Available from 5 Prince Publishing
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: February 5, 2015
Digital ISBN-10:1631121006 ISBN-13:978-1-63112-100-5
Print ISBN-10:1631121014 ISBN-13:978-1-63112-101-2
Purchase link http://www.5princebooks.com/buy-links.html
Bernadette Marie has been an avid writer since the early age of 13, when she’d fill notebook after notebook with stories that she’d share with her friends. Her journey into novel writing started the summer before eighth grade when her father gave her an old typewriter. At all times of the day and night you would find her on the back porch penning her first work, which she would continue to write for the next 22 years.
In 2007—after marriage, filling her chronic entrepreneurial needs, and having five children—Bernadette began to write seriously with the goal of being published. That year she wrote 12 books. In 2009 she was contracted for her first trilogy and the published author was born. In 2011 she (being the entrepreneur that she is) opened her own publishing house, 5 Prince Publishing, and has released her own contemporary titles. She also quickly began the process of taking on other authors in other genres.
In 2012 Bernadette Marie began to find herself on the bestsellers lists of iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble to name a few. Her office wall is lined with colorful PostIt notes with the titles of books she will be releasing in the very near future, with hope that they too will grace the bestsellers lists.
Bernadette spends most of her free time driving her kids to their many events—usually hockey. She is also an accomplished martial artist with a second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. An avid reader, she enjoys contemporary romances with humor and happily ever afters.
@writesromance on Twitter
Hospitals were Avery’s least favorite place to be. She had to admire her father for choosing a career that had him bound to them for so many years.
As the day of her birthday slipped away and a new day began, she sat in the waiting room with her family.
She wondered if this was the similar scene twenty-six years ago when she and her cousin Spencer were born. Her parents surrounded by family and in another room her aunt and uncle surrounded by the same family.
Spencer was only an hour older than she was and they’d shared every birthday together since that first one. And now, after their celebration, her cousin Christian’s wife Victoria was in one room of the hospital in labor and her cousin Ed and his wife Darcy were in another.
She’d watched as Ed and Christian’s parents, her aunt Madeline and uncle Carlos, went from room to room. Their sister Clara sat across from Avery rubbing her very pregnant stomach.
The Keller family was being bombarded with babies and now her cousin Tyler and his wife Courtney were expecting too.
For a very brief moment, she felt a pang of jealousy rip through her. Would she ever know this moment? Would she ever have that man who would bring her to this moment?
Pete walked up next to her and held out a paper cup of coffee from the vending machine. “Best we can get at one in the morning.”
She graciously took it as he sat down. “Thanks. My head is still swimming from all the wine I drank.”
He gave her a small nudge. “Lush,” he said with a chuckle and then began to blow on his coffee.
For a moment, Avery just watched him. Pete Grant had been her dearest friend her entire life. He’d bowed down and played dress up a few times. He’d taught her how to bounce a soccer ball on her forehead. Thinking back, he’d even canceled his own prom date to take her when her date backed out. He was that kind of friend.
And now here he was, sitting in a hospital at one o’clock in the morning waiting out babies with her and her family.
She rested her head on his shoulder and he pressed his head to hers.
It was nice to be so comfortable around a friend. He was easing that jealousy she’d been feeling. He’d make someone a good husband someday.
Around two o’clock, Christian walked out into the waiting area rubbing his eyes. Their Aunt Arianna jumped to her feet.
He shook his head. “Her contractions stopped. They’re going to let her rest for a little bit. See how it goes. If they need to induce her, they will later today. The baby is ready, just not cooperating.”
Avery was sure everyone in the room, who was awake, wanted to make some comment to the lack of cooperation and aim it at Christian. However, the look on his face—that look of worry—had them all remaining quiet.
Victoria had lost their first child. As Avery’s father had told them, it just happened. But Avery was sure neither of them ever got over it—how could they?
She turned her face into Pete’s shoulder so that his shirt caught the few tears that were threatening to spill.
“Are you okay?” His voice was a whisper and so gentle.
“Just worried for them.”
Pete moved his hand over hers and gave it a squeeze. “Everything is going to be okay. Babies have their own agenda, and it isn’t ours.”
She supposed he knew what he was talking about. He had four sisters and a brother. His family was as close as her extended family. She, of course, was an only child. It had never felt like that though. There probably wasn’t a day in her life where she hadn’t seen one of her cousins, aunts, or uncles.
As she turned her hand over in his and locked their fingers, she realized they were both blessed to have that. Now all they had to do was find that right person, for each of them, that could make them happy forever.
A few minutes later Ed staggered into the waiting room. The clothes he’d worn to Avery’s party were now under a paper robe. He had a mask down under his chin and a paper hat over his hair. Darcy had gone into labor at the same time as Victoria. However, their baby was breech and more excited to meet everyone as she was scheduled the following week to have a Caesarean. But, now was a good time too, Avery thought as she looked at her cousin with his enormous grin.
Christian was the first to step to him. “Well?”
“She’s here. She’s here!”
Christian pulled his brother to him in a hug that had Avery’s eyes filling fuller with tears.
“I’m happy for you,” Christian said patting his brother’s back and looking at him. “She’s healthy and Darcy is okay?”
“She’s perfect. Oh, she’s perfect. And Darcy is wonderful. She’s in recovery and Mom and Regan are with her.” He looked around the room.
In the corner, he found his father asleep in a chair with his daughter Emily asleep on his shoulder.
Avery watched as Ed moved to them. He touched his father’s hand, waking him up.
“She’s here. A little girl, Dad.”
Avery’s uncle Carlos smiled a wide smile, careful not to move.
“I know she’ll never understand this, but I want to take her to see her sister.” He rolled the little girl from his father’s shoulder and she stirred. “Hey, big sister. Let’s go see your baby sister.”
Avery wasn’t sure that at ten months little Emily, whom Ed and Darcy had adopted, had a clue as to what was going on, but they’d all remember.
Pete turned to look at Avery.
“You look exhausted. Why don’t I take you home for a while? It doesn’t sound like Victoria is going to have her baby tonight.”
She hated the thought of leaving, but she knew it made sense. She could go home, get a few hours sleep, and be right back there in the morning to wait out another baby.
Avery looked at Clara uncomfortably seated in the chair across from her and Warner rubbing her back to comfort her.
That jealous pang hit her chest again. Perhaps she should go home for a little bit.
“Okay, let me say goodbye to my parents.”
Pete watched as she said goodbye to her parents and then the rest of the family that stayed and waited. He’d have to call his own mother in the morning. Avery’s family had been close to his family for years. They’d want to know about Ed’s little girl, whom he’d forgotten to get her name. Maybe they didn’t have one yet.
Avery yawned as she walked toward him. He placed his arm around her waist and she his as they walked to the elevator.
As the doors opened and they stepped in, he hit the button for the lobby.
“Exciting night,” he said.
Avery nodded. “Did you see the new jewelry on Julie’s finger?” She made the comment perhaps a bit too snippy. “No wonder Spencer left our birthday party early.”
“I thought it was the pink and black cake you made him have…again.”
That brought a bit of a smile to her lips. She did like to torment her birthday-twin cousin by designing the color theme every year—pink and black.
Pete took her hand and brought it to his lips. Pressing a kiss to her fingers, he said, “I can’t think of a better reason to leave a party than to go get engaged. If that’s what they did.”
“Why else would she have a ring like that?”
He shrugged. But he knew that Spencer was all class. Right now, it was Darcy and Ed’s moment and soon it would be Christian and Victoria’s moment. He’d have time to share the news if there was any.
When the doors opened, Pete kept hold of Avery’s hand and walked her to his car in the parking garage. She was silent on the walk. He opened the door for her and waited until she was comfortable before walking around and getting in himself.
“Thank you for being here with me,” she said wiping tears from her eyes. “I seem to be a little emotional about it all.”
“You deserve to be. But, Avery, you know there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be than with you.”
That caused her to chuckle. “You need a woman,” she retorted as he started the engine and backed out of the parking space.
“I guess if one comes along. For now, I’ll just spend my time with you.”
She smiled at him. “I’m lucky to have you.”
She reached for his hand and held it in hers. “I don’t want to be alone tonight. Will you stay with me?”
Pete shrugged. “I could. Do you have a fan for that spare room? It gets really hot in there.”
Avery nodded. “Yes.” She then leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. “You’re too good to me.”
“I know that.”
“I’m going to miss you when I move away,” she said and he felt every muscle in his body tense.
“I was hoping by now you’d changed your mind.”
The thought of her moving to France to run some vineyard that her grandfather, whom she didn’t know very well, had bought for her had his blood hot. Her parents weren’t going to like it too much. Hell, he didn’t like it too much. But what could he say?
He’d longed for her as long as he could remember and she didn’t seem to have the same feelings. What more could he do than to support his dearest friend in her new adventure?
Perhaps while she was gone, his focus would change and he would find that woman she was always saying he deserved.
“I was thinking, when you go, maybe I could rent the house from your aunt. My lease is up next month and I’d like something a little bigger.”
She looked up at him and smiled. “I think that would be nice. I’m sure Julie will be moving out soon.” She chuckled again. “Maybe the woman of your dreams will move in. It worked for Ed and for Spencer.”
“Maybe,” he said turning down her street.
He drove down the alley to the back of her house and parked next to her car.
“Maybe I should just head home,” he said. “It’s really late and you need some sleep.”
She shook her head. “I don’t want to be alone.”
He knew that, but he just needed some space. The move to France weighed too heavily on him and the fact that she didn’t even see him as anything other than a friend was wearing on him too.
The motion lights on the back porch turned on as she opened the car door. “Please come in,” she said softly. “If you don’t stay that’s fine. Just keep me company.”
It was already three o’clock in the morning. She’d want to head back to the hospital early. He might as well stay.
He opened his door and stepped out as she shut her door and dug for her keys.
As he walked around the car, she looked up at him. The light behind her gave her a glow and at that moment he thought she might be more beautiful than any other time in her life.
“You looked amazing tonight, by the way,” he said, not resisting when the urge to touch her hair took over.
“Thank you. I had a really fun night.” She pressed her lips together. “I was thinking we could go back to the hospital around nine.”
Pete nodded. “Sure.”
“And I was hoping maybe you’d hold me all night,” she said quickly as if she’d been holding in those words all night.
There was a flash in her eyes and he wasn’t sure she knew it had happened. But he’d caught it.
Pete moved in closer to her, resting his hands on her hips. “You want me to sleep in your bed with you?” His voice cracked as he said the words he never thought he’d say.
She nodded. “Just to hold me. I feel…I don’t know what I feel.”
He did. He knew exactly what it was. She was feeling alone even though all the people who loved her surrounded her. They were all moving in different directions with their lives now. Of course, most of them were moving toward families of their own. It was obvious, as she’d pointed out, that even Spencer and Julie were moving in that direction. That put Avery in a very unfamiliar place—alone.
He’d felt that way when his younger sister got married too. Pete was officially the last single Grant. But it wasn’t so bad. He had a slew of nieces and nephews and plenty of couches to crash on. But they were both—alone.
Pete followed her up to the house and as she pushed open the door, he closed and locked it behind him.
“Do you want something to drink?” she asked.
“I’m really tired. I think I’d rather just turn in.”
Avery nodded, but she didn’t walk further into the house. Instead, she looked up at him. Her eyes were tired, her mascara wiped away, and her nose was red from the tears she’d shed during the night.
Completely exhausted, she still radiated.
“C’mon, old lady,” he joked at her new age. “Let’s get you to bed.”
He took her hand and began to pull her through the kitchen, but she tugged against him.
Pete stopped and looked at her, but the way she looked up at him he knew there were no words. For a long moment, he stood there gazing upon her.
She stepped to him. “What are we doing?”
“Going to bed,” he said simply.
She shook her head. “There’s more isn’t there?”
God, hadn’t he always hoped there was?
Pete moved to her so they were nearly pressed together. “Avery, what are you saying?”
“I don’t want to be alone.”
“I know. That’s why I’m here.”
Avery stepped to him and rested her hands on his chest. “You’re always here.”
Pete nodded. Here was where he always wanted to be.
She slid her hands up and around his neck. Instinctively, he wrapped his arms around her.
“Pete, we’ve never kissed.”
“Not like a real kiss.”
Pete licked his lips because his mouth had suddenly gone dry. “Friends don’t kiss like that.”
“Some do. Tiffany and Spencer did.”
She mentioned her cousin and his friend with benefits. That was until he fell in love with Julie.
“You and I are different. We don’t want that to come between us,” he reminded her.
Avery’s fingers were playing in his hair and suddenly the three o’clock hour must be messing with them. They seriously weren’t caressing each other in the kitchen and talking about kissing were they?
Not that there was any space between them, but she closed it and now their bodies were pressing together.
“Everyone has been reminding me lately that you and I have been inseparable since we were little.” Her fingers were now caressing his ear.
“That’s what the title of ‘best friends’ means,” he said, swallowing hard because he’d always wanted to be more.
“Pete,” her voice trailed off as she gazed up at him. “Kiss me one time as if we were a couple—as if you loved me.”
He hesitated because he wasn’t sure he could do this just once. The problem was his feelings for her had been stirring since he was that young boy. If he kissed her now, he wouldn’t want to stop with just one kiss. He couldn’t give her what she wanted.
“Shhh,” she pressed her finger to his lips. “Just kiss me.”
He’d never denied Avery anything in all the years they’d known each other. Certainly, he wasn’t going to start disappointing her now.
Pete lifted his hand to her cheek and drew her in.
The moment their lips touched that spark he knew burned inside of him exploded in a brilliant white light behind his eyelids. The feel of her, the taste of her was more wonderful than he’d ever dreamed—and he had dreamed of it.
Her tongue slipped through his lips and danced with his as her arms tightened around him and his around her.
The moan that escaped her throat had him yearning to continue this simple request forever.