Authors: Alicia Rae
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
Copyright © 2013 by Alicia Rae
All rights reserved.
Cover Designer: Sarah Hansen,
Editor and Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley,
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except
for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Visit my website at www.aliciaraeauthor.com
To my loving sister, Kelsey. Thank you for showing me how much I truly missed reading. It opened the door to my love for writing. I love you, and I’m so proud of the woman you have become.
Courage had the power to make or break someone.
If you had too much, you could dive into a bottomless rut and be swallowed whole. Too little wouldn’t be enough, and you would fail to thrive to your fullest potential.
Balance and determination were key.
Having faith in yourself was the remaining ingredient. It would come from deep within your heart, and when given the chance, it would truly shine, making the possibilities of your dreams endless—as long as fear didn’t get in the way.
I had many mixed feelings coursing through me as we pulled up the long curve of Kyle’s driveway after many hours of traveling from Florida to California. I smiled as his beautifully designed house came into full view. From now on, this was my home.
I wanted Lake Tahoe to be a fresh start, a new beginning. I would always love my first home in Colorado where I had lived with my parents and sister, but it was time to move on to a new chapter in my life.
I promised myself I would put the past behind me, including the recent attack with A.J. that had happened only a couple of short weeks ago. Following that incident, I shared heartfelt good-byes with my Aunt Lucie, Uncle Dan, and cousins.
Meg, A.J.’s sister, had even stopped over at my home in Colorado the morning before we left, saying how sorry she was for not telling me about her suspicions of A.J. It was the only time in my life I could remember being slightly uncomfortable in her presence. I didn’t hold her at fault though because she couldn’t have known her brother would plan such a devastating plot against me.
Meg had informed me that A.J. was seeking counseling in a mental health treatment center in Evergreen, Colorado, and he was doing well. I still had many mixed emotions, and just hearing his name would make me uneasy, but I did understand grief and how it might have driven him to make bad decisions.
From somewhere deep within our hearts and consciences, Kyle and I had decided not to press charges against A.J. After explaining my reasoning to Kyle, he’d stood beside me and agreed to let A.J. seek the help he needed. I’d chosen to believe in the power of forgiveness, and I’d prayed my decision would do him good and allow him to move forward with his life.
Meg had expressed that she was deeply concerned about how her parents, Ted and Jane, were coping with their son’s irrational behavior. I was saddened that they hadn’t come by to say good-bye to me before I left Colorado. However, Meg had said that they were tied up with the restaurant, and they sent their deepest apologies.
Meg and I had parted on friendly terms, wishing each other the best, with intentions to visit one another someday in the future. A part of me really hoped to see her again while the other part was not sure if that awkward tension would ever fade. I truly wanted to believe our friendship could overcome what had happened.
As the garage door to Kyle’s home opened, I snuck a nervous glance at him. A part of me felt the happiness I could see reflected in his eyes while the other half of me was consumed with worry. Moving in together was such a huge step, one that I hoped I was ready for.
Kyle reached for my hand and squeezed while smiling at me with reassurance. “We’re finally here,” he said quietly.
I let out a deep breath. “Yep,” I answered in a soft tone.
After parking inside, we both stepped out of the car. I opened the backseat door and reached for my large pink-and-black bag filled with enough clothes for the first few nights in case it took a while to unpack. Kyle opened the other door and grabbed two small bags before we made our way to the garage door leading into the house.
Within inches of the door, Kyle stopped and spun around to face me, his eyes staring into the depths of mine. He dropped the luggage in his grasp, the thump echoing off the walls of the garage, and his hand lifted to caress my cheek.
He smiled affectionately at me. “Ready?”
I nodded shyly. “Ready,” I answered.
He cupped my chin and bent down to place a gentle kiss on my lips before pulling back to look at my eyes. “Welcome home, beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I said before closing the distance between us for another kiss.
Kyle wrapped his arms around my waist and hauled my body against his. I locked my hands around his nape and kissed him with such fervor. His mouth was warm and sweet, and his kiss instantly settled the nerves in the pit of my stomach.
Kyle lifted me, and I squealed in surprise. I enclosed my legs around his hips as he turned to open the door with me in his arms.
Laughing, I tightened my grip to hold on to him. “What are you doing?” I screeched.
The door swung wide open as he turned his gaze back on me. “Carrying you over the threshold,” he answered, releasing a carefree boyish grin.
With a smile, I rolled my eyes at him. “That’s for the honeymoon.”
Kyle shook his head in disagreement. “Nope, I refuse to believe that. It’s for moving in together, too.” He winked and took the first step inside the house.
“If you say so.”
I chuckled as he carried me through the mudroom and all the way into the living room. Walking over to the couch, he sat down with me still in his arms. I bent my legs and tucked them on either side of his thighs, sitting astride his lap.
“So, should we start unpacking first? Or wait until after dinner?” he asked. His hands began making short strokes up and down my lower back.
My eyes widened in surprise. “The movers brought the boxes already?”
“Yes, they were supposed to arrive early this morning, and they should be stacked in the office. Diane let them in before we arrived.”
“Diane?” I quickly racked my brain, trying to remember who she was.
“Oh, okay,” I replied, rising to my feet. “How about we unload a few boxes and order in pizza?”
“That sounds like a good plan.” Kyle rose, standing next to me. He gestured toward the general direction of the office. “Why don’t you get started while I order the food?”
“Okay.” I smiled.
He leaned forward and kissed my forehead before stepping to the side to make his phone call. Remembering where his office was, I made my way to the edge of the door frame and came to a dead stop.
Whoever says moving is easy is flat-out lying.
With a few hesitant strides forward, I stood in the center of Kyle’s office, completely surrounded by labeled brown boxes. They were all marked in my handwriting—bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living room.