Chapter One -- Always Yours: A Novella

My short novella, ALWAYS YOURS, is coming soon!

High school sweethearts, Jake and Kelsey, thought their love would last a lifetime . . .

But unforeseen tragedy tore them apart.

When Jake demands to know the truth about why their marriage ended, Kelsey is reluctant to reveal the secret she's been hiding. It might be too late to salvage their relationship, but it's not too late to protect his heart.

A touching story about love and loss. Can hope can heal a broken heart and will forgiveness be enough to offer second chances?

You can read Chapter One of ALWAYS YOURS right here!


CHAPTER ONE: Kelsey


Staring across the glossy surface of the lake I could only see their silhouettes embracing in the moonlight as they slow danced at the end of the dock. For most people, the sight was probably romantic with the star-studded sky and jagged line of trees providing a brilliant backdrop. 

But for me it was a knife to the heart.

I couldn’t believe he had brought her here. I couldn’t believe he was so carelessly flaunting her in my face as if the last eleven years of our life together had never existed. Did he feel nothing for me now?

Despite how the sight haunted me, I couldn't tear my gaze away from those two embracing silhouettes. It was the perfect spot for a romantic interlude with the moon and stars shining in the distance and swarms of fireflies dancing over the lake. It was a spot that I had shared with him many times in the past. 

And now he was sharing it with someone else.

Memories chased through my head, flickers of happy moments that I’d once thought would last us a lifetime. The first time I had laid eyes on Jake Prescott as a gangly fourteen-year-old with tousled brown hair and cobalt blue eyes. Our first kiss standing out on the wrap-around-porch of my family home. The pride lighting up his handsome face as I walked toward him down the aisle on our wedding day. 

The image of him walking out of our home for the last time flashed to the forefront, followed by a brutal stab of remorse. Now my memories of our life together were tainted with sorrow. 

Eleven years in love and five years of marriage had ended within the blink of an eye … and while my heart still bled over the loss, Jake was here with someone else. As if our marriage hadn’t ended a mere six months ago. 

Did he love her like he once loved me?

A single tear fell from my eye, slowly burning a trail down my cheek. I wiped away the traitor tear with my hand, afraid to let anyone see how broken I was—especially Jake.

With a heavy sigh I turned my head away from those tormenting silhouettes. 

Near the dock, a dance floor lined with tables of food was set up under the canopy of trees, lit up by hundreds of string lights and lanterns. Round tables with red linen cloths were scattered across the surrounding lawn, decorated with mason jar centerpieces packed with bouquets of wildflowers.

The country music playing from a live local band was loud and upbeat, enticing guests to join in for a line dance. Excited voices and laughter filled the night as my neighbors partied and celebrated the fifty-fourth anniversary of our town’s founding. It was one of the many things I loved about living in the small town of Bluebell, Tennessee. The sense of community.

I could hear the laughter and cheers from the increasingly rowdy crowd and envied their ability to smile and celebrate. I had nothing left to celebrate, no reason to smile. My marriage was over. My heart was broken. The love of my life had moved on with someone else. 

And my Noah …

I choked back a sob and forced my thoughts away from that dangerous direction. I couldn’t allow myself to think about Noah or my already broken heart would shatter even more. That was a grief so dark and full of despair that even the tiniest slip in that direction could swallow me whole. I closed my eyes and prayed for the pain to lessen. 

Seconds later I felt a hand on my arm and looked up to meet the dark brown eyes of Trent Baxter, golden boy and most eligible bachelor in Bluebell. His thick blond hair that curled at the nape of his neck and roguish smile had caused many girls to swoon at his feet since he’d turned into the fine male specimen standing before me.

“Hey, gorgeous.” Trent flashed his signature smile and I couldn’t help but smile in return.

Trent was an incorrigible flirt, and the fact that I had fallen in love with his best friend had never deterred him. The three of us had been close ever since high school, and with the long string of women Trent had chasing after him, he was rarely the third wheel. He’d had a few serious relationships since college, but no one had caught his eye enough to make him want to settle down.

His smile faded when he caught sight of the remnant tears on my cheek. “Oh, Kells,” he uttered, pulling me close for a tight hug and pressing a kiss to the top of my head. “I could kill Jake for bringing her here tonight.”

“It’s okay,” I mumbled into his green plaid shirt. “Everyone knows he’s going to move on with his life eventually. Might as well get used to seeing him with another woman hanging from his arm.”

Trent eased back, flashed a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and towed me onto the dance floor. “Well darlin’, I’m going to do my best to make sure you forget about old whats-his-face.” He spun me around, making my floral-patterned dress billow up around my knees, and growled only half-jokingly, “And if Jake knows whats good for him, he’ll keep her away from you or I’ll punch him in the face.”

We danced through the next several songs. Trent’s quick smile and familiar teasing helped to ease the anguish in my heart, and before I knew it I was laughing for the first time in months. I stumbled through a twirl in the two-step and accidentally bumped into the man at the edge of the dance floor.

His hand reached out to settle on my waist, helping to steady me before I could fall. Breathless with laughter, I glanced up to apologize and felt the words die in my throat when I met the cobalt blue eyes looking down at me. 

It was Jake. 

Awareness of him surged through me; of the hand on my waist and the electricity sparking between our nearly touching bodies. He seemed taller than I remembered, his broad shoulders and muscular frame blocking out the glow from the string lights overhead. Then again, Jake had always towered several inches above my 5’4”. His square jaw was sculpted with well-defined lines and the slight shadow of stubble was rugged and incredibly sexy. Dark brows were set over clear blue eyes, a straight nose and well-shaped mouth.

Those gorgeous eyes slowly drifted down the length of my flowing summer dress and back up to my now flushed face. The heat of his gaze caused my entire body to tremble and pulse to quicken. When our eyes met once more I couldn’t stop myself from searching his face for any remaining vestiges of love, wondering if he still cared for me even a little bit.

His mouth finally curved into the dimpled smile I’d always adored. “Hello, Kelsey.”





Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the free chapter from ALWAYS YOURS.

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