by Connie L. Smith
Bruised and battered hearts can keep beating. But can they heal?
Preston and Nick endured the breakup of all breakups when Nick accused her of cheating on him. He insisted, and she denied while the rain pounded against her driveway and thunder roared in the distance. Then they both ran—Preston to a life of Rock & Roll, and Nick to a career in the Army.
Four years later, they’re damaged and broken almost beyond repair. He’s carrying baggage from his military days, and she bears the scars of living a lifestyle she’s grown to hate.
When Preston’s label forces her to take time away from music, their paths cross in a parking lot not twenty-four hours after her hometown return, anger and sparks flying in a confusing blend. But regardless of the feelings neither has been able to shake, too many lies and secrets stand in the way of the one thing they need in order to recover.
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I moved toward the couch where he sat, knelt in front of him, and cupped his face to gently shake him. “Nick? Can you hear me?” No reaction. “Nick, if you can hear me, follow my voice, all right? You’re not in the army anymore, and you’re not on a battleground. You’re back home in Tennessee. You’re not in any danger.” When he didn’t bat an eye, I moved my hands to his shoulders and rose up on my knees so that we were eye-level. An unpleasant shiver ran down my spine from being so close to his vacant stare, but I had to ignore it and keep going.
“Nick,” I called another time in a louder, firmer voice and shook his shoulders with more force than I had his face. “Nick, come back. You’re scaring me, and I don’t know what to do. Whatever’s in your head, it’s not real anymore.”
He didn’t budge beyond breathing, so I moved my hands to his forearms and shook him even stronger. “Nick?” I practically yelled. “Snap out of it! Please! Look at me, Nick! I’m right in front of you. Look at me, and none of the rest of it. You’re safe. You’re here, with me. Don’t bother with anything else. Just look at me. Listen to me. Let the rest fall away.”
Then he drew in a shuddering inhale, his eyes cleared up, and he pitched forward so abruptly that if I hadn’t brought my hands back to his shoulders almost instinctually, he would’ve collapsed. He stayed that way for a while, like he needed to get his bearings or convince himself whatever danger he remembered in his trance was over, gone. And I held him, letting him lean on me during his weakened moment.
After what felt like a long time that was still somehow too brief, he lifted his head to look at me. Only then did I realize how close we were. Less than an inch separated our lips, and the way he focused on mine assured me he’d noticed as well. There we lingered for seconds, minutes, and the yearning in my heart to have him again became almost unbearable. All I needed to do was tilt my chin, and I’d taste his unforgettable kiss once more.
About the Author:
Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Her music of choice is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and is currently working on her MA.
Blog/Main Site: http://www.conniesmithbooks.weebly.com/