Stay

Stay

4.8 36
by Hilary Wynne
     
 

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Set against the steamy and sultry world of South Beach, Florida, a modern romance unfolds in Stay. Alexa is beautiful, independent and hard to resist for serially unattached Julian. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but their palpable chemistry and instant emotional connection is too strong to ignore.

For the first time in years, Julian is interested in

Overview

Set against the steamy and sultry world of South Beach, Florida, a modern romance unfolds in Stay. Alexa is beautiful, independent and hard to resist for serially unattached Julian. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but their palpable chemistry and instant emotional connection is too strong to ignore.

For the first time in years, Julian is interested in more than just sex. He wants a relationship with intoxicating Alexa, but it's not that simple. Not only are Julian and Alexa struggling with the intensity of this new relationship, but they also have to contend with Luke, Alexa's best friend, whose own love for her leaves him willing to do anything to convince her that Julian is not the man for her.

Luke's determination and Alexa's secret past threaten to tear Julian and Alexa apart as she struggles to open her heart to love. Julian and Alexa embark upon a roller-coaster ride of emotional and physical passion that both pulls them apart and holds them together.

Despite their affinity for each other, Alexa fears that Julian will leave when he learns about her past and Julian is unsure he can love a woman who in so many ways remains a mystery, a woman who keeps threatening to run, a woman who can't decide if she is going to STAY.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780996029445
Publisher:
Hilary Wynne
Publication date:
11/15/2013
Pages:
504
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.01(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Stay


By Hilary Wynne

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Hilary Wynne
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1395-2


CHAPTER 1

The traffic on the way to Ellen's office is horrible, and now I'm about fifteen minutes late. I tried to call and let her know, but the answering service always picks up when she's in session with a client. I know she won't care, but I'm upset because I need the whole hour today. Getting stuck showing units to a customer who I knew wasn't a serious buyer was a total waste of my afternoon and kept me from leaving the office on time.

I bound up the stairs, as much as one can bound in four-and-a-half-inch platform heels, and burst through the door to her small office. Nobody else is in the small lobby area, and I notice the door to her office is open. I peek in and see Ellen flipping through a magazine.

"I'm so sorry I'm late. I got stuck with a lookie-loo, and traffic was awful." I plop myself down on her couch and take a drink from the water bottle I'm holding in my hand. I'm totally frazzled and need a second to calm down. Unfortunately, I have already wasted enough time.

"No worries, Lexie. Take a second and catch your breath."

I've been seeing Ellen Berger for close to a year now. I found her on the Internet after my sister Jill convinced me I needed professional help. Ellen's practice is close by work and home, she was taking new patients, and she accepted my crappy insurance. I felt an instant connection with her, and pretty soon I was pouring out my whole life story to her—well, most of it anyway. My main reason for coming was to work through my feelings about Brady's death. I thought I would have gotten in and out of here in a couple sessions, but no such luck. I ran through my maximum appointments covered by insurance within about six months, but Ellen knew I needed to keep coming, so she offered me a deeply discounted rate and worked out a payment plan with me. She is a godsend and worth every dime I have charged on my credit cards.

"Why are you so agitated today?"

"I don't know. You're right though. I am agitated. I guess it's the time of year. A lot of memories are coming up right now. Plus, it's Luke's birthday on Saturday, and everyone wants to go out to dinner and then to Stellar afterward. I don't want to go at all, but I can't say no. It's stupid to be having anxiety about going out, but I can't stop thinking of ways to get out of it."

"It's been a long time since you've gone out and had fun."

"I know. That's what everyone keeps telling me. I'm just not sure if that's really what I consider fun these days."

"Hanging out with your friends, having a drink or two, and dancing is fun, and it's okay to want to do those things again. You're allowed to be the old Lexie again."

I have divided my memories of my adult life into three phases. Pre-Brady, during Brady, and post-Brady. Ellen doesn't think it's a great idea for me to compartmentalize my life like that, but the demarcations are so obvious that I can't help it. She constantly reminds me that all of my experiences have made me who I am, good and bad, and I'm just the person I'm supposed to be as a result. The issue is that even after close to a year, I haven't told her about all the experiences Brady and I shared. Right now she's suggesting I try to be the pre–Brady Lexie. She didn't know me then, but I have shared a lot of what I was like before I met Brady. I like that girl much better than the girl I am now, and I wish I could go back and find her again. That girl was confident and funny and opened her heart to people. She trusted others and let those same people rely on her. That girl was hopeful about love. That girl was whole.

I get lost in my memories for a few minutes until Ellen brings me back to the present.

"Have you had any nightmares lately?" Ellen is referring to my recurring nightmares. The one I have most often is where I'm frantically trying to get a hold of somebody so we can talk before something really bad happens. It's almost that vague. The characters are different. It can be a friend, coworker, or family member. Once it was a stranger. I run around from place to place, trying to find the person. I call and text and e-mail, and nobody will respond to me. I'm racing against a literal clock in the dream. I never actually find anybody in my dream, and I always wake up before the time expires, usually in a cold sweat and panicked. Last night's version had me chasing my sister Tracy all over South Beach. I woke up with an impending sense of doom, and I haven't been able to shake it all day today. I tell Ellen about it.

"I'm convinced I'm always going to have this dream. I really am. I wasn't able to get closure with Brady, and now it's going to haunt me forever." I know I sound a little melodramatic, but I really feel that way.

"The guilt that you have, the one where you feel you had control over what happened, will tear you apart if you continue to let it. You can forgive Brady right now if you want to. He doesn't need to be here. You can forgive yourself too. You need to remember, forgiveness is a one-time act. When you choose to have resentments and hang on to the guilt, you have to do it every day. Which one is harder, Lexie?"

"It's all hard, Ellen. It's all really hard."

CHAPTER 2

If I'm being honest, I pretty much agree with my friends and family that I need to get back out into the real world. And by real world, I mean the one where I socialize and date and enjoy my life. The irony is not lost on me that if anyone was looking through a crystal ball at my life, they would think I have it made. I have a great job and an even better group of friends. My family is a little dysfunctional, but they do love me. I live in beautiful South Florida where the sun almost always shines, and I can wear sandals almost year round. The only thing that's really missing in my life is a boyfriend, and most of the time I'm okay with not being in a relationship. I actually prefer it. My relationship with Brady changed everything about the way I feel about love. Now I think it's not worth the pain that inevitably comes with giving your heart to someone. My friends seem to understand my reluctance to open myself up to someone and haven't pushed. They do wonder how long I plan to go without sex though.

I think about all these things as I get ready to go out tonight. It's Saturday, and it's Luke's twenty-seventh birthday. Luke is one of my best friends, and there's no way I'm getting out of this. We celebrated his twenty-first doing the "Tennessee Waltz" in Tallahassee, his twenty-fifth barhopping in Key West, and last year's clubbing with a huge group of friends in South Beach. Memories of that night are bittersweet. It was a good night. Brady was good. I was good. But soon after that night, it was anything but good.

This will be the first time in almost ten months I have set foot in a nightclub, and my anxiety is high. You would think I was going on a job interview instead of out to dinner and dancing with friends. I used to be a party girl. I have loved going clubbing since I scored a fake ID when I was seventeen. I was the one who was always up for going out. Now I'm worried if I start living like that again, all the painful memories I've been trying to forget will just come flooding back.

A voice interrupts my mind's trip down memory lane, and I hear my roommate and best friend, Marissa Delgado, yelling at me from down the hall. "Lexie, seriously, if you don't hurry up, we're going to miss our reservation."

"I'm almost ready. Give me five more minutes."

Everyone else is ready and waiting on me in the living room. I peek at my watch and realize it's already seven fifteen. Crap. If we're going to make an eight o'clock dinner reservation, I really do need to get going.

I'm a typical girl. The better I look, the better I feel. I guess that's why I'm putting in all the extra effort here. I've been in the bathroom for an hour with my glass—okay, two—of Pinot Grigio and my music, trying to both calm my nerves and get me in the mood to go out. My iPod is set on my dance playlist, and I can't help but move around the bathroom as I get ready. Music is my thing and the one constant that has always made me feel better and helped me express myself when I can't find the words to describe how I feel. There is nothing more comforting than hearing lyrics to a song you could've written yourself. The fact that another person did means someone else in the world knows how you're feeling and that you're not alone. I don't play any instruments, and I can't sing a decent note, but I love listening to music. I feel if I was ever to write a book about my life, I would divide the chapters by songs. The title would be The Soundtrack of my Life. Unfortunately, if I were to start writing my book today, it would be filled with a bunch of depressing stuff. That thought starts to bum me out, so I file it away and concentrate on putting the finishing touches on my makeup.

I glance at myself in the full-length mirror behind the door, and I have to admit I look good. I probably have more makeup on than I usually wear, but it still looks tasteful and not trashy. I'm wearing black, skinny pants with multizippered pockets that end just above my ankle. I'm really excited to wear them because I just bought them in a size smaller than I usually wear. I have dropped about fifteen pounds in the past few months, and it's showing in my clothes. I have been running a lot, but if I'm being honest, the weight loss happened because I've been a little depressed, and my appetite is not what it used to be. At least something good has come out of all this drama. I'm not a skinny girl, but I'm not heavy either. I have an athletic, fit body that's toned from years of playing soccer and tennis. The loss of the fifteen just helps me look leaner. I pair the pants with a black-and-white, multidirectional, striped, fitted bustier that really shows off my shoulders, breasts, and collarbone. About a half inch of leather circles the whole top and adds a bit of edginess to the look. There is a little V cut in the front that dips down between my breasts and gives a sneak peek of my ample cleavage. A long, silver, exposed zipper runs down the whole length of the back. I'm wearing brand-new Michael Kors black, caged, leather ankle booties with four-and-a-half-inch heels that add height to my 5'5" frame and make my legs look longer. I'm not sure they're a great idea for a night out dancing, but they totally help make the outfit. I add a skinny, silver, tube necklace and slip on my signature silver hoop earrings. I have blown out my wavy, dirty blonde hair and pulled it into a messy, poufy ponytail. I feel edgy and sexy, which is the look I'm going for.

I'm thankful my roommates and I are all about the same size because we can share clothes and shoes. We all love fashion, but none of us can afford to dress the way we want to all the time. I have somewhat of a shoe addiction, an expensive shoe addiction. I think it stems from when I was a freshman in college and some random guy in a bar told me I had the sexiest feet he'd ever seen and that I wasn't treating them properly. He said it all with a straight face too. I was wearing cheap flip-flops at the time. He told me I needed to dress my beautiful ladies up and show them off. Talk about odd pickup lines, right? He was hammered, and my roommates and I laughed our asses off about it all night. We still talk about it years later. I actually have pictured that guy's face a couple times during a few of my shoe shopping sprees. My roommates are always giving me crap about my shoe thing, but they sure don't mind borrowing them every chance they get.

We're going to Stellar after dinner. Stellar happens to be one of the hottest clubs in South Beach and where Luke is currently working as a bartender. It's Saturday night, and I'm sure it will be packed and that everyone will be dressed to impress. One more quick glance in the mirror, and I decide for sure I feel good about my outfit choice. I down the last sip of my wine, gloss my lips with nude lipstick, unplug my phone from the charger, and head out into the living room. I'm hoping my outward appearance will mask my inner feelings of discomfort.

"Finally," says Marissa. She's not used to nagging me to hurry up because I'm usually the first one ready to go anywhere, and I always make it point to be on time. When we were at FSU, I used to wait a full hour after she started to get ready before I even got in the shower. She always blames her lateness on the fact she operates on Cuban time. Tonight, she was ready before me and looks awesome. She's a beautiful girl with long, straight, brown hair, huge brown eyes, and perfect skin. She's wearing a white, lacy, mini dress that shows off her natural tan along with a pair of flesh-colored L.K. Bennett sandals she borrowed from me. My other roommate, Shannon Garrett, a pretty blue-eyed blonde, and her boyfriend, Cory Davis, a very tall, very big, ex-college football player, are going out with us too. I love this little group. They have been so supportive of me. Add Luke, and I couldn't ask for a better group of friends.

I roll my eyes at her. "Whatever. Let's go."

I grab my little cropped, black leather jacket from the hall closet on the way out the door. The club we're headed to has a rooftop bar, and that's where Luke usually works. It can get a little chilly at night in April, and more than likely we'll be spending time outside. I plan on getting all of my drinks from Luke, so they'll be free. We're all in our midtwenties and well into career mode, but none of us has tons of extra money. My job as a marketing and sales consultant for a major property-development company pays me pretty well, but I work for commission and only get paid once a month. I have to budget my money so it lasts. Dinner tonight will not be cheap, but we always try to treat each other well on our birthdays.

The plan is to catch dinner at Havana Nights, a popular restaurant in South Beach. After dinner, we are heading over to Stellar. Luke began bartending at Stellar about five months ago and has been asking us to go ever since. The others have been there. I haven't gone. Luke has to work tonight, so we're meeting up with him at the restaurant and catching dinner first. A text I got from him earlier today said he's bringing a date. It's a typical Luke move to show up with a new girl out of the blue. He hasn't changed much since college and is always surrounded by pretty girls.

I used to be one of Luke Miller's girls. Well, sort of. The first time I saw him, he was behind the bar at Bullwinkle's in Tallahassee. He was the guy all the girls wanted to give their drink order to—as well as their numbers. I think I ordered seven beers that first night just so I could keep talking to him. He was a total flirt, and I'm sure he made a killing in tips. Luke is tall, about 6'1", with jet-black wavy hair, ocean-blue eyes, and muscles in all the right places. His handsome boy-next-door face kept the girls lining up night after night. My friends and I would go to Bullwinkle's every Thursday night for nickel-beer night. After a few months of going and many, many cheap beers later, Luke and I struck up a flirty friendship. I learned he was a junior majoring in business, VP of his frat, and serially unattached. We talked about his family, friends, and school, and I could see he was a smart and driven guy. I felt like I was getting to know him pretty well even though we didn't spend time together outside of the bar. We kept in touch through texting, and at least a couple times a week I would get some funny, random text from him. I started to look forward to getting them, and pretty soon I admitted to myself I really was interested in being more than friends.

So when Luke invited me and my girlfriends to a party his frat was having, we went. I was very excited and was totally hoping we'd hook up. The party was the first time we had really ever socialized outside the bar, and I was curious to see how Luke would act toward me. He had texted me a few times throughout the day to make sure we were going. There were a couple of other things going on that night, so we ended up showing up late. It was a huge party and totally in full swing when we arrived. When I finally saw Luke, it was obvious he had been drinking heavily. He was very excited to see me and came right over and kissed me on the lips. I remember thinking the kiss was an awesome start to the night and that clearly I wasn't misreading the signs Luke was interested in being more than friends. We talked for a few minutes before Luke pulled me out into the middle of the floor where everyone was dancing. Well, it wasn't actually dancing; it was more like bumping and grinding. Our hands were pretty much all over each other, but we didn't kiss. To this day, I know Luke is not big on PDA, but that night I thought it was pretty obvious we were together. Obvious to me at least. Our "togetherness" didn't stop several drunken girls from coming up and pulling at him, trying to get his attention. He stayed pretty focused on me, but he did seem to enjoy the attention and never really told any of the other girls he was there with me. Because this was our first time out together, I didn't make a big deal about it, but it didn't make me happy.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Stay by Hilary Wynne. Copyright © 2013 Hilary Wynne. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Hilary Wynne earned her undergraduate degree from Florida International University and Florida State University and her master's degree from the University of New Mexico. She is a business owner, wife, and mother. A California native, she currently lives in northern Virginia.

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Stay 4.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this trilogy. Buy all three right now. You will be hooked. I don't write a lot of reviews, because there aren't many books that speak to me or stay with me. Alexa and Julian are now one of my favorite couples, and that's saying a lot because I read so much. The plot was unique, I enjoyed the setting, and the secondary characters weren't distracting. You won't regret this purchase, I promise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend. Just soooo good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
* I received an ebook in exchange for an honest review. * Author Hilary Wynne is a new to me author and one that I became immediately hooked on!  I loved that the books were set in South Florida - I have been to South Beach many times and instantly knew where the author was talking about, the streets, the eateries, the exotic cars and the beaches, however, even if I didn't know the details that the author used would make me feel like I was in sunny Florida. The author was able to transport me from my cold NJ house and warm me right up with the plot, the characters and the setting in this book. The plot was smooth, fast moving and unpredictable. The characters were relatable, fun and more importantly they were real.  You could picture the events that took place happening to a friend or family member and they were not "super rich".  They had jobs, bills and responsibilities just like most of us.  The author was able to make them seem like they were part of your circle of friends and it was just a step for the reader not a gigantic leap for you to relate to them. What I didn't always enjoy was the whining that came from Alexa. She would get on my nerves a bit, but then something would happen and you would forget that she was a pain in the butt and begin to feel for her again. Julian also had his own problems, but when the two of them were together it was total love for them and their relationship.  I enjoyed reading about them, Luke and Brady and the end was a total twist from where I thought the book was going. This book had drama, love, heartache, pain, twists, turns, curves and loops - everything a book needs to make it amazing! I can't wait to see what happens next to Alexa, Luke, Julian and the rest of the gang!  Make sure you add this to your TBR list and be prepared to do nothing else the day that you start reading it because you won't be able to put it down!  Enjoy, I know that I did!! ***Review has been done in conjunction with Nerd Girl Official. ***
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! What an intensely emotional journey! I've read all three books thanks to the release of the final book this week and I can't wait to ready them all again. The highs, the lows - it's was a wild ride. You really get to know, understand and empathize with the characters due to the development and detail that the author provides. Sometimes you want to smile, laugh, cry and yell. Its not just the emotion but the reason behind the emotions that really pull you in to empathize with the believable characters. Well worth the purchase. I hope that Hilary Wynne continues to write more and more - well done!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! Alexa kept me in an emotional roller-coaster...and Julian...HOT I'm excited to read the second book. I'm in love with this series. Sooooo sooooo so good! We'll over 300 pages, so worth every penny and more!!! A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A really good book!  Love the characters and the story line.  Could not put down.
yuffieKH More than 1 year ago
I Love this book. Hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never read any of Hilary Wynne's books but I'm a fan now. I couldn't put this book down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really is an emitional rollercoaster. Love the chatacters and story. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! VERY descriptive (you'll understand when you read it). Great relationship story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book
TSRBR More than 1 year ago
With a relationship gone bad and repercussions that left Alexa in a state of depression it was hard for her to break out and more forward with her life.  When her friends talk her in to going out for dinner and clubbing for her BFF’s birthday she is not prepared for the beautiful sexy man she runs into.  He is everything that a woman could possible dream of in a man and on a scale from one to ten; he would rank as at least a fifteen.  With only one touch electricity flows between them and feelings erupt between them that scare Alexa with thoughts from the past.  Julian is so much more than his bio discloses.  Alexa cannot believe the man that he is slowly revealing to her.  After an incredible night with him once again the past rears its ugly head and causes her to run as fast as she can away from him. He has some problems in his past to deal with too.  But from the moment his eyes met hers, he knew that she belonged to him.  Will they be able to help each other heal and have a future together?  This is a must read for readers that love a story that touches the heart and soul. Overall Rating:  5 Rockin’ Stars Hero –Julian Bauer: 5 stars Heroine –Alexa Reed: 5 stars Steam: 5 stars  Plot: 5 stars  Cliffhanger: Yes Would I recommend this book: Yes! This is a book that you would want to read more than one time!  It has everything that makes a book memorable.  You have an amazing sexy hot love story that is full of emotional drama between the two main characters while parallel characters interact with each other.  Would I recommend this author: Yes! Ms. Wynn is an unbelievably talented writer that keeps her readers wanting more as they turn each page! This is the first book in a series of three.  She has become a favorite on my list of must reads. ***Received an ARC of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review***
NerdAlertBL More than 1 year ago
First off, let me tell you, this book is a huge emotional roller coaster! There is so much drama and heartbreak in this story, that you may feel the need to cry. There will be other times in which you will want to celebrate or just throw your hands up in the air and scream in frustration. I felt all these emotions and more because of this book. The main character, Alexa, has a troubled past in which causes her to become guarded in everything she does. But when she (literally) runs into wealthy bachelor, Julian, her whole world turns upside down. Throughout the whole book, Alexa tries to run away from Julian, no matter how much he shows her he loves her or how much she wants to return his feelings. Julian tries to get her to open up to him about her past, but she refuses to let him in. Everyone around her tells her that her best friend, Luke, was in love with her, but she doesn’t believe it until she decides to confront her problems head on. Overall, I believe Author Hilary Wynne did an excellent job writing this book. The descriptions she uses are so vivid, I felt like I was in South Florida, personally witnessing the whole love story play out. There were many times I felt like shaking Alexa to make her realize what was right in front of her, to show her that most women would die to have a guy like Julian in their lives. I give this book a full 5 stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hilary Wynne has created a masterful first novel!  This book has great depth and richness to include steamy sex scenes.  I felt like Lexie, Julian, Luke and the rest of the characters were my own friends and family.  I was drawn into their world through vivid descriptions of their surroundings, clothing, etc.  I read the book in less than two days and I can't wait to finish the trilogy!  Congrats to Ms. Wynne on her fantastic debut novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and couldn't put it down! The characters are so real and I loved seeing their relationship blossom.
wont More than 1 year ago
Even with many positive reviews, I'm always hesitant when reading a new author (to me).  Without question I recommend this book. Even though the shoe obsession and endless designer clothes aren't really on my radar, they added a fun element to the narrative. And believe me, this story needs a touch of lightness whenever possible. It is a modern love story in every respect. And a painful one. Sometimes I wanted to yell at Alexa, but it all worked out. If you like romance, do not pass this book by.
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Love
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SHEGARCIA More than 1 year ago
I love the story but I have to admit, Alexa got on my nerves, she is so needy and whiney.  Mind you I understand that  she has issues, trust issues and all that because of what happened to her.  But she is like the biggest contradiction ever. First, she is somewhat full of herself.  I have read so many books, and I don't think I have read where the heroine compliments herself so often "I look good… I'm pretty, I look hot, I'm sexy …" For someone who thinks very highly of herself, she has very low self-esteem "i don't feel good enough, their models, i'm pretty but their prettier, people are looking at me asking why me, what Julian see in me, etc…" Again, contradiction.  Oh, lets not forget how strong and independent she is but when her feelings get hurt or reality slaps her in the face, she is like the biggest coward ever! I felt so sorry for Juiian putting up with all her drama.  Again, noted that she has issues and i'm okay with that but she knows how she is coming off and yet she still doesn't care enough to stop it.  It was all good in the beginning but her repetitive behavior was annoying.  She came off more selfing than anything.  Also, for someone who had issues with partying and her ex history, she sure likes to drink and not seem to care about consequences.  I really like the story, love Julian and her friends, if it weren't for them, I would have stop reading because she is just too much, selfish, self-absorb in her own little world, and narcissistic. My favorite line from her was one she told Luke that Julian treated her better than she treated him.  Amen to that.. her saving grace is that at least she recognize her issues.  I hope in the other book she isn't as pathetic and grows up. Best part, Julian is really sexy and romantic and makes spanish word so freakin hot! Other than her, its a really good story though. LOL. ;-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story had potential but got lost in the hot mess of the character Alexa. Almost every chapter revolves around her freaking out over something from her past or present. The character never developed so by the end of the book you are so ready to close it for good.