“All right, Roz, you’re all set. I’ve got everything moved around like you wanted,” Alex said, coming up to the table.
“Thanks, hon, I appreciate you coming in before work.”
“So did you get everything squared away?” he asked.
Clair quickly looked at Roz, knowing exactly what Alex was asking. Roz gave her a faint smile and nodded. Her eyes welled up with tears and she bit her lip, trying to hold them back. Alex had seen her cry enough last night and she didn’t want to let him see it again. But she had to say something to him. All she wanted to do when she left his apartment was eat breakfast and leave. She didn’t ask him for a handout or to share her private business with whomever.
“Roz, can you give me a minute with Alex before he leaves?”
She nodded and gave up her seat. “I’ll be back in a few to continue our conversation.”
Clair waited for Roz to walk far enough away so as not to hear her conversation before she spoke. "Why Alex? Why did you tell her?" She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
"Tell who what? What are you talking about?"
"What made you think it was okay to tell Roz my personal business?" She leaned over the table toward him, making sure Alex heard every word.
"I didn't mean for it to happen, it just came out that…”
“Just because you most likely saved my life last night doesn't mean I need to be saved from everything else that is screwed up." The volume of her voice rose the more she talked and she noticed other people turning in their seats to look.
"I wasn't trying to pity you, I was only trying to help," he yelled defensively.
"Well, nothing good ever comes from a guy trying to help me out. There's always something more they want out of the deal,” she said, lips trembling. “You won't be getting anything out of me, so you can just move on to someone else." She looked away as fat tears spilled down her cheeks. She swiftly wiped them away with the back of her hands. The diner was quiet and Clair turned around to see everyone watching their scene play out. Looking back at Alex, he only stared at her, the corners of his lips turned down. She couldn’t bear his sad expression or the beady eyes from the guests at the diner, as they bored into her from every direction. Clair bolted out of her seat, and ran into the bathroom, shielding herself from the onlookers.
Leaning over the sink in the bathroom, Clair looked in the mirror. Her lip was puffy and swollen and there was a bruise around the edge of her left eye. She turned the faucet on and ran her hands through the cool water. Splashing water on her face, she mixed it with the tears that still streamed down her cheeks. She looked in the mirror again, asking herself the one question that would forever alter her life. “What should I do? Do I stay or go?” Behind her in the mirror, she saw Roz, who placed a hand on Clair’s shoulder and looked at her reflection.
“Well that’s an easy decision, hon. You stay of course,” she smiled.
“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head.
“Well, I hope you’re not basing your decision on Alex. He really felt bad about what happened to you last night. When he was telling me about you, he didn’t know you were still in town. It upset him that you left and were still out there, possibly needing his help. He might not have known you long, but it’s evident that he cares. I can see it in his eyes. Alex has been through a lot and… well, that’s all I’ll say about it. If he wants you to know the details, he’ll fill you in at some point, if you stay.”
Clair was touched that Alex seemed to care about what happened to her. Should she really pass up on a chance of starting over when it was being offered to her on a silver platter?
“Yes. I will accept your offer,” she announced as she wrapped her arms around this former stranger, this woman who was willing to give her a chance. Maybe she wouldn’t have to run anymore.
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Mama Knows Books
Jackie @ The BookWhisperer
By Loni Flowers
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: March 1st, 2012
Number of pages: 382
Word Count: 86,000+
At age twenty-three, Alex has had a hard life. His parents died when he was quite young, leaving his grandparents to raise him. Right before his high school graduation, his grandparents passed on too, leaving him all alone.
After losing everyone he's ever loved, Alex turns to the streets in a self-destructive pattern until he finally ends up in Springhill, where he tries to make a new life for himself.
Clair’s childhood was normal until age thirteen, when her father left the family and she never heard from him again. Consequently, her mother went into a deep depression, forcing Clair to grow up quickly.
After finishing high school, Clair’s heartache over her father’s absence as well as her unbearable mother drive her to strike out on her own. But having nowhere to go and no family to speak of, Clair wanders aimlessly from town to town, homeless, and without purpose. Looking for work wherever she goes and living hand to mouth on the streets is tough, Clair discovers, but living with her mother is worse.
Now twenty-one years old, Clair has found her way to the last place she and her family took their final vacation as a family--Springhill. While in town, she crosses paths with Alex and their ensuing relationship grows faster than expected. Soon Clair wonders if coming back to Springhill and meeting Alex was the best decision or the worst decision she ever made.
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when foods around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank. When she's not playing on the internet or chatting on Twitter or Facebook, she spends her free time with friends and family waiting for the next big idea strike.
She enjoys reading most anything, but is a sucker for a good romance story. Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but isn't opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea hit.
Some of her favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult... just to name a few.