didn’t ask for it to be cleaned and detailed.” His voice was harsh, stressed even.
Completely thrown off guard by his blunt comment, I turned on my heel and walked us toward the office portion of the shop.
Once inside, I slid his bill across the counter. His eyes were glued to the detailed bill, but mine were glued to his chiseled face. His jaw ticked with an anger, which I couldn’t put my finger on. When he chewed on his lower lip, I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts clearly. The only sound racing through my ears was that of my pounding blood.
“An oil change?” He looked up at me with tense eyes.
“Yeah, but there’s no charge.” Pointing to the item on the list, I traced my finger to the side of the bill where all the prices were listed. “You were due for one and since I was stuck here, I needed something to keep myself busy.” The faraway look in his eyes suggested he hadn’t heard a word I’d just said.
“Why’d you do all of this?” His voice was softer, a touch less angry. “You didn’t have to.”
The blood thrummed in my ears even louder. Whatever hard shell he’d had on out at his car moments earlier, was cracking a little. Bits of himself he seemed to guard carefully were falling away like peeling paint, scattering across the floor.
Shrugging, I responded, “Yeah, I know. Was just trying to be nice since you were spending so much.”
The anger in his face returned with a vengeance, pulling tight lines in the corners of his eyes. Through clenched teeth, he gritted out, “I told you not to worry about the fucking money.”
His voice made my stomach twist in knots, and not simply because he was angry with me. The power, the control, the dominance of it all called to me on a level I spent years trying to cover up.
“Here.” Sliding a pen across the counter to him, I tipped my chin down at the paper. “Just sign it. What’s done is done, so unless you want me to drain the oil and throw mud at your precious car, then I can’t take those things back.” Turning around to the binder where we kept the sales receipts, I muttered under my breath, “You know some people are just thankful when someone else does something nice for them.”
When I turned back to the counter, Parker was holding the signed receipt in his hand, the anger absent from his eyes. “You’re right,” he admitted quietly.
Reaching for the paper, Parker made a very obvious move, grazing his fingers against mine as the sheet of paper glided like silk passing from his hand to mine. At the simple touch, his shoulders relaxed, sinking at least an inch or two away from his ears.
Gambling on the very obvious change in his demeanor, I took a chance and asked, “Is everything okay?”
His full lips parted as he sighed. Completely mesmerized by his long fingers raking through his hair and pulling his sunglasses down, I found my mouth opening, too. He tucked the sunglasses into his opened collar, exposing a light dusting of hair which matched the color on his head.
“If it’s about the car, I can charge you.” I laughed nervously. “I mean if taking your money will make you feel better, by all means, don’t let me get in your way.”
“It’s not you who’s the problem. I just had a shit day, but that’s none of your concern.” His words were quite the opposite of the stern self-confidence he’d shown just moments before.
When I didn’t respond with anything more than a laugh, Parker’s lips curled into a small smile, erasing the lines of tension, distorting his ocean blue eyes. He laughed along with me, softly, cautiously almost. “No, it’s okay, really. The car looks great. And I appreciate the oil change.” He handed me his credit card and I swiped it through the machine. Hypnotized by the masculine lines of his signature, I watched as he signed the receipt. “Besides,” he added, catching me staring at his hands. “It looks as if everything is squared away now.”
After filing away his receipt, we both walked out of the office. His heat was a palpable force surrounding me as he stood behind me. Nervousness coursed through my body. My fingers shaking, I tried but failed to lock the door. The keys dropped to the ground, sending a billow of dust up into the air.
Before I could grab them, Parker scooped them up. Dangling them in front of me, he smirked. “Everything okay?” He echoed my words from just a few minutes ago, but there was heat in his voice, gritty and raw somehow.
“Yeah. Fine.” Snatching the keys from his hands, I quickly locked the door; thankful I didn’t drop the keys again.
As we walked over to his BMW, an uncomfortable silence followed us. Rather than moving toward his own car, he escorted me to mine. “Can I pay you back with a beer?” Leaning against the glossy black paint of my car, he looked like a piece of artwork.
“You don’t have to. I said I didn’t mind doing those things.” Averting my eyes from his, I fumbled with the lock on my door. The key slid in easily, but turning it became a herculean task, like pulling the sword from the stone. My brain and hand wouldn’t work together to complete the simplest of tasks.
Parker’s hand fell to mine, steadying it. Heat passed between us as our eyes met over our joined hands. Relief washed over me as he spoke first, because for me speech was something that just wasn’t going to happen.
“Fine. Then it won’t be to pay you back. I had a shit day and I could use a drink.” He pulled his hand back at his admission, running it through his hair. “Sorry,” he added, looking down at my hand, frozen where he’d left it. Honestly, I was afraid if I moved it, the heat of his touch would be gone forever. “I didn’t mean to . . .” His words trailed off as he jammed his hands into his front pockets—an action that pulled the front of his khakis even tighter against his groin. “Forget it. Thanks again. See you around.”
On its own volition, my hand reached for his shoulder as he strode away from me. “Wait.” We faced each other again. Finding it impossible to do anything other than smile at him, I did just that. Angling my head down the block, I said, “There’s this place. Murray’s. It’s right down that way. We can grab a drink and some food there.” His torn look confused the fuck out of me since he’d just asked. Taking a chance on him, and on the physical spark I couldn’t possibly deny, I tried my best to convince him. “Let’s go have a drink and you can share some of your shit day with me.” He nodded and I added, “Besides it couldn’t possibly be worse than mine. Wait until I tell you all about this asshole and his BMW.”
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~ About the Author ~
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.
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