Title: Back to Yesterday

Series: Bleeding Hearts #2

Author: Whitney Barbetti

Release Date: Oct 20, 2016

Add to Goodreads – http://bit.ly/2dLMkcT





The distance from Colorado to Maine is not far enough to escape the memories.

The time I’ve been away is not long enough to heal the pain.

I left Colorado, determined to discover who I am outside of my grief, but I fell apart along the way.

I’m lost again.
When Jude follows me, I can’t turn him away. But I can’t let him in, either.

Not all the way.

I know when he finds out my secret, the one I keep hidden in the darkest part of my heart, he’ll leave me.


Like I was before.



Buy Links:


Amazon – http://amzn.to/2eFAZLj





“Are you okay?”


He laughed, but it was without humor. He dropped his head and stared at his plate as I had minutes earlier. “Am I okay?” Shaking his head, he said, “No, I’m not fucking okay.” He pushed away from the table hard enough that the screech of the chair across the wooden floor startled me. Jude was always so steady, and while he wasn’t necessarily predictable, he wasn’t prone to outbursts of anger like this. He picked up his plate and walked to the sink and I stared at his back, willing him to talk to me. But I couldn’t ask that of him.


Picking up my plate, I debated what to do. It was surreal almost, being in Jude’s apartment but not touching him the way I wanted to. Finally, I joined him at the sink as he worked a sponge into a lather and swiped it across his plate. “Let me do it,” I said softly, reaching a hand in to take the sponge from him.


He let go of the plate and clasped my forearm as I reached into the sink. His touch was gentle as he turned my wrist over and rubbed a thumb slowly across the length of my vein, visible through my translucent skin. I could only hold my breath as he touched me like this, like he was memorizing the blue lines that ran the length of my forearm. His hands were warm, searching, and I realized that I’d been yearning for this, for the simple act of him touching my skin like it was delicate. His fingers moved down, and my closed fist opened to give him access to my palm, where he traced the lines in my hands. It was so intimate, even in its simplicity, that all I could do was watch him as he examined my hands. “I’ve missed you,” he said in a voice that was just short of a whisper. My heart turned over as he bent my fingers gently back into my fist and rubbed his soapy fingers over the knuckles.


When he let go of my hand and turned away from me, I felt goose bumps ignite across my skin. All I wanted was for him to keep touching me, but I’d hurt him. And he’d hurt me.


We had miles of pain between the two of us, and even though we were no longer miles apart, that pain existed between us like another person, holding both of us back.


“I missed you too,” I said too late, when I’d caught my breath again.


“Please,” he pleaded as he rinsed the plate in his hands. “I can’t hear you say that right now.”


Nodding, I backed away. I understood. This wasn’t the time or place, and we were little more than strangers right now. I was a new Trista, someone he had never known.


Likely, someone he didn’t want to know.

My review

 3.5 amazing writing but not the story for me stars.

This is a really hard review for me to write as I have no idea how to rate Back to Yesterday. 

I’ll start by saying I adore the words Whitney writes, the way she hooks me in and makes me feel, even if I don’t want too. I’m compelled to read the things she writes and find it hard not to keep turning the pages. That’s no different with this book, Whitney’s endearing writing style shines throughout, what is different is the way I felt about the actual story. I hate to say it but I didn’t love it. I don’t know if I can pinpoint exactly why, maybe it’s because the story didn’t go the way I had hoped? I loved the way into the tomorrows ended and I was really excited for Trista to go and ‘find’ herself I just don’t really feel that she did that. I know life isn’t all rainbows and flowers and people’s problems don’t just disappear overnight and I feel Whitney did justice to that fact. She didn’t solve everything by writing a new chapter filled with hearts and flowers and for that I give her credit, she showed us the real side of life, she tackled a big issue, sensitively and embraced the many flaws Trista has. I feel at times the story dragged but what I found is that I kept reading, that to me is the sign of a good writer, I didn’t want to stop because the words made me need the answers. I struggled a little with the jumps in timeline, I found it hard to remember which year I was in as the story flits to and fro between two different years. I guess by the end of it I didn’t feel like much had changed with Trista and the things that were keeping her and Jude apart never changed, she didn’t seem to grow much throughout the book, whereas in book one I felt she changed remarkably and I warmed to her and really routed for her, I think I wanted a HEA more for Jude than I did her.

Having said all that the poems oh my word! Just beautiful! No matter what book I read from Whitney I find so many epic lines, lines that if I ever had a tattoo would more than likely end up on my skin. 
I’m a big believer that books sometimes find you when you need them, also that sometimes there’s a wrong time to read a certain book and perhaps this happened with Back to Yesterday. I’d just come off the back of being totally engrossed in some far fetched series, in which there was drama and complete overindulgence at every turn so maybe Back to Yesterday was just too much of a ‘back to Earth’ for me. I have no doubt that there will be many 5 star reviews for this book and I’ll totally understand each one, I feel it will resonate with so many people and some will get a lot of warmth from it, unfortunately for me it just wasn’t to be. 

Don’t let it put you off reading as this will totally be a book that some regard as epic and thanks to Whitney’s endearing writing I will still continue to read anything she releases as I adore her words.


Author Info:


I am a wife to one and a mom to two humans and one cat. I have a deep and abiding love for nachos – especially the kind with the liquid cheese, like from Taco Bell (sorry). I run on less than four hours of sleep thanks to copious amounts of Diet Coke. (Note: this paragraph is not sponsored by anyone except my hungry stomach.) 


As a Navy brat, I grew up all over the country, from California, up the east coast from Florida to New England and Colorado. I currently live in Idaho, where we have lots of potatoes and windmills. 


I write character-driven New Adult novels, heavy on the emotional connection. I LOVE love. I love writing about broken characters who find their soul mates. 


Facebook – http://bit.ly/1rTZoJU

Twitter – http://bit.ly/ZrNptg

Website – http://bit.ly/1vMK81X

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/2dLMiBI

Release day blitz, Tonic- Staci Hart

Title: Tonic
Author: Staci Hart
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: October 13, 2016

Joel Anderson doesn’t take anything seriously.

 Not his relationships, which have been few and far between since his brutal divorce. Not the drama of working in a tattoo parlor, which seems to be around every corner. When things get him down, he smiles and cracks a joke. But he’s not the kind of man you cross, or you’ll find yourself at the wrong end of his fists.

 Annika Belousov takes everything seriously.

 Like her job as a reality television producer, given that she typically has something to prove. Or her love life, which is defined by a series of requirements — affluent, ambitious, accomplished, to name a few. Definitely her family, who worked their whole lives to afford her every opportunity, a sacrifice she doesn’t take lightly. When she’s tapped to produce a reality show at Joel’s shop, she doesn’t think twice, just goes in for the kill, as if there were any other way.

 The second Annika walks into Joel’s shop, he makes it his mission to crack her open, but she’s not having it. He’s all wrong — too crass, too hairy, too un-serious. But it doesn’t take her long to find out there’s more to him than smirks and tattoos. And what she finds could put her career and his heart on the line.

 Not that Joel cares. Because for the first time in a long time, he’s found his tonic.

Purchase Links


Author Bio

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.

Author Links


Cover reveal- Back to yesterday- Whitney Barbetti

Title: Back to Yesterday
Series: Bleeding Hearts #2
Author: Whitney Barbetti
Release Date: Oct 20, 2016
Add to Goodreads
The distance from Colorado to Maine is not far enough to escape the memories.
The time I’ve been away is not long enough to heal the pain.
I left Colorado, determined to discover who I am outside of my grief, but I fell apart along the way.
I’m lost again.

When Jude follows me, I can’t turn him away. But I can’t let him in, either.
Not all the way.
I know when he finds out my secret, the one I keep hidden in the darkest part of my heart, he’ll leave me.
Like I was before.

I didn’t want to let go of him for a while. Holding him had been the most peaceful I’d felt in months—it practically radiated from him. “You’re actually here,” I said into his flannel shirt.
“Mhm,” he said into my hair.
“Don’t let go just yet,” I whispered, rubbing my face over his shirt.
“I won’t.”
I’m not sure how long we stood there, just holding one another. His breath was warm on the top of my head and I could hear each beat of his heart against my ear, where it was pressed against his chest.
I was the first to pull back, because I wanted to look up into his face. His beautiful, tranquil face. The smile on it caused one to reflect on mine too. He was perfect. A word I didn’t like, because of the expectations it required. But that’s what he was.
“You look so different,” he said, brushing a thumb along my cheek. I took a quiet delight in that, hoping he’d notice how much weight I’d lost since he had seen me last.
“I’ve lost weight.”
But he didn’t look pleased. In fact, he looked concerned. “Are you okay?”
I pulled away from him just a little, feeling disappointment. “Of course, I’m great. And you’re here.”
“I am.” But something had changed in his expression as he searched me over.
“Let me show you around,” I said, changing the subject.
We hadn’t kissed. It was all I could think about.
I am a wife to one and a mom to two humans and one cat. I have a deep and abiding love for nachos – especially the kind with the liquid cheese, like from Taco Bell (sorry). I run on less than four hours of sleep thanks to copious amounts of Diet Coke. (Note: this paragraph is not sponsored by anyone except my hungry stomach.) 
As a Navy brat, I grew up all over the country, from California, up the east coast from Florida to New England and Colorado. I currently live in Idaho, where we have lots of potatoes and windmills. 
I write character-driven New Adult novels, heavy on the emotional connection. I LOVE love. I love writing about broken characters who find their soul mates. 

Release day blitz- A love letter to Whiskey-Kandi Steiner

Title: A Love Letter to Whiskey
Author: Kandi Steiner
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 13, 2016

It’s crazy how fast the buzz comes back after you’ve been sober for so long.

 Whiskey stood there, on my doorstep, just like he had one year before. Except this time, there was no rain, no anger, no wedding invitation — it was just us.

 It was just him — the old friend, the easy smile, the twisted solace wrapped in a glittering bottle.

 It was just me — the alcoholic, pretending like I didn’t want to taste him, realizing too quickly that months of being clean didn’t make me crave him any less.

 But we can’t start here.

 No, to tell this story right, we need to go back.  

 Back to the beginning.

 Back to the very first drop.

 This is my love letter to Whiskey. I only hope he reads it.

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The first time I tasted Whiskey, I fell flat on my face.


I was drunk from the very first sip, and I guess that should have been my sign to stay away.

Jenna and I were running the trail around the lake near her house, sweat dripping into our eyes from the intense South Florida heat. It was early September, but in South Florida, it might as well have been July. There was no “boots and scarves” season, unless you counted the approximately six weeks in January and February where the temperature dropped below eighty degrees.

As it was, we were battling ninety-plus degrees, me trying to be a show off and prove I could keep up with Jenna’s cheerleading training program. She had finally made the varsity squad, and with that privilege came ridiculous standards she had to uphold. I hated running — absolutely loathed it. I would much rather have been on my surf board that day. But fortunately for Jenna, she had a competitive best friend who never turned down a challenge. So when she asked me to train with her, I’d agreed eagerly, even knowing I’d have screaming ribs and calves by the end of the day.

I saw him first.

I was just a few steps ahead of Jenna, and I’d been staring down at my hot pink sneakers as they hit the concrete. When I looked up, he was about fifty feet away, and even from that distance I could tell I was in trouble. He seemed sort of average at first — brown hair, lean build, soaked white running shirt — but the closer he got, the more I realized just how edible he was. I noticed the shift in the muscles of his legs as he ran, the way his hair bounced slightly, how he pressed his lips together in concentration as he neared us.  

I looked over my shoulder, attempting to waggle my eyebrows at Jenna and give her the secret best friend code for “hot guy up ahead”, but she had stopped to tie her shoes. And when I turned back around, it was too late.

I smacked into him — hard — and fell to the pavement, rolling a bit to soften the fall. He cursed and I groaned, more from embarrassment than pain. I wish I could say I gracefully picked myself up, smiled radiantly, and asked him for his number, but the truth is I lost the ability to do anything the minute I looked up at him.

It was an unfamiliar, warm ache that spread through my chest as I used my hand to shield the sun streaming in behind his silhouette, just how you’d expect the first sip of whiskey to feel. He was bent over, hand outstretched, saying something that wasn’t registering because I had somehow managed to slip my hand into his and just that one touch had set my skin on fire.

Handsome wasn’t the right word to describe him, but it was all I kept thinking as I traced his features. His hair was a sort of mocha color, damp at the roots, falling onto his forehead just slightly. His eyes were wide — almost too round — and a mixture of gold, green, and the deepest brown. I didn’t coin the nickname Whiskey until much later, but it was that moment that I saw it for the first time — those were whiskey eyes. The kind of eyes you get lost in. The kind that drink you in. He had the longest lashes and a firm, square jaw. It was so hard, the edges so clean that I would have sworn he was angry with me if it weren’t for the smile on his face.He was still talking as my eyes fell over his broad chest before snapping back up to his sideways grin.

“Oh my God, are you fucking blind?!” Jenna’s voice snapped me from my haze as she shoved Whiskey out of the way and latched onto my hand, ripping me back to standing position. I’d barely caught my balance before she whipped around to continue her scolding. “How about you brush that long ass hair out of your eyes and watch where you’re going, huh champ?”

Oh no.

I didn’t even have time to call dibs, I couldn’t even think the word, let alone say it, before it was too late. I watched it, in slow motion, as Whiskey fell for my best friend before I even had the chance to say a single word to him.  

Jenna was standing tall, arms crossed, one hip popped in her usual fashion as she waited for him to defend himself. This was her protocol — it was one of the reasons we got along. We were both what you’d call “spitfires”, but Jenna had the distinct advantage of being cripplingly gorgeous on top of having an attitude. She flipped her long, wavy blonde ponytail behind her and cocked a brow.

And then he did, too.

His smile grew wider as he met her eyes, and it was the same look I’d watched fall over guy after countless guy. Jenna was a unicorn, and men were enamored by her. As they should have been — she had platinum blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, legs for days and a personality to boot. Now, before you go thinking that I was the insecure best friend – I had it going on, too. I worked hard, I was talented – just not at the things traditional high school boys valued.

But we’ll get to that.

“Hi,” Whiskey finally said, extending his hand to Jenna this time. His eyes were warm, smile inviting — if I had to pick the right word for him, just one, I’d say charming. He just oozed charm. “I’m Jamie.”

“Well, Jamie, maybe you should make an appointment with the eye doctor before you run over another innocent jogger. And you owe Brecks an apology.” She nodded to me then and I cringed at my name, wondering why she felt the need to spill it at all. She always called me B — everyone did — so why did she choose the moment I was face to face with the first boy to ever make my heart accelerate to use my full name?

Jamie was still grinning, eying Jenna, trying to figure her out, but he turned to me after a moment with that same crooked smile. “I’m sorry, I should have been watching where I was going.” He said the words with conviction, but lifted his brows on that last line because he and I both knew who wasn’t paying attention to the trail, and he wasn’t the guilty party.  

“It’s fine,” I murmured, because for some reason I was still having a difficult time finding my voice. Jamie tilted his head just a fraction, his eyes hard on me this time, and I felt naked beneath his gaze. I’d never had anyone look at me that way — completely zeroed in. It was unnerving and exhilarating, too.  

But before I could latch onto the feeling, he turned back to Jenna, their eyes meeting as slow smiles spread on both of their faces. I’d seen it a million times, but this was the first time I felt sick watching it happen.

I saw him first, but it didn’t matter.

 Because he saw her.

Author Bio

Kandi Steiner is a Creative Writing and Advertising/Public Relations graduate from the University of Central Florida living in Tampa with her husband. Kandi works full time as a social media specialist, but also works part time as a Zumba fitness instructor and blackjack dealer.

Kandi started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a die hard hopeless romantic (like most girls brought up on Disney movies).

When Kandi isn’t working or writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys beach days, movie marathons, live music, craft beer and sweet wine – not necessarily in that order.

Author Links




On the discovery of a family secret and the heart-wrenching events that follow, Autumn Chamberlain has lost what little faith she had in those closest to her. Knowing she can never truly live her life if she remains with her family, and with an abundance of guilt laying heavily in her heart, she escapes the lonely world she felt forced to live in and heads to the seaside town of Haywater.

The aim, to look for a new beginning, a fresh start. But she has one clear notion – to never love again. Talented surfer, Zed Maddison, has always worked hard at protecting those closest to him, until the day he fails. Fighting his own demons, Zed flees his close family; unable to face them and the remorse he feels before finally arriving in Haywater.

When their worlds collide, Zed has an unfathomable need to protect Autumn and becomes relentless in his fight, forcing Autumn’s defences to the limit.

Can her secrets remain dead and buried?

Or will a revelation destroy everything?

Add To Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28666255-autumn- s-




Purchase Links

Amazon uk – http://amzn.to/2di0Ys9

Amazon USA – http://amzn.to/2dBpFLF

About The Author

R. G. Corr is a mum of 3 who loves to read almost as much as she does to write. When she is not working or writing, you’ll find her nose deep in her kindle swooning over her latest book boyfriend.

Having had an overactive imagination for many years, a discussion with a friend at a soft play area, amidst the noise and mayhem of toddlers, finally convinced her to put pen to paper and write her first novel. Autumn’s Rise, book one in the Haywater series, was released in February 2016. Book two will follow later in the year.

You can keep in touch with her via:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RGCorr1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RGCorr1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rgcorr

Author interview

So we thought we’d ask RG a bit more about herself, life questions, book questions and the all-important quickfire questions. She gave some great answers and is a girl after my own heart. Enjoy!

LL: What was your first thought this morning?

RG: I have Reid back! Monday’s Promise, the second story in the Haywater series, has been edited and sent to my inbox! Very excited as I’ve missed him!

LL: What three things would you bury in a time capsule for someone to find 100 years form now?

RG: A personal letter explaining who I am, who/what is important to me and what life is like in the world.

A photograph of my family outside our home in the hope that it’s a relation who finds the capsule. 

A paperback of Beautiful Disaster (my fave book). You never know how long paperbacks will be around for… Forever I would hope!

LL:What animal, best represents you? What’s your spirit animal?

RG: Well I cheated… I took an online quiz and apparently I’m a Badger… Small protective and passionate! Who knew a Badger was passionate?

Why couldn’t I have been a Gazelle? Wise, agile, full of grace and beauty. 

LL: What skill are you most proud of?

RG: I would like to say my mummy skills. It’s hard juggling family with work and writing but I make sure my kids are my priority. They know they can rely on me always. 

LL: What is the grossest combination of food you can think of?

RG: Eyes (whether sheep or fish!), Oysters and I can’t stand liver or kidneys. I’m already retching at the thought.

LL: Where is the best place you’ve visited?

RG: New York! On Christmas Day a number of years ago, the hubs (he was my boyfriend at the time) gave me a BIG apple in a box. The next day (Boxing Day) we flew out. I loved it!!! 

Let’s talk books

LL: Who’s your favourite female book character?

RG: Well this is a hard one. I can’t think of a fave but I like the girls who fight for what/who they want (even if it takes them some time to realise it’s what they deserve!) 

LL: What book do you wish you had written?

RG: I would have to go with anything by Julia Donaldson. My kids adore her books, if i had written them… I would be the coolest mum EVER!

LL: Which romance author’s books do you pick up regardless of what the blurb says?

RG: Colleen Hoover. I first fell in love with her stories when I read the Hopeless series.

LL: What was the first romance book you read?

 RG: Wuthering Heights – although a little more than a romance novel! 

 LL: Who is your most favourite book boyfriend and why?

 RG: Travis Maddox-Beautiful Disaster He’s a cocky, loveable rogue but when needed he shows his sensitive side that nobody believes he possesses.  Oh and did I mention he’s a fighter? Just my kind of man. I read Beautiful Disaster four years ago and Travis has stayed with me since, you don’t want a man like that to ever leave you.

 LL: Who are your all-time favourite authors?

RG: Colleen Hoover, Jay Crownover and C.M. Owens, I’m a romantic girl at heart and always on the lookout for the next bad boy.


Night or Day- Night

Husband or Hemsworth- Husband by day Hemsworth at night 

Prosecco or Corona- Prosecco

Choc or crisps- Crisps

Heels or flats- Flats

Dine out or dance- Dance

Summer or winter-Neither, I’m an Autumn/Spring kinda girl, I like the in-between seasons I love the darker nights of Autumn and the cuddling up infront of the log fire after summer. Then I love spring because after the cold winter I’m ready for the flowers and for the temperature to warm up a bit.

Beard or no beard- Errr, can I say scruff?

Arms or bum- Arms

Tats or not tats- Tats

Best friend romance or tortured bad boy- Bad boy

Alpha male or Fighter- Fighter

Reid or Zed- I love them both but it’s Reid who owns my heart. He was born into an entirely different life to Zed. Reid had to learn to fight his way through from the moment he was able. He is fiercely loyal, hot, Funny, unwilling to put up with any bullshit! Oh and did I mention hot! I love the underdog, the one that people believe will fail and fall. I love the one that fights!


I step out of the car onto the cobbled stone outside the church, but I can’t seem to move any further. I don’t want to go any further because this should not be happening. None of us should be here, especially Betts.“Come on, Bea, they’re getting out of the other car, we need to go to them. Tyler, walk with your sister.” My brother hangs back because I need a second before I follow. I make the mistake of looking up to the
sky—tears immediately fill my eyes. I hadn’t noticed until now how bright the sun is shining. The cliché would
be for rain to fall and dark clouds to crowd the sky. But that wouldn’t be right for Betts. She deserves the sunshine.
With a deep breath, I take my brother’s arm, and we make a slow approach. Uncle Mike is the first out of the car. He holds out his palm for Aunt Grace. Zed and Noah get out the other side. The second I see Zed I turn away, unable to witness his pain.
“Christ, he can’t live with himself, look at his face.”
Immediately, I turn on my brother forcing him to take a step back. “Don’t you ever insinuate he didn’t do all he could. They both did.” I whisper. Reid and Zed had both been there on the day Betts died. Neither could save her. She disappeared beneath the waves before their eyes. They searched and searched… but she wasn’t found until hours later. “I have not one single doubt in my mind that this is tearing them to pieces. You never allow those words to leave your lips again.” I warn. Tyler bobs his head now, bereft at his statement.
As I finally draw my eyes back up to my cousin, I understand Tyler’s words. Pain is etched in every line, every muscle on Zed’s face. His eyes are where the sorrow is more visible though, making my cousin unrecognisable. My focus lands to those standing closest to Zed. I promised myself I wouldn’t look for him, but I have to. I scan over the many faces but come up empty. “Where’s Reid?” I ask my brother, the confusion evident in my voice. “He needs to be here.” “He told Zed he didn’t think it was right to go in the car with them seeing as though he’s not family.“What?” Again I act stunned at my brother. “Of course he’s family.” “Well, technically he isn’t.” “Tyler Maddison, I swear to God you need to keep that mouth closed, or I’m going to shove it on top of a headstone.” Reid is family. He may have lived across the road from my cousins but he was with them every single day, he is as much a part of their lives as I am. Other than Doug and Alice, his foster carers, we are the only family he’s ever known. “I’m sorry, I don’t know where this shit is coming from. I guess I don’t handle funerals too well. Come on. “Tyler gestures for us to continue walking. As we make our way towards my family, the sound of a motorbike grows closer. My whole body stills, knowing it’s him. When the engine shuts off, my body twists of its own accord and my eyes naturally gravitate in his direction. He takes the helmet from his head and lets it hang loosely at his side. With his eyes to the ground, he steps off his bike and hangs his leather jacket on the handle bars. With feet that appear as heavy as lead, he
approaches our family. Briefly, his eyes link to mine, and I face an emptiness I’ve witnessed once before. The day Reid arrived in Merribay. I draw in a breath in an attempt to alleviate the pain that reverberates through my chest at the sight of the lost boy who has once again returned. Dropping his focus, he steps to Zed, and I watch as Zed wrenches Reid to him. They stand, united in each other’s sorrow. One has lost a sister, the other
the only girl he’s ever wanted to protect.
Tyler squeezes my hand before he joins the rest of the men. I watch in agony as Uncle Mike, my dad, Zed, Noah, Tyler, and finally Reid, step to the coffin ready to accept my cousin for her final journey.
My cousin who I have already failed. My cousin who asked something of me and instead of saying yes, I should have said no. My thoughts veer to the last time I saw Betts, the day I made her a promise. I draw my knees to my chest and wrap my arms around them before watching him out at sea.
“You’re actually going to do this?” I ask, my voice barely above a whisper. We both have our eyes trained on one man, the man whose heart my cousin is about to break. Reid Banner. “Yes, I am. It’s the right thing to do,” Betts replies. “I thought, out of everybody, you would understand. He’s my friend, Bea, my best friend. He’s not the man I am in love with, you know that.” I shake my head and let out a breath.
“You have to trust me on this, Bea. He has never wanted me to see life in any way other than perfect,” shecontinues. “So he’s stayed by my side, believing he’s protecting me when the one he is shielding from pain is himself. He wants to live in this sheltered existence he’s created because Reid knows just how disappointing the outside world can be.” Her voice trails off, and she remains quiet. I immediately sense her unease. “This isn’t just about him, Bea.” She lowers her eyelids and whispers. “I’m selfish; I know I am but I want to get out and experience the world. I love him but not in the way he deserves and it’s suffocating me.
He’s been my strength for as long as I can remember but I want to gain my own strength now and in turn, release him. So I’m going to ask you something… and you’re going to think I’m crazy…” I loosen the grip on my legs and return her
gaze. She provides me with that heart-warming smile she owns. “I need you to promise that you’ll be there for him.” “What?” I whisper-shout. “Me? You want me to promise?” I stare at my cousin open-mouthed. She grins back. “Yeah, you.” “He can barely look at me without it sparking some sarcastic comment. I am not the person you should be asking.” What is she thinking? I stand up with a start and gather my belongings. I’m leaving for home today, and this is not a conversation I need to be having. I can’t believe she is asking me. “Me?” I stare at her dumbfounded. Reid Banner has quite frankly been a total arse to me since the day we met. I get it, and I’m okay with it. He needs someone, like a bully needs a target. He needs to vent, to express his anger and because I’ve pretty much been blessed with a life that was the total opposite of his, I take it, preferring the words of
spite that leave his lips to be aimed at me rather than someone like Betts because the words and taunts would crucify her. So I know right now my cousin is bat shit crazy. I am the last person Reid will ever need.
“Yes, you.” She repeats gently and reaches for my hand. “You’re the only person it can be.” “Betts…” I shake my head on an exhale. “It’s one thing putting up with his comments and digs but what you’re asking me… It would be like inviting the abuse into my life, and that’s a whole new level of insanity. You know what he’s like with me. Why would you ask me?” She lowers her chin and looks away from me. “There are things you don’t understand about Reid, reasons for the way he is… He’ll never leave me, Bea but I need him to, he needs me to.” “You’re crazy,” I mutter, shaking my head in disbelief. Betts is basically asking me to put myself in prime position to receive Reid’s taunts. He’s going to be hurting and want to lash out even more than he has before.
“Like I say, there are things about Reid you don’t know. I just want you to check in with him once in a while—”
“Are you planning on going somewhere?” “No, I will be here, but it will take time for him to recognise that separating ourselves is the right thing to do.
He has Zed, and they’re pretty tight, but Reid still keeps the one thing that matters from both of us. His past. He says he doesn’t remember, that he was too young, but I don’t believe him. I think he was hurt… a lot… before he came here. One day he’ll be ready to talk. I want him to have someone willing to listen.” “And you’re insinuating that I be the one to listen?” My voice hitches up in volume. “I think you’re just the person that needs to hear it.” I widen my eyes incredulously. My cousin has totally lost it. “Bea!” She nods her head. I follow her signal. Reid is approaching us—his expression softens the moment his eyes land on Betts. She is the only girl Reid has ever allowed to come close to entering his heart. Her palms have wrapped around it, cushioning it, preventing it from any further pain. With a sinking feeling, I realise once Betts releases the protective hold she has on him, his heart is liable to break all over again. “For me, Bea. Promise me.” She whispers her plea. I’m quiet for what seems like an eternity which confuses me because I knew my answer the second she asked. “I promise.”
Accepting mum’s outstretched arm, I drop my chin to my chest and take my heartache with everyone else’sinto the church. Tears once again begin to fall. I cry for the beautiful blue eyed girl we have all lost. I cry for the guilt that lies so heavily in my heart, knowing I will never see Betts again to offer her my apology.
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