Authors: A. L. Jackson
Tags: #romance, #thriller, #love, #women, #drama, #paranormal, #family, #kindle, #supernatural, #ebook, #dreams, #contemporary, #abuse, #contemporary romance, #first love, #romantic thriller, #reconcilliation
“When We Collide is a dark and gritty page turning
read with dynamic emotions. The powerful force of her words brought
forth both fear and love at the same time in me, making this author
one of my favorites to read. She does it every time.”
“As a lover of words I understand that they are
extremely powerful. When chosen correctly, they convey so
much. The ability to build suspense in such a way that it effects
the reader physically is an art. Pulled and Take This Regret both
set the bar pretty high, When We Collide not only met my
expectations, but exceeded them and left me wanting more. AL
Jackson is truly at the top of her game and has secured a place in
my list of favorite authors.”
~Teresa, Teresa’s Reading Corner
“I have to say, she has once again hit it out of the
ballpark for me. This was a raw and emotional read... To take a
phrase from the book, ‘It stole my breath.’”
~Jackie Lane, Jax’s
“There is an old saying that goes
‘Love heals all wounds,’ and I have always believed that to be
true. A.L. Jackson has proven once again that love does indeed heal
all wounds, both physical and emotional when the love that is given
is pure and true.
Copyright © 2012 A.L.
All rights reserved. Except as
permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this
publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any
form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system,
without prior permission of the publisher.
Sapphire Star Publishing
Sapphire Star Publishing, November
The characters and events in this
book are fictitious. Names, characters, places, and plots are a
product of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to real
persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the
Cover Image by Roser Portella
Cover Image Model Rebecca
Because it shouldn’t hurt to be touched.
Chad, I wish you could know how
thankful I am to call you my husband. Thank you for always
supporting me in everything I do. I love you endlessly.
Devyn, you make the office so much
fun, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am you’re here to share in
all of this with me. I love you.
To my boys, Eli and Braydon. I
love you both so much. Thank you for being so patient with me while
my nose is buried in the computer, for laughing it off when it
takes you calling “Mom” five times before I realize someone is
talking to me, and for being the amazing, loving, kind boys you
Mom, I love you. Thank you for
believing in me. And to the rest of my family. Your support means
so much to me.
To Katie, because I wouldn’t want
to do this with anyone else. I love you so much. Thank you for
going on this wild ride with me.
Ginger! Thank you for all the
feedback, for the exclamation marks, and the
’s. Every single one of them
made me smile. I love you tons, my friend.
To my amazing critique partners,
pre-readers, and blogger friends. Thank you for the insight.
When We Collide
would not be what it is today. You know who you
To my Sapphire Star Publishing
family. I feel blessed to have you all in my life.
And a big thank you to Roser
Portella Florit for providing the gorgeous cover art for
When We Collide
Laughter floated over the vacant playground, an
echo, a call. William pushed forward, drawn into the dusky haze.
Wind whipped at his feet, stirred up the fallen leaves on the dead
winter floor. Each step of his boots was leaden with a burden that
simmered somewhere in the periphery of his understanding.
“Bet you can’t find me.” The innocent voice was
distant as it fell upon William’s ears, filled with mirth at the
game the child played.
Those words rushed as fear through William’s
William’s footsteps pounded in his ears as he
followed the trail of the soft voice that lingered on the wind,
past the empty swings and sandbox and into the forest at the back
of the lot. Among the knotty, sinewy trees, their boughs twisted
and twined, William paused to listen.
A branch snapped off to his right—another peal of
laughter as the child dashed giggling from behind one tree to
another more than a hundred yards away.
“Wait,” William called, stretching his hand out in
the child’s direction. Please.
For a moment, the small boy peeked out from behind a
large tree trunk and stared back at William with huge brown
William’s heart lurched with the boy’s face—a
picture of himself—suddenly consumed with the need to protect and
The child giggled again, his feet too agile as he
took off, his dark blond hair like a flare striking in the
moonlight, before he disappeared deeper into the darkness.
Panting, William chased the boy, begging him to stop
while he stumbled over exposed roots and overgrown earth that
seemed almost alive as it worked to hold him back.
The child’s laughter drifted along the breeze,
brushed across William’s face, beckoned him to a place he did not
William struggled to find him, to close the
distance, but the gap only grew. The laughter shifted and faded.
The boy’s sudden fear hit William like a knife to the chest.
Somewhere in the deepest recesses, far beyond William’s reach, he
heard the child scream.
I shot straight up in bed, gasping and disoriented.
Faint slivers of silver light spiked through the room, stealing in
through the slats of the window shutters. Gripping my head between
my hands, I fought to right myself, to slow my thundering heart,
and to stop the tremors rolling through my body.
I shook my head and roughed a hand over my face.
My gaze darted around the massive room. In the dim
light, my eyes adjusted. I focused in on the nightstand next to my
bed. My black leather wallet and heavy silver watch sat next to the
clock that glowed four forty-seven. I glimpsed the entrance to the
en suite bathroom off to my right and the short chest of drawers
with the tall mirror across the far end of the room.
Everything familiar—everything I understood.
I released a weighty breath and drew in a cleansing
one, my bare chest palpitating with one last tremor.
It was just a dream
, I told myself as I ran a
hand through my hair.
Just the same, fucked up nightmare that had been
haunting me for months. Always the same, chasing myself as a boy
through the darkened forest, waking when I screamed.
Glancing to the left, I looked to where Kristina
slept soundly on her stomach, facing the opposite direction. The
duvet was pulled up to just beneath her narrow waist, her blond
hair cascading down her pillow and dipping onto the mattress. The
pale skin of her arms and back seemed a severe contrast to the
black sheets she lay on. Her body rose and fell with each even
breath, unaffected and unaware of my distress.
It was hardly a surprise, not that I desired her
We were little more than strangers sleeping in the
same bed for the last six years. Marriage had never been mentioned.
Neither of us pretended that was what this relationship was
I’d been in love once. It was that stupid kind of
love that had kept me awake at night, wanting more. But
never really even been mine. I’d been young
enough—foolish enough—to hope what we felt for each other could
overcome her past, but not naïve enough to really believe it would
ever work out.
Knowing that didn’t mean losing her hadn’t torn me
apart. Even if she didn’t choose me, I’d been desperate to save her
from that path. But some things had been so deeply embedded in her
that I doubted she’d really ever had a chance of breaking free of
them. It was so ingrained she believed it was the only way to
I rolled onto my other side and squeezed my eyes
shut as I attempted to force the memory of her face from my mind,
but it was just as vivid as the day she’d forced me out of her
She’d touched me deeper than anyone ever had—deeper
than I’d believed anyone could.
Pressing my face into my pillow, I allowed a glimmer
of her presence to invade. That smile...so innocent and sweet. How
she’d look at me with those warm brown eyes. The way her timid,
trusting hands felt as they lightly skimmed over my skin. Even the
memory stole my breath.
Sometimes I wished I could erase the mark she’d left
on me, that I could finally be free of this ache. Another part of
me held onto it because it was the only thing she’d left me with.
The only thing I had to prove that what we’d shared had been
I’d wanted everything with her, but most of all, I
wanted her to be happy. Safe.
I rolled onto my back and stared at the shadows
playing across the ceiling, before I glanced again at Kristina. How
different I’d pictured my life. Instead of lying here virtually
alone next to Kristina, I should have been wrapped up in
her auburn hair tickling my chin as she stirred in her
sleep and nuzzled her face in my chest. I should have awoken to the
welcome in her eyes, to someone who cared about me as much as I
cared about her.
I’d accepted a long time ago that life I wanted
would never be, but the isolation of the night always seemed to
bring it all back, and it’d only gotten worse since I started
having the nightmares six months ago.
Sitting up, I rubbed the back of my neck and tried
to chase away the tension that had gathered in the muscles there,
to shake off the anxiety that clung like decay. Climbing from bed,
I was careful not to disturb Kristina. I knew from experience I had
no chance of falling back to sleep now. In the bathroom, I flipped
on the light switch and squinted in the brightness, seeing the
strain from the recurring dream evidenced on my face in the
Sighing, I turned the faucet full blast and splashed
cold water on my face.
This was getting really old.
Kristina stood in the opulent kitchen, stirring a
cup of coffee while thumbing through a stack of paperwork on the
counter. She wore her typical slacks, blouse, and heels, the
perfect accessories for her perfect body, not one strand of her
shiny, sleek hair in disarray.
She barely glanced in my direction when I entered
through the archway.
“Meet me after work at
?” she said.
Her attention remained on the papers in front of her. Even though
it was phrased that way, I knew it wasn’t really a question.
My acquiescence was expected.
All of my success was in her hands, and she never
let me forget it. As if she was giving me something I actually
wanted. It made me want to laugh in her face. Did she really have
no clue how I kept everything afloat?
“I’ll be there,” I muttered, going for my fourth cup
of coffee of the morning, hoping beyond hope this would be the one
that would finally counter the fatigue weighing down my mind and
Kristina’s gaze fell on me, this time her eyes
studying. “You look like shit, William.” Her heels clicked against
the slate tiles as she took the three steps needed to bring her to
my side. Reaching out a hand, she turned me toward her,
straightened the collar of my white button up, adjusted my tie, and
stroked back the errant pieces of messy dark blond hair that had
been purposefully cut that way. “What’s going on with you
I shrugged, making a conscious effort to keep myself
from flinching at her touch. “I’m fine. I just haven’t been