This week’s teaser is from Claire Nixon’s POV. This teaser also contains **MAJOR SPOILERS** for those who haven’t read Relentless or Pieces of You. If you haven’t read Relentless or Pieces of You, get your copy here so you’re ready for the next teaser.
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**GIVEAWAY IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED**
Today I will be giving away ONE digital ARC of Bring Me Home (to be delivered via email on or about August 23rd). To enter the ARC giveaway, leave a comment below telling me whether you think Claire will say yes or no to Rachel’s request. Please include your email address in the comment or send your email address to me via the Contact page. After you comment, you can enter a second time by sharing the link to this teaser on Facebook and tagging me or my FB fan page in your post. If we’re not friends, feel free to add me as a friend so you can tag me.
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Now onto the teaser….
Chapter One – Claire
In the last five weeks, I’ve read the letter I received from my mother’s rapist twice; the first time was before I knew who it was from and the second time I read it to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. Yes, my mother’s rapist sent me a letter. Yes, that is how I refer to my father. This doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been carrying my father’s letter around with me everywhere I go.
Even now, as I stroll across the driveway toward my old home, the letter is folded and tucked into the bottom of my purse. I still get a slight urge to knock on the door, but that’s not necessary. Jackie gave me a key two weeks ago. This is my home.
I open the door slowly, still slightly afraid that I’m going to see Chris, though I planned this visit for a Thursday night instead of a weekend because I knew he wouldn’t be here. I step inside and close the door softly before I make my way to the kitchen. Dropping my purse on the breakfast bar, I immediately go to grab a bottle of water out of the fridge. As I close the refrigerator door, someone clears their throat behind me.
I turn around and Rachel is standing on the other side of the breakfast bar. Her dark hair is pulled up in a messy ponytail, but she still manages to look perfectly pulled together. She never blinks as we stare at each other for a moment.
“Chris said you weren’t going to my birthday party next week,” she says, and her glare softens a little.
Rachel can be abrasive and she sometimes takes the phrase “honesty is the best policy” to extreme, but she’s also intensely emotional and sensitive. She used to play piano with Chris’s band occasionally, but she just writes music now. She plays beautifully and she taught me a couple of songs when Chris and I were still together.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to hang out with you guys right now.”
I don’t tell her that my therapist actually encouraged me to go to the party when I told him Chris asked me to go. I don’t want to be one of those people who constantly says, “My shrink doesn’t think it’s a good idea,” but I catch myself saying it inside my head all day long. The problem is that my therapist is adamant that I shouldn’t shut out the people I love in my attempt to get my head straight.
Rachel and I were never best friends. It was always understood that Jake was her best friend and Chris was mine. Sometimes we got along great and sometimes we tolerated each other. I don’t feel obligated to go to her birthday party, but the hurt look on her face makes me feel like I may be becoming too detached in my quest to find myself.
“I know you think you’re doing what’s best for you, but Chris is right, you need—” Jackie walks in and interrupts Rachel.
Jackie looks radiant as ever; her short, dark hair and makeup are impeccable. As I watch my foster mother approach me for a hug, I’m struck by a brilliant idea.
She holds her arms open and beckons me. “Bring it home.”
I smile at the idea I’ve just come up with as I wrap my arms around her curvy waist and nestle my face into her soft shoulder. I close my eyes as I inhale her scent. This is the scent I’ve come to associate with love. Just the idea of having a mother makes my throat ache.
I haven’t called Jackie “Mom” since the first and only time I did five weeks ago. I have this stupid idea that if I say it too often, it will lose some of its impact. When I told my therapist, Dr. Goldberg, that I was still having trouble calling her Mom, he asked if I felt guilty for loving Jackie as if she were my mother.
I let go of Jackie and she looks me over for a moment, taking in my baby blue UNC hoodie and faded skinny jeans. I’m not wearing a whole lot of makeup today and my hair is pulled into a messy ponytail that doesn’t look purposely messy like Rachel’s.
“You look beautiful,” she says with a smile. “Are you ready to go?”
“Go where? I thought we were having dinner at home tonight.”
I turn to Rachel and she’s trying not to smile. “We’re taking you out.”
Jackie raises her eyebrows. “Is that okay? I know it’s a school night for you, but we’ve been dying to take you to this new restaurant downtown. It’s classy, but the waiters look like models. Rachel and I have gone to ogle them three times since they opened up a few months ago.”
I give Jackie the side-eye because this all sounds very suspicious. Jackie isn’t shy when it comes to men. She chooses to stay single because she insists serious relationships are more trouble than they’re worth at her age. I’ve always had a strong suspicion that she avoids relationships because she’s afraid of getting hurt.
“I’m not dressed to go out to a classy restaurant. Anyway, why are you two so eager to take me out tonight?” I ask as I open my bottle of water and take a long swig.
Jackie and Rachel glance at each other before Rachel replies. “It was my idea. I wanted to take you out to ask you something.”
“Okay, now I’m even more confused. Why don’t you just ask me now?”
Rachel sighs; looking slightly annoyed that I don’t want to play along with this suspenseful dinner date she had planned for the three of us. “Claire, you know I don’t have a whole lot of girlfriends. And I haven’t spoken to my sister in three years. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister.”
My eyes dart toward where my purse is resting on the breakfast bar. I’ve only read that letter twice, but I remember every single word.
You may not recognize my name. Your mother did a good job of protecting you from her past. Henry Wilkins at Northstar Bank contacted me recently. He informed me that you refused the trust fund your mother set up for you before her death. I hope you will reconsider your position on this, as that money is rightfully yours.
I also hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for my transgressions and that you won’t hold my past against your half-sister. Nichelle just turned seventeen last week and she’s very eager to meet you.
I hope this letter finds you well.
Rachel rounds the breakfast bar toward Jackie and me then holds out her hand. I spot the giant rock on her finger right away and I’m instantly reminded of the two rings sitting on top of my bedside table in the dorm.
“Jake and I are getting married. I was hoping you’d be my maid of honor.”