Authors: Kirsten Osbourne
, Amber Knight, has stolen the hearts of a nation in her role as MaryBeth on
. But years before she got the role, her heart was stolen by John Baynard, the boy who she dreamed of love with. When she sees John again at a publicity event, and his young daughter is with him, she’s wary. She doesn’t dare trust him again, because she’s not sure she can survive another heartbreak at his hands.
John deliberately seeks out Amber in a public place, wanting to rekindle a flame that has never gone out for him. He’s watched her show faithfully, reading the tabloids as his only way to really keep up with her. He immediately asks her to give him a second chance and spend some time with him, but he can tell she’s afraid. Will he be able to convince her to take a risk on love? Or will they both spend the rest of their lives alone?
up for Kirsten Osbourne’s mailing list and receive notice of new titles as they are available, click
, I’m remembering a dedication, which is nothing short of miraculous for me. I want to dedicate this book to the real Amber Knight, the crazy woman who puts me back together every single week after I work much harder than anyone should. Amber, you are so much more than a massage therapist to me. You’re my co-conspirator, plot-untangler, and my friend. I hope you know how very much you mean to me! I love you, but if you tell anyone I said that, I’ll deny it to my grave.
mber Knight sat
at the table she was sharing with her co-star, Bob Bodefeld, smiling as she signed her name across her chest on a poster for what felt like the thousandth time that day. Their show,
was about to air its season five premier, and the network had decided this would be a good time to “make nice” with the locals from Wiggieville, Texas and surrounding areas.
They were sitting in the gym in Wiggieville High School, which smelled more than faintly of sweaty teenagers, and there was a line around the corner. Amber was on the right, so people started with her, picking up a poster with her, Bob, Jesse, and Valerie on it, and they walked down the line getting them each to sign.
She was thankful they’d been told “no selfies” because it seemed as though every time they did an autograph signing event, every other person wanted a selfie with a member of the cast, and it bogged things up a great deal.
Amber smiled vacantly at a man who was there with a little girl, signing her name across her chest and handing him the poster back. “Thanks for supporting
“I support Lazy Love and my first love all at once. Makes things easier on me.” The man’s face was serious as he said the words, and she frowned, looking at him for a moment.
“John?” She hadn’t seen him in almost five years, and it seemed strange to see the man she’d once thought she’d spend forever with standing in front of her.
He held his arms out wide. “In the flesh!” Nodding down at the little girl beside him, he said, “This is my baby girl, Nicki.”
Amber looked down at the girl, who she knew was around four and smiled at her. “It’s nice to meet you, Nicki. You don’t watch my show, do you?” There were some hot and heavy scenes between Jesse and Valerie, and she hated the idea of the sweet-looking little girl watching the show.
Nicki shook her head. “No, I’m more of a
“Elmo or Cookie Monster?”
“Elmo’s really kind of scary. He’s a red ball of fluff who knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. I’ll stick with Cookie Monster, but I wish they’d quit making him eat vegetables.
Amber grinned. “Well, Nicki, I can see you and I are meant to be friends!”
“Does that mean you think about things like that, too?”
“All the time.” Amber got up and walked around the table where she was sitting, fixing the girl’s headband. Its bow had fallen down to her ear instead of staying atop her head. “There. That’s better.”
Nicki grinned at her. “Thank you.” She tilted her head to one side. “I know where I know you from!”
Nicki shook her head emphatically. “No, Daddy waits til I’m in bed to watch your show. I know you from the picture in his bedroom. You’re the girl he took to the prob!”
“The prob?” Amber was confused for a moment. “Oh! The prom!” That was the night she and John had broken up, and she had always regretted it. “Yeah, your daddy took me to the prom.”
“Because you were in love with him?”
Amber glanced up at John with a grin. She wanted to say, “I still am!” but she knew better. John would make a big deal out of it, and she would be embarrassed. “Yes, I was in love with him. He was the very first boy I ever loved, and I thought we’d be together forever!”
Nicki smiled. “You did? Will you marry him now?”
Amber had heard that John and Kayla had split up soon after Nicki was born. She was still keyed into the gossip of the small town where they’d grown up, thanks to her mother. Her mom had tried to avoid the topic of John Baynard, but she’d let something slip one day. Amber had pretended not to care, but she didn’t think her mother had been fooled.
Amber shook her head. “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen your daddy since before you were born!”
“But you said you would be together forever!” Nicki protested.
Amber smiled, shaking her head, aware there was a huge crowd of people and the other actors were watching her. Only Valerie knew her full story, and she definitely didn’t want it leaked to the tabloids. “Things change when people grow up.”
“So does that mean Daddy will stop loving me?”
Amber shook her head. “You know what? I’d love to talk to you about this some more, but we’re making people wait!”
John looked at Amber squatting beside Nicki. “Why don’t you meet us for supper after the signing and you can explain it to her then?”
Amber bit her lip, wanting to refuse, but desperately wanting to see him again. She’d never gotten over John, and she was certain she never would. “All right. Where do you want to go?”
“How about the steakhouse here in Wiggieville? Say, seven?”
Amber reluctantly agreed. She knew she might be opening a can of worms that really needed to stay sealed forever, but she couldn’t resist. It was John after all. “That works.” She walked back around behind the table and sat down with Bob who kept giving her strange looks. “I’ll see you then.”
Bob leaned over as he was signing. “Who was that guy? Do you need May and I to go with you?”
Amber shook her head. Bob and May were still newlyweds, and she wasn’t about to ask them to be around people. Besides, May had a weird schedule and never seemed to be awake at the same time two days in a row. “No thanks. I’ll be fine.” She probably should have told him that John was a former boyfriend, but she really liked to keep her private life private.
“If you change your mind, it’s just a phone call.”
Amber nodded. “Thanks.” She reached for the next poster and smiled at the woman who’d had to wait while she talked to Nicki and John. “Who should I make it out to?” She hadn’t been personalizing anything she wrote, but she would for the next few to make up for the delay.
“I’m Stephanie. I love the show! Are you going to get a boyfriend this season?”
Amber smiled at the fan, feeling as if her face would break if she had to smile much more. “I can’t tell you that!” She leaned forward and whispered loudly to be heard above the voices filling the room. “Mostly because I don’t know yet!”
Stephanie laughed. “Who was that man?”
Amber just shrugged, pushing the poster to Bob to sign next. “It was so nice meeting you.”
The woman moved on, and Amber took the next poster to sign, going through the motions of signing and smiling, her mind drifting back to the night of her prom—the night she’d thought would be the very best of her life.
Everything had gone perfectly until the prom was over. Her hair had behaved, and she’d worn the dress she and her mother had found together. As she put her lipstick on, her mother came up behind her. “You look beautiful. I just wish you were going to prom with someone better than John.”
Amber had frowned. “Better than John? How could I go with someone better than the guy I love?”
Her mother had sighed dramatically. “Love? You don’t know what love is! You’re only seventeen.”
“I’ve been in love with John since he traded me his Twinkie for my orange in the third grade. He didn’t even
“Twinkies and oranges notwithstanding, he’s not in our social class. Why not date someone like Brian? His mother is part of the Daughters of the Texas Republic with me.”
“Because Brian is—well, he’s full of himself. He has that silly sports car he likes to show off in, and he acts like all the other boys in school are beneath him. They’re not, you know.”
“Of course not, dear. Everyone is equal in our country.” Her mother sighed. “But John is the son of Joseph and Margaret Baynard. They were the ones who caused that scandal a few years back.”
Amber shook her head. “Their scandal was John’s birth. They weren’t married yet. Who cares? It was eighteen years ago. John did nothing to cause anyone to look down on him. Do you really think I should stay away from him because his parents had sex before they got married? Do you have any idea how many people have sex before they marry?” She wouldn’t admit it, but she and John were planning to have sex for the first time that very night. She wasn’t going to pay attention to her mother’s antiquated views on everything.
“Just promise me you won’t have sex with that terrible boy. I don’t think I could bear it!”
“What if we got married? Then could you bear it?”
Her mother sighed. “As long as you’re over twenty-one, you’re free to marry whomever you’d like. If you try to marry John sooner than that, you’ll lose your trust fund.”
Amber wrinkled her nose. She knew her mother had to approve any marriage that happened before she was twenty-one. If she waited until she was over twenty-one, then she could marry anyone she wanted and the money would still be hers. “I won’t marry him before I’m twenty-one.” She
marry him, though. She loved him, and she knew she’d never stop.
Her father called up the stairs that John was there, his voice full of disgust. As much as her parents hated John was as much as she loved him. Her mother had once accused her of only caring for him because they didn’t approve of him, but she knew it wasn’t true. No, John was her soulmate. How could she not love him?
She grabbed her new clutch purse and rushed down the stairs, coming face-to-face with John. She’d rarely seen him in a tux, and she smiled as soon as she laid eyes on him, wishing she could rush into his arms, but there was no way she’d make it out of the house if her parents saw her hugging him.
“Curfew is still midnight!” her father shouted.
“I’ll have her home on time, Mr. Knight,” John said, smiling easily. He’d told Amber he didn’t care what they thought of him, because they were snobby and rich, and from what he could see, they didn’t like anyone.
Amber took his arm and walked out of the house, nervous but happy. She knew they’d be crowned prom king and queen, because they were the most popular couple in school. She couldn’t wait.
As the night progressed, she became happier and happier. The tiara they put on her head poked a little, but she didn’t care. John looked over at her with pride as they both stood together with their crowns.
After they left the prom, he led her to his car where he pulled out the key card for the hotel room he’d rented for them. They couldn’t spend the whole night, but they’d have enough time to do what they wanted.
“Are you nervous?” she asked.
John shook his head. “Excited. I can’t wait!”
She sighed. “Why are boys never nervous?”
“Because we don’t exactly think with our brains about stuff like this. I’ve been wanting to do you since seventh grade when we kissed under the bleachers at the football game.”
Amber grinned. “I remember that. It was our first real kiss. I mean, you kissed my cheek a lot in elementary school, but that kiss was so different. I’ll never forget it.”
“I hope you’ll never forget tonight either.”
Amber bit her lip. She couldn’t get her mother’s request out of her mind. “How would you feel if we didn’t…you know? Not tonight?”
He sighed. “Why not?”
“My mom was talking to me and—.”
“Your parents hate me! We both know that. Why would you listen to your mom about sex?”
Amber shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s my mom! She’s all worried I’ll do something I’ll regret.” Amber knew she wouldn’t regret making love with John, but she worried she might regret it if it happened before they were married.
“Don’t tell me. She said you should date Brian again. That guy is a loser!”
“I know he is! I just—I don’t think I’m ready. I always thought I’d wait until I got married. I want to make love with you, I really do! I just—.”
He sighed. “Sure. We don’t have to do it tonight. Whatever.” He made an illegal U-turn right there in the middle of the street. “I’ll take you home to your mama. Maybe she can make you some warm milk and bake some cookies while you sit and talk about every little decision you should make.”
Amber wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She hated that John was angry with her, but her mother had never made warm milk and cookies. She wasn’t certain her mother even knew how to turn on the stove! The cook made all the meals, and when she was younger, it was her nanny who had seen to her every need, not her mother.
She said nothing, staring out the window as he drove through the sleepy little town of Jupiter, Texas.
When he pulled up in front of the huge house she lived in with her parents, she wrenched the door open, scraping her tiara against the roof of the car in her hurry to get out.
“Wait, Amber. I don’t want to end this night in anger.”
Amber ducked down, looking at him before shaking her head. “I think maybe my parents are right, and we should see other people. I don’t want to be with a guy who thinks he can push me into sex before I’m ready.”
“You told me you were ready a week ago, and I didn’t push you into anything. I drove you here when you said you weren’t ready.”
“But you’re mad at me. Date someone else for a while. Come see me when you’re ready for a
relationship. One where people respect each other.” She slammed the door and rushed into the house.
Her mother came in from the parlor where she’d been planning another of her parties. “Why are you home so early? Is everything all right?”
Amber felt tears spring to her eyes at the question and raced up the stairs to her room, turning her ankle on the way. She wore heels a lot, but that didn’t mean she was graceful in them.
Throwing herself on her bed, she cried her eyes out, flinging the tiara across the room, listening as it hit the wall with a resounding clink. It meant nothing to her without John. How could it? She’d love him forever.
Bob nudged Amber with his elbow. “You’re falling behind.” He pointed to the long line of people waiting for her to acknowledge them.
Amber blinked and smiled at the teenager standing in front of her, wondering how long she’d been sitting there staring off into space. She looked over and John and Nicki were gone. For a while then. She sighed. How could she miss someone who’d wanted her for nothing but sex? Was it even possible?
A little voice inside her screamed, “Yes!” She knew deep down that it had only been a rough night. He hadn’t wanted her just for sex.