Misty Reigenborn's Blog: Author Misty Reigenborn

May 5, 2014

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Published on May 05, 2014 22:29 • 56 views • Tags: free-promos-amazon-smashwords

April 1, 2014

Check out the free sneak peek of my upcoming romance novel Only You, part of my Key To My Heart series!

Key To My Heart: Only You
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

Demi Brown was nervous. She held a positive pregnancy test in her hand and she wasn’t sure how she felt about being pregnant, let alone how her boyfriend was going to feel. She had only been with Del for three months, and though they were seeing each other exclusively, she had a sinking feeling in her heart that he was going to run for the hills as soon as she told him they were having a baby.
She sighed as she checked the time on her cell phone. Del would be there in fifteen minutes or so to pick her up, and she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to find the courage to tell him about the baby. She suddenly missed home like she hadn’t missed home since her first night away almost six months ago. Mostly she missed her sisters, though only the oldest, Acasia, now lived in the small town they had grown up in. Nakiesha, the middle sister had married her high school sweetheart the day after they graduated and the two lived three hours away from what Demi still thought of as home. She sometimes loved and sometimes detested the small town of Clinton, but right now she wished she were there. Acasia would know what to do, because though she was grown her sisters were still easier to talk to than their mother.
But she wasn’t going to go running home to her Mother and her sister she told herself as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. She met a pair of defiant hazel eyes and wondered again how Del was going to react when she told him the news. She ran a brush through her dark hair and returned to her tiny bedroom, leaving the pregnancy test sitting on the bathroom counter without really thinking about it.
As she dressed she wondered how she wanted him to react. She wasn’t in love with Del. They had amazing sex, but it had begun to dawn on her more and more that their relationship seemed to be mostly about sex. On the nights they spent together, they seemed to spend more time in bed than out of it and that wasn’t the kind of relationship that Demi wanted. But she wasn’t sure she had ever really been in love, unless you counted Gavin Black and she wasn’t sure that that could be counted as love since it had never been returned. Demi wasn’t sure Gavin had ever loved a woman, even though he and Acasia had dated for her sister’s last two years of high school.
The Black brothers had grown up down the street from the Brown sisters and it had seemed natural that childhood friendships turned into teenage love. But things had only worked well for Nikki and Jayden, though the two of them had always been closer than the others. Acasia, Nikki and Demi had always been close, but Nikki and Jayden had always been the best of friends. They fit so well together that Demi had always been a little jealous. Her sister had recently had a baby and she supposed that it would seem more logical to turn to Nikki for advice, but it would be Acasia she called first. It was a little embarrassing to be pregnant with the child of a man she wasn’t in love with when her sister had given birth to her husband’s child, and there had only been excitement and joy all around with the news of her pregnancy.
Garett, the youngest Black brother and the closest to her age, had had a thing for her in high school, but while he was funny and handsome and smart, she had never felt that way about him. The only spark she had ever felt for one of the Black boys was for Gavin. And that had ended in disaster. She had carried a torch for him since she was thirteen. Her heart had felt like it was breaking the whole time he was dating Acasia. Then he and Acasia had parted ways. Demi had been thrilled though her sister had been heartbroken, and she had never had the courage to tell her older sister the way she felt about Gavin. She had never told anyone who it really was that she had lost her virginity to at fifteen, because he had left town the next day and a part of her had never really forgiven him for that.
Rumors went around Clinton now and then about Gavin was up to, and Demi had always listened with interest, while trying not to seem too interested. But the only things people seemed to say about the oldest Black brother were less than charitable. He was said to be chasing after one woman after another, and never seemed to settle down. Demi let herself get lost in the daydream of the night she had spent with Gavin, though it felt pathetic, especially now when she carried the child of another man; but the memories of their night together comforted her until she was startled out of the daydream by a knock at the door.
She was sure that it was written all over her face that she had a secret. She’d never been able to keep her emotions off of her face and had often wondered why no one had noticed her feelings for Gavin. Though maybe she supposed they had, but had always felt that it was better not to mention them. Acasia had known something was up the night Demi had come home after Gavin had made love to her, but Demi had managed to convince her sister that she had lost her virginity to a boy that was in town for the summer.
She knew that her sister would have went after Gavin if she had known that he had taken Demi’s virginity only three days after he had broken up with her. It wouldn’t have mattered to her that Demi had made the first move, or that she had given herself to him quite willingly, even at the tender age of fifteen.
She had cried when Jay had called Nikki and told her that Gavin had left town, feeling like her heart was breaking in her chest. She’d felt that her first time couldn’t have been more perfect. Gavin had made love to her, and she had seen in his eyes that he loved her when she’d been lying in his arms afterwards. Or at least she’d thought so then. Now she was sure that she had only been seeing what she’d wanted to see.
Del embraced her, seeming not to notice that anything was unusual. “Can I use your bathroom beautiful?”
“Of course.”
As he entered the bathroom, shutting the door behind him, it dawned on Demi that she had left the pregnancy test out on the counter. Well, she mused, hiding a sigh, I guess I don’t have to worry now over how I’m going to tell him that we’re having a baby.
She couldn’t read his expression when he reentered the living room. “Demi.”
“Yes Del?”
“Is it real?”
Knowing that he could only be talking about one thing, she said “Yes.”
A smile broke out over Del’s face. “Demi, we’re having a baby.”
She felt a smile rise to her own face, feeling better than she had since she had seen the results of the test. “Yes we are.”
“Let’s celebrate.”
They spent a nice night out on the town, and Del spent the night at her apartment. She was content when she woke up in his arms, excited about the prospect of calling Acasia and telling her the good news.

Twenty-eight year old Gavin Black was tired of his life, tired of pretending that he was happy when he felt that he would never be truly happy without her. “Her” was Demi Brown the youngest Brown sister. He had loved her with all of his heart since she was fourteen years old, but his love had felt inappropriate then since he had been nineteen at the time, not to mention the fact that his feelings were made even more inappropriate by the fact that he was also dating her oldest sister Acasia.
He sighed as he looked at himself in the mirror. He thought that he looked older than his years, and always tired because he rarely slept well, though women he had never met before still stopped him on the street and told him how handsome he was. He had used his looks to talk women into bed plenty of times, but it had always been empty sex. Few of them had meant a damned thing to him, and while he didn’t even want to think about the number of women that he had gone to bed with, he could count on one hand how many of them had truly mattered to him. And two of them shared the same last name.
His brother Jayden was married to the middle Brown sister Nakeisha. Nakeisha was just as beautiful as her sisters, but he had never thought of her in anything other than a sisterly way because Jay had been enamored with her since she hit puberty and she with him. The close friendship that Jay shared with Nikki had always made Gavin a little envious. Women were like a different species to him, so damned emotional and complicated.
Acasia had broken down when he’d dumped her. And he had dumped her, even though it had always made him feel bad, because he’d simply given her some bullshit line like “it’s not you, it’s me”, too afraid to tell her the real reason he couldn’t see her anymore.
He had always known that Demi had a thing for him. He’d thought it was cute for a while and dismissed her. He’d figured that his brother Garett looked enough like him that she would eventually turn to him as a safer alternative, though Garett had chased Demi to no avail.
It was shortly after her fourteenth birthday that Gavin had begun to see Demi in a different light. She was beautiful, had matured beyond her years. She was so young, but made even younger by her wholesome innocence. She took his breath away, and it made his heart hurt even now to picture her face.
He’d tried to set his feelings for her aside, telling himself that they would go away. But they never had. She haunted him years after he’d made love to her, stolen her innocence. She was the only woman he had ever made love to though he had loved Acasia in his own way back then. It had just never been the same as the way she’d loved him. Acasia had pictured them getting married, having children, growing old together.
Marriage had terrified nineteen year old Gavin. He was the only one of his siblings that knew that his parents even with as steadfast as their love for each other remained after almost thirty years, had once almost broken up. If his parents could go through such a rough patch that his mother almost left his father, he was afraid that he would never be enough of a man to make a marriage work.
And now when the big 3-0 was coming up all too quickly, he was beginning to think that he’d never get married. He’d had hope for a while when he’d been dating a girl named Britini a few years before, but he had gone and screwed that up in typical Gavin fashion. She had told him she loved him, and even though he’d fallen for her as well and had wanted to return her sentiment, he had tucked his tail between his legs because he was scared, stayed silent and gone home from the bar the very same night with another woman.
He had begged her forgiveness like the drunken idiot that he was, and when she had told him to leave he had seen a look in her eye that had reminded him of Demi. He’d been too afraid to say goodbye to her before he left Clinton, afraid that she would say something to make him stay when he knew that he could never really have her.
He had always felt like a coward for taking her virginity, though she had willingly given it to him. He had felt selfish because it had dawned on him long before he’d broken up with Acasia that Demi was the Brown sister that he really wanted. He felt like an asshole for hurting both of them, but he knew that Acasia probably would have killed him back then if she’d found out that he’d taken her little sister’s virginity only three days after he’d broken up with her, because he couldn’t stand the thought anymore that he may never know what it felt like to make love to her.
He’d known it would be making love before the first time he laid a lover’s hand on Demi. He’d looked at her one Spring day, oblivious of his eyes on her as she played volleyball with her friends at one end of the Brown’s large front yard while he sat with Acasia, Jay and Nikki at the other end at the weathered picnic table his father had offered to fix up a hundred times for the Browns (Mr. Brown had always refused, though they had been friends long before any of the children had come into the picture, and as soon as Jay and Nikki had shared their first kiss at five years old in front of both of their families at a shared holiday dinner, everyone had known they would eventually truly be family; saying that he would eventually get around to fixing up the table himself. He had never done it though, and Mr. Black had left the table alone out of respect for his deceased friend after his death.), and had known what love was. It was like he was seeing her through different eyes, like a veil had been lifted. He’d looked at her and then at Acasia, who had broken him out of his stupor by asking a question he still hadn’t quite understood, and had known that if there should ever be a Brown sister that wore his last name, it should be Demi.
But he’d refrained from chasing her, knowing that no one would be happy with him if he did. He was already enough of a disappointment as it was to his father since he’d never wanted to go into the family business. Jay hadn’t either, but Jay was steady and reliable, someone you could always count on, while Gavin had always skated by, pretending as if all was right with the world even when it wasn’t. He put on cocky airs that he’d never really felt, always feeling inferior in one way or another to his brothers.
Garett was the baby and favored by their mother though she did her best to hide it. It was no secret that Mr. Black favored their youngest son. He was a talented carpenter and a natural to join the family business and take over when their father decided to retire. His parents favored Jay because he was just so damned good. Kind to a fault, smart as a whip, always did what was expected of him. He had also given the Blacks their first grandchild, something that Gavin was sure he would never hear the end of.
Gavin wanted children, and had fallen in love with his niece through the pictures that Sammi’s very proud father had sent him, but he couldn’t imagine a woman that wasn’t Demi carrying his child. But he knew that he wasn’t good enough for her. He never had been and never would be. He wished sometimes that she would have given in to Garett, though the thought of his brother with Demi was almost unbearable in itself. He had run away from Clinton not only because he had never enjoyed small town bullshit and had always dreamed of getting as far away as possible, but because he didn’t want to face the inevitable. He hadn’t wanted to face seeing Demi with another man.
He knew that he’d broken her heart. She probably thought of him as the piece of shit that had talked her out of her virginity and then ran away from her, if she thought of him at all. But he loved her and always would, no matter what.
He tried not to think about their night together, but sometimes it haunted his dreams. The feel of her mouth on his, the way she looked at him. She had trusted him, and it had only made it harder to walk away from her. She had looked at him as if he was the only man on Earth. Time had felt like it stopped when they were together, when their bodies were joined.
He’d been so afraid to hurt her that he’d taken it slow, but his slow, steady movements had caused the anticipation to build up even more. Making love to Demi had been the most fulfilling feeling in the world. He had felt whole for the first time in his life that he was worthy of something, of someone so damned beautiful, of the trust that she gave to him when she gave him her body. She was his in that moment and nothing had ever felt more right.
But he’d known as he’d held her in his arms afterwards that with as right as being with her felt, he could never really have Demi. So he ran away from her, afraid to face the truth of his feelings for her. He’d always been afraid that their night together had meant more to him than it had to her, though it seemed strange even to his own ears since it had been her first time and far from his.
He’d had several lovers before Acasia, believing then that sex had nothing to do with love. But what he’d experienced with Demi had told him that real sex had everything to do with love and that it should. He’d looked down at her beautiful face when she was lying naked in his arms and imagined her on their honeymoon, and she’d been so fucking beautiful that he’d wanted to cry.
And Gavin was not a man that was comfortable crying. He hadn’t cried when their fifteen year old dog had been put to sleep when he was a teenager, and he hadn’t cried when Elden Brown had died though he’d always been like a second father to the Black boys- sometimes he’d felt more comfortable talking to Elden than he had his own father. Elden was less judgmental and expected less of Gavin than his own father did. It had hurt when Elden had died, and Gavin had wanted very much to cry, but he had never been able to.
So when tears had stung his eyes as he’d looked down at the beautiful young woman in his arms, he had been scared shitless. He had known then that Demi could tear him apart. And he had been scared that even if he had stuck around, watched her be courted by other young men, and waited patiently until she turned eighteen, that she would no longer want him. He didn’t want to face the truth that Demi had seen the real Gavin and no longer loved him.
He was so used to putting on the tough guy image that he got scared when he felt real emotion. And what had gone on between him and Demi had been all real emotion. Raw and hungry and almost overwhelming. He remembered the night like it was yesterday, even with as much as he tried to forget. He remembered the way her eyes had shown in the moonlight, how her usually straight hair had been wavy because it was damp. He remembered her patchy sunburn, the freckles on her nose and her chapped lips as they’d devoured his with kisses. He remembered it all as a moment of perfect happiness that he would never have again.
So Gavin lived his life mostly alone. He worked at a job until his boss pissed him off or he grew tired of it. If he felt like moving he moved, and if he felt like staying he stayed. He didn’t call home much because he never seemed to have any good news anyway, and lately even his little brother had good news. He’d purchased a rundown old house that he planned to fix up, showing off his carpentry and remodeling skills, and was thrilled that Acasia had showed back up in Clinton after another failed relationship.
It didn’t bother Gavin that Garett had set his sights on Acasia. His youngest brother was a good man, and while he had always looked up to Gavin, he had always been a people pleaser. Even if he hadn’t enjoyed the work that their father had done, Gavin knew that Gar would have chosen to go into the family business anyway, especially since neither Gavin nor Jay had made the choice to stay in Clinton and carry on Black and Sons Carpentry and Remodeling. Jed Black had renamed the business after Jay was born, never dreaming then that neither of his older sons would want to take part in the business.
Garett didn’t seem to think that Acasia shared his affections, but from listening to his baby brother go over all of his interactions with the eldest Brown sister in detail, feeling a little like he was listening to a teenage girl instead of his twenty-four year old brother, he knew that Acasia felt for Garett exactly what he felt for her. To Gavin it was plain since she was acting in the same manner that she had with him before he’d gotten the courage to ask her out, but Garett was less easy to convince. He had tried to convince his brother to go for it, even going so far as to warn him that he’d never forgive himself if he didn’t, would always wonder what could have been, reminding him that the Brown sisters had always been and would always be unforgettable. But Garett still wasn’t sure of Acasia’s true feelings for him.
Gavin had been tempted to ask for Acasia’s phone number so that his brother would stop torturing himself, but he hadn’t. He felt like he was the last person in the world that should try to play matchmaker anyway. He was so good at screwing things up that he was afraid he would screw up whatever chance Garett and Acasia had of happiness together. He was sure that they would eventually get over their fears and end up together anyway. And then he would be the lone Black brother who hadn’t married a Brown sister, making him feel like even more of an outsider than he already did.
Gavin figured that it was about time to move on. Demi had left Clinton a few months before, and somehow had ended up moving only a few hours away from him. There was a larger town roughly halfway between where he lived in Williams, and where she lived in Crayton, and he’d often gone there to shop before, but now he was almost afraid to go. He was so afraid that fate would try to put him back in Demi’s path and he didn’t want to know how she really felt about him, wasn’t sure he could face it when he still carried such a torch for her.
He booted up his laptop and started his usual process of finding a new location in which to live. Two hours later, he had several job prospects and was looking forward to moving, though he felt like he was running away again, and knew that there would come a time when he could no longer run. One day he would receive a phone call that told him Demi was marrying another man, and he would know that he had forever lost his chance at true love.
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Published on April 01, 2014 21:14 • 31 views • Tags: free-sneak-peek, preview, romance
Check out the sneak peek at my upcoming romance novel from my Key To My Heart series, Meant To Be!

Key To My Heart: Meant To Be
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

Nakeisha Black felt like a stranger in her own life. She looked at the man sitting across from her, wondering for what felt like the thousandth time just what it was she was doing. Her six month old daughter was asleep in her car seat, and the only thing that she could think of when she looked at her little girl was her father. Sammi was the picture of Jayden, looked almost nothing like her mother. Looking at her hurt sometimes, because Jayden was a good father and Nikki was sure that she had screwed things up irrevocably.
She hid a sigh as she dressed, feeling his eyes on her. She had wanted Cole from the moment she had laid eyes on him, a feeling she had never had before. She had hormones of course, and the fact that they seemed to be on overdrive since she had had Sammi was threatening to drive her nuts. Somehow becoming a mother had left her feeling more sensual and sexual, something that she couldn’t explain to anyone, even herself.
Nikki was sure that anyone from the outside looking in, her sisters included, would think that she had a perfect life. Her husband was handsome, loving and caring. He was a great father, and while sometimes she knew that a tad of disappointment lurked at the back of his mind that they hadn’t had a son first, she knew that he loved Sammi more than he’d ever loved anyone, her included.
It had never bothered her. She had never doubted Jayden’s love for her, his devotion. She had always felt that you should love your children just a little more than you loved your spouse, because if you did, it seemed to ensure that you would put them first, and that was the way she thought it should be. Her parents had always put her and her sisters first, even though sometimes it had seemed as if her father had worked so hard that he had worked himself to death.
Nikki was twenty-six, the middle Brown sister. She and Jayden had been best friends since childhood. They had always seemed to understand each other in a way that no one else had ever quite understood. It had always been wonderful to know that her best friend was also her lover. Things had always gone so well for them that it had seemed almost too good to be true. Jay hardly looked at other women. He’d always told her that she was the most beautiful woman in the world to him, and she’d never had any reason not to believe it.
Jay was full of sincerity, so different from his older brother Gavin, who had never seemed to be sincere. Nikki had understood why both her older sister Acasia and her younger sister Demi had been drawn to him though. Gavin was unmistakably sexy, and there was an air of excitement about him. He always made you wonder what he was going to do next.
Jay was steady and reliable, someone you could always count on. He had held her hand all through her thirteen hour labor with Sammi, though she had started to panic a little from the pain shortly before they had administered the epidural and had known she was probably starting to hurt him she was squeezing his hand so hard. He had never complained though, not once during her pregnancy or since, never even complained when he had to get up in the middle of the night to take care of Sammi, even though he had to work in the morning. Sometimes he even let her sleep when it was her turn to check on their daughter. Jayden Black was a hell of a man. He had never let her down in all their years together, and all she had been doing for the past three months was letting him down, letting their family down.
Cole’s voice startled her out of her reverie. She had felt so guilty every time that she was with him that she knew she couldn’t carry their affair on much longer. She could hardly believe that she had started it in the first place. But the combination of her raging hormones and her curiosity had gotten the better of her, and she had accepted his invitation to have lunch one afternoon after she had run into him at the grocery store for the fourth time in a row.
“Do you love me?”
It was a question he’d posed before. She had always managed to put him off, but she knew that he wasn’t going to take her silence on the subject for much longer. She turned away from him, tempted to accidentally on purpose jostle the car seat in the hopes that Sammi would wake up. But she knew that she couldn’t put her daughter in the middle of her affair, though of course she already had, having no choice but to bring the innocent child along on her afternoon rendezvous with Cole. The truth was that she didn’t love Cole and never would. She loved Jayden, and her heart ached at the thought of losing him. Even with Sammi, the rest of her life stood out bleakly before her at the very thought of being without Jay.
Tears stung her eyes. She knew that it was time to break off her affair for once and for all. She knew that she had to face Jay, to tell him the truth of her selfishness. But she was afraid. Not only of losing Jay, but at the thought of exposing herself for who she felt she really was, and had been since she’d laid eyes on the handsome Cole. A selfish bitch that had been willing to sacrifice her storybook marriage, the happiness of her family for a few afternoons of cheap passion.
And even with as good as being with Cole felt physically, and oh the hours that their bodies had been entwined had been fulfilling, so fulfilling that she had to wonder if she’d ever look at sex the same way again; it had always been cheap. Because her heart belonged to the man that she had vowed to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, as her body always had previously. The thought of cheating on Jay had never crossed her mind before she’d met Cole, because he had given her everything she’d ever wanted, much more than she felt she deserved at the moment.
She took a deep breath and let it out before she turned back to Cole, forcing herself to look into his warm brown eyes.
“I can’t do this anymore Cole. I’m sorry.”
She supposed that she should have broken off their affair before they’d had sex instead of after, and it made her sick to think that she’d given him her body willingly yet again. But then again she thought, it wasn’t as if one last time had made any difference. She almost wanted to laugh. It was the first time that had made all the difference, the crucial difference in their lives. Cole claimed to love her, and pain had entered his eyes. They looked almost wet, as if he wanted to cry almost as much as she did.
“I love you Nikki. I’ll always love you. I fell for you the minute I laid eyes on you. You are so beautiful. When you smiled at me, I imagined that Sammi was mine, that you were my wife. I want you to be my wife. I can’t imagine the rest of my life without you. Please don’t throw what we have away due to some misguided loyalty to your husband.”
“It’s not misguided loyalty Cole. We’ve been together since we were thirteen years old and he’s never thought of doing anything like what I’ve done. If anyone has misguided loyalty it’s Jay, not me. I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror anymore, can hardly stand to look at my daughter.”
Cole reached for her. She stepped back, wishing that she were anywhere else in the world, wishing with all her might that she could turn back time and take back what she’d done. It had never been worth it and there was a part of her that always known she’d been making a mistake. But she’d let her hormones control her, let her attraction to a very handsome man overtake her sensibilities. And now she had to face the music.
“Nikki, we can be together. There’s nothing stopping us. I know you want me, know that deep down you love me too.”
She shook her head sadly. “I’m sorry Cole. I should have stopped this before it started. I was selfish, and my actions affected more than just me. I have to go.”
“Baby please. Don’t do this to me. I don’t just love you, I love Sammi too. We can be a family, have more kids. People make mistakes, but life goes on. We were meant to be together.”
Without another word, Nikki gathered her purse, picked up the car seat and left the motel room. The door closed behind her with a finality she had never heard before. It felt symbolic, like one chapter of her life was closing and another was beginning. Only the next chapter of her life looked nothing like it should have. She had nothing to look forward to anymore. Even the joy of watching her daughter grow felt like it had been stolen from her. There was no way she was going to keep Sammi away from Jay, the thought had never crossed her mind and never would. Jay was a good father and they were all going to have to pay enough for what she had done, have to pay for something that only she deserved to face the consequences of.
She strapped the car seat back into the base, careful not to jostle Sammi too much. Her daughter was bright and sunny while awake, but she tended to get very upset if her naptime was interrupted and Nikki couldn’t face having to deal with an angry child right now. She felt as if she wasn’t equipped to face much of anything at the moment, and wondered how in the hell she was ever going to get her life back together, to restore some feeling of normalcy in the mess that she had made.
She drove them back to the house on autopilot, racking her brain for what she could possibly say to Jay, how she was ever going to explain herself to him. She couldn’t quite explain it to herself, so she had no idea how she was going to explain to Jay what she had done.
Sammi woke up when she took her out of the car seat, opened her eyes and started wailing. Nikki was glad for the distraction, for anything to take her mind off of how she was going to confess the terrible mistake she had made to her husband, the father of her beautiful child, the man she could no longer imagine growing old with because she knew in her heart he would never to be able to trust her again.
She tried not to think too much as she went about her daily routines. Jay arrived home promptly at five thirty as usual. She felt stiff in his embrace, wondering if it would be the last time that he wanted to hold her. She couldn’t meet his eyes, and her words sounded hollow when she returned his words of love. She still loved him and always would, but she had robbed them all of their future as a happy family and no longer felt deserving of his unwavering love.
By the time Jay returned to their bedroom after putting Sammi to bed, Nikki was crying. She was crying so hard that she could barely breathe, on the verge of a panic attack. Demi had panic attacks at times because she was sensitive and tended to let everything get to her, but Nikki had never had a panic attack before.
Jay took one look at her and gathered her into his arms. She let him hold her until her sobs had quieted, feeling like a selfish bitch the whole time for taking the undeserved comfort of being in his strong arms. He brushed the last traces of tears from her face and pulled back to look at her. She forced herself to look into his eyes.
“I am so sorry Jay. If I could take back what I’ve done, I would, but I can’t.”
A look of caution entered his hazel eyes. He had never looked at her that way before, not even when she’d told him she was pregnant. They had decided to wait to have children until they had paid the mortgage down on the house, and hadn’t quite been where they’d wanted to be when she’d gotten pregnant, though they had been careful. Jay had been thrilled when she’d told him about the baby, and had told her that once again he’d made her the happiest man on Earth. It had seemed meant to be that she was pregnant, and everyone had been thrilled.
“Nikki, baby, what are you talking about?”
“Oh Jay. I’m a terrible person.”
“Sweetheart, you never have been and never will be a terrible person. Your heart is too big. Please just tell me what’s going on.”
Tears had started to sting her eyes again. She turned away from him, no longer able to face the frankness of his gaze. She took a deep breath and let it out, not only to calm herself, but to stall for a moment. She wasn’t going to make excuses to him, had decided that she wasn’t going to try to explain herself. The words sounded cheap and hollow to her own ears, and there was no real justification for her actions.
Jay’s fire for her had never faded while she was pregnant or after, though a stubborn ten pounds was still hanging on her slim frame. He’d told her once that her transformation into a mother had made her even more beautiful in his eyes, and had also told her that there was nothing that would ever stop him from feeling that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She didn’t feel beautiful anymore though. She felt dirty, and she wondered how she would appear in Jay’s eyes once he knew the truth about her.
“I had an affair Jayden.” Her voice had been so quiet that she’d barely been able to hear herself, so she cleared her throat and started again. “I. . .”
His voice devoid of emotion, Jay said “I heard you the first time Nikki.”
They sat in silence for minutes that felt like they stretched into hours. Nikki had no idea what to say anymore. She stood, wondering if she should leave.
She crossed to the closet, feeling his eyes on her as she dug around for her suitcase.
“So that’s it? You tell me that you had an affair, and now you’re just going to turn around and leave? Are you leaving me for him, taking Sammi with you?”
“I would never try to take our daughter away from you Jay. It would hurt her more than anyone. You’re a good father.”
“And you’re a good mother. Nikki, what happened? Did you fall out of love with me, did I do something wrong?”
“I’ll always love you Jay. I’m so sorry. It wasn’t anything you did. It was all me. I was the one that made the mistake and now we all have to face the consequences. I can never tell you how sorry I am.”
“I don’t understand babe. I just want to understand.”
Nikki shook her head. “There’s nothing to understand Jay. I was selfish, thinking only of myself, and now I’ve gone and screwed everything up for everyone. I’m sorry that you’ll still have to look at me, knowing what I’ve done, but Sammi needs us both.”
“Baby please don’t leave it like this. We can talk about this, maybe work something out. I can’t fathom living the rest of my life without you.”
“You never had a reason before now. I can’t ask you to stay with me, knowing what I’ve done.”
“But Nikki. . .”
She shook her head, finally having managed to wrangle the suitcase out of the closet. She wasn’t always the best at housekeeping, and though their house was never exactly messy, it was cluttered. Between what Jay’s parents and his brother Garett had bought them for Sammi, and what her mother and sisters had bought for them, it seemed as if they had clothes, toys, and bedding to last their little girl until she was five.
She pulled clothes out of her side of the dresser, tossing them into the suitcase without much thought. She had no idea where she was going, and wondered how she was going to get by on the few thousand dollars she had saved from their wedding gifts. She supposed she was going to have to get a job, but the thought didn’t set well in her mind. She was overly protective of Sammi, and their daughter had not as of yet spent even an hour with a babysitter.
She felt guilty taking the money that Jay had insisted she put aside for herself from their wedding gifts as it was, but she didn’t see any other alternative. She wasn’t about to ask Jay to leave when she was the one that had made the mistake that she was sure would end their marriage. She had been unfair enough to him as it was.
When she finally forced herself to face her husband again, she could see the tears standing in his eyes. It hurt her to think that she had caused him so much pain, that she would continue to cause him pain simply by being around her, but she couldn’t take back what she had done.
“I don’t want to wake her. I’ll find a place for Sammi and I to stay and we’ll work something out about visitation. I’m going to have to go to work, but I’ll make sure that you approve of the day care. I’ll come back for her in the morning before you leave for work. Is that okay?”
He nodded. “You don’t have to work Nikki. You’re the best person to take care of Sammi and we both know it. It might not be easy to afford two places, but just let me know what you need and I’ll make sure it’s there. If you need anything extra out of the checking account, just let me know.”
Nikki couldn’t believe that Jay was still being overly fair to her when she had been far from fair herself, but his offer was typical Jay. He was the type of man that would give someone his last dollar without a thought. He was as close to perfect as she could imagine a man being, and she couldn’t believe that she had chosen to throw all they had had away. But here she stood, suitcase in hand, about to leave her house without her daughter. It would be the first time she had been away from Sammi, and even if it was only for a few hours, it was going to be hard.
It was also the first time in eight years that she wasn’t going to be lying beside Jay in bed at night. That thought didn’t set well with her either, but she knew that she had made her own bed and now would have to lie in it alone.
“Thank you. I really am sorry Jay. I don’t expect you to forgive me. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I do appreciate your fairness. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.”
A sob caught in her throat as she walked out of the bedroom, but she swallowed it away, creeping down the stairs like a thief in the night, not wanting to wake up her baby girl.
She drove aimlessly around town for a while, looking for a short term rental, somewhere she’d be able to stay with Sammi until she found an apartment. She felt guilty that Jay was going to have to cover both the rent on her place and the house payments, but everything where he was concerned made her feel guilty these days. She found a weekly that was clean and checked in, taking her things inside and deciding to look for an apartment online since she knew she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep right away, wondering if she was going to sleep at all on the first night of what looked like a bleak rest of her life.

When Jayden heard his beautiful wife’s confession, it was like the world had stopped. He had loved Nikki before he’d really understood what love was, and had never imagined that he would have to face the rest of his life without her. He was stunned, felt as if his world had been turned on end. He had gone to work that morning thinking that he would return home as he did every evening to a happy family, and then this had happened.
He had known that there was something on Nikki’s mind the past few months, thought that he had known his wife as well as he had known himself, figured that she was feeling out of sorts because she hadn’t quite lost all the weight she’d gained with her pregnancy and was choosing not to put her feelings into words. They had always shared everything, shared things that she hadn’t chosen to share with her sisters and that he hadn’t chosen to share with his brothers.
He’d often felt like the odd man out in his family. Gavin and Garett both looked like a younger version of their father, though Gavin was taller than their old man, and built bigger like their uncle James. Jayden had their father’s eyes as they all did, but there was a softness to his face that came from their beautiful mother, something that he’d often been teased about while growing up. He had never let the teasing bother him, because it had always been him and Nikki against the world, and she’d told him once that she’d never seen a more handsome man.
Even though she’d told him that her affair was only about her, Jay wondered what he had done wrong that had caused his beautiful wife to turn to another man. He supposed that he had always taken for granted that fact that Nikki would always want him the way he wanted her, and wondered now if the man she had been with was manlier than he was. He tried to put the thought out of his head, tried not to torture himself with the thought of his wife with another man, but it wasn’t working. She was the only thing he could think of. It felt wrong not to have her beside him, had felt wrong for so long when she wasn’t with him that he had always known without a doubt that they were meant to be together.
It hurt that she had given up on him, given up on them when they’d shared so much together. He had never kissed another woman, had never made love to another woman and never wanted to. It might sound crazy to some, especially a man like his brother Gavin who had left a string of broken hearts including both of Nikki’s sisters when he’d broken up with Acasia and left town shortly after without a word to anyone, but Jay had always known Nikki was meant to be his, just as he’d always known that he was meant to belong to no woman besides her.
Tears stung his eyes. He considered himself a sensitive man, had dropped tears both at his wedding and when Sammi was born, but he didn’t want to cry now. It felt too much like giving up, and no matter how much Nikki’s betrayal had stung, he wasn’t ready to give up on her, to give up on their family. He could tell that what she’d done had been tearing her up inside, and he knew that she had ended her affair for good. He knew because he knew Nikki. She wouldn’t have chosen to tell him about her affair while it was still going on.
She had told him that she still loved him; that she would always love him, and he believed her. He had never doubted Nikki’s love and never would, even if it had gotten mixed up with whatever else that it was that had caused her to have an affair. As he had told her, he just wanted to understand why it had happened.
His mind raced, and he lay awake, staring at the ceiling as if to find some sort of comprehension in the tiles, wondering if his life was ever going to feel normal again. No, he though tiredly, he wondered if his life was ever going to feel right again. He simply couldn’t imagine the rest of his life ever feeling right without Nikki.
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Published on April 01, 2014 15:47 • 27 views • Tags: free-sneak-peek, preview, romance

March 31, 2014

Check out a new sneak peek at my upcoming Key To My Heart romance series title Stay!

Key To My Heart: Stay
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

Chapter 1
Twenty-seven year old Acasia Brown was falling in love. And she didn’t like it one bit. Acasia was the oldest of the Brown sisters and had just moved back home after a disastrous attempt at a relationship with a man she had thought she would spend the rest of her life with. But he had cheated, and that was one of the many things Acasia had told herself she would never put up with from a man.
So when she had found out that Colton had been talking to women online and meeting them for sex while he was calling her the love of his life in private and talking about marriage and babies, she had packed up her things and been gone the next day without bothering to say a word to him. She had left a note on his nightstand that simply said “I know the truth.” Then she had left town without bothering to look back.
Colton’s betrayal had hurt. She had loved him fiercely and fallen for him way too hard and fast. She had always had a bad habit of doing that, putting her everything into a man. First with her high school boyfriend, the heartbreaker Gavin who was the oldest of the three Black brothers, who had left a trail of broken hearts as long as the small town they had grown up in, and then with Colton whom she had met in college.
Gavin Black was no longer living in the town they had grown up in. Jayden, the middle brother was married to Acasia’s younger sister Nakeisha. They had been together since Junior High, and it had always seemed as if nothing existed in the world that could tear the two of them apart. Acasia had always been a little jealous of her sister’s relationship with Jayden, but she knew that her sister deserved to be happy. The youngest Brown sister Demi had just left town to meet the big, wide world. At twenty-four Acasia figured that it was high time that her sheltered sister set out on her own for a while at least, but she missed her dearly. It also seemed a little pathetic to Acasia that she was the oldest and was the only one living at home.
Acasia sighed as she got ready for work at the local diner. She was sure that Garett, the youngest of the Black brothers and the unknowing object of her affection, would be in to have dinner that evening, since he had come in every evening for dinner since she had started. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him. Garett was kind and funny and damned handsome, and she had always looked forward to seeing him before, even when they were growing up and he was a somewhat annoying kid. Acasia didn’t want to fall in love with anyone at the moment, let alone the little brother of the man she had lost her virginity to and had been involved in a relationship with her last two years of high school.
She was sure that Nakeisha would probably think it was hilarious that she had fallen for Garett, who had trailed after Demi like a lost puppy dog their Freshman and Sophomore years in high school. Demi had never had any interest in Garett though, and he had finally given up on a relationship with her, though they had remained friends.
Acasia felt a little pathetic all around. She was sure that her irritation level had something to do with her decision to quit smoking, though that had come at the insistence of her mother, who refused to even let her smoke outside the house. She really wanted a cigarette at the moment, and she was dreading seeing Garett. She was sure that the way she felt about him was going to be written all over her face.
She didn’t want to be one step away from falling in love with Garett Black. She didn’t want to be living at home with her mother. Though she loved her mother, Mrs. Brown still acted like too much of a mother for Acasia’s tastes. She felt like a loser to be living at home, falling in love with a boy from down the block, and in debt with student loans while her college degree went to waste.
She ran a brush through her hair one more time, trying unsuccessfully to tame her wild curls. She had always envied her sisters their straight hair. Her sisters had also both been lucky enough to be built more like their mother than their father. Nikki and Demi were both 5’4 and slim, while Acasia was 5’8 and built more solidly like their father. She wasn’t fat and had never been fat, but she had to work a lot harder at keeping her figure than her sisters ever had and probably ever would.
Acasia met her blue eyes in the mirror, and shook her head at herself. No way am I going to let myself fall for Garett Black she told herself. But the eyes that stared back at her told her that she had already fallen for him. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, and she thought that if she would have had the money to leave town she probably would have.
She let out another sigh as she grabbed her apron. She didn’t mind waitressing, but she had gone to school for business administration and was used to making a lot more money than she was making now. She hadn’t been working for the last six months that she had been with Colton though, and they had lived what he had called comfortably, though when she looked back on it, it seemed more to be spending almost everything that they made on things that they didn’t need.
“I will not fall in love with Garett Black,” she said out loud.
“What did you say Cas?”
Her mother’s voice came from the open doorway of her bedroom. She felt a blush rise to her cheeks.
“Nothing Mom.” She gave her mother a weak smile. “Just talking to myself again.”
“Are you okay honey?”
There was a look of concern on her mother’s face.
She put what she hoped looked like a more genuine smile on her face. “I’m fine Mom.”
“I know that it hasn’t been easy for you Cas. Coming back here, being stuck at home with Mom, especially after Demi left. But it’s gonna get better baby. I promise.”
Her mother gave her a reassuring smile.
"Thanks Mom. Bernice made fresh pies today. Do you want me to bring you home a slice of banana cream?"
"No thank you sweetheart. Have you heard from Demi?"
Acasia hid a smile. "I think she's been pretty busy with her job."
"I suppose. I think I have empty nest syndrome. I'm sorry Cas."
"You're nest isn't empty right now Mom, but I'll be out of your hair soon enough."
"You stay as long as you need to. Have you put any thought into going back to school?"
This was a conversation they had had before. "I'm still thinking Mom. Leaving my options open. I have to get to work."
"Right. Tell Garett I said 'hello'."
Her mother winked at her.
"I will. See you later Mom."
"Have a good night honey."
She wondered why her mother had winked when she'd mentioned Garett, but tried to put it out of her mind as she headed out the door. It was hard enough as it was to try not to think about Garett.
She turned the radio on loud as she drove the short distance to the diner, but even it seemed to betray her. All of the songs seemed to be about love, the betrayal of love, or sex.
The diner was dead, though the daytime waitress that worked most often before her had a bad habit of not refilling the condiments so she set about finding busy work for herself until the usual dinner rush arrived.
Garett arrived right on time, and headed to his normal table. He gave her a wide grin when she approached him. She could smell his cologne and it smelled so good on him that she wanted to lean over and breathe in his scent. A blush rose to her cheeks and she hoped that he didn’t notice as she set his usual glass of ice water and cup of decaf coffee in front of him.
“What can I get for you tonight Garett?”
He gave her a flirtatious grin. “Have I told you how beautiful you are Acasia?”
She rolled her eyes at him. “I don’t think you have yet this week Gar.”
He flirted with her quite often, and she supposed that may have added to her attraction to him. But he had been clumsily flirting with her since he was fourteen years old, even when she was going out with Gavin and he was chasing Demi. He was certainly better at it now, but the fact that it was old hat between them made it even harder for her to figure out how he really felt about her. Then again, she wasn’t quite sure how she really wanted him to feel about her anyway. Even with as much as she wanted him, there were so damned many reasons that she knew she shouldn’t.
“Well, I’ll tell you now then. You’re beautiful Acasia Brown.”
She shook her head at him. “So beautiful in a mustard yellow waitress outfit that makes me feel twice my age and fits me about as well as. . . Well, whatever. This thing is hideous.”
Garett chuckled. “And you’re still beautiful. How’s Demi?”
“I don’t know. I’m guessing she’s busy. I’m sure she’s fine. Mom forgets that she’s not a baby anymore. It was time for her to broaden her horizons. Everyone should get out of this town at least for a little while.” She remembered then that he had chosen to stay in their hometown, the only one of the six of them that hadn’t chosen to move on. “Sorry.”
“Hey, I did leave town to go to school remember?” He shrugged. “I’ve always loved this town. I never really found any reason to leave. How long do you think it will be before Demi ends up back here?”
“Hey yourself, that sounded almost like an insult to my baby sister, the same girl that you chased for two years in high school.”
“I mean no offense Cas. I just always thought that Demi felt the same way about this town that I did. Is it wrong to love this place? It’s not such a bad town is it?”
“I suppose not, I just always wanted more you know? This town doesn’t really have a lot to offer.”
“It has me.”
Acasia snorted. “You seem to have taken on Gavin’s ego since you grew up. How is he anyway?”
“The same I suppose. He’s not really the best at keeping in touch. Everyone seems to think that he ran away from something, and I’ve kind of had that feeling myself for a while now too, but he won’t tell anyone what it is. I’ll bet it’s a woman.” He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Uh uh. Gavin broke up with me remember? If there’s some mysterious woman that Gavin ran away from, it’s not me.”
“Demi always had a thing for him didn’t she?”
“Leave my sister out of this. Even if Demi did have a crush on Gavin, the last thing that she needs is your brother walking in and screwing up her life. Demi is sensitive and I don’t think she could stand it if a player like your brother got to her.”
“You’re the one that dated him for two years. Gavin really isn’t a bad guy. Dad thinks that he was born too handsome for his own good. It was always way too easy for him to get girls.”
“Like it wasn’t easy for you and Jayden to get girls too.”
“Well, Jay never really wanted any girl besides Nakeisha, and you might remember my failed attempts to catch both Demi’s eye and yours.”
“Give me a break Garett. I don’t know why you bothered to chase after Demi for so long. I knew she liked Gavin and it scared the shit out of me. She’s always seemed so vulnerable. I knew that if he decided to make a move on her that she’d fall right at his feet and that he’d break her heart like he broke mine, except it would have been worse, because she’s not as strong as me. And as for you flirting with me, well Garett, we both know that there was never any chance for us back then.”
“Is there a chance for us now?”
She turned away from him. Her face felt like it was on fire. She wanted to blurt out that she’d love to go out with him, but she knew that she’d never do it. She planned to shove her feelings for Garett as far down as they would go. She didn’t know how easy that was going to be though. This easy flirtation between them had become the norm. If she stopped returning his casual flirtation, she was sure that he would know something was up with her. And the last thing she wanted was for Garett to find out how she really felt about him.
“Did I make you uncomfortable darlin’?”
There was both a teasing and a cocky quality to his voice. He sounded so much like Gavin sometimes that she had to stop herself from calling him Gavin. Falling in love with Garett was almost felt like falling in love with Gavin all over again and it made her want to run away from her unwanted emotions even more.
Though physically Gavin had been much more her type than Garett was. He was barely taller than her at 5’11 and more wiry than big like Gavin was. Gavin was 6’3 and 200 pounds of solid muscle. Garett had grown into a handsome man, but she normally preferred her men to be bigger so she didn’t feel so damned big herself.
She turned back to Garett, hoping that the last traces of blush had left her cheeks. She rolled her eyes at him, forcing herself to look directly into the frank beauty of his hazel eyes. Sometimes he looked at her in a way that made her think he wanted her. But he had spent so many years trying to mimic Gavin that she could never really be sure when Garett was being serious and when he was just putting on the cocky airs that his older brother had worn so well, constantly flirting whether he meant it or not.
“Give me a break Garett. You don’t play the game as well as Gavin does. And why would you want to anyway? We both know that Gavin can be the world’s biggest jerk.”
“He’s my brother Acasia. Maybe he can be an ass, but deep down he’s really a good guy.”
“Okay, so I admit that Gavin does have some redeeming qualities, but he made the choice to run away from everything without bothering to tell anyone why. You’re different Garett. You’re more like Jay, steady and reliable.”
Garett sighed. “Steady and reliable is so boring. How am I ever going to catch your eye when the last thing you seem to want is steady and reliable?”
Acasia snorted. “Are you kidding me Gar? I learned the hard way that bad boys aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I’m almost thirty. I don’t want to have to worry about thinking that I found the right man, getting pregnant and then finding out that my man thinks that he deserves to have his cake and eat it too. Jay is devoted. How did Nikkei get so damned lucky?”
“Jay’s pretty damned lucky himself. I don’t think anyone ever argued about who the hottest girls in town were. Stop talking like you’re an old lady Cas. I could be devoted if you wanted me to be.”
He fluttered his long eye lashes at her. He used to do the same thing when he was trying to sweet talk her into something when they were kids, whether it was sharing her candy or snacks with him since his parents were health food nuts and never kept any unhealthy food in the house, or his later attempts to convince her to teach him to French kiss.
She had to turn away from him again when she thought of the day he had talked her into teaching him to kiss with his tongue. It had been right after Gavin had left town, she’d been depressed and had accepted an older friend’s invitation to get drunk. She was still a little hazy on how she had ended up at the Blacks’, but it had led to a make-out session with Garett in the basement.
He had been a quick learner, and had been much better at French kissing by the end of their teaching session than some of her early boyfriends had been. Those had been the only the kisses they had ever shared and she’d been mortified that she had done such a thing afterwards, but the reality had always been that she was even more embarrassed about how kissing Garett had made her feel than she had been that she’d given in and kissed her ex’s youngest brother.
She took a deep breath and let it out before she turned back to him, wondering how much longer she was going to be able to take the agony of being near him. She had had so many dirty thoughts about Garett in the last few weeks that she was sure that it had to be written all over her face every time she looked at him. She didn’t want to feel this way, but she was beginning to think that the only way she was going to get away from her budding feelings for Garett would be to run away from him. She pondered the idea that Gavin had indeed run away from a woman just to take her mind off of the handsome man in front of her, and quickly banished the unwanted idea that it WAS her little sister that he had run away from.
Garett was giving her an amused grin. “Earth to Acasia. Were you picturing me naked again?”
“Enough. I’m going to start calling you Gavin the second if you don’t start remembering that you have a personality of your own.” She gave him a tight smile. “What can I get for you Mr. Black?”
He faked a wounded look. “You’re cold woman.” Then he brightened. “But it’s the ones that seem so cold that are so hot in bed isn’t it?”
She shook her head at him, hoping her cheeks weren’t red yet again. He was driving her crazy and she could see that he was enjoying it. “Stop it or I’ll have you banned and you’ll have to learn to cook.”
“I know how to cook. I know how to do many things, very well.” He winked.
“Garett Elijah Black, I swear if you don’t stop, I’m going to call your mother and tell her all about the way you’ve been talking to me.”
“Must you forever remind me that our families were so entwined that you not only witnessed practically every awkward teenage drama that I put myself through, but that my mother loves you and all of your sisters like you were her own daughters? If any other woman made that threat to me, it wouldn’t hold water because my Mama doesn’t trust just any woman, especially when it comes to where her sons are concerned. But you Acasia, she would trust every word that came out of your mouth, exaggerated or not.”
“I wouldn’t need to exaggerate now would I Garett? What can I get for you tonight, now that you’ve managed to take up so much of my time that you owe me the tip for two or three tables?”
“I will take my usual beautiful. Pardon me, now that you’ve threatened to tell my mother on me, I suppose I can’t even call you beautiful now can I?”
She rolled her eyes at him and walked away, glad to be away from him. He really did drive her nuts, especially when he was doing his best to hide behind the same façade that Gavin had put on so well.
Gavin had never taken anything seriously. He certainly hadn’t taken their relationship seriously. He hadn’t been unfaithful to her, but he had broken up with her out of nowhere and had never really given her an explanation as to why he had done so. Then shortly after he had disappeared without a word to anyone. It had made her think that there had always been another woman on his mind, even if he hadn’t gone so far as to actually cheat on her.
She tried not to let her mind drift back to the past as she quickly made her way through the rest of the tables in her section, but it was hard not to. She had often gotten the feeling that something had happened between Gavin and Demi before his unexpected departure, and it had always bothered her. Demi had been more than a little naïve, and seemed even younger than her age, and it bugged the hell out of Acasia to think that Gavin had taken advantage of her. Though it was unlikely to hear her openly admit her adoration, Demi had always looked up to the eldest Black brother in a way that was almost akin to hero worship.
Acasia had been asked one morning to retrieve Demi’s forgotten assignment from her bedroom and had stumbled across a picture of Gavin Black. He was smiling at the person taking the picture in a way that he had never smiled at her. Acasia had always known that Demi had been the one holding the camera and that whatever had happened between them, Gavin had shared something with Demi that he had never shared with her.
So her feelings for Garett were made even more uncomfortable by the nagging voice at the back of her mind that told her she had never gotten over Gavin and that she was just trying to find a suitable substitute. Her mind raced with confusion as she picked up Garett’s food from the window, and she wondered again if it wouldn’t be easier to run away from it all.
Garett’s grin faded when she approached him. “You look like you’ve got storm clouds in those beautiful eyes of yours. I didn’t really upset you did I? If I did, I’m sorry.”
She forced an uneasy laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself Gar. You know I’d never let YOU get to me.”
“Funny Acasia. Seriously, are you okay? I know it sucks to live at home with your mom, but I think it would be preferable to living with mine.” He winked at her.
She could tell that he was trying to lighten the mood, but she wasn’t in the mood to continue with their usual flirting. She made an excuse and quickly excused herself since the restaurant had chosen the perfect time to get busy. She had to stop herself from breathing a sigh of relief as she walked away from him, and cursed herself for how much she was letting him get to her.
It was even more obvious that night when she fell asleep as his face was the last one she saw in her mind before she closed her eyes. She woke up sweaty, and feeling like her cheeks were on fire as well, having had a vivid dream of making love to Garett. But it had only ended up making her mind even more conflicted since she had called him Gavin in the dream.
She sighed as she got out of bed. She wished again that Gavin had given her some kind of explanation when he had broken it off with her. Then maybe her mind wouldn’t cling so stubbornly to the memory of him, forever wondering if she could have done something differently. She had been so convinced then that he was the one for her, that they would get married and have gorgeous children. Then again she had thought the same of Colton and that certainly hadn’t turned out like she had planned either.
She used the restroom and then took a quick shower, glad that she didn’t have to work that day and that she wouldn’t have to face Garett, but wondering what she was going to do to occupy her time. Her mother would come up with something for them to do together, probably already had, but with as much as Acasia loved her mother, she couldn’t take her mother’s motherliness today. She had too damned much on her mind, and her mother had always seemed to know when something was bothering her, whether it was something she wanted to discuss or not.
Her mother was an early riser and she knew that Mrs. Brown was probably in the kitchen, preparing the “real” breakfast she had always insisted on them eating while growing up, consisting of eggs and toast, sausage or bacon, hash browns and some sort of fruit. The sisters had often joked while growing up that they wished their mother would work outside the home so they would be able to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast every now and then. But Mrs. Brown had always been involved in activities outside the home, various women’s clubs, volunteering, PTA, etc. and probably would still have managed to get up at 5:00 in the morning to prepare what she considered a proper breakfast for her family even if she had worked outside the home.
Feeling like a teenager sneaking out for a midnight rendezvous with her boyfriend, and more than a little silly since it was eight o’clock in the morning and she was hardly a teenager, Acasia pondered her window. The girls had been lucky enough to sleep in the basement rather than the second story with their parents, making their windows somewhat easier to escape through, but the windows were small and Acasia’s had been a tight fit for her even then. She figured she had probably gained ten pounds since high school, and while she was grateful that it hadn’t been more, she knew that the added weight certainly wasn’t going to make her chances of slipping out her window any better.
She shook her head at herself and sighed, feeling like an idiot for even thinking of climbing out her window. She felt a little bitchy for wanting to avoid her mother, but she was so tense that she figured she was going to buy a pack of cigarettes. She knew that it wouldn’t help her quit, but she’d been so on edge lately that she’d almost pondered the idea of smoking a joint, an idea she hadn’t entertained since her early college days. Suddenly the phone rang upstairs and Acasia found her way out.
She grabbed her shoes and her purse and crept up the stairs, knowing very well from experience the spots to avoid. The only phone in the house was in the upstairs hallway so that no one would be tempted to pick it up during dinner. She wasn’t sure why her mother had never added another extension, but she was glad that she was able to avoid her mother as she slipped out the kitchen door.
She drove to the nearest convenience store, wondering if the clerk was going to call her mother and tell her that she’d bought cigarettes. Sometimes it really sucked living in a small town where everyone always thought they knew your business. She lit a cigarette as she pulled out of the parking lot, wondering what she was going to do with herself. The cigarette tasted like shit, but once the nicotine hit her bloodstream she almost let out a sigh of relief.
She drove to the park, and parked her car, deciding she might as well get some exercise. She wandered around the various trails and equipment, trying not to smoke too much and trying most of all not to think. She didn’t want to think about the fact that she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. She didn’t like to think about the fact that she wanted Garett either. She realized as she took a seat at a worn picnic table that she was almost directly across the street from Garett’s house and her face lit up like it was on fire.
She hadn’t been thinking when she’d driven to the park that it was near Garett’s house. She shielded her eyes from the glare of the morning sun and looked across to Garett’s house. He was the only one of the Black boys that had chosen to carry on in their father’s carpentry and remodeling business, but with the state of his house, you couldn’t tell that he was in the business at all.
He’d purchased the old Collins house and it had been rundown when they were kids. It still looked like it was falling apart, and Acasia had to wonder why Garett had chosen to purchase that particular house when there were more than enough houses in town for sale to choose from that were in much better shape. Once you bought a house in the small town of Clinton, it was hard to resell. There wasn’t much going for the town of roughly 10,000, and many that had grown up there like Acasia grew up dreaming of nothing more than getting as far away from Clinton as possible.
But Garett had always been different though. He’d always loved working with his father and had always seemed like the natural one to take over the business. Acasia shook her head at herself as she lit another cigarette, feeling like a stalker, though in a way she supposed it was pretty funny that her one track mind had led her to stop so close to Garett’s house. She was headed back to her car when she happened to glance over at Garett’s house. His truck had appeared in the driveway when she wasn’t looking.
Before she could attempt to hide, he called out to her. “Hello beautiful. Are you stalking me?”
He had crossed the street to her before she could even think of a response. He looked pointedly at the cigarette in her hand. “I thought you’d quit. Didn’t you promise your Mama?”
“Don’t lecture me Garett. Why did you buy the old Collins place?”
He looked across the street at the old house, and she could see in his eyes that he saw something differently than what she saw when she looked at it. His eyes shone when he turned back to her. “Have you seen pictures of what the place used to look like? It was gorgeous. The perfect place to raise a family.”
She raised an eyebrow. “A family huh?”
“Cas, don’t tell me that you don’t want that someday.”
She shrugged, trying her best to come off as nonchalant. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her pulse was racing. She was sure it had something to do with the fact that she’d been smoking again, but Garett’s closeness certainly wasn’t helping either.
“I guess. Maybe you’ll have the house fixed up by the time you’re really ready to settle down.”
“It might not look like much, but someday she’s gonna be the beauty that she once was. And I’ll have free advertising for the business too.”
“You’ll have to let me show you around one of these days.”
“I’m not that easy Garett.”
“Ha ha Acasia. As if I’d ever think that I could really talk you into my bed. Why do you smoke?”
“It calms me down.”
“And it reeks, makes your teeth yellow, your breath stink, not to mention the fact that it can kill you.”
“I can read the warning labels Gar. Shouldn’t you be getting back to work?”
“Yes, I suppose I should. I’ll miss seeing you at the diner tonight. Seeing you is the best part of my day.”
She forced an eye roll, sure that she was blushing. “Save it for a woman you actually can talk into your bed.”
“Guilty as charged I’m afraid. I’ll see you around Garett.”
He looked at her. She felt for a moment that he was trying to pick apart her brain. His eyes were warm and so full of promise. She wanted to reach out to him, but instead she tore her gaze from him and turned away.
“Never mind. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
And he walked away. She forced herself not to turn around until she’d heard his truck start. She lit another cigarette as she walked to her car, wondering how she was going to get herself out of the mess that her life had become.
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Published on March 31, 2014 19:41 • 40 views • Tags: free-sneak-peek-romance

March 28, 2014

The promotional pricing of $0.99 for my romance boxed set will be ending on April 11, so if you haven't already purchased your copy and want to advantage of the savings be sure to get your copy before then. Crestview Academy: Tory is free today at Amazon. Crestview Academy: Molli is available free March 29th and 30th. Crestview Academy: Mellenda is free March 31st and April 1st. Check back for other updates and promos. A first look at my Key to My Heart series will be coming soon so be sure to watch for that as well.
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Published on March 28, 2014 12:55 • 23 views

February 8, 2014

Due to problems with Amazon my romance boxed set will no longer be available free at Amazon February 14-15. To make up for the loss of that promo, I have decided to offer several free promos good for Smashwords through March 8! Remember to use the coupon code at checkout. Enjoy.

Coupon codes for free Smashwords titles through March 8, 2014:

Misty Reigenborn romance boxed set KW39F

Run to You TY62J

Girls of Gabe's Place 1: Brandy SV36A

GOGP 2: Robyn TU78F

GOGP 3: Ami SA78K
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Published on February 08, 2014 10:20 • 72 views

February 1, 2014

My short story collection is almost complete and I hope to have it ready for release in the next couple weeks. It will be offered free so it will be available right here as well. If you're looking for more free reads in February here is a list of the scheduled free book promo dates available at Amazon:

Crestview Academy: Tory February 12-13

Romance Boxed set February 14-15

Crestview Academy: Molli February 16-17

Crestview Academy: Mellenda February 18-19

Twist of Fate February 20

Gabe's Place February 21-22

Crestview Academy February 23-24

Enjoy the promos and be sure to check back for more updates on my new short story collection and my Key to My Heart series!
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Published on February 01, 2014 11:09 • 63 views

January 24, 2014

Read one last free short story right here before the upcoming release of my new short story collection!

Good Intentions
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

She was sixteen again. Hair badly dyed, combat boots on her feet, sitting alone on the lawn of her high school reading a book during lunch period. She turned a page in the book, pausing to glance at her watch. Twenty-five minutes remained in her lunch hour so she went back to reading and was soon involved again in the tale of horror.

She jumped when a voice spoke in her ear and looked up into a pair of blue eyes that had starred in many of her teenage fantasies.

“Jack,” she said, feeling a blush rise to her cheeks.

He dropped down beside her on the grass, tossing her a bright smile, dimples lighting up his face. “Hi Kort.”

The ghost of a smile crossed the face of thirty-three year old Kourtney Barnes’s face in her sleep. Subconsciously she knew she was dreaming. Though she had known Jack since Kindergarten, he had certainly never taken the time to speak to her sixteen year old outcast self in high school.

“There’s something I need to take to you about Kort.”

Jack’s face sobered and Kourtney frowned, both the sixteen year old dream version and the grown woman who lay in bed beside her husband.

“What’s up Jack?”

Jack reached out his hand, crew cut blonde hair catching the rays of the sun. “Come for a ride with me. Please.”

Kourtney looked at her watch, seeing that the warning bell was scheduled to ring in a few minutes, signaling the end of lunch hour. “Jack we can’t leave now. We’ll be late for class.”

Jack smiled. “Kort, we both know that this isn’t real. We aren’t sixteen anymore. No one will care if we’re late for a class that doesn’t exist.”

He reached out his hand again. Kourtney took it. She felt a tingle and a voice in the back of her mind spoke up, reminding her that she was happily married and had no business dreaming about Jack Stocks, someone she hadn’t seen since graduation.

Kourtney shook her head at herself. Jack gave her an amused smile. “C’mon beautiful. Dreams don’t count as being unfaithful. I’m sure Toby wouldn’t mind anyway. He’s perfectly aware of how lucky he is to have found you.”

Kourtney blinked as they reached the candy apple red mustang Jack had driven in high school. “How do you know Toby?”

Jack unlocked the doors and held the passenger side door for her.
“Don’t worry about all that Kort. I’ll explain what I can but we’re running out of time. Eventually your alarm is going to go off and you’re going to wake up and go back to your normal life.”

Kourtney looked at Jack as he pulled out of the parking lot. “I don’t understand.”

“It’s a lot to explain, so I’m going to stick to the important parts.”

“Okay. I guess. This is all a little strange. I haven’t thought about you in years.”

Jack offered her an amused grin as he pulled into a parking spot at the local park in the town where they had grown up.
“You didn’t think about me after you met Toby. You wondered during your first marriage though.”

A blush once again rose to Kourtney’s cheeks. “You were the best looking guy in school. But I knew I was never pretty enough for you to notice me.”

Jack shook his head. “I noticed you. You were oblivious to your beauty and I was too concerned about what everyone else thought for us to be together. It doesn’t matter now Kort. I’m not here to live out some teenage fantasy of yours or even mine. I’m here to present you with a choice. We all reach crossroads in our lives and you’ve reached one of yours.”

“What do you mean?”

Jack took her hand. “I know things haven’t been easy for you Kourtney. I know that sometimes it’s hard to understand why things happen the way they do.”

Kourtney swallowed hard. Life was good for thirty-three year old Kourtney who owned a thriving flower shop and was married to a man who had brought her more happiness than she had begun to think existed. She had a bright fourteen year old stepson who she adored, and luckily Shane adored her right back.

But adulthood hadn’t always been smooth for Kourtney. She had married for the first time at eighteen and had a fourteen year old child of her own. Brianna Rose lived with her father and his third wife and detested her mother almost as much as Shane adored her.

A twist of fate and a crooked family court judge had granted Carmine Trenton full custody of Brianna when the child was six after a nasty custody battle and the involvement of child protective services.

Kourtney hadn’t seen her daughter in eight years. The tear filled sky blue eyes of her child still haunted her.

“There was no logical reason for Carmine to be given custody of Brianna. Now my child hates me and probably always will.”

Jack sighed. “Kort, I can’t tell you that your daughter will forgive you or understand why what happened did. All I can offer you is the choice I was sent here to offer.”

“What choice? What crossroads? I don’t understand. Besides not having a relationship with my daughter, my life for the past three years has been the best it has been in years.” Kourtney narrowed her eyes at Jack. “Don’t tell me that my life with Toby is going to end or that it’s not real. I deserve to be happy.”

“Toby is your soul mate. He was always the one you were meant to be with.”

“So what’s the problem then?”

Kourtney heard the irritation creep into her voice. She stirred in her sleep, unconsciously beginning the journey into wakefulness.
The dream version of Kourtney caught a glimpse of herself in the side mirror of the car. The Kourtney of the present blurred into the dream version. For a moment the reflection looked almost ghostly. Then the dream Kourtney blinked and she realized that Jack was speaking again.

“The choice of meeting Toby at age sixteen. An alternate chance so to speak. Did your husband ever tell you that when his parents made the decision to move when he was sixteen, they flipped a coin to decide their new residence? Heads Rockford, tails Powell. Did he ever tell you that he wonders what life would have been like if you two had met at sixteen instead of thirty?”

Kourtney shook her head slowly. “Why are you lying to me if this is only a dream? It’s not funny.”

Jack smiled sadly, and Kourtney glimpsed the thirty-three year old version of a man she hadn’t seen since she was eighteen.
“It’s true Kourtney. If the coin would have been heads instead of tails, you would have met Toby his first day of school and been in love approximately fifteen seconds later. The two of you would have married days after graduation, attended college together, started a successful business at twenty-four and had twins at twenty-seven. In the present day, you would be even happier than you are now.”

Kourtney bit her lip. “Because I wouldn’t have had the pain of losing my daughter and dealing with Carmine’s bullshit. But Bri and Shane wouldn’t exist.”

Jack nodded slowly. “That is what makes your choice harder Kourtney. I can’t tell you that your daughter will be a part of your life in the future. She’s got decisions of her own to make if you decide to remain in the present that you know now. And your stepson, things haven’t always been easy for him either, but he is content now.”

“How am I supposed to make that kind of decision? Why have I been given this choice? Are you some kind of angel?”

“You make the decision like you make any other difficult decision. You’ve been given this choice because of another sort of twist of fate Kort. I’m not exactly an angel as you think of them, as Jack Stocks exists in the present just like you do. Let’s just say that I am the Jack from another path and came to you because it made it easier for you to accept. I can’t tell you that one path is right or wrong. It’s another chance, an exploration so to speak. But I can tell you that this is the only chance you will be given. If you choose to make this change, life as you know it will cease to exist.”

“But I have so many questions.”

Jack glanced at his watch. “Time is running out Kourtney.”

“Will I remember my old life if I make this choice?”

Jack sighed. “At times there may be memories that pop up or a sense of déjà vu. But the memories won’t be complete and since Brianna and Shane will no longer exist, you won’t remember them as you do now.”

Kourtney closed her eyes briefly. “How long do I have to make this choice?”

“I will return to you one week from today.”

“Okay. But what if I have questions? Doesn’t Toby have a right to help me make this choice?”

“Toby will never know of Shane’s existence if you choose the alternate path. As hard as it may be for you to understand, the what ifs that play out in his head are part of what brought this choice to you.”

“But. . .”

“No buts Kourtney. You will awaken in three minutes. The choice must be yours alone.”

Kourtney sighed. “Okay.”

“Be well Kourtney.”

Kourtney opened her mouth to speak, but both Jack and the mustang had vanished.

The blaring of her alarm awoke Kourtney from her sleep. She sat up, pushed the button to end the annoying noise and shook her head in an attempt to clear the strange dream from her head, though it was hard since she remembered it more clearly than she had ever remembered a dream before.

Her husband turned over and grinned at her. “Good morning beautiful.”

Kourtney leaned over to accept Toby’s kiss. “I had the strangest dream.”

“Was it dirty?”

Kourtney rolled her eyes and then looked into her husband’s blue eyes, searching them. The flecks of golden brown and green stood out more than usual as he slipped his glasses on. She suddenly wondered just how much she should tell him.

She didn’t believe that the choice her high school crush had given her in the land of dreams was real, or that the flip of a coin had decided the fate of she and Toby’s lives. But she had seen enough in her thirty-three years to know that reality was sometimes a strange and magical mix of coincidence and what was too blaringly obvious to be coincidence.

She wanted to question Toby about his move at sixteen as she knew that part at least was true. She wondered why he had never mentioned the chance of moving to Rockford if it had existed, but her head was swimming with so many questions she couldn’t think straight.

She paused before she spoke. “I dreamed about a guy I knew in high school. I haven’t thought about him in years.”

Toby raised an eyebrow. “Do I need to worry about competition?”

Kourtney shook her head. “No, you silly man. I love you and I love Shane. If Bri was here, or even if I could just see her, life would be perfect or as perfect as it can get.”

Toby squeezed her hand. “Babe Bri will come around eventually. I know it hurts. I spent way too much time not being a real part of Shane’s life so I know firsthand how it feels. But you are her mother and she will know the truth someday.”

Kourtney sighed. “I know. There are just so many what ifs that play out in my head.”

“We all have what ifs Kort. It’s human nature.”

Kourtney searched Toby’s handsome face, wondering if he would bring up his own what ifs or the ones that Jack had mentioned at least. But he merely dropped a kiss onto her forehead and then got out of bed.

“Are you going to make sure the kid is awake or am I?”

“I’ll do it,” Kourtney said.

Toby grinned. “He seems to take it better from you than me anyway.”

“You tend to be a little harder on him than I am, especially in the mornings.”

“My wife is a big softie.” Toby smiled at her, letting her know he was only teasing.

“Ha ha.”

Toby winked and then headed for the bathroom. Kourtney headed to Shane’s room. Her dream was forgotten as she started her usual morning routines.

The dream didn’t return to the front of her mind until her lunch break at the flower shop. Kourtney sat down with a sigh of relief and took a sip of her flavored water.

She was alone in the shop as her only employees were part time. Brian, whom she was working with that Wednesday, was out making deliveries. She checked her phone for messages and then took a moment to review her social networks since Brianna had grudgingly accepted her invitation to connect.

She was clicking through her daughter’s updates when her phone rang.



The voice was familiar, but the caller ID read ‘unknown caller’.


“This is Brianna. Your daughter.”

Kourtney’s breath caught in her throat and her dream once again played through her mind. She spoke to Bri a few times a year, usually on birthdays and holidays, but the sound of her daughter’s voice was always somewhat of a shock since she seemed to Kourtney to be growing up even faster in her mother’s absence.

“Hi Bri.”

“I’m calling you because Dad is getting another divorce. He’s engaged to this woman he’s only met in person twice and we’re moving.”

Kourtney swallowed hard. “Why didn’t your father tell me?”

“I don’t know Mom. We’re moving on Monday.”

“Monday? Bri please tell your father to call me. There has to be a way to work this out. Toby and I have plenty of room at the house.”

Brianna snorted. “Give it up Mom. The court thinks you were a crappy mother and Dad won’t ever tell them the truth because he likes the child support checks too much. Besides, I don’t want to live with a smelly stepbrother and that dork that you married anyway. At least Dad had the sense not to marry anyone with kids.”

The anger in her daughter’s voice was nothing new. Even though Brianna was old enough to understand at least partly why she couldn’t see her mother, she seemed to Kourtney to take it out much more on her than she did on Carmine. Kourtney wondered how many lies Carmine had told their daughter over the years.

“Brianna I don’t know what to say to you to make it better.”

“That’s nothing new Kourtney. You never have. You couldn’t make it better when I was six and you can’t make it better now with all the stupid gifts in the world. Most of my friends are lucky enough that they only have one crappy parent, but I got stuck with two. A father who cares more about the money that he collects than his daughter and a mother who gave up on me because some stupid case worker got everything backwards and a judge who shouldn’t be judging a pie eating contest said you couldn’t see me anymore. And on top of that, you seemed to give up on me even more after you married Toby. Why would I want to live with you when you’ve replaced me with your husband’s stupid son? Don’t bother trying to love me anymore Mom. Save your bullshit love for your stepson. You probably wish he was yours instead of me anyway.”


“Stop. I have to go. Talk to Dad if you want, but it won’t do any good.”

The call was abruptly ended. Kourtney felt tears sting her eyes. The part of her that was used to not being in her daughter’s life leapt up and reminded her of its presence. A sob rose in her throat. She swallowed it back, angrily brushing the tears away that had fallen down her cheeks.

The parts of her that rejected the sometimes mind numbing pain of not being in her daughter’s life spoke up in her head, wondering if the pain she and Brianna had experienced in the past eight years was worth it. At times like this, Kourtney wondered if life wouldn’t have been better if Brianna had never been born.

Kourtney closed her eyes for a moment, her dream of Jack going off like a bright bulb in her mind. Thoughts of not having had her daughter usually brought immense guilt and a pain that almost rivaled the pain of not being a part of Brianna’s life. The guilt and pain were still there, but a thought nagged at the back of her mind now that told her maybe without the knowledge of Brianna’s existence she would be better off.

Guilt leapt up again as Kourtney thought that not only would she lose Brianna, but she would lose Shane as well if she made the choice to accept Jack’s alternate version of reality. She shook her head at the ridiculousness of it all and garnered a strange look from a woman that had just entered the flower shop.

The rest of the day was busy and the strange dream returned to the back of Kourtney’s mind. When closing time came around, she closed the shop, did a little straightening and then locked up and drove home. When she walked in the house, she was greeted by the angry voices of her husband and stepson.
Kourtney took a deep breath and let it out before she joined them in the kitchen.

“Dad, you’re being ridiculous.” Shane noticed her then. “Kort, tell my Dad he’s being absolutely ridiculous.”

Kourtney turned to Toby with a smile, hoping to lighten the tense mood in the kitchen. “Dad you’re being absolutely ridiculous. What’s going on?”

Toby sighed. “Shane, you know better than to put Kourtney in the middle of this.”

“But you never listen to me Dad. Sometimes I think Kourtney cares more about me than you do. At least she’s always been there for me since she’s been a part of my life. That’s more than you can say.”

Shane turned and walked out of the kitchen.


Toby started to go after his son, but Kourtney put a gentle hand on his arm.
“Babe, I’m not trying to put myself in the middle of this, but will you please tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m not being ridiculous. I know the trouble I got into at that age.”

Kourtney hid a sigh. “Just tell me what’s going on Toby. Please.”

“His friends are going on a road trip to a concert and he wants to go.”

“Since Shane only has a few friends that are old enough to drive you must be talking about the Thompson twins, kids you don’t like anyway. They’re not that bad Toby. They both get good grades in school. I always see their names on the honor roll in the paper.”

“So what?” Toby ran a hand through his hair. “He doesn’t need to go. I don’t even want him hanging around those two, let alone going on a trip that will have him gone all day.”

“Maybe you can come up with some sort of compromise. Where are they going?”

“There’s an all day concert next weekend in Bretherton. If I was ridiculous enough to let him go, he wouldn’t get home until one o’clock in the morning.”

“What if we drove up and spent the weekend? Then Shane could go to the concert with his friends and you wouldn’t have to worry about him coming home so late. We haven’t had a weekend away in a while. Let’s do it babe. You know Shane is a good kid and gets into a lot less trouble than a lot of kids his age.”

Toby gave Kourtney a smile, though it was more than a little weak. “Why are you always so reasonable?”

Kourtney laughed. “Because my parents never were, and I always told myself that I would do my best to be reasonable when it came to my kids.” She squeezed Toby’s hand. “I know it’s hard babe. They grow up so fast. It seems like Bri is growing up even faster because I can’t be there to see it.” She sighed. “She called me today. Said that Carmine is moving them so that he can be with some woman he met on the internet.”

“Oh babe, I’m so sorry. Have you talked to Carmine?”

“Brianna said it’s not worth talking to him. I’m afraid she’s probably right. She accused me of wishing that Shane were my child instead of her.”

“Sometimes I wish you were Shane’s Mom too babe. Call Carmine. It will make you feel better.”

Kourtney snorted. “Talking to Carmine hasn’t made me feel better for a long time, but I guess you’re probably right. I can’t give up without trying.”

Toby squeezed her hand. “I’ll go try to patch things up with Shane. He’ll be happy to hear that his favorite stepmother came up with a solution that will make everyone happy like usual.”

“I feel like I spoil him sometimes, but it’s so hard not to.”

Toby winked at her. “It won’t be so hard not to spoil him in a couple years when he’s asking for a car.”

Kourtney laughed. “I’m sure it won’t be. Go talk to Shane. I’ll try to call Carmine.”

Toby gave her a quick kiss. “I love you Kourtney. I thank God every day that I met you.”

“I love you too.”

As Kourtney watched her husband walk out of the kitchen, she again wondered about her dream. Things would have been drastically different in their lives if they had met when they were sixteen. But even if the choice Jack had given her in her crazy dream were to be real, would she make the choice to give up her life the way it was now, to give up not only her beloved daughter but her beloved stepson as well?

Kourtney shook her head at herself as she dug her phone out of her purse. It did no good to think about such crazy things she thought as she hit the button to dial Carmine’s number.

He answered on the third ring, a slight slur in his “Hello.”

The fact that he was obviously intoxicated bothered her. Carmine had a problem with alcohol and had had an on again off again problem with drugs as well. But she couldn’t let herself blow up at him now for being drunk she thought. She had to try to deal with him as calmly and rationally as possible. Though with Carmine that never seemed to be easy.

“Carmine, can you please explain to me what this is about you moving?”

Carmine chuckled. “She always did run to Mommy when Daddy made her mad didn’t she?”

Kourtney bit back a sharp retort. “Please tell me what’s going on Carmine.”

“I had it with my wife and decided to find another one. You don’t need to worry about Brianna. There’s a real good school where we’re goin’.”

“I’ll always worry about Bri. It’s what parents do. Will you please consider leaving her with me at least until you get settled?”

“You know that the court order says I have full custody Kort. I couldn’t leave her with you even if I wanted to.”

“Don’t you think it’s time we go back to court Carmine? It’s been eight years. If it’s about the money, I’ll pay you alimony. I don’t care. I just want to see my daughter, to be a real part of her life.”

“I don’t give a fuck about your money or all the fancy things that you’re always sending her. She throws half of what you give her away anyway. So why don’t you just stop bothering? Brianna doesn’t need you anymore.”

Kourtney fought an urge to smash her phone into a thousand pieces, just to shut out the sound of Carmine’s voice. “She’s fourteen Carmine. She’s old enough to decide who she wants to live with. If you won’t be reasonable, I’ll call a lawyer in the morning and have you back in court before you have a chance to leave.”

Carmine snorted. “If you could have taken me back to court, you would have done it a long time ago. Or maybe Brianna’s right. Maybe you would rather pretend that your douche bag husband’s kid is yours instead of your own daughter. Have a nice life Kourtney. I hope it was nice having a daughter while it lasted.”

And her ex-husband hung up on her. Kourtney took a deep breath and let it out.

Shane came back into the kitchen, beaming and gave her a hug.
“Thank you so much Kourtney. I have the best stepmother in the world.”

Kourtney forced a smile to her face for her stepson. “You’re welcome Shane. Where’s your Dad?”

“Upstairs in his office. He’s trying to plan something special for you for next weekend. It was supposed to be a surprise. Don’t tell him I told you.”

Kourtney laughed. “I won’t. Does spaghetti sound okay for dinner?”

“Sure. I’m gonna go tell Dwayne that you convinced Dad to let me go. Thanks again Kourtney.”

“You’re welcome Shane.”

As Shane disappeared from the kitchen, Kourtney wondered what the hell she was going to do about Carmine and Brianna. She had talked to several lawyers after Carmine had been given custody of Bri, but they had told her that there was nothing that could be done about the custody order. She didn’t want to drag them all back into court, especially knowing that if Brianna was given the choice of who she lived with at this point that she might choose her father anyway. But there was no way that Kourtney was just going to lay down and let Carmine take Bri completely away from her without a fight.

Kourtney tried to shut it out of her mind as she cooked dinner, but it dwelled in the back of her mind. She felt distracted and depressed. She knew that she couldn’t let the depression overwhelm her again though. She’d been in a very dark place after losing custody of Brianna, and had thought about suicide. She’d gotten past the depression for the most part, but had sometimes felt as if she hadn’t been really happy again until she had met Toby.

She spent the evening watching movies with her two favorite boys, but she felt as if her laughter and smiles were forced for the rest of the evening. When Shane went upstairs to finish his homework, Toby took Kourtney’s hand and led her up to their bedroom.

He shut the door behind them, looked at her and said “So I’m guessing that your discussion with Carmine didn’t go well.”

“No. He’s being completely unreasonable.” A smile crossed her face as she thought of Shane’s earlier comment about his father being unreasonable, but it quickly faded. “I don’t know what to do Toby. I can’t let him take her away from me even more than he already has.”

Toby took her into his arms. She remembered all the times he had held her when she’d cried, when missing her daughter was more than she could take. She couldn’t imagine how she was going to handle Brianna being so far away.

After a few silent minutes, Toby pulled back, gave her a quick kiss and then said “Try talking to a lawyer again. Maybe there’s something that can be done now.”

“I guess it’s worth a try. I think I’ll try anything at this point.”

“It’s gonna be okay baby. It might not be easy, but it’s gonna be okay.”

Kourtney returned Toby’s smile, though she was sure hers looked less than genuine. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Always and forever.”

Kourtney didn’t sleep well that night. She tossed and turned half the night, feeling like she didn’t get a wink’s worth of sleep by the time her alarm went off the next morning. Toby took one look at her and told her that he’d get Shane up and make a pot of coffee. Kourtney sighed as she got out of bed, wondering if there was any way she’d be able to find a lawyer and get Carmine back into court before Monday.

Her time before she left for the flower shop was spent leaving messages for several lawyers, half of which she was sure she probably wouldn’t even receive a phone call back from by the time Carmine left town. She felt almost as helpless as she had when Carmine had been granted custody in the first place and she didn’t like it one bit.

She received a call from one lawyer on her lunch break, but he didn’t have any good news to tell her. His consultation told her nothing that she hadn’t already been told before, that if the custody order was permanent, there was little to nothing that could be done about it.

Kourtney wanted to smash her phone into a thousand pieces even more than she had the night before. She had a brief fantasy of stealing away with her daughter into the night, but she knew that the idea of kidnapping her own child was almost as ridiculous as the idea that her dream of the choice that Jack had given her could be real in any shape or form.
She was completely discouraged by the time she closed the shop that night. Toby offered to cook dinner and she let him, though he wasn’t the best cook except when it came to barbequing.

They spent a quiet evening watching TV, while Kourtney’s mind raced. The days were passing quickly and any sense of hope she had felt of keeping her daughter close began to fade as Thursday became Friday.

She had one promising call from a lawyer on Friday, but he advised her that even an emergency hearing would take time in the overwhelmed family court. She made an appointment to meet with him on Monday, but it felt almost pointless and Kourtney had to fight herself to keep her spirits up over the weekend.

On Monday, she met with the lawyer, a high priced family court attorney named Bryce Tilmand. He promised to have her in court as soon as possible, and Kourtney tried to feel hopeful, but she wasn’t sure setting a court date would do any good when Carmine was leaving town with Brianna that day.

Her phone rang almost as soon as she entered the flower shop and she gave Brian an apologetic smile as she turned to answer it.


“Just wanted to let you know that we’re leaving town now. I guess I’ll see you around sometime Kourtney.”

“Brianna, I’m trying to get a court date set.”

“It doesn’t matter now. Dad won’t show up. I have to go. Dad doesn’t know that I’m on the phone. I love you and I really wish that things could have happened a lot differently than they did. But they didn’t and we’ve gotta live with it. I’ll try to call you sometime, but Dad thinks that it would be easier if I didn’t talk to you anymore. He thinks you’re going to freak out and have a meltdown like you almost did before.”

Kourtney hid a sigh. She had sometimes felt as if she were close to a breakdown, but she knew that what Brianna was referring to was their last time in court before the custody order had been put into place. She had been very upset and her lawyer had had to ask for a recess to calm her down. She wasn’t happy that Carmine seemed to be forever reminding Brianna of her mother’s imperfections when he was far from perfect himself, but she knew that the last thing she needed to do right now was to start a fight with Brianna.

“I love you Brianna, and I’m not going to give up.”

Brianna sighed. “It feels like you gave up a long time ago, but if pretending makes you happy Mom, then go for it. I have to go.”

Her phone went dead in her hand as her daughter hung up. Kourtney blinked back the tears that had risen and shoved her phone into her purse. Her dream rose to mind again as she replaced Brian behind the counter, and he checked his delivery schedule. This was one of those times when the pain was so great that if the choice Jack had given her was real, she would have chosen not to have Brianna.

It only got worse during her lunch break when she saw her daughter's latest social network update. Tears stung Kourtney's eyes as she read the words a second time.

'Another new stepmother and this one didn't like me before she met me. And I'm stuck in a crappy town. Why can't I be a real orphan instead of a virtual one? I think I'd be better off. Hate my life.'

To another, Brianna's words might sound like typical teenage drama, but to Kourtney, they pointed out how miserable her daughter really was and how she truly felt about both her parents.

The rest of the day was uneventful, but Kourtney couldn't get her daughter's words out of her head. She felt terrible and hoped against hope that her next appearance in family court might finally make a difference.

She sleepwalked through most of her day and came home to the worst argument she had ever seen between her husband and stepson, that ended with Shane announcing the decision to go live with his mother.

So it was no wonder Kourtney couldn't sleep when she lay down to bed that night. Her mind raced with the uncomfortable thought that she may lose Shane too since his mother lived halfway across the country and wasn't charitable when it came to Toby either. The fact that Jack was supposed to return to her dreams that night had completely slipped her mind by the time she fell into an uneasy sleep at 12:15.

When he entered her dreams this time, she was wearing the dress her mother had bought her for graduation though she had thought it was ugly even then. Jack was in the dark slacks and shirt that had made his eyes stand out even more on their graduation day.

He smiled. "It's good to see you again."

She had no idea what to say to him. Her mind was so conflicted and though she knew that the choice he had asked her to make couldn't possibly be real, she felt that her decision was in some way important, regardless.

"Have you made your decision?"

She sighed. "Why does it have to hurt so much sometimes just to love someone?"

He offered her another smile, but she could see that there was a trace of sadness behind it. "Love doesn't hurt. It's all of the stuff we mix up with it that hurts. We don't always make good decisions Kort, and we don't realize how they can affect other people until they do."

As she thought of her own past decisions and all the pain they had caused though she had never had anything but the best intentions where her daughter was concerned, her decision was made.

"I love Brianna, but all this misery. . . My own I can stand, it's hers I can't."

"Is that your decision Kourtney?"

She nodded. "I choose. . ."

And she was pulled from sleep by the voice of her husband.

"Babe. Babe. Kort, Carmine is on the phone."

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Huh? Carmine?"

Her interrupted dream came to mind as Toby handed over her cell phone.


"Kort sorry if I woke you, but we need to talk."

"Do we?"

He sighed. "Do you always have to be a bitch? I'm trying to give you what you want."

"What are you talking about Carmine?"

He cleared his throat. "Look, I hate to be like this. You know I love Bri but I gotta live my life too. She wants to live with you. She won't say it but I know. A teenage girl should be with her Mama when she can anyway ya know? So you come get her this weekend, let me know when court is and I'm sure she'll tell 'em she'd rather be with you. Sound good?"

She had been stunned into silence.

"You there Kort?"

"Yes. Are you serious Carmine?"

"Yeah. My old lady don't want a kid around and it's about time you had her anyway. I already told the kid."


"She's happy. Misses her friends. I'll text you the address and see you Saturday?"



As she hung up her phone a smile broke out. It had just really hit her. After eight years her baby was coming home. It also hit her that she had been seconds away from giving her daughter up in a dream, but she banished the thought from her head.

Toby was thrilled when she told him the news. Shane was happy for her until he realized his weekend was spoiled by the newly added task of picking up his stepsister, until Kourtney came up with the compromise of Toby dropping Shane at the concert and her going to pick up Bri. Depending on her daughter's mood, they would either join Toby and Shane or get Bri settled in her new room.

Time seemed to speed up and slow down for Kourtney at the same time. She got excited about decorating Bri's room until she realized she should probably let her daughter choose her own decor.

She had a hard time sleeping Friday night and drank entirely too much coffee before she got on the road. Bri was silent when she picked her up and shrugged when she asked if she would rather go home or to the concert. Kourtney held back a sigh as she drove them to the concert, but Bri perked up when she found one of her friends was in attendance as well.

Things weren't always easy, but having Bri in her life was worth it for Kourtney. She never knew if her dream had been anything more than the strange conjuring of a mind that was having a hard time dealing with the pain, but Kourtney knew that the choice she'd been about to make had been the wrong one all along and was grateful that she hadn't gotten the chance to say the words that could have erased Bri and Shane from their lives.
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Published on January 24, 2014 12:57 • 24 views

January 22, 2014

Read my latest romantic short Wait For You right here first! Also watch for updates on my Key to My Heart series and check back for the dates of my upcoming free book promos!

Wait For You
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

"When are you going to get over him and move on with your life?"

Olivia shook her head. "I'm not going to get over him."

"Sis, it's been four years."

"Don't you think I know how long it's been?" Olivia laughed.

"I'm sure you've counted every hour." Jet sighed. "But enough is enough. It's time to put on your big girl panties and admit to yourself that he's never coming back."

Olivia rolled her eyes at her younger sister. "Big words from a soccer Mom."

"My kids aren't even old enough to play soccer smartass. I'm saying this because I care about you Liv. You deserve better. He walked away from you remember?"

"Yes. He walked away. I was pregnant with his child. And we had been together six months and his wife and child had been gone a year. It was too much for him."

"Why do you still make excuses for him? How can you possibly still love a man that abandoned not only you, but your child, HIS child?"

"I guess you wouldn't understand."

"Why? Because I didn't smoke a lot of pot in high school and believe in free love? I know what love is Liv. And it's not abandoning the woman who is pregnant with your child. It's sticking around, and helping her raise your child, loving her when she isn't lovable, taking care of your kids when they're acting so badly you hardly want to admit you had a hand in creating them."

"That is love Sis. You're right. But nothing you or Mom say will convince me he's not coming back. He'll come when he's ready."

"Honey, your love for him is practically delusional at this point. Yes, Beatty Sloane was a good looking man, and he was a hell of a carpenter. I thought he loved you. I could see it in the way he looked at you. But he was so damned wounded. It was like it hurt him to love you sometimes. Mom and I worry about you, we worry about Billie."

"My daughter and I are fine. Just because I have a garden, eat organic and plan to homeschool Billie doesn't mean I'm a hippie. And even if it did, so what? What's wrong with hippies?"

Jet made a face. "Are you still growing marijuana?"

"Yes. And I'm still not smoking it."

"What are you going to tell your daughter when she asks about those plants?"

"The truth. It's medicine."

"Yeah. The fact that it also happens to get you high is just a bonus right?" Jet shook her head. "I want you to meet someone. Bring Billie over for dinner on Saturday."

"Not another set up Jet. I'm not looking for a man."

"He doesn't deserve your loyalty."

"Yes Mother. You sound just like her."

"And she did a damned good job of raising us almost by herself. So what's wrong with that? Think about dinner. Let me know."

Jet brushed a kiss against Olivia's cheek. "I love you. Don't hate me for worrying about you."

"I love you too. I could never hate my baby sister."

Jet made a face. "Still a baby at twenty five when I have three kids of my own."

Olivia laughed. "You'll always be my baby sister, baby sister."

"Ha ha old woman. I'll call you. Give the princess a kiss for me."

"She's no princess. I've got myself a bona fide tomboy."

"Who happens to love the color pink and owns twenty five pairs of shoes that you claim she picked out herself." Jet laughed.

"She did pick them out. Pointed her little finger at every pair and said in the firm voice of a stubborn three year old "want that Mama"."

"You're in for it when she's a teenager."

Olivia grinned. "At least I won't be the mother of three all at once."

"Don't remind me. I have to go. Please think about dinner. And call Mom."

Jet walked out without another word. Olivia sat back on the couch and shook her head. She didn't think her sister and mother would ever stop lecturing her about Beatty. But it didn't mean she was going to stop waiting for him.

Liv could understand why Jet worried about her, though her sister was five years her junior. Jet had been the good girl, always had good grades in school, always did what was expected of her. She was steady and reliable like their mother, and had married her high school sweetheart.

Liv had been quiet, and almost painfully shy with few friends until she had smoked a joint at a party her freshman year in high school. It hadn't gotten her high the first time, but the first time she had gotten high, it was like Olivia not only broke out of her shell, it was like she'd never had one to begin with.

She had been a "loose" girl in high school, and had had many boyfriends, but she'd never been the type to juggle boyfriends. She had discovered she'd liked smoking pot and liked sex and had enjoyed both freely, though her parents had threatened to disown her more than once during her high school days.

She'd discovered more than an intense attraction to the opposite sex after her discovery of marijuana. She'd also discovered both a talent for poetry, and a talent for art, both of which were quite useful in her career as a children's book author.

Olivia had smoked a great deal of weed during high school and after, up until the day she had found out she was pregnant with Billie. She hadn't smoked since then, and grew now for people who couldn't afford to grow their own, and definitely couldn't afford the premium medical grade prices found at the local dispensaries. She knew it drove her mother crazy, but Olivia was thirty and a grown woman who happened to be doing just fine, better than fine and she and Billie were happy.

They had a little house on the outskirts of town, and it was paid for. Olivia made a decent living, and she and Billie were comfortable. When Beatty came home, their family would be complete. Olivia had always had faith that he would come back, she just didn't know when it would be.

She had loved Beatty Sloane from the moment she had laid eyes on him. He was tall and lean, with unruly dark hair and eyes that looked right through you. His eyes looked out at her from their daughter's face, draped in the long, lush eyelashes that had come from Beatty as well. She hadn't noticed the wedding ring on his finger at first, but when she had it had felt like her heart had broken in her chest. She had known he was meant to be hers and the thought that he belonged to another woman had been almost too much to bear.

Then she'd learned that the wedding ring he wore tied him to a wife that was no longer living. And so she had pursued him with an unashamed determination. He had ignored her, he had snapped at her, and then finally he had given in and agreed to go out with her.

She had made him laugh. He had been so surprised, it told her that he had forgotten the sound of his own laughter. She had seduced him on their third date, because she could tell that he needed to feel close to someone again, to feel alive again. He had been so passionate, and they had fit so well together. It was almost as if he had come to the conclusion that it was okay to live again. He had even told her that he loved her, and Olivia had known the words came hard for him. He had loved his wife and son very much, and their passing had broken him. She had been trying to help him put himself back together when they'd created Billie.

She had hoped that it would be what helped him to put the last broken pieces of his heart back together, but the knowledge of their child had had the opposite effect. She could remember the day like it was yesterday.

Her heart had felt like it was going to pound out of her chest as she waited for him. When he'd knocked she'd had to wipe her sweaty palms before she could open the door. She had blurted her news almost immediately, not able to hold it in any longer, thinking, knowing he was going to be happy.

But he'd just looked at her, saying nothing for several minutes. The smile had frozen on her face. Finally, he had kissed her, murmuring into her ear that he loved her and walked away. She hadn't seen him since.

She knew that her mother and sister thought she was half crazy for continuing to wait for him. She knew that half the town probably thought she was crazy, but she didn't care. Beatty Sloane was the man she was meant to be with. She had waited her whole life for him and she would wait the rest of her life if she had to. She hoped he didn't make her and their daughter wait that long, but she realized she had pushed him too far too fast.

Beatty had felt what she had and it had scared him. Joni had been his high school sweetheart, the only girl he had ever loved, and losing her and their son William had been like losing his heart.

There was a picture in the living room, something Beatty probably hadn't meant to leave behind. His first family. Jet said it was creepy, but she thought that it was important that her daughter know who the people in the picture were, her father and her brother especially.

Olivia missed Beatty. Her body sometimes craved the touch of a man so much that it threatened to drive her crazy. But she held out for HER man. No matter what anyone else thought.

Life went on as it always did. Billie grew. She learned and she developed and Olivia cherished it all, the good and the bad. Being with Beatty had taught her to appreciate the small moments. They danced in the rain and jumped in mud puddles, they chased rainbows and sang songs that they made up together along the way. Olivia loved her daughter and loved her even more so because she was Beatty's daughter too.

On dark, lonely nights she sometimes lost faith in him and she cried. Olivia sometimes cursed him, sometimes she cursed herself for loving him. But mostly she cherished the memories, and she saw him in their daughter.

Jet still attempted to set her up with this man or that man now and then, but Olivia always stuck to her guns.

On Billie's fifth birthday, the festivities were held at a local park. Olivia was distracted, and had lost sight of her little girl when she turned at a tap on her shoulder.

She turned and looked into a familiar pair of midnight blue eyes. Her heart threatened to pound out of her chest. She wanted to throw herself into his arms, but she settled for drinking in the sight of him.

There was gray scattered throughout his hair now, but other than that he looked exactly the same as she remembered him. The love of her life stood before her, and Olivia couldn't say a word.

He cleared his throat. "You are a sight for sore eyes beautiful, but there was someone else I was hoping to see too."

Olivia shook her head, realizing once again that she'd been looking for Billie when Beatty had suddenly appeared. She let out a shaky laugh. "She's around here somewhere I promise."

Billie appeared in front of them, giving Olivia a questioning look.

"Billie, this is. . ."

Billie put out her small hand. "Wait."

She tilted her head and looked up at Beatty. "This is my Dad." She nodded matter-of-factly, satisfied with her conclusion. "He looks like the picture."

"Yes. This is your Dad."

Billie stuck out her hand to Beatty. "Nice to meet you. Mom can cousin Selena spend the night tonight?"

"We'll see honey. If not tonight, then over the weekend. Stay where I can see you please."


Billie gave Beatty one more curious glance and then ran off towards the playground.

"She's beautiful. Billie huh?"

Olivia shrugged. She sat down at the picnic table where they could still keep an eye on their daughter. She could see Jet looking at her wide eyed but she ignored her sister and turned back to Beatty. "I had a terrible time coming up with a name for her. I finally decided to name her in memory of her brother."

"Thank you. Livy, I can't tell you how sorry I am that I wasn't strong enough to stick around. I've missed so much of her life already. I know that I don't have the right to ask, and that in the eyes of the law I've abandoned her, but I would like to be a part of her life."

Olivia gave him a crooked smile. She had noticed that he had made the decision to take off his wedding ring. "Do you still have room in your heart for me too?"

He smiled and it was the most genuine smile she had seen him wear since she had known him. "My heart always knew you belonged there, even when I fought it. I tried to forget Livy, told myself that I didn't deserve you or our child, that no woman would possibly wait for a man like me, that no mother would tell a child about a father like me. But you did."

"The only picture I had of you was with Joni and William. You'd never take a picture with me. I waited for you because I always knew that we were meant to be together."

"I love you Livy. I know that I don't deserve your love, and that I have a lot of catching up to do with our little girl, but I'm willing to devote the rest of my life to you, to our family, if you'll have me."

"I love you Beatty. I always have."

He kissed her and the world seemed to stop for a moment. They existed only for each other, until reality broke in with the clearing of Jet's throat in front of them.

"Sorry to interrupt your reunion, but Selena and Billie are insisting that it is slumber party night tonight. Your house or mine?" She looked back and forth between her sister and Beatty. "Never mind. We still have those clothes I've been meaning to give you, so you don't need to worry about a change of clothes. I'll bring her home around noon tomorrow if that's okay."


"It's good to see you Beatty."

Then Jet turned and walked away.

The party passed in a whirlwind of activity. They watched their daughter open presents, and then ate birthday cake and ice cream that was on its way quickly to puddle status.

Some welcomed Beatty with open arms, and some seemed less than thrilled with his return, her mother and sister included. But Olivia was too happy to let anything get her down.

They handed Billie off to Aunt Jet and Uncle Abe, and then cleared the trash from the party. Then Beatty followed Olivia home.

They talked for hours, then made love for many more. Making love to Beatty was like coming home and the joining of their bodies was even closer to perfection than Olivia had remembered it being.

Billie accepted her father into her life with little fuss. She loved spending time with him, and had endless questions about her brother. They were a little hard for Beatty to take at first, but he was soon sharing tales of William much easier. Olivia could tell that it still hurt, but he no longer let it hurt so much that he shied away from the memories.

She never asked him why it had taken him so long to come back to them. Olivia simply loved him and it was enough.

They were together three years the second time around before he asked her to be his wife, and it was another year before she wore his last name, but Beatty had always been worth the wait for Olivia. They grew old happily together, completing their family with a son and another daughter, all much loved, and all who knew of the older brother they had never had the chance to meet.
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Published on January 22, 2014 13:22 • 13 views

January 21, 2014

Read my new short story right here first! Here's my romantic short All or Nothing!

All or Nothing
Misty Reigenborn
Copyright 2014
By Misty Reigenborn

She'd imagined the moment over and over in their three years together, but when it actually happened, Claire was not happy. When her boyfriend knelt before her and proposed marriage, she slowly shook her head.

Dane stood, looking a little stunned. "Why baby? I thought you wanted to get married."

He'd asked her to marry him before, though not formally, and she'd always responded with an enthusiastic yes, but this was different. She looked at the man she had loved since the day she had met him, and felt like she didn't know him at all.

"When you've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with Dane, you don't need a back up plan. I'm not going to be your until someone better comes along girl, and I'm not second best or a second choice girl. I deserve better."

"Baby what are you talking about?"

She sighed and turned away from him, wondering why he had chosen to propose to her now. "I'm not the jealous type and I've never believed cheating made any sense. If you've got problems at home either work on them or face that you're not with the right person. But end one before you start another you know? If you're looking for someone while you're with someone to me you're dooming the relationship you're in in more ways than one. You're either going to eventually find someone that you'll make the move to cheat with, or the person that you're with will find out what you're doing and decide not to put up with it. Regardless, by looking for someone else you are putting it out there that you believe your relationship will end. Why did you propose now Dane?"

"Because I want to marry you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

She shook her head. "Why begin our marriage with a lie? My first marriage began with a lie and I never got over that. A marriage license is only a piece of paper unless you mean your vows. And marriage takes a lot of work. You can't begin with a back up plan, because it makes the marriage pointless. You went into it believing it would end, so you made your own marriage til divorce do us part instead of til death from the very beginning making it all a pointless waste of time."

"Have we been a waste of time to you Claire?"

"I never thought so before, but I'm not going to marry someone who has a back up plan. I honestly don't want to be with someone at all that feels the need for a back up plan."

"How is it that I have a back up plan?"

"Please don't lie to me. I'm not stupid. And now when I look back at the way you've been acting for months it makes sense. You put your phone down with the screen face down always, even when it's charging, you guard it so closely you have to be hiding something. Why did you propose to me when two nights ago you asked another woman to meet you, someone you've been having intimate conversations with for months?"

The color left his face. He wouldn't look at her.

"I got an interesting message from a woman on a social network the other night. She's been doing an experiment with her husband. They have several fake profiles and both send out many friend requests to members of the opposite sex, both those in relationships and out. They're researching the effects of social networking on long term relationships and start casual conversations with people in relationships, to see if they turn intimate and eventually lead to what would seem like downright inappropriate conversations for someone who professes to be in a committed relationship to be having with someone outside the relationship. She told me you had made the first move to change the friendship and had these conversations with her for months, leading to your eventual request to meet her."

Dane was silent.

"She also let me know that she has reason to believe she wasn't the only woman you had been messaging in that tone."

Dane lit a cigarette, finally turning back to face her. "I never met one of those women. Most of them live in other states. You're the woman I want to be with, the woman that I come home to."

Claire showed him an expression of disgust. "My ex told me that when he was cheating. And even if you haven't yet met these women, as long as you continue to message them, the chance, the choice is always there. Would you appreciate it if I was talking dirty to multiple men online?"

Dane sighed. "No."

"I want all or nothing Dane. Give me your all honestly and sincerely or you might as well give me nothing. I won't marry someone who can't even do that."

She turned and walked away from him. It hurt. The betrayal of her trust hurt even more since he knew that she had ended her marriage due to infidelity. But no matter how much she loved Dane, she couldn't build the rest of her life on the unshaky foundation of a lie.

He let her leave without saying a word. She went to stay with a friend until she could afford a place of her own. She missed him. Oh how she missed him on her loneliest nights, because he had become not only her lover but her best friend. And it was the small things that she missed the most, cuddling with him to watch a movie, lying in bed together on their occasional lazy morning. She missed the sound of his heartbeat when she laid her head on his chest, the feel of his stubble against her cheek, the way he had made her laugh when all she'd wanted to do was cry.

But she couldn't spend her life filled with doubt and a lack of trust, and as much as she missed him, she knew that walking away had been the right thing to do.

A year to the day after Dane's failed proposal, Claire opened her door to a huge bouquet of flowers. The familiar smell of his cologne still brought back memories of being in his arms.

Dane handed her the flowers and offered her a shy smile. "I can't get you out of my head. I don't want you out of my heart because I know you were always meant to be there. I didn't understand how what I was doing was wrong at the time because I never did anything physically, but being without you and thinking of how I would have felt if I had been on the other end made me realize just how wrong I really was. You always gave me your all and I wasn't giving you the same without even realizing it. I'd like another chance to prove to you that I deserve to have you for the rest of my life. I'm not expecting things to go back to the way they used to be, and I know that I have to earn your trust, but I will do whatever it takes to prove to you that I do deserve it."

His eyes were sincere, and they glistened with unshed tears. The possibilities they held seemed endless. She had never stopped loving him, hadn't been able to get him out of her head either. So she took his hand, and gave him a second chance.

Their relationship progressed more slowly the second time around, since it had been a whirlwind romance the first time. They lived apart for a year, then moved into a two bedroom house. Dane proposed for the second time on their second two year anniversary and Claire accepted with no reservations. They were married six months later and both meant every word of their vows.
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Published on January 21, 2014 13:01 • 12 views

Author Misty Reigenborn

Misty Reigenborn
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