Find love at Simoneaux Bayou, where the romance is just as spicy as the food.
Olivia Hardin’s Lost Along the Way (Love & Found Book 2) releases today!:
Can coming home be a second chance for lost love?
Javi: Papa always told me I should shoot for the stars. I’m a dreamer, and I always had great big plans to go along with those dreams. But instead of moving away to hit it big as a famous chef, I was back home working two jobs to take care of my mom and sister. And the girl I thought I was going to marry someday? Well, things ended between us when we were both still off at college. Just when I’m beginning to doubt all that I once believed in . . . she pops back into my life.
Lizzie: No one ever expected much from me. I’m the youngest of three girls, so I always got all of the attention just by virtue of being the baby. I remember the day I told them I’d been accepted to a college in Ohio for a degree in marketing. Can you say skeptical? But I was going to show everyone that I could become something besides just one of “The Girls.” Somehow, though, I got off track. I managed to hide everything from them for almost a year, but it’s time to come home, even if it is with my tail between my legs. I thought facing my parents and my sisters would be the hardest part . . . until I ran into him.
Maybe rediscovering our friendship can build into the sort of love that will last forever…
Check out this excerpt:
“That doesn’t make a bit of sense, Mary. If you miss him, if you want to be with him, you shouldn’t let anything stand in the way of that.”
My sister and I were sitting in our beach chairs, our legs stretched out in front of us as if we were tanning ourselves. In truth, we were both coated from head to foot with SPF 50 lotion. Red-headed girls couldn’t be too careful where the sun was concerned.
But the rays felt heavenly to me, my skin heated by the sun while the cool ocean waves crept up over my legs every so often. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed this place. It was as if the beach air and water were a magic elixir to make my insides whole again.
Or at least nearly so.
“Who are you to talk? Are you with the man you want to be with?”
“Don’t be a bitch, Mary.”
She was quiet, and I knew she was biting her tongue. I imagined it was hard to be the big sister and always be expected to take the higher road. But as the baby sister, I didn’t mind using that against her when necessary.
I reached for my bottle and drank down the last of my water. “Mom says Austin seemed like a nice guy. And more importantly, she said Pas Bon likes him. And we all agree he’s a good judge of character.”
“Humph.” She took a deep breath. “There’s always a first time for him to be wrong. And should we take that chance under the circumstances?”
“Okay, so we’re not taking any chances with him. Is there anyone else? I mean, you’re starting to get a little long in the tooth aren’t you? We need to find you a man before you become an old maid.”
“Now who’s being the bitch?”
I laughed, shaking my bottle in front of me. “Okay, I’m going to go get some more water. Want anything?”
A shadow fell across her, and she immediately sat up to see who it was. I watched her snag the nose of her sunglasses with one finger and slide them down. Her grin immediately elicited warning bells in my head.
“How about I get the water?” She grabbed my bottle and hopped up so fast I couldn’t protest. I pivoted in the seat, squinting at the figure standing behind and over me.
“Oh, it’s you…”
Javi had the decency to look a little sheepish. Initially I’d been embarrassed by running into him yesterday in Mary’s store. But this morning when I thought about it, I got more and more angry. His comment about me being married wasn’t just surprise on his part. No, it was a tactical reminder that my former intolerance was coming back to bite me in the ass. He’d thrown my words from high school right back into my face. A child’s idyllic ideas meant nothing in the real world. And I certainly didn’t need him judging me.
We both watched Mary walk away, then Javi moved around to stand closer to me. He put his hands in his pockets nervously while I turned away from him and back towards the water, trying my best to ignore his presence. But the longer we stood there with silence between us, the more uncomfortable I became. And then I looked down, noticing the pooch of my belly under my swimsuit.
Not my swimsuit, but Mom’s. The ones I had here at the cabin were two-piece numbers intended to show off the curves of a body I no longer had, thanks to Benji. I sucked in my gut and folded my hands over my middle.
“Can we talk? Maybe take a walk?”
I twisted my lips to the side and started chewing the inside of my mouth. When I realized what I was doing, I drew my lips into a straight line and frowned. It was a nervous habit I’d developed in high school. During college I managed to break it, but over the last six or so months, I’d started doing it again. And although I was able to control it most days, anxiety made it difficult.
He put out his hand to help me up, but I ignored him and used the arms of the chair instead. It wasn’t easy since my feet had sunk into the muddy sand, and I inwardly groaned at my lack of grace.
Javi had his hands in his pockets again, and I crossed my arms over my chest as we started down the beach. He was stiff and clearly uncomfortable, but I wasn’t going to make it easy for him. Not just because I was pissed, but because I honestly didn’t know what to say. What do you tell the man you once thought you’d marry about accidentally getting pregnant with the wrong guy? How could I possibly explain it?
“I’m sorry about how I acted yesterday.” He finally spoke, head down. “I was honestly kind of shocked by it. I didn’t mean to be ugly or to hurt you.”
“Who said you hurt me?”
I wanted to yank back the words. They were said in a tone that reminded me of high school. Grow up, Lizzie.
About the Author
When Olivia Hardin began having strange movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long the writing bug had her and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, and she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again.
Olivia’s attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term road scholar and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She’s also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic.
A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.
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