Launch Day Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Until I’m Yours by Kennedy Ryan

Until I'm Yours blitz

Happy Release Day to Kennedy Ryan – Until I’m Yours is live!

Until I'm Yours by Kennedy Ryan

Until I’m Yours by Kennedy Ryan
Series: The Bennetts #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
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Mean girl. Goddess. Bitch. Supermodel Sofie Baston has earned those labels . . . yet they don’t scratch the surface of who she really is. Before she can follow her own dreams, Sophie must do her daughterly duty and reel in a “fish” for her father’s business-a tall, brown-eyed entrepreneur who immediately hooks her. He’s a big guy with an even bigger heart . . . but will that heart be open to Sofie once her darkest secret is revealed?

To Trevor Bishop, Sofie is a beautiful mystery he would gladly spend his life solving. He figures her tough demeanor is armor against a world that’s hurt her too many times. Then Sofie’s deepest wounds are reopened by the powerful, ruthless man who made them. When she musters the courage to take him down, her world shatters. Now Trevor is determined to help Sofie pick up the pieces so they can build a future together. The challenge will be convincing his ice princess that it’s safe to melt in his arms.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunes • Kobo • Google Play

Now here’s an excerpt from Until I’m Yours! ❤

excerpt button

“And this is his business partner, Trevor Bishop.”

Walsh steps back, and I have my first close up of the fish I’m baiting tonight. Only I’m the one hooked, immediately. I’m careful not to show it, but that stunned look I’m used to seeing on other people’s faces? All over my inside face.

This force of flesh and bone and muscle wrapped in heat looms over me. Trevor Bishop’s presence burns holes in my composure. I could tell from across the room he was attractive and built like a mountain lion, lean and strong and broad. It’s only now with proximity that his absolute confidence meets mine head on. He tilts his head to the left, his chocolate-colored eyes steadily considering me, and I swear he knows. Even though I’m sure my face doesn’t give it away, I swear he knows that as I stand in front of him, inhaling his clean scent and waiting for his first smile, windmills turn in my belly.

“A pleasure to meet you, Miss Baston.” His lips, wide and full, give me a smile punctuated by dimples. And he has a southern drawl.

Fuck me now.

That’s not a figure of speech. I quite literally want him to toss me over that hulking shoulder, find a dark corner somewhere and screw me so deeply into a wall we leave a dent. Or in a bathroom stall. Hell, he could drag me over to the elaborate buffet table and take me from behind right there by the ice sculpture.

One dark brown brow, a few shades darker than his hair, rises. Holy crap, I haven’t responded yet.

“Um, nice to meet you, too, Mr. Bishop.” I take my time so my tongue doesn’t betray the muddled mess of haywire hormones I am right now.

His eyes drift over my shoulder, forcing my mind and manners back to Rip.

“Oh, yes. I’m sorry. How rude.” I turn to Rip, who immediately claims my elbow and draws me into his side. All of a sudden he’s territorial. I can’t blame him. If my girlfriend was within five feet of this man, I’d handcuff her to me for the night. “This is Michael Ripley.”

“Great game Sunday.” Trevor shakes the hand Rip isn’t manacling me with. “I’m a Falcons fan myself, but I can appreciate a good toss no matter the team. That’s some arm you got there.”

Rip’s hold on me relaxes a bit. Clever Trevor, disarming him that way. Well played. Will I be able to strip this fish of his defenses as easily?

Once seated, Rip, Trevor, Harold and Walsh fall into a discussion of football I don’t even try to follow.  Apparently neither does Kerris. She’s texting someone with a small frown on her face, and mumbles something to Walsh about a sitter. I settle into my seat beside Trevor, taking a few moments to compose myself and strategize how I can get that hook in his mouth.

“So you were in Dubai?”

The question startles me a little, I was so lost in my musings. I turn slightly in Trevor’s direction, creasing my lips politely.

“For a shoot, yes.” I toy with the clamp on my clutch resting on the table. “And my friend Ardis married a prince over there. I like to visit her every once in a while.”

“A real live prince, huh?” He teases me with a quirk of those full lips.

“Don’t be too impressed.” I lean a few inches closer to him and lower my voice. “He’s a prince in name only.”

“If he’s a prince in name only, what does that make him in deed?”

I can’t hold onto the humor when I recall the bruises shackling Ardis’ throat and wrists, or the black and blue mark on her cheek like a brand. I refocus my eyes and sober my mouth.

“A frog.”

“I thought you ladies kissed all the frogs to find the prince.”

“It happens that way in fairy tales, not in Manhattan.” I sip my champagne. “Or in Dubai, apparently.”

“So that accounts for your tan.” His dark eyes make a slow, thorough inspection of my features.

“Hmmm. What accounts for yours?” I toss a skein of silvery blonde hair back so he gets an eyeful of the bare line of my neck and shoulder. His eyes move down my neck, warming the skin like a touch, before he looks back into my eyes.

“Haiti.” He laughs a little, lounges back in his chair and links long fingers across a flat stomach I imagine is corded with muscle. “Well, and my father is Lumbee, so some of my tan’s natural.”

“Lum what?”

He laughs again, his teeth white against his skin. I really like that it’s because of something I said.

“Lumbee Indian, a tribe found mostly in Lumberton, North Carolina.”

“So your mother’s responsible for the red hair?”

“She is.” He brushes a hand over his neat hair, disrupting it into a coppery spill on his forehead. “I was spared the freckles, though.”

“I’m sure there’s one or two.”

His eyes are suddenly hot chocolate, heating up a little as they hold mine.

“You’re welcome to try to find them.”

Reading Order: The Bennetts series

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan Loving You Always by Kennedy Ryan Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan Until I'm Yours by Kennedy Ryan

#1 ~ When You Are Mine: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Loving You Always: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Be Mine Forever: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#4 ~ Until I’m Yours: EbookPaperbackGoodreads

about the author button

Kennedy RyanI’m a wife, a mom, a writer, an advocate for families living with autism. That’s me in a nutshell. Crack the nut, and you’ll find a Southern girl gone Southern California who loves pizza and Diet Coke, and wishes she got to watch a lot more television. You can usually catch me up too late, on social media too much, or FINALLY putting a dent in my ever-growing To Be Read list!

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5 ecopies of UNTIL I’M YOURS

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Debutversary Blitz + Giveaway: When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan

When You Are Mine Debutversary banner

We are pleased to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Kennedy Ryan’s debut, WHEN YOU ARE MINE!

Make sure to check out the rafflecopter giveaway!

AND…only if you’ve read WYAM, click at the very bottom of the post  to catch up with where the characters are now! ***Spoilers if you haven’t read!!!***

Happy Debutversary!

“Ryan’s debut is rife with sexual tension, while her easy style and likable characters bring this unpredictable love triangle to life.” —Karina Halle, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of The Pact

“When You Are Mine is exactly what I look for in a romance! Achingly beautiful with palpable, real characters, you cannot help but completely fall in love with. I cannot wait for more!” –A.L. Jackson, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Take This Regret and Lost to You

“Holy hot love triangle! When You Are Mine is a beautiful, yet tragic, intense yet gentle story that grabs you immediately and does not release until the very end. I know a lot of readers get turned off by a love-triangle, but rest assured this one just works perfectly.” –Brandi, Talk Books To Me

“You know the writing is suburb when you can laugh and cry and get so angry at the characters…My hands were shaking when I started writing this. I screamed at the ending. Going to end with BLOWN AWAY!!!” –Nelle, Nelle’s Nightstand

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan
Series: The Bennetts #1 (full reading order below)
Release Date: June 17th 2014
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Forever is a heartbeat away . . .

Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July

…but what about love?

As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find. The problem is, his best friend found her first . . .

Buy Links:
Amazon • Amazon UK • B&N • Kobo • iTunes • Google Play

Click HERE for update on where life is now…MAJOR SPOILERS!!!
Bonus material only for those who have read books 1 and 2!!!

Reading Order: The Bennetts series

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan Loving You Always by Kennedy Ryan Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

#1 ~ When You Are Mine: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Loving You Always: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Be Mine Forever: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author button

Kennedy RyanKennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride.  In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in  Modern Mom.

Facebook • Twitter • YouTube • Pinterest • Google + • Goodreads

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(Winner 1) Signed copy of WHEN YOU ARE MINE
(Winner 2) $10 “Your Choice” Gift Card
(Winner 3) $10 “Your Choice” Gift Card

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Blog Tour + Guest Post, ARC Review & Giveaway: Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Be Mine Forever! We have a guest post today from the author, Kennedy Ryan!

What is the best part of falling in love with your childhood friend?

I love this question. It is something I definitely considered while writing BE MINE FOREVER. Cam and Jo met when they were 12 years old, and for the next decade and a half, are thick as thieves. Because of all the hell Cam experienced before he met Jo and her cousin Walsh, the hero from WHEN YOU ARE MINE and LOVING YOU ALWAYS, Cam is very guarded. Even when you think you have all of him, you only have the small slices of himself he has decided to share. Jo knows she has more of Cam than anyone else, but doesn’t realize just how little that is until they explore their feelings for one another. She keeps bumping up against walls he has erected to protect himself and, he thinks, to protect her from him.

This brings me to the good part of falling in love with your best friend. There is this juxtaposition of the familiar and the undiscovered. Jo imagined her first kiss, her first date, her first time with Cam, and now she gets all those things, and the reality exceeds her daydreams.

At the same time there is all this new terrain, there is also a delicious familiarity. The way they can complete each other’s sentences because they know each other so well. Seeing each other over the years through highs and lows, hard and good times, being there for one another and celebrating together. There is all this history, spiked with all these new sensations and experiences like first dates and sexual intimacy. The romance adds dimension; deepens and enriches a connection they have been building for so many years.

I think this excerpt perfectly embodies both sides of this coin!

At thirteen years old, Jo had fantasized about her first kiss. In her mind, it would be with Cam. She had practiced on her pillow and French-kissed her hand. She had positioned herself just so during Spin the Bottle, but Cam’s bottle had never landed on her. He’d never even hinted that he’d wanted to kiss her, that he fantasized about her, too. So all she’d had were daydreams. And in those daydreams, Cam nibbled at her lips. Slipped his tongue into her mouth, shy as she was. He was gentle and careful.

This was not that kiss.

This kiss was made of sweet smoke and embers. It sizzled on her lips and seared her senses until she could only feel and taste and touch and see him. The whole universe whittled down to this man completely possessing her with a kiss. Sucking her tongue into his mouth. Pulling her lips between his teeth for tantalizing bites.

Cam walked them backward with slow, measured steps until he eased onto the bench, never leaving space between their mouths. He pulled her bare legs to either side of his hips, pressing against her back until her breasts were crushed against his chest. He lowered his head, nudging the straps of her camisole aside with his lips and sucking on her naked shoulder. Jo moaned, tipping her head back until her hair rained between her shoulder blades. Cam pushed the camisole down around her waist and pulled her breast into his greedy mouth. With every pull of his lips and tongue, she rolled her hips against him, a steady, sensual syncopation that shoved Jo over the edge. She took shelter against his chest, gripping his neck, huffing hot air into the collar of his shirt. Her thighs tightened around his hips, and her body released in shivers and whimpers and shudders.

She stilled little by little, falling against him, limp and pliant. Cam pushed her hair behind her shoulders, raining kisses over her collarbones and nipples until they peaked and begged for his mouth again. He suckled at her, sliding his hands inside her shorts, squeezing her butt and urging her against him.

“Cam, I just—”

“I know.” He looked up, anointing her nipples with his words. “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I want it again and again and again.”

Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan
Series: The Bennetts #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Add to Goodreads

Can a secret crush . . .

Jo Walsh has loved Cameron Mitchell for as long as she can remember. Whether front and center in her life or on the periphery, the tall, brooding artist has made his presence seductively and irresistibly known. But whenever they start to get close, Cam pulls away. Jo’s tired of keeping her feelings in a box Cam is afraid to open. If he wants her, he’ll have to prove it. And if he doesn’t, Jo will need to know the real reason why . . .

. . . become the love of a lifetime?

How do you walk away from your soul mate? Cam wishes he knew. No matter how far he runs from Jo, he can’t resist looking back at the silver eyes that seem to see right through him. But as well as Jo thinks she understands Cam, the dark truth about his past is something she shouldn’t have to handle. Cam’s sure that setting Jo free is the right thing to do. Too bad his heart has other ideas . . .

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • Kobo • iTunes

review

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cam by the end of Loving You Always, but I’d hoped that Kennedy Ryan would be able to change my mind about him, and she succeeded! I really enjoyed reading Cam and Jo’s story – I was a big fan of the writing and of how Kennedy Ryan was able to portray Cam in such a different light. And Cam and Jo are just scorching together!

“Finally, it’s you and me.”

I adore childhood friends to lovers books, and Be Mine Forever is a fantastic example of one. Jo and Cam have been best friends since they were children. They know each other inside and out… or do they? Jo has always been in love with Cam, but Cam has never reciprocated her feelings. What Jo doesn’t know is that Cam is a man with a tortured past, full of demons he hasn’t exorcised yet.

When Cam returns home from Paris, he finds a very hurt and angry Jo. They’re best friends, but he cut ties with her while he was in Paris. He’s tried to ignore his feelings for her for so long, but seeing her again brings them back full force. But he believes that being with Jo will only hurt her in the long-run, because of dirty, painful past. So he keeps pushing and pushing her away, until Jo finally pushes back.

I admired Jo. She’s a tough, independent woman, but also very feminine and sweet. She’s loved Cam for half her life, and I admired that she never gave up on Cam. She’s the only one who sees the goodness in him, who sees past his scars, but Cam thinks he’s not worthy of her. So when Jo gets fed up with Cam putting up his walls, she tears them down and makes him see how good they are together. And they are seriously HOT together! There’s no shortage of chemistry between them, and I was so happy when Cam and Jo finally got together!

The best part about Be Mine Forever was how Kennedy Ryan was able to characterize Cam in a more sympathetic way. I REALLY didn’t like him in the previous book, but in this book, his past comes to light, and my heart went out to him. He was always closed off in the previous books, but with Jo, he starts opening up. He’s truly changed for the better by the end of Be Mine Forever, and he truly does deserve to have his own HEA.

Be Mine Forever was a deep, heartfelt romance I enjoyed. The depth of the characters that made this book shine. I loved the character growth in both Cam and Jo, and I was wholehearted rooting for their HEA.

4 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Reading Order: The Bennetts series

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan Loving You Always by Kennedy Ryan Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

#1 ~ When You Are Mine: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Loving You Always: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Be Mine Forever: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

Kennedy RyanKennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride.  In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in  Modern Mom.

Facebook • Twitter • YouTube Channel • Pinterest • Google + • Goodreads

giveaway

$25 Visa Gift Card
ebook copy of BE MINE FOREVER

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Release Day Blitz + Excerpt & Giveaway: Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

Be Mine Forever Banner

Happy Release Day to Kennedy Ryan and the third book in The Bennetts Series – BE MINE FOREVER! Make sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and an ebook of this book! #ComeForCam

Join the Release Day Party on February 5th on Facebook and join in on the FUN with authors, games, prizes and MORE!

Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan
Series: The Bennetts #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Add to Goodreads

Can a secret crush . . .

Jo Walsh has loved Cameron Mitchell for as long as she can remember. Whether front and center in her life or on the periphery, the tall, brooding artist has made his presence seductively and irresistibly known. But whenever they start to get close, Cam pulls away. Jo’s tired of keeping her feelings in a box Cam is afraid to open. If he wants her, he’ll have to prove it. And if he doesn’t, Jo will need to know the real reason why . . .

. . . become the love of a lifetime?

How do you walk away from your soul mate? Cam wishes he knew. No matter how far he runs from Jo, he can’t resist looking back at the silver eyes that seem to see right through him. But as well as Jo thinks she understands Cam, the dark truth about his past is something she shouldn’t have to handle. Cam’s sure that setting Jo free is the right thing to do. Too bad his heart has other ideas . . .

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • Kobo • iTunes

Be Mine Forever teaser

Now here’s an excerpt from Be Mine Forever! ❤

excerpt

At thirteen years old, Jo had fantasized about her first kiss. In her mind, it would be with Cam. She had practiced on her pillow and French-kissed her hand. She had positioned herself just so during Spin the Bottle, but Cam’s bottle had never landed on her. He’d never even hinted that he’d wanted to kiss her, that he fantasized about her, too. So all she’d had were daydreams. And in those daydreams, Cam nibbled at her lips. Slipped his tongue into her mouth, shy as she was. He was gentle and careful.

This was not that kiss.

This kiss was made of sweet smoke and embers. It sizzled on her lips and seared her senses until she could only feel and taste and touch and see him. The whole universe whittled down to this man completely possessing her with a kiss. Sucking her tongue into his mouth. Pulling her lips between his teeth for tantalizing bites.

Cam walked them backward with slow, measured steps until he eased onto the bench, never leaving space between their mouths. He pulled her bare legs to either side of his hips, pressing against her back until her breasts were crushed against his chest. He lowered his head, nudging the straps of her camisole aside with his lips and sucking on her naked shoulder. Jo moaned, tipping her head back until her hair rained between her shoulder blades. Cam pushed the camisole down around her waist and pulled her breast into his greedy mouth. With every pull of his lips and tongue, she rolled her hips against him, a steady, sensual syncopation that shoved Jo over the edge. She took shelter against his chest, gripping his neck, huffing hot air into the collar of his shirt. Her thighs tightened around his hips, and her body released in shivers and whimpers and shudders.

She stilled little by little, falling against him, limp and pliant. Cam pushed her hair behind her shoulders, raining kisses over her collarbones and nipples until they peaked and begged for his mouth again. He suckled at her, sliding his hands inside her shorts, squeezing her butt and urging her against him.

“Cam, I just—”

“I know.” He looked up, anointing her nipples with his words. “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I want it again and again and again.”

Reading Order: The Bennetts series

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan Loving You Always by Kennedy Ryan Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

#1 ~ When You Are Mine: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Loving You Always: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Be Mine Forever: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

about the author

Kennedy RyanKennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride.  In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in  Modern Mom.

Facebook • Twitter • YouTube Channel • Pinterest • Google + • Goodreads

giveaway

$10 Amazon Gift Card
BE MINE FOREVER E-Book

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kennedy Ryan’s “My True Love Gave to Me” Holiday Blitz + Bonus Scene & Giveaway

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A Holiday Greeting From Kennedy Ryan….

Reading Order: The Bennetts series

When You Are Mine by Kennedy Ryan Loving You Always by Kennedy Ryan Be Mine Forever by Kennedy Ryan

#1 ~ When You Are Mine: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Loving You Always: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Be Mine Forever: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Feb. 3, 2015)

Enjoy a bonus Christmas scene from Cam’s POV from book 1, When You Are Mine!

excerpt

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Cam slipped into Ms. Kris’s hospital room. He’d meant to come on his lunch break, but things had gotten hectic at the office. Now it was after five o’clock, and he probably wouldn’t have much time before Walsh showed up. He stopped just inside, shocked at how small and drawn she looked against the sterile white hospital sheets. Pain wrapped around his heart like a stubborn vine, squeezing out what little peace he’d had.

He remembered what life had been like before he’d met this incredible woman. The memory of that life haunted him, sometimes dogging him into his sleep, nightmare and memory inextricably woven.

Cam noticed for the first time the simple Christmas decorations someone, probably Jo, had put up. A small tree on the bedside table. A few white lights suspended over Ms. Kris’s hospital bed. A large poinsettia in the corner. The festive touches couldn’t dispel the sense of inevitability hovering in the room like an unwanted visitor.

Cam sat down and pulled out his sketchpad. He hated to see her this way; her light dimmed and, based on the news Kerris had broken to him about hospice, soon to be extinguished. He settled himself at the foot of her bed, careful not to disturb her. He propped the sketchpad on his knees, filling the blank page with the picture his mind’s eye stored of her at her most glorious. Her dark hair spilling around her shoulders, and the lovely skin pulled with taut vitality over the regal bones of her face. Her wide mouth spread into an infectious grin. She stirred, stilling his charcoal pencil and drawing his attention.

“Hi, beautiful.” He tossed the pad to the floor and crawled up to her end of the bed, lying down on top of the covers in her outstretched arms.

He closed his eyes, burrowing his nose into her neck, searching for her smell. Beneath the stench of illness, antiseptic and approaching death, it was still there. He inhaled, content to be held right here as his mother had never held him. Kristeene taught him what a mother should be, and though she’d always called him her second son, he never believed it. Been afraid or unable to accept it. When you have a son like Walsh Bennett, why would you want a worthless piece of shit like him? He’d never envied Walsh’s money or the compounded power that came with the Walsh and Bennett names. He’d envied this, though. He’d secretly coveted this goddess who had given birth to Walsh.

Entitled bastard had everything, had this, handed to him as an accident of birth, and now he wanted his wife.

“Kerris came to see me today,” Kristeene whispered, making Cam wonder if he’d fumed so much he had spoken aloud, or if Kisteene’s maternal clairvoyance kicked in as it had so many times before.

“She told me.”

“She’s so special, Cam.” Ms. Kris ran her hand over the almost shoulder length dark hair he’d left hanging loosely around his neck today.

“Yep.” Cam leaned into the gentle stroke like he had since he was thirteen years old.

“Did she tell you I’m going home tomorrow?” Ms. Kris fixed her gaze on the emotion he knew must be soaking his eyes.

“Ms. Kris, I can’t-I don’t know what I’ll do if you…”

“There’s no ‘if’, baby.” A trembling, skeletal hand traced the arch of his brows. “It’s gonna happen. This is my last Christmas. I’m dying.”

And inside of him, something was dying, too. Something that, early on, had been whipped into a mass of self-contempt, shame and rage, huddled in a corner when he’d first met this woman. It had healed and come to life under her compassion, love and acceptance. Cam was afraid it would die with her.

“I have a peace about it,” Kristeene said.

I don’t!

The denial rattled like a bell in his brain and shook his heart, but he wasn’t going to lay his shit on her; the fact that he couldn’t deal with a death she already seemed resigned to.

“How can you have peace about death?” His voice sounded hushed and solemn in his own ears.

“I believe in an afterlife, Cam. In Heaven, and I believe that’s where I’ll be. And I know that I’m leaving this earth with a clear heart. I didn’t do everything I wanted, but I did a lot. I paid attention to the things that were most important.”

She allowed a small silence to bathe them in contemplation before adding, “And I’ve forgiven.”

Cam stiffened, turning his head to consider her with narrowed eyes. Even sick and near death, she was cagey. There was no way Jo hadn’t told her something about what happened with Kerris and Walsh. She would have been curious about why they were never together when they visited; why they avoided each other like hand, foot and mouth disease.

“Forgiveness isn’t always an option, Ms. Kris.” He broke the words up into bite-size pieces in his mouth.

“When it’s your time, not forgiving isn’t an option. You only ask yourself why. Why would I hang onto that?’”

“I know exactly what I’m holding onto and why.” Cam slipped off the bed, scooping up his sketchpad and thrusting it under his arm, his movements jerky.

“You’ll have to forgive Walsh, Cam.” Kristeene’s breath hitched with the effort it took to pull herself up on her elbows.

“You don’t know what he’s done.” Cam glared at his Chuck Taylors, the black and white blurring with the rage wetting his eyes.

“He kissed Kerris,” Kristeene said, her voice heavy with sympathy.

Cam returned her steady gaze.

“And you think I should forgive him?”

“I think you have to. He and Jo are all the family you’ve got.”

“No, I’ve got Kerris.” Cam knifed the air with one long, slim hand. “And no one, not even your perfect son, will take her away from me.”

“Did you marry her even suspecting a little bit that there were feelings between them?” Kristeene probed and poked around the thing Cam had barely admitted to himself.

Cam glanced at Kristeene, a battered angel, earthbound and more vulnerable, but more fierce, than he’d ever seen her.

“You think I have cancer,” she said. “You just keep holding onto unforgiveness. It’ll eat away at you from the inside. It’ll spread to everything good in your life and destroy it. Including your marriage.”

“He shouldn’t have kissed her.” The lean lines of his body petrified into stone with no outlet for his hostility. “He had no right.”

“No, he had no right. He was wrong, and I’m sure if they could take it back, they would. But they can’t, Cam. And you can let that one moment haunt and destroy your marriage and cost you the best friend you’ve ever had, or you can let it go and move on. Knowing they won’t hurt you like that again. Knowing it was a mistake.”

“I’m not ready for that.” His fingers clawed into twitchy balls at his side, aching to squeeze Walsh’s throat. “I keep seeing them together in my head, and I can’t stand to look at him.”

“You don’t hold her responsible at all?” Kristeene raised the skin where her eyebrows used to rest before radiation left it smooth and naked like a baby’s.

“I know Kerris and I know Walsh. I know who made the first move; who initiated this. He’s been in love—” he cut himself off, turning away to face the window.

“So you did know.”

“I’d have to be blind not to know he felt something for her. At first I assumed he just wanted to screw her like most guys, but then I realized it was more than that.”

“More like what you felt for her?” Kristeene pressed. “And you were afraid, if given time, she’d choose him?”

“Who wouldn’t choose him?” Cam pressed his forehead against the coolness of the window glass. “He could have anyone. She was for me. You know? And I had to lock that down.”

“Seems like an honest conversation would have saved us all a lot of trouble.” Kristeene slurred her words behind him. “But since that didn’t happen, we are where we are. We can’t stay here, Cam.”

“I don’t know where else to go.” Cam laid his clutched fist against the window pane. “I can’t give her up, but I can’t forget. And I can’t forgive Walsh, but I feel like somebody cut my right hand off.”

Met with silence, Cam turned to watch Kristeene, who had dropped off practically mid-sentence into a drug-induced slumber. Had he tired her out? What would he do when she wasn’t around to talk him off ledges?

Jump.

He leaned over her now-still form. He noticed goose bumps on her thin arms and tucked the sheets around her.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” He kissed the silk scarf covering her slick scalp. “Mom.”

He’d only dared to imagine calling her that, even though she called him son. The sweet rush of feeling almost brought him to his knees by her bed in a weeping, snotty, begging, incoherent pool of grief. He tightened his mouth, staving it off for now, though he saw it coming like a tsunami, and him its helpless shore.

Cam left Kristeene’s room, running his hands over his face in a quick, impatient motion. He bushed away the last of his tears. He glanced at his watch, surprised to see he’d been with Kristeene for more than an hour. He pulled up short on his way to the elevator. Walsh was headed toward him, tall and lean in his gray suit, a preoccupied frown darkening his expression. Cam was prepared to walk right past him, refusing to entertain Kristeene’s admonition to forgive.

I ain’t forgiving shit.

Walsh had other ideas, stepping directly into Cam’s path.

“How was she?” Walsh bypassed the small talk.

“Resting.” Cam addressed his response to some point over Walsh’s shoulder. He tried to step around Walsh, only to find him blocking his way again.

“Step the hell back, Bennett.” Cam spiked the glare he gave Walsh.

“We have to talk about this,” Walsh said, obviously unafraid of Cam’s malevolent regard, unfazed by the barely checked threat clearly written in his fighter’s stance.

“What should we talk about, Walsh? The fact that you want to fuck my wife?” Cam’s voice was a low blow.

“It was a mistake.” Walsh made a quick sweep of their surroundings, looking at the few people waiting in the reception area. “We got emotional talking about Haiti. She was comforting me and it just went there. It won’t happen again.”

“You won’t get the chance again. What part of staying out of our life don’t you understand?”

“The part where you and I aren’t brothers anymore,” Walsh snapped back, fire in his eyes and words. “Dude, you’re not going to throw away years of friendship over one kiss.”

“One kiss. You think I was born yesterday.”

“What?” Cam saw caution creep into Walsh’s eyes.

Cam leaned forward, all aggressive, outraged male. Teeth bared.

“You love her.”

Walsh looked back at him, weariness in every line of his face; written in his eyes. And Cam could see that he was tired of the lies; tired of denying what was in his heart.

“Yeah, I love her,” Walsh said. “But we can figure this out. I’d never do anything about it.”

“Asshole.” Cam brushed past him and prowled toward the elevators. “You already did.”

**READER REWARDS!**
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about the author

Kennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! It’s a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride.  In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.

Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to her own foundation and to her charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).

Her interview series MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS is featured each month in  Modern Mom.

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