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Authors: Tessa Teevan

Tags: #E.M. Tippetts Book Designs

Ignite (Explosive)

BOOK: Ignite (Explosive)
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Ignite (Explosive)
Teevan, Tessa
(2013)
Tags:
E.M. Tippetts Book Designs

After nearly a year and a half of grieving the loss of her husband, twenty-seven year old Alexa Sullivan Tate is headed back to her hometown after a decade of being away. She has no idea her high school crush, Jace McAllister, the guy who stole her heart the same night that he broke it, is more than ready to pick up the pieces.

Jace has spent the last ten years in the Army defusing bomb after bomb, trying to forget the girl who ignited all his passions. Little does he know that the spark still exists.

Ten years ago they had smoldering chemistry, but the spark between them now might light a fuse that leads to an explosion even Jace can't stop. Not that he wants to. If only Alexa can get past her guilt and trust her heart again.

But how do you put it all on the line when you've already lost everything once before?

*While this is a series, each book will be standalone.

For anyone who’s ever
needed a second chance, this is for you.

I fucking
hate you sometimes…

The words replay in my head as if on loop. Like I’ve died and gone to Hell, where I’m tortured with those five cruel words over and over again. The words that came from the same lips that used to whisper “I love you” as he held me in the middle of the night. The lips that, at one point, couldn’t wait to say “I do.” Those beautiful lips I thought I’d spend the rest of my life kissing. “I fucking hate you…” Yep, definitely Hell.

Hell on Earth, that is. I’m still here. He’s the one who’s gone. The love of what I thought would be my life, the man I married, the one I was so sure I’d wake up to every single morning until the good Lord decided to bring me home. The same man, who, on what was unknowingly his last day, spoke those five heartless, torturous words he will never, ever get the chance to take back. That man’s gone, and I’m still here, broken and alone.

I’m not a complete idiot. Just an overly dramatic one at times. I know my husband loved me. He’d loved me for more than seven years, and that didn’t change. We just spent the morning lying in bed for a few extra minutes so we could be close. He fingered my hair as he told me he loved me and was looking forward to the weekend getaway we had planned. He wasn’t going through the motions; he meant every word as he gave me a preview of what he had planned for our downtown Chicago hotel—if we ever decided to get out of bed and hit the road. It’s just that I can be a raging psycho when I’m PMSing. Then throw in a wine hangover and I turn into Satan’s worst nightmare. Every month it’s either intense cramping for four days or my husband wonders where this crazy bitch stashed the sweet woman he married. Suffice it to say, I was not cramping this month.

I understood his frustrations with me when I was like that, and any other time I would’ve just ignored those words because I usually deserved them. I knew he’d end up doing something to make me laugh in the moments that followed because neither of us could stay mad for long. This was different. He’d never used the word hate before. It caught me by surprise, and at the time, I was extremely thankful for the sunglasses on my face as I looked out the window at the fields of towering windmills on the Indiana countryside.

Hate. I
hate
onions. I
hate
Ohio drivers in the winter. I
hate
anything sparkly-vampire related.

I hate a lot of things, I really do, but it’s a strong emotion I only use when thinking about trivial things. My husband, though? Never, not once, have I ever felt hatred towards him, and it tore me in two to hear him say those words. And what’s worse is that I’ll never hear him say anything again.

We never did make it to Chicago. I don’t remember much about that accident. Actually, I don’t remember the accident at all. A car accident. I used to think that was so cliché. Couldn’t life be a little more creative? And now, here I am, widowed at twenty-six because of a damn car accident I have no memory of, only splotchy nightmares that just give me snippets of what happened.

The eye witness and police reports say that a young college student was running late to get onto the Purdue campus for his early afternoon classes. He cut us off, clipping the front end of our car. We ended up spinning into oncoming traffic where we were hit by an SUV on the driver’s side. He was killed instantly. I was knocked unconscious. When I woke up the next day in an Indianapolis hospital, I knew.

“Mrs. Tate, I wish we could have done something, but he was killed on impact. Take solace in knowing that he felt no pain…”
The doctor continued, but his words were drowned out in my mind, replaced by others.

I fucking hate you sometimes.

I wake
up with a wine-induced fog hanging over my head for the second—okay, third—time this week. No judgment necessary here. I need it. Not like a junkie needs his next fix, but a nice glass or two of soothing red wine is the only thing I can find to keep the nightmares away. I hope they’ll stop one of these days, but for now it’s all I can do to stop myself from screaming and thrashing in my sleep as I try relentlessly to brush the shattered glass away from my body.

I turn off the sound of Copeland’s Testing the Strong Ones, which is currently my alarm song. This has become my anthem, and I can’t make it through the day without listening to it at least ten times. It’s painful, kind of morbid, but somehow soothing at the same time. Getting out of bed, I almost trip over Toby, the orange, endlessly shedding cat I inherited when Tyler and I got married. Growing up with dogs, I hadn’t wanted Toby to come along when we moved in together, but they were a package deal. Now, I couldn’t be happier to have his grumpy self keeping my feet warm at night. We never got around to having kids, which is an entirely different story, so for now, Toby is a little bit of Ty I still have to hold on to.

After having taken my time in the shower, I’m about to blow-dry my hair when I hear the doorbell ring.
That’s strange,
I think to myself as I make my way towards the door. It’s a little early for the UPS man to deliver whatever product I purchased from Amazon. Seriously, that website is like crack for online shoppers. I just can’t quit it. Not that I want to, but still. The man who created Prime is a genius.

Heading to the door, I look through the peephole and groan. I really don’t have time for this, nor do I want to make the time for it. I open the door, and in an instant, my sister, Sierra, shoves past me with my niece in tow.

“Hey, can we come in?” Sierra asks.

“You’re already in. You know you have a key, right? No need for the doorbell,” I remind her, wondering why she’s shown up at my house on a Saturday morning when I know she has better things to do than hang out with me.

“Please tell me you have coffee in this house. This one’s been up since 5:30 this morning,” she says, nodding towards bright-eyed, four-year-old Ava.

“Sierra, this really isn’t a good time. I wish you’d have called first,” I sigh as I head towards the kitchen to brew a pot, because knowing my sister, this visit won’t be short.

“Oh, come on. We’re family. I don’t need to make an appointment to come see you. Plus, Aves wanted to see her Aunt Lexi. What are you doing that’s more important than this cute little face?” she asks, squeezing Ava’s cheeks together for emphasis. Ava throws me a cheesy grin and it’s all I can do to not smile back at her.

“I was getting ready to head to work,” I respond, just waiting for her exasperation at my plans.

“Lexi! It’s Saturday. Why are wasting your weekend at the office?”

“I have some stuff I can work on, and it’s not like I have anything better to do. I…I just can’t sit here alone all weekend, Sierra,” I say softly, mentally wishing she’d just leave it alone.

“So go out. Get out of this house. Go shopping, go to the park, or here’s an idea, go out on the town. Grab some friends and get some drinks. Just let yourself have fun for once.”

I pause as I set the coffee machine to brew, trying to figure out how to get out of this conversation without breaking down. “I have no interest in any of that. You know that I loathe shopping almost as much as you live for it. And it’s February. It’s way too cold for the park, and as far as going out goes, that’s the last thing I want to do.”

Sierra sighs before asking, “How are you doing? Be honest with me.”


I’m fine. I finished physical therapy last week and I ran two miles yesterday without feeling too much pain in my left knee,”
I reply, knowing that’s not what she meant.

“That’s good. I know how much you missed being active. But how
are
you? Are you sleeping? You look…tired,”
she says cautiously.

The truth is that I am sleeping, just not very much. The only nights I do get a decent amount of sleep are because I’ve drowned myself in red wine to the point where I simply can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I won’t admit it to her, but those nights are becoming more and more frequent.

“I’m fine, Sierra. I’m still…adjusting,”
I respond, not meeting her eyes. It’s true. I’ve always hated sleeping alone. It doesn’t help matters that two years ago Ty and I splurged on a king-size bed. I’m barely five feet tall, so I feel incredibly alone every night when I lie down on the cavernous mattress not meant for one petite girl. Another reason to be grateful for Toby, although his twelve-pound feline self doesn’t exactly make up for the six foot one man that’s missing from my bed.

“Well, are you eating? I can tell that you’ve lost weight. It looks like your clothes are hanging off of you
,”
she says.

This comment almost makes me laugh. I’ve always struggled with my weight, whereas Sierra was back to being a size two six weeks after she had the baby. We’re Irish twins, being only eleven months apart, but our body types couldn’t be more different. We both have wavy blond hair that is increasingly turning darker with each year that passes. Mine falls below my shoulders, just long enough to throw into a ponytail, which is what I normally do these days. Her hair runs down her back, with cute bangs framing her face. She has light green eyes, while mine are more of a greyish blue. She’s a couple of inches taller than my five foot one. She’s hovered around 110 pounds while I was always fighting to stay below 130. Throw in a marriage and seven years and twenty-five pounds later, I am definitely bigger than my sister was during her whole pregnancy. I thought I’d gain weight after the accident because I couldn’t exercise, but the opposite happened. In the ten months since I’d lost Ty, I lost twenty of the pounds I’d gained over the years. I am about ten pounds from my goal weight, and now that I am running again, I can actually see myself where I want to be in the near future.

“I’m eating just fine. I’m cooking for one, so Lean Cuisine frozen meals or salads from the Kroger deli are usually what I eat. I can’t stomach fast food anymore, and I don’t have anyone peer-pressuring me into ordering pizza. I’m just making better choices,”
I say, picking up my niece, hoping to change the subject.

Sierra takes a long look at me before she replies. “Alexa, I’ve got to be honest with you. You look like shit. You have huge black circles under both of your eyes, and you’re withering away. It’s been ten months, honey. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”

I close my eyes, willing the tears to stay in. I don’t want her to see me cry. In fact, I don’t want anyone to see me cry. My crying sessions are reserved for me, my wine glass, and sometimes Toby if he’s feeling friendly. I’m searching my brain for the perfect thing to say to appease my worried sister, but my mind is drawing a blank. Most of the time, I can’t hear Ty’s name without either mentally shutting down or completely falling apart, which is precisely why I try to avoid these types of conversations.

I turn away from Sierra and go to pour the now much needed coffee into mugs for the both of us. Somehow I compose myself by the time I cross the kitchen to hand her one. “I’m just not ready. I wish you could understand that. I spent seven, almost eight years with him. Sometimes I think it’s going to take at least double that amount of time to feel normal again. Everywhere I go, I see him or some memory of us comes to mind. It’s so much easier to just focus all of my attention on work so that I don’t have to think about him, or us, or how messed up my life has turned out,” I manage to say without my voice cracking.

Sighing, Sierra sets her mug on the counter and looks at me. “You’re almost twenty-seven years old. That’s still so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. I know you’re hurting, and you probably will be for a long time. This isn’t how you expected your life to turn out. But it did. You can’t change that. Tyler would hate to see you like this. It’ll take time, but the pain will ease up eventually. In the meantime, you need to find some sort of way to get back to being yourself. I hate seeing this shell of you, and you’re just making it worse by shutting yourself in here.”

I don’t know what she wants me to say. She doesn’t understand; she can’t. Her husband, Jeremy, is alive and kicking, and she’s got her beautiful baby girl to complete her family. I have a nine-year-old cat and a Netflix subscription. Oh, and a dead husband with a headstone I can barely stomach to visit because the reminder is too painful. Can’t forget that.

“Just…drop it. For now. Please,” I say pleadingly.

She ignores me as she asks, “Are you still drinking yourself to sleep?”

“Jesus…seriously, I have wine a couple of nights a week. Big deal. Red wine is good for you,” I reply weakly, knowing that on some nights I’m drinking more than the recommended one glass a day.

“Lexi, it’s not healthy. You really need to get out more. Start hanging out with your friends again. You haven’t been out with me and Jeremy since the accident. You have to start living again. He’d want that for you,” she says firmly.

“I know you’re right, but I’m just not ready. I love you guys, but I can’t bring myself to go out or have fun.”

“You can’t just go to work, come home, throw on your pajamas, and spend every night watching Netflix with a glass of red wine. You have to have a life!”

“Hey! I do not just watch Netflix!” I protest, even though I know she’s right.

“Losing yourself in those Kindle books doesn’t count either. There’s a huge world out there that’s passing you by as you waste away in here,” she responds.

“Like I said before, I’m just not ready. Look, why don’t you let me keep Ava for the night? That’ll give you and Jeremy a night off, and it’ll be nice to have another human in my house for a while,” I ask, changing the subject.

Sierra sighs as she realizes that this conversation is going nowhere.

“Whatcha think about that, Ava? Want to hang out with Aunt Lexi tonight?” she asks her daughter, who nods enthusiastically.

Thankful that I’ve made my way out of that conversation, I proceed to make plans to pick her up later on tonight. Finally, after two cups of coffee, she and Ava head out, leaving me alone to get lost in my thoughts.

BOOK: Ignite (Explosive)
2.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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