Forget a second chance at love—they’re gearing up for round three.
After an ugly divorce, Jasmine moves back to her hometown penniless, alone and ready to swear off men for good. Unfortunately, her new landlord turns out to be someone she knows well, and the only man she’s ever really fallen for. Now she just has to remember her most important lesson—love is far too risky a gamble.
Finn can’t believe it when the girl who got away—twice—shows back up in his life. He let his guard down with her before, and both times she left him high and dry without a word. No matter how much he tells himself not to sign up for that ride again, he can’t help but wonder if this time things could be different.
Jasmine and Finn fight both one another and their feelings, but it’s impossible to ignore the attraction between them. Can they get overcome their past, or will the third time end in heartbreak as well?
Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of past childhood abuse and sexual harrassment.
General Release Date: 22nd September 2020
Jasmine stared at the inside of the small casita, her boxes filling the space, and wondered how the hell she’d ended up here.
Moving back to their hometown was the sort of thing that happened when people failed.
And boy did I fail.
She blew a strand of her red hair from her face as she tried to figure out how long this mess would take to sort out. Unpacking had always been her least favorite part of the moving process. She loved actually moving. The adventure, the chance to breathe in the air of a new city, to meet new people…it all rejuvenated her, spoke to her wandering soul.
Unpacking felt like putting down roots, and that was something she loathed.
But she also refused to live out of boxes, which meant that renting this place was perfect. It was fully furnished, the rent was cheap and the agency she’d gone through assured her the landlord was a breeze to deal with. She wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep, about maintaining anything, and she’d have access to a beautiful pool.
The twelve-month lease had made her hesitate—she never cared to sign her name to any commitment that long—but she’d done it the moment the rental agency had sent her pictures. The casita had two bedrooms, which was perfect for her. She could sleep in one and the other would serve as an office.
Still, a year?
She thought about the last long-term commitment she’d signed, when she’d put her name on that damned marriage license.
That didn’t work out so well, did it?
And here I am, starting over again.
Her nice house, the beachfront place in Texas she’d worked so hard to buy, now had her ex living in it. He’d managed to get more than his fair share of their assets—meaning damn near everything—because he’d been the son of the local judge in that little paradise town. Connections went a long way, and he was the town’s golden child while she was the unruly outsider girl who had broken his heart.
It hadn’t taken long for her to lose everything, and when she couldn’t decide where to go next, she’d figured home to lick her wounds made as much sense as anything else. Not that it was over. Her ex still refused to sign the final papers.
Jasmine opened a box labeled office shit and went to set up her computer on the desk. She worked as a software engineer, and telecommuting meant she could pick up and move whenever. Given another year—especially with the low rent—she could save enough money to go anywhere she wanted.
Staying in this town wouldn’t be an option long-term. Sure, the small mountain community had its charm. It was a vacation spot, close enough to the deserts and large cities of southern California that people flocked to it in the summer to escape the heat and in the winter to enjoy the snow. In theory, it was the perfect place to grow up.
Theory never meant much in reality, though, and her childhood there had been dreadful. The picturesque settings hadn’t changed the darkness in her home, the fear, the ugliness that had lived there.
Still, no matter how bad things had gotten, the trees had always made her feel free. She’d been able to walk out of that small shack of a house she’d lived in and stare up at the tallest trees that stretched toward the sky, and everything else would fade away.
She’d been beaten down during her divorce with Aaron, no doubt about that, but she wasn’t done for. Just like she’d picked herself up after her shitty childhood, she’d do so again now.
The office came together quickly, and she broke down the cardboard boxes and put them in the recycling bin by the side gate. She made the bed with her sheets, wanting to get the most important things done first. A place to sleep and one to work were all she really needed.
Being back in her hometown kept forcing her mind to the past, to the good times and the not so great. It had been five years since she’d returned for the funeral of her stepdad.
That had been a joyous occasion—to be sure he was really gone, to watch him lowered into the ground and know it was over. It had lifted some of the darkness of the town for her.
She might have even stuck around for a week or two if it hadn’t been for him.
Jasmine tried to stop that train of thought before she got a picture of the one who was always there in the back of her head.
What is it about first loves that does that? They tattoo themselves onto a person’s soul, and no matter how much time passes, no matter what happens, they never really go away. The memory of being tangled up together with her first—and only—love after the funeral, of his lips, of his dark hair and darker eyes, of the way he smelled of oil and cinnamon…it all swept over her.
He wasn’t the one who got away, because she had left him. Was he still there, living in the town?
It wouldn’t feel like the same place if he wasn’t, but then again, she didn’t want to see him, either.
She sighed as she collapsed on the couch, ready to put all the nonsense of her past behind her and start over.
If only things were so easy.