When Liv Bennett said good-bye to her sinkhole of a hometown, she planned to leave that chapter of her life behind forever. But forever turned out to only be three years.
After her addict of a mother up and disappears, Liv returns to what she considers her own personal hell smack in the middle of nowhere Nevada to take care of her two younger sisters, and she promptly reinstitutes the golden rule that got her through her first nineteen years of life without getting knocked up, roughed up, or messed up: don’t date the local boys and, god forbid, don’t fall in love with one of them.
It isn’t long before that golden rule is put to the test.
Will Goods grew up in the next trailer over, but the wild, careless boy who used to tear up the town with his three brothers has morphed into someone else so completely, he’s almost unrecognizable. The quiet, contemplative man who works on cars every night and takes care of his mentally ill mother every day is nothing like the local boys Liv grew up avoiding.
But when Liv considers suspending her golden rule just this once, she finds out something about Will that will change everything.
Will Goods isn’t who he used to be—he’s not even the man Liv thinks she’s gotten to know over the summer. He’s become someone else entirely.
He’s become . . .
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I'm the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the CRASH series (HarperTeen, S&S UK), LOST & FOUND series, UP IN FLAMES (S&S UK), The EDEN TRILOGY, and a handful of others. I write stories about everyday kinds of people who find themselves in extraordinary kinds of situations. I tell love stories with happy endings because I believe in making the world a better place, and that's one tiny way I can make it so. I'm one of those people who still believe in true love and soul mates, and would rather keep my head in the clouds any day over having my feet firmly on the ground.
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Will was about to walk away, and I’d never see him again. The man I’d fallen for, despite every attempt against it, the man I’d tried to push away with my steely character, then by trying to drown my feelings for him, and finally by accusing him of some horrible things. I’d been pushing him away, and he was finally giving in. Just when I knew I didn’t want him to. I’d had to make about every single mistake I could along the way to realize Will wasn’t just another guy. He was the guy.
And there he was, saying a silent good-bye.
“Will, wait.” I shoved out of the chair and hurried toward him.
I grabbed his arm right as he reached the hall and spun him around. He didn’t look surprised by my abruptness or irritated that I’d stopped him. Instead, he looked almost sad. Like he already knew what was coming.
“Come with us. Come with me.” I hadn’t know those exact words were coming, but I didn’t regret them. In fact, I was relieved they’d finally formed.
Will’s forehead wrinkled as his eyes sealed shut. From the looks of it, my words had been painful. “I can’t, Liv.”
“But do you want to?” I moved closer to him. I wasn’t taking no for an answer, not now.
“If I want to and if I can are two opposite things right now.” Will stepped back.
I took one more step forward. “But you want to?”
Will’s eyes stayed closed, but he worked the tortured lines from his face. “That’s irrelevant. Whatever my answer, it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t come with you.”
“Why not?” When I took one more step forward, my body crushed into his, and all of that energy moved between us, further confirming my unexpected request. If life was a game where a person was expected to grab their happiness along the way, I was grabbing or stealing or whatever I had to do with mine and not looking back.
That was when Mrs. Goods let out another tirade, cursing those little monkeys with every last profanity known to man.
Will sighed. “That’s why. I can barely leave her side for a second, let alone move a couple of states away and check in with regular phone calls.”
That was as obvious to me as it was to him. “I know, but after you get her settled in this assisted living place, after you make sure she’s adjusted and safe and happy . . . then come. There’s about as much here for you as there is for me.”
“I can’t.” This time, there was a finality in his voice, and his expression matched it.
My instinct was to step away and save myself the pain, so I took the last step I possibly could toward him. “Why not?”
Will looked like he wanted to wrap his arms around me and pull me close—I could feel the muscles in his arms quivering as he held back—but instead, he stepped away from me, then took one more step back. A not-so-small piece of my heart shattered.
“Because you deserve the best, and I’m not the man who can fill that role.” Will extended his arms at his sides. “Obviously.”
After all of Will’s lectures about letting in the good and rejecting the bad, after every single thing he’d done to prove he was an exception to every rule, hearing and watching him fall on a weak excuse boiled my blood like nothing before.
“You know what, Will?” I closed in on him and shoved his chest. “Fuck the best and fuck deserving and fuck that sorry excuse. Why don’t you swallow a bit of your own advice and admit what you really want? Why don’t you stop pushing me away the moment I finally stop pushing you away, and we can see if this thing will work?”
“Why should I do that? Huh? Why should I tell you everything you’re so sure is on my mind when you are seconds from walking out that door and out of my life for good? Why admit everything I’ve been trying to tell you while you’ve been basically begging me not to? Why now?” With each word, Will’s voice went quieter and his expression looked too close to defeat.
We weren’t defeated though. Not yet. Bolstering up the very last of my courage, I looked at him. “Because, Will Goods, I’m finally ready and able to admit what I’ve known for a long time.” I studied him for a fleeting moment, unable to remember why it had taken me so long to admit it. Right now, it was so clear it would have been impossible not to admit it. “Because I know I lo—”
“Don’t say it.” Will lifted his hand and backed into the wall behind him. “Not now. Please, Liv, if you really do feel that way about me, don’t say it a minute before you leave. I can take a lot, but I don’t think I can take that.”