Forever Ours

Book one of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shattered Hearts Series, a sexy second chance rock star romance.

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Sometimes, it takes more than love to mend a shattered heart.

After eight years of being tossed from one foster home to another, Claire arrives at the home of Jackie Knight and her son, tattooed guitarist Chris Knight. Chris becomes Claire’s first friend and first love. But Chris’s dreams of musical stardom and her need for a stable home put their love in jeopardy. Chris struggles with his plans for the future, entirely reluctant to leave Claire behind; until Claire does something that may break their love — and the only home she’s comes to know — forever.

Chapter One

Claire

Forever Invisible

April 2009

When I was six, my mom told me that fish can breathe under water because they don’t have lungs. And she left it at that. What she didn’t tell me is that, not only do fish never drown, but they also feel no pain. As I lie down on the filthy concrete behind the grocery store, all I can think is that I want to be a fish.

I wish I could say that I’m homeless through no fault of my own, but that’s not true. I’m not homeless. I’m a runaway. There is a slight difference, though the sleeping accommodations are basically the same.

I adjust the pillow under my head as I attempt to get comfortable. It’s not really a pillow. I pulled a cereal box from the dumpster and emptied it out, then I stuffed it with a bunch of discarded plastic grocery bags. I turn my face toward the pillow to smell the box. I never thought I’d actually want a pillow that smells like corn flakes, but it’s better than the smell of the dumpster that’s standing ten feet away.

It’s dark out here. It’s 1:30 a.m. If there’s anyone left in the grocery store, it’s just a couple of employees. I’ve been coming out here for the past seven nights to sleep. I let myself have a two-hour nap, then I leave. I wander the streets of Raleigh, trying not to feel sorry for myself. I’m a runaway. This is my choice. Then I think of what happened seven days ago — my last day at the Walkers’ house.

“Aaron wants to know if you’re a virgin.”

Lyle grins when he says this. He knows it’s going to piss me off. I’ve been at the Walker residence with Mr. and Mrs. Walker, fourteen-year-old Lyle, and his older sister Stephanie for three days. Three days may actually be a record for me. I think one week is the shortest amount of time it took me to get kicked out of a foster home before this. Lyle’s parents must have said something to him about my history, because he seems to think this comment is very amusing.

Aaron is another foster kid who’s supposed to be leaving in a couple of days. The Walkers are getting tired of him hanging out in the bedroom all day with his door locked. I don’t blame Aaron. And I highly doubt he’s the one who wants to know if I’m a virgin.

“You should tell Aaron that if he wants to know if I’m a virgin, he should sleep with his door unlocked.”

Lyle’s eyes widen. “Whoa…. You’re gonna have sex with him? Just like that?”

“I never said I was going to have sex with him. What I have in mind is much more fun for me than it is for him.”

“You’re a fucking psycho. No wonder your mom killed herself.”

“She didn’t kill herself. She OD’d.”

“She should have killed herself.”

When Lyle’s mom finally managed to pull me off of him, he had a bloody nose, swollen cheek, and sore crotch. I had a bloody lip, a bump on the head, and a reason to run.

Here I am now, trying to melt into the background of a grocery store. Trying to become invisible. But it’s difficult to fade into the scenery when your stomach is growling and your bones ache from sleeping on the hard concrete for seven days. Every movement makes me feel as if my hipbones and ribs are slicing through my delicate skin.

I’ve lost at least five pounds this week. I can feel it in my clothing. And I didn’t really have much weight to spare. One of the consequences of moving from one foster home to the next is that you never really feel comfortable eating. You’re always adjusting to someone else’s mealtimes and food preferences. I’ve been underweight for years.

In fact, I’m so underweight right now, I’m convinced this is the only thing that’s kept me from being hassled by the cops ever since I left the Walker house. I’m so thin I’m practically invisible. I’m used to being invisible. I actually prefer it. It’s the homes where people try to get you to talk about your feelings, or the other kids try to get friendly, that make me want to split.

I’m going to have to find a place to stay soon. When I checked weather.com in the library today, I discovered it’s supposed to rain in Raleigh tomorrow. It’s the last week of April. Can’t we leave the April showers behind us already?

The corner of the cereal box starts digging into my cheek and I lift my head so I can adjust it. That’s when I see the police car cruising by. Shit!

My heart pounds as I try to force myself to think fast. What am I going to do? I can’t run. They’ll see me if I try to hide behind the dumpster. Maybe if I just lie still they won’t notice me.

The police car stops and the one driving shines his spotlight on me. I cover my eyes with my forearm and he quickly points it a few feet to my left. The car door opens and the tears come instantly as I sit up. They’re going to put me in another home with another shitty family that doesn’t care if I starve or if their son is a perverted jerk.

“Whatcha doin’ back here?” the officer asks as he approaches.

I look up at him for a moment then cover my face to hide the tears. “I’m lost.”

Sometimes, it takes more than love to mend a shattered heart.

After eight years of being tossed from one foster home to another, Claire arrives at the home of Jackie Knight and her son, tattooed guitarist Chris Knight. Chris becomes Claire’s first friend and first love. But Chris’s dreams of musical stardom and her need for a stable home put their love in jeopardy. Chris struggles with his plans for the future, entirely reluctant to leave Claire behind; until Claire does something that may break their love — and the only home she’s comes to know — forever.

Read a PDF sample of chapter 13 here.

Reading Order:

FOREVER OURS
Shattered Hearts #1

RELENTLESS
Shattered Hearts #2

PIECES OF YOU
Shattered Hearts #3

BRING ME HOME
Shattered Hearts #4

ABANDON
Shattered Hearts #5

CHASING ABBY
Shattered Hearts #6

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