She"s in a white dress that dances around her ankles, and her hair tumbles in a long sheet of curls down her back. A veil covers her beautiful eyes, and she smiles directly at him. Janie is everything Rafe"s ever imagined she would be on her wedding day.
Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Perfect.
The moment he sees her walking down the aisle towards him, he knows that she"s the one.
Then she passes him, making her way to the man she"s to marry.
A man that wasn"t him.
A man that he knows with one hundred percent certainty isn"t good enough for her.
It seems that her father isn"t the only one who"s having a hard time giving her away. Rafe only wishes he knew why.
Everything about Janie sparks protective instincts he doesn"t feel for anyone, not even his own fianc".
What he feels for the bride, however, isn"t merely a simple attraction. He knows that something is there just beneath the surface"if only he could reach it.
It has to be something huge, too, otherwise he wouldn"t be drinking whiskey straight from the flask in a church pew and wondering how many years he would do in prison if he shot the groom in front of about a hundred witnesses"half of those being cops.
He was good"but not that good.
A near-death experience cost Rafe almost six months of his memory, but right now he can"t help but feel like a huge mistake is being made on both of their parts. One that"s going to cost him everything.
Then she says I do.Books in Series:Simple Man Series by Lani Lynn ValeBooks by Author:Lani Lynn Vale Books
Gave that bitch a wedding. Bitches love weddings.
The first time I saw her, she said she was sorry I only had one ball.
The second time was a year later, bloody and bruised. She said she was sorry that my face looked like someone had taken a bat to it.
The third, I"d arrived with information that the Freebirds organization might want to hear, and I had earned myself a place in their infrastructure that would solidify our relationship for years to come. She"d been having a sleepover with her friends. Seven fifteen-year-old girls. I couldn"t get out of there fast enough.
The fourth, a year after the last time, I"d walked in and felt like I"d been punched in the stomach. Because between the previous visit and the latest visit, she"d shed her baby skin and was blossoming into the beautiful young woman she would one day become.
The fifth and sixth times had been over the course of the next five years. From the day that I"d felt that kick to the gut, I"d done my level best to stay away. If I had to go over to the Free compound, I went in the dead of night, visited with the boys and left. But, she"d caught me leaving both times"and both of those times she had been even prettier than she was the previous time.
The seventh time was two years after that when I had been coming home from a spec ops mission. I was dressed in my camo BTUs just like all the other soldiers who were returning home. I wasn"t actually a soldier. Not anymore, at least. I"d been there, working amongst other soldiers, on a classified operation posing as a soldier in an attempt to ascertain who the hell was the contact point behind a rash of stolen military paraphernalia.
She"d been standing there, smiling and waving, welcoming soldiers home.
It"d been the turning point for me.
No longer was she underage. No longer was I going to hide.
I couldn"t get her out of my mind. I couldn"t, and I should have.
But, the heart works in mysterious ways.
I didn"t get to choose who I loved. Who I wanted.
And, had things not turned south" Well, we might"ve both gotten what we wanted.
The hardest part of all, though, was forgetting she ever existed in the first place.
Oh, and that one night we spent together.
Thanks to breast implants, if there ever was a zombie apocalypse, there"d be a few with some fine ass titties.
-Janie to Kayla
"You"re not going," I flat out refused. "You"re not. You"re""
"I"m an adult, Dad!" Janie, my daughter who was indeed an adult, screamed. "You can"t stop me!"
"It"s fucking night time," I snapped. "You"re not going to find a goddamn thing at night."
Janie was shaking in anger as she stared at me with a look I"d never seen cross her face before right then. "He was shot. He could have drowned. I can"t leave him out there. I have to know."
My daughter"s friend, who happened to be a forty-one-year-old man named Rafe, was missing.
Earlier in the day, he"d been in an altercation. Earlier in the day, he"d been hurt. Earlier in the day, he"d then gone to help a woman who was drowning in her car"which had been purposefully pushed over a bridge with her child inside.
Then, somewhere after the woman and her child were saved, Rafe went under. Rafe, for all intents and purposes, died.
At least in the eyes of all the other search crews.
We"d arrived from our hometown of Kilgore, Texas to help in the search. But, after hearing of Rafe"s gunshot wound"which, according to the man who had helped Rafe save the woman, had been fairly serious"it was determined that Rafe had passed out in the water and had died.
The banks had been searched. The immediate area dragged by boats. The area surrounding the river had been searched.
Literally, the only thing left was for the remaining part of the river to be dragged.
There was nowhere else he could be.
They"d searched twenty miles of river and bank. There was no way he was alive.
And Janie knew it.
My heart broke, and I wrapped my arms around her shoulders, pulling her into my chest as I"d done a hundred thousand times over the course of her young life.
"I"m sorry, baby."
An altercation in the hallway beyond the stairwell we were standing in had me glancing up through the tiny window, and what I saw made my heart stop.
But, as if the universe was laughing at me, the man himself came falling out of the elevator.
He was wet. He had blood running down his face and pooling in the collar of his shirt, and he looked about ready to pass out.
He did pass out.
He hit the ground about two steps outside of the elevator.
I reached for the stairwell door, and it didn"t take my daughter long to hear the commotion, and the name that everybody was screaming.