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The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away #3)
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
149265146X (ISBN13: 9781492651468)
How hard would you fight for the one you love?
Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother’s horrific actions. After losing everything―his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity―he’s changed his name, his look, and he’s finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?
When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy…
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Dr. Taryn Landry had learned that talk of sociopaths was not great first-date material. Yet somehow, on Friday night, she found herself going on about the topic and watching her date lean a little farther back in his chair, his eyes drifting to the cell phone he’d set next to his plate at the too-fancy restaurant. A cell phone that had vibrated about every fifteen minutes through the meal. Apparently, Doug the financial planner was in very high demand.
“Yeah, so,” she said, clearing her throat and trying to find a natural end to her rambling, “based on my research and the results of other studies, I’ve developed a program I hope to implement in schools. Most of the traits and factors that lead someone to violence aren’t immutable if you catch them early enough. A lot of people have that bad seed theory in their head, but I refuse to believe there’s nothing we can do, and the research is supporting that belief.”
Doug lifted his gaze at that, as if just noticing she was still there. “Right. That’s…interesting.”
Yep. He hadn’t heard a word she’d said. Awesome. But she wasn’t surprised. She hadn’t conducted a formal study, but she’d collected enough anecdotal evidence to know that she sucked at this whole dating thing. People wanted to talk about breezy stuff on dates—what Netflix shows they were bingeing, what hobbies they had, which cities they wanted to visit one day. She didn’t have time to have favorite TV shows or quirky hobbies or to take vacations to exotic places. She had research, developing her program, and teaching. She barely had time to sleep, much less be recreationally well-rounded.
Why had she subjected herself to a date again? She could’ve been home and in her comfy clothes by now. Instead, she was here in uncomfortable shoes and even less comfortable conversation. Maybe she’d agreed to this because she liked the idea of dating someone. When she came home late at night, lugging a pile of research and student papers with her, she sometimes imagined what it would be like to have someone to call or have dinner with, or more than have dinner with. That was probably what had landed her on this blind date—the idea of these mythical things. But in actual practice, dating was just straight-up painful.
She took a long sip of wine as her date glanced at his phone again. “Do you need to check that?”
“Huh?” Doug glanced up guiltily. “Oh, no. It’s fine. Well, maybe I should check in case it’s work.”
Taryn shrugged, expecting the answer. She had a degree in reading people, but Doug’s behavior didn’t require a doctorate to decipher. “Knock yourself out.”
At least she could tell her friend Kincaid that she’d given this a shot. Kincaid had set her up on this date because Girl, I worry about you. You need to get out of that research lab and live a little. Doug is smart and a sly kind of cute, like an eighties teen movie villain.
Taryn had pictured a young James Spader, which had gotten her to reluctantly agree to this, but Doug would never have been able to pull off feathered hair and a white suit. Also, she suspected he had a mild case of narcissistic personality disorder—which was probably why he’d shut down when she’d started talking about sociopaths. They were in the same psychological family. He was probably insulted.
Or maybe she should learn to shut up about the research part of her job and just tell people about the more straightforward part—that she taught psychology at a university. When people asked about what she did for a living, they usually were just being polite and didn’t actually want to hear the details. She liked details—telling them and hearing them. People’s life stories were endlessly fascinating to her. She collected them like other people collected photographs of interesting places. What made someone tick, what led them to their career, what made them who they were. But even she’d had trouble finding something interesting about Doug the financial planner.
Date experiment conducted. Experiment failed. Oh well. This outcome would’ve matched her hypothesis anyway. Blind dates had a high crash-and-burn rate. She wouldn’t have gone on this one if Kincaid hadn’t looked so damn sincere and concerned about Taryn’s lack of a social life. Her friend didn’t want her to be lonely, and Taryn loved her for at least trying. However, now she was ready to get home, get in her pajama pants, and compile the final data for her presentation.
Taryn checked her watch, and when she saw that Doug was still scrolling through something on his phone, she pulled her own phone from her purse. Two missed calls and a text alert filled her screen. Two from her mother. One from her dad.
Shit. Taryn got that queasy pinch in her gut, and she almost fumbled the phone, trying to quickly open the messages. She’d silenced her phone and had forgotten her nightly check-in text to her mother. Which meant red alert at her parents’ house if her mom was having one of her bad days. She quickly texted both of them back, feeling like a guilty teenager instead of a grown woman.