About WHERE THERE’S SMOKE: There is something to be said for letting go. Ryland Roberts knows that better than anyone. He'd let go of his ambitions, of his family and—most of all—of her. He'd perfected the art of putting his past behind him and accepted the fact that the town he wanted to leave in his rearview was the place where he was going to live out his days. But sometimes the past doesn't just go away.
Sometimes it comes back to haunt you. Piper Jameson convinced herself that she left for all the right reasons. She'd saved people by leaving—made sure that they weren't tainted by her rebellious ways. When her little sister asks her to come home and say goodbye to their ailing mother, she's forced to see that things aren't always as they seem.
The people who she'd left behind might not have been saved at all. In the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel from point A to point B, Piper and Ryland will have to put their feelings for each other aside and make a choice.
Forced on the run with Piper's sister, they begin to understand that the future they thought was gone was never really lost.
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WHERE THERE’S SMOKE Excerpt:
I stretched my arm out and placed a hand on the cool concrete, the grit and dirt sticking to my palm. Such a contrast to the warmth I felt with Ryland firmly pressed up against me. The curves of my backside fit perfectly against his long, lean frame, our skin heating up the chill around us. The fall weather had descended upon our small Midwestern town almost overnight. It seemed like only a week or two ago we had been wearing shorts and flip-flops. Now it was jeans and jackets. Well, actually, now it was nothing.
I felt my cheeks heat as I thought about what we had just done. I wasn't embarrassed. Far from it. In fact, I'd never felt more sure about anything in my entire life as I was about what had just happened with Ry. “That was incredible,” he whispered against my neck as he traced lazy circles on my shoulder with his fingertips. “Yeah,” I breathed, rolling onto my back to look up at him. The soft glow of an outdoor utility light crept through the open side of the airplane hangar, barely lighting up the space. “Never imagined our first time being on a blanket spread out on a cold, hard floor, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.” “Me too. Let’s get on that then,” he said with a wicked grin before he pressed his lips to mine.
Propping himself on one arm—his hand resting against the side of his head—he snaked his free hand under one of the flannel blankets he'd commandeered from an airplane parked beside us. I liked this side of him. The side that wasn't perfect and calculated. The side that just did, said, and felt what he wanted. He was literally feeling his way up my body—his hands smooth and rough all at the same time—sending all of my teenage hormones spiraling out of control. We were living in the moment, which was exactly where I preferred to be. “You know how much I love you, right?” His face became very serious, almost concerned. “I wanted tonight to be special. I thought we'd go back to my house after we looked at the planes.
My parents are gone and...” He was back in his head, thinking about his meticulously thought-out evening. Doubting his ability to be perfect. He did this sometimes—overanalyzed things. “It didn't go exactly as I planned, but—” “It was perfect,” I assured him. “Plans, schmans.” I pulled his face to mine, giggling, my lips barely grazing his. “And I love you, too.” That was the thing about Ryland—I saw a side of him that no one else saw. I could probably say the same for him about me. Until him, I’d never felt like I was going to amount to much, but he believed in me, even when I didn't—which was most of the time. When I was with him, I didn't feel like I needed to do everything in my power to piss people off. He made me want to stay in this Godforsaken town with a family that ignored my existence.
They ignored it until I did something wrong—which was about ninety percent of the time. Then my stepfather made sure to let me just how worthless I was. “So do you feel like a rebel?” I asked. “This being your first breaking and entering and all.” It had been his idea to sneak on to the airfield—something that was much more in my wheelhouse than his. I was the one who usually threw caution to the wind. He was the good boy. The straight-A student. The doting son. “Oh yeah.” He laughed. “I'm a regular badass.
Nothing like walking through an open gate to an abandoned shed.” He cast his arm out sarcastically in the vacant space above our heads. Nothing but sheet metal and wooden beams. A handful of airplanes were parked around us with a smattering of fuel cans, tools, and parachutes hanging from the walls. “I'm not sure we actually broke into anything. More like casually strolled in.” We lived in a town where people left their front doors unlocked. T
he kind of town where everyone knew everyone and all of their business. Truitville. It was a place with a minimal crime rate. I think that night, that's what we’d both thought:
What's the worst that could happen? “So what's next then, Clyde? Wanna rob a bank?”
About Elizabeth Lee: When I'm not writing or playing the part of wife and mother, you can find me dancing back-up for Beyonce, singing back-up for Miranda, or sunning myself on the beach with a drink in hand. Here's the thing about being born and raised in a small town—you have a very vivid imagination! Now, I channel it all to create stories where the girl always ends up with the right guy, first kisses are magical, and a happy ending is just that!