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Five years ago, Kendall Hart’s life changed forever. A tragedy forced her to grow up fast and become a responsible adult overnight while her friends were still enjoying high school. She lives and breathes work leaving no time for a social life and her circle of friends is small. She has no room for complications in her life…then Tristan walks in.
Tristan O’Neal is forced to return home when his father becomes terminally ill. Taking care of his parents, dealing with an irresponsible brother, and starting a new job bring challenges to his life. Starting a relationship is the last thing on his mind but when sees Kendall, he finds himself drawn to her...she is so familiar.
Tristan is what Kendall has always wanted but life isn’t always fair. Sometimes you have to let go of the one person you’ve always loved in order to protect them. Will Tristan be able to break through the wall she’s built around her heart or will Kendall’s secrets consume her and destroy their chance at a life together?
I heard the sirens wailing as I came through the woods. My heart beat a little faster as I realized they were headed toward my end of the street. I sped up but stayed close to the edge of the woods so no one would see me. I certainly didn’t need to get caught when I should’ve been at home in bed. Suddenly, I caught a whiff of smoke and could hear the crackle of fire. As I cleared the tree line, I could see the flames leaping toward the sky and I instantly felt tears spring to my eyes. It was my house! I could barely breathe as my heart hammered in my chest like thunder. Running toward the house, I saw huge hoses snaking across the lawn all pointed toward the upper bedroom windows. My eyes scanned the crowd of people lined up on the sidewalk and I saw my neighbors but no one from my family. With legs feeling like lead, I sprinted toward the back door but a fireman, who was rounding the side of the house with an axe thrown across his shoulder, saw me and intercepted my attempt to go in. I screamed but with no sound. Fighting him by scratching and clawing, I managed to break free but soon another strong pair of arms wrapped around me like a vise. Tears streaming down my face, I finally managed to scream out, “My family! They’re in there! Help them!” I heard one of the firemen call on his radio to alert the others about possible victims and hearing that word caused me to collapse against the man holding me. There was a buzzing in my ears, my tongue felt tingly, then I spiraled into darkness.
“Noooo!” I cried as I thrashed around in my bed, sweat beading on my forehead, damp sheets tangling around my legs. It was that nightmare again, inspired by my own horrible reality. I could feel every emotion, smell every smell, just as if I was there that night almost five years ago. My heart was pounding, my mouth dry as I lay there panting as if I’d just run the same distance I did that night. With a trembling hand, I wiped my tear-dampened cheeks then reached over to click on the lamp beside my bed to chase away the darkness for at least a few minutes. After my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I could see the tiny tattoo on my wrist. Laying back against my pillow, I traced it with my finger remembering every moment of pain the day I’d gotten it done. The pain I’d felt in my skin couldn’t erase the emptiness in my heart but would be a constant reminder of my loss and guilt. Turning my head, I glanced over at my nightstand and my eyes locked on the simple silver frame that held the only salvageable photo of my family. A fireman had retrieved it from the rubble. It was water-damaged and scorched on the edges but was the most precious thing to me. It was the only physical proof they’d been alive once and that we’d been a happy family.
Elizabeth James is the author of the Design Series. She writes contemporary romance set in her native North Carolina. A life-long reader, she began writing a novel at age fifteen, put it away with no hopes of publication, but now has realized her dream as an adult. Inspired by several bestselling authors she began working as a beta reader and her passion for writing once again surfaced. She embarked on a journey to see if she could complete a novel and Love by Design was born. With warm reception to her first novel she is now making this crazy world a part of her life. Elizabeth believes you're never too late in life to realize your dreams and this has opened up a new world of adventures and meeting new people which she loves to do. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her husband and their dogs. She enjoys traveling, exploring North Carolina, and spending time with her friends.