Length: 70,000 words approx.
Micah Lennox left Whisper Ridge after promising the man he loved that he would never return. But the only way he knows to keep his pregnant sister and nephew safe is to go home. Spending winter in Wyoming opens too many old wounds, but he’s on the run from justice which can’t be far behind, and this is his last chance at redemption.
After a hostage situation leaves Doctor Daniel Sheridan struggling with PTSD, he returns to Whisper Ridge. Joining his dad in family practice is a balm to soothe his exhausted soul, and somehow, he finds a peace he can live with. That is until he meets Micah in a frozen graveyard, and the years of anger and feelings of betrayal boiling inside him, erupt.
Two broken men fight and scratch for their lives and that of their families, and somehow, in the middle of it all, they find each other.
A figure stood beside Isaac’s grave and I knew immediately who it was.
There was no marker yet for the boy who had died two weeks ago and who would forever be nineteen. Flowers marked his resting place, but snow had long since covered them and softened the raised earth so it wasn’t as obvious against the gravestones around the figure. A car accident had taken Isaac, killed him on impact, and his family grieved for a future that would never be realized.
I’d just left my brother, Chris, in the hospital, broken beyond repair in the same accident. At least we had the possibility of a future with him, even though the road to recovery would be hard. He was still in a medically induced coma, not yet awake to know he’d lost his leg, or that fire had marked his face. But he would wake up. They told us he’d live.
No one had asked me where I was going when I’d left Chris’ room, each of us lost in various stages of shock and grief, and we all dealt with what had happened in our own way. I’d needed to connect with Isaac. Needed the peace to balance the loss and guilt that ate away inside me.
Isaac dead on impact, Chris’ future destroyed, and in front of me, hunched over Isaac’s last resting place, was the man responsible for it all.
The man who left my bed in the dead of night to become a murderer.
He was huddled into his coat, the January ice bitter by the buried, hands forced into his pockets, and his hood pulled around his face. Micah must have heard me, because he glanced my way, startled, grief written on his face. And then his expression changed.
He stepped toward me, his expression full of something like hope.
“Daniel?” he said. “Is Chris okay? No one will let me see him.”
He stopped walking when I didn’t reach out for him and looked at me uncertainly.
“His leg is gone, down from his knee,” I explained dispassionately, and then touched my face, “and his burns are bad, the left side of his face from his temple to his chin.”
“Shit. Shit.” Micah bent at the waist, as if he couldn’t breathe, and he was crying.
“How is it you don’t have a mark on you?” I asked, still eerily calm, and utterly focused.
He took his hand from his pocket, and pulled up his sleeve, exposing bandages. “I was burned,” he began. He dropped his hand when I didn’t comment, forced it back into his pocket, wincing as he did so.
I imagined the burn hurt a little, maybe even a lot, but he was there, as whole and real as when he’d left my bed on that terrible day.
In my mind I saw Chris in the hospital, the covers raised over the cage which protected his surgical site, then dipping lower where his ankle should have been. I saw a clear image of Isaac the day before he died, knocking for Chris and grinning at me as if he had the greatest secret to tell his best friend.
And here was Micah, telling me he had slight burns on his arm? The same man who’d told me in one breath that he loved me and then had stolen my car, driving it into a bridge and killing one boy, leaving another maimed and in a coma.
My fist flew, clenched aggression targeting Micah’s face, his cheekbone, and I heard a satisfying crunch. He staggered back a step, but he didn’t go down, and he didn’t take his hands from his pockets. I was too fast. I hit him again, blood flecking his face, dissipating into the icy air. He moved again, the force of my blows shoving him back.
Still, his hands remained in his pockets, and he was unnervingly quiet, taking my hits as if they were nothing at all. Another punch connected with his lip and split the skin, and this time he grunted in pain. He staggered backward toward the next grave and bent back over the stone marker with the force of that final blow. I stepped closer. I hit him again, connecting with his jaw, but the hit wasn’t hard. There was nothing to it; he didn’t move away.
“You took my car,” I yelled, right in his face.
“You said I could borrow it,” he pleaded.
I raised my hand to hit him again, but he winced, and closed his eyes, and I wanted him to look at me. “Open your damn eyes!”
He did, and he wouldn’t avert his gaze, naked grief in his expression.
“Daniel, please listen.”
“You’ve destroyed Chris’ life.”
“You need to leave Whisper Ridge, and never come back. I don’t want to see your face, I don’t want Chris to ever see you again. You understand?”
“I understand,” his tone low and broken.
“You will never come back here.” I shook him. He was smaller than me, thinner, lighter, and I shook him so hard his head snapped back. “Promise me!”
“I pr—promise,” he said through tears.
I was disgusted by him, hated him, wanted to kill him right there on Isaac’s grave.
“I hope they lock you up and throw away the fucking key!” I was still shouting, and he didn’t move, just stared at me with those pale eyes, red and wet from crying. He wouldn’t stop crying. “Don’t fucking stare at me!”
I shoved him one last time, and then before I could work out what the hell I was still doing there shouting at him, I pivoted and turned my back on him, and on Isaac’s grave, and the entire carnage.
RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.
RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.