The Most Kissable Character Contest was a blast! The other authors and I spent it most enjoyably, "bickering" about why our guy was truly the most kissable.
But, in the end, author Kahlen Aymes ran away with it with her Ryan from the Remembrance Trilogy. Congratulations, Kahlen!
The winner posts an excerpt of their new book, and Kahlen has given us a sneak peek at the highly anticipated third installment of the series, A Love Like This:
I pushed one on speed dial before I could change my mind. My heart was beating so fast, I felt it would burst out of my chest. Instantly, Ryan picked up.
“Julia?” I could hear the panic in his voice and it hurt. “Where are you?” he demanded. “Jesus, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I lied. I wasn’t fine. I hadn’t been fine for weeks. “I texted hours ago. Didn’t you get it?”
“Anyone could have sent a text from your phone. How was I to know someone hadn’t hurt you and had your phone? I needed to hear your voice!”
My heart squeezed inside my chest and plummeted to the pit of my stomach. I’d never thought of that. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d believe something bad happened to me.”
“No shit, you didn’t think!” he spat angrily and I winced.
“Look, I don’t want to talk if you’re just going to yell at me.” I was exhausted. Emotionally drained and just done.
“What did you expect me to do?” he yelled again. “Agghhhh! Tell me where you are and I’ll come and get you right now.” His voice was thick, throbbing with anger and something indefinable.
“You can’t come. Just… I need some time. Ryan, please. Just give me some time,” I said again, praying he would accept my plea and not press me. It was too much to hope for.
“Why are you doing this to us?” I could hear the anguish and fear in his voice. More than anger, he was hurt.“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” The words ripped from me. Physically, my throat was aching and emotionally, I knew I’d had it.
He huffed into the phone. “Yeah, right! That’s why you run off without a fucking word… Don’t ask me to believe you give a flying fuck what you’d put me through!”
Tears squeezed from my closed eyes as I struggled not to let out the sobs building up inside. “I didn’t think. I just had to get away. I can’t be in New York right now. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but no more than me!”
“You left town? Are you in Boston? How in the hell am I supposed to keep my head in the job like this?” Ryan demanded. I pictured him pacing angrily around the apartment, just back from the hospital, still in his scrubs. It was certain he was exhausted.
My throat thickened and I felt sick. “Your job. Your life. Your friend. Your everything, right? I’m just an observer. Stuck on the outside looking in.” I hated the crack in my voice, the weakness and helplessness that held me prisoner.
“What exactly are you saying, Julia? Tell me where the hell you are! Right now!” His breathing was hard; I could hear the refrigerator door open and then slam over the phone.
I sucked in my breath and let my fury fly. It wasn’t as if he didn’t already know why I left. “I’m saying that while that woman is invading your every waking moment! As long as you let her, I’m not coming home, Ryan, okay?!” I yelled into the phone, panting, my face crumpling in pain. “I can’t take it anymore!” My chest was
heaving and I was shaking so much I almost dropped the phone.
He sighed heavily. “We talked about this! You know that I’m just trying to be a good friend!”
I rolled over again; a new wave of pain threatening to drown me like the deepest ocean, that name was like nails on a chalk board. I was so fucking sick of hearing it. Jane this, Jane that, poor Jane…bla bla bla! Maybe I was being a bitch, but at that point, the pain over took caring.
“So what? We talked and nothing has changed! When you’re done letting your friend take over and can remember you’re married, give me a call.”
"It isn’t like that! I owe her! Don’t we both owe her?”
I was so friggin’ tired of hearing my husband taking her side over mine, yet upset that his words made me feel guilty about my own pain and resentment. “I won’t let you turn me into the bad guy, Ryan! I will not stay and watch while you let her drive a wedge between us. We never see each other, so I’m surprised you even notice I’m gone! Did you let Jane know you were calling me?” I asked bitterly. “I mean, could she spare you for a moment?” I sniffed. I knew I sounded like a petulant child and truly didn’t care. “How generous. Remind me to send her a thank you note,” I said sarcastically.
Ryan sucked in his breath harshly and paused. “This isn’t you, Julia. Where is the generous woman I know?” he asked quietly. “You’re not being fair.”
The air left my lungs in a whoosh as the pain replaced the anger instantly. My voice was quiet and I felt numb. “I can’t believe you just said that to me.” He was doing it again; taking her side over mine. Maybe that wasn’t even what was happening, but resentment welled up inside me like a damn ready to burst. She was taking him away from me and he was letting her, he was helping her. “I’m not being fair?”
“You know she sacrificed a lot for me.”
So did I, Ryan! I suffered your absence for years while we built this life!
“Yeah, I know the feeling. I guess she wins though, since she bled real blood,” I said miserably. I flushed at the jab, but I was hurting so God damned bad, I couldn’t help but lash out.
I could hear his breathing get heavier. He knew how much his words stung. “You know what we have is sacred. Please, just stop this.” His voice was low and urgent.
“Then why have I felt so alone? It feels like you’ve completely abandoned me.”
“You know how much I love you and I’m sorry, I just …”
“No,” I begged. “Please don’t say anymore. Every word… hurts. I can’t take it. Just give me some time. Don’t call me. Let me…figure things out.” I felt like I was drowning, clawing for the surface and Ryan could save me, but he didn’t.
“Julia….please…” I could hear his voice shaking, cracking. He was crying. “Don’t do this. We figure shit out together, so tell me where you are so I can come to you. I’m going crazy.”
I closed my eyes and my heart began to ache again when my Ryan finally showed up. That was the voice of the man who loved me and I wanted nothing more than to be in his arms.
“I’m safe, and I’ll call. I promise,” my voice broke again.
“Are you… are you leaving me?” Each word was dripping in emotion, anguish and panic.
Why didn’t he know nothing would make me leave him?
“It just hurts too much. She has a part of you that used to be mine and I can’t stand by and watch.”
“For Christ’s sake! How can you even say that? No one has the part of me that belongs to you!”
All of you used to belong to me. My heart was pounding. I wanted to claw it from my body so the pain would stop.
I know. I tried to force the words out, but they stuck in my throat, because they felt like a lie. But, I didn’t know. Not anymore…. and, it was killing me.
The seconds ticked by while we both cried, both of us waiting for the other to say something and neither willing to end the call. I knew he could hear the tears and the sniffles, even though I kept the sobs confined to the silent shaking of my shoulders as I pressed the heel of my hand to my mouth. Somehow, I had to keep him from hearing how broken I really was.
“Just tell me that you still love me,” he begged raggedly. “God, Julia, please.”
That was the end of me and the sobs finally erupted into the silent room. “You know…” I gasped. “You know how much I love you. Nothing can ever change that.”
This was the second time he’d questioned me about loving him. The first time being when Meredith offered me the first promotion, on his visit to New York for Valentine’s Day when he proposed. I tried to swallow the pain so I could speak, but it still crept into my shaky voice. “Just a little time, okay? Try to understand how it’s been for me. ” I love you, but it hurts too much to be with you right now. “I just really need your understanding. Please, Ryan. Just for a little while.”
He sighed heavily. His voice was low and thick, laced with his own tears. “Okay. God, I’ll try. When we got married you said you sometimes you wondered if a love like this even exists. It exists or it wouldn’t hurt so fucking bad. But, only for us, Julia.” Ryan’s voice was deep, but thick with tears. “Believe that and…don’t forget to remember me.”
As Ryan said the words that connected us for the past five years, my heart broke inside my chest, shattering instantly into a million pieces that ripped me to shreds. He knew those words would yank my heart from my chest. And they did. It was pure manipulation, pure guilt, pure heaven and pure hell.
As if I could ever forget him. My eyes squeezed shut and pushed more tears down my cheeks.
A special message from Kahlen:
DON'T FORGET: Both books are half price ($2.99 on ebook) on all amazon sites (worldwide) for Kindle and on Smashwords.com for Nook, Sony, Kobo and iPad until 2/17/13! On Smashwords, use coupon codes: ZN99W for The Future of Our Past & NPS2N for Don't Forget to Remember Me!
If you haven't told your friends, now is the time so they can get both books for the price of one!
There is also an outtake of Ryan and Julia's first Valentine's Day as friends posted HERE on SubClubBooks!
AND a Love Letter from Ryan to Julia HERE on Bookish Temptations!
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Congratulations again, Kahlen!