Today I’ve got the prologue from Wendy Owen’s, The Luckiest, to share with you! This is book #3 in her Stubborn Love series and I’m in love just by the cover alone!!!
About The Luckiest
Once upon a time Mackenzie Phillips thought she’d found her happily ever after. She had married her high school sweetheart and had started her perfect family. But one tragic night Mac’s perfect life was ripped away from her, leaving her beautiful fairy tale existence in ruins.
When everything worth living for is suddenly taken from you, how do you keep going? People told her how lucky she was just to be alive after that night, but she didn’t agree.
Years passed with Mac living in a fog, until another unfortunate turn of events placed her world on its head once again. Now, still carrying the tender wounds of her past, this widow has to face the realities of life again.
Broken and truly alone, she must find work. In walks her new employer, Dean Johnson, a guy who is just broken enough himself, that she thinks he might actually be able to understand her. But Mac soon discovers that that bond with Dean may instead force her to face demons she isn’t yet ready to deal with.
**Contains mature material including language and sex.
The Luckiest Prologue
I struggle to take a deep breath as the humidity overtakes my lungs; the pressure makes me feel as if I might drown. Squeezing my eyes shut, I try my best to block out all the sounds around me. The random coughs and whispering, the shuffling of shoes, rustling of papers, and in the rear of the room, the cries of a restless baby as the mother tries to comfort him.
There’s no movement to the air in the old stone building, and I can’t help wish to be anywhere else but here. There is a stench of sweat mixed with various perfumes hanging in the room, and I cover my mouth for fear I might be ill.
A hand settles on my arm. I know it’s my friend, Monica; she hasn’t left my side all week. Her delicate skin on my flesh reminds me of a child—it reminds me of my Katie. I keep my eyes shut, steady my breath, and allow my thoughts to wander to Katie’s smile, then her laugh. She’s always had a joyous laugh, one that’s fully committed. One that when someone hears it they can’t help but smile.
I wonder if she is smiling now, wherever she is. Is she laughing? Is she making the people around her laugh and smile as well? I miss smiling. I wish she were here with me so I could remember what that felt like. I haven’t smiled in so long.
My breathing is so shallow, I wonder if I might slip into unconsciousness at any moment. Does anyone around me notice I’m about to completely disappear from existence? I don’t look— I can’t. If I look, I know I’ll see all the pity staring back at me. The eyes that tell me I’m alone now. The eyes that tell me I must have done something wrong, something that made my husband and daughter leave me alone in this miserable world.
As my heart begins to sink even lower, I’m consumed by the image of Travis’s grin. He’s waving to me. We’re on the beach, and it’s the summer right after our junior year in high school. His smile is so perfect. Suddenly, we’re on the soccer field, and it’s the day he first spoke to me, the day he changed my life forever. The day he took me from a wallflower, hidden from the world, and transformed me into a girl who everyone wanted to know, the girl who captured Travis Phillips’s heart.
Does he still love me like he once did? He married me as soon as we graduated high school, he’d told me he couldn’t be away from me another night. What changed? What did I do to make him leave me now? He can’t have loved me as much as he said he did and leave me alone like this. I know Katie loves me.
Swallowing hard, I swipe the tear away that manages to escape down my cheek. What if Katie is cold wherever she is? She needs her momma to tuck the blankets around her tiny body. My lips on her forehead each night are what push the good thoughts in, but who will do that? Who will read her a bedtime story?
I expel all the air from my lungs, and a calm settles over me as I remember she has Travis. He’s such a good father. He will never leave her side. He will keep her warm. He’ll read to her when I’m not there. He’ll make sure the nightmares stay at bay when Momma can’t kiss her goodnight.
“Mac? Are you ready?” I hear Monica’s tiny voice whisper in my ear. I don’t want to open my eyes. I know I need to, but when I do, time will begin to move again. I won’t be able to stop it. This new world will become my reality. I will be alone. Once my eyes are open, everything that is wrong will sink in around me, pulling me into the darkness with it’s black tentacles, into the pits of tar that await to steal the last bit of life I have left inside me.
I feel Monica’s forehead press against my cheek and her free hand cup the other side of my head, pressing me into her. The tender gesture sets off a reaction I can’t seem to stop. I scream at myself, within my own head, to pull it together, but all composure is gone. My body starts to violently convulse, and I heave a breath of air in and out. A steady stream of tears follows the single tear that had escaped only a moment ago, rushing from both of my eyes.
Monica grips me tighter and, turning into my crumpled frame, she begins to rock me. A whimper flees from my lips as she begins to pat my back. My father is a row behind me. I can feel his presence, but he doesn’t reach out and touch me. He does nothing. He has done nothing to lessen my pain since I was twelve years old and my mother died. The cancer not only ate away at her body from the inside, but it didn’t stop until it had consumed every last bit of the relationship between he and I.
Somewhere in me, I know it hurts him to see me in such a state, but I don’t have the energy to pretend everything is all right. If Monica were not here to hold me up, I know I would be in a ball on the floor—weeping and asking for mercy to end it. Daddy once told me it’s better to feel pain than nothing at all, but I know now he was wrong. So wrong. A pain like this is worse than death.
When Mom died, it was like the wind was knocked out of me. What I feel today is so much worse. It’s like the air has been stripped away, and I’m not even left with the desire to take in another breath. There’s no fight for survival. There’s no desire to see the sun set again. There’s nothing but the pain and the hope it will end soon.
I hear the pastor’s voice, as a hush falls over the crowd. My back stiffens, and I manage to quiet myself for a moment. I need to hear every word. I know it will be like torture, but I have to. I’m here, and it’s what I deserve for being here.
As if a switch shut off, the tears are gone, and I’m left with only damp cheeks and swollen eyes. Pushing myself upright, I inhale, the air shaking as it passes through my teeth. Monica’s hand slides down and tightly grabs onto mine. I want her to release me. A desire to be completely isolated in this moment creeps in, but I don’t pull away. I need to place my focus on what is about to happen, and I won’t be able to do that without her supporting me.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out today. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose heart is breaking from this tragedy,” the man standing at the front of the room begins.
I don’t look at him. My nostrils flare in disgust; he doesn’t know the first thing about a broken heart. I think he should be ashamed for even saying such a thing. His words string together into one meaningless token after another, until they fade into a dull muffle in my ears as my gaze falls onto the boxes only feet away from me.
Looking at them, it doesn’t feel real. How can they be inside of them? They seem so small. They can’t be comfortable, and even though I made sure the lining was soft and plush, I don’t see how anyone could be comfortable inside. The outside of the casket is a pearl color. I have to fight the urge to stand and open the lids. The funeral home staff told me it would be best to keep them closed for the service. I understood why; they didn’t look like themselves due to the impact of the accident. I was scared to say it at the time, but now I’m quite sure there could have been a mistake. If they don’t look like themselves, then maybe it’s because it’s not them.
Though I’m trying to fight it, my mind wonders to that night. I wasn’t conscious afterward. Maybe they took Travis and Katie to another hospital. Maybe they woke up and they’re searching for me. I don’t know who is in the boxes in front of me, but I can’t believe it’s them. I know if it were my Katie, I would feel it. I’d have to, wouldn’t I?
The preacher my father hired is still talking. I try to stand, but Monica’s grip on me is too tight. I look at her, my brow narrowed. I want her to release me, why won’t she…
She is looking directly at me. She shakes her head no, and her eyes are glistening. I clutch my chest. I can’t breathe. The room is spinning. I want to pretend—why can’t she just let me pretend? Maybe she sees it too. I don’t deserve to pretend. I lived and they did not. I need to feel every second of life as I know it ending. The entire room sees it. They see that my innocent daughter was robbed of her life while I’m still here, still breathing, in and out. I want to tell them all that I wish I could take her place. Or even more, I wish I could take Travis’s place. I’m jealous of him. Jealous that he gets to be the one to take care of her forever. He was always the strong one; he should be here, not me.
I’m smiling now, but I don’t understand why. Perhaps out of fear that if I don’t I may slip into an eternal madness. Married at eighteen, child at nineteen, widowed and alone at twenty- one, I’ve lived enough pain for ten lifetimes. The smile slips from my face, and I’m again reduced to tears. Roller coasters of random emotions render me into a trembling mess. And in this moment I know, there was no mistake. I’m alone. Alone on the brink of madness, left with only my dreams of once again holding them in my arms.
Don’t miss the previous books in the series:
The Stubborn Love Series are companion novels. This means they can be read as part of a series or individually.
Book One – Stubborn Love – Clementine’s Story
(FREE at the time of this post!)
Book Two – Only In Dreams – Paige’s Story
Wendy Owens was born in the small college town, Oxford Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went onto a career in the visual arts. After several years of creating and selling her own artwork she gave her first love, writing, a try. Her first novel flowed from her in only two weeks time (then the real work started with four months of editing). That moment was when she knew she had found her calling. Wendy now happily spends her days writing the stories her characters guide her to tell, admitting even she doesn’t always know where that might lead. Her first series, The Sacred Guardians, consists of four books, Sacred Bloodlines, Unhallowed Curse, The Shield Prophecy, and The Guardians Crown. She is best known for her romance books, Stubborn Love and Only In Dreams, both released in 2013. Coming in 2014 and 2015 is her Wandering Hearts Series to include, Do Anything, It Matters To Me, and Jack’s Redemption. When she’s not writing, this dog lover can be found spending time with her tech geek husband, their three amazing kids, and two pups. She loves to cook and is a film fanatic. For more info on Wendy’s young adult fiction and NA Romance visit http://wendy-owens.com/ If you want to follow her on social media you can visit: