WHAT'S LEFT OF ME

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PRAISE FOR WHAT'S LEFT OF ME

“...very moving, delightful and steamy.”

 

~ Angela, Goodreads Reviewer

 

“...a sweet, quick afternoon read about wanting that second chance at the one love you can never forget.”

 

~ Miley, The Book Junkie

“...a beautifully written novella.”

 

~ Katie, Goodreads Reviewer

Loving her is an endless battle.

When I realized I saw Jenna Olsen as something more than my sister's best friend, it was too late. Her heart belonged to another man, but mine beat only for her. 

How do you just stand by and watch the love of your life live hers without you? 

Short answer: You don't. You do everything in your ability to distance yourself, and for me that was leaving my small hometown in Virginia to join the military. But her memory followed me everywhere, and in my darkest moments I clung to them--finding solace in her and her alone. 

Years have passed and our lives have changed--each of us bearing scars that will never heal--but my love for her has never faltered. I tried my hardest to stay away, but when my return home leads me right to her, I know my real battle has just begun ... and it's one I know I'm destined to lose.

Because how can I offer her all of me, when all I have is what's left of me...

EXCERPT

Cole’s hand catches mine as he holds it against his face, closing his eyes and breathing deep. “It was so real,” he murmurs. “I could hear, smell, and feel everything.” He opens his eyes, and he looks so lost that a lump rises in my throat.

 

When he releases my hand and moves to sit up, I scoot over and decide to give him some space. “Let me get you some water,” I say and stand up from the sofa.

 

His hand flies to my wrist, causing me to stop and turn to him. “Don’t leave me.”

 

“I won’t,” I say softly, and I take my seat back next to him—only then does he let go of my wrist. I’m not quite sure what to do, or what he needs me to do, so I just sit there with him in silence.

 

He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees and puts his face in his hands. “I couldn’t save him.” His voice is muffled, but I’m able to make out the words.

 

“He asked me to cover him, and I …” Cole’s voice breaks and he takes in a shaky breath. “I didn’t see the shooters behind us.”

 

My chest is heavy with pain as I realize Cole is telling me about what happened in Afghanistan. About Adam. All of these years I’ve wanted to know, but now I’m not so sure I can handle it. I need to hear this, though—need to let him talk about it and release the grief that he’s kept bottled up for so long. My hand rests gently on the back of his shoulder, and I move my palm back and forth in a soothing motion.

 

“It’s all my fault,” Cole says and scrubs his face with his hands before sitting up slightly. “Adam’s gone and it’s all my fault.” He turns to me, and his eyes are so glassy. “I’m so sorry, Jenna.”

 

My own eyes are warm and watery, and that lump in my throat is about to break through my exterior. Still, a tear slips from my eye and down my cheek as I pull Cole into my arms and hold him tight. “It is not your fault,” I reassure him and feel his arms wrap around my waist. “You did everything you were supposed to do. It was an ambush, Cole. You almost died yourself.”

 

“It should’ve been me,” I hear him say with his face buried into my shoulder. “Adam was good, and I’m …”

 

“Stop that,” I tell him and pull away to look at him. His eyes are so pained and haunted, it nearly kills me. “You’re good.” I emphasize my statement, hoping to get through to him. “You’re a good man, a good son, a good brother, and a damn good Marine.” He notices my curse, heck I’m a little surprised too, but I’m in the moment and need to make sure I have his attention.  “Adam knew what he was getting into when he signed up. You all did. He died doing what he loved, so don’t let his death be in vain.”

 

“I miss him, Jenna,” Cole says. “It kills me every day that I lived and he didn’t.”

 

“I miss him, too.” Lifting my hand, I stroke my fingertips along the side of his face. “But we have to keep going, Cole. If we keep dwelling on the past, on the things we can’t change, we’ll be miserable, bitter people.” I rest my hand against his jaw as I hold his gaze. “I know it’s hard, but we need to move on.” My thumb strokes his cheek. “Stop just existing and live.”

 

Cole’s hands tighten around my waist seconds before his mouth is on mine in a blaze of heat and passion.

 

A slow moan escapes from me when Cole’s tongue thrusts into my mouth, and I wrap my arms around his neck to deepen the kiss. He kisses me like I’ve never been kissed before—like his life depends on it. He devours me with every lick, every stroke, every flick, and the overwhelming sensation quickly sends a rush of aching heat to my breasts and between my legs. “What are we doing?” I murmur against his lips.

 

Grasping my hips with his large hands, Cole kisses me harder and pulls me so I’m straddling his lap. “Living.”

 

 

 

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