Christine Marshall endured a childhood of abuse and neglect. If not for the friendship of her two best friends, her life would have been unbearable. Years later, seeing the happiness that her friends had finally found with two wonderful men made Christine happy. She still didn't question her own stance to remain alone though, especially given her past. Until one night and too many martinis, she makes a decision that would change her life completely.
Jonas Wade was a confident, no nonsense guy who grew up surrounded by his family's love. He worked hard and at a young age, started his own company, enjoying much success. A success he thought completed his life until he met the one woman who made him realize that he wasn't as content as he had thought.
Unfortunately, convincing her they were meant to be together proved to be an uphill battle. Getting past whatever demons plagued Christine from her past was difficult enough, but there was also a threat to his company that involved the very woman he loved. Until Jonas could solve the mystery, both he and Christine were in danger.
As the CEO of his own company, Jonas isn't a stranger to hard work. He takes his job seriously and protecting those he loves even more so. Sadly, and to his utter frustration, Christine continually places herself in harm's way in her efforts to help him. Can he keep her safe from what threatens them both? And more importantly, can he break through the barriers that Christine built round herself to give them both a chance at happiness?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.46(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Reason to Trust
Sisters of My Heart Trilogy: Book Three
By P. L. Byers
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 P. L. Byers
All rights reserved.
The hairy leg she brushed up against seemed out of place. Christine Marshall lived alone and most definitely went to bed alone, every night.
Thee sun was just starting to come up so there was a sliver of light peeping through her curtains. Opening one eye, she glanced towards the window. Nope ... not her curtains!
Turning her head to the left, her gaze fell to the head of a man, resting on the pillow beside her. Taking a few deep breaths, Christine tried to keep the panic that was threatening to overwhelm her at bay. How she ended up in bed with this strange man, she had no clue. She never allowed herself to have lapses in judgment, so how she got herself in this particular predicament was a complete mystery.
Hoping not to wake him, she gently moved the covers aside and shifted her feet to the floor. Standing up, she froze as the man rolled facing her. She watched as his arm reached out, almost as if he was seeking her body. A slight frown came to his face, but he didn't wake up. Breathing a sigh of relief, Christine tiptoed around the room, looking for her clothes.
It must have been some night, she surmised, finding her dress in the far corner of the room, her underwear along the opposite wall and her strapless bra nearly under the bed. One shoe was in the bathroom and the other one she finally found near the closet door. As she searched throughout the room for her clothing, she came across several condom wrappers thrown on the floor.
Throwing her dress on quickly, she looked around for her purse. Seeing it on the nightstand, she walked over to retrieve it, nearly tripping on the empty bottle of champagne resting on the floor. Picking up the purse, she took a second to glance at the man, still sleeping soundly on the bed.
Lord he was gorgeous! His hair was sun bleached blond, looking like he spent a lot of time on the beach. Even in sleep his strong features held a certain sensuality. There was strength in his face that shone through, his skin pulled taut over the elegant ridge of his cheekbones. With certainty, Christine knew that if he opened his eye lids she would see a set of beautiful blue eyes.
Shaking her head, she held her purse closely to her chest and made her way to the door. Unlatching the deadbolt and turning the handle, she slipped out into the hallway, silently closing the door behind her.
Making her way down to the lobby, Christine immediately recognized that she was at the hotel where one of her best friend's engagement party was held the night before. Good Lord ... Brenna, she thought in a panic as she drew her phone out of her purse and looked at the screen. Just as she thought, there were messages from her two best friends, Maddy and Brenna.
Knowing that she was not mentally in a good place to deal with them, Christine went out the main entrance of the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel to call a cab. Thankfully, the month of July in Boston brought the city to life with an influx of people visiting and touring the city. Already with the sun coming up, there were cabs lined up out front, waiting for the next fare that would take them to the more popular tourist destinations.
After giving her address to her apartment in Cambridge, Christine laid her head on the back seat of the cab and tried to recall the events of the night before. She knew she needed to get in touch with her friends to assure them she was fine, but first things first. She needed a shower and she needed to try and figure out what happened.
Before long, the cab driver pulled up to her apartment. Getting out, she paid the fare and trudged up the three flights of steps to her apartment. Unlocking the door, she went in and after locking the door, leaned her back against it, and took in the first deep breath she'd taken since waking up beside the strange, handsome man.
After several moments, Christine shook her head in disgust and went into the bathroom for a long hot shower. Turning the water on in the only bathroom in her apartment, she went into her bedroom to gather clean clothes to wear. Thee water in her shower typically took several minutes to turn hot. Thee plumbing in her old, rundown apartment wasn't exactly up to code, but she had learned all the idiosyncrasies over the years and had grown used to the inconvenience of it all.
Standing in her shower until the water turned cold, Christine quickly dried off and put her comfy running shorts with the elastic waist on and an old soft tattered t-shirt, and sat on the couch to brush out her long blond hair. With each stroke, her mind went over the events of the night before.
She remembered being in the Brewster Room of the hotel for Brenna and Grant's engagement party. She remembered all the people that were there and eating dinner with everyone and even remembered watching as Brenna and Grant and Maddy and Zander were slow dancing.
Unfortunately, she also remembered that, while being happy for her two best friends who had found the loves of their lives, she felt a little left out and jealous that she was alone.
Oh dear Lord, she thought. Remembering clearly now, leaving the engagement party and going into the bar at the hotel. Thee few martinis she had must have been pretty strong because she also remembered the handsome man in her bed this morning as the one who approached her at the bar and bought her another drink.
Suddenly, she had other flashes of a small argument happening between them, and that he left and then came back with a room key in his hand. She now recalled taking his hand and allowing him to lead her upstairs to his room.
Thee last thing she clearly remembered was that she did not want to give her name or to know what his name was. In her hazy drunken state, she had only wanted one night of doing something so out of character for her; she wanted to indulge in one night of passion with no attachments. If they exchanged names either she or he might have felt obligated to check on the other. Theis way, with anonymity, she could have her night of passion and walk away cleanly the next morning.
Thee rest of the evening was a bit nebulous to say the least, however, she did recall small flashes of an incredibly well honed male body, his hands on her, everywhere, making her feel like she was on fire. To her embarrassment, she even remembered being on her knees in front of him, pleasuring him as he held onto her head, moaning in delight.
Hanging her head in shame, Christine wept. What on earth had she been thinking? It's not like she was a virgin, but her experience with men was pretty much nothing. Doing it one time in the dorm room of a guy she mistakenly thought liked her wasn't exactly a memory she cherished. It was quick and painful and when she learned the guy had just used her to make his girlfriend jealous, it was degrading and made everything worse so she was completely turned off of any type of sexual relationship. She'd had enough drama in her life with her father over the years; she didn't need another male to make her life more complicated.
After having a good cry, Christine wiped her eyes and grabbed her cell phone. She needed to let Brenna and Maddy know that she was okay. They had always loved her unconditionally and it was unfair to let them worry any longer. Glancing around her apartment, she knew she'd need to pick up a little. There was no way they would be satisfied with just a call and since she didn't feel like going out, they would have to come to her.
Both Brenna and Maddy hated her apartment. For years they nagged her about moving to a better neighborhood and a better apartment. When Christine wasn't fighting with her rusty pipes, she was losing her heat in the middle of winter or fighting off various infestations that plagued the building. Her friends had tried valiantly to get her to move in with them but Christine needed her independence and at the moment, because of the cost of school and trying to support herself during college, this was all she could afford. She loved them for worrying about her, but she had every intention of managing her life on her own terms.
Deciding to dial Brenna's number first, Christine wasn't surprised when she picked it up on the first ring. "Oh my God, are you okay? Where are you?"
Taking a deep breath, Christine sighed. "I'm fine Brenna. I'm really sorry I worried you. Is Maddy with you?"
Hearing a few clicks, Christine knew she was being put on speaker phone. "Jesus Christ, Christine. You gave me a heart attack," she heard Maddy yell.
In the background Christine heard a male voice, one she could only assume was Zander's, tell Maddy to watch her language. She started to smile when she heard another male voice speak to her over the phone. "Are you all right, Chrissy?"
Grant, Brenna's fiancé was a wonderful man who had taken Christine in and made her feel a part of everything. She knew that as a police detective it was his natural instinct to protect people, but he always went beyond that to make her feel special. Brenna had indeed hit the jackpot with him.
"I'm fine, Grant. Truly."
"Where are you, honey?" she heard Zander ask. "We'll come get you."
Zander was Maddy's fiancé, and so deeply head over heels in love with her friend that it was amusing to watch. After the accident that had almost taken Maddy's life, there wasn't a moment in the day that he wasn't worrying about her. Lucky for Christine, his care and concern also included her, as one of Maddy's closest friends.
"Thanks Zander, but I'm at home and everything is fine. I'm sorry I worried all of you, I didn't mean to."
"Maddy and I are coming over," Brenna insisted. "Do you want us to pick anything up for you on the way?"
"A latte would be wonderful. See you shortly," she said, hanging up.
Christine should have known that they would arrive in record time. She had barely gotten her place picked up before there was a knock at her door. Thee security system in her building had stopped working long ago, allowing anyone off the street to have access to any floor.
Opening the door, Christine was immediately enveloped in Brenna's arms. Her friend squeezed the life out of her before finally letting go. When she stepped aside, Maddy hugged her as well, letting her go quicker, only to punch her on the arm.
"Ouch," Christine let out.
"That's for worrying the crap out of us."
"Sorry," Christine apologized. Looking over to Brenna, she smiled. "Did you at least enjoy your engagement party?"
"I did. It was a wonderful evening. It wasn't until the end when we couldn't find you that we got worried. What happened Chrissy?"
"Let's sit down, okay?" she asked as she led them over to the living room.
When they were all three settled, Chrissy took a sip of her latte and hummed in pleasure. "I needed that. Thanks for picking it up."
"Chrissy," Maddy implored. "What happened?"
"I did a very stupid thing last night," she began. "One minute I was with all of you and as I was looking around and seeing everyone so happy, the room started closing in on me. Please don't misunderstand, I'm so thrilled for both of you and the wonderful men you have in your lives, it just got to be a little too much for me. I went out to grab some fresh air and the next thing I knew I was downing martinis in the hotel bar."
"Christine ... where did you sleep last night?" Brenna asked cautiously.
Christine hung her head. "At the hotel."
"I'm guessing you weren't alone," Maddy countered.
"No, I wasn't alone," she whispered.
"Who was he, Chrissy?" Brenna asked.
"I have no idea." Seeing the confusion on her friends faces, Christine relayed to them everything she could piece together of what happened the night before.
When she finished, Maddy looked at Christine, astonishment clearly written on her face. "Seriously, you specifically said you didn't want to know his name. And he went along with that? And you just left him in bed this morning?"
"I know it all sounds so ridiculous now, but last night it made sense to me," Christine defended.
"Christine," Brenna interjected. "Should we take you to the hospital? I mean, if you don't know this guy, how do you know he's safe? You could be pregnant."
"No, I'm fine. When I was skulking around the room trying to find my clothes I saw condom wrappers on the floor. We used protection."
"Wrappers? As in how many?" Maddy asked, a sly smile on her face.
"Leave it to you to ask that question," Brenna chuckled. Turning to Christine, she took her hand. "Are you sure, Chrissy? We'll go with you."
"I'm sure," she said, releasing Brenna's hand and standing up and walking to the look out the window in her apartment. "I'm so stupid," she said angrily. "Seriously, how irresponsible can I be? I'm a smart woman, for God's sake! I graduated from Harvard. I'm a scientist, I look at things from every angle, and I examine them. I don't jump willy-nilly into situations. What on earth was I thinking?"
"Stop beating yourself up, Chrissy," Maddy offered. "You deserved to let loose and have a fun evening. As long as you were protected I say good for you."
"Maddy's right," Brenna added. "It seems he had the foresight to make sure you both were protected. You need to stop stressing about this. Honestly, I can't remember a time when you went out and had some fun and a little adventure. And you got what you wanted, total anonymity."
"Tell me though," Maddy asked. "Was he cute?"
"Absolutely stunning," she whispered, feeling both glad that her night of debauchery was over and surprisingly sad that she wouldn't be seeing her blond god again.CHAPTER 2
The Sunday after the Fourth of July turned out to be a quiet day. Everyone had gotten together at Zander's place in Revere since he lived directly across from the beach. Lucky for them, the day was a balmy seventy-nine degrees with a clear blue sky.
The group consisted of Brenna and Grant, Maddy and Zander and Maddy's brother Sam, who was starting to work for Zander the following day. When Zander's Uncle Seth passed away unexpectedly several months back, Zander had worked constantly, trying to fill the void. Thee company he and his uncle owned, Cole Enterprises, was a real estate development company that bought and sold properties. Sometimes they would sell them off after renovations were completed and sometimes, if they liked the community, they would keep the properties, handing them off to a separate division of the company that ran the leasing properties. Zander had a difficult time finding someone he trusted until one day, Sam had stopped in to visit his sister who was working from Zander's office and being a real estate attorney, stayed for a while to help Zander out. Zander was so impressed with how Sam handled himself that shortly after, Zander offered him a partnership in his company.
Sitting on the deck as Sam grilled the burgers, Christine took a sip of her iced tea. It really was a shame she thought, as she watched Sam, that there was no physical attraction between them. It would have been so much nicer to have a relationship with someone she trusted so completely. Unfortunately, Sam was the brother she never had and when she looked at him, she only saw a friend. Thee best kind of friend, but a friend just the same.
Sam must have felt her studying him because he turned around with a smile on his face and a spatula in his hand. "Everything okay, sweet thing?"
"Have you ever wondered why we never got together?" Christine asked.
"Are you having lascivious thoughts about me?" Sam asked with a smirk on his face.
"You wish," she laughed.
"What's the matter? Seeing the bliss of your two friends make you want that too?"
"I guess. No ... not really."
"Hey," he said sitting in the seat next to her and taking her hand. "What's wrong Christine? You haven't been yourself for a while now. Anything I can help with?"
"No, I'm good, Sam. Thanks though." Getting up from the seat she started for the door. "I better head over to the beach and let everyone know the food's about ready." Thee sun had felt too hot so instead of going to the beach with the others, Christine opted to stay and help Sam as he did the grilling.
After everyone had eaten and the kitchen was cleaned up, Christine hung out for another hour before wishing everyone goodbye and heading out the door.
It was depressing as she opened the door to her apartment and walked in. Her place really wasn't very nice, especially after coming from Zander's beach condo. She couldn't afford much, but maybe it was time to start looking around to see if she could find something a little better than where she was now.
Excerpted from A Reason to Trust by P. L. Byers. Copyright © 2015 P. L. Byers. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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