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Twenty-three-year old Jadie Santiago has a secret.
One morning on her way to work she stops to offer a homeless man a bottle of water. As she meets the man's eyes, Jadie instantly recognizes they belong to her father, whom she hasn't seen since she was sixteen. Unable to accept the truth of her encounter, Jadie flees, hoping eventually to forget the experience and continue leading a normal life.
But then she meets Reece, an aspiring writer with a mysterious past who is set on capturing Jadie's affection. Jadie wants nothing more than to give her heart to Reece, but her broken past and crippling secret keep her from surrendering it to him fully.
Things won't come easy to Jadie as she fights for her place in the world, but there is strength in her, and she is determined never to stop struggling for what so many others have: love, happiness, and a sense of belonging.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Moments later, we held each other, my head resting on his chest.
“Are you hungry?” he asked, kissing the top of my head.
“A little, but I need to get back soon.”
“How about I fix you a sandwich to go?”
“That would be great.”
It would also be great if I told you I loved you and you said the words back to me. Did I dare tell him? I could almost hear myself saying the words to him. What if he didn’t say them back? It was too soon. I was acting like a needy, crazy girl.
He jumped out of the bed and proceeded to get dressed.
“Meet you in the kitchen?” he asked.
Once alone, I took a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. I decided not to tell Reece what I was feeling. Doing so would end up scaring him. I didn’t want to risk losing him. Not before we even got started.
I got up, got dressed, and headed for the kitchen.
“Here you go,” he said, holding a sandwich in a Ziploc bag in front of me.
“Thank you.” I took the bag. “I guess I better get going.”
“I’ll drive you back.”
“No, it’s okay, I’ll take the Metro.”
“I’ll drive you.”
“No, really, it’s okay. I’d actually rather take the Metro, if you don’t mind.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m sorry, I have to meet with a new guy in our office to go over some manuscripts this afternoon and I could use the alone time to think.”
I had to leave before I blurted out the words.
“Okay. If you’re sure?”
He leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “I miss you already.”
I smiled. “Me too.”
“Can I call you later?”
He walked me to the door.
“Okay, be careful,” he said.
I started walking down the hall. “Are you watching me?”
“That’s kind of creepy.”
“I can’t help it.”
I pushed the elevator button and the doors instantly opened. I took a step.
“Wait,” he said.
“Is something wrong?”
“I have to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
He ran toward me. “Jadie, the thing is. Well, I…”
About the Author: Eileen Cruz Coleman was born in Washington, D.C. to an immigrant El Salvadoran mother and a Puerto Rican father. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in History. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals both online and in print. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.
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