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All I’ve ever wanted was for someone to choose me. My mother didn’t. My father didn’t. The beautiful boy next door, who grew up to marry me, didn’t. Neither did the next man with whom I thought my heart was safe.
Back in the Bay area, three thousand miles from New York City, I can start fresh. Become one with the sea again, rise or fall on the tide of my own choices. But on the first day of my bright new life, the darkest shadows of my past follow me through my office door. The two men whose names are definitely not on my five-year plan.
If I let it consume me—my need for one man, my love for the other—the darkness will swallow me whole. I can’t let that happen. Not again. This time, the waves of emotion crashing against my heart won’t drown me. This time, I get to choose my happy ending.
It’s time to get back to the hotel. Fitz and I have been helping Hazel set up her apartment. Installing the sound system was the last thing on her list, and I’m almost done. But I don’t want this day to end. Not yet.
I don’t want to leave her.
I want to bask in the light of the infectiously cute smile she wears everywhere she goes.
I want to stay with her for the rest of the night.
Forever—if she allows it.
Hazel Beesley has been warming my cold soul since the moment I met her. She isn’t like any women I’ve come across. I met her the summer she came to live with her grandfather.
Everything about Hazel captured my heart from the beginning. Her big eyes, long braids, wicked smile and a smart mouth. Her luscious, full lips. The eagerness to learn and help people. Behind the professional hard shell she shows to the world, there’s a smart, sensitive, caring woman. She adores her family and helps everyone around her.
My relationship with her has been by stages. The big crush happened when I met her. Slowly, I fell in love with her, and one day, we kissed. In that instant, her air became mine, and my soul was branded with her name. Her presence calms the demons inside my head. She knows most of my secrets and my fears. Hazel held my hand while we face my most significant challenges.
My phone buzzes. It’s a text from Harrison, my oldest brother.
Harrison: Where are you?
Scott: San Francisco.
Harrison: Why am I not surprised? Are you and Hazel getting back together?
I snort. That’s the plan, but there’s a complication.
Scott: I’m working on it.
Harrison: If I could, I’d talk some reason into her, but … you fucked up, and I can’t help you.
No one can help me. I let out a long, frustrated breath. Harrison is her best friend. They are so similar. According to him, I have a hefty price to pay before she forgives me. Then, I must grovel, and maybe we will salvage something. At least, that’s what he said after Christmas.
Scott: It’s back to square one. I have to remind her how great we are together.
Harrison: That puzzles me. That the two of you fit just right. You are so different. And yet, you stayed together for a long time.
He’s right. On the surface, we don’t look compatible. However, deep down we fit perfectly. Like a key in its lock, I belong to her. It’s in the way she makes me feel. The yearning when she’s away. The joy I experience when she’s steps away from me. She holds the power in our relationship, not me.
Scott: I regret being a coward, and letting her slip out of my hands knowing that this day would come. The day she’d move back to San Francisco and see the boy she fell in love with since they were kids.
Harrison: Well, you better apply yourself before she sees him.
Jesus, I rub the back of my neck. What am I doing here?
Scott: This might be a lost battle. She already saw him.
Claudia is an award-winning, international bestselling author. She lives in Colorado working for a small IT company, managing her household filled with three confused dogs, two daughters wrought with fandoms and a son who thinks he’s the boss of the house. And a wonderful husband who shares her love for all things geek. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.