“I simply could not put this book down! It was intriguing from beginning to end. I’m definitely looking forward to more from this author.” ~ ★★★★★️ Netgalley Review“This is the third installment of the author’s first series and it did not disappoint! I laughed, I cried, I loved it!” ~ ★★★★★ Goodreads Review“This was an amazing book that I couldn’t put down!” ~ ★★★★★ Goodreads Review
He’s the one who broke her heart first, the one she can’t let go, still always saves her when it seems all hope is lost.
He’s also her brother’s best friend and way off limits.
She’s the one he dreams about, the one he’s always drawn to, but the one he keeps at arm’s length.
She was meant to walk away—he made sure of it—but he can’t stop holding onto her.
Even though she’s the one woman he can never have.
Dean and Briella think their feelings are under control—all they’ll ever be is friends—until tragedy strikes, followed by a string of mysterious fires targeting the hearts of Greendale Valley’s police and firefighters. The aftermath pushes them apart completely, only to drive them back together as they risk burning everything down in search of justice.
Will the flame between them continue to burn, or will uncovering the truth leave nothing but ashes?
My heart, the one I was beginning to piece back together, shatters all over again into fragments I don’t know if I’ll ever find again. How could Dean keep this from me? I open the box and see a gorgeous ring nestled inside. Tears fall as I sit back against the wall. I don’t know if they’re from sadness at the hole in my heart I thought was healing, or from anger toward the man I thought I trusted…thought I loved. The one I’ve been ready to risk everything for.
I hear his footsteps, but I don’t look up. “How could you do this to me?” I ask as soon as he’s in earshot.
“What?” he asks in a worried voice. He steps inside the closet and freezes, all the color drains from his face making the dark circles under his eyes more obvious than before. “Sweetheart—”
“No! You don’t get to call me sweetheart right now. This is…this is low, even for you.” I finally find the strength to stand. He looks as if I stabbed him in the heart, shock evident on his face, his lips parted slightly. The sight makes me hesitate, but what about how him hiding this makes me feel?
“How long have you had this?” I ask clutching the sheet to my chest as I hold the ring box and letter up so he can see.
“Briella…” His chest rises and falls carefully as if he’s controlling his breathing.
I stare at him while tears drip off my wobbling chin. As he continues to stare at me silently, I lose my temper. “You know what, don’t say anything. There isn’t anything you could say right now to fix this.”
I brush past him, careful not to touch him. He doesn’t even try to stop me; he simply stares in the closet as I move around behind him. I go in the kitchen and gather my clothes. How could I be so blind? I should’ve known he hasn’t changed. He doesn’t take love…or me, seriously for one second. I’m convenient for him right now.
I find my phone and call Brittney. “Hey. I’m at Dean’s house and I need you to come get me.” I sniff, trying—and mostly losing—to keep more tears from falling.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
“No, just please come now.” I rattle off his address and stand by the door to watch for her.
Dean finally walks into the kitchen with his eyes cast down at the floor, seemingly defeated. “Briella, let me take you to Valley B. I don’t want you somewhere you won’t be safe.”
“No. I’m not going anywhere with you. As soon as Britt’s here, I’m leaving,” I say as I swipe away another tear.
He finally glances up at me with his own, red-rimmed eyes. “Briella, please. Don’t go. Please give me a chance to explain.”
“Dean, you’ve had plenty of chances to tell me about this and to explain. But you haven’t. How could I be so stupid?” I laugh humorlessly.
He comes closer and attempts to reach for me. “Bree…”
I press against the door. “Don’t touch me.” My voice cracks.
He drops his hands and looks so broken I almost want to wrap him in a hug and tell him it’ll be okay, but it isn’t. He lied by omission. He kept something important from me. Love isn’t filled with secrets and half-truths.
Moments later, headlights flash through the window and Brittney texts me she’s outside. I turn to open the door.
He tries again. “Please, baby. Let me explain this to you. I love you so much. I can’t lose you now, not when I finally stand a chance with you.” He slides behind me and turns me so I’m facing him. “I told you to hold on to me, Bree, to not let go. I’ve always told you that, and I know I don’t always get it right but I’m holding on to you. I won’t let go. I promised you.”
I step out of reach. “You don’t have a choice, because I’m letting go. I can’t hold on to someone who doesn’t tell me the truth even if it will hurt me. I guess my brother knew you better than I did after all. He said you’d break my heart, and you did. Except he doesn’t know this isn’t the first time.”
“Briella, I know I hurt you all those years ago, but I’m begging you not to go. That’s not what this is, I promise. We can talk through this if you’ll just stay and let me explain.” He looks so panicked, his eyes pleading with me.
“Goodbye, Dean. Take care of yourself.” I run quickly to Brittney’s car, and even though I shouldn’t, I look at him before I get in and see the tears streaming down his handsome face making me doubt myself. But the truth is in front of me; he betrayed me by keeping this from me. I guess the real truth is, we were always meant to be just friends. Now, I’m not sure if we can even be that.