"You need to be careful with perfection. It's brilliant at hiding its flaws."
Having lost everything she holds dear—and then some—Charlotte O'Brien had almost given up hope. Until an unepexted love opened her heart to the possibility of second chances. But now, will Charlotte be brave enough to take the risk that love be enough to save her wounded soul?
The stunning conclusion to Eliza Freed's provocative Lost Souls series.
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Eliza Freed graduated from Rutgers University and returned to her hometown in rural South Jersey. Her mother encouraged her to take some time and find herself. After three months of searching, she began to bounce checks and her neighbors began to talk; her mother told her to find a job.
She settled into Corporate America, learning systems and practices and the bureaucracy that slows them. Eliza quickly discovered her creativity and gift for story telling as a corporate trainer and spent years perfecting her presentation skills and studying diversity. It's during this time she became an avid observer of the characters we meet and the heartaches we endure. Her years of study have taught her laughter is the key to survival, even when it's completely inappropriate.
She currently lives in New Jersey with her family and a misbehaving beagle named Odin. An avid swimmer, if Eliza is not with her family and friends, she'd rather be underwater. While she enjoys many genres, she has always been a sucker for a love story...the more screwed up the better.
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“This is going to end soon and I don’t want to be without you. I can’t be.” This cannot be happening. “You don’t love him.”
“Why is it so hard for you to believe that I do? I do love him,” I snap at him. I don’t know how I’m capable of loving anyone after a tour with you, but I love him.
“Because with every cell of my body I know you belong to me. Next to me, on top of me.” I swallow hard at the thought of him beneath me. “Inside of you.”
“I get the picture.”
“And because I know that. Because it’s true. You can’t be in love with him.”
“You didn’t want to pull me away from New York City? You so selflessly fucked Stephanie Harding to make sure I ended up where I belong, but now you’ll have me leave Noble? You are fucked up,” I spit at him.
“If you give us a chance, I will never let you go again. I promise. Annie, you’ve got to give us another chance. You’ve got to know it’s not a life unless we’re together.”
The waitress brings our food and Jason and I just stare at each other. I am baffled. I hate him. I love him. I want him…to leave.
“I want you to go away with me when this is over.”
“What will be left of me? You think it will be enough for you. If I hurt Noble like that, I won’t be the same person. You wouldn’t want me.”
“Impossible,” he scoffs. We sit in silence until he finally takes a bite of his sandwich. I eat a little and stare at my glass of tea. I wish I could be drunk, unconscious actually. I’m no longer capable of living my life. Not this one, at least.
“You’re always sure of everything. Even when you’re wrong you’re sure,” I say,
watching him finish his meal, completely unaffected by his plot to ruin my life, and Noble’s, and probably my brother’s because why should he be exempt from this torture. “I’m never sure of anything. Do you know why?”
Jason looks at me, bracing himself for what’s coming.
“Because the last person I was sure of, I was completely wrong about. I never thought you would be capable of doing what you did. How could you?”
Jason just stares at me, taking every word he deserves.
“How could you put your hands on her? Put your dick in her?” I lower my voice. There’s no need to yell; it’s grotesque without the dramatics.
“I guess you were lying when you said you forgave me,” he says.
“This is what you’re asking me to turn Noble into. A person who no longer believes in anything he’s ever known.”
“What I’m asking has nothing to do with Sinclair. He put himself between us. That’s his problem. He knew I wanted you back the entire time,” Jason says, taking money out and putting it on the table for lunch. “I’m asking you to let yourself be happy. Let yourself believe in me again because I sure as hell know you want to.”
I stand up from the table and start walking. I don’t stop until I get to my car, but as usual Jason is there one step before me, blocking my door.
“You’re making every single day of this nightmare even harder,” I say.
“I think the exact same thing about you. Going home to that house every night.” The cruelty of today continues as Jason leans into me and places his lips on mine and some internal sob caves my chest in and steals my breath. He puts his hands above my head, leaning on the Volvo behind me, and separates my lips with his tongue. And I let him. I let him in, in every way. My blood courses through me and throbs everywhere as I give in to what my hands and my mouth and lips have wanted for months. I wrap my arms around his neck and he pulls me to him.
I pull his hair and my tongue takes over my thoughts.
I pull away from him. His eyes are ravenous. He will take me right here in this parking lot if I let him.
“It doesn’t change a thing,” I croak out. “You knew all of that before my body told you.”
“I did, but now you know it, too,” he says, and takes the keys from me to drive us home.
The ride is long and silent. Betrayal sits between us and contemplates how many lives Jason and Charlotte can ruin, their own apparently not enough for them. I lean my head on the cool window and focus on the sky as the almost full moon rises. It’s not even four o’clock yet. The supermoon will be here in a few days. What lunacy will it bestow upon us?
“I love you, Annie,” Jason says, and I never take my eyes off the moon. I never turn to him or acknowledge he spoke. Through with the talking, done with the truth. Let him know everything. Now I want to know nothing.
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