Authors: Shiloh Walker
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Romance
One woman, one man, and a love that won’t let either of them go.
Born on the wrong side of the tracks and dealt a fair share of hardship, Nikki Kline never gives up a fight. Even when her reason to keep going is ripped from her, Nikki tries desperately to hang on. But when the man who broke Nikki’s heart comes back into her life she doesn’t know how much she can take.
Especially since that man seems determined to win back her damaged heart.
Wade Lightfoot is a man who knows he’s made more mistakes than most. As much as he would like to repair the damage he’s done to those he loves, Wade also knows there is no going back. But when he sets out to put things right the last thing he’s prepared to find out is that he had a son. A son he’ll never get the chance to meet.
When the truth is out and all the old wounds are bared, it seems impossible that Nikki and Wade will find their way back to each other. But true love is an undeniable force that even past hurts can’t destroy.
This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Warning: This title contains heartbreaking tragedy, lies and deception, and a scorching passion that nothing can deny.
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
No Longer Mine
Copyright © 2010 by Shiloh Walker
Edited by Heidi Moore
Cover by Kanaxa
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
t Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: April 2010
No Longer Mine
This book went out of print sometime in 2005 or 2006.
Since it’s been out of print I’ve had a number of readers ask me if I’d ever release it again. My initial response was
—capital letters, italics, bold font and all. :o) It was my first attempt at a full-length romance. It’s not one of my better attempts either. It’s rough, the characters are a little over dramatic, a little overdone, and sometimes, I didn’t like either of them very much.
But, like many writers’ “first” attempts, it does have a special place in my heart, and part of what makes it special is the story itself.
It’s rough, although I revised and smoothed it out.
It’s a little full of angst and drama, although I’m trying to work on that too.
So while I know some of the flaws with this story, and I know I can fix some of them, fixing a lot of them would actually be changing the story. There is also something that happens in the course of the story that was a little too painful for me to deal with after a personal loss of mine that happened in 2005.
Because of that loss, because of the work that would be needed to get this book a little more…reader ready, I was hesitant to think about putting it back out there. But so many people have asked, and I hate to keep saying NO—capital letters or otherwise.
For those who kept asking…I hope you enjoy.
And always, always, always for my family. I thank God for you every day of my life.
It was hot—the kind of heat that wrapped around a person, threatened to suffocate, threatened to choke. Hot, with leaden, overcast skies that seemed to promise rain, but it had been overcast for days and they hadn’t seen a drop.
Nicole Kline was just outside of town when she flipped on the radio and heard the weather report. A storm was coming.
the ideal day for a run into town, but it was either suffer the heat or suffer the frustration when all she found for dinner was Cheetos and frozen ground beef. If she had paid attention to the weather before they had left home she would have suffered the Cheetos, the frozen ground beef—and her younger brother’s griping.
Instead of trying to make the thirty-minute drive back to her home in the hills, she decided to grab her groceries then go to her dad’s and wait it out there.
She made it in and out of the store in under twenty minutes. As she walked outside with her infant son, Jason, perched on her hip, she glanced up at the sky. The sight of the thunderheads piling up overhead made her wince.
Her brother, Shawn, bumped her shoulder with his. “Come on,” he said. “We’re going to get soaked if we wait around too long.”
She made a face. “We’re going to get soaked anyway.” She chucked her son under his chin and smiled at him. Not that he was at all worried about those clouds.
The scent of rain hung heavy on the air.
Looks like the farmers are going to get the rain they want and then some
, Nikki mused as she secured the straps on the baby’s car seat. After she finished securing Jason in his seat, she went around to help her brother finish loading the groceries into the back of the SUV.
Flattened drops of rain splattered the hood of the car as she slid into the driver’s seat. Then Nikki glared at the skies as the clouds burst, dousing the parking lot under a deluge of water.
“Don’t sweat it, Nik,” Shawn advised. “We can just wait it out at Dad’s.”
No Longer Mine
She sighed. That had been the plan anyway, not that she had told Shawn. Her brother and her father were on the outs for some reason, which was why Shawn had been spending the past few weeks at her place.
She could hear Jason jabbering to himself from the backseat.
“Dogs, dogs, dogs,” he chanted over and over while he played with a tattered stuffed mouse and chewed busily on the remaining ear.
At least that was what she
he was saying.
Flicking Shawn a glance, she ordered, “Put your seatbelt on, will ya?” Rolling his eyes, he fastened the lap belt and drawled, “Yes’m.” He gave Jason a look in the mirror, circling his finger at his temple. The baby laughed and clapped his hands before launching into a long and detailed jabbering monologue with his friend, Mouse.
Hazel eyes squinted, Nikki stared through the windshield, blocking out the noise of the rain and her son’s jabbering. Even though she drove with the lights on, she couldn’t see much more than fifteen or twenty feet in front of her.
Twenty minutes passed and she still wasn’t at her dad’s. The store wasn’t even ten minutes from there, but that was under normal driving conditions.
Growling with frustration, she snapped, “I can’t see a damn thing in this!” The rumble of thunder edged closer. Lightning flashed.
“You’re almost there, sis. It’s just up there.”
She spotted the turn off as Shawn spoke. “Almost there, fella,” she said as Jason started shrieking,
“Eat! Momma, eat!”
“Just a few minutes, Jas—”
Neither Shawn nor Nikki saw the other car. It came flying around a curve fast—so fast—and hit them from behind. She was thrown forward. Blinding pain sliced through her head and a loud, thunderous crash filled her ears.
A blaring noise rent the air, but above it she heard a baby’s panicked, startled cry.
From the passenger seat next to her, Shawn swore viciously, grabbing for the door handle.
“Jason!” Her voice was garbled, choked. Blood filled her mouth and a red haze clouded her vision.
Instinctively she slammed on the brakes, wrenched the steering wheel to the right towards safety. Off to their left was a steep drop off—
Another jolt struck her SUV, throwing her back. She was pinned against the seat by her safety restraint as the world started to spin before her. Above the roaring in her ears she heard thunder and the screeching sound of metal against metal. Then all was silent.
Three Years Later.
The house was silent save for the monotonous clacking of fingers hitting the keyboard. The woman sitting at the desk worked in silence. Almost in a trance.
She had been up since before dawn, lingering in the kitchen only long enough for a cup of coffee. She had drank half of it but that had been hours ago. A need to visit the bathroom and a painfully dry mouth had made her leave her office twice and two half-empty diet Cokes sat on her desk next to the forgotten coffee.
She hadn’t eaten, but that wasn’t unusual. Even at the best of times her appetite was sketchy. When she was nearing the end of a story everything that wasn’t absolutely vital was forgotten.
That meant she drank a little, got up long enough to pee and fell asleep when her eyes would no longer stay open.
Keying in one final sentence, Nicole Kline heaved out a sigh and leaned back in her chair.
Her daze left her, and as it did she grew startlingly aware of one thing.
The headache had been brewing for some time, but she’d ignored it in favor of the story.
The headache was only part of it though. Her wrists and the backs of her hands alternated between numb and excruciatingly painful. Her back and shoulders were stiff and she knew when she stood she was going to be really, really sorry.
Nikki hit save, her mouth stretching wide with a yawn. She backed up the story to a flash drive and shut down before giving into the urge to bury her head in her hands.
Okay, maybe the headache
the worst of it. The demon throbbed behind her eyes and nausea churned in her belly. Her hands were shaking. “Idiot,” she mumbled. “Deserve what you get for trying to ignore it.”
She fumbled in the drawer for a familiar bottle and downed a pill dry before she stumbled over to the couch in the corner. She buried her face in her arms to cut off the fading light and prayed for oblivion.
She awoke at ten.
If it hadn’t for the alarm going off on the simple wristwatch she wore, she might have slept another five or six hours easy.
No Longer Mine
The headache had subsided but a million little aches remained. Her shoulders were stiff, her back a line of fire and when she first sat up, she could barely move her arms.
A marathon writing session and sleeping that way on the couch was not good on her joints.
Feeling a hundred years old, she sat on the edge of the bed and scrubbed her hands over her face before silencing the alarm. “She was tired enough to wish she could just sleep through the alarm, but she knew better. The watch had been a gift, but it had come with conditions—a promise. It was a simple watch, nothing fancy, but it had been given to her by a friend, one who rarely asked anything of her. And when Nikki gave her word, she tried to keep it.
With that mind, she shoved up off the couch and made her way down to the kitchen. She walked into the wall and scowled when she banged her elbow. The impact sent nasty little jolts down her arm.
“You’ve got to take better care of yourself,” she muttered, echoing the voice of her friend, Kirsten, the woman who’d given her that watch just a little over a year ago.
I will, Kris. Promise.
But Nikki wasn’t so certain she was keeping that promise.
Her refrigerator was practically bare, just some chicken, a few eggs and a hunk of cheese. The orange juice had expired a few days ago, but there was her ever-present supply of Diet Coke. She might run out of food, milk, juice and almost everything else, but she’d never, ever let herself run out of Diet Coke or coffee.
In the corner was something on a plate that reminded her of her science experiment in ninth grade.
The store was a definite must for the upcoming day off.
She’d have to take that day off too.