Title: The Path to Us
Author: Jennifer Van Wyk
Genre & Trope: Contemporary Romance, Small Town Romance, Single Parent, Friends to Lovers
Our story started the day I saved her from a playground bully when we were only four years old.
She thought I was her hero, but I was just Beau Aikin, small town boy.
Eventually we became more than classmates. We were best friends.
When tragedy strikes, I don’t think twice about stepping in to help.
To once again be Addy’s hero.
Not just hers, her five-year-old daughter’s, too.
Only now, I want her. More than anything.
Friendship isn’t enough anymore.
But she’s off limits for so many reasons.
It all haunts me and it feels like everything is against us.
But I’ll do anything to make her mine.
This is our story of the path to us.
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Zoey gets tired of the hug-fest long before I do and not so subtly demands to be set down and runs to play with Macaroni. Before Addy can leave me also, I hug her alone, loving the feel of her softness in my arms. “I got something I want to talk to you about after Squirt goes to sleep.”
She looks up at me, chin resting on my chest. “Good stuff or bad stuff?”
“Well, I have something I want to talk to you about, too, so it works out.”
“Good stuff or bad stuff?” I ask, repeating her question.
“Good. I think.”
There’s heat in her eyes and with the way she’s touching my arms, as if she can’t not touch me, and hope flares in my chest that maybe she’s on the same path as I am.
“Addy…” I lean my head down so our foreheads are resting against one another and breathe her in. She always smells so good. A mixture of the flowers she’s been arranging all day and her own unique sweetness. I bet she’s sweet everywhere. My mouth waters just thinking about it. She shudders under my touch, almost like she knows what I’m thinking. “Damn, I hope your good stuff is the same as mine.”
She nods her head against me and I give her waist a squeeze. She stumbles just enough that it gets her closer to me. Closer isn’t enough. The need to become one with her is almost more than I can bear. Addy’s everything I ever wanted and for the first time in my life, I feel like she’s within reach. Like maybe it’s finally our time.
One hand travels slowly up my arm and over my shoulder until it settles against my neck. Her thumb slides over my chin, barely grazing the edge of my mouth. Her eyes watch her own movement until slowly they rise, connecting with me.
“Beau.” I breathe in my name from her lips and it fills me with so much need and want. It’s caveman-like. I understand why stories are told of them throwing their women over their shoulders and tossing them into a cave so they can have their wicked way with them.
Macaroni barks and scratches at the door, breaking the moment. We jump apart like we were just caught doing something wrong but I can’t allow the thought to settle in. Nothing about being with Addy is wrong and I finally get that.
I just hope she does, too.
From the Ground Up is Jennifer’s first published novel, with the hopes of many more to come. Jennifer makes her home in rural Iowa with her high school sweetheart, three beautiful and amazing kids, one crazy Jack Russell terrier. This is where her love for all things reading, baking, and cooking happen. Jennifer’s family enjoys camping, boating, and spending time outside as much as possible. When she’s not writing or editing/proofreading manuscripts for the many talented authors she’s come to love, she’s sipping coffee or iced tea with her kindle in her lap or binging on Netflix.
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Addy and Beau have been best friends since they were children however through the years Addy’s feelings evolved into a romantic love. With the realization that he would never see her as more than a friend she spends one night with a person who is in both their lives which results in her daughter Zoey.
Although Beau accepted that the feelings he had for Addy were those of lovers rather than friends he also accepted that due to the past they could never be more than friends. He was content to be in her life anyway he could but when their lives are turned upside down by a painful loss, they may just become the family they were always meant to be.
This is an emotional story that is at times heartbreaking and at times inspiring. Although their journey definitely had its obstacles there is no doubting that they belong together and that they are so much stronger together than apart.