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Title: EVERYTHING I LOVE
Author: A.K. Evans
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 27th
About Everything I Love:
Nikki Drake was just nine years old when she experienced her first heartbreak. Sixteen years and many betrayals later, she’s learned that life is what you make of it. Needing to leave the poison behind, Nikki joins her best friends and moves from the warm, sunny beaches of California to the cold, snowy mountains of Wyoming. She’s a loving and faithful friend who’s built a successful career despite the disappointments shes’ experienced. While her past hasn’t stopped her from working hard and becoming a genuine and confident woman, it has affected one small part of her. Nikki refuses to give her heart to anyone ever again.
Luke Townsend is a man most women dream about. Underneath his tall, handsome exterior he’s charming, compassionate, sensitive and loyal. A dedicated snowboarder, Luke knows what it means to work hard for what he wants. And what Luke wants is Nikki.
When Luke tells Nikki he’s fallen in love with her, she’s devastated to think she’s going to hurt him the same way others have hurt her. Having resolved to live a life without romantic love, Nikki rejects Luke. Luke can sense that she needs some time so he walks away, vowing to find a way to her heart.
Three months after she pushed him away, Nikki decides to take a chance on Luke. He is patient and understanding while she struggles to allow herself to be vulnerable with him and to find the courage to trust he won’t hurt her. But when Nikki finally hands her heart of to him, Luke shatters her world with the truth.
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I glanced over at him and couldn’t help but feel turned on. Luke looked incredible in his suit. I didn’t try to hide the fact that I checked him out and appreciated what I saw. With a grin on my face, I responded, “Hey, hottie.”
The corner of Luke’s mouth tipped up with a grin as he closed the distance between us and stood beside me. My eyes went back to the dance floor.
“I can’t believe Stone’s dancing,” I started. “I wonder how Monroe managed to convince him.”
Luke let out a noise that sounded a bit like a grunt mixed with a laugh.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“Monroe didn’t convince him, Nikki.”
I turned my attention back to Luke and waited for further explanation. He gave it to me.
“He loves her,” Luke offered, nonchalantly.
This offered little clarification considering I already knew that Stone loved her. Luke recognized this and went on. “He knows she loves to dance. When you love someone, you don’t need anyone to convince you to do the things that you know will make them happy.”
I gave a gentle nod of my head, but said nothing otherwise. Almost instantly, I regretted my decision to stay quiet because what Luke said next was neither something I was prepared to hear nor was it a conversation I wanted to have with him.
“Are you ever going to let someone make you happy?”
I jerked back at his unexpected question, but quickly recovered and challenged, “Who says I’m not already happy?”
“I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that you aren’t.”
I needed to engage my defense mechanisms pronto.
“Yes, I am!”
He shook his head, a small smile tugging at his lips momentarily before he went serious again.
“I won’t lie,” he started. “On the surface, you put on a good show. Deep down, I can see how much you’re hurting.”
My body tightened.
I was being defensive because I had nothing else.
“I saw you standing here watching your best friends out there,” he continued as pointed to the dance floor. “You’re happy for them; there’s not a doubt in my mind about that. But it’s there, Nikki. Behind the tough exterior that you show to the rest of the world, there’s a big part of you that wants to have exactly what they have.”
My throat was tight when I clipped, “You have no idea what you are talking about.”
“I do, though. And I think it’s only fair right now that I let you in on a little secret, baby girl,” he shared with so much promise in his voice. He shifted closer to me, his face within inches of mine, and assured, “I’m going to make sure you get it.”
I wanted to push him away and scream at him. I wanted him to not share any secrets with me. Mostly, I wanted to walk away and never look back.
Since I was at my best friend’s wedding and I didn’t want to do anything to put a damper on her day or make a spectacle of myself, I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I turned it around on him. “Why would you ever set yourself up to fail?”
“There are two things you should know about me, Nikki. First, I won’t fail. Second, and most importantly, even if I thought there was a chance I could fail I already explained why I would do this.”
“Considering this is the first time I’m hearing this from you, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you definitely have not explained why you would do this.”
He grinned at me.
“I’m pretty sure I shared with you why Stone is dancing with Monroe, didn’t I?”
I dipped my chin and restated what he had a few moments ago, “Yeah, because he loves her.”
Luke didn’t say anything. His eyes just burned into mine.
Then, it hit me. Like a ton of bricks settling on my shoulders, I felt the truth of what he was admitting filter into my brain and seize the breath in my lungs.
My lips parted, mostly in shock, but also in an effort to come back with some witty reply. Unfortunately, I had nothing. So, I snapped them closed and let myself try to process the news he had delivered. Once again, my mouth opened, but nothing came out.
Luke stepped closer to me, wrapped an arm around my waist, and leaned in to kiss my cheek. The touch of his lips burned my skin, but I had no chance to deal with that since those lips went to my ear, where he whispered, “You don’t have to say anything now. I can wait.”
I hated myself for what I did next, but I wouldn’t fall into this with him. I brought my drink up to my lips, took a sip, and after setting it back down on the bar, I insisted, “You’ll be waiting forever.”
At that, I walked away from Luke. I didn’t turn back to look at him because I knew if I did I’d probably cry. Luke was a good guy; I had just been a colossal bitch to him.
About the Author:
A.K. Evans is a married mother of two boys residing in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. After graduating from Lafayette College in 2004 with two degrees (one in English and one in Economics & Business), she pursued a career in the insurance and financial services industry. Not long after, Evans realized the career was not for her. She went on to manage her husband’s performance automotive business and drive the shop race cars for the next thirteen years. While the business afforded her freedoms she wouldn’t necessarily have had in a typical 9-5 job, after eleven years she was no longer receiving personal fulfillment from her chosen career path. Following many discussions, lots of thought, and tons of encouragement, Andrea decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.
Between her day job, writing, and homeschooling her two boys, Evans is left with very little free time. When she finds scraps of spare time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, watching NY Rangers hockey, dancing, and vacationing with her family. Andrea, her husband, and her children are currently working on taking road trips to visit all 50 states (though, Alaska and Hawaii might require flights).