The first sexy, captivating, stand-alone novel in the brand-new FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .
As bitter as he is beautiful.
The owner of the largest construction company in Gingham Lakes has been burned one too many times.
His wife leaving him to raise their daughter was the last blow this single dad could take.
The only woman he’ll let into his heart is his little girl.
As vulnerable as she is tempting.
She ran from Gingham Lakes when she was seventeen.
She swore to herself she would never return.
Then her grandmother passed away and left her the deed to the diner that she once loved.
When Rex meets his new neighbor, he knows he’s in trouble.
She’s gorgeous and sweet and everything he can’t trust.
Until she becomes the one thing he can’t resist.
One kiss sends them tumbling toward ecstasy.
But in a town this size, pasts are bound to collide.
Caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and disloyalty, Rex must make a choice.
Will he hide behind his walls or will he take the chance . . .Books in Series:Fight for Me Series by A.L. JacksonBooks by Author:A.L. Jackson Books
Alabama – Eleven Years Ago
Rain pelted from the angry sky, and heavy gusts of wind howled through the trees, which thrashed in the blackened night. In agony, I ran, sure my heart had to be beating as loud as the thunder that cracked through the heavens above.
I gasped when my foot slipped on the slick, muddy ground, and I stumbled forward, landing hard on my hands and knees. I cried out, unsure where the pain was coming from"my mind or my heart or my torn flesh.
Why would they do this to me"
I wept toward the ground, stricken with grief, with betrayal, before I heaved myself back onto my feet, trying to find traction. I staggered toward the house, which was lit up like warmth and light just off the road. Clutching the wooden railing, I propelled myself forward and then flung open the door and fumbled inside.
I whimpered in misery when I paused to look around the room. Loss hit me as hard as the storm that raged outside.
Why would they do this to me" How could they be so cruel"
It took about all I had, but I forced myself to move, knowing I couldn"t stay. I had to leave. I had to get away. Choking back sobs, I clung to the banister and hauled myself upstairs and to my room. Knees caked in mud and blood, I dropped to the floor and dug out the suitcase from beneath the bed. I staggered to my feet and headed for the closet.
Tears clouding my vision, I tore clothes from their hangers and shoved them into the suitcase I"d tossed onto the bed, my movements becoming more frantic with each piece I ripped from its spot. The urge to escape only intensified when I moved to the dresser. Distraught, I ripped the drawers from their rails and tipped them upside down, dumping what would fit into the suitcase.
The whole time, I struggled to restrain the sobs bound in my throat. To keep them quiet. To pretend it hadn"t happened. To pretend I didn"t have to do this.
With shaking fingers, I tugged at the zipper.
"Rynna, what"s going on"" The sleepy voice filled with concern hit me from behind.
Torment lashed like the crack of a whip. My eyes slammed closed, and the words trembled from my mouth. "I"m so sorry, Gramma, but I"ve got to go."
The floor creaked with my grandmother"s footsteps. She sucked in a breath when she rounded me, shocked by my battered appearance. "Oh my lord, what happened to you"" Her voice quivered. "Who hurt you" Tell me, Rynna. Who hurt you" I won"t stand for it."
Vigorously, I shook my head, finding the lie. "No one. I just . . . I can"t stay in this stupid town for a second more. I"m going to find Mama."
I hated it. The way the mention of my mother contorted my gramma"s face in agony.
"What are you sayin"""
"I"m saying, I"m leaving."
A weathered hand reached out to grip my forearm. "But graduation is just next month. You"ve got to do your speech. Walk across the stage in your cap and gown. Never seen anyone so excited about somethin" in all my life. Now you"re just gonna up and leave" If you can"t trust me, then you can"t trust anyone. Tell me what happened tonight. You left here just as happy as a bug in a rug, and now you aren"t doing anything but runnin" scared."
Tears streaking down my dirty cheeks, I forced myself to look at the woman who meant everything to me. "You"re the only person I can trust, Gramma. That"s why I"ve got to go. Let"s leave it at that."
Anguish creased my grandmother"s aged face. "Rynna, I won"t let you just walk out like this."
She reached out and brushed a tear from under my eye. Softly, she tilted her head to the side, that same tender smile she had watched me with at least a million times hinting at the corner of her mouth. "Don"t you ever forget, if you aren"t laughing, you"re crying. Now, which would you rather be doin""" She paused, and I couldn"t bring myself to answer. "Wipe those tears, and let"s figure something out. Just like we always do."
Sadness swelled like its own being in the tiny room. Loss. Regret. Like an echo of every breath of encouragement my grandmother had ever whispered in my ear. "I can"t stay here, Gramma. Please don"t ask me to."
With the plea, my grandmother winced. Quickly, I dipped down to place a lingering kiss to her cheek, breathing in the ever-present scent of vanilla and sugar, committing it to memory.
I tugged my suitcase from the bed and started for the door.
Gramma reached for me, fingertips brushing my arm, begging, "Rynna, don"t go. Please, don"t leave me like this. There"s nothing that"s so bad that I won"t understand. That we can"t fix."