Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. There are the justifications she gives to everyone else—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. And then there’s the reason Lauren can’t admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend’s older brother.
Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He can’t pinpoint exactly what’s missing until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her. But he’s the guy that women love and leave—not the one who makes them think of forever.
Though she’s terrified of opening up, Lauren’s ready to take that chance. Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.
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By the time my mom got home, we were on our way out. She smiled when she saw Rob and hugged him. “How are you, hon?”
“Good. Work going okay?”
They seemed really comfortable with each other, which surprised me. My mom had been kind of a hermit after Dad left, and Rob had that whole Iron Man thing going with people he didn’t know well. Yet they seemed friendly. I was instantly suspicious.
“Yep. I might be in line with a promotion. Fingers crossed.”
“Hope you get it. Ready, Lauren?”
“Sure. Just let me get my coat.”
“I’ll go warm up the truck.” That was sweet of him and typical of Rob.
I’d counted on his consideration because I needed an excuse to linger to ask, “Okay, what was that all about?”
She gave in with a teasing smile. “After you went away to school, Rob came by to shovel the drive, fix anything that needed it. I thought his dad put him up to it, but when I mentioned it, Ned didn’t know anything about it.”
“Then I’ll have to thank Rob for helping you out.”
After studying my face for a few seconds, her eyes widened. “What about Avery?”
“They broke up.”
Her brows shot up. “When? His mom didn’t say anything to me about it.”
“Night before last,” I admitted with a pang of guilt.
“In that case, be careful. Keep it PG-13.”
Smirking, I said, “Like that’ll happen. I’ll film it for you.”
“Get out. You’re not my daughter at all, are you?”
“Changeling,” I mumbled. “You said something about karaoke when Stuart was here. When did you want to go? And would you mind if I invited Krista and Rob?”
“You really think they’d want to?”
“We won’t know until we ask.”
“Of course they’re welcome. I’ll talk to Stuart and get back to you.” She seemed bemused that I’d want to hang out as a group, but this was part of giving her new man a fair shake, and it would help to have other people around, cutting some of the tension. Plus, I was dying to hear his awesome Frank Sinatra croon.
“Sounds good.” I got my coat out of the hall closet, shrugged into it and paused by the front door. “I don’t know for sure if I’ll be home tonight.”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” At my look, she tried, “Be safe. Make good choices.”
Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.
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