If you haven’t heard the news, I have a new book on the horizon: Finding Forgiveness. It’s the long awaited sequel to In Search of Mr. Anonymous. Like the others, you can expect it to be fun and flirty with a healthy dose of romance. This book picks up six months from the fallout of Lucy and Luke’s choices and tackles topics such as love, loyalty, and our capacity for forgiveness. Here’s a summary of the plot:
Two scorned lovers. One chance at redemption.
Melanie Baxter was betrayed by those closest to her. She wants to believe in love, but everything she held true was an illusion. And if she’s learned anything, it’s putting your trust in someone only leads to heartbreak. Then she meets a man determined to break down the walls she carefully constructed. A man who makes her heart race with just one look. Who understands her and fulfills her deepest desires. A man who challenges her and brings out a passion she didn’t know existed. This man manages to seep into the cracks and chip away at her armor. While he may seem perfect for her, he’s the one man she can’t fall for.
James Larson met the woman he thought he was going to marry. Now he’s a man with a broken heart. A health fanatic and avid runner, he pushes himself to the limit. Anything to keep his mind focused on something other than Lucy. He runs to forget her. He runs to escape the pain. Then James meets Nicole and they bond over their similar pasts. James finally has something he wants to run toward. She is the one woman who understands him and what he’s going through. But when her ex walks back into her life, he realizes she’s the one woman who can also break him.
Both betrayed by the ones they loved, Melanie and James embark on an emotional journey to let go of the past. They soon realize that to move forward they need to look back. Because finding love again starts with finding forgiveness.
Enjoy a sneak peek of chapter 1 below!
There’s a famous saying that one can forgive but one should never forget. I’ve been thinking about that sentiment, and I decided whoever said it got it wrong. Because in my case, all I want to do is forget. I guess when you’re hurt or betrayed by the ones you love there’s a desire to numb the pain. People use whatever outlets they need to cope―drugs, alcohol, or lashing out at the ones who least deserve it. Pain can cloud your judgement and take on a life of its own, becoming this living, breathing thing you want to shake but don’t know how. And that often leads to unhealthy habits. That’s the one thing I have going for me: I take my aggression out on my body and I’ve never been in better shape. After Lucy, my ex-girlfriend, broke up with me I hit the gym. Night after night I pushed my body to the limit. I welcomed the pain that burned through my veins because at least I could feel something.
I’m an optimist by nature. But she really tested my faith―in others and myself. I’m trying to get back to the man I once was. A situation like this changes you, and I fear that man doesn’t exist anymore. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I wish I could find the opportunity in my situation. I’m still looking.
Over time her face has haunted me less. Of course the memory is always there, but it has become a shadow instead of the sun. Until this afternoon. After work I had a dental appointment. I was in the waiting room sitting next to a woman flipping through a magazine. I never look through magazines at my dentist’s office because they’re all at least six months old. I was playing on my phone when I happened to glance up as she was turning the page. And there, in the engagement section, was a photo of Lucy and Luke. It was like a punch to the gut. Lucy believes in things being fated, but I disagree. Fate is cruel―as in this situation was a really cruel twist of fate. She chose him over me, and here is the proof in print staring me right in the face.
I don’t remember much after that. The doc could’ve given me a root canal for all I know. Somehow I made it home, and now here I am on my porch drowning my sorrows in an ice cold beer. It feels fitting as the bitter flavor goes down my throat, though I wish I had something stronger to warm my insides. But I have work tomorrow and I need to keep my head in the game. I’ve already let my team down once because of her and I vow not to let it happen again. It’s just all the old feelings I had tried to bury resurfaced with a vengeance. The pain and resentment. The disbelief and shock. The fury and fire. I know I need to channel it into something else. If it weren’t for the late hour I’d take it to the batting cages, my other place of salvation.
Just as I close my eyes I get a text notification.
Wes: The Drifters are playing at Callahan’s on Sat nite. You in?
I don’t respond. My first inclination is to say no because I’m feeling anything but social. But I know Wes will ride me about it at work tomorrow. Jimmy’s a mutual friend and the lead guitarist with The Drifters. It’s a recent gig so I know I should go out and support him. My fingers hover over the keyboard, unsure of what to type. There’s this vortex of warring emotions swirling through my head. Lucy is the eye of the storm, demanding my attention, and everything else fades into the background. With all my thoughts focused on Lucy, it’s hard to think about anything else. Frustrated, I down the rest of my beer and slam the empty bottle on the table. Sampson, who was asleep at my feet, trembles and lets out a whimper. “Sorry boy,” I say, rubbing him behind the ears.
For so long I’ve tried to forget but, just for tonight, I want to remember. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of seeing her face again. Or maybe I’ve had one beer too many. Whatever the reason, I can’t shake the urge. So my hope is if I indulge in remembering and let the memories I’ve fought to keep down come to the surface, it will help me to forget. I scroll through my albums until I find the photo of Lucy and me from my cousin’s wedding. She’s smiling and her pale eyes hold a sparkle I didn’t imagine. She looks happy. We look happy. I study it, looking for clues that maybe I missed before when I was in a state of ignorant bliss. Whatever I’m looking for I don’t find it.
I absently run my fingers over the lettering on the label of my IPA bottle. That’s when it hits me: Lucy’s letter. I head inside and rummage in my desk until I find it. She mailed it to me shortly after we ended things. I don’t remember much of what it said―I wasn’t in the best frame of mind back then. But for whatever reason I held onto it. I haven’t looked at it since, but I’m overcome with a need to reread her words. I grab my favorite fleece hoodie before heading back outside. The sun is making a slow descent, taking the heat with it.
I settle back into my chair and smooth out the paper, which is neatly folded in thirds. Her script is feminine, beautiful, and seemingly perfect. But upon further inspection, I notice she hasn’t connected all of her letters and they aren’t uniform in height. While things may look perfect at a glance, if you dig deeper you often uncover those imperfections people try to hide. My eyes skim the page, taking in the words as though I’m reading them for the first time.
I’m sorry doesn’t begin to describe the depths of my regret. I know I hurt you deeply and I have to live with that. But you didn’t deserve it―any of it. When we met I was in a dark place. I was burned by Luke and it left me feeling cynical and jaded. You managed to see past all that to what lies beneath. You chipped away at my armor until there was nothing left of the wall that I built. A wall to my heart. I let you in, not because you asked, but because I chose to. You earned that place and that spot in my heart will always be filled by you.
When we were together I realized happiness is possible. Piece by piece, you brought me back to life. Until there was only one piece that remained untouchable. I wish I could’ve given it to you. You deserve more. So much more than what I could give.
Every relationship leaves its mark. We go into the next with all the baggage of our prior relationships. I wish we could have started with a clean slate. If we had, things would have been different. That’s what I want for you. To start with a clean slate. Don’t let my baggage weigh you down. You have so much heart to give. I hope I only took a little piece with me.
As for Melanie, I know you think I lied to protect myself. But I lied to protect her. I wanted her to find happiness, even at the expense of my own. I’m not making my actions out to be noble, but I wanted you to know I was trying to do the right thing by her. I know now that it wasn’t. And it wasn’t right by you either. When you said I was more worried about Melanie finding out than hurting you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because I owe you everything. You helped put me back together. You were the best kind of medicine. But I never treated the root of the problem. It’s a journey I need to go through on my own. I’ve realized we can’t rely on others to fix us. We first need to fix ourselves. And I’m trying. I’ve been trying.
I want you to take all the qualities I love about you and embrace them. Keep your heart open. Don’t let how things ended between us guide your path. Because it’s not the one you’re meant for.
Thank you for everything. And for the forgiveness I hope you’ll someday find in your heart for me.
She included a poem called Sandcastles. Lucy never showed me any of her poetry while we were together. It’s about two friends who meet at the beach. They want to build the biggest sandcastle ever. They dig and dig until a storm rolls in. One wants to give up, the other doesn’t. A few days later the boy, the optimistic one I might add, makes a new friend. She too wants to build a sandcastle. The boy says it’s too much work. But look, she tells him. We can build one right here. She points to the very spot where the old sandcastle stood. She brushes aside the top layer of sand to reveal the deep trench that lies beneath. You see? There’s already a foundation. The boy picks up his shovel and digs.
So that’s her answer? I’m supposed to start digging. The irony is I have dug myself into quite a hole. I haven’t dated anyone since we ended things and it’s as though I’ve wrapped a protective shell around myself that’s hard to climb out of. It’s easy advice for her to give, what with her being the wrecking ball that came in and destroyed what we built. She didn’t stick around to clean up the pieces.
It’s been six long months. I’m so damn tired of carrying around the resentment. It ebbs and flows, but I vow not to let it pull me under. I vow to come out stronger and find a new path. I take another long pull of my beer. Call it liquid courage, but as I stare at Wes’s text I decide a night out is just what I need. I type “I’m in” then hit send. Satisfied, I decide to call it a night. I grab the empty bottles and switch off my porch light. “Come on, buddy. Let’s go inside.” Sampson follows me, tail wagging. Looks like I’m back in the game. Yes, I will try to move on. Look toward the future. But I can’t start with a clean slate. As much as I want to, I can’t forget. Because when I saw my future, I saw Lucy.
Like what you read? Pre-order your copy from Amazon or your favorite e-retailer before July 11th and save.