All is fair in love and second chances
Professional tennis star and everybody"s darling Maren Murphy is going home. Unfortunately, going home is the last thing she wants to do. She doesn"t know what"s worse, being named the executor of her grandfather"s estate, or having to deal with her grandfather"s business partner, Noah Callahan.
That devil"s spawn may have broken her young, tender heart, but this time it"s advantage Murphy. If anyone"s calling game, set, and match, it"ll be Maren.
Noah Callahan is a screw up. Well…he used to be a screw up. Bad boy reputations, however, are not easily shed. He"s been a successful business owner for over a decade. You would think people in his hometown would"ve forgiven and forgotten already, but alas no. Until his one shot at redemption walks into his office.
Maren Murphy is the only woman he ever loved""and the only one he purposely drove away.
She"s vowed to hate him for all eternity. He"s vowed to love her forever. Can a second chance be the tiebreaker"Books by Author:P. Dangelico Books
You"re not supposed to meet the love of your life when you"re thirteen. It"s not normal, it"s not natural, and it"s without a doubt destined to end badly because it is inevitable that one of you will screw it up. And in the aftermath, when the fog of war clears, all you"ll be left with is the memory of what you once had and lost to keep you company at night. In this case, I"m the one to blame""and I"ve been paying the price of my actions ever since.
"Noah!" a girl"s voice called from somewhere on the trail behind us.
It was right before my thirteenth birthday and we were on a school field trip to Lake Thunderbird State Park that included all three schools""elementary, junior high, and high school""in a statewide campaign to educate us on Oklahoma"s endangered species. Needless to say, when you have that many students assembled in one place there never seem to be enough chaperones.
Back then, there was little I loved more than a challenge and I had gotten it in my thick head that every birthday was going to be marked by something memorable.
I"d overheard some of the older boys talk of a hiking trail, one that led to a cliff you could jump off of into the lake. I"d decided that it was going to be my something memorable that year, and once I"d formed a plan, it didn"t take much to talk Dane and Jermaine, my two best friends since kindergarten, into joining me. If it involved breaking rules, those two were always up for it.
Dane and Jermaine glanced over their shoulders while I continued marching up the trail, doing my best to ignore her.
"Maren Murphy is calling you," Jermaine said.
"No shit, doofus. I got ears."
"Why"d you tell your girlfriend where we were goin""" Dane, knucklehead number two, added.
"I didn"t tell her nothin", dummy. She saw us."
We"d made a run for it when the school chaperones were busy with lunch. Maren had been watching us all day so I knew she wouldn"t miss us leaving. "I didn"t think she was gonna follow""and she ain"t my girlfriend. Say it again and I"ll beat the shit outta you."
Dane laughed. "You can try."
I should"ve known though. It didn"t matter whether I was in my backyard or on the football field. Back then, those green eyes, too big for her face, were always watching me.
Hoping to scare her enough for her to turn tail, I blasted her with the force of my anger. "What"!"
She stopped short, about twenty feet down the marked path, and raised a hand. "Hi," she said, a soft smile lighting up her face.
That two-letter word was a sucker punch to the gut. No matter how many times I told her to leave me alone, to go away. No matter how mean I was to her, she always had a smile for me.
"Go away, Maren!" I shouted, taking my anger out on her because I knew Dane and J were going to give me crap about it later. "Go back to the campsite and leave me the hell alone!"
Temper simmering from embarrassment, I headed up the hill at a faster pace, the guys right behind me. We kept going until the trees cleared and the path opened onto a rocky outcropping.
Walking up to the edge, I looked down and the first pang of doubt took hold of me. Twenty feet, I figured, eyeballing the distance as best I could. As good a swimmer as I was, twenty feet might as well have been a hundred.
Problem was, the desire for a cheap thrill always overshadowed common sense. This wasn"t the first time""and it certainly wouldn"t be the last either.
While I kicked off my sneakers and stripped off my t-shirt, Dane and Jermaine conducted their own inspection of the drop.
"I don"t know about this""" Jbear, the smartest of the three of us, said first.
My heartbeat was one clap of thunder after another, and yet you would"ve never known it; my thirteen-year-old pride wouldn"t let me look scared in front of my buddies. That lake had my name on it and nothing was going to stop me, not fear and not my friends telling me not to.
"I ain"t doin" it," Dane seconded, kicking a rock over the side. He shook his head when the sound of water splashing returned many beats later.
I stopped undressing to get a good look at my best friends. The undisguised fear on their faces told me nothing I said was going to convince them to jump.
"Bunch"a pussies," I mumbled, pissed that they were backing out at the last minute.
Dane"s answer was to flip me the bird.
"I don"t think you should do it," Jermaine added for good measure but he knew the drill; once my mind was made up about something it was as good as done.