Eli Sabatino, determined to make a name for himself amid Seaside, New Jersey’s nightlife, has laid out the perfect plan for success. But that plan didn’t include Layla, the hopeful bartender who walked in for an interview. He knows, as an employee, this blonde bombshell is off-limits but he can’t fight the undeniable force of attraction that pulls him toward her.
Layla Del Duca has the weight of the world on her shoulders. With a full course load, a boyfriend, a sister to take care of, and an alcoholic mother, she needs to regain control of her life. Her job at Fierce is priority number one. But a complication she didn’t expect looms behind the eyes of Eli, her handsome new boss.
Emotions collide full force and they can no longer turn a blind eye to what their hearts are telling them.
But, can their passion survive when Eli can no longer promise the one thing Layla asks of him? Will everything change? Will he stay?
Layla smiles. “It’s nice to see them back together.”
“It is, makes my life a hell of a lot easier.”
I glance over at her. Her eyes are glassy, cheeks are flushed but she’s relaxed and it’s not a sight I get to see often. “One less thing for me to watch over.”
Layla who was sitting across from me on the booth that’s out on the deck lies down, crosses her ankles and places her hands on her stomach.
I laugh. “What are you doing?”
She points up to the sky. “Looking at all the stars.”
I toss back the rest of my beer and follow suit lying down where we are head to head. Neither of us talks for what seems like forever. It’s not an awkward silence but a comfortable one.
“Tell me something about yourself that no one knows, Layla.”
She’s quiet and I almost think she’s fallen asleep when she starts, “I’ve always wanted a tree house.”
“A tree house?” I ask just to confirm I’ve heard her. It’s so random.
“Yeah, and not one that’s on the ground, I wanted a real tree house high up in the trees.” She sighs. “When I was little I used to watch from my bedroom window while the dad from the house behind ours built the Foster sister’s one. For two weeks he worked on it for them.” She turns on her stomach and rests her chin on her hands. “He put it way up high, nailed pieces of wood on the tree for steps. He brought up these big pieces of wood that he used for the floor. Then a few days later the house was framed out. He even made them a little porch that he put railing around. By the end of the second weekend I saw him hoisting up a huge triangle piece that he used for the roof. Mr. and Mrs. Foster brought the girls up so that they could see it. The looks on their faces was priceless.”
I turn around and face Layla on the bench. Her eyes are even glassier now than they were before.
“They painted the little house that was big enough for the four of them to sit in. Mrs. Foster made them little curtains for the windows and planted little flowers in the flower boxes that hung off of the railing of the porch.” Her smile grows. “I watched the little girls bring their baby dolls up in a little box that they would pull up, like their dad used for the roof. Mrs. Foster even made them a picnic basket at dinner time, too.”
A little tear escapes the corner of her eye and I watch as it runs down her cheek. She doesn’t even bother trying to wipe it away. Being this close I notice the freckles sprinkled across her nose and I suddenly want to kiss each and every one of them.
“Hmm,” she mummers.
“I’m sorry you never got your tree house.”
She smiles a sad smile. “Me too.”
It sounds like Layla didn’t have a great childhood, maybe she didn’t have a dad like me or maybe she did and he just couldn’t be bothered with her. I don’t want to ask because it’s a personal question and Layla doesn’t give away much about her life. So for now I’ll take what she’s willing to give me and vow that if I ever have a little girl, I will build with my own two hands the best damn tree house ever seen.
USA TODAY bestselling author Megan Smith is a New Jersey native managing purchasing for an award-winning business IT and software development firm - and by night creating the memorable characters her fans have grown to adore. Smith's The Love Series introduces readers to MacKenzie Cahill - a hopeful young woman who experiences adversity, challenges and the bittersweet triumph of true, authentic love.
Smith is a wife and mother, who makes time for her family, professional life and the creation of the Cahill's world. Fans of The Love Series - Trying Not To Love You, Easy To Love You, Hard To Love You - are captivated by relationships, special bonds and family ties pervasive in Smith's emotional, energized and engaging work. Smith is also the author of the 2014 releases, Let Me Love You - continuations of The Love Series, Finding Us (Finding Series) and a few top secret projects.
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