Elizabeth Lee's WHERE THERE'S SMOKE




  1. Where There's Smoke

I'd driven down practically every street in town, trying to clear my head.  But it wasn't working.  It sucked before—when she had been a figment of my imagination haunting my hometown—but it was worse now that I knew she was back.  Before, I’d managed to make it through the day with only a couple of reminders of her. Now, every single place I looked I swear I saw her.  Each time I thought it was her, I'd blink and she'd be gone or I would realize it was just some other girl with blond hair.  
She’d been sitting in the diner eating french fries. She’d been filling up her car with gas.  She was walking down the street in the pouring rain—her blond hair soaked and sticking to her face, arms curled around her body.  This time, it was so real I swore I saw her shiver when I drove by.  
I blinked, looked in the rearview mirror, and then slammed on the brakes. Because this time, she didn't disappear.  
My old truck took what seemed like an eternity to stop on that slick, wet side street.  I hadn't even realized that I was driving through her neighborhood until I saw her.  I threw the truck in park and let out a groan, knowing that I should have just kept driving or taken my ass to work like I was supposed to.
Like I could just leave her out in the rain.  Even I wasn’t that big of an asshole.
I watched her get closer and closer to the truck before sliding over and opening the passenger’s side door.  Her eyes found mine, but she didn't get budge.  She just stood there looking like she was about to drown as the rain pelted her.
“Get in.”
“No thanks.”  She shook her head and started to walk away.  
I opened the door all the way and hopped out into the rain, pissed off that now was the time she’d decided to be stubborn.
“It wasn't a question.” I grabbed her freezing-cold hand, and before she could ball it into a fist and jerk away from me, I slipped my fingers between hers and pulled her back to the truck.  I climbed back into the cab on the passenger’s side and tugged her right along behind me.
“I don't need a ride, Ryland,” she protested as the side of her body pressed up against mine.  She let out a frustrated huff as I reached over her and shut the door.  
As angry as she might have been, don't think I didn't notice that she hadn't pulled her hand from mine.  Or maybe it was the other way around—either way, I could feel her skin warming in mine.
The crisp, clean smell of the rain mingling with her heavenly scent had me in a haze.
“You think I was just going to leave you out there?  You should be thanking me for saving you from having to walk in the rain,” I said, shaking off the notion that I wanted her in the truck with me.
As I leaned back, I felt the rise and fall of her chest against my shoulder come to almost a complete stop when I looked into her eyes and stopped inches from her face.  Her lips parted slightly when her body forced her to let out the breath she’d been holding.  I felt my cock twitch against my cold, wet jeans.  It was a painful reminder of just how she much she'd hurt me, but sitting so close to her, I didn't care.  
A few seconds in the rain and I was soaked, but I would have done it again in an instant.  Raindrops clung to her skin and her clothes, making her light-colored shirt almost transparent. It took every ounce of control I had not to lean forward and catch the droplets on her cheek with my tongue.  I watched them fall from her face and felt her hand slip from mine.  Quickly, she reached up and brushed her fingers under eye.
Those aren't raindrops.
“I don't need you to save me,” she said, straightening in her seat, her shoulders firmly pressing back to put as much space between us as possible. “I don't now, and I didn't back then either,” she mumbled.
I sat back with a huff. I should have left her alone on that street.  The same way she'd left me alone. I ran my hands through my hair—the gnawing question of what had happened to make her cry nearly ripping from my lips.
Why do I care?
It was apparent that she still had some sort of hold on me.  It couldn't have been just physical though, could it?  Nope.  I could have handled that.  I was a guy.  She was girl—a beautiful girl at that.  Probably the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen.  Scratch that. She was a woman now. I could see that. Wanting her in that way would have been tolerable, but wanting her to tell me who or what had her so upset was not.  When she’d left all those years ago, she’d taken my ability to think straight right along with her.  I thought I had it back, but here she was. Fucking up any and all clarity I'd achieved over the past six years.
Like a roller coaster. Just when I’d topped the hill and could see the landscape on the other side, down she pulled me at a hundred miles an hour.



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WHERE THERE’S SMOKE Synopsis:
There is something to be said for letting go. Ryland Roberts knows that better than anyone. He'd let go of his ambitions, of his family and—most of all—of her. He'd perfected the art of putting his past behind him and accepted the fact that the town he wanted to leave in his rearview was the place where he was going to live out his days. But sometimes the past doesn't just go away. Sometimes it comes back to haunt you.

Piper Jameson convinced herself that she left for all the right reasons. She'd saved people by leaving—made sure that they weren't tainted by her rebellious ways. When her little sister asks her to come home and say goodbye to their ailing mother, she's forced to see that things aren't always as they seem. The people who she'd left behind might not have been saved at all.

In the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel from point A to point B, Piper and Ryland will have to put their feelings for each other aside and make a choice. Forced on the run with Piper's sister, they begin to understand that the future they thought was gone was never really lost.



ABOUT ELIZABETH LEE:
When I'm not writing or playing the part of wife and mother, you can find me dancing back-up for Beyonce, singing back-up for Miranda, or sunning myself on the beach with a drink in hand.  Here's the thing about being born and raised in a small town—you have a very vivid imagination!  Now, I channel it all to create stories where the girl always ends up with the right guy, first kisses are magical, and a happy ending is just that!
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