Seaside Pictures Book Three; Standalone
It’s easy to lose yourself in someone you love.
Easier to lose yourself in someone you hate…
I didn’t think it could get any worse than having to babysit a bunch of spoiled musicians on set — keeping them out of trouble is a cakewalk compared to seeing my ex every day.
Seaside, Oregon isn’t big enough for the both of us.
She hates me.
I loathe her.
The plan was simple — stay the hell away and make sure she gets to set on time.
What I didn’t expect was to be faced with our past in front of an audience — and be forced to face it again.
The way she looks at me.
The way I try to look through her.
Words left unsaid.
The lingering aftermath still as powerful as ever.
I feed the chasm between us, for fear that she’ll make me feel again — and steal the last shred of heart I have left.
We have everything but each other.
It’s not enough.
Not when you’ve lost love.
And replaced it with the only thing left — hate.
Steal was a story of forgiveness and the power of love. There aren’t many books out there with a heroine who has such a steep path to redemption, but RVD beautifully penned a tale of a woman stuck on the outside watching everyone else through an unbreakable barrier; one filled with sadness, heartbreak, and lost relationships.
Will and Angelica’s tumultuous history not only affected them, but the friends around them. Her mistakes, ones which caused so much damage, left her hated, but she was written in such a way that she didn’t seem pitiful or beyond redemption, and yet her mistakes weren’t glossed over or easily forgiven either. There was a great balance in how she came across, straddling the line of both sides, where a reader could actually like and accept her instead of find her beyond help. The hate-lust Will still carried for her helped; that a man whose heart was broken could still find her desirable (not just physically), gave her character a reparable quality. And while his situation forced him to react in off-color ways, as hate usually does, beneath it all one could see his actions bore from pain rather than evil.
Filled with lusty hate and heartbreak, this second-chance romance carried a beautifully inspiring love story that was so very moving. Had I read the prior books, and gotten a bit of the backstory of this group of friends since they were featured pretty heavily, I might’ve been affected more deeply than I was. But even without all of that, it’s impossible to deny how great RVD was in creating both of these characters and their way back to one another.
I blinked up at the white ceiling, willing the tears to dry. Praying they wouldn’t slip free — because once they were loose there was no stopping the onslaught of emotion that would follow, the devastation, the earth-shattering realization that nothing would ever be the same between us. Not if he could help it — and not with me constantly pushing him.
But at least pushing him got me a reaction that proved he wasn’t a complete indifferent sociopath.
I refused to let him get to me.
With a sigh I turned onto my side and stared out the window imagining a different time a different place, where he was by my side — and promised to never leave.
That and the way his hands ran down my skin like he was getting ready to worship me the way he used to.
Only his face hadn’t been filled with wonder — disgust was more like it.
I clung to the anger like a blanket. It was the only way to sleep, the only way I was able to close my eyes and pray the sickness in my chest away.
Anger forced me to focus on doing my job and getting as far away from my past as possible.
Weakness would just make me sad.
It would make me that — weak;
And I knew where that road led.
It led me directly back to all the things that turned me down that road in the first place.
Not being good enough.
Weakness led me to a false sense of strength.
And my number one weakness had always been Will Sutherland.
It was possible — to give so much of your heart and soul to a person that you lost who you were.
I became a different person with him — a person I thought I needed to be in order to compete in our world. A person our world told me I had no choice but to become in order to stay relevant.
I punched my pillow one last time and attempted to sleep.
Two hours later, when sleep still wouldn’t come, I padded my way into the kitchen and made coffee, then laid my head against the couch and thought about the way his lips felt on my ear.
Inches from my neck.
Breaths from my body.
I ached for him in ways I never knew existed.
And I relished in the ache just like I relished in the anger, because at least that meant it had happened, and at least that meant I knew he was a bad choice I wasn’t willing to make again.
A weakness that wouldn’t just hurt me.
But kill me.
Sometime around one in the morning when the clock on the microwave blinked at me with an intensity that started a pulsing headache to form — I stumbled over to the couch and face planted — the last thought in my head was of the Sutherland Sunset — and how it had once been my anchor until it turned into my hell.
What a joke.
What a cruel joke.
“You made coffee.” Will’s smooth voice interrupted what had been a completely dreamless sleep.
I didn’t have the energy to respond with anything other than a grunt.
“Still not a morning person,” he commented. His footsteps might as well be sledgehammers drilling into the wood floor.
“Why?” I croaked.
The walking stopped. Lights flicked on. I shivered and cursed him to Hell as he poked his head over the couch and had the audacity to smile. “Why what?”
My eyes narrowed. “Talking.”
“Why talking?” He took a sip out of the blue mug I’d been drinking out of earlier that morning; he must have reheated the coffee. “Still really eloquent in the morning I see.” Another annoying sip. The terrorist didn’t even offer me any! Just kept loudly sipping while staring at me with a stupid ass grin on his face like it was a joy to be awake at… wait, what time was it?
I jolted to a sitting position, my pounding headache still wasn’t gone, in fact it was worse, probably brought on by Will’s cheerful demeanor and loud walking. “What time is it?”
“You have twenty minutes until you’re expected on set.” His voice was calm behind me, warm. If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine his body was about to wrap around me like a blanket, I’d tuck my feet under my body and rest my head on his shoulder, we’d share a cup of coffee like we used to and watch the news before work.
It took us one date to become inseparable.
Our trailers side by side.
Eating off each other’s plates.
Sharing inside jokes.
Not to mention, Will had been my first.
I shivered as his footsteps moved away from me taking his body right along with them.
That was the past.
It needed to stay there.
With a sigh, I shot up to my feet and started making my way back to my room.
I only made it about one foot before Will started cursing.
Panicked, I froze and then turned around. “What’s wrong?”
His eyes narrowed over the rim of the blue cup, “I’m just trying to decide if you’re doing it on purpose.”
“Doing what?” Okay now I was getting annoyed. And the man wouldn’t stop slurping his coffee as though he didn’t know how to sip like a grown up!
He shrugged one of his shoulders. “Wearing no clothes.”
♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!