Authors: Adriane Boyd
Tags: #contemporary romance
Copyright © by Adriane Boyd
Cover design by Okay Creations
cover image ©gopenshaw
Ebook Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment. This ebook may not be re–sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this work with other people, please purchase an additional copy for each individual recipient. If you are reading this book and it was not purchased for you, given to you by the author, or purchased for your use only, please purchase a copy for your own use. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted by under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
The characters and events portrayed in this story are fictitious. Any similarities to any persons, living or deceased are purely coincidental and were not intended by the author.
I need to take a moment and say a few thank you′s. Bear with me please, because this could be lengthy.
First and foremost, I have to thank my mother. She fostered my love of reading and introduced me to an entirely new world at a young age. If not for her diligence in seeing to it that I read, and in turn expanded my imagination, you wouldn′t have the words on the pages in this book to read.
To my sister Olivia for being her own person, and for every thing she does that inspires me. I may be the oldest, but I lean on her for inspiration and hope.
To my friend Randi Edwards. It′s so nice to have someone to share my passion for books and reading with. She understands me. It′s perfect.
A HUGE thank you goes to my editor, Jennifer Roberts–Hall who took the time out of her busy schedule to read this story and edit it. I couldn′t have done any of this without her. She is a never–ending fount of encouragement and love! I owe so much to this woman that saying thank you just doesn′t seem like enough. Thank you, Jenn! Thank you a million times!
To Sarah Hansen, the most fabulous cover designer I know! You did a stunning job with very little information, and for that I will forever be grateful! I love the cover, and I love you. Thank you so much for putting up with me through three title changes and image searches! You are absolutely amazing! You will win awards for your genius, of this I am certain.
Thank you′s definitely must be said to all of the beautiful and wonderfully remarkable authors and friends in Bookaholics Anonymous. I was lost before I found this group of absolutely fascinating people, and in them, my imagination, my creativity, and my passion for all things books has found a home. Thank you ladies and Fred LeBaron!
To Adrian Staccato for putting up with me…; Period. This man is more than brilliant. He is patient and he is kind and he is one of the most supportive people I know. None of this would have happened without his pushing and pulling. And go read his books! You′ll love them! Vegas. We will be famous, damn it!
There are so many people who deserve thank you′s in this section that I find it incredibly hard to name them all. So, I will close with this… If you′re reading this and have made it this far into the acknowledgements, this is for you! Thank you for reading Walking Away! Without you guys, none of this is possible!
Much love and many, many MANY thanks!!!!
For anyone who has ever loved and lost and loved again. May you learn the importance of walking away.
My sister Abigail and I moved to Colorado not long after the death of our mother. Our father had passed when Abi and I were teenagers, and though we both knew it wouldn′t be long before our mother joined him, we were surprised at how long she had held on. We had no family left and it was time for a change; without them, staying in New Mexico felt wrong.
Most people would probably look at my parents headstones and say that three years wasn′t very long at all to survive the death of the person you′ve spent most of your life with. But the running joke was that Belle and Carson Renfro had been together since before birth so, for my mother, three years felt like a lifetime away from the love of her life.
In reality, my parents had a whirlwind romance that began when they were small children and intensified as they grew older. By the time they were high school seniors, there was nothing that could stand between them. Soon after graduating college, Mom and Dad married and a year later, they announced that they were expecting twins.
The love they shared was strong, and we were all shocked that Mom held on to her life until Abi and I turned eighteen. I miss her every single day; I miss them both actually, but sometimes I miss her more. Especially on days like these, days when Blake′s leaving hurts so much I can′t stand to breathe. I′ve tried to talk to Abi about it, but she just doesn′t understand. She has been in a relationship with Colton since the day we moved into the dorms at the University of Colorado, so I really don′t expect her to understand.
I′d spent my first four years at U of C completely focused on studying. Abi wasn′t happy about my lack of social interaction during that time, but she also understood how important it was for me to remain focused. I felt like I owed it to our parents. If she wanted to party and fail her courses, then that was on her.
With all of my focus on school, I graduated ahead of schedule and entered law school in what was supposed to have been my final year of pre–law. All things considered, I was elated. Surprisingly, Abi was on track to graduate on time, so I was even more thrilled. I decided it was time to celebrate, and joined Abi and Colton at a party that evening. We had plenty to be thankful for, so it seemed right.
That was the night I met Blake.
Blake was the typical tall, dark, and handsome guy that every woman wants. He was well mannered, smart, and extremely funny. I found myself completely wrapped up in him. We liked the same music, studied the same type of law, liked the same sports… We had so much in common and our relationship was nothing short of perfect. He was kind, gentle, and he never pushed. Before I knew it, Blake and I were half way through law school and sharing an apartment off campus.
We had talked about marriage and building a family together, but he hadn′t proposed. I should have seen it coming, but I was blinded by my love for Blake, therefore I was taken by complete surprise.
When I arrived home from work to find the apartment empty of all of Blake′s things, my blood ran cold and my world collapsed. I sank to the floor and cried for hours, going over any possible reason he might have left. He didn′t leave a note, and there were no messages on my phone. He was just gone. Vanished. As though he had never existed.
It′s been three months since he left. Three months with no one to talk to, no one who could possibly understand. Three months in which I have longed for an explanation or my mother to talk to. Too much time has passed since I last saw his face. I find it hard to remember the curve of his jaw, the exact shape of his eyes that were as blue as the sea, the way he smiled. I miss his voice and the way he would run his hands through his long, dark hair whenever he was frustrated; his infectious laugh. Things are changing and maybe, one day soon, I′ll no longer be waiting on forever.
“Cora!” I jumped at the sound of my name. My twin sister Abigail rushed through the front door, slamming it hard behind her.
“Abi, what the hell?” I asked her, as I dumped the remains of my coffee into the sink and rinsed the mug.
“Cora, you won′t believe it! Colton got tickets to the concert on Friday. He refuses to tell me how, but he got them! OMG! This is going to be EPIC!!!” I couldn′t help but laugh at her. We were both twenty–five, college graduates, and finally out on our own, but the girl still acted like a teenager.
“That′s great, Abi. Really. I′m excited,” I moved out of the kitchen and into the hallway. I needed to change and get a few things from my bedroom so I could get to the office before my boss called and threatened to send me to the subbasement of the courthouse to look up various statutes. As much as I loved being buried up to my neck in statute journals and law books, being down there at eight in the morning wasn′t my idea of a great day.
“You′re going right? Wait, what am I saying, of course you′re going.” Abi followed me into my room and continued talking nonstop about outfits, dinner plans the night of the concert, you name it. The girl was running full tilt. Of course, I couldn′t blame her. We′d been trying to get tickets to this concert for months! How was I going to tell her that I wouldn′t be going?
Man up, my conscience told me. Just tell her.
Taking a deep breath, I turned and faced my very best friend in the world; I knew that I was going to crush her.
“What is it?” She asked, before I could even utter the first word. “Oh no! No, no, no. I know that look, Coraline, and you
go to this concert. Even if I have to drag you there by your hair, you′re going!”
Plopping down on the foot of my bed, I pulled my feet and legs under me. Heaving a dramatic sigh, I launched into my counter. “Abi, I really can′t go; I don′t have it in me. It was supposed to be the four of us. You, Colton, me, and
How can you expect me to go? How can Colton? It isn′t right. You two should go and have a good time, really. It isn′t like I haven′t got anything else to do. I do have a case to prepare for.”
Abi leaned back against the door frame and crossed her arms. Anger seeped into her face, and I knew that she wasn′t going to accept anything I had said. Her grass green eyes sparked with barely concealed rage, rage not directed at me, but it may as well have been.
“So that′s it, is it? You′re just going to let Blake′s walking out on you dictate every single thing you do from now on? How in the hell does that work, Cora? Really! Tell me, because I want to know. No, you know what? I don′t want to know. If you want to continue burying yourself in your work or hiding from life outside of this apartment, then go ahead because I′m finished. I′ve done all I know to do. Blake left you, Coraline. He′s gone and he isn′t coming back! I′ve been supportive of all of this moping and hiding and whatever else it is you want to call this, but it isn′t healthy anymore, Cora.” She darted out of the room and I heard the front door slam behind her as she left.
Perhaps I′d been mistaken in my earlier assessment. Abi really
angry at me.
Shaking off Abi′s blow up, I rose from my seat on the bed and made my way to the closet. I pulled out the clothes that I planned to wear to the office, and then headed to the bathroom for a shower. Everything she had said was true. Blake was gone, and by all accounts, he wasn′t coming back, but I hadn′t grieved long enough yet. Abi couldn′t understand it because she and Colton had been together since freshman year.
After my shower, I dressed and gathered everything I′d need for my day. I locked up and headed to the office.
“You′re early, Cora” Charlie commented as I stepped off the elevator and into the lobby of the building that held the law offices that I worked out of. Charlie was one of the partners in the firm, and I couldn′t help but be intimidated every single time I was in his presence. He was tall, if I had to guess I would say six foot three, with deep green eyes, short brown hair, and the body of a Greek god.
“Yeah, didn′t have much to do this morning, so I decided I′d head on in to the office,” I told him.
Charlie nodded, and I turned to go into my office. There wasn′t much to it really. As far as workplaces went, it was pretty standard. A desk, computer, and windows that overlooked the city. The carpet was pretty bare and I was in desperate need of a new chair, but the space was mine, so I didn′t see the need to complain.
I hadn′t really had the chance to sit down when Mr. Randall knocked on the door and entered without waiting for my acknowledgment. “Morning, Cora. Have you got the assessment on the Wilkins case?”
“I do,” I responded as I reached into my briefcase and removed the papers he was asking for. Taking a moment to make sure they were neatly stacked, I passed them to him. Mr. Randall leafed through them and grunted his satisfaction. Being the founding partner of Randall, Cross, and Horowitz, Alex Randall wasn′t a man a person took lightly.
“Meeting in the conference room at ten,” he said as he left my office.
Settling into my chair, I got to work. After making what seemed like a thousand phone calls and answering what could have easily been a hundred emails, a knock sounded on my open office door. I looked up to see Charlie standing there looking at me with a small smile and a raised eyebrow.
“Yes?” I asked him.
“Meeting in two minutes. You planning to attend?” He smiled fully then.