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Lift You Up (Rivers Brothers #1)

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Jessica Gadziala

Book Information:

Friends of the family were forbidden fruit.
You didn’t get to take a bite, no matter how tempting it might be.

And it sure was tempting when they showed up at your doorstep, soaking wet, shaking, begging for your help, your protection, when you suddenly found them hiding out from their problems in your place, in your bed while you attempted to take on their case, figure out how someone who led the quiet kind of life she did ended up on some bad guy’s radar, who wanted her badly enough to chase her through the streets, to make her need to uproot her entire life.
She was trusting me, depending on me.
There were plenty of things to keep my mind occupied.
Yet all I could think about was what it might be like to get a taste, a touch, a bite.
Maybe if I had been more focused on her case, I would have seen what was coming, could have prevented it before it was too late

Books in Series:

Rivers Brothers Series by Jessica Gadziala

Books by Author:

Jessica Gadziala Books



I forgot the lettuce.

My eyes sprang open as my body knifed up in bed, the light sheets pooling around my waist as I stared blindly at the blackness of my room.

“Crap,” I hissed, letting out a sigh.

On the dresser across from me, neon red numbers let me know it was five after ten. Reaching up, I rubbed my scratchy, swollen eyes that were adamantly objecting to the forty-minutes of sleep I had gotten after a grueling fifteen-hour shift at work.

But I’d forgotten the lettuce.

My legs swung off the side of the bed, soles touching down on the wide-plank hardwood floor. Scratchy and prone to blessing bare feet with splinters, it was in desperate need of sanding and refinishing.

It was on my list.

My list that was as long as my leg.

Someday, I would get to it all.

A steady drip drip drip met my ears as I rolled my neck, working out a crick.

The sky had been pelting us with unyielding sheets of rain for two-and-a-half days. The sparse roof tiles and cracked tar allowed water to seep down through the ceiling.

Sliding my feet into slippers, I made my way across the room, finding a bucket in the closet – kept there for this very reason – I stuck it under the leak, making a mental note to check the ceiling for mold when I got back.

The roof, I decided, was high on the priority list.

But after the lettuce.

I jumped into jeans, slipped my feet into clogs, grabbed my purse, and made my way out of the front door, body hunched forward against the cold of the rain.

Maybe I should have just stayed home in bed, let it slide just this once. It wasn’t a big deal in the grand picture of it all.

The hamsters and guinea pigs and chinchillas and various other small animals could make do without their lettuce. They wouldn’t die. They wouldn’t even go hungry. They did have the pelleted food and timothy hay to hold them over.

Most people would just give them the lettuce in the morning when they showed up to open the store.

But hamsters and guinea pigs and chinchillas and most small animals were nocturnal. They ate most of their food at night. The lettuce would sit and wilt if I put it in when I got there after too-little sleep in the morning.

As my useless windshield wipers smeared water across my line of vision, I cursed myself for driving all the way home instead of crashing on the couch or in the guest room of one of my friends like I usually did on nights when I would close and then open the next morning.

My friends – and my job – were situated right in the center of Navesink Bank. My little place was twenty minutes out in a rural nowhere land that I loved deeply but spent very little time at since my boss was dragging his feet about hiring new help, so I was pulling doubles most days of the week.

I probably should have just set up a foldaway bed in the break room at this rate, I decided as I parked across the street from the strip of storefronts. All had low, brown, slanted roofs, brown brick fronts, and two giant window panes on either side of their glass front doors. Nothing had changed on this side street of town in at least two decades, I’d swear. The businesses that were still around were the same mom-and-pops that had been there when I was a kid. A gold buying store; a hairdresser that featured women who went to cosmetology school in the eighties – and refused to learn any new techniques since – where only women stuck in a time warp of Aqua Net and teasing went for trims; an antique shop, and, of course, Howie’s Pets.

Where I worked.

Where I had been hired by Howie himself back before he passed, handing over the reins to his son Harold. The ever-present Howie was replaced by the often-absent Harry who, while he was knowledgeable about all the animals and seemed to care about them, did not, in any way shape or form, enjoy the business end of running a pet store.

“Come on,” I grumbled, the key sticking, refusing to turn until the third try. WD-40, I reminded myself. I needed to grab some and deal with the situation once and for all.

The overhead lights were off in the front where the register was situated to the right, and to the left where dog and cat food were stacked in rows. But the tanks on top of the fish tanks along the back wall were set to moonlight mode, as were the lights above the bird enclosures.

In the center of the store where all the tanks for the small animals were arranged, the lights over their cages were set to low light, giving them just enough to be able to find their ways around their enclosures.