(Mason Creek #28)
by Lauren Runow
Genre: Second Chance Romance
Trope: Small Town Romance
an emotional, sensitive story about second chances at life and love
I knew someday I’d have the life of my dreams.
I just wasn’t prepared to lose him in return.
Growing up in small-town Mason Creek, it’s hard for a girl to dream big. Since my mom was barely making ends meet, I knew moving away for college wasn’t in the cards. What I didn’t know was how singing a Miranda Lambert song while unpacking a box would change my life forever… and take me away from the only boy I ever loved.
Matthew Simms was the boy I was destined to be with. Handsome, caring, and the town’s star athlete, he was my everything…including my heartbreak. We both left Mason Creek to chase our dreams, leaving our love behind.
I never planned on coming back, but when a cruel turn of events strikes five years later, I’m shocked to come face to face with Matthew. Gone is the boy I left and in his place is a man—rugged, handsome, and strong. There’s no denying our attraction lingers in the air, yet the reasons that kept us apart all this time are still as strong as ever.
He is the man of my dreams, but I chose the life I desired in exchange.
In the back of my mind I always thought maybe someday we’d be together.
Well, someday is today.
Only now, just as everything I ever wanted is coming true, I wonder if I chose the wrong dream to chase.
ADD to your Goodreads TBR:
I’ve read a few book by Lauren Runow and have liked all of them. And I really liked Hannah and Mathew. This story is really believable. They were high school sweethearts until they weren’t. Now 5 years have passed and a lot has happened since they saw each other. She is on the verge of becoming the next big thing in country music while he’s building a reputation as a great coach.
My heart broken for Hannah and the reason why she had to come home. I can’t even imagine how I’d go through that. And don’t even get me started on what happened to Mathew and the reason why he didn’t become the next big thing in MLB.
While this book wasn’t heavy on hot and steamy scenes, it was filled with family and friends sticking by you no matter what, love so big that even time apart couldn’t make you forget it and a HEA everyone knew awaited them.
***Review copy requested and reviewed on behalf of OMGReads Blog***
I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night since all I thought about was Hannah, and whose rental call that could have been.
This morning, I’m meeting a player for one-on-one training, and I’m a mess. As I drag my ass into Java Jitters, I notice the way Leah, Hannah’s friend who now works here, stares at me with wide eyes.
I pat down my hair and rub my face, wondering if I’m more of a mess than I realize. Then I see the way her eyes roam so I follow her gaze to a corner table.
A corner table that holds all of the members of The MC Band, including Hannah.
My heart lurches into my throat, but I try to act as cool as can be. Without making any motions, I head to the counter, saying, “I’ll need a tall one today.”
Leah’s eyes bounce back and forth between me and Hannah, and I tilt my head at her while blinking slowly, as if to say, Can you be more obvious?
She gets my drift and jumps to get my normal black coffee as well as a bagel started for me.
Even though I know I shouldn’t, I turn around and lean on the bar, folding my arms as I wait. Honestly, it’s what I do every time I come here, but today, I feel awkward as hell.
Of course, she knows I know she’s here. The place is tiny, and, hello, it’s still Mason Creek. Anyone new sticks out like a sore thumb.
It only takes a couple of seconds for her to look in my direction, and when our eyes meet, my chest literally tightens to the point that I can barely breathe.
I try to take a breath in through my nose but am forced to open my lips slightly to let it release through my mouth to help calm my nerves. I know she notices because her eyes drift to my lips, then back to my eyes.
She scoots back in her chair slowly, and like an idiot, I instantly turn around to see if my food is ready.
Kicking myself, I curse under my breath as I feel her approach me.
“Hey,” she says, her voice soft and sweet.
I turn and am taken aback by her features. From afar, she looked the same, but now that she’s up close, I can see the subtle differences in the way she wears her makeup, how her hair is a little more styled than she used to do with long curls, and the way she’s grown up to more of a woman than a girl.
Most of all, I see just how stunning she is.
Over time, I’ve questioned what I saw in her, convincing myself it was puppy love. As I stand here now, all those feelings come rushing back in the blink of an eye—her beautiful green eyes, to be exact.
She licks her lips nervously, and I realize I haven’t said anything.
“Oh, hey,” I say way too loud and then want to smack myself in the forehead, but I keep my composure—thankfully.
“I didn’t know you moved back after college,” she says, her words feeling like a stab to my heart. “I always thought you’d move away to some big city to play ball.”
If she didn’t know I’d moved back, that means no one has talked to her about me—or worse, she hasn’t cared enough to ask.
I glance to Leah, and she jumps to busy herself like she wasn’t trying to listen in on our conversation.
Her friends Ellie and Leah kept in touch with me through social media while I was away at college. And they were well aware I lived here again—come on, it is Mason Creek after all, and everyone sees and knows everything. Yet they told her nothing.
I smile like that thought doesn’t hurt.
“Yep. Got injured. Kind of ruined those dreams. But I’m back here, working with kids and their dreams.”
She places her hand on my shoulder in a kind way. “I always knew you’d do something with kids. You have a special heart. Looks like you still do.”
I try to grin like her hand on me isn’t affecting me in any way. I nod and turn to Leah, who sets my bagel down next to the large coffee. I grab them, never so happy for my food to be done.
“Well, I’m off to give a private lesson. Take care, Hannah. It was good to see you.”
I walk away, not waiting for her response, and I lift my arm in a semi-wave to the guys in her band and exit the shop before I screw anything else up, praying she didn’t realize how much seeing her really messed with me.
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Lauren Runow is the author of multiple Adult Contemporary Romance novels, some more dirty than others. When Lauren isn’t writing, you’ll find her listening to music, at her local CrossFit, reading, or at the baseball field with her boys. Her only vice is coffee, and she swears it makes her a better mom!
Lauren is a graduate from the Academy of Art in San Francisco and is the founder and co-owner of the community magazine she and her husband publish. She is a proud Rotarian, helps run a local non-profit kids science museum, and was awarded Woman of the Year from Congressman Garamendi. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. You can also stay in touch through the social media links below.
Find more books by Lauren Runow here: www.laurenrunow.com