Sneak Peek Wednesday: Only Ever You by C.D. Reiss

Only Ever You
by C.D. Reiss
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: July 9, 2019
Genre: Romance

Rachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.

The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither was the string of heartbreaks. Or the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.

It’s hard to stay practical and on point when everything takes a left turn.

Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.

Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, but he also still has their handwritten marriage contract.

No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.

That’s crazy.

But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.

 

 

Sneak Peek

I put my arm over her shoulders and walked her out to the courtyard. The night was perfect. Cool, clear, with the rush of the fountain to accompany the hum of voices and the string quartet. Folding chairs had been set in front of a podium.“You’re the same as you always were,” I said as we took seats.

“I’m not. I didn’t defend you. Not until it was too late, anyway.”

“You haven’t seen me in a while.”

“Why did you stay away so long?”

“Did you miss me?”

“Kinda.”

I expected a denial or brush-off, so my delight at her answer was coupled with shock, and she laughed at my reaction.

“Of course!” she said. “What do you think? You’re forgettable?”

“No . . . well . . .”

“Give me a break. You were my friend. Of course I wanted to see you.” Her hand dropped over mine. “Christmas, at least.”

She kept her hand on mine. I tried not to read too much into it. She’d always been affectionate. This was nothing.

My thumb wasn’t convinced. It objected strongly and insisted on proving a point by moving against the curve of her wrist ever so gently to let her know that even if its owner was too cautious to let her know he had feelings for her, the thumb was brave.

Silently, she kept her hand over mine for a second while my thumb finished the rotation; then she put her hands in her lap.

The silence was too awkward. It could be broken with a joke, but my sense of humor was taking a powder. All I had was distracting honesty.

“I didn’t come because, for part of it, I was with someone who took all my time.”

“You could have brought her.”

“My mother made her uncomfortable.”

The auctioneer stepped up to the podium. He wore a tux with a bolero tie and a top hat, and he had a curly moustache.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Take your seats!”

“Your mother?” Rachel asked. “Carol Barton? Seriously? She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

I cleared my throat. There was no explaining Tammy in the middle of a party. Not if I wanted to enjoy myself.

“I know. And I knew. But I was in a habit of not coming back anyway. I dropped in to see Mom here and there. Odd days. But on holidays, I worked, or I traveled, but mostly . . .” I paused while I tried to find words. The chairs were filling up. We stood to let a group by. “I was trying to tell myself I was different. I’d grown out of it or whatever. And every year it got harder to go back because I was wrong to stay away, and making sure I was busy was a way to justify all the years before. So here we are. My mother . . . she’s dating Roy, or what?”

“There’s definitely a thing with them. I don’t know if it’s ‘dating’ per se.”

I rubbed my eyes. I didn’t need to think of my mother hooking up or having a friend with benefits. Maybe if I’d shown up once in a while, it wouldn’t have been such a shock. Maybe if I’d come around when Rachel was home, I wouldn’t be sitting next to her on New Year’s Eve wondering if she was still as beautiful inside as she’d always been, because without a doubt, she was more beautiful outside.

“Next up!” the auctioneer called. “This 1942 gold Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award statuette, frequently described as an ‘Oscar,’ for achievement in cinematography.”

“She seems happy,” Rachel whispered. Her hand twitched, then fell back down, as if she wanted to touch me again but thought better of it.

“Between Roy and my father, I’m starting to think she likes men who are nothing like her.”

“There’s no one else like your mother, Sebastian.”

The auction was going strong, but neither of us wanted an Oscar.

“So,” Rachel said when we were sitting again, “what brought you back this year?”

My drink was empty. It must have gone right to my head.

“I remembered your birthday being so close to Christmas and then the fact that we were thirty.”

“The contract?”

I hadn’t come back for her. That wasn’t what I’d told myself when I told myself to go home for Christmas. But if I hadn’t thought she was going to be around, I would have talked myself into a full workday.

I wasn’t ready to tell Rachel that.

“Just made me think of how much time had gone by,” I said.

“Well, don’t be such a stranger.”

She put her hand over mine again.

“Sold!” The gavel came down.

 

 

 

Meet C.D. Reiss

CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well hauling buckets. Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood, California, to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere—but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

Reiss is frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut, which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood. If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine.

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