From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart…
Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri’s boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she’ll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her — until she needs that strength the most…
A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.
This was such a beautiful story and it is one that has stayed with me even after I finished it. I loved that not only is there the main focus on Yuri and his teacher Maggie, but we get the back story to Yuri’s parents and Maggie’s life outside of being a teacher as well.
This book had an interesting mix of contemporary points of view and historical fiction as well. I was not bored nor was I confused with the varying points of views.
Each character’s story was full of life and moving. It was very easy to become attached to the characters. This book is so well written and I could not put it down. I will definitely be picking up her other books.
Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.
The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.
Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.
February 2019 Indie Next selection
February 2019 LibraryReads selection
I read this book in less than 24 hours. I was so incredibly invested in Anna’s story and I was on the verge of tears for most of it. I adored this debut novel and recommend this read highly.
The subject matter is devastating and intense but one that is an eye opener to read about in this way. I look forward to the next book that this author writes.
The author of Killer Choice, a thriller “full of shocks and twists you won’t see coming” (Lee Child), delivers a nail-biting novel about a hit and run, and a lie that goes horribly wrong…
Her son accidentally kills a man. They cover it up. Then everything goes wrong.
When eighteen-year-old Joshua Mayo takes a man’s life in a horrible accident, he leaves the scene without reporting the crime to the police. He hopes to put the awful night behind him and move on with his life. But, of course, he ends up telling his mother, Karen, what happened.
Karen has raised Joshua on her own in Cedar Rapids, Iowa–and she’d thought they’d finally made it. He was doing well in school and was only months from starting college. After hearing his dark confession, she is forced to make a choice no parent should have to make, one that draws them both into a web of deceit that will change their lives forever–if they make it out alive….
With vibes similar to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Tom Hunt has elevated it to a different level. One Fatal Mistake has a suspenseful plot that keeps the reader at the edge of their seat in some parts. However, I did find some areas to read a bit slow for me. At 320 pages, it should not have taken me as long as it did to read it.
I am not saying that I did not like this book but it is not one of my top picks in this genre. Maybe the writing style is not what I prefer in a thriller/ suspense novel.
The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us
Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.
When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.
Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?
But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding.
Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?
As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?
From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.
Trust is a very personal thing. It is fickle and can easily be taken away but not so easily given. Jessica starts this study with a lie and attempts to continue it by trusting the Doctor who is administering the study. Each question, task and day tests the readers trusts as it does Jessica’s.
This was a very intriguing premise as I have a background in psychology and moral and ethical studies can be very telling about a person. Even more interesting is what it can tell you about its’ creator; especially in this story.
This was more first introduction to this author duo and I was entertained but I did feel like it was a bit long winded. I would get into the story and then find myself daydreaming shortly after due to the unnecessary details.
What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.
It all started at the school fair…
Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.
Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….
This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
I don’t know what I would do if a child that I was watching for a friend went missing while under my care. I can’t imagine the thoughts, fears and anger that would course through my body if I was either of the mothers in this book.
Charlotte and Harriet were friends, at least that is what Charlotte thought, but as time moves forward and the police look further into their lives, the depths of their friendship is questioned. So many different things kept drawing me into this story. I was able to read this quickly and it surprised me. Although, this is the first time I’ve heard about or read anything from this author, I doubt it will be my last.
I gave this book 4 crowns.
I received this E-ARC from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.
Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.
She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.
Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.
About the Author:
Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at TeriWilson.net or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.
This was an endearing read about twin sisters who haven’t always seen eye to eye on things. While on twin is trying to follow in the footsteps of their late Beauty Queen mother, the other hides among stacks of books as a librarian. Even though Charlotte wants nothing to do with the beauty pageant life, she is there to support her twin. Then the unexpected happens, an allergic reaction that “blows up” in their faces.
The old cliche of twins switching places comes into play in this story but it is done hilariously. I loved the dimension of the character traits of these sisters. They were just two women being fake, they read as if they were real women going through these events.
This was a great contemporary book that really worked. It was a bit reminiscent of the movie Miss Congeniality but that made it even more fun.
I gave this book 4 crowns.
My sister has always been the pretty one. The Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo.
It’s been this way for so long that I’ve never questioned it. It’s never even bothered me much. It just is.
Ginny is my sister, and I love her, no matter how different our lives are. And trust me, they’re about as opposite as you can imagine. But the chasm between our worlds has never been quite so glaringly obvious as it is now, because instead of restocking books on their respective shelves, I’m standing in an elevator at the posh Huntington Spa Resort in Orlando, Florida, on the first Monday afternoon of summer.
For starters, at five feet seven, I’m by far the shortest person of the half dozen or so on board. This is a rarity for me. As an elementary school librarian, I’m accustomed to towering over people for the majority of my waking hours. I’m also used to sitting in tiny chairs and using tiny, blunt-edged scissors, but that’s beside the point. Five feet seven isn’t short. . . .
Unless you’re riding an elevator packed with beauty queens.
I don’t know what I expected when I signed on to spend a week cheering for my sister at the Miss American Treasure pageant, but it wasn’t this. The preliminary competition doesn’t start for another two days, so why are they all wearing crowns and sashes already? And what is going on with their shoes?
Beauty pageant contestants wear heels. I know this, obviously. I mean, I’ve seen Miss Congeniality at least twenty times over the years, thanks to Ginny. But these are beyond high heels. Gracie Lou Freebush wouldn’t have lasted a minute in them.
No offense to Sandra Bullock. I’m just saying.
I tighten my grip on the handle of my suitcase, suddenly extremely conscious of the state of my hair. Orlando is one of the most humid places on earth, and the half hour ride on the airport shuttle was not kind. For once, I actually feel sorry for Ginny. It’s one thing to be expected to look perfect onstage, but hotel elevators should be a safe space. I, for one, plan to be roaming the halls in a spa bathrobe and complimentary slippers en route to the vending machine for the majority of my stay.
But to each her own.
Besides, Ginny chose this life, just as surely as I chose mine. She also gets paid more for one sponsored Instagram post than I make in a week, and when I remember this, I keep my sympathy in check.
The elevator comes to a stop on the fifth floor, which has clearly been reserved for the pageant, because we all disembark in a glamorous, glittering herd.
Myself being the exception.
No one seems to notice my presence, though. The Hogwarts T-shirt I’m wearing might as well be an invisibility cloak. Fine. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for the chance to stay in Ginny’s luxury hotel room for a week, for free, and completely nerd out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I’m also here for moral support, of course. I plan on being at every single pageant event, cheering like a maniac while inwardly cringing in horror at the very thought of prancing around in only a tiny swimsuit and a crown. But since the competition doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m., that leaves my mornings and afternoons free to hit up the theme park. I’ve emptied my paltry savings account and invested in a five-day unlimited pass. Bring on the butter beer.
But first, I must locate our room amid a sea of glitz and sparkle. According to the text Ginny sent when I landed, we’re in 511. All of my elevator pals are in rooms along the same stretch of corridor. Half the doors on the floor have hangtags on the knobs that read, Do not disturb! This Miss American Treasure contestant needs her beauty sleep!
I roll my eyes mightily.
Dangling from the knob of room 511 is one such tag, but I highly doubt Ginny is actually sleeping because I can hear the television booming through the door. I knock extra hard so she can hear me above the din of whatever reality show she’s probably watching.
Just please God don’t let it be the Kardashians.
An explosion of barks answers my knock. I take a deep breath. I’ve somehow forgotten all about my sister’s French bulldog mix, Buttercup. Ginny adopted her a month ago as part of her “platform.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. She’s a pageant queen, not a politician. But according to approximately five million posts on Ginny’s Instagram, she volunteers regularly at her local shelter in support of her animal rescue policy.
If memory serves, last year her platform was anti-bullying. But so many other contestants on the pageant circuit had already thrown themselves into the anti-bullying movement that she felt pressured to switch to something else. In other words, she got bullied into giving up her anti-bullying platform. Oh, the irony.
The door to the hotel room swings open, and Ginny is standing there in a white spa bathrobe with her hair piled on top of her head in a messy-yet-artful twist. She’s got one of those serum-soaked sheet masks stuck to her face—the kind that make regular people look like something straight out of a bad horror movie.
Except Ginny isn’t a regular person. So instead she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow enjoying a quiet day of self-care.
“Charlotte, you’re here!”
“Yep. My flight was right on time.” Thank God. I’m ready to make the most out of day one on my unlimited pass.
“Come on in.” She holds the door open wider.
The room is a double, with side-by-side queen beds and a balcony overlooking a pool flanked by umbrella-covered lounge chairs, a tiki bar, and two perfectly symmetrical rows of palm trees swaying in the balmy Florida breeze. Any spare moments I have this week that don’t include Harry Potter will be spent right there, with my feet up and a piña colada in hand. It’s been so long since I’ve taken an actual vacation that the mental picture I’ve just conjured nearly makes me weep.
“This is gorgeous. Ginny, thanks again for inviting me.”
“Are you kidding? I’m so glad you’re here. Dad and Susan aren’t coming until the finals.” Her smile falters. Behind the face mask, I can see her full lips tip into a frown.
I know exactly what she’s thinking. “You’ll make the finals. I know you will. You’re a shoo-in for the top twenty.”
Ginny always makes the finals. She’s up onstage every year alongside the winner and the runners-up. She’s just never managed to crack the top five.
“This year will be different,” I assure her.
She nods. “It has to be.”
As much as I hate to see my sister devoting her life to chasing a silly crown, and even though I positively loathe the pageant scene, my heart gives a little tug. Sometimes I forget why she got started in all of this. But every once in a while, when Ginny’s composure slips, I remember that this is her way of feeling connected to the mother we barely knew. The crushing sense of loss that inevitably follows always seems to catch me off guard. It’s in those moments— moments like this one—that I understand her dream.
I paste a smile on my face. “It will. I promise.”
I have no right to make that kind of promise. After all, I’m not judging this thing.
Truly, why would anyone want that job?
But it’s so rare to see my sister like this that I can’t stop myself. She’s always been the poster child for confidence.
Which just goes to show how much this particular pageant means to her. More than all the others combined.
“You’re right.” She nods with renewed vigor. “Of course I’ll make the finals. This is my year.”
“Definitely.” Pep talk over for now, I head toward the bed on the far side of the room—the one that’s still neatly made and not covered in anything bedazzled.
Every item on Ginny’s bed shines like a disco ball, including her official Miss American Treasure tote bag. I’m beginning to understand why she uses one of those sleepmask things like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I might need to invest in one myself.
As I cross the room, Buttercup launches herself at my wheeled suitcase, growling and nipping at it as it drags behind me. By the time I’m within a foot of my bed, she’s fully attached herself to it and I’m hauling both luggage and bulldog.
“Is this normal behavior?” I ask. It can’t be, can it?
Ginny waves a dismissive hand.
I give Buttercup a little nudge with the toe of my Adidas sneaker. She backs away, peering up at me with her bulgy little eyes. They almost seem to point in two different directions. Like plastic googly eyes.
We stare each other down for a second, and then she resumes her attack on my luggage.
“Is she always so”—I pause, struggling for an appropriate adjective—“headstrong?”
Buttercup and I have never been properly introduced. I only know her via Ginny’s Instagram, where she’s usually doing something less destructive and far more adorable.
“Buttercup is shy,” Ginny says by way of explanation.
I look down at the snarling dog. “Sorry, I’m not getting shy here.”
“You’re stressing her out. She’s not used to strangers and new experiences. She’s a rescue dog, remember? The poor thing sat in the shelter for four months before I adopted her.”
Ginny checks the position of her sheet mask in the large mirror over the bathroom counter. It’s a double vanity, theoretically big enough for both of us. But Ginny’s massive amount of toiletries take up the entire space. “Did you know that seven million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, and half of them end up being euthanized?”
I did not know that, and it’s a horrible, horrible statistic. But her canned delivery prevents me from absorbing the news with the proper level of emotion.
She’s slipped into pageant mode. She’s rattling off more devastating facts and figures about homeless pets, all the while posing with her hand pressed to her heart and her head tilted just so.
I glance at Buttercup. Something tells me she’s heard the speech before.
“Maybe less euthanasia talk in front of the rescue dog?” I suggest. No wonder the poor thing is stressed.
“Oh my God.” Ginny blinks. “Do you think she understands?”
“I have no idea, but why take the chance?” Besides, I can’t handle Ginny’s platform-level intensity right now. I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m.
“I suppose you’re right.” Ginny scoops Buttercup into her arms.
I take advantage of the cease-fire, lift my suitcase onto the bed, and remove my things, paltry in comparison to the vast wardrobe Ginny has stuffed into the closet and all but one of the dresser drawers. Fortunately, I travel light.
Clotheswise, anyway. Beneath the layers of jeans and T-shirts, four hardback novels line the bottom of my bag. I remove all four and arrange them in a nice, neat stack atop the nightstand closest to my bed.
When I look up, Ginny’s shaking her head. “Are you sure you brought enough reading material?”
“Don’t judge. I’m on vacation, remember?”
“Exactly. You’re a librarian. Your vacation should be book-free.” Ginny makes a zero sign with one of her perfectly manicured hands.
“How are we even related?” It’s not the first time I’ve asked that question, and I know with every fiber of my being that Ginny wonders the same thing sometimes.
How could she not?
“Before you dive into one of those, can you take Buttercup for a quick walk?” She grabs a Barbie-pink leash from her nightstand. And—surprise!—it’s heavily bedazzled. “Pretty please.”
“What? Why me?” My gaze flits toward Buttercup, who’s now positioned on Ginny’s pillow with her plump rear facing me. “She doesn’t even like me. Stranger danger and all that.”
Ginny rolls her eyes. “Stranger danger? You spend too much time with little kids.”
True. She dragged me to yoga once, and I kept referring to easy pose as crisscross applesauce.
Still, Buttercup doesn’t seem any more thrilled by the idea than I am. Also, I’ve already begun typing the address of the theme park into the Uber app on my phone. I’m supposed to be dodging a fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley right now, not walking a petulant French bulldog.
“I was kind of hoping to head over to Harry Potter World so I could be back in time for us to have an early dinner. Don’t you have pageant stuff today?” I’m pretty sure she has a date with some spray tanner this afternoon. Her skin tone matches mine right now, and I know from experience that Ginny is usually at least four shades closer to orange when there’s a pageant on the horizon.
“Yes, and of course you can head right over there just as soon as you walk Buttercup. She hasn’t been out since early this morning. I can’t do it—I’m not allowed to leave the room without my sash on.”
I blink. “What?”
“Contestants can’t leave their hotel rooms unless they’re pageant-ready. Outside of this room, I have to wear my sash at all times.”
I don’t even know what to say, but suddenly the army of beauty queens from the elevator makes more sense. “That’s crazypants. It’s like you’re some kind of pageant hostage. Put your sash on, and take her out yourself.”
Ginny sighs. “Dramatic much? This isn’t some tiny regional pageant. Miss American Treasure is the big time. She’s a role model. You know that.”
I do. I probably know more about that than any of those chattering elevator girls.
“I can’t go out there like this,” she says.
“Fine.” I take the leash from her hands. She’s clearly in no condition to leave the room, although I would pay money to see an Instagram post of Ginny wearing the sash and her sheet mask at the same time.
“Thank you.” Her slender shoulders sag with relief. “I owe you one. We’ll have a great dinner tonight, I promise. It’ll be just like old times.”
I don’t believe her for a minute. When we were kids, our favorite dinners included sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese. I can’t remember the last time I saw a carb cross Ginny’s lips.
“Come on, Buttercup,” I mutter.
The portly little dog growls the entire time I’m attaching her leash to her sparkly pink collar. This should be lovely.
“We’ll be right back.” I cast a glance over my shoulder as I lead Buttercup out the door, and Ginny catches my gaze in the mirror.
She gives me a little wave. I wave back, and for a moment, I go still. Rooted to the spot. Ginny’s sheet mask is gone, and her face is bare. Clean. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her makeup-free. Without the airbrushed foundation, the contouring and highlighting, the carefully lined lips and the double layers of false eyelashes, she looks a lot like me.
She looks exactly like me, actually. Same nose. Same eyes. Same heart-shaped face.
Because even though my sister has always been the pretty one, the beauty queen—the Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo—she’s also my twin.
SYNOPSIS This book was formerly entitled Goodness and Light
Thirteen years ago, two teens met on the ramp to Ground Zero, on a cold and snowy day, strangers bonding in a moment of grief. The boy pressed a crystal snowflake ornament into the girl’s hand and disappeared into the crowd, unaware that his simple act of kindness saved her from the guilt that threatened to consume her.
Since losing her mom, Elena Larsen hasn’t set foot in New York City — until now. Agreeing to help her sister prepare for her baby’s birth seems like a good way to spend Christmas and Elena vows not to let the monstrous guilt that weighs on her heart ruin everything. But those plans go awry when she meets Lucas Adair, a man whose own grief and guilt just might rival her own.
When Elena discovers Lucas is the boy who gave her that crystal snowflake all those years ago, she can’t accept it as the sign Lucas believes it to be. For her, it means only one thing — even beyond the grave, her mother can never forgive Elena for breaking her heart.
For Lucas, New York is hallowed ground that he can never leave. He spends his days working in the Financial District and his evenings volunteering and it’s almost enough to help him forget what he did. Lucas knows better than to make plans with a woman who will soon be leaving, yet can’t help himself. There’s something about Elena that pulls him in. He doesn’t put much faith in signs but even he starts to believe Elena is his absolution. Now, he only has to convince her.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Patty Blount grew up quiet and a bit invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice in books. Today, she writes smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. She’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters. Let’s be real; Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.
Patty is best known for her internet issues novels, including SOME BOYS, a 2015 CLMP Firecracker winner and SEND, a 2012 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Visit her website at pattyblount.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. She blogs at YA Outside the Lines and is also active online. She loves hearing from readers, especially when they tell her she’s cool (even though she knows it’s not true), and is easily bribed with chocolate. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.
“Where do we start? Where do city people buy
Christmas trees?” She put her hands on her hips and looked up and down the
When Elena Larsen wasn’t being deliberately
aggravating, Lucas decided she was sweet. And beautiful. He looked at her with
a wry smile. “You act like you haven’t —” And his laughter faded when
the truth struck him between the eyes. “How long has it been, Elena?”
Her face went flat and the light left her eyes.
“I haven’t done Christmas since my mother was killed. I avoid the city,
the holidays. My friends. Kara came back here for school but—” She held
out her arms. “This city…for me, it’s death and, and destruction and
hate and—” She broke off, shook her head and lifted a shoulder. “They
don’t understand. Our friends are mad at me, she’s mad at me —”
“I get it.” He stopped her with a touch
to her cheek. He sucked in a deep breath and got ready to step onto shaky
ground. “Pain, grief — they’re isolating things, you know? They’re so
huge, they eclipse everything and make you think nobody else feels what you
feel, but that’s wrong. Everybody does, Elena. Everybody. When I figured that
out, when I finally talked about it, things—”
“Got better?” she asked with a roll of
her eyes and Lucas understood she’d heard this before.
For a long moment, he considered lying and finally
shook his head. “No. Not better. Just less huge, you know?” When she
looked at him sideways, he shrugged. “Honey, it’s like a club that should
never have members but it does and membership means there’s a certain amount
of…of common ground.” He finished with a wave toward the Freedom Tower.
She let out a long sigh. “I’m trying. I really
He put down the shopping bag and took her in his
arms. “Elena, I know you are. I think it’s incredible — you’re incredible
— that you’re here now and trying to do things for Kara.”
To his surprise, her arms circled him and she put
her head on his shoulder. “For all the good that’s doing,” she
murmured into his jacket. “I hate that I made her cry.”
Lucas held her a moment longer, the old familiar
fury straining the leash he’d kept it on for the last decade. He pushed it away
and tried to focus on her, instead. There was something about her…something
almost familiar in a way. She smelled like vanilla and he thought of the
Christmas cookies she’d yet to bake. She felt warm and comfortable in his arms.
His arms tightened around her because he wanted to make her laugh, make her
feel safe. He wanted that like he wanted his next breath.
Al would insist it was a sign, he concluded. But
then again, she wasn’t staying. She’d been clear on that. So what kind of
cosmic practical joke would point him toward a woman who would leave as soon as
they got comfortable around each other?
So you have to work at something for once.
He went still. He could swear the
voice in his head was his mother’s. Every muscle in his body tensed and he
brushed it aside. Instead, he made a decision. Made a wish.
When she was all entranced by the magic of
Christmas trees newly decorated, he’d invite her to shop with him to put
presents under it. He’d make her his famous hot cocoa. He’d show her Radio City
and Rockefeller Center. He’d take her through Central Park in a carriage. He’d
prove to her that New York was still New York — even with its scars.
She nodded. “Okay.”
He swept her hair behind her ear, cradled her
face. “I think you’re beautiful and incredibly loyal to brave a city you’re
so damn afraid of just so you could be here for your sister.” Her tongue
darted out to lick her lips and Lucas didn’t think — couldn’t think anymore. He
leaned in, drew her closer, his fingers sifting through the soft silkspun hair,
his mouth just a breath from hers.