Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Barbara C. Doyle grew up in small town USA where she still resides with her four-legged feline.
Her journey started at the young age of fourteen, and continued as she pursued a bachelors degree in English. She believes that the written word is best used as a mode to escape into a different reality, thus the birth of her novels.
When not writing new worlds, you can find her binge-watching Netflix, reading, attempting (and usually failing) to cook, and hanging out with her fur baby.
What inspired you to write your book?
I wanted to write a romance that showed two types of love stories. I wanted to love both love interests in different ways, to make it hard for the reader to figure out which one to route for. Reality isn't having just one good love story – it's having to choose one out of many that you may have.
Here is a short sample from the book:
The taunting monotony of a new week is filled with the same soft hiss coming from the coffee maker as it brews my morning salvation. Usually the local news is humming in the background as I get breakfast ready but knowing that the band I watch it for won’t be in the headlines since their tour break, I only have the sizzling of the eggs in front of me to fill the cracks of my exhausted conscious.
“Mommy?” a soft voice calls.
And I have Addy.
I look over my shoulder at Addison, who’s sitting at the table focused on whatever she’s doodling in her princess coloring book. Her little nose scrunches and tongue darts out of her mouth whenever she’s invested in something.
Just like her Daddy.
There’s so much of both of us in her, sometimes it’s hard to divvy up what she got from each of us. Her hair is a mixture of her dad’s brown and my red, almost like she has auburn highlights in her wavy brunette tresses. I envy the color, just like a lot of people say they envy my natural burnt red tone. She gets her eyes from me, silver, with the slightest blue outlines around the edges, but she gets his thick dark eyelashes that make them pop the brightest blue.
Unfortunately, she’s pale like me. Although, she does tend to tan better than I do in the summer. Me? I just burn. Addy turns a golden brown and teases me for looking like a lobster.
But everything else, her nose, the shape of her eyes, the fullness of her bottom lip compared to the top, they’re all her dad. Looking at her is like seeing a piece of the past survive when we went up in flames.
“What is it, monkey?” I ask.
“Can I have waffles?”
I look down at the eggs frying in the pan, shoulders slumping at the request, until two hands wrap around my waist and kisses are peppered on my shoulder.
“I can make her some,” Noah says against my bare shoulder.
“You made her waffles yesterday,” I reply, frowning at the protein wasting away in the pan. “She should really eat something healthier.”
Noah steps back, taking the pan from me, sliding the eggs onto a paper plate. “I’ll put at least one of these on the waffles,” he bargains.
I roll my eyes. Addy has him wrapped around her little finger, and he knows it. “Noah, she really doesn’t need waffles.”
“Yes, I do,” Addy disagrees.
I rub my fists into my tired lids, not having the energy to fight with my six year old. “Fine, but no more waffles for a while. I already fed you fast food twice this week and we need to start cleaning up our diets.”
Noah moves my hands away from my face, his warm hazel eyes studying me. Today, they’re predominantly brown, although the rims are a pretty shade of emerald speckled with gold flecks. “You didn’t fall back asleep last night, did you?”
I bite my bottom lip, unable to lie to him.
He sighs. “Opal, why don’t you go back to bed? You look beat. I can finish cooking Addy breakfast and get her ready for school.”
The sentiment melts the thin layer of ice that has coated my heart since yesterday. Noah has the uncanny ability to be my warmth when I need it, thawing my vulnerabilities.
He squeezes my wrists and lets them go. “I have a feeling I know why you’re on edge.”
My lips twitch. “Not now.” I look over at Addison, not wanting her to listen in on the conversation.
He takes over the kitchen, grabbing what he needs to whip up a batch of waffles before Addy leaves for school. A quick glance at me shows the understanding dwelling in his eyes.
“Okay,” he agrees with a small smile. “We’ll talk about it later. Go get some sleep. I’ll make sure she gets to school, all right?”
My heart tugs in my chest. Watching Noah and Addy is like staring at a masterpiece in an art exhibit—it’s consuming, with a million emotions trying to drown you at once. But you embrace them all, thinking drowning wouldn’t be so bad if you have the right person to save you.
Swallowing, I say, “Okay.”
He gives me a peck on the cheek and smacks my butt as I turn around. I kiss my baby girl’s head, wish her a good day at school, and crawl back in bed hoping for a few extra hours of sleep before my shift at the café.
There’s a warm weight draped across my waist that wakes me from my dreamless sleep. When I turn around, Noah’s there smiling at me.
Groggily, I ask, “Were you watching me sleep?”
He winces. “You make it sound creepy.”
I smile, brushing my fingers against his smooth cheek. He usually has dirty blond stubble lining his chiseled jaw, but he’s got a business meeting for his father’s law firm coming up that he’s traveling for. Soon, he’ll be all-business Noah in a suit and tie, looking like sex and success.
“You’ve got an hour before work, so I thought it’d be good to wake you up in case you needed extra time to get ready.”
I grin. “You mean take a shower, so you can join me again?”
His expression turns wicked. “Perhaps.”
He brushes his lips tenderly against mine, taking his time to taste me before deepening it. My hands go around his neck and his trail up my body, tracing my curves, teasing my breasts, before settling on the side of my face.
He slowly pulls away, eyes darkening with lust. “We should really talk about it.”
“It?” I repeat dumbly, brain mush from the torture he’s ensuing.
He sits up, sighing. “The reason you had trouble sleeping. The reason you were acting off yesterday. We need to talk about it. Him.”
My heart deflates, and the atmosphere changes completely between us. From playful to serious in a second flat.
“You really know how to kill a mood,” I grumble, pushing the comforter off me.
He hooks an arm around my waist to stop me from leaving the bed. “I know, but it’s important. It seems like too much of a coincidence that your mood changed the same day Sebastian Everly moved back to town.”
Jaw clenching over Bash’s name, I stare down at the floor. Roy Poland warned me that he bought a house down the street, but didn’t tell me when he was moving in. The café buzzed with news of his arrival yesterday morning when I opened, and it put me off my game ever since.
“Sebastian,” I spit, “is not an important topic. He’s a cliché one if you ask me. Something that should strictly be left in the past.”
Should, as in he hasn’t been yet.
Should, as in he’s still in the present.
Should, as in he’ll always be part of the future.
“You need to tell him,” Noah finally says, breaking the silence.
I stare at him. “You want him in my life?”
“I want him in Addy’s,” he tells me genuinely. “I firmly believe in the importance of a little girl having a father figure. She needs both her parents.”
My throat threatens to close. “She does have a father figure.” I put my hand on his cheek, caressing it with my thumb, “She has you, Noah. She loves you.”
He puts his hand over mine. “And I love her like she’s my own. But that’s the thing, Opal. She’s not mine. And no matter how much I consider her my blood, she’s Sebastian’s. He has a right to know about her. If I were in his shoes, I’d want to know if I had a child out there somewhere.”
Closing my eyes, I move my hand from under his, and cover my face with them. A headache forms in my temples, the pressure two seconds from exploding.
“Hey,” he sooths softly. “I get why you kept it from him. He made choices back then, too. But he’s back now. He’s home. And that means that it’s time.”
For the first few months after Bash left, I cried myself to sleep every night while listening to the music on the little green iPod he gave me. It was always the same music every night, a playlist he compiled of the love we once shared.
Back in high school, we were voted most likely to never break up. Everyone banked on us being a small-town love story, married with kids on a white-picket fence property. We were a fairytale that everyone invested in, but we never got our happily ever after.
Well, I didn’t.
Bash on the other hand, he got everything he ever wanted from his band Relentless. Every single practice that he and the guys had in one of their parents’ garage paid off, because as soon as he graduated, he was gone and living his dreams to be in a famous rock band.
But me? I was stuck in Clinton, hearing about him taking the world by storm while I was consumed by it.
Noah brings me back by a brush of his hand. My eyes open to see his full of sympathy, and I hate it. I don’t deserve his pity.
“Thought I lost you there for a minute,” he murmurs, giving me a small smile.
I blink. “I don’t deserve you.”
His eyes widen at the remark. “Why would you say something like that?”
I shrug. “Because it’s true. You’re too good for me. You picked me up off the ground when I was at rock bottom, you took in my little girl like she was your own, and you … you love me unconditionally. Even though I’m screwed up.”
He pulls me into him, wrapping his muscled arms around me in a protective hug. My face is buried in his chest, my nose taking in the faint smell of his cologne. He brushes his fingers through my hair, hushing me.
“You’re not screwed up,” he says against my head, kissing my hair. “What happened to you was just an obstacle that you had to get past. Look where you are now. Where we are.”
I nuzzle my nose against his chest. “I’m here because of you, Noah.”
“Nah,” he dismisses. “You’re here because you worked your ass off to be. I’m just the support system along for the ride.”
I pull back, blinking away tears. “You really believe that, don’t you?”
I shake my head in amazement, seeing him as my savior—the person who helped put the pieces back together. He became one of my closest friends after Bash left, helped me get over him in ways that only a true friend could. And after almost three years of struggling to move on, take care of a baby and find a way to live on my own, he became so much more to me and Addison. Noah saved me, but he’s too humble to accept that.
He brushes his thumb over my damp cheeks, ridding them of my evident weakness. Because that’s what Bash is. My weakness. Our past is a story that ended before it could really begin. Our chances of reconciliation abruptly halted without so much as a second look, letter, or call.
Noah pulls me onto his lap, brushing my hair away from my face and tipping my chin up to meet his eyes.
“I’m not going to stop you from letting him back into your life because I know if he’s going to be in Addy’s, he has to be in yours,” he begins, voice eerily calm. “I refuse to be the man that stops you out of jealousy. You need this, babe. You need closure.”
“You’re not afraid?”
He tilts his head. “Of what?”
Of everything. “You know how much he meant to me, how much he broke me when he left. That kind of love is hard to forget. You’re not afraid of what him being back means?”
Assuming his fears is just a way of voicing my own, because Bash broke me into a million microscopic pieces. But then he gave me the strongest love of all.
Noah places his hands on other side of my face, his touch gentle. “I love you, Opal Anderson. I trust you. You’re right. The kind of love you had for Sebastian is unforgettable, and you have a beautiful, good-hearted little girl to immortalize that. I could see how much lighter you were once you let him go all those years ago. Truly let him go. I would have never asked you out if I thought there was a chance your heart was still his.”
A piece of it may always be his.
I don’t need to say it. Noah already knows.
“See?” I whisper, brushing my lips against his feverishly. “This is why you’re too good for me. And, for the record, I love you too.”
He smiles against my lips, drawing my bottom lip into his mouth and biting down gently. My arms circle around his neck, as I deepen the kiss, his tongue tangling with mine.
“You have to get ready for work,” he groans, as I grind down on his hardness nestled between us.
“I need to a shower first,” I purr. “We’ve made it work before.”
Without another word, he stands up with me wrapped around him, and carries us into the bathroom as he slowly strips me.
“You’re it for me, Opal,” he whispers, setting me on the counter.
He turns on the shower, letting the water warm up before walking over and kissing me like his life depends on it.
“We’ve got half an hour,” I say.
His eyes are heated when he draws back. “I think I can manage that.”