Fighting for redemption . . .
I've lived most of my life in darkness, beneath the shadows of secrets and addictions. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt the only girl I'd ever loved—the one who brought me into the light. In my entire life I'd made one promise—a promise I'd intended to keep. I've broken that promise and now I have to live with the fallout. Dixie Lark hates me, and I have to tell her that I love her. I also have to tell her a truth that might destroy us forever.
Can she love me, even if she can't forgive me?
Learning to move on . . .
Gavin Garrison broke his promise to my brother and he broke my heart in the process.I may never love anyone the way I've loved him, but at least I won't spend my life wondering "what if." We had our one night and he walked away. I'm beginning to move on, but my brother's wedding and a battle of the bands are about to throw us together again.
Our band is getting a second chance, but I don't know if I can give him one. How do you hand your heart back to the person who set it on fire once already?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Caisey Quinn lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and several other New Adult Romance titles. Her Neon Dreams series about a country rock crossover band paying their dues in life and in love on their rocky road to fame is now available from Avon/William Morrow.
Connect with Caisey:
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Except #1 : The constant heaviness I carry in my heart lightens a little. I am happy for Dallas and Robyn. I’m excited to be a part of their big day and literally ecstatic about becoming an aunt to my future nephew. But . . . something about the anticipation of it all, the impending burden of necessary smiles and laughter in the midst of my complete and utter devastation about having to face Gavin Garrison for the first time in months . . . It’s like getting the worst news of your life on the brightest, sunniest, clearest day of the year.
I’m a walking, talking, living, breathing storm cloud waiting to burst and rain on everyone else’s parade.
But I won’t. Because I can’t.
I had my chance. My one night. And even a little more than that. “Wait for me, Bluebird,” he’d said.
Apparently I should’ve asked for the specific details of just how long he intended to make me wait.
Except #2 : I lost a lot of time focusing on the pain and the past. But when I stopped letting it consume me, I found myself in the same place where I always find myself. In music.
When I stopped moping and feeling sorry for myself, I made some changes in my life. I’ve found happiness and joy in giving piano and violin lessons to underprivileged local kids and it’s been such a successful program that I had to get a business license and name it. Over the Rainbow is my passion project and I’ve formed friend- ships with many of the parents of the kiddos I teach. Maybe it’s not performing onstage or coming to life beneath the lights, but I love it just the same.
If there is anything I’ve learned about gifts, like the gift of being able to play an instrument, it’s that they should be shared with the world one way or another. I also learned a valuable lesson from my grandparents that it took traveling around the country living their dream to fully comprehend. They didn’t get to live their dream but it didn’t mean they weren’t happy. Together they lived a full, satisfied life and they had plenty of love leftover to give to the two orphans they ended up raising. Life doesn’t always turn out how you expect and sometimes parts of you get broken along the way, but there is always hope and even broken pieces can be rebuilt into something beautiful. My heart is a piece of mosaic art at this point.
Standing there, staring at myself in the glass, I vow to focus on the music, on grabbing hold of what joy I have in my life and not letting go.
Most important? I vow never again to hand my heart over to Gavin Garrison.
At least not until he hands me his first.
Except #3 : “Missed you at rehearsal dinner,” I text to his number. “Hope everything is okay.”
We do two more walk-throughs, me with my invisible Gavin, before heading into a formal dining room for dinner.
I check my phone several times, finding exactly what I expect to time and time again.
No new messages.
This past year, traveling on my own, meeting new people, coming home, and establishing a life for myself—one that didn’t include my brother or Gavin or the band—it hasn’t been easy but it has made me a stronger, more independent version of myself. I have grieved the loss of my grandfather, met new people, seen things I never thought I would, started a successful music instruction business, and moved on from the pain of knowing Gavin didn’t want me the way I wanted him. All of this I’ve done alone. No overprotective brother giving orders or watching my every move, no broody drummer distracting me at every turn, and no one to answer to except myself.
I didn’t reach out to him, even when I knew he was home. Because one thing I decided over these last few months is that I did the reach- ing in Austin. It’s his turn. He has to decide if he can do this—us, me and him, the band, all of it—for real this time, not with only half his heart.
Except #4 : When Dixie finishes, she takes her place across the altar and I can’t tear my stare from her. Her sapphire eyes shine like diamonds with the promise of tears.
I wish I could give you this.
Right as I’m about to look away, her gaze collides with mine. My heart swells in my chest. I have so much to say and no words to say it.
I love you.
She doesn’t even flinch at the turmoil I know is probably apparent on my face. She just gives me a confident smile and a knowing look as if to say, One day.
One day that will be us. A future.
I fucking hope so.
I just have no clue how we’ll ever manage to get there.
Except #5 : His mouth is so close, he’s so close. He seems taller or something, and even though I know the likelihood of that is ridiculous, I don’t remember ever feeling so very aware of his presence. Or maybe I just blocked it all out. But here, now, in the room with him, everything is coming back.
All of it.
Every single second we spent connected on a physical level. His mouth on me, his lips, his tongue, his body inside of mine.
“You’re good at this,” I say, barely able to get my voice to go above a whisper.
“I’ve had a lot of practice.”
I don’t know if he means with first aid, which is likely since he’s had to perform CPR on his mom more times than I can count, or seduction, which I also happen to know he’s well versed in. Either way, I am in danger of losing my grip on my ability to remain up- right.
It’s as if my brain has been doing me a favor for the past few months, allowing me to focus on being pissed at him instead of . . . this. But clearly my brain has left the building and I am completely on my own. This is dangerous.
I am weak.
I want him.
I need him.
“There,” he says gently, lowering my dress back down over my
thighs. “That might help a little but you should still—”
My mouth captures his midsentence. His lips are slightly moist and even fuller than I remembered. I tense and a dull ache hits hard
as my heart drops a few inches in preparation of being rejected. Much to my surprise, Gavin doesn’t stop me. He doesn’t reject me. He doesn’t spew some bull about my brother or our friendship or seeing anyone else or anything.
He only makes one sound—a soft, pained groan. His hands grip the skin just beneath my ass and he lifts me onto the counter. The dress is tight but I manage to part my thighs far enough to accom- modate his broad figure between them.
My fingers press into his back, urging him closer even though it’s not exactly possible. I try to catch his tongue but he’s sweeping it deeply inside, then pulling back to suck on my lips. A muffled moan escapes my mouth and slides into his.
“You taste like whiskey, Bluebird.” He chuckles lightly, then cuts off any chance I had of verbalizing a response by slipping his fingers between my legs and into the waistband of my panties.
“I’ve come a long way since strawberry ice cream.”