About WHERE THERE’S SMOKE:
There is something to be said for letting go. Ryland Roberts knows that better than anyone. He’d let go of his ambitions, of his family and—most of all—of her. He’d perfected the art of putting his past behind him and accepted the fact that the town he wanted to leave in his rearview was the place where he was going to live out his days. But sometimes the past doesn’t just go away. Sometimes it comes back to haunt you.
Piper Jameson convinced herself that she left for all the right reasons. She’d saved people by leaving—made sure that they weren’t tainted by her rebellious ways. When her little sister asks her to come home and say goodbye to their ailing mother, she’s forced to see that things aren’t always as they seem. The people who she’d left behind might not have been saved at all.
In the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel from point A to point B, Piper and Ryland will have to put their feelings for each other aside and make a choice. Forced on the run with Piper’s sister, they begin to understand that the future they thought was gone was never really lost.
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE Excerpt:
I held my breath as I took her in. She looked different. More put together than I remembered. The wildness of her blond hair was now tamed and cut a bit shorter. Her clothing—jeans and a dark gray jacket buttoned tight—was much more conservative than she used to wear. She looked like a dream standing there in the moonlight. A dream I thought I’d put behind me.
Watching her, I wished for just a second that things hadn’t ended the way they had. I wanted to reach out and touch her to see if the jolt that used to zing between us was still there. I ached to run my hands down her hips and pull her close to me. To smell her hair and see if she still used that same strawberry shampoo that used to drive me insane.
But I wouldn’t, because no matter what I felt, she’d walked away and left me to clean up the mess. The mess that had included looking after her little sister. I hadn’t signed up for that, but it wasn’t like she’d cared. She hadn’t even bothered to contact either of us when she’d left.
I’d spent months in a state prison waiting for something—a letter, a phone call, anything—that would let me know that she hadn’t actually just given up on us. Somewhere around the six-month mark, I’d quit hoping and tried to channel a lot of my energy into hating her. The feelings bubbling in the pit of my stomach were telling me that it hadn’t really worked.
“What are you doing here?” I said, stepping out of the shadows.
Her hand quickly lifted to her chest as she turned to face me. I watched her take in a startled breath.
“You scared me,” she finally let out. She took a step forward, her eyes washing over me and the color draining from her face even more than it already had when I’d frightened her.
Does she not recognize me?
I knew I’d changed over the last few years, but damn. I’d spent countless hours with that girl—talking, holding hands, kissing, and much more. You’d think she’d remember the person she had given her virginity to. My assumption that I hadn’t meant as much to her as she had to me must have been correct.
“Ryland?” she finally asked after her eyes roamed over me. “You look… Your hair.” She shook her head. “You look different. I was coming in to have a drink and I saw the truck. I knew it was yours, but I figured you’d sold it when you moved.” Her mouth was running a hundred miles a minute, the way it used to when she got nervous or excited.
I ran my hand through my hair. It had grown out quite a bit since the last time I’d seen her. I didn’t need the preppy, good-boy look to get me into an Ivy League college or a job interview now, so what did I care? As my hand ran down my chin, I realized I hadn’t shaved in a day or so either. I must have looked like a completely different person to her.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, her head tilting as if she were still in disbelief.
“I just asked you the same question,” I replied, annoyed that she had the nerve to ask me anything at all.
It was just like her to try and flip the script on me. To get me to say and do things I didn’t want to. At least that’s what I’d tried to convince myself. The truth was that I used to love the way she made me knock down the perfect little box I’d created for myself before she’d come along. Four walls of studious, tedious, repetitious, and boring. She was my wrecking ball in more ways than one.
When I’m not writing or playing the part of wife and mother, you can find me dancing back-up for Beyonce, singing back-up for Miranda, or sunning myself on the beach with a drink in hand. Here’s the thing about being born and raised in a small town—you have a very vivid imagination! Now, I channel it all to create stories where the girl always ends up with the right guy, first kisses are magical, and a happy ending is just that!