At thirty-six, Gwen Porter has always done the right thing. A selfless pillar of strength, devoted wife and mother of two, she thrives on caring for those she loves. When Gwen learns a shattering, life-changing truth, her deepest concern is telling her husband, John. She finds herself on a destructive path of deceit and when her strength is tested, she turns to the most unlikely person.
For Charley Brant, Gwen’s carefree, younger sister, life is about surviving another dead-end job or her next train-wreck relationship. She lives in the moment, denying herself any hope for a future. After years of relying on her sister’s handouts and support, Charley finds herself in unfamiliar territory as she struggles to be the vessel of strength that Gwen needs to navigate through the storm.
As Gwen faces her darkest fear and an uncertain future, Charley turns to the past, unraveling secrets that will change everything that has come to define her. And in the wake of a tragedy, each will come to recognize that sometimes the most important words are the hardest ones to say.
It starts to rain, big heavy drops, the dark sky finally unleashing the fury that it has threatened all day. The water gushes at our feet and the sound of the rain fills the once quiet street like the roar of an awe-inspiring waterfall. We run like school kids back to the bed and breakfast, straight to our cozy room, where we strip off our wet clothes and make love in front of a warm fire. And I think, I remember this, this passion. How could I forget? And when I am overcome with my release, my toes curling and my heart nearly pounding out of my chest, I’m hit with a wave of emotions. Overwhelmed to the point of tears, I bury my face in John’s chest while he shudders his own release. When his breath evens out, he pulls back and looks deep into my eyes, stirring up feelings of guilt once again.
“Sometimes I love you so much that I can’t breathe,” he whispers, as he tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear, a gesture that conjures so many emotions within me. A stray tear slowly trickles down my cheek. And all I can think of is the unfairness of it all. I am so happy. My life is perfect in so many ways. I have survived so much already. Why can’t I just have this one thing? Is it too much to ask?
And as if reading my mind, John says, “Sometimes I’m so happy that I find myself holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like a person can’t possibly deserve this much happiness, ya know?” He gently wipes away my tear with the pad of his thumb and I suddenly can’t breathe. I stare at him so intently, it’s like I’m willing him to hear my thoughts so that I don’t have to say the words aloud. And in the same moment, I know that I can’t say the words aloud. I love him so much that I can’t break his heart. I can’t take this moment from him. I would do anything to protect him from this pain.
I close my eyes, breaking the laser focus of our gaze and whisper, “I love you too, John. So much.” I kiss him on the lips, pushing it all aside and think, Later. I’ll tell him later. And then I take a breath. Because that’s all I can do for now.
L.D. Cedergreen is the author of Ripple and Amazon’s bestselling novel, Gravity. She is an avid reader and a music fanatic! Growing up in a small town in Washington State, she loves to incorporate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, as well as a small-town vibe, in her books. She now lives in Southern California with her husband and two children. You can follow her on twitter at @LDCedergreen