Stella Walker is twenty-six years old and hiding from a past that haunts her on a daily basis. In a desperate attempt to escape the torment of her memories, she tries to rebuild her life and move on.
She seeks the seclusion of a rural town and tracks down a distant relative who Stella knows will give help, but who is unaware of the past she is trying to flee.
What Stella doesn’t anticipate, is meeting Lawson Drake.
Lawson Drake is twenty-nine years old, a mechanic who owns an auto service and smash repair shop. When he comes across a broken-down car by the side of the road, he is intrigued by its owner — a caramel-eyed brunette who clearly has a score to settle, not only with her defective vehicle, but with anyone who tries to get too close. The thing is, Lawson wants close. He wants more than close. He wants as close as he can possibly get.
Physical pain is instant, brutal and uncamouflaged. It’s bold and undeniable, often leaving a visible scar of the damage caused. Psychological pain is one that festers within, unseen, yet just as potent. It is often a wolf in sheep’s clothing, slowly chipping away at a person’s soul, lacking visibility.
Both forms of pain have the capacity to bring a person to his or her knees, destroy their faith and render them useless. But when the two collide, merge, unite in a common cause, the effects can be catastrophic.
My body was currently experiencing both forms of pain as I took slow tedious steps across the lawn in the direction of what I had been evading, running from, for the past couple of years.
I knew this moment would come, at one point or another, for some things are just inescapable. Yet, regardless of the inevitability, that did not mean I wished to welcome it sooner rather than later. In fact, the longer I avoided it, the better. It meant I was able to bury it in an untouched grave, that grave’s location deep within my body.
The wind lashed my skin with each step I took, leaving an icy sting. And the leaves under my booted feet cried out when I pressed them into the earth. I couldn’t look up. I refused to, instead focussing on the black leather of my boots together with the grass and gravel that filled my vision. My nails dug into the palms of my hands as I clenched my fists, nerves and apprehension blanketing me. The pain of my biting fingernails was welcome, providing a microscopic distraction from what was to come in mere seconds. But it was microscopic — the pounding of my heart overpowering it and reminding me why I’d run, why I’d fled my previous life and why it was so difficult to return. Returning meant facing what had happened, what I’d done … what I’d suffered.
Returning meant closure, which, up until six months ago, I’d never thought possible. Six months ago, I’d escaped and reinvented myself. I’d left my previous life and started a new one — one that, unintentionally, included Lawson Drake.
That man, that infuriating man, not only fixed my stupid car, he fixed my broken and tormented heart. He discovered my almost extinguished light.
He discovered Stella.