Forever and All the Afters by K.I. Lynn
Release Date: September 23, 2019
Cover Design: T.E. Black Designs
He promised me forever.
Then he boarded a plane for a college a thousand miles away and never returned. A decade later there’s a ring on my finger with a new promise from a new love.
Just as my life falls into place, pretty as the pages of a magazine, my world is knocked over. The moment he touches me everything around me begins to crack, exposing all the lies I’ve told myself.
Every glance reminds me. Every touch ignites.
Things aren’t how they used to be.
Love isn’t easy.
The air burns my lungs, my morning run down. For months I’d been running, building up endurance and trying to slim my thighs down. I’ve made it up to about three miles, which is good considering when I started I could barely do one.
While my shape has improved, I still have a ways to go. The wedding is fast approaching and I want to look perfect for Caleb. Monday I’m going to push myself and do four miles.
He has a meeting today with the engineer and he’s allowed me to be there. I’m excited to see what they say and to get designing the space.
As soon as I get home my phone goes off with a text from Caleb.
Hey, babe, when are you bringing my coffee? – Caleb
Shit, my day is already a mess and it’s only eight in the morning.
Where are you? – Aubrey
Before I even get to shower I’m in my car and off again. The Starbucks is so close I’m still sweating when I step in. While the run helps get me going, I need coffee. At least the delay getting home will give it enough time to cool down.
I can drop it off before heading home.
Warmth spreads through me as I smile down at the screen and the little kisses. In just over six months I will be Aubrey Manning. Someone different, and hopefully better than my former self. I want to be better, for him.
There’s still so much to do, we’ve barely scratched the surface, and I’m thankful for my mom and Nora are around to help. Thankfully we were able to secure the location. It isn’t my dream venue, but Caleb was able to book it on our shorter timetable. Considering we got engaged at Christmas, we were doing pretty good.
With Nora and my mom, we were heading wedding dress shopping in a week. Caleb insisted on going against tradition to help me pick out the perfect dress.
“What can I get started for you?” the barista asks.
I manage to remember my order and pay before stepping to the side to wait with the others.
Speaking of Nora, I pull up my messenger and look at the pictures she sent me this morning while I wait. She sent me three outfits last night and two this morning. Two have possibilities, but the others are a no. I shoot her back the ones for our fashion show on Saturday before making a few suggestions.
As I type a tingle spreads across my back. Almost like a wave of heat from a fire. I’ve felt it before. Years ago.
The energy radiating from behind me flickers in the back of my brain, igniting memories from long ago. Forgotten times buried under heartache. I can never forget it–forget him–but I refuse to turn around to believe it.
Pike isn’t here.
He lives in New York, why would he come back to Indianapolis?
Not only that, how in the world would the two of us end up at the same place at the same time?
I draw in a ragged breath as heat surges through my body.
One man in my entire life made me feel this way. Only one.
My knees grow weak and I want to blame it on my run, but I know the truth. The mere thought of Pike being close has sent every part of me into chaos. Ten years of silence is suddenly as loud as a rock concert surging through me.
I don’t even have the courage to turn around, to see if it is him. Too scared that I’ll have to face him after years apart. That I’ll have to admit that it’s him doing this complete system hijak.
I take a deep breath, that is shaky as hell, and peek over my shoulder. The hair of my ponytail over my shoulder hides my face some, but one small glance and every fear is confirmed–Pike Warren is home. Not only is Pike back in Indiana, he somehow wound up at the same Starbucks as me at the same time, miles from where we grew up.
His lips are parted, blue eyes dark as he stares at me, catching me in my casual attempt to spy. It almost looks like he is just as shocked as I am.
Suddenly he seems to be growing taller, and it isn’t until I feel the shock of his hands on my waist that I realize it’s my knees giving up the ghost. Warmth crawls through me from his touch, taking over.
“Whoa, are you okay?” he asks as he pulls me up and to him.
No, I am not okay. I was perfectly fine before he got in line behind me minutes ago. But after, my life is suddenly in an upheaval of epic proportions.
Fuck you, Pike.
“Yeah, fine,” I say as I struggle to get my legs under me again. But my hands are on his chest and he’s holding me close and everything is wrong but so right. Stronger, larger, angular and still every bit the boy I loved. “Um…Hi.”
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About the Author
K.I. Lynn is the USA Today bestselling author from The Bend Anthology and the Amazon Bestselling Series, Breach. She spent her life in the arts, everything from music to painting and ceramics, then to writing. Characters have always run around in her head, acting out their stories, but it wasn’t until later in life she would put them to pen. It would turn out to be the one thing she was really passionate about.
Since she began posting stories online, she’s garnered acclaim for her diverse stories and hard hitting writing style. Two stories and characters are never the same, her brain moving through different ideas faster than she can write them down as it also plots its quest for world domination…or cheese. Whichever is easier to obtain… Usually it’s cheese.