Release Date: October 18, 2018
Cover Design: Amy Queau – QDesign
Alison Freeman met Keene Marshall because of a dare she wholeheartedly regrets accepting.
As her family’s corporate lawyer, Alison discards the idea of love as quickly as she negotiates contracts. Brutally. She realizes she’s been a fool over Keene—who is now intimately embedded in her family. It only adds to the enormity of emotions churning inside about her life.
Keene Marshall is arrogant enough to know his time with Alison left a lasting impression. He has yet to determine what place she’s going to hold in his life, but he knows there will be one. They burn too hot for there not to be.
Having closed himself off from his humanity for so long, finding Alison again presents its own set of challenges. Keene struggles with everything from his family to the walls Alison persistently builds between them. And he can’t handle the emotions that come with being denied what he wants.
Alison’s wary of Keene. Something is holding her back, except every time his lips touch hers, she’s flung into the race of her life for the one thing she claims she never wanted to win.
It’s about six in the evening when we pull into the farm. I’ve never been so glad for summer as I am right now. Corinna is driving super slow, trying to mask our attempt in making the mile-long drive to my house unnoticed. We’re hoping the sound of the early-evening birds will cover up our giggling as we sneak past Em’s house and slowly drive past Cassidy’s. We’re like schoolgirls sneaking in past curfew.
Keene’s car has moved from my house over to Cassidy’s, and that’s fine. His focus should be on his sister, not me.
We pull up to the outside of my house, and Corinna idles her car. I give her a huge hug. “Thank you,” I whisper.
“No thanks needed. We both needed this.”
“We need this more often,” I suggest. I forgot how much time with my sisters recharges me.
“Done. Next time, let’s bring Hols too.”
I beam at her before I slide out of her car. She toots the horn before driving away. I stand there for a few moments, holding on to my phone and purse. The events of the day are running through my head when I’m interrupted by a furious voice.
“Are you done running so we can finally talk?”
* * *
After storming past Keene, I throw on the lights as I enter my house. I’m infuriated he’s here and show him zero hospitality as I head through my kitchen, throw open the sliders, and point. “Outside.”
“I’m not a lapdog you can just order around, Alison.” Keene’s hands are on his lean hips, and he’s smirking. “Generally, people like it when they’re asked to do something nicely.”
After Corinna spent so much time boosting me up today, Keene’s snark grates.
“And generally, people wait to be invited over and don’t stake out someone’s house. I’ve decided you’re going to get the attitude you cultivate, and to hell with what anyone thinks about me for giving it to you,” I growl back. “I didn’t ask you to come here. Let’s make this quick so you can go back to visiting your sister.”
Keene doesn’t say anything. Instead, he silently walks past me until he’s outside, standing on my deck. “Does my sister realize your temper is this ferocious?”
“Yes.” There’s no need to tell him we’re usually arguing about him.
“Interesting.” He leans back against the railing, waiting for me to speak.
The silence between us continues. The only sounds are those of the wildlife around us on this early Connecticut summer evening. I can hear the birds calling from the lake that Cassidy’s house is built on. Birds in my trees answer before I hear the brush of the branches as they prepare to take flight.
I turn around to confront Keene and find him standing directly in my space.
“Please step back.”
“Alison, we need to talk.”
“I agree, but I had a wonderful day today. I’d rather not taint it by ending it with someone who prefers to spend his time insulting me. My lack of response should have made it obvious whether I wanted to see you or not. You should have respected that. You didn’t, and now I’m asking you to leave.”
“I’ve done a lot of things wrong with you. Intruding on your personal moment last night was another mistake. I would truly like the opportunity to discuss all of them with you, but you’re right.” His expression doesn’t change. I almost feel sorry for him, but his apology seems rehearsed. Practiced. “This goes both ways, Alison. I come to the table with my apology, and you come to it with your issues.”
What the hell? I let out a bark of laughter.
“Are you kidding me? What table? We only have to get along well enough to suffer through family events together. Nothing more than that,” I inform him haughtily.
He steps into my space again, his hands quickly and gently clasping my cheeks. I grip his wrists to pull his hands away, desperate for him to let me go.
“Tell me you’re not as lonely as I am. Tell me you don’t wonder late at night what it would have been like if I’d stayed. Tell me you don’t wonder if we would have fought or fucked our way through our inevitable arguments. Tell me you don’t wonder if we would still be together.” He growls the words next to my ear.
“Stop, Keene,” I say hoarsely. I can’t prevent the full-body shudder his words have on me. Because I have wondered this so many nights.
“Tell me you don’t want me. Us. Tell me you don’t want my lips on yours right now. Tell me you don’t want my hands sliding all over your skin. Tell me you don’t want my fingers and my cock inside you. Tell me you don’t want any of that, Alison, and then I’ll tell you there’s nothing for us to figure out.”
He lowers his chin. I can almost feel his lips brush against mine when he whispers, “See what we could’ve been working out all day?” before he pulls away and walks through my kitchen and slams my front door.
I’m frozen where I stand, unable to make sense of Keene’s latest hit-and-run.
Free to Dream
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About the Author
Tracey Jerald knew she was meant to be a writer when she would re-write the ending of books in her head on her bike when she was a young girl growing up in southern Connecticut. It wasn’t long before she was typing alternate endings and extended epilogues “just for fun”.
After college in Florida, where she obtained a degree in Criminal Justice swearing she saw things she’ll never quite believe and never quite forget, Tracey traded the world of law and order for IT.
Her work for a world-wide internet startup transferred her to Northern Virginia where she met her husband in what many call their own happily ever after. They have one son.
When she’s not busy with her family or writing, Tracey can be found in her home in north Florida drinking coffee, reading, training for a runDisney event, or feeding her addiction to HGTV.
Connect with Tracey
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