Check out my new blog book! Free Read!!!!

September 20, 2009 at 6:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been a little lax on posting lately, I know.  It has been a busy summer.  I’ve got a new book coming out on October 1st called The One Nighter.  Some of you might remember it! 

I’m starting a new blog book just for YOU!  Each week I will post a new excerpt 🙂  Choices is about a young love lost, and the hope that things will be made right.  Jackson and Mallory are two of my favorite characters.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

Choices

By Shauna Hart

Excerpt 1

 

Princeton, Indiana 

 

Why the hell had he come back?

His mother was gone.  Facing the town where he grew up would not bring her back.  He glanced up at the green sign as he merged onto US41.  It read, 3 Miles to Princeton.   His jaw clenched.  The decision to fly into Indianapolis instead of Evansville was no fluke.  He thought the three hour drive would give him time to get his head together.  He wasn’t ready to face things.  He needed more time.  Burying his mother would be one of the hardest things he ever had to do. 

But there was another reason that he didn’t want to come back to Princeton. 

Her. 

Fifteen years had passed since he left, and in all that time he had never looked back.  The memories were too painful.  Staying away was an last ditch effort at self-preservation.  But staying away hadn’t lessened the pain or the knowledge that the one person he trusted the most was the one who struck the cruelest blow. 

He wasn’t going to kid himself that people like her changed.  Even if she had, the memory of what she had done would never leave him.  For years after she betrayed him, he couldn’t get her out of his mind no matter how he tried.  The rose colored glasses had been smashed a long time ago.   He had spent half his life trying to make something of himself, trying to prove that she had been wrong to throw him away.  When he made the New York Times Bestseller List as a novelist, he had even thanked her for being such a calculated bitch.

            But things were different now.  He wasn’t some low class boy she could push around.  He was a successful author whose last book sold thousands of copies.

            Even now, as much as he wanted to rub his success in her face, he didn’t want to see her.  Seeing her would only make him remember what a fool he had once been.  When he thought about how he had fallen for her lies, it made him sick.  He had never let a woman get that close again.  Sure, he dated, but he had never let any of them mean something.  It was too dangerous.  He had learned that lesson the hard way.

            He slowly maneuvered his car around the old town square. So much had changed, but so much remained the same.  The City Hall building still sat proudly in the center looming down over all the inhabitants of the town.  He could remember coming to see Santa Claus here.  Perched on the steps, he would hand out candy canes to the children.  Did they still do it each year?  An Asian restaurant had replaced the old Five and Dime store where he spent many allowances on toys and bubblegum.  Like people, places changed, even when we aren’t ready for them to.

            Finally, he turned onto Prince Street looking at all of the historic houses that lined the road.  Tree branches created a canopy that filtered the glare of sunlight.  He passed Colvin’s funeral home taking a deep breath.  His mother lay inside waiting for him to make decisions he wasn’t ready to face.  He had seen her through the years, but he had never once come home.  His mother was the only thing that had kept him sane, the only person who refused to allow him to give up. 

            She had saved him from himself.

            Her death had been sudden.  No time for last words.  No time for goodbyes.  He had spoken to her on the phone on Sunday.  She sounded fine, healthy.  By Monday night, she was gone.  Heart attack, the doctor said.  She hadn’t even made it to the hospital.  Pain speared through him at the cruel twist of fate.  His mother, who had given him everything, had died alone.  His hands gripped the steering wheel tighter.

            Colvin’s could wait. 

            For now, he needed to eat.  He eased his car into the back parking lot of Dick Clark’s Family Restaurant.  It was the one thing that never changed in this town, and it was beginning to be the last lone holdout to a time most had forgotten.  He walked around the side of the building looking at the carefully manicured trees that replaced the cement where many had carved their initials.  He smiled when he saw that the pickup window on the outside was still there.  Many nights he had come here with his friends to get ice cream.  He glanced at the side parking lot in front remembering the first time he brought her here.

            But getting mired down in his past, especially the part that involved her would not do him any good.  He took the few steps up to the entrance and walked inside.  He slid into a booth beside the waitresses’ station.  His mother had waited tables here for years.  He could remember many summer days when they ate lunch together on her break.  The place had definitely changed since then.  The jukebox that had once been a fixture was gone.  The red booths were now black.  And the black and white checkerboard floor had been replaced with carpet. 

            Yes, things changed.

            A young waitress who couldn’t have been more than twenty walked over to take his order.  Her blond ponytail bounced around her shoulders as she grabbed the pad from her apron.  “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked, her eyes studying him curiously.

            “I’ll have a cherry coke,” he replied, his eyes still scanning the room.

            When she returned with his drink and a menu, she leaned over to place her hand on the edge of the table.  “You new around here?” she inquired, her eyes searching his.

            He couldn’t stop the grin that came from the necessary small town intrusion of privacy.  “Not exactly.  I used to live here a long time ago,” he answered.

            “You look familiar.  Have we met before?” she observed quickly.

            He chuckled.  Probably because my picture is on the back of thousands of books, he wanted to say but didn’t.  He wasn’t ready to let people know he was back yet, and word traveled fast in a town as small as Princeton. 

“I think I would have remembered you,” he chided.

            He opened the menu to signify that the conversation was over, but the girl did not take the hint. 

“I know who you are!  You’re that writer!  Jackson Hart!” 

He did his best to put on a good publicity smile before turning to her and nodding.  “Oh my God!  You’re like famous!” she exclaimed.

            The girl’s exuberance was beginning to draw stares from the other people in the restaurant.  “Not really.  I’ve just been lucky,” he responded humbly.

            She scooted into the booth to sit across from him, her job apparently forgotten.  “My name’s Ellie.  How do you come up with all that stuff?  I mean, I can barely write my term papers!”

            He chuckled.  “It’s nice to meet you Ellie.  You know, I think I’m going to have a breaded tenderloin sandwich.  I haven’t had one in ages.”

            She laughed a little nervously, as she jerkily wrote down his order.  “Oh, sure.  I’m sorry, it’s just that I’ve never met anyone who actually got out of this town and did something with their life.”

            Guilt made him sigh heavily.  He leaned back in the seat to look up at her, her brown eyes downcast.  He understood how she felt.  One day, not so long ago, he had walked in her shoes. 

            When she started to walk away, he called to her.  “It’s me that should be sorry.  I had a long flight.  And I’m just a little tired.”

            Her face brightened instantly.  “Don’t worry about it.  I understand.  I’ll put your order in right now.  You’re probably starving.”

            He watched her shuffle over to the kitchen.  At least he wouldn’t have that on his conscience.  Being here was harder than he thought.  The familiar smells invaded his senses reminding him of moments he wanted to forget.  It always amazed him how a drift of perfume could transport a person so effortlessly back to their past, to memories they wished to leave behind.  At the moment, he needed an air purifier they were so strong.

            After answering a million questions, leaving a big tip, and successfully lightening Ellie’s spirits, he walked out to the parking lot.  He sighed heavily.  He wouldn’t be here long, only long enough to pack everything and sell the house.  He might not even see her.  But when he reached the jeep, a sense of foreboding told him it wasn’t going to be that easy.  He looked around taking a deep breath.   

This would definitely go down in history as the longest week of his life.

           

            “Did I tell you that Jackson Hart is back in town?”

            The question made Mallory Westfall’s fork stop in midair between her plate and her mouth.  “What?”

            Leah Clark stifled a laugh as she nodded.  “That’s what Ginny Thomas said.  She saw him walking in to Dick Clark’s earlier,” she said leaning in further.  “And from what I heard, he’s looking better than ever.” 

            Mallory didn’t doubt that for a moment. 

Jackson Hart had always looked good—too good. 

Fifteen years had passed since she’d last seen him, fifteen long years.  She wondered if he had changed.  Just thinking of his face made her ache in places she thought dead.  She had seen the announcement in the paper that his mother passed away.  Losing a parent wasn’t easy.  She ought to know. 

            Fifteen years.

Fifteen years and he had never come back. 

After what she had done, she couldn’t blame him.  All these years she had tried to forget him, tried to ignore the articles in magazines and the interviews on television.  Remembering was too hard.  The look in his eyes the last time she saw him still haunted her.  

Pain. 

Anger. 

It had all been there. 

She shifted in her chair under Leah’s knowing glance.  Not many people knew how serious her relationship with Jackson had been.  Most people thought they were barely acquaintances.  Only Leah knew the truth.  That her feelings for Jackson had been real.  Leah had been her best friend for as long as she could remember, and she knew her too well.  In most cases, that fact was a blessing, but in the case of Jackson Hart it was a curse. 

            “That’s interesting,” she replied, trying to sound as nonchalant as she possibly could.  The sparse salad that was supposed to be lunch blurred before her.  So much pain had been caused by the choices she had made. 

            Jackson was just one of the casualties.

            Leah’s eyes narrowed as she continued.  “Isn’t it?  I wonder if he’ll stay in town.”

            The thought made Mallory’s body tense.  He couldn’t stay in town.  He just couldn’t.  If he did, her little house of cards would fall.  “Surely, he won’t,” she said as much to herself as to Leah.

            “Don’t look now, but it’s your favorite person,” Leah muttered sarcastically, her eyes fixed on the door.

            Mallory slowly turned to see Darcy Sampson stroll through the entrance, her blond curls bouncing around her shoulders.  Tight jeans hugged the curve of her hips.   The scoop neck of her pink sweater revealed far too much of her ample bosom for appropriate company.  Their gazes met and hung briefly before Mallory turned back to face Leah.

            A year ago, her husband Derrick had announced after almost fifteen years of marriage that he was leaving her for Darcy.  She had heard whispers for a while that the two had been having an affair, but refused to believe them.  Burying her head in the sand was a trait she had picked up long ago.  But when Derrick asked for a divorce, hiding was no longer an option.  After six months of battling with each other in court, they had finally put an end to the farce that was their marriage.  The only victim in the fight was her son, Jacob.  Mallory couldn’t help but notice that the other people in the restaurant were staring and beginning to whisper. 

            The affair and subsequent divorce had been the town’s hottest gossip, and a year later it still had not died down completely.  If she hadn’t had the store, she wasn’t sure she would’ve survived it.  It had been her father’s idea originally.  He told her that she needed to find something that excited her, something she could do with her life.  That was an understatement.  She hadn’t been truly excited in years.  However, the small used bookstore, appropriately named The Bookworm, did provide the distraction she needed to get through most days.

            “Do you want to get out of here?”  Leah asked, her features laced with concern.

             Mallory glanced around the small restaurant counting the curious stares she was receiving.  “No,” she replied with a sigh.  “It would only feed the frenzy.”

            “How is Jacob doing?”

            “Stoic, as always.  I never know what he’s thinking.  He says he’s fine, but he won’t talk about his father.  I don’t know if he will ever forgive him.”

            Leah sneered.  “And, why should he?  Derrick Lange doesn’t deserve forgiveness from anyone after what he did.”

            It was the ready response from everyone she was close to, but deep down she knew the truth.  Derrick wasn’t the only person at fault for the dissolution of their marriage.  After the anger and shame subsided, she had spent a lot of time learning to face that. From the beginning, things between them hadn’t been right.  She had only married him at her father’s insistence, and she spent years regretting her decision. 

            For a while, she tried to make it work, thinking that she would come to love him.  At times, she had even convinced herself that she did.  But she never really had.  He had eventually seen through her charade, and he had never forgiven her for it.  In the end, she had suffered more from the embarrassment he caused, than from his absence. 

Only one man had ever been able to arouse intense feelings in her well-guarded heart. 

Now, he was back. 

She only hoped she was strong enough to face him and the choices she made.

Stay Tuned for more of Choices…

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