Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Sequel to Unforgiven
A woman forgiven… A man redeemed… A love unforgettable…
In Unforgiven, Darren and Bailey proved forgiveness is possible even after a painful past, but absolution isn’t the end of their story. Trust has to be rebuilt, faith restored, and the strength of their bond tested.
They may have stopped battling each other, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. And life has a way of packing the biggest punch—the most painful…
When life throws a curve ball, the future they fought so hard for is at risk. And when Bailey’s resolve is weakened, Darren has to carry them both. She may be his world, but is he strong enough to shoulder the weight of that responsibility? Her trust in him is critical, but has forgiveness given her enough peace to put her every hope and dream in his hands?
Genre: Erotic Contemporary RomancePurchase links: Amazon ARe Smashwords Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Continuing story, Couple's Therapy
Release Date: November 6, 2014
Publisher: Hartwood Publishing
Excerpt & More
Note: If you have not read the first book, Unforgiven, this excerpt for the sequel will contain spoilers!
“So, Dr. Cory, how about you tell me why you’re here today.”
“Please, just call me Darren.” Darren glanced at Bailey beside him, but he looked away quickly. She looked unsure, and she took slow deep breaths as if she could simply inhale and exhale her way through this. When he glanced back up to Dr. Green, the man’s fingers were steepled under his chin. It was oddly similar to his father, and Darren couldn’t exactly figure out why, but he suddenly felt terribly ashamed. Not that he hadn’t earned a fair dose of shame.
Darren cleared his throat as he focused on the fake plant sitting on the coffee table between him and Bailey and Dr. Green. “I’m in love with the woman who’s responsible for my sister’s death.” He chuckled, but it was mirthless and was nothing more than a nervous reaction. “I can’t say I didn’t play a part in her death too, so I suppose that’s two issues to sort out. And I’m quite certain I’ve not grieved appropriately either, so… Well, I guess we’re up to three.” And then before he could get a handle on his nerves he chuckled humorlessly again. “If you get paid by the issue, this should be a stellar year for you.” He coughed and cleared his throat all at once as the ridiculous comment trailed off his lips. He was acting like a fucking idiot. “Basically, I’m terrified I’m going to hurt the woman I love…and I can’t bear that.” His entire life boiled down to that concern.
It had been only a week and a half since she decided to stay, since he more or less begged her to, and he still worried she’d change her mind. He put her through hell. There was no sugarcoating any of it, and he was terrified it would happen again. And now as he stared at the fucking plant, his pulse quickened, and he imagined what it would do to him if he hurt her even one more time. It was torturous lashing out at her, because it was like an addiction he couldn’t conquer…which destroyed him with every indulgence.
The room was silent, and when Darren finally managed to look up to Dr. Green, he saw a warm smile on the old man’s lips. It was comforting…but only for a moment. As he looked at Bailey’s lap, her hands trembled, and he suddenly couldn’t even force himself to look at her. He was pretty sure if he saw her face, he’d crumble.
“I’m glad you’re here, Darren. I’m glad you’re both here.” Dr. Green turned his attention to Bailey whose hands were now shaking fiercely. “So, how about you tell me why you’re here, Bailey.”
Her breath left her lungs in lurching spasms, and the quietest of whimpers escaped her lips. He knew she was working up the nerve to speak, but he still couldn’t seem to do anything but stare at the plant. He wasn’t even sure a knife to his throat could make him feel more vulnerable than he did in this moment. He’d felt that way all morning. For the week and a half she’d lived with him, they’d been closer to normal than he ever imagined they could be. They enjoyed one another, he was kind, and she didn’t seem to hold the least bit of a grudge against him for how he treated her for the six preceding months.
He had watched her cry over the loss of her mother nearly every day, multiple times a day usually, and he soaked in her pain in a very selfish way, hating that she had to feel it but allowing it to soften his heart toward her. He supported her the way he always secretly desired she could have supported him when Jess died—that they could have supported each other. And he didn’t resent her at all for denying him that. In a nutshell, he hurt for her but loved the dynamic of them like this. He finally felt some measure of peace with her. Until today…
This was horrifying. It was real. It was going to hurt. It was going to proverbially feel like she was the one holding the knife to his neck, forcing his vulnerability right out of him until he could weaken himself and prostrate himself enough for her. But she deserved it.
He stared straight ahead, feeling cornered and as though he might fall apart any moment. It was odd, because the attention wasn’t even on him at the moment. But her words, whatever they might be, were a threat to him. He didn’t know or trust how they would make him feel, and so, they felt like a very real danger to everything he wanted in the world. He could not allow his festering pain and anger to destroy them, but he didn’t trust he knew how to stop it either. Bailey knew how and when to walk away from him, and he couldn’t give her any reason to do that again.
She sniffed, and he knew without looking she was only moments from falling apart. “I’m in love with a man who I’m terrified will hurt me.” Her voice was so quiet, and it wavered as she fought the emotion.
“Physically?” Even though the question was loaded, Dr. Green’s face remained calm and serene.
“No.” Bailey’s eyes left Dr. Green for a moment as her attention flit to Darren, and he managed to look at her too. But she couldn’t hold the eye contact any better than he could, and her focus shifted back to Dr. Green quickly. “Emotionally,” Bailey corrected him.
“And has he hurt you emotionally before?” Dr. Green focused on Bailey.
Bailey glanced at Darren again, and he fought to swallow. He knew it would be a hard question for her to answer, especially with him sitting right there beside her, so he saved her from having to say it. “Yes, I have.” He paused, letting his focus find the plant again. “Many times.”
Darren caught himself taking ridiculously shallow breaths as he waited for Dr. Green to respond. He thought for a moment he might actually pass out if he couldn’t get his lungs to work. There it was. The woman he loved was afraid of him because he was emotionally abusive. He hated himself in that moment. But then he inhaled deeply and forced himself to look at Bailey. His self-hatred wouldn’t get them very far, and he needed to go all the way with her. This wasn’t a sprint. This was an endurance race, and they had to make it to the finish line because he couldn’t survive anything short of that.
He wanted to touch her so much, but at the same time, comforting her or being comforted by her was actually hard to imagine. He loved her touch. He craved it when he was away from her, but were he to feel it right now, he was quite certain her gentleness would just be a reminder of how weak he was. Instead of reaching for her, he let his focus shift out the window beyond Bailey.
“How much time do you spend with one another? I mean, what does your relationship look like outside this room? I understand you’re not married, so I’m just trying to get a sense of where you’re at in your relationship.”
Darren looked back from the window to him. “Well, we live together, so we see one another every day.”
Dr. Green said nothing but studied them both. Darren didn’t have a clue if he’d said something wrong or something that shocked the man, and he was suddenly paranoid of what was behind the overly calm way Dr. Green watched them. When Bailey’s eyes dropped to stare at her lap, Darren was positive she was thinking the same thing. Did the man think it was wrong for them to live together?
Dr. Green smiled at them. “Well, you two certainly have an uphill battle ahead of you.”
Defeat coursed painfully through Darren for a moment, made all the worse when he caught Bailey’s head nodding out of his peripheral vision.
“Yes,” Darren whispered.
“Interesting thing about battles though.”
Darren looked up to Dr. Green, desperately needing to hear something positive.
“If you’re willing to fight for something…the sky’s the limit.” Dr. Green smiled warmly back at them again, and as Darren processed the man’s words, he nodded. “I want you both to start journaling—just get it out of you. All the muck and garbage and feelings, I want it out on paper. You don’t have to share it. Not with me, not with each other. You don’t even have to keep it. If you want to burn it, then burn it. Just don’t let it fester inside you.”
He eyed them both as they nodded. Journaling? What the hell? Darren may have nodded, but he didn’t really let the idea sink in. He didn’t know the first thing about journaling. He had a hard enough time dealing with his emotions when he kept them locked up safely inside his head. He couldn’t imagine a piece of paper was going to help that any. But he nodded anyway.
They didn’t say two words to one another for the remainder of the day. She sat on the back deck for hours simply staring off into the thick, tall timber that surrounded them. She’d done that a lot in the few weeks or so since her mother passed away, but Darren knew damn well it was different today. Her distance and need for silence and solitude was related to him on this day and not her sadness at losing her mother.
The world they’d created around themselves over the past week was like a cocoon, but it lost its security that morning. That was intentional. It was also terrifying. They needed to lose the comfort they’d developed with one another to get through the mess buried underneath. They’d pierced the veil, so to speak, in order to set their demons loose. Next, if they could stay the course, they were going to destroy those demons and get free of them. It promised to be a painful battle.
When it started raining, she came inside and sat nervously on the opposite end of the couch. She perched on the side of the cushion, not even willing to let herself sink back into the seat. His heart pounded the entire time. He didn’t know if he was waiting for her to say something or not, and if she chose to say something, he wasn’t sure he was prepared to hear it. They’d committed themselves to seeing this through, but…it had been a difficult morning.
She stood and said goodnight quietly and then she walked up the open stairs in the great room to the second story. And she was gone. He paced for ten minutes in front of the French doors that led to the deck, and then he finally walked to his office. He pulled a notebook from his desk drawer, and he shook his head as he let out an annoyed “Humph.”
He almost felt embarrassed, and when he raised pen to paper, he paused and dropped the pen to the desktop. He couldn’t do this. What the hell was he supposed to say? He was an asshole. He was angry. He was…
He stared at the words he’d written on the piece of paper, feeling pathetic and uncomfortable. He’d never directed their word game at himself, and he didn’t like what he saw. He also didn’t like the way it felt. It was odd. He was alone. He was literally the only one there to judge himself, and yet, he felt judged and ridiculous as though he could be embarrassed in front of himself. This wasn’t a fun feeling. How fucking vulnerable did damn Dr. Green expect him to get with himself?
When he picked up his pen again, his heart started to race, and when he wrote her name, addressing the journal entry to her, his hand started shaking as he stared at it.
He paused again and set his pen down. “What the hell is wrong with me? How fucking hard can it be?” he muttered. Macy suddenly lifted her head from her place on her dog bed in the corner, and she cocked her head to the side quizzically. Yeah, she knew her human was acting like a buffoon. “What are you staring at?”
She dropped her head back to her paws, groaning loudly as she rested back into the thick cushion of her bed. Time to try this again.
Since writing about how I feel seems to be so hard, how about I start with writing what I know? I know I love you. I know my world doesn’t make sense when you’re not in it. I know my happiness is directly linked to yours, and I know we can do this. Today was hard. And I know it was hard for you too. Tomorrow could be harder. Next week…who knows what will happen. I have more question marks in my life now than I ever have before, and that’s because you’re back in my world. But I’m going to answer and solve every one of those question marks until nothing remains but you and me. I know you’re afraid of me. I’m just as terrified of myself. But I’m not going to fail. I’m so certain, in fact, that I know today even as I sit here while you hide from me upstairs, that our life is going places. We have a future. And I’m going to tell you something about that.
Purchase links: Amazon ARe Smashwords Kobo B&N
Other titles by Elizabeth Finn:
Elizabeth Finn Facebook page
Elizabeth Finn Goodreads author page
Elizabeth Finn Amazon Author Page
More Elizabeth Finn on Cover Reveals
Interested in this book? Let your friends and family know about it. Use the buttons below to share this post with them.