“Steamy…Doesn’t let up.” —Booklist “Intense…Unflinching.” —Kirkus Reviews
From the author of Come Back to Me comes a striking novel about a young woman—desperately trying to protect her family from their violent father—who finds safety, and a passionate romance, with an ex-Marine.
Ever since Zoey was a kid she’s been caring for her mom and her little sister, defending them from her violent father. She’s been the strong one, the responsible one as she sacrificed her wants and dreams to keep her family together.
Now the life they’ve built for themselves in California is about to be upended. Her father, just released from prison, has discovered where they’re hiding and has come looking for them.
Enter Tristan. A former Marine and now member of the Coast Guard, Tristian promises his best friend, and Zoey’s Marine brother, that he will take care of Zoey and her family. Protect them, watch over them, and be the rock they need in their lives.
And as Tristan starts to help Zoey deal with the emotional fallout of her childhood, their relationship turns from protector and protected to something more. The two grow closer as a romance blooms into a heart-pounding and powerful relationship that Zoey hopes will be strong enough to fight off the damage her father has done to her and her family.
But not everyone can be kept safe forever, and when Zoey’s father does show up, a confrontation ensues that will change Zoey’s world forever.
Chapter 1: The End: Zoey The End ZOEY I see the decision get made—the resolution crosses his face, and in the same instant I move in front of Tristan to shield him.
There’s a deafening bang, followed closely by a second bang, and I fly sideways and hit the ground. Tristan falls too.
Pain shoots through me like comets streaking across a black sky. My vision turns starry.
I look up and see the monstrous shape of my dad looming over us. He blinks, seemingly astonished. Maybe it’s shock at what he’s done. Maybe it isn’t. Light bursts around him in a dazzling halo. I can’t breathe—the pain is almost as bright as the light.
I’ve been shot, I realize. But what about Tristan? Is he okay? Thoughts dart like eels through my mind so fast and so slippery I can’t grasp on to them. The only thing I can hold on to, like a beacon in the darkness, is the thought of Tristan. Please let him be okay. I don’t care if I die. Just let him be okay.
My dad drops to his knees in front of me like a dark avenging angel. For a moment, I think he’s about to beg forgiveness for what he’s done. I stare up at him, but his expression shows no remorse, not an ounce of sorrow. He’s baring his teeth like an animal about to shred his prey.
My ears are ringing so loudly that all other sounds are dulled. Time has slowed to a near stop. My heart seems to be following suit.
Tristan is all I can think of as the light starts to fade. I led him here. This is all my fault. Where is he? I desperately want to see him. I can feel something behind me. Something heavy and unmoving. A body? His body? I want to roll over and reach for him, but I’m paralyzed.
Mila Gray is the pseudonym for Sarah Alderson. Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the nonprofit sector in 2009 and took off on an around the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. They are currently located somewhere between India, London, Canada, and the US. Sarah is the author of several YA novels, including Out of Control, The Sound, Hunting Lila, and its sequel Losing Lila, plus the paranormal Fated trilogy.