Chris King never saw it coming…
In some ways, closing the book on my first love was the worst day of life. I was gutted, and yet I was completely at peace with my decision. I walked away knowing that I did what was best for her, unsure if I could ever recover.
Little did I know that one concert would change the entire course of my life.
There I stood, signing autographs and snapping pictures with fans when a familiar face in the crowd catapulted my mind back in time—Salem Honeycutt, once a balm to my pain and a calm in my storm. Yet again, her smiling face gave me hope.
Only one question remained: did she still see me as a wayward teenage boy who was completely off limits, or could she see the man I’d become…focused and driven, yearning for another chance at love?
For Salem Honeycutt, postpartum bliss seemed like a lie…
No one told me that I’d hate my baby when I brought her home from the hospital. No one told me that I’d want to put a pillow over my husband’s head and smother him in his sleep. No one told me that I’d want to slap every person who gave me the ever-so-cliché advice to ‘cherish every moment.’ No one told me that I’d despise my life the minute I became a mother, but I did.
Then I met Chris King, the kid who made me want to pull myself up from the dark recesses of my mind and face each day. This kid, whose passion for life and talent for music, touched my soul deeper than I could ever touch his. Chris gave me a reason to live.
I was once affectionately known as Mrs. H., Chris’s juvenile detention counselor.
This is our story.
The ending of So Much It Hurts made me want to hurt someone. Talk about heart wrenching, gut crushing disappointment – at least from Chris King’s point of view. Yes, he made some really horrendous decisions, but he deserves happiness as much as the next guy. Thank the Lord above for Then There Was You. *sigh*
So, Kaitlyn and Chris did the horizontal tango when they clearly shouldn’t have in So Much It Hurts.It is entirely possible that their little “no regrets” weekend produced a tiny person, and at the end of the first book in this series, Chris bumps into Kaitlyn, and her two children, years later at the supermarket. It’s then that he realizes one of them might be his. Yikes! Talk about a slap in the face. Then again, what was she supposed to say? Oh, hey Chris, I had a son a few years ago after our weekend together and he may or may not be yours? Talk about an uncomfortable situation. Needless to say, that kind of threw Chris for a loop, and after setting up a trust fund for the boys he walked away…into bottles of alcohol and random panties. He was on a one way trip to rock bottom until a familiar face from his very distant past showed up in an unlikely place.
Salem Honeycutt was Chris’s juvenile detention center counselor. She was 24 to his 17, a wife and mother suffering from post-partum depression. Helping the boys at Fairbanks kept Salem going; they gave her purpose in an otherwise bleak existence. Chris needed Salem and Salem needed Chris. They shared a bond which was severed the moment he stepped outside the walls of juvie. She never thought she’d see him again; backstage passes fixed that…
Let me make something clear. Nothing inappropriate occurs between Chris and Salem when he’s serving his sentence at Fairbanks. They just seemed to click. Years later when they meet again, the sparks fly. Things have changed. Chris is a grown man, no longer a young teenaged boy. The situation flirts with the inappropriate but doesn’t quite cross the line.
Then There Was You is told in much the same way that So Much It Hurts was; about half the book is set in the past and the other half the present. Usually this kind of thing drives me up a wall, but having the back story on Salem and Chris (much like Kaitlyn and Chris) made all the difference.
I could literally feel Salem’s pain. I myself suffered through some of the feelings she did when I became a mom. It’s not easy to take care of a brand new life, especially when you’re basically doing it on your own. Reading about her struggles gave me a healthy respect for her character. She and Chris were both suffering in very different yet similar ways.
Warning: Chris is a rock star. He finds himself in some pretty crappy situations. Remember that while you read this book. He’s not perfect, but his heart is always in the right place. Don’t give up on him before he’s had his chance to shine.
I love Melanie. I love how she writes, the pace of her stories, the character development – I love it all. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. This series has completely blown me away. It’s beautifully devastating. Melanie takes you places you never wanted to go, but she doesn’t leave you there for long. If you hold out long enough, hope finds its way through despair.
“Goodnight, Alexis,” I told her.
“Night, mom.” She gave me a quick hug and darted toward the stairs.
The moment she was out of sight, Chris hopped up and wrapped me in his arms. “You don’t know how much I’ve missed this, you in my arms like this,” he said, pulling me tight against him.
I sank into his chest, laying my head over the thumping beat of his heart. “I miss this too,” I admitted, breathing in his manly, musky scent.
Our bodies melded together as he cradled my head against him. Kissing me gently on the top of my head, he whispered, “I’ve missed you so much, Salem.”
I lifted my eyes to look at him. “Thank you for coming tonight. I know it wasn’t easy to get here, especially knowing we only have a few hours together.”
He looked down at me, smiling. “Baby, even if I had to drive all night just to spend one minute with you, it would all be worth it.”
My heart flipped in my chest hearing him call me ‘baby.’ It was definitely a nickname I could get used to.
He lowered his lips to mine. The hot rush of passion tore through my body the moment his lips touched me. God, I’ve missed him. I parted my lips, an invitation for his tongue to find a deeper connection.
He ran his hands down my back, sending shivers up my spine. The caress of his fingers across my back left me hungry for more.
Chris reached up, gently grasping the sides of my face and caressing my cheeks with his thumbs. His soft, luscious lips moved against mine. My fingers found their way to his hair and tangled themselves up in it, pulling him closer to me. He thrust himself against me, causing me to arch my back in response. A gentle tug of his teeth on my lip sent a flaming burst of yearning through my core. He was hungry for me, too. I felt it in the gentle pulse of his erection beneath the fabric of his worn-out jeans.
A quiet moan escaped my throat, triggering a frenzy of him clutching, grasping, and pulling me toward him. I could sense the desperation behind his actions.
“Salem,” he whispered between kisses, “what are you doing to me?”
Pulling away from his mouth, I asked, “What do you mean?”
Tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and sliding his thumb down the length of my jaw, he said softly, “I didn’t mean to do this.”
“Didn’t mean to do what?” I asked, my eyes wide with worry.
Chris smiled that sexy half grin that melted my heart every time. His eyes held a softness, full of affection and adoration. “Fall for you,” he breathed.
Melanie Dawn is a thinker, a dreamer, and a hopeless romantic. When her head isn’t in the clouds, she spends her time as a jack of all trades to her family. Melanie resides in the hills of North Carolina with her husband, her three children, and her cat. She enjoys lazy summer afternoons cruising around the lake on the pontoon boat with her family.
Melanie graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Psychology and earned her MA in School Counseling from Appalachian State University. She spent the first six years after graduate school as a middle school counselor. Those were years she deems as some of the best years of her life. That is, until she had children of her own. The last seven years have been spent as a stay-at-home mom. She has learned some tough life lessons, like what the inner absorbent pellets of a diaper look like scattered in the washing machine. She has also learned the strength of the willpower of a two year old lacking a nap. Through it all, Melanie has learned how to roll with the punches and appreciate the time she has been able to spend at home with her children.
Now that her last child has started Kindergarten, Melanie is ready to add a new chapter in her life. That chapter begins with her debut novel—So Much It Hurts.
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