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Authors: Lexi Ryan

Tags: #New Adult Romance

Unbreak Me

BOOK: Unbreak Me
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Table of Contents

Title Page

copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Other Titles by Lexi Ryan

About This Book

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Epilogue

Unbreak Me Playlist

Sneak Peek of Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones and Falling for the Good Guy by Violet Duke

Contact

 

 

unbreak me

 

 

by Lexi Ryan

 

Copyright © 2013 by Lexi Ryan

 

All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from the author except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to institutions or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Copyediting by Editing720

 

Cover © 2013 Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations

 

Falling for the Good Guy
excerpt © 2013 Violet Duke

 

Escaping Reality
excerpt © 2013 Lisa Renee Jones

 

 

Dedication

 

To Jack and Mary

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

As always, I owe the bulk of my gratitude to my husband and children. Brian, thank you for playing single dad while I wrapped up this book, but, more than that, thank you for believing in my dreams. With you holding my hand, it doesn’t feel like a leap of faith but just another step. To my children, thank you for enjoying PB&J and frozen pizzas and understanding when Mommy needs to work. I love you all more than you’ll ever know.

To the fabulous Nina, aka Violet Duke, thank you for believing in this book before I’d even committed to writing it. You saw it for what it could be and helped kick my butt until it became what it is today. You have mad skills, lady.

To everyone else who provided me feedback on and cheers for Maggie’s story along the way—especially Marilyn Brant, Adrienne Hogan, Michael Miller, Megan Mulry, and Annie Swanberg—you’re all awesome.

Many people helped with the research for this book. A huge thanks to Jim Archer for answering my many questions about the criminal justice system. Thanks to my artist brother Aaron for answering my questions about the art world and to my nurse sister Kim for explaining some ER protocol. Their answers were instrumental to my story. Any errors are my own.

Thank you to the team that helped me package this book and promote it. Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations designed my cover, and it truly takes my breath away. Arran at Editing720, thank you for the fast and thorough edits. Thanks to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours for organizing the fantastic cover reveal and release day blitz, and to Julie at AToMR for organizing my reviews. You all earn every cent and more.

To all my writer friends on Twitter, Facebook, and my various writer loops, thank you for your support and inspiration. Lauren Blakely, thank you for featuring
Unbreak Me
in the back of
Trophy Husband
. Thanks to Violet Duke and Lisa Renee Jones for agreeing to share excerpts of their upcoming releases with my readers.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to my fans. I appreciate each and every one of you. I couldn’t do this without you and wouldn’t want to. Thank you for buying my books and telling your friends about them. Thank you for asking me to write more. You’re the best!

 

 

Other Titles by Lexi Ryan

 

Hot Contemporary Romance

Text Appeal

Accidental Sex Goddess

 

Stiletto Girls Novels

Stilettos, Inc.

Flirting with Fate

 

Decadence Creek Stories and Novellas

Just One Night

Just the Way You Are

 

 

 

About This Book

Unbreak Me
is New Adult contemporary romance. Due to sexual content and heavy subject matter, it is intended for mature readers.

 

 

“If you’re broken, I’ll fix you…

 

I’m only twenty-one and already damaged goods. A slut. A failure. A disappointment to my picture-perfect family as long as I can remember. I called off my wedding to William Bailey, the only man who thought I was worth fixing. A year later and he’s marrying my sister.

 

Unless I ask him not to…

 

“If you shatter, I’ll find you…”

 

But now there’s Asher Logan, a broken man who sees the fractures in my façade and doesn’t want to fix me at all. Asher wants me to stop hiding, to stop pretending. Asher wants to break down my walls. But that means letting him see my ugly secrets and forgiving him for his.
 

 

With my past weighing down on me, do I want the man who holds me together or the man who gives me permission to break?

 

 

Chapter One

 

Maggie

 

“You’re not going to flake out, are you?”

I blink before realizing what my sister means. It’s time. Time for me to face this. Time for me to pretend
everything is just fine.

Time for me to walk down the aisle.

The words swim in my head.
Walk. Down. Aisle
. As if it’s no big deal. As if I’m okay with this.

Lizzy gives me a shove toward the doors.

I can hear it now. The organ. Processional music. The hum of the crowd’s whispers.

“Put a smile on your face and
march
,” Krystal hisses.

I show her my middle finger before pushing through the doors.

“It’s going to be okay,” I hear Lizzy say. “She’s going to do it.”

My sisters’ murmurs fade as I focus on my task.

My stomach pitches and my hands shake behind my bouquet, but I plaster on a smile and time my steps to the organ’s heavy chords.

That’s when I see him.

William Bailey stands at the front of the church, hands clasped in front of him. His eyes are hot and desperate and all over me. Can the guests see it too? The longing that rolls off him in waves as I approach?

Is he thinking the same thing I am? That this is supposed to be us? That this is supposed to be
our
wedding?

Or is he thinking I was the biggest mistake of his life?

I can’t go there. Not here. Not now. I pretend not to notice the questions in his eyes, pretend not to notice the hum of gossip swelling around me.

But underneath the taffeta and flowers, underneath the hoopskirt and pretense, I’m overwhelmed with the thought that
this
is what my life has come to. Just a bridesmaid. Just a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding.

Just a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding to my ex-fiancé.

A vocalist joins the organ and the hum of whispers quiets—a swarm of killer bees distracted from their target as they remember the reason for their presence.

I reach the end of the aisle, ankles and dignity still intact, and breathe a sigh of relief as the congregation turns their attention to the next bridesmaid.

My sisters march one by one, coordinating with the hydrangea-blue décor like giant chameleons.

The flower girl appears at the end of the aisle, and the crowd stands.

Something in my chest tugs long and hard at the sight of my youngest sister. Even at ten years old, she’s a delicate little thing with a tiny voice and a big brain. Too young to be a bridesmaid but too old to be a flower girl, she looks like a child bride half-drowned in white tulle.

Finally, Krystal enters. Thick brown curls piled high on her head and a smile curving her lips, she embodies every little girl’s wedding-day dream.

Cameras flash. Women sigh. Tissues abound.

My eyes slide to Will again, and I’m not surprised to see he’s watching me. For the hundredth time since I returned home last month, I find myself remembering the comfort of his arms. Why couldn’t I have stayed there?

As his bride reaches center aisle, Will takes a step toward her.

He’s going through with this. He’s really going to marry her.

The same moment he takes her hand, the air conditioning kicks on.

First there are murmurs, whispers that carry back through the congregation and have me and my sisters exchanging confused glances.

Will shuffles back, scrambling to cover his mouth.

My mom’s eyes roll back in her head, and she falls to the floor.

A breath later, I smell it. The scent guarantees Krystal’s wedding will be as unforgettable as she dreamed.

No one would forget the wedding that smelled of rotting carcass.

A gag settles at the back of my throat as the smell grows.

My sisters hide their noses in their bouquets.

Seconds later, the bride gasps. Her face crumbles and she
howls
.

The sounds of retching echo through the church as the guests run toward the exits, pushing and shoving their way to fresh air.

The priest looks lost, and I nail him with my gaze.
Do something, damn it!
And he does.

He gags right into his microphone.

Chaos breaks loose. More gagging. Scrambling. Pushing.

No one cares about the wedding anymore. No one cares about vows or five-thousand-dollar dresses—not in the middle of stench warfare.

My little sister’s face is white with panic. Her jaw slack as the chaos grows.

I offer my hand. “Come on.”

She stares at me, then opens her mouth and throws up all over her dress, her face crumbling in horror.

Poor thing.

Grabbing her hand, I urge her toward the exit. “Abby!” When she doesn’t move, I gather her lanky frame into my arms and sweep her out of the church.

We make it out the doors and to the sidewalk where Krystal is crying into Will’s arms. He strokes her hair, helpless, and whispers something in her ear.

When he lifts his head, the evening sunlight frames his messy blond hair and our eyes lock. It feels like we have a lifetime between us. A lifetime since my lies fooled us both. A lifetime since I believed a girl like me could have a happily-ever-after.

***

The reception tent glows with candlelight, and the soft May breeze floats up from the river, jingling the wind chimes. Krystal and Will’s reception is set up on the vast green expanse of my mother’s backyard, just like mine was supposed to be last year.

Just like
ours
was supposed to be.

They’re words I can’t dwell on, but avoiding them leaves my mind hopping from place to place like a panicked rabbit in a den of wolves.

Topiaries line the path down the hill and to the river, and I follow them, needing to see the rushing water and escape the music and laughter and joviality. I can feel Will’s eyes on me as I slip from the tent, but I don’t go to him.

Krystal begged me to come home for the wedding, to be her bridesmaid so everyone would know things were okay between us, so everyone would know I was okay with her marrying my ex. I had my own reasons for doing it, but I can’t talk to Will.

Not yet. Not here.

I can’t stop thinking about what happened at the chapel. My mother and the wedding planner awkwardly organized the guests and directed them to the reception, where dinner was served. Now dancing is in full swing. But what about the ceremony? Does this mean Krystal and Will aren’t married? They never said vows. Did they find some dark corner to sign the papers?

Of course, I can’t ask. Everyone will think it’s because I want Will for myself. They’ll think I’m asking because I’m not over him.

I’m halfway down the path when I spot a man a few yards beyond my mother’s dock. His black dress pants and a dress shirt draw my attention to the wide expanse of his shoulders and the narrow taper of his hips. I don’t know him, but I recognize a kindred spirit. He looks hurt and far away, hands tucked into his pockets, gaze locked on the water. A broken heart left behind when Krystal put Will’s ring on her finger?

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