September 11, 2001.
A day that forever changes the destiny of college overachiever, Michelle Rhodes.
Shattered, confused and alone, no one understands the trauma consuming her until she meets Connor Donnelly.
A native New Yorker, he believes he can aid in getting her life back on track. But what if he’s even more broken inside?
Offering her a chance at a fresh start, Connor convinces Michelle to move in with him. Hiring her to waitress at his bar, their mutual attraction only complicates matters.
As more details surrounding Connor’s past emerge, Michelle uncovers the full magnitude of the loss he’s trying to hide. Refusing to let her feelings for him hinder his recovery, she makes a decision that winds up hurting them both.
By sacrificing her heart, Michelle thinks she is helping Connor come to terms with his grief. Little does she know, Connor is gambling everything for the sake of having a future with her.
What happens is truly unexpected.
Chapter Six“W…what?” I stutter despite myself.
He gives me a crooked grin. “All night, I’ve been freezing my ass off out here
waiting for you. I didn’t think you were gonna show.”
If his first remark didn’t floor me, the second leaves me utterly confused. “Whoa,
slow down, buddy. How do you even know my name?”
Again, he laughs. “Does it really matter? I’m here to talk some sense into you.”
The dimples in his cheeks distract me. He has such a cute smile. But I’m not
letting him off that easily. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m done with New York.”
“Really? You could’ve fooled me.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because you should never run from something that scares you.” His hazel eyes
catch the moonlight as they bore into mine. “And this time, you won’t be alone. I’ll be with you.”
This whole conversation is getting way too intense. Standing up, I wrap my arms around myself. I have to get out of here. This guy is crazy.
I jump as the front door opens and my ex-boyfriend Tony emerges, giving me a hopeful look. We broke up after our senior year. He understood I wasn’t planning on sticking around, so I set him free. He met someone else over the summer, and I only talked to him once on the phone when I got back. But with the way he’s looking at me now, I can tell he feels sorry for me, and that’s something I won’t tolerate.
Inching closer to the steps, I attempt to play it cool. “Oh hi, Tony. It’s good seeing you. I wish I could stay and chat, but I was just leaving.”
“I don’t think so.”
I whirl around. That’s it. Who does this guy think he is? “Listen, you little…” I begin, but Tony interrupts by grabbing my arm.
“Michelle, calm down. There’s no need to freak out,” Tony says, slowly releasing his grip on me. “Do you remember me telling you about Sal, my roommate at school, the one from New York?” I nod, but I can care less at this moment. “Well, this is his older brother, Connor. I kind of told him all about you, and I thought it’d be a good idea if you two met.”
I shake my head and sigh. “So you made him wait out here alone in the cold?”
I can tell Tony’s nervous. He’s running his fingers through his hair. “I thought you’d bolt otherwise.”
“She nearly did,” Connor chimes in.
Frustrated, I slam my fist on the porch railing. “The both of you just stop it, right now! I knew it was a bad idea to come here. I don’t need some random guy from New York giving me advice on how to live my life.”
Pushing off the swing, Connor gets to his feet. “Well, what are you doing with your life then? What’s plan B?”
I advance toward him. “I don’t have a plan B, asshole. I don’t have all the answers, but apparently you do.”
Connor closes the gap between us. “I wish I did, but I think you can figure it out. You were brave enough to take on the big, bad city once. Why not try it again under different circumstances?”
Tony clears his throat, and for a moment, I forgot he was there. “Michelle, Connor owns a bar downtown. He thought you could go back and work for him. Give it another go.”
“I’m no bartender,” I retort.
“You sure aren’t,” Connor fires back.
Tony holds up his hands in an attempt to keep the peace. “Just hear him out,
“Fine,” I say glaring up at him.
“Go on, Connor. Tell her about it,” Tony urges, knowing I may flee at any
Connor’s eyes find mine again, but I look away as he starts speaking. “My
family’s owned a pub on Beekman Street for years. Not too long ago, my dad had a heart attack, so I took over. I can offer you a waitressing job plus room and board above the bar for as long as you want it.”
For a minute, I stop and consider the possibility. It actually doesn’t sound that bad, and it’d be a welcome change from my original intention of becoming the next film school prodigy. It would be fresh start, and I wouldn’t be alone. But can I really go back there?
Sensing my trepidation, Connor pats me on the shoulder. “Listen, I know it’s not what you imagined. Tony told me how smart you are and how you were hoping to make
it big at NYU. I can understand how working in a bar sounds like a letdown after that. But honestly, I think it’d be good for you.”
“And why do you care about what happens to me?” I ask, raising my eyes to his.
“Because I was there that day, and so were you.”