Pretending is all she has to protect herself. He’s always been able to see through her act to the truth. Will he be able to handle what he finds there?
Celestial Springs Salon Book 2
Autumn Jones wasn’t the biggest fan of coming home. But sometimes, she has to decompress from her nomadic lifestyle. To say hi to her semi-approving family. Maybe heal from her wounds and hide out from a crazy ex-boyfriend. Wait for that next job to come around, so she can bolt again.
Yet, it seemed fate wanted to complicate things, by tossing one Louie Castle, Autumn’s high school boyfriend back in her path.
And Louie’s all grown up. A cop. And looking for a stable, dedicated wife.
Everything Autumn is not.
So why is all he can think about is her? Especially now, when he’s sure something’s going on that she won’t talk about. When she calls him for a favor, and he sees the mess she’s trying to hide, he doesn’t know what else to do but help her.
Autumn doesn’t want a relationship. Not after everything.
She wants to flee, to get away.
But will Louie let her run again?
Celestial Springs Salon Reading Order:
I fiddled with the image, cropping it, so the selfie looked perfect. I adjusted the tint and zoomed in but made sure the Wrigley Field sign was behind me. I added a filter to make my pic sparkle a bit, and then that glimmer I liked.
I ignored the creepy hospital noise all around me as I finished the post. I had to get it up; it was about time. Schedules were important to keep. I studied the gorgeous selfie.
It was amazing what filters could do.
I looked fabulous. I couldn’t help smiling just a bit.
At least until I winced.
One thing’s done. Now, if I could get a grip on the ten thousand other things I needed to do.
I put my phone to sleep.
I got a glimpse of my reflection on the black screen as I did. I could have told myself it was the phone glass making my face look bruised, and that laceration on my brow was just a trick of the light—a finger swipe smeared on the glass. Or those other marks were just air bubbles in my screen protector.
I could have lied to myself.
But what was the point? The bandages on my hands were pretty real, whether I liked to admit it.
I’d been lying to myself for months now. What good did it do me?
Here I was, battered and bruised and a hot mess. A tear formed in my eye, I could feel it, but it wasn’t going to fall. I didn’t have time for it. Not right now, anyway.
Beeps from the medical equipment all around me punctured the hospital ambiance, and I tried to stay calm. My heart was beating faster, probably because I worried Mike would somehow find a way to get out of jail.
Finish what he started.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I made myself take a deep breath. I had never been a fan of hospitals.
The door to my room opened, and I jerked. Officer Torres stopped at the entrance, her eyebrow raised, the bags in her hand swinging.
“You okay?” she asked.
“Fine. Just thinking.”
“That will kill you,” she said as she crossed to my bedside.
“True enough,” I muttered and glanced at the bags. “You didn’t have to get all of it.” I tried to force a smile on my face again—though it hurt to, even a few days after being punched.
“No worries, I got you.”
“You’re almost late. I think the doctor’s supposed to be by soon.”
Torres leaned back in the chair next to the bed; her dark hair pulled into a bun on the nape of her neck. She looked so official in her blazer and badge.
I felt nauseated.
I wasn’t a big fan of cops.
Probably why I was lying in a hospital bed.
If I had just been rational, like at least one of my sisters would have been, I wouldn’t be in this mess.
Of course, if I were like one of my sisters, I would have never left Barrum, Kansas.
Torres glanced at my phone. “Still keeping up appearances?”
I shrugged. “It’s easier than you think. A few old selfies relit and re-cropped, and I’m just fine, living the dream in Chicago.”
She raised her eyebrow. “Which life is more important to you?”
“The one I can maintain.”
She smirked. “Hence, these?”
I nodded. “Hence, those.” I took the bags and started glancing through the products. “Looks like you got everything. What do I owe you for it all?”
She waved her hand. “Just stay in touch.”
I shook my head. The last thing I wanted to be was in touch. With anyone. “I’m gone.”
“If we need you for the case, you have to be here. He could get off if you don’t testify.”
I didn’t want to think about it.
Torres reached over and touched my bed. I think she was aiming for my hand but got bedding instead. “Listen, Autumn. I know you want to run away. I get it. I do. But please, stay around for a little while. At least until we can get this all sorted.”
“The bond hearing is soon?” I asked.
“Yes,” Torres said. “And the District Attorney is going to go after him. She doesn’t play when it comes to,” the officer’s gaze darted over me, “domestic cases.”
I wondered how bad of a sight I was.
No, I didn’t wonder.
I could feel it. The stitches ached. I would never be able to wear another low-cut top again. “I get it,” I said. “Still don’t need to be here.”
“The DA is trying to make sure you stay out of everything, but you never know with this kind of thing. Depending on his lawyer—”
I snorted. “He didn’t have any money. Neither of us did. That’s why we lived where we did.”
She sighed and gestured to the bag. “There’s paperwork for St. Anne’s in there for you.”
The battered women’s shelter was near the apartment I’d shared with Mike. When I bought some cookies from a sale they had last month, I never thought I’d be reserving my spot.
“Look, you need to take care of yourself,” Torres said.
“It’s what I’m good at,” I muttered.
Torres raised her eyebrow. “You sure about that? You are in a hospital.”
I shrugged. “At least I’m not in a morgue.”
“There is that."
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