Under the Stars, the stunning conclusion of the thrilling, white-hot second-chance Bright Lights Duet from USA Today bestselling author Tia Louise, is available NOW!
All around us was darkness and night…
I’m not a hero. I’m a survivor.
I had one way out, and I took it.
Now all I want is peace,
A place to pick up the pieces and start over.
But she wants justice.
Names on a list, faces in the crowd.
I vowed to help her, but it’s taking us back to the demons.
Until he appeared.
I thought he died in the fight.
I was wrong.
Stronger, more powerful… Sexier.
The boy I loved is now the one man we have to fear most.
When he tried to save me, he had no power.
Now everything has changed, and he’ll never stop until I’m his.
~ Lara ~
We stop walking and turn to face the emerald waters. The briny air pushes her hair back and around her shoulders. Tendrils spin around my face, and the inescapable sorrow filters through my chest.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“Yes, you can.” Her voice is flat, and she bends to put Pierre on the dry sand. “I’m going up. How much longer will you be out here? Celeste is making Quiche Lorraine for breakfast.”
Another sigh. “I’ll be up in a bit. I’m finishing my exercise.”
“Don’t stay out too long or I’ll eat all the food! Come, Pierre!”
I watch her run up the tall staircase, her little dog at her heels, thinking of the reasons she has to run. I remember her as a small girl on the street, in the dark alley behind the theater. She was thin and starving and hunched in the corner waiting to die.
She was so malnourished, I thought she was younger than her actual age, which was twelve. I remember carrying her inside and fighting with Rosa. I remember Rosa boxing my ears and telling me the first time that kid cried, she’d throw us both in the alley with the rats. I remember the terror I felt that night and Molly falling asleep so quietly with her head on my chest.
She needed me. She loved me, and I loved her fiercely in return.
I remember her running around the theater, a sweet and innocent kid never suspecting the hawk was circling above, watching her, closing in to steal her soul and warp her future. I’ll never forgive myself for what happened to her. I’ll never forgive myself for not being there to protect her.
A flash of pain moves through my stomach, and I remember someone saying the same words to me not so long ago…
Walking to the edge of the water, I look out at the surf, at the waves rushing in and out. I think about how nothing bad can happen here. The sins of the past are far, far away from this beautiful place.
Only it’s a lie.
The sins of the past are never far away.
We carry them with us in our hearts wherever we go.
No matter how far we run, we can never outrun ourselves.
Tears are in my eyes, and I blink them away. My emotions are so close to the surface these days. I squat and wrap my arms around my knees, holding my insides together and wishing…
My wishes never come true.
“Lara!” A strong male voice cuts through the breeze.
For a moment I don’t believe it. It’s a wish caught on the wind and carried away out to sea.
“Lara!” It’s louder this time, closer.
Nervous anticipation floods my chest. I stand and look up and over my shoulder. The staircase where Molly descended is empty. The one ahead of it is empty as well.
Was it a dream?
Another shout, and I realize it’s coming from behind me. Turning, I see a tall figure jogging down the steps. He’s alone, and he’s moving fast. I look around, and no one is here. I have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
My heart alternates between beating out of my chest and dying. I’m back on that train, seeing him for the first time out of the blue, completely caught off-guard, alternately panicking and rejoicing… He’s alive!
He’s wearing faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. His caramel hair is a little longer, but not much. It moves in the breeze as he approaches me.
He’s strong and pure and gorgeous as ever, and the way we touched, our glorious reunion is stronger and hotter in my memory than the sun climbing higher in the sky.
I want to cry. I want to sing. I want to hold him…
But now everything has changed.
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About the Author
Tia Louise is the USA Today best-selling, award-winning author of When We Touch, the “One to Hold” and “Dirty Players” series, and co-author of the #4 Amazon bestseller The Last Guy.
She loves all the books (as long as they have romance), all the chocolate (as long as it’s dark), strong coffee and sparkling wine.
After being a teacher, a book editor, a journalist, and finally a magazine editor, she started writing love stories and never stopped.
Louise lives in the Midwest with her trophy husband, two teenage geniuses, and one grumpy cat.
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