“Emotional, angsty, so romantic, and edge of your seat suspenseful! ALL THE STARS!!”
—Samantha Young, New York Times bestselling author
Falling Embers, an all-new emotional small-town romance from bestselling author Catherine Cowles, is coming April 12th, and we have the first look!
“Hads, you know there’s no way she’s going to let you go.”
I leaned back against my bed and cradled the phone against my ear. “I think I can convince her.”
Jenna was silent for a moment before speaking. “I know you’ve got megapowers of persuasion, but your mom is on another level.”
I didn’t need my best friend to tell me that. I lived with my mother’s overprotectiveness every day. No, overprotective wasn’t the right word. It was paranoia.
“I’m going to go talk to her now. I’ll call you back when I’m done.”
“Okay.” Doubt dripped from Jenna’s tone. She’d watched me go down this road too many times before.
But I wouldn’t let her doubt get to me. I was holding on to hope. I pushed to standing and started for the door. I paused as I pulled it open, listening. I could hear voices wafting up from downstairs and moved in that direction.
“It sounds like a herd of elephants is invading,” my dad called as I pounded down the stairs.
“Just one daughter,” I told him, rounding the corner.
He had a baseball game on mute as my mom worked on hand-stitching a quilt.
“Where’s Shiloh?” I asked.
Mom’s jaw tightened, and I knew I’d already made a misstep. I shouldn’t have asked. My dad gave me a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. The kind I’d seen far too many times during the past eight years. “She needed some air, I think. She’s in the barn with the horses.”
My sister practically lived out there these days. And every time she ran off, a muscle in my mom’s cheek fluttered, or her knuckles bleached white—as they were now.
I didn’t know what to say. Not when we were already starting here. Instead, I shuffled from foot to foot, rethinking my approach.
Dad patted the couch cushion next to him. “Take a seat and tell us what you’re working through in that big brain of yours.”
His words had my mom lifting her gaze from her stitching and eyeing me carefully. I swallowed as I sat, my throat seeming to catch on the movement. I tucked a leg under me. “I wanted to ask you something.”
“Go ahead,” Dad said.
I toyed with a loose thread on the couch cushion. “Jenna is going to a party at Toby Jacob’s house tonight. I know you’re not crazy about parties, but I really want to go. I promise I won’t drink anything but sealed bottled water. You can breathalyze me if you want. And I’ll text you every thirty minutes, so you know I’m okay. I’ll stay with Jenna the whole time.”
Mom’s knuckles lost even more color. “Hadley—”
“Are his parents going to be home?” Dad cut her off.
“Um, no. But they know he’s having the party. They’re in Portland this weekend.”
My mom tossed her stitching onto the coffee table. “I can’t believe the Jacobs would be that irresponsible. Letting a bunch of kids run wild in their home while they’re away. Drinking. Probably drugs. Anything could happen.”
“Now, Julia,” my father began, but Mom cut him off with a glare.
“Anything, Gabe. Absolutely anything could happen.”
“But not to me. I’ll be so careful. I promise.”
Mom’s gaze shot to me. “You might be careful, but you could still get hurt because of someone else’s reckless decision. I won’t risk it.”
“Please, Mom,” I whispered. “Everyone in my class will be there. I don’t want to be the freak anymore.”
She stiffened. “You are not a freak simply because your parents want to make sure you’re safe.”
But I was. Everyone whispered. The girl whose sister had been kidnapped. The girl whose parents practically kept her locked in a bubble. The girl who never got invited to anything anymore because people had given up. Jenna was my only friend, but I could feel even that relationship waning. It was too hard for her.
I looked at both my parents. “I only have one friend because no one wants to put up with the insanity it takes. I have no life. It’s pathetic.”
“Hadley,” Dad warned. “You’re not pathetic. And you have a wonderful life. You ride horses, we go to the lake, go on hikes. That would be a pretty good life to some people.”
“But what about the life I want? To go to a party. God, maybe even on a date. To ride the bus to away games like everyone else. But, no. All of those things are too dangerous.”
“Stop it.” My mom’s voice lashed out like a whip. “How can you be so selfish? You know what we went through with your sister.”
“Newsflash, Shiloh’s fine. It’s awful what happened to her, but it was eight years ago. Please don’t steal my life because of it.”
“Go to your room, right now,” my mother barked.
I turned on my heel and ran. But not upstairs. I went out the front door. The house walls felt too claustrophobic, my parents bearing down, everything closing in around me. I tried to suck in air as the door slammed behind me. But I couldn’t seem to get my lungs to obey.
I started towards the paddocks as tears streamed down my cheeks, and I willed my lungs to cooperate. As I rounded the corner of the barn, I collided with a solid form.
Hands encircled my arms to steady me. “Shit, Hads. Sorry, I didn’t see you.”
I tried to get out my own apology, but no words came. The fact that I was struggling to find my voice only made it harder to breathe.
“Hads? What’s wrong?” There was a slight panic to Calder’s voice. “Want me to get your mom and dad? Hayes?”
I shook my head quickly, but the movement was jerky. I didn’t want my older brother, and I certainly didn’t want my parents. WANT MORE? Click here for the full sneak peek. >>> https://bit.ly/3J9UwMw
I’ve loved Calder Cruz from the moment he taught me how to fly. Racing down a mountain and giving me the release I so desperately needed. My understanding. My safe space.
Hadley has fought for a life of her own ever since her sister’s kidnapping. When she was drowning in expectations and family pressures, Calder was always the one who understood her.
Until one night changed it all. From best friends to strangers in a single breath.
She’s like a fire that lives inside me. Even when I thought it was all burned out, there were still embers that lived in my bones.
Calder knows what it’s like to almost lose the people he loves most. He’ll never make that kind of mistake again. Working at the fire station and taking care of his daughters are the only things he needs.
All it takes is a single moment to make him realize how wrong he is. A split second of coming close to losing the woman he has always loved.
But as long-buried embers light anew, there are those who lurk in the shadows. And they’ll do whatever it takes to extinguish that flame for good…
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Start the series today with Tattered Stars!
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About Catherine Cowles
Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.
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