Thursday, October 9, 2014

Living with Regret - promo

We're celebrating the release of Living With Regret by Lisa De Jong! Check out the excerpt below!

Title: Living with Regret (Rain #3)
Author: Lisa De Jong
Age Group: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Mae I Design

I had my whole life mapped out. Perfect guy. Perfect friends. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it.

That was until that night--the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.

My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.

While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.

Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.

 Excerpt 1
I think back to the day Cory first asked me out. He was that guy ... the one who girls have in mind when they get dressed for school in the morning. The one you can’t help but smile at when you walk past, but you tuck your hair behind your ear casually, hoping he doesn’t notice that you’re staring.
I’d gone to the first high school party with my friend, Madison. It was a night I’d never forget.

“Will you quit pulling at your skirt already?” Madison says, pushing my hand from the hem I’d been tugging at since we walked into the packed house. “It’s supposed to be that short.”
“I can’t believe you made me wear this.”
She rolls her eyes. “You shouldn’t hide your body ... especially those legs.”
Shaking my head, I follow behind her as we weave our way through the crowd. The good thing about growing up in a small town is I pretty much know everyone here, but it’s still a who’s who of our high school. I don’t think we should even be here.
I spot Sam, my next-door neighbor across the room and start toward him. “Where are you going?” Madison asks, wrapping her hand around my forearm.
“I’m going to go talk to Sam.”
“Seriously, Rachel. You shouldn’t be hanging around him.”
“Why?” I ask, waving in his direction.
“You don’t want to be the girl who’s seen with him. People will talk. They’ll make assumptions.”
Sam’s quiet and has an aura of darkness that follows him wherever he goes. It might be the black leather jacket he wears or the classic car he drives. Whatever it is, most of the girls in our high school find it irresistible, and while some have had their shot with him, it never goes beyond a night in the backseat of his Camaro. I asked him about it once, and he told me life’s simpler if you don’t let yourself get too attached to anyone. It seemed honest because I’m the only person he’s really ever attached himself to.
People in town talk about him like he’s a destined felon, simply because his dad went down that path when he was younger. It didn’t matter that it was almost twenty years ago when his dad had one minor theft conviction and way before they even moved here. I guess, in their minds, crime is a genetic, chronic disease but they don’t know Sam like I do. Over the last seven years, I’ve spent more time with him than I have anyone in this crowded house—Madison included.
Before I have a chance to argue with her, I feel a hand squeeze my shoulder, and I spin around. Cory Connors stands behind me with a cocky grin spread across his handsome face. His eyes are even bluer than I’d thought, and his light brown hair is sun-kissed from spending hours outside this summer. He’s the definition of perfect.
“Hey, it’s Rachel, right?” he says in his deep, masculine voice. It floats through my mind like sugar, coating every part of me in happiness.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to pry my eyes from his full pink lips. They’re hard to look at without imagining what they’d feel like on mine. Not that I’d really know what that feels like since I’ve never been kissed. I think about it a lot, though. A whole lot.
His grin widens as he follows the path of my eyes. “What are you looking at?”
I swallow the lump in my throat, shifting my focus up. “Umm ... nothing. I mean. I was—”
He laughs. “Hey, I was only teasing.” He reaches his hand up toward my face but quickly pulls it back. “Did you just get here?”
I nod, still shocked that Cory is actually talking to me. I’m afraid if I say too much, it’s all going to come out looking like a pile of rubble. And this is probably the one and only time he’s ever going to talk to me. I have to make it count.
“I was just heading outside if you want to come with me,” he says, interrupting my thoughts.
I’m frozen in place, staring into his glassy blues. This is my chance, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it. “I don’t know.”
Madison pushes against my back, practically sending me straight into his chest. “I’ll just wait in here, Rachel. Go ahead.”
Before I have time to argue, he wraps his hand around mine and pulls me toward the back of the old farmhouse. As I follow close behind, I glance around the packed room noticing all the sets of eyes on us. Most notably is Sam whose hooded eyes follow me. When I notice him pushing back against the wall, I shake my head. He’s always been my protector, but he’s a senior and won’t be around next year. I need to learn to navigate through life on my own. He stops, his eyes narrowing in on me, but I quickly look away before he convinces me otherwise.
When Cory and I step outside, he still doesn’t let go of my hand. I don’t pull it away either because it feels too good. “Are you having fun?” he asks, so close I can feel his warm breath against my cheek.
I open my mouth, but quickly close it again, trying my best to compose myself. The last thing I want to do is sound like a complete idiot the minute I’m alone with the god of our freshman class. “I just got here,” I finally reply, gazing up at him. He’s lit only by the moonlight, and Cory under the moonlight is something to be seen.
“Well, you’re staying for a while, aren’t you?” He smiles, and I swear I’ve never seen dimples like his.
I nod, feeling his warm finger brush against the skin below my ear. “Good.” His voice is soft but smooth, like melted butter. Warm tingles run the entire length of my body. Everything about this suddenly feels right.

We’d been together ever since that night. He was my first date, first kiss, and first love. I let him have everything because I thought he’d be my only. Things have changed now, and nothing will ever be the same. Everything I thought, felt, wanted is gone, and I’d do anything to have him back.

Excerpt 2
Sam was rough around the edges, even back then, with a temper that was easily fueled and a heart that was easily wounded. I saw it, little by little, but I understood where it was coming from. He has so much frustration and hurt that he’s never dealt with, but it doesn’t make him a bad person. He was just my Sam—the boy who would do anything for me.

Excerpt 3
“Hi,” he whispers. His voice holds as much pain as I feel. He was never a fan of Cory’s, but he feels what I feel. It’s always been like that for us. It’s almost as if five years hasn’t passed since the last time we laid in the tall green grass.
Finally opening my eyes, I fixate on Sam. His blond hair is longer than it used to be, falling onto his forehead, but his eyes are just as brown as I remember. They always calmed me, but right now, they’re just making the tears fall faster. He’s a symbol of what life used to be like.
“Hey,” he says, squeezing my fingers between his. “It’s going to be okay.”
Without any sense of control, I fist the front of his T-shirt and pull him down until he’s close enough so I can wrap my arms around his neck. He stiffens before relaxing into me, his cheek pressed to mine. “I missed you,” I say, holding him tightly.
“I’m here now,” he whispers, his warm breath tickling my ear. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I never thought you’d come.”
“I didn’t think you’d want me here.” He stops, lifting his head to look in my eyes. “I wanted to come to you as soon as I heard about the accident, but I didn’t know how you’d react ... it’s been so long, Rachel.”
“Too long,” I say, trying to draw off the warmth in his eyes. Sometimes just knowing someone is there for you makes everything better.
“I almost had to pay the nurse to get in here. I guess your mom didn’t add me to the list of approved visitors,” he says, running his thumb along the exposed part of my forearm. He scans the room, taking in the medical equipment that surrounds me. His eyes follow the IV line down to my hand, to the large green and yellow bruise that covers it. I hate the pity on his face. I don’t deserve it.
“You obviously found a way in,” I say to bring his attention back up.
He looks up, smiling sadly. “Nothing was going to stop me.”
For a few seconds, I just stare at him, still surprised that he’s even here. It almost feels as if no time passed at all. I want to blurt out everything, unleash the pain from my soul.
“I’m so scared and confused. How does something like this happen, and I don’t remember a thing? So many people have come and gone from this room, but no one has been able to tell me anything. Someone’s got to know something,” I cry.

Excerpt 4
As I file my thoughts away, the cricket song fades, and I know he’s here.
Keeping my eyes closed, I listen for his footsteps in the grass. Soon they come, each a little louder than the one before. My heart rate increases just thinking about him being near. I know what he means to me, but I’m trying to forget. Someone should have warned me that it’s impossible to forget Sam Shea.
The footsteps stop above me, and I feel him lowering himself to the blanket. He never asks for permission.
Even when I feel the warmth of his body next to mine, my eyes stay closed. When his fingers wrap around mine, I take a deep breath through my nose but don’t give anything away. His bare arm brushes against mine, and I feel him looking at me. His eyes set fire to my cheek.
“I’ve been out here every night since that day in the shop,” he says so low it takes all the concentration I have in the stillness of the night air to hear him. “I knew when you finally ventured back out here, you’d be ready to talk.”
“I’ve had time to put things into perspective.”
“Yeah? And what did perspective show you?”
I open my eyes and turn toward him. It’s hard to make out the expression on his face, but I’ve known him long enough that my imagination is just as good. “That I have two choices.”
He waits patiently for me to go on. “I can either swim in this pool of regret for the rest of my life, or I can take the steps necessary to move forward.”
“What did you decide?” he asks. Sam Shea, one of the surest people I’ve ever met, sounds so unsure.
“Life’s too short, and we all deserve a second chance.”
“So you’re moving forward?”
I’ve thought about this for hours over the last week, and if the tables were turned and Cory was still here, I’d want him to be happy. I wouldn’t want him to walk around with guilt on his shoulders.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but eventually I’ll find a way to live normally again. I like you, Sam, but I don’t know what that means for us. I mean, it feels wrong to act on it right now.”
The space around us is quiet, only the sound of the crickets filling the air. “So you’re not saying no?”
“I’m saying not right now. I need some more time to think about what I want. Where it’s going to bring me. Until just a few months ago, I thought I had it all figured out. Starting all over isn’t that easy.”
“Even if we’re not together, I don’t want to lose what we have. The last few weeks have felt so good ... I didn’t think I’d ever have you back in my life again.”
I stare up at the stars in the sky, trying to find the words that will show Sam that he means more. “I’m here. I just haven’t decided what version you get.”
“I’ll take whatever version I can get.” His warm hand covers mine, his thumb brushing over the top of my hand.
Simple. Uncomplicated. That’s what I want my life to go back to.

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Lisa De Jong is a wife, mother and full-time number cruncher who lives in the Midwest. Her writing journey involved insane amounts of coffee and many nights of very little sleep but she wouldn't change a thing. She also enjoys reading, football and music. She is the author of When It Rains, After the Rain, Plastic Hearts and Glass Hearts.

Contact:, @LisaDeJongBooks

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