Wanting to Remember, Trying to Forget

By: Jacqueline Francis

(Meet the Shepards #1)



Acknowledgements




First and foremost, a very big thank you to my husband. He is the inspiration for all the love and passion I put into my writing. We have our very own friends to lovers story and after fifteen years together, he still makes butterflies leap in my stomach. I also have to thank him for putting up with me when I become crazy and obsessive with my books.

Next, to my amazing sisters who have been such an incredible support to me. Thank you for all your input and valuable feedback. You guys rock!

To all my friends, especially the ladies at work (you know who you are): Thank you for all the encouragement. Our crazy conversations inspire me more than you know.

To Dave (from www.myebook.co.za) for assisting me through the whole publishing process and dealing with my unending questions. Thanks for being so patient and accommodating. You made the whole experience less daunting.

To whoever did the casting of Teen Wolf: Thank you! I found my Max and my Kevin in that series. I guess in saying that, I also have to thank the actors for lending their faces to my imagination for the duration of Meet the Shepards series. Not going to say who they are because they don’t know that I was secretly holding auditions for the scenes playing out in my head *blushing*. I think I found Jordan in the earlier seasons as well.

And then last but definitely not least, to You, the reader. Thank you for your support. In this day and age, time is precious and I am so grateful that You are simply taking time out of your busy schedule to read my book.






Prologue





Danny crouched over on the dusty motel room floor, crying as her world fell apart around her. He was kneeling down right beside her and yet it still felt like he was light-years away. “Max, please don’t…” The words came out as hiccups through her sobs. “Please don’t leave. It doesn’t have to end this way. It doesn’t have to end at all.”

He ignored her begging, reached into his pocket, and took out a small, blue suede box. “This was for you. I have no use for it now.” His hand wove into her short, dark hair and he pulled her closer to place a long kiss on the side of her head. Dropping the box in front of her, he stood up and headed for the door. He picked up his other bag before he slowly turned to face her again. “Maybe you want to remember, Danny…but I’m trying to forget.”

“Max!” she called out, but he was already gone.

It couldn’t be over. Seven years. How could it be over?

She slowly reached for the suede box and when she opened it, fresh tears spilled out of her. Removing the exquisite diamond ring from the casing, she clutched it to her chest. He was going to propose and now it was over. It was her fault. He had played a part but mostly it was her fault. From a blazing fire to dead ashes, that was what their relationship had become.

How could two people who loved each other so much, destroy something beyond repair? She felt like someone had wrapped both hands around her heart and was squeezing it so tight she couldn’t breathe.

Memories of the years they had spent together flashed through her mind and she still could not believe that it had ended. It baffled her. She couldn’t understand it.


Sometimes the only way to understand why a relationship came to an end, is to go back to the beginning…

The beginning of the current year.





January





“What the hell are you doing?”

The shout came from across the room, very nearly scaring Danny out of her skin. Her body jumped involuntarily and it was only her cat-like reflexes that saved her precious vase from a near-death experience. She had to face him sometime. Fake smile, enter stage right.

She turned around slowly, cautiously, and faced Max with a sheepish look, which she tried to hide with innocence in her wide hazel eyes. She knew even before she fully turned around that he wouldn’t buy it. Why would he? If she were in his shoes, she wouldn’t have been softened by the pathetic attempt to plead not guilty. In fact, she would have slapped that stupid grin right off her face. It was a good thing that Max wasn’t the type to hit women.

“Nothing,” she said, trying to spread her smile further, but the sheer lack of authenticity in that smile was beginning to make her cheeks hurt.

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