I’m feeling sentimental. With the release of My Girl on October 21st (my youngest brother’s birthday) I’ll be closing the chapter on a series. I’ve never had to end a world I’ve created- all of my other books are in ongoing series or standalones- and I’m not sure I like it.
The Shaughnessy family have embedded themselves in my heart and I’ll be sad to say goodbye. Have you ever ended a series, either as a reader or a writer? Did it bother you?
I have plenty of other stories to write, that’s not the issue. It’s more like… family that’s moving far away and you won’t see them for a really long time. You know they’re going to be just fine, but at the same time- it’s sad.
Anyway, I thought I’d share a little teaser for the next couple of weeks leading up to the big day 🙂
Trish bit down on her bottom lip, nerves getting the best of her. As Aaron leaned protectively over his sister, all she could think was how much she wished he’d do the same for her. And how messed up was that? She had a fiancé. They were supposed to get married just a few short months from now. And yet… there were all these feelings swarming around her chest like a pack of angry wasps when it came to the man staring back at her with enigmatic eyes.
And now he was going to want answers she wasn’t ready to give.
“Sophia agreed to our coming under duress,” she said, crossing her arms in defence.
Sophia gave a braying little laugh that carried across the courtyard. “It wasn’t as bad as all that,” she assured her brother. “I’d set up a website for the dude ranch a few days earlier but hadn’t opened it to reservations. Trish called to say how beautiful it looked and when we were launching, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“I can’t believe Trish was that interested in our affairs. It never mattered to her before.”
A stagnant silence fell after Aaron’s bitter outburst. Sophia sent her a helpless glance before hugging her brother’s stiff frame. “I’d better head inside and see if Consuela needs help with dinner. Coming?”
Aaron’s gaze remained fixed on Trish, causing a parade of goosebumps to march along her spine. “In a bit. I want to finish my beer first.”
Sophia gave a reluctant nod and squeezed Trish’s hand on her way by—and then it was just the two of them. Funny how she could handle a hundred corporate tycoons, but one lanky, attitude-ridden cowboy filled her with trepidation. Her mouth felt like it was filled with cotton balls and her heart beat painfully against her ribs, while Aaron stood there cool as a cucumber. It was beyond annoying.
“Can we talk about this or are you going to continue to be a jackass?” She faced off with him, hands on hips. He wasn’t the only one with a bone to pick.
He tipped his bottle to her before taking a long drink, the movement pulling his western shirt tight over broad shoulders. Suddenly it was her turn to be thirsty, but not for beer.
Grimacing, she waited him out, determined to get their ugly feelings out in the open so they could move on—for their daughter’s sake.
Finally, he set the bottle on the edge of the fountain and gestured for her to take a seat. “Come on, I’m not going to bite. I’d rather the entire family didn’t know my business.” He went brows up toward the windows of the hacienda, open to take in the unseasonably warm afternoon air.
Trish didn’t have much experience with nosy family members. Her brother, Andy, was ten years older than she was and hadn’t been around much during her formative years, and her parents… well, the less said about them the better.
She settled on the wide rim of the fountain, careful to keep a demure distance from the foot he’d raised to rest next to his beer. If her parents, or Kyle, were to glance outside she didn’t want them thinking this was an assignation. Things were more than complicated enough.
“Where is… the child?” Aaron asked, his tone abrupt.
Her spine stiffened. “She’s staying with a close friend. Don’t worry, she has three kids of her own, Madeline is perfectly safe. Besides, I’ve been calling every day since we left.” She smiled, thinking of Maddie’s soft babbling. “She’s having a blast. Sarah’s kids spoil her rotten.”
“Can I see a picture?” Aaron’s walnut-brown eyes had warmed as she spoke, sending a shiver of awareness to flutter in her belly.
“Of course, I should have thought of it sooner.” She fumbled getting her phone out of her pocket and took a deep breath. Get a grip. Yes, he was a handsome man. Yes, his smile was like a ray of sunshine after a long winter’s storm, but he didn’t belong to her. She’d given up that right. Not that she’d had a choice.
She opened the folder set aside just for Madeline. Her daughter in all her cherubic sweetness smiled out at them in varying stages of growth.
“She’s an itty-bitty little thing,” Aaron murmured, his forefinger tracing the bundle in the pink hospital blanket Trish held with such care.
“I had… trouble with my pregnancy and she came earlier than expected.” Trish’s stomach clenched remembering why she’d had issues with the birth. “The doctor kept Madeline in an incubator for a couple of months to allow her more time to develop. She’s fine though,” she hurried to add.
“She’s perfect,” Aaron agreed, his voice a couple of octaves lower than normal. He lifted his gaze to mesh with hers and Trish’s heart skipped a beat. “She has your eyes, they’re beautiful.” His mouth hovered a breath away and then it was there, touching hers, and the world slipped away.
He’d cast a spell over her.
It had always been this way between the two of them; an instant, undeniable connection unlike anything she’d felt since. Even as she lifted her lips to his, desperate to hold onto the moment, the man, for as long as possible, the futility of their attraction washed over her.
As though sensing her disquiet, he lifted his head, eyes dark and hooded. “Come away with me,” he said, and for a too-brief moment her heart soared. “I need you.”
For how long? If he found out the truth, he would hate her family. Hate her. She’d sooner live the lie.
She extracted herself from his arms and stood, shivering without his touch. “It’s too late, Aaron. I… love Kyle. Please don’t kiss me like that again.” I can’t take it.
Shadows chased across his expression before he donned the cynical, jaded look he’d managed to perfect. “Sure, darlin’, whatever you say. Can’t blame a guy for trying.” He picked up his discarded beer and sauntered into the hacienda without a backward glance while tears streamed down Trish’s cheeks.
As you can see, there’s a lot of water under the bridge between these two.
Aaron Shaughnessy faces a ghost from his past when ex-girlfriend Trish Sylvester books a holiday on his family’s guest ranch.
Trish hopes her time on the Shaughnessy ranch will bring a reconciliation with Aaron after their bitter breakup a year earlier.
Will old feelings resurface and give two lovers a second chance?