Authors: Melissa Foster
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish
all the materials in this book.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Melissa Foster
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles
Cover Design: Elizabeth Mackey
WORLD LITERARY PRESS
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A Note to Readers
Delilah and Ashley stole my heart from the moment they first spoke to me. They were so real and so emotionally compelling that I knew I had to write their story. Their path to their forever love is not an easy one, but if you believe in true love, then I hope you enjoy
as much as I enjoyed writing it.
is the second book in the Harborside Nights series. If you enjoy this series, you might enjoy my sizzling-hot contemporary romance series, Love in Bloom, featuring the Snow Sisters, the Bradens, the Remingtons, and the Seaside Summers group of friends. While each of my series books may be read as stand-alone novels, for even more enjoyment, you may want to read them in series order.
For those who know
Love is a gift
For those who let love flourish
PRAISE FOR MELISSA FOSTER
“Contemporary romance at its hottest. Each Braden sibling left me craving the next. Sensual, sexy, and satisfying, the Braden series is a captivating blend of the dance between lust, love, and life.”
—Bestselling author Keri Nola, LMHC
(on The Bradens)
“[LOVERS AT HEART] Foster’s tale of stubborn
yet persistent love takes us on a heartbreaking and soul-searing journey.”
“Smart, uplifting, and beautifully layered.
I couldn’t put it down!”
—National bestselling author Jane Porter
SISTERS IN LOVE
“Steamy love scenes, emotionally charged drama, and a family-driven story make this the perfect story for
any romance reader.”
—Midwest Book Review (on
SISTERS IN BLOOM
“HAVE NO SHAME is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.”
—Midwest Book Review
“TRACES OF KARA is psychological suspense at its best,
weaving a tight-knit plot, unrelenting action, and tense moments that don’t let up and ending in a fiery, unpredictable revelation.”
—Midwest Book Review
“[MEGAN’S WAY] A wonderful, warm, and thought-provoking story...a deep and moving book that speaks to men as well as women, and I urge you all to put it on your reading list.”
“[CHASING AMANDA] Secrets make this tale outstanding.”
“COME BACK TO ME is a hauntingly beautiful love story set against the backdrop of betrayal in a broken world.”
—Bestselling author Sue Harrison
“COMING OUT OF grief is like coming out of a long, dark tunnel.” Meredith Garland folds her hands in her lap. Her feet are crossed at the ankles and tucked primly beneath her chair, one pointed toe touching the carpet. Her warm brown eyes slide around the room, slowing on each of the other four attendees of the grief-counseling session.
I’ve been coming
to a grief-counseling support group for the past month at the YMCA. My friend Brooke Baker brought me to my first session, having attended herself a few years back to get over her own grief. Only she didn’t lose her parents to the drunk driver of a tractor trailer like I did. She was merely getting over a bad breakup.
, because really. Can anything match the grief of losing your parents
at twenty-two, on the evening of your college graduation, when you should be celebrating and making plans for your life?
Meredith is talking about the stages of grief, all of which I know by heart: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When we first moved here after our parents were killed, my twin brother, Wyatt, was also dealing with his new feelings for our best friend,
Cassidy. I, on the other hand, was not
with anything. I was thoroughly entrenched in denial. One night a guy forced himself on Cassidy, and Wyatt beat the crap out of him—and scared the daylights out of me. Wyatt went straight to anger, skipping over denial altogether. I couldn’t watch Wyatt falling apart, so I moved in with Brooke, who has been a family friend for years. It’s been a little
more than two months now, and I’ve finally made it past denial. Now that I’m living at our beach house again, I’m trying really hard to find a way to deal with my grief as well as the personal desires that I’ve spent a lifetime repressing—and hiding from everyone I know other than Wyatt and Cassidy.
“You must learn to envision a future for yourself without those you have lost.” Having lost
her husband a few years back, Meredith says this with the confidence of someone who’s achieved such a future. “Find ways to turn your memories into something you can live with and celebrate, rather than something that pulls you under.”
Meredith smiles at me, but I’m unable to muster one in return because my toes are dipping in the anger pool. I’m not thinking about envisioning a future without
grief. Although that would be nice, I’m pretty sure grief will be my partner for a very long time. Sometimes it hides in the shadows, waiting to swallow me whole, while other times it’s front and center, taking a bow for the way it’s laid me out flat.
No, it’s not grief I’m thinking about coming out of, and I can’t return Meredith’s smile because my parents left me a legacy of fear and shame.
The dark tunnel I’m thinking about coming out of feels even scarier than grief. I steal a glance at the other people in the group and envy the way they know who they are, even if they’re a little lost at the moment. I envy the way Michael eyes me and the other girls in the room and how Mark and Cathy hold hands during the entire hour. I try not to look at Janessa, because I can’t help but stare,
and I know how rude that is. She’s a little older than me, and I don’t have to look to know that her head is held higher than mine and her cocoa-brown eyes glisten with a surety that I can’t even imagine how to possess. She wears shorts and loose shirts that show her cleavage, and if I look at her, I know my eyes will be drawn to the swell of her breasts and the curve of her bare shoulder as her
blouse slips down, which it always does.
My attraction to Janessa is not because I
her. It’s not the same heart-pounding, palm-sweating, I-can’t-breathe attraction that I have to my friend Ashley Carver. It’s more of an appreciation of her beauty
her confidence, and for the first time in my life I have no one standing in my way of acting on my feelings toward girls. I am free to look
at whomever I please and feel whatever my body wants to feel. I’m free to
but thanks to my parents’ disapproval, my desires are still tightly encased in shame, so I don’t lift my eyes to admire Janessa.
Gosh, if that isn’t the stupidest phrase in the world, then I don’t know what is. Do straight people have to
and announce they’re straight? For that matter,
do they even think about their sexuality in terms of caring how others perceive them? I think the whole idea of coming out makes it ten times worse for someone like me, whose parents were ultraconservative and made no bones about their opinions against same-sex relationships. I was both elated and mortified when states began to debate same-sex marriages. Elated because, let’s face it, it’s a personal
decision that others shouldn’t have a say in, and mortified because it meant that every time the issue was mentioned in the news, I’d have to sit through my parents’ lectures about why same-sex relationships are wrong. And weak little me never wanted to rock the boat, so I hid my attractions. All of them. My whole life. I even went so far as to hook up with a few guys to try to fit in and figure
out if I was
I liked girls. Well, I know I don’t get all fluttery inside like I have over the years when I’ve been attracted to girls, and I definitely don’t get wet between my legs over guys, like I do over Ashley. But then again, I’ve never been intimate with a woman, so my only validation is what I’ve felt toward women, and more specifically, what I feel when I’m with her.
I even love her name. It’s feminine and confident, just like her.
After our parents died, everything about our Connecticut house, from the conservative neighborhood to the house itself, felt repressive, stifling. When Wyatt suggested that we come to Harborside after the funeral, I practically ran to the car. I met Ashley the first night after we arrived, at a
gathering at our house, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since. She came with Brandon, and I remember thinking that she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, then immediately pushing that thought away because I felt like, even dead, my parents could read my thoughts. Ashley and I clicked right away. When we decided to do shots, Jesse took everyone’s keys so no one would drink and
drive. We have seven bedrooms, but that first night the downstairs beds weren’t made up yet, so Ashley slept on the futon in my bedroom. I think I spent the whole night staring at her.