Authors: Mj Summers
For my mom, who taught me that love is something
you do every day, and my dad, who taught
me to work hard and dream big.
Neither of you should ever, ever read this.
Thank you so much for purchasing this book. It is an honour to have people willing to take a chance on me with both their valuable time and their hard-earned money. It is my sincerest hope that in exchange I will provide you with a true escape from the everyday pressures of life.
(Book 2 of the Full Hearts series) is a romantic, sexy journey about starting over, taking a leap of faith and finding a family.
Those of you who read my debut novel
, Break in Two
(Book 1 of the Full Hearts series), have already met Luc, the leading man in this new story. This is not a sequel as such, but rather picks up where Luc left off in
Break in Two
. All of my novels are stand-alone stories with characters that are featured in the other Full Hearts books.
I hope that you will find yourself lost in Luc and Megan’s story and that you will fall in love with them as much as I have. On the following page is a list of the songs that inspired me as I wrote. I am sharing them with you in the hope that they will enhance your experience of
“These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding
“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato
“One Thing” by Finger Eleven
“Stay” by Lisa Loeb
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
“Flowers in December” by Mazzy Star
“Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones
“I Will Be” by Leona Lewis
London—New Year’s Eve
Rain nightclub exploded with the sounds of champagne corks popping all around as the crowd finished their countdown. As off-key strains of “Auld Lang Syne” filled the room, Luc Chevalier stood silently looking out the window to the balcony, where Claire Hatley and the love of her life, Cole Mitchell, held each other and kissed passionately. It was obvious Cole had just proposed as they embraced and when she stared down at her now-adorned ring finger. Luc felt a little like a voyeur, watching their tender exchange, but he couldn’t look away. Why would anyone ever want to do such a thing? What would it be like to love someone so much that you lost all sense of good judgment and tied yourself down for the rest of your days? He had heard that being in love created the same chemical reaction in one’s brain as heroin, which was the only thing that made sense to him about the whole affair.
His thoughts were interrupted by Simone Pelletier, his long-time friend and assistant, as she handed him a flute of champagne.
. . . .” she said. “You look lost in thought.” She had noticed him staring at the romantic scene unfolding on the balcony outside.
Luc shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “I was just thinking we should put tables out there for the warmer months.”
Simone gave him a skeptical look. “Are you sure you aren’t watching the happy couple out there? It looks more like you’re starting to regret not settling down to domestic boredom.”
“You know me much better than that, Simone. I should go check on the kitchen. I want them to bring around more hors d’oeuvres.” Luc gave Simone a quick peck on the cheek and moved briskly away.
Simone’s heart fluttered at his kiss, as it did each time she saw him. She had fallen for him at her job interview six years ago, but the feeling wasn’t reciprocated by her boss. Simone exhaled sharply as she watched his powerful frame make its way through the crowd. In her time as his assistant, she had felt like she had one foot in heaven and one in hell at all times. She was closer to him than any other woman ever would be; he shared his days, dreams and plans with her, but never his bed. She had watched helplessly as he courted other women, falling in and out of lust with them, each time wishing she would be next.
Two years earlier, Simone had gotten extremely drunk at a staff Christmas party and made her move, but Luc had turned her down, saying he would never take advantage of a drunken woman. When they came back to work three days later, she had slunk into the office, fully mortified. Luc had done his best to ease her mind while also managing to make it clear that she was far too important as his assistant and friend to ruin things by becoming lovers. Simone’s heart had cracked at his words, although she managed to laugh it off, making it seem like the other night had been a momentary lapse in judgment brought on by too much wine. She tried to tell herself eventually he would realize they were meant for each other and they would be together forever. But after so many years of pretending she also was anti-marriage, nothing had changed between them. She was starting to lose hope anything ever would.
* * *
A few minutes later as he exited the kitchen, Luc saw Claire and Cole walking to the front door, arms wrapped around each other. Luc was surprised by an unfamiliar feeling creeping over him. He couldn’t quite place it, but he realized it had something to do with not getting what he wanted. This was a new experience for him and not a welcome one at that. Luc knew Claire only slightly, having first met her on a flight from New York to London two months earlier. He had gone out with her only once, and she had left after only a few minutes, having been highly offended by his views on her previous relationship with Cole. Now that relationship was whisking her out the door. As much as he regretted not sleeping with her, he hoped for Claire’s sake things would work out between them.
He needed to distract himself from this unsettling feeling. He was a man who was used to being in control of everything, including his emotions. He was used to feeling one of two ways: satisfied or restless. Most of the time, he was exceedingly gratified by his choices and his success, but there was always an undercurrent of restlessness that he attributed to his wealth. He was always ready for the next challenge, the next conquest, never one to sit back and enjoy his accomplishments but rather ever spurred on to the next challenge.
Luc quickly shifted his thinking to the successful nightclub empire he was building, with Rain as the crown jewel. Of the eight clubs he owned, this one was by far the most profitable. Everything had come together beautifully to create this enormous success. Rain had the right location and the right decor, and he had hired the right people to run it for him. He had learned the hard way, through trial and error, how to make a business thrive. Between his clubs and his real estate holdings, his fortune at age forty-one was large enough for him to have shed any concerns about price tags years ago. He had almost forgotten what it was like to grow up poor.
His lifestyle was fast-paced—full of travel, sex, parties and very little sleep; it was a life he never intended to give up. Luc was always going somewhere and rarely stayed more than two weeks at a time at home in Paris. His was not exactly a lifestyle that would allow a long-term relationship to thrive. He had been with a succession of beautiful women but it always ended the same way. Eventually they wanted more than he could give. He wasn’t home enough, he wasn’t attentive enough and once they realized he really
want to get married and have children, they would leave to go find their dreams. He wasn’t a man who was ever going to become transformed into husband material. Luc Chevalier was going to remain unattached; he had yet to meet his match and he doubted her existence. When he
find a woman he admired enough to see on a regular basis, she would inevitably become jealous of all the women he was surrounded by at work, and they would start fighting. It had all grown so predictable that it bored him to tears at times.
* * *
Three hours later, Luc sat alone in his office, sipping a Scotch and regretting that he had given up smoking over a decade ago. He could use a cigarette right now as he pondered his reaction to seeing Claire again. He chalked it up to being tired and having not slept enough recently. Deciding to give up on his attempts at getting paperwork done, he finished his Scotch in one unceremonious gulp and grabbed his long wool coat. He shut his office door behind him and walked across the nightclub to the front door. It now looked like a typhoon had hit—party favours, confetti, napkins and glasses strewn everywhere. A few balloons floated along the floor as he strode past them, creating a breeze. Luc had let the staff go home without cleaning up; they had worked hard and deserved the time off. The considerable mess could be handled the next day. As he stepped into the cold night air and locked up the club, he became aware of how quiet the world seemed. It was the start of a new year and Luc couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that something was about to change.
Megan Sullivan, having just added another log to the coals, flopped down onto the couch in front of her fireplace. Elliott was now asleep in his bed. He had been fighting to stay awake until midnight but had finally lost the battle and nodded off on the couch. She had carried him up the stairs to his room and tucked him in with his favourite blue teddy bear. Now back in the living room, Megan picked up the bowl of popcorn she had made earlier in the evening and flipped the TV on, looking for something to distract her.
This was the worst time of the day for her—right after Elliott went to sleep. It was when the loneliness would wash over her like a wave during high tide. In the past five and a half years since she had left Ian, this time of day hadn’t gotten easier, and there were times when she was surprised by just how empty she still felt. She and Elliott were better off without him, a fact Ian himself would agree with. His addiction to OxyContin and alcohol had ended not only his marriage but his baseball career as well. What had started as relief for a painful shoulder injury and subsequent surgery had taken over his life, changing it forever. Megan had tried desperately to get him help, but he had spiralled out of control in spite of her best efforts. She had been horrified to discover that no amount of love would fix him. Unless Ian wanted to get better, he never would—and until he did, he wasn’t fit to be a father to their son.
Megan had pushed forward with her life without Ian, raising their son with the help of her mother, Helen. She picked up the phone to call her mother, who was visiting Megan’s older brother, Mark, in Portland.