Authors: Karice Bolton
Copyright © 2015 Karice Bolton
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any printed or electronic form or stored in any unauthorized document retrieval
system without written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, and events either are the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
I want to say a simple thank you to Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and all of the other avenues available to the indie publishing world. It allows the art of storytelling to continue to flourish in unexpected ways!
Cover Art: iStock: ©Kiuikson Stock photo ID:57495156, iStock: ©Diane Labombarbe Stock photo ID:18576688, ©marilyna, Stock photo ID:44563896, Interior: Deposit Photo Vector ID: 55075191 ©Ann_art
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BOOKS BY KARICE BOLTON
ISLAND COUNTY SERIES
(Beyond Love Crossover Series)
FINDING LOVE IN FORGOTTEN COVE
LOVE REDONE IN HIDDEN HARBOR
BEYOND LOVE SERIES
BEYOND the MISTLETOE
LUKE FLETCHER SERIES
MIA – 2016
THE WITCH AVENUE SERIES
THE WATCHERS TRILOGY
TAKEN NOVELLA (A Watchers Prequel)
WHISPERS IN THE WOODS: THE CAMP
WHISPERS ON CAMPUS: THE DORM
To my dad, who is also my guardian angel (and a mighty good one at that)! Thank you for instilling the ability to dream
To my husband. You’re my world.
To my mom. Thank you for always being the first reader of my stories.
And to the amazing readers of the Beyond Love and Island County Series. You’ve made writing these characters an absolute dream, and I can’t say thank you enough for the kind messages. I’m looking forward to Love Redone in Hidden Harbor next, and hope you are too.
Table of Contents
Six Years Ago
The Christmas music crooned in the background as I put the final touches on a watercolor painting I’d been working on. The door to my studio banged open with a thud and in strode my sexy husband of seven years. I couldn’t help but admire how attractive he was. Everything about him was neat and orderly. His blond hair was trimmed close against his head, and there wasn’t even a hint of a five o’clock shadow. His finely tailored suit hugged his extremely fit body. He liked order, which was the exact opposite of me. Maybe that was why we fit so well together. Who knew I’d fall for a straight-laced accountant? I smiled at him and felt the usual rush of love for Paul. My eyes dipped back down to my watercolor painting before I filled him in on our dinner plans. I didn’t want him to see the gift I’d been working on for him so I moved my water bowl slightly to the left.
“The ham should be ready in twenty minutes or so. I put extra glaze on it, just how you like it.” I swirled the tip of my paintbrush in water and took in a deep breath of happiness. I adored everything to do with the holidays.
“I don’t love you any longer.”
My paintbrush fell out of my fingers as my gaze flashed to my husband’s. His stare was icy and determined.
“What?” I whispered, certain I’d misunderstood.
“You heard me,” he replied, completely detached and impatient.
I glanced around the studio he’d built for me. The space was filled with Christmas decorations he’d hung to surprise me only a few weeks ago. A small tree stood in the corner with its blinking, white lights, and a nativity scene sat on the desk near the door. Garlands framed every window. I looked down at the watercolor painting I’d been working on, the painting that was going under the tree for him in the morning. The scene was based on last summer’s trip to Ireland, the rolling hills, and the couple in the distance admiring the rugged beauty of the landscape represented one of our many adventures together.
He didn’t like being together?
No. This didn’t make sense.
I didn’t understand.
My gaze locked on his. “Is there someone else?”
He shook his head. “No, Emily. There is no one else. But there is the thought of someone else someday.”
His words were like knives viciously stabbing my soul. I never saw this coming. There was never a hint. This man—my husband of seven years—showered me with affection. He woke me up with chai lattes from Starbucks and breakfasts in bed. I’d surprise him with his favorite meals at dinnertime and weekend getaways. We were a happy couple. We’d dated since college and waited a sensible amount of time before getting married.
And we were happy.
I slumped onto the stool behind me. My hands trembled as I stared at the man I no longer knew.
“Paul, whatever you think the problem is, I know we can fix it. I thought you were happy. Is it your job? Do you want me to go back to work?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, Paul walked over to the stereo and turned off the Christmas music. He didn’t turn back around to face me as he slid his hands underneath his suit jacket and into the back pockets of his slacks. He let out a long, exaggerated sigh.
As if even having this conversation was too much effort.
“Don’t make this harder than it needs to be. You always make things difficult.” Not even a hint of emotion straddled his voice as his words slapped me with every syllable.
“I’m not trying to be difficult.” My voice trembled despite my best effort to sound in control. “I just don’t understand. I thought what we had was good, amazing actually. Usually, a person gets some sort of clue that there’s a problem. We don’t fight. You shower me with affection as I do with you. I love spending time with you, and I thought the feeling was mutual.” I licked my lips and forced myself to swallow. A lump in the back of my throat grew by the second, but I would not cry. I would get to the bottom of this. “I love you.”
This was all a bad dream. He would come to his senses.
I slid off the stool and wiped my hands over my smock that had been splashed and spotted with brilliant colors over the years. Taking in a deep breath, I untied it and tugged it off, walking to where he stood.
“Paul, what’s going on?” I whispered, touching his shoulder lightly.
He turned around slowly, and his gaze locked on mine His blue eyes that had once reflected genuine love for me, now canvased over my body as if he’d despised me for merely existing.