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Piece of My Heart (Fostering Love #4)
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From the author of Unbreak My Heart comes a heart-wrenching story about a young married couple’s struggle to find their way back to each other after an unbearable loss threatens to tear them apart. Nicole Jacquelyn delivers a novel that will break your heart…in all the best ways.
Alex Evans is cool. Collected. Charismatic as hell. But when he meets Sarai Levy, all that chill goes right out the door. An Israeli graduate student, Sarai’s far too busy with school to date. But she gives Alex a chance anyway, and after a few whirlwind months, they’re getting married. They’ve heard all the reasons why it’s too soon, but Alex and Sarai are madly in love and determined to make it work . . . until a devastating tragedy strikes and their perfect world comes crashing down.
Sarai, who always has a plan, suddenly has no blueprint for handling a staggering loss. As she pulls away from Alex and withdraws from her life, he’s struggling to be the man she needs. Their relationship is fraying at the seams, and if Alex and Sarai don’t find a way to trust each other with their most painful truths, their heartache could shatter their fairytale romance.
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On the day I met the love of my life, I slept through my alarm, spilled coffee down the front of my uniform, forgot to bring running shoes, and had to run five miles in my boots, all before noon. By the end of the day, I was spent. All I wanted to do was go home and watch TV in my skivvies with a six-pack of beer in arm’s reach.
Just as I climbed into my truck, I remembered that I had agreed to be the wingman for my coworker Sean’s double date. I didn’t know the guy well, but since we’d be working together and potentially deploying together, I hadn’t felt like I could blow him off when he’d asked. Most of the other guys in our platoon were in serious relationships and couldn’t help him out when he’d gone around begging for the favor. I brought up Sean’s contact information in my phone and called him as I pulled out of the parking lot.
“Haven’t you been on a date with this chick before?” I asked as soon as Sean answered his phone.
“Hello, Alex,” he laughed. “Long time no see.”
“I didn’t catch you before you left the building,” I replied. “Haven’t you guys hung out already? Why am I going to this thing?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t wait, so we met up on Wednesday for drinks. I guess she’d already made plans with her friend for tonight, though, and she didn’t want to cancel.”
I opened my mouth to back out of the whole thing when Sean spoke again.
“You gotta come. This girl, she’s so hot,” he said. I could practically hear him smile through the phone.
“And you haven’t sealed the deal yet.”
“I never kiss and tell,” he lied. “But no. I like her and she’s not the type. Wants to hang out for a while first.”
“Hang out or date?” I asked, switching the phone to Bluetooth so I could drive. “Because there’s a difference.”
“There is?” he asked.
“You’re kidding, right?” I flipped on my blinker and headed toward the front gate of the fort. Living in town instead of on base had a lot of advantages, but the biggest disadvantage was that it took me twenty minutes to get home every day. I knew it could be worse, but I hated spending any time driving around. We had only a certain number of minutes on Earth, and I didn’t want to waste them.
“Yeah, man, I’m kidding,” Sean said. “We’re dating. I’m taking her out, not inviting her over for China Buffet takeout and zombie killing on the Xbox.”
“Killing zombies sounds like the perfect date to me, but it probably wouldn’t go over well with most women.”
“Meet us at six, all right?” Sean said, ignoring my comment. “And shower, yeah? You smelled like ass today.”
“I forgot fucking deodorant,” I replied. It was one of the hazards of sleeping through my alarm.
“Right,” he said. “Shower. Six o’clock at the sushi and steak place.” He hung up before I could reply.
“Shit,” I muttered, dropping my head back against the headrest. It looked like I was going out tonight after all.
By the time I got home it was closing in on five thirty. I stripped as I walked toward my bathroom, but carried the discarded clothes with me to the hamper and tossed them in. I’d realized not long after I’d moved out of my parents’ house that if I didn’t clean up my crap, I’d be living in a shithole.
After a quick shower and shave, I slapped on some deodorant and dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt. The place I was meeting Sean and the ladies wasn’t fancy. A T-shirt would have worked fine, but I rarely had the chance to dress nice, and women liked when you put in some effort. I laughed as I glanced in the mirror to make sure I looked presentable. My twin brother, Abraham, would have given me so much grief if he’d known I’d put in this much effort for a blind date.
Even before he’d hooked up with our foster sister, Ani—yeah, that happened—he’d rarely made much of an effort to date, and he would never in a million years go out with a woman sight unseen. Abraham and I were opposites in almost every way, and if he knew just how many blind dates I’d gone on in the past few years, he’d shit his pants. Bram would rather have a root canal then spend the evening making small talk with a stranger.
By the time I pulled up in front of the steak house and parked my truck, exhaustion was hitting me hard. It had been a long week, and for the first time in a long time, I dreaded making nice with someone I didn’t know. Usually I was up for anything, but damn, I was tired.