On a twisted path of love, loss and murder, Rainey leads Justin through the events of her life.
Death follows Rainey…
Justin fights to discover her secrets…
But will he discover the secret of THE FIVE in time to resist Rainey’s ultimate seduction?
What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life?
From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.
Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.
When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.
As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?
“What are you doing?”
I ask when Dad pulls over at a convenience store only a mile from where Mom and I are now living. My voice sounds rusty after not talking during the five-hour ride. But I was afraid that if I said anything, it would all spill out: My anger. My hurt. My disappointment in the man who used to be my superhero.
“I need gas and a bathroom,” he says.
“Bathroom? So you can’t even come in to see Mom when you drop me off?” My heart crinkles up like a used piece of aluminum foil.
He meets my eyes, ignores my questions, and says, “You want anything?”
“Yeah. My freaking life back!” I jump out of the car and slam the door so hard, the sound of the metal hitting metal cracks in the hot Texas air. I haul ass across the parking lot,
watching my white sandals eat up the pavement, hiding the sheen of tears in my eyes.
“Chloe,” Dad calls out. I move faster.
Eyes still down, I yank open the door, bolt inside the store, and smack right into someone. Like, my boobs smash against someone’s chest.
“Crap,” a deep voice growls.
A Styrofoam cup hits the ground. Frozen red slushie explodes all over my white sandals. The cup lands on its side, bleeding red on the white tile. I swallow the lump in my throat and jerk back, removing my B cup boobs from some guy’s chest.
“Sorry,” he mutters, even though it’s my fault. I force myself to look up, seeing first his wide chest, then his eyes and the jet-black hair scattered across his brow. Great! Why couldn’t he be some old fart? I return to his bright green eyes and watch as they shift
from apologetic to shocked, then to angry. I should say something—like, add my own apology—but the lump in my throat returns with a vengeance.
“Shit.” The word sneaks through his frown. Yeah, all of this is shit! I hear Dad call my name again from outside. My throat closes tighter and tears sting my eyes. Embarrassed
to cry in front of a stranger, I snatch off my sandals and dart to a cooler. Opening the glass door, I stick my head in needing a cooldown. I swat a few stray tears off my cheeks. Then I feel someone next to me. Dad’s not letting this go.
“Just admit you screwed up!” I look over and am swallowed by those same angry light green eyes from a minute ago. “I thought you were . . . Sorry,” I say, knowing it’s late for an apology. His look is unsettling. He continues to glare. An all-in-my-face kind of glare.
As if this is more than a spilled slushie to him. “I’ll pay for it.” When he doesn’t even blink, I add another, “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you here?” His question seethes out.
“What? Do I know you?” I know I was rude, but—hotness aside—this guy is freaking me out. His eyes flash anger. “What do you want?” His tone carries an accusation I don’t
“What do you mean?” I counter.
“Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.”
He’s still staring me down. And I feel like I’m shrinking in his glare.
“I’m not . . . You must have me mixed up with someone else.”
I shake my head, unsure if this guy’s as crazy as he is sexy. “I don’t know what you’re
talking about. But I said I’m sorry.” I grab a canned drink and barefoot, carrying sticky
sandals, hurry to the front of the store. Dad walks in, scowling.
“Careful,” a cashier says to Dad while mopping up the slushie just inside the door.
“Sorry,” I mutter to the worker, then point to Dad. “He’s paying for my Dr Pepper! And for that slushie.” I storm off to the car, get in, and hold the cold Diet Dr Pepper can to my forehead. The hair on the back of my neck starts dancing. I look around, and the weird hot guy is standing outside the store, staring at me again. Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it. Yup, crazy. I look away to escape his gaze. Dad climbs back in the car. He doesn’t start it, just sits there, eyeballing me. “You know this isn’t easy for me either.” “Right.” So why did you leave?
He starts the car, but before we drive off, I look around again and see the dark-haired boy standing in the parking lot, writing on the palm of his hand. Is he writing down Dad’s license plate number? He’s a freak. I almost say something to Dad but remember I’m pissed at him. Dad pulls away. I focus on the rearview mirror. The hot guy stays there,
eyes glued on Dad’s car, and I stay glued on him until he’s nothing but a speck in the mirror.
“I know this is hard,” Dad says. “I think about you every day.”
I nod, but don’t speak. Minutes later, Dad pulls over in front of our mailbox. Or rather Mom’s and mine. Dad’s home isn’t with us anymore.
“I’ll call you tomorrow to see how your first day of school was.” My gut knots into a pretzel with the reminder that I’ll be starting as a senior at a new school. I stare out at the old house, in the old neighborhood. This house once belonged to my grandmother. Mom’s been renting it to an elderly couple for years. Now we live here. In a house that smells like old people . . . and sadness.
“Is she home?” Dad asks. In the dusk of sunset, our house is dark. Gold light leaks out of next door, Lindsey’s house—she’s the one and only person I know my own age in town.
“Mom’s probably resting,” I answer.
There’s a pause. “How’s she doing?”
You finally ask? I look at him gripping the wheel and staring at the house.
“Fine.” I open the car door, not wanting to draw out the goodbye. It hurts too much. “Hey.” He smiles. “At least give me a hug?” I don’t want to, but for some reason—because
under all this anger, I still love him—I lean over the console and hug him. He doesn’t even smell like my dad. He’s wearing cologne that Darlene probably bought him. Tears sting my eyes.
“Bye.” I get one slushie-dyed foot out of the car. Before my butt’s off the seat, he says, “Is she going back to work soon?”
I swing around. “Is that why you asked about her? Because of money?”“No.” But the lie is so clear in his voice, it hangs in the air. Who is this man? He dyes the silver at his temples. He’s sporting a spiky haircut and wearing a T-shirt with the name of a band he didn’t even know existed until Darlene. Before I can stop myself, the words trip off my tongue.
“Why? Does your girlfriend need a new pair of Jimmy Choos?”
“Don’t, Chloe,” he says sternly. “You sound like your mom.” That hurt now knots in my throat. “Pleeease. If I sounded like my mom, I’d say, ‘Does the whore bitch need a new pair of Jimmy Choos!’ ” I swing back to the door. He catches my arm.
“Look, young lady, I can’t ask you to love her like I do, but I expect you to respect her.”
“Respect her? You have to earn respect, Dad! If I wore the clothes she wears, you’d ground me. In fact, I don’t even respect you anymore! You screwed up my life. You screwed up Mom’s life. And now you’re screwing someone eighteen years younger than yourself.” I bolt out and get halfway to the house when I hear his car door open and slam.
“Chloe. Your stuff.” He sounds angry, but he can just join the crowd, because I’m more than mad—I’m hurt. If I weren’t afraid he’d follow me into the house all pissed off and start an argument with Mom, I’d just keep going. But I don’t have it in me to hear them fight again. And I’m not sure Mom’s up to it either. I don’t have an option but to do the right thing. It sucks when you’re the only person in the family acting like an adult.
I swing around, swat at my tears, and head back to the curb. He’s standing beside his car, my backpack in one hand and a huge shopping bag with the new school clothes he bought me in the other. Great. Now I feel like an ungrateful bitch.
When I get to him, I mutter, “Thanks for the clothes.”
He says, “Why are you so mad at me?”
So many reasons. Which one do I pick? “You let Darlene turn my room into a gym.”
He shakes his head. “We moved your stuff into the other bedroom.”
“But that was my room, Dad.”
“Is that really why you’re mad or . . . ? He pauses. “It’s not my fault that your mom got—”
“Keep thinking that,” I snap. “One of these days, you might even believe it!” Hands full, chest heavy, I leave my onetime superhero and my broken heart scattered on the sidewalk. My tears are falling fast and hot by the time I shut the front door behind
Buttercup, a medium-sized yellow mutt of a dog, greets me with a wagging tail and a whimper. I ignore him. I drop my backpack, my shopping bag, and dart into the bathroom. Felix, my red tabby cat, darts in with me. I attempt to shut the door in a normal way instead of an I’m-totally-pissed way. If Mom sees me like this, it’ll upset her. Even worse, it’ll fuel her anger.
“Chloe?” Mom calls. “Is that you?”
“Yeah. I’m in the bathroom.” I hope I don’t sound as emotionally ripped as I feel. I drop down on the toilet seat, press the backs of my hands against my forehead, and try to breathe. Mom’s steps creak across the old wood floors. Her voice sounds behind
the door. “You okay, hon?” Felix is purring, rubbing his face on my leg. “Yeah. My
stomach’s . . . I think the meat loaf I had at Dad’s was bad.”
“Did Darlene fix it?” Her tone’s rolled and deep-fried in hate.
I grit my teeth. “Yeah.”
“Please tell me your dad ate a second helping.” I close my eyes, when what I really want to do is scream, Stop it! I get why Mom’s so angry. I get that my dad’s a piece of shit. I get that he refuses to take any blame, and that makes it worse. I get what she’s been through. I get all of it. But does she have a clue how much it hurts me to listen to her take potshots at someone I still sort of love?
“I’m going to sit out on the patio,” she says. “When you’re out, join me.”
“Uh-huh,” I say. Mom’s steps creak away. I stay seated and try not to think about what all hurts, and instead I pet Felix. His eyes, so green, take me back to the boy in the store. Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it. What the heck did he mean?
Buy In Another Life here
C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel. Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.
Against my better judgment, I stand and head for the kitchen under the guise of getting a drink. I open the fridge, surreptitiously trying to get her attention.
I close the door with a bit more force than necessary. Nothing. So, I walk up to the sink next to her and look out the window, too.
God, she smells good.
So damn good.
And she’s absolutely stunning. Her golden hair comes past her shoulders and falls in waves that make me think she’s been at the beach all day, though I know she hasn’t. Her slightly rounded nose and perfect pink lips are precisely how I remember them. But her dark-blue eyes always have a way of rooting out people’s bullshit, which is what I’m certain will happen if she ever looks up at me.
I’ve done my best to keep a physical distance from her. I don’t want to be too close, for fear that I will reach out and touch her, like old times. She was always so close to me when we were kids.
I brush her arm as I lift the pop to my mouth and take a drink. This startles her, but it only takes a second to regain her composure.
“What ya looking at?” I ask, not taking my eyes off the apartment building across the street.
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking, I guess,” she sighs as she moves the bowl in her hands back under the running water.
“You guess? How do you not know?” I ask, using my same words from earlier, but in a gentler tone.
She looks at me this time, which is what I wanted. “Stop asking me questions if you always hate my answers.” She says it with a ghost of a smile.
Acting on its own, my shoulder bumps hers.
We’ve danced around each other for months. I haven’t touched her since that first night we met again as adults. I shook her hand because I was caught off guard. But today, we’ve touched twice. Where are the walls I’ve built?
She looks up at me with a hint of something in her eyes that I can’t quite figure out. Interest? Need? Maybe longing.
“I’m just kidding, G.” I smile at her. Something I haven’t done toward her in a very long time. Yeah, that look in her eyes is definitely longing.
She gives me a sad smile before turning to put the bowl on the drying rack. It isn’t lost on me that she’s hand-washing the dishes instead of letting the dishwasher take care of them.
“I really do want to know what’s got you staring out the window.”
She eyes me. “Why?”
I give this some thought. Why do I want to know so bad? Why do I care?
“Because I care?” Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. Yeah, I can see that was the wrong thing to say when she snorts and tosses an eye roll my way. A laugh escapes her lips but there’s no humor in it.
“Yeah, you care. Since when Simon? You can’t even look me in the eye. You don’t care. So, don’t waste your breath,” she spits out and starts shoving dishes in the dishwasher now, throwing all kinds of temper around with the task.
“Jeesh. Chill, alright? I guess old habits die hard. I can still tell when something is wrong. We do have a history. That won’t ever change,” I say, defending myself.
At this, she goes rigid. Ah-ha. Either bringing up the fact that we have a history or my telling her to chill—which she hates—has stopped her in her tracks; I’m guessing it’s a little bit of both.
“Just leave me alone, Simon,” she mutters.
“Is it your brother? Does he live here in Chicago? Are things better between the two of you or is he still an asshole with problems?” I can’t hold it in, I’ve got to know.
She puts the last cup in the washer and closes the door uncharacteristically slowly. She then wipes her hands on the towel, lays it down, and slowly turns to me.
If looks could kill, I’d be six feet under. She steps a tad closer to me.
“You … do not get to ask about him. You do not get to bring him up. Ever. Do not ever speak about him, or the past, to me or anyone.” Her voice is so low it makes my skin prickle.
“Uh, OK.” I gulp. This evil clone Gia is scary as shit.
She takes a step back, then turns to leave the kitchen.
Then as her words register, I realize.
“They don’t know, do they?”
She stops. Looks over her shoulder at me. Instead of anger, guilt clouds her eyes.
“No,” she says, and walks away.
Lauren Helms has forever been an avid reader from the beginning. After starting a book review website, that catapulted her fully into the book world, she knew that something was missing. Lauren decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. While working for a video game strategy guide publisher, she decided to mix what she knew best–video games and romance. She decided to take the plunge and joined NaNoWrimo and a month later, she had her first draft.
Over the next year, Molly did a good job of caring for her six foster babies and her son. We formed a strong bond. The older colts helped her as much as we could to look after the younger ones.
Then one day, Molly told us, “I’m going off alone. I want time to myself. Do not follow me this time. You older ones look after the young ones. I love you all. Good bye.” Molly looked at her foster family and her son for the last time. She had felt age creep up on her. Pain replaced her zest for life. She was going off to die alone. She knew we were old enough now to care for ourselves. It had been a long scary year for her. She knew Baby would be her last and may have grown up with one of the other mares as a foster mother. But it was she who became the only mother for all of us. She knows she had done a good job, as she tiredly trudged around the lake.
We don’t know what she meant as we watched her walk away over the rise. Usually we followed her wherever she went. Now we were alone.
We knickered and whinnied, and waited for Molly to return. I finally believed she wasn’t coming back. The way she said good-bye and not to follow her. What are we going to do now? I wonder, and when should I tell the others I think she isn’t coming back. Sooner would be better than later. Then we can decide what to do and who will lead us now. I call, “Hey, guys come here. I want to tell you something.”
“What is it, Angel?” Blaze asked, as he came over to me. He was the oldest by two days.
“I think Molly isn’t coming back.” I said and looked at Baby and Cheekie, they were closer to Molly because they nursed longer than the rest of us. The rest of us took what was left one at a time when they were finished.
Baby was upset, “Why do you say that about mother? She loved us and wouldn’t leave us alone.”
“Baby,” I said softly, “I am sorry, but the way she said good bye and not to follow her. We had always gone with her. She was old and tired. It was a hard job to look after us. We hadn’t always been good. Yes, she loved us; that is what kept her going as long as she did.”
Blaze said, “Angel is right, we are on our own now. We must decide what we are going to do and who is going to lead us.”
At thirty-eight, garden shop owner Jessie McBride thinks her chances for romance are years behind her and, after her failed marriage, she’s fine with that. She lives contentedly with her fiery mother and her quiet, headstrong daughter. But the unexpected arrival of two men on Glory Road make her question if she’s really happy with the status quo. Handsome, wealthy Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s wedding, and Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. And Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school days who’s known her better than anyone and whom she hasn’t seen in years, moves back to the red dirt road. Jessie finds her heart being pulled in directions she never expected.
Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and trying to navigate a new world of identity and emotions–particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, increasingly finds herself forgetful and faces a potentially frightening future.
As all three women navigate the uncertain paths of their hearts and futures, one summer promises to bring change–whether they’re ready for it or not.
I think I could legitimately spend far too much time waxing poetic about Lauren K. Denton and novels! In Denton, I have found an author who has, to date, made every book worth the wait and Glory Road is certainly no exception to that rule!
For most of her thirty-eight years, Jessie McBride has lived on Glory Road, the long dusty stretch of road occupied by herself, her mother, her daughter, a whole host of neighbors who, like the McBride’s have lived in the area for generations. Glory Road is comforting, comfortable, a place of refuge, and a place those who leave often come back to. Jessie is a prime example. After far too many years in a bad marriage, Jessie has built a life she quite loves in Glory Road. She owns a moderately successful garden shop, works with her delightfully spry mother, and is raising an all-around good kid. While Jessie may sometimes feel a bit lonely as far as romance goes, overall, she has little to complain about.
Oh, how fate and the universe just love to step in and shake things up. . . .
As if the universe just understands loneliness, within a few weeks of one another, two men come into Jessie’s life. Sumner Tate is the epitome of southern charm and he is hell-bent on having Jessie work for him in the form of florist for his daughter’s wedding. Additionally, Sumner makes it clear (in a totally charming way) he is interested in Jessie beyond her flower arranging abilities. Though Sumner is certainly interesting, it is the other man who truly sets Jessie’s emotions aflame. Ben Bradley, the one who could have been and should have been so many years ago is back on Glory Road and he’s looking to, at the very least rekindle the friendship he and Jessie once had.
In addition to the men in her life, Jessie also has some disconcerting concerns over her mother, Gus. Physically, Gus is as spry as ever, loves to putter around in the garden shop with Jessie, and cooks and bakes for the family on a regular basis. Gus is kind, friendly, devoted to her girls, and, of late showing some signs of her age. With increasing frequency, Gus becomes lost in her own mind and memories and when she comes out of these states, she refuses to speak of them with Jessie. Though she’s not hurt herself or put herself or anyone else in danger, the episodes are troubling and need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
For someone who has long valued and protected her comfort zone, Jessie suddenly finds herself, with two men and her mother, very much outside her comfort zone. Gus is completely encouraging of Jessie’s resurrected love life and ridiculously excited for the future possibilities the wedding flower project may bring for the garden shop. More than anything, Gus wants to see Jessie happy and though she can’t make the ultimate choice for her daughter, she can share some her own life experiences and wisdom. In turn, Jessie is passing on what she knows of life and love to her own daughter who is just beginning to understand the complexities of both.
The Bottom Line: At its core, Glory Road is the story of three generations of women who are, no matter their age finding their way in life, adjusting to the changes the universe likes to bring, and learning to truly lean on and rely on others when they need help. This is the aspect of this read I loved the most! Denton knows how to weave together lives, stories, events, and emotions that aren’t fictional at all and certainly not confined to her books. Glory Road may be classified among fiction books, but its story is real, relatable, and completely engrossing because it is a story so many among us can identify with at least on some level. As I generally do with Denton’s books, I blazed through this read and came away almost totally satisfied. They only thing I found lacking is an epilogue; if ever there was a book that simply begs for an epilogue, Glory Road would be that book. With that being said, the lack of an epilogue isn’t enough to keep me from, yet again adoring this beautifully written family saga. To get more like this, I will gladly wait until the next release this time next year.