Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Release Day Event: Living with Regret (Rain #3) by Lisa De Jong

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

Living with Regret (Rain #3)
by Lisa De Jong
Release Date: October 14th 2014
Age Group: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Mae I Design
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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.

Living With Regret
by Lisa De Jong

A challenge is something I’ve never backed down from, and I feel like that’s what he’s doing right now. Standing, I kick off my flip-flops and walk to the bank of the creek. The water’s not quite as clear as I remembered it, but I can still see the rocks along the shallow edges.
Glancing back, I see Sam standing a few feet behind me with his hands on his hips. He’s probably thinking there’s no way in hell I’m going to do this, but I’m going to enjoy every second of proving him wrong. After shooting him one last look, I take two small steps into the lukewarm water. It only goes up to my thighs, not quite touching the bottom of my cut-off shorts.
“You coming in, Shea?”
“My shorts aren’t as short as yours.”
“Afraid to get a little wet?” I tease, splashing a handful of water at him.
He pulls his bottom lip between his teeth and takes two quick steps to the edge of the creek. “There’s only one thing I’m afraid of, and this little creek isn’t it.”
With one more step, he’s standing in front of me. Close enough, I can almost feel him there, but far enough to give me space so it’s not uncomfortable.
“What are you scared of then?”
His eyes burn into mine. “Something that’s already happened once. Something that I’m not going to let happen again.”
“And what’s that?”
“When I’m not afraid anymore, I’ll tell you,” he says, brushing a piece of my wind-blown hair from my face.
“You’ve always been on the mysterious side.”
“If I were any other way, you wouldn’t want anything to do with me.”
“Why’s that?”
“What fun would I be if you had me all figured out? Besides, not saying everything I think keeps me one step below arrogance.” That makes me laugh. Sam had a male meltdown one day when he started high school, all because some girl called him arrogant. He went on and on about how she had him mixed up with the jocks, or she didn’t know the meaning of arrogance. Maybe he just comes off as too good because he’s secretive about his life; he doesn’t talk to a lot of people unless he has to. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing but he’s definitely not arrogant.
“I guess you’re right.”
“Of course I am.” His hand comes down, lightly smacking my rear end.  I jump, and he smiles—the kind that makes all the girls think he’s the overly confident guy he’s not. His expression reminds me of the old Sam who used to be the cure for any heart ailment.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” I squeal, stepping away from him.
“Woke you up, didn’t I?” His lips quirk even higher. It’s contagious, no matter how annoyed I am with him.
“I didn’t realize I was sleeping.”
His grips my wrist, tugging my arm. “Are we going to stand here and talk, or are you really going all in?”

Excerpt 2

He’s got a hold on my heart.  I feel it … he’s using his pull on it to bring me closer to him, my lips closer to his. It’s a moment that’s been coming for a long time. Two souls, once lonely, brought together in the fields but joined on the edge of the lake. When one story doesn’t have a happy ending, there’s always a chance to start another one. I don’t want to standalone for the rest of my life and wonder what could have been if I’d been given my happy ending. I’m going to go after it.
His lips lightly brush against mine, so quickly that I could debate on whether or not it qualifies as a kiss. The intensity of it is almost more than I can handle. Everything inside me warms. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Even when he backs away a few inches to stare me in the eyes, I can feel his lips imprinted on mine. He’s branded me. His lips own mine. His heart owns me.
One kiss is all it takes to make me an addict, and I crave a second. I focus in on his perfect lips, hinting for more. This time, Sam doesn’t give; he takes, pressing his mouth to mine. His hand cradles the back of my head, like he’s afraid I might pull away if he lets me go. He may not realize it yet, but he has me … I’ve given him little pieces of myself over all these years. He just had to claim the last piece.
His fingers curl around the back of my neck as his lips continue to work against mine. His lips warm, much more eager than the first time. He sucks my lower lip between his, then presses his tongue into my mouth. It tastes of peppermint as it tangles with mine. He’s methodical, making me feel and want more. Grabbing his shirt, I pull him closer until I can literally feel his heart beating against me. There’s more emotion behind this kiss than I’ve ever felt before. He’s telling me so much without words, and it feels like he’s been holding it in forever. He gently caresses my tongue with his, like he has wanted to do it for a long time and needs to savor it. I wish this moment could last forever … maybe it can. He cups my cheek in his calloused hand, running his thumb along my jawline as he slows his movements.
His lips linger for a minute longer before he presses his forehead to mine. “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that?”
I shake my head, pulling my bottom lip between my teeth in a bid to keep them off him. His eyes burn into mine, igniting a fire deep inside of me. I want to taste those lips on mine again.
“That night you disappeared with Cory at the party … I wanted you even back then. I’d wanted you for a long time. I knew if he asked you to, you’d be his. I didn’t think he deserved you, but I didn’t think I did either,” he says, skimming his fingers across my cheek to brush the hair from my face.
I’d always felt like Sam was trying to play the big brother role. Of course, I thought he was cute … he keeps getting cuter with age … but I never thought he saw me that way. Not then. Things might have been different if he had said something before that night, but we can’t dwell on the things we cannot change, and I’m grateful for the time I spent with Cory. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without him. Thinking about him now is dampening this moment like rain in the middle of a perfectly sunny day. I hate that this keeps happening to me, but I know it’s inevitable.
When I don’t say anything, he continues, “Do you remember the last day we spent out in the fields before your freshman year?” I nod, holding my breath. He responds by closing his eyes and running his thumb along my lower lip. “I almost kissed you that day. I wanted to, but I was afraid that you didn’t feel the same, and I didn’t want to ruin what we had.”
My heart jumps. I’ve thought about that day so many times over the years. Now, everything I thought I felt that day has been justified. “I think everything happens for a reason,” I whisper. I regret the way I said that as soon as the words leave my mouth. “I don’t mean that I think there’s a reason Cory died, but I do think there’s a reason we couldn’t be together back then. We were both too young.”
He stares at me curiously with a hint of pain in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. He closes them, curling his fingers against my face. “I still regret not telling you how I felt. I could have saved you so much pain … sometimes I feel like part of what you’re going through is my fault.”
“What do you mean?”
“At least if you were with me, I could have controlled what you went through. I never would have hurt you, or done anything that could hurt you,” he says, opening his eyes.
I sit back, pulling my face from his as defensiveness takes over. “He didn’t hurt me. I hurt me.”
His face turns in the other direction until all I see is the squint of his eyes and the pensive line his lips have taken. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I always have shitty timing.”
I grab his hand in mine, bringing his attention back to me. “The only way this is going to work is if you accept my past, every part of it, and leave it there. I loved Cory. I still love Cory, and you need to know that.” I rest our joined hands on my thigh, feeling the brush of his arm against my chest. “Love doesn’t fade completely. In a way, I’ll always love Cory.. I need to know that you understand.”
He nods. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“No,” I answer, honestly, “but I want to try. Something about this feels right, and I’m tired of living the way I’ve been living. Besides, I like you, Sam. I want to explore that, but I need us to go slow.”
He smiles, the cocky one I like so much. “Slow is the only way to go when you like something and want to savor it. Once you’re mine, I’m not going to let you leave for anyone else. I’ve waited way too long for this.” He places our hands over his chest. “There are things in here I’ve held onto forever just to give them to you. They belong only to you because you’re the one who made me feel them.”
I lean into him, kissing him sweetly, the way he kissed me the first time. “I didn’t know you were such a romantic.”
“It’s just for you. You’re the only person who ever has or ever will bring it out of me.”
It feels like my heart just blended itself into the lake water, but yet I still feel it beating in my chest. Never in my life did I see this coming, but I realize I’ve wanted it. Subconsciously, I think I’ve wanted it for a long time. 
I realize this could all end badly. Another short story that leaves me lying on a pillow soaked in tears, but Sam’s worth it. He’s more than a constant for me. “So, what did you have planned for tonight?’
“I thought we’d put our feet in the water. See how it feels.”
“I think we already got that covered,” I reply, resting my head against his shoulder.
“I guess all that’s left to do is watch the sunset. You in?”

“We might as well.” I smile, feeling as content as I have in a long time. Life is a journey, and very few come without wrong turns and speed bumps. For the first time in months, I’m finally on the straight and narrow.

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: lisadejongwrites@gmail.com, @LisaDeJongBooks

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