I am so excited to reveal the beautiful cover for KEEP HER created by Regina Wamba at Mae I Design and Photography.
The Grayson siblings are at it again—guilty of keeping secrets from each other when it comes to who they fall in love with. This time little brother’s best friend is the object of Riley’s affection and their intimate connection is impossible to resist.
Riley Grayson—snarky, successful, lonely. She’s looking for Mr. Right, especially now that her younger, reformed man-whore of a brother is living out his happily ever after with her best friend. If Marcus can find true love, why the hell can’t she?
Enter Beck Matthews, Marcus’s childhood best friend. He’s lovable, sexy, and oh, yeah—not single. But one night of drunken partying and wild sex with Riley and Beck may be rethinking his future. Has he been planning it with the wrong girl?
Although these two can’t stay away from each other, it seems the ghosts of their pasts are holding them back from what they really want. Can Riley and Beck overcome the threat of shocking coincidences and unexpected events that will test their trust in one another?
Find out if Beck’s love is strong enough to Keep Her.
Five years earlier
Dear God, let today be the day. Please take her with you. Bring her home to be with my Nanny. Let her be at peace.
The tears streamed down my face—I couldn’t believe I had any left at this point, but praying for death . . . I guess that brings on tears no matter how depleted you are.
“Ry,” Mom said, holding out her hand. “Where’s Marcus?”
That was a good question. I looked around the room, as if he might be hidden in some corner, but from the sounds of the over-excited announcer and the loud roar coming from the TV, it was obvious he was in the living room, watching the Yankees game with Dad and his best friend, Beck. Avoidance was his coping mechanism. He couldn’t keep vigil by her side anymore. It was too painful for him. He didn’t know how to handle his emotions—he was going to be lost without her. She was his best friend in the whole world, even if he was too macho of a teenage boy to admit it. Keeping busy kept him sane.
I stood, adjusting her favorite patchwork quilt so it covered my mother’s bony arms. “He’s watching the Yankees, why? Want me to get him?”
“No,” she said on a whisper, her frail voice becoming less and less distinguishable as the lively one I’d grown up with. “I want to talk to you alone. There are things I need to say.”
The tears that had finally subsided welled up again, this time lodging themselves in my throat and flooding my vision as well. I knew from experience that when people on their death beds started talking about things they needed to say or confessions they had to get off their chest, the end was near. As much as I needed to see her out of pain, I also wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. But I held back from begging her to hold on and nodded, gripping her fragile hand.
She squeezed mine back with the tiniest bit of strength. As weak as it was, it comforted me. I hoped her words would too. She spoke slowly, as if reciting a speech, something important she’d rehearsed. For all I knew, she probably had. “I know you think I’m going to miss so much—graduations, boyfriends, your wedding, your babies, but—” she paused, swallowing back her own tears and pushing forward with a loving smile. “I will be here, Riley Jo. I will be here to guide you and celebrate with you on every one of those journeys. Right now it might be hard to believe that’s true but, I’ll fight with the man upstairs Himself just to make sure I’m by your and your brother’s sides whenever I’m supposed to be.”
“Mom—” I tried to interrupt, but she brought her hand up to my cheek and the touch of her cool, soft skin silenced me.
“Let me finish, sweetie.”
I nodded, placing my hand over hers and encouraging her to continue.
“You’ve made me so proud, Ry. You’re bound for greatness, I just know it. Everything you touch just seems to be improved because of you. You’ll have that same impact on your father and brother and I don’t want them to be a burden, even though I know it’s your nature to step up to the plate and take over—that’s just you, but . . . you need to remember to live this life for you too. Daddy will be okay in time and Marcus . . . he’ll grow up—one of these days.” She smiled the widest I’d seen in days, letting out the slightest chuckle.
As much as she adored her son, he was a handful lately. Rebelling because of his anger over our mother’s health; taking advantage of his newfound stud status with the ladies. Now that they were finally taking interest in him, he was suddenly a cocky little son of a bitch. And they actually liked that about him.
I laughed alongside her, thinking about how much my mother and I could get a rise out of my little brother. I’d miss that—God, I’d miss so many things once she was gone.
Before I could tell her this, she swallowed back another gulp of tears to continue where she left off. “What I’m trying to say is—sweetie, be happy. You’re smart, beautiful, and the most loving person I know, but you’re also stubborn and sometimes too selfless. Do things just because they make you smile. Never settle, honey, but you need to kiss a lot of frogs and then marry your prince. Learn to let things go even if you don’t want to.”
My mother and I had had a lot of heart to hearts over the years, but she was always guarded with me because she thought I was sensitive. So, the vulnerability in her words of wisdom came as a surprise to me. “So,” I said, wiping away a tear, “you wait ‘til now to unleash it all, huh?”
I guided her up by her elbow, adjusting her pillows as she continued with a chuckle, “I know it seems that way, but I’ve told you these things—in other ways—your whole life. You’re too serious, Riley. I know you feel you need to be, but it’s okay not to be perfect all the time.”
I wanted to believe that with all my heart. I wanted to be able to live this through, especially since these were the words my mother decided to leave me with. But even though I wanted to make that promise, it would be damn near impossible to simply “let my hair down” once she was gone. She was leaving us with big shoes to fill and if my father and brother—hell, all three of us—were going to survive her death, I would to have to be more serious than I’d ever been.
Not wanting to disappoint her or give her any inkling that I wouldn’t follow through on her wish, I leaned down to place a kiss on her forehead. “You are one wise woman, Mom. What the hell are we going to do without you?”
She raised her cold hand to my face, tucking a hair behind my ear and then resting her palm against my cheek. “Live. You’re going to live.”
That night, after giving my brother a similar speech of his own, whispering her secret recipe for meatballs in Beck’s ear, and kissing my Dad with her last bit of strength, my mother passed.
The moment was absolutely surreal. In all the time I had prepared myself, I imagined crying and screaming and sobbing like there was no tomorrow. But after years of chemo and operations and months of painful suffering, the most amazing sense of relief washed over me as I watched my mother close her eyes and take her last peaceful breath.
The world was losing a remarkable woman, and heaven—God, I was so damn envious of heaven in that moment—was gaining an incredible angel. Our lives would never be the same without her. The healing process would take a lifetime, if I ever actually healed at all. But I had to do what my mother wanted most for me. After I mourned and grieved until I thought I’d break in two. After I got things in order and took care of my crumpled family so we felt whole again. After I screamed and cursed for hating the world and then learned to love it again for all its miracles, I had to keep her memory alive and just . . . live.
KEEP HER releases 8/7/14, you can add it to your Goodreads TBR here.
And if you’re yet to be introduced to the Grayson’s check out Book 1 in the series, KEEP ME, for only 99 cents. This special price will be in effect until the release of KEEP HER.