Title: Sweet Reunion (The Bittersweet Series #1)
Author: Carla Krae
Genre: Contemporary Romance
20th high-school reunion. Back in the town where dreams seemed possible and the future bright, where Kate's old crush Sam still lives with his seemingly perfect life.
When Kate’s family was in a devastating car crash, she took custody of her little brother at age twenty and focused on giving him the best life he could possibly have in a wheelchair. Eighteen years later, he encourages her to put herself first for once and have fun at the reunion.
Sam is waiting until after the reunion to announce his divorce publicly, but seeing Kate again rouses feelings long buried and he wants her no matter how much it complicates the weekend. She makes him feel alive for the first time in years, he’s missed their closeness from the past, and his mom loves her like a daughter.
Kate finds Sam even more gorgeous and sexy than twenty years ago, but he’s still technically married and she lives in Nashville. No matter how amazing their connection is, a relationship would never work. Why couldn’t he have shown up to that reunion fat and bald?
“Kate, you need to come home. Mom’s had a heart attack.”
Sam didn’t know how serious it was, but Jane was in the hospital and all I could think was what if she’s dead before I get there. I’d already missed the chance to say goodbye before.
Never wanted that to happen again.
I ran straight to my room and tried calling him back, but it only rang. I looked up the nearest flight. Heard Sonya’s voice and she was reserving a car for me in California. At my grateful look, she mouthed I’ve got you.
Threw stuff in a carry-on and she took me to the airport. Hugged me before I got out. “It’ll be okay, Kate.”
“How do you know?”
She shrugged. “I feel it. Go.”
I nodded and hurried into the terminal. Only once in my seat did I breathe, though the relief didn’t last long. A lot could happen in four hours.
For the first time in years, I prayed.
Some power in the universe must’ve been listening. The flight landed on time, the rental company had the correct car waiting, and the freeway was wide open.
The same the ambulance took my dad and sister to, and pronounced them dead. Same hospital Pete spent months recuperating in. The lobby even still smelled the same.
Antiseptics, floor cleaner, and sick people.
I checked with the desk by the ER to ask for Jane Cord’s room, if she had one.
Up a couple flights in the elevator, and that was familiar, too. At least this wasn’t the ICU ward. That had to be a good sign.
I spotted Sam at the nurses’ desk at the same time he saw me. He hurried to me. Instead of the hug I expected, I got a short and powerful kiss.
“Sorry.” He put distance between us again while my pupils readjusted. “I’m glad you’re here. Mom’s in a room.”
“How bad is it?” I followed him down a hallway to an open door.
“She’s awake. She took an aspirin when she felt off. Probably saved her life. Come on.”
He tapped on the frame, then guided me in with a hand on my back.
“Kate!” Jane held a hand out to me. “Samuel, you called her all the way out here right before Christmas?” She wore a hospital gown and was hooked up to wires, but she was sitting up. The knot in my gut loosened.
“It was before I knew you were going to be okay, Mom.”
Her face softened. She squeezed my hand. “I’m sorry he scared you for nothing.”
“You had a heart attack.”
“A little one.” At my agog expression, she elaborated. “I have a little blockage in an artery. They’re going to do an angioplasty and I’ll be right as rain.”
I glanced back at Sam, and he shrugged, embarrassed.
“Didn’t even pass out,” she said proudly.
A knock on the door and we turned to a nurse. “Visitor’s hours are ending, Mrs. Cord.”
“You’re gonna kick my kids out?”
“You need to sleep before your procedure in the morning, Mrs. Cord.”
A sigh. “Like they let you sleep. Someone comes in every hour to look at the monitor or check if I peed. Which I don’t need a bedpan for, by the way.”
“Mom…” Sam face-palmed.
I laughed. The heart attack hadn’t dimmed Jane’s spirit any. I hugged her. “Follow doctor’s orders. You’ll get home sooner.”
Sam went to her when I moved out of the way and kissed her cheek. His hair was mussed and he looked tired. Pale. I recognized that feeling. He still wore his office clothes, though the suit jacket was missing.
“Come on, Sam. I’ll buy you a coffee.”
He nodded and followed, though he didn’t stop looking at Jane until we were in the hall again. Then he grabbed my hand. “Thank you.”
I led him to the cafeteria. Equipment and paint might change, but the metal chairs and tables were the same. Black coffee was two dollars instead of fifty cents now, though.
“Means a lot you came,” he said, stirring cream and sugar into his cup. He tasted it, winced, and added more sugar. “This is not good coffee.”
I chuckled. “Nope. But it won’t kill you.”
“Yeah. Practically lived here for a while.”
“Must look a lot different.” He sat at a table, so I took the seat across from him.
“You’d be surprised.” Swiss Miss hot chocolate warmed my hands. “She’ll recover, Sam.”
“How do you know?” So much fear in eyes I’d always seen hold complete confidence.
“She doesn’t have a choice.”
One side of his mouth quirked up. Mission accomplished.
“Got a sitter for the kids?”
He nodded. “My neighbor.” Stirred the coffee. “Candace plays with her boy.”
“Good. No need to scare them.”
“Yeah. She already picks them up from daycare because I don’t get off work until after it closes, so Candace doesn’t know what’s going on.”
“Is she expecting to see Grandma tomorrow?”
“Not until Saturday. All goes according to plan, Mom will be home.” He sipped the coffee and grimaced again. It amused me. Kind of a right of passage in this place. “Mrs. Nelson is very happily married, by the way.”
“Her husband volunteers with me, so we’ve been friends a while.”
“It’s good to have friends. When you have kids.”
He finished the eight-ounce cup. “Let’s get out of here.”
I pointed him toward the quickest route to the parking lot.
“Where are you parked?” he asked.
“Over there.” My old spot. I’d done it on autopilot. Kinda scared me.
“I’ll walk you.” It wasn’t under one of the lights. “I have a guest room.”
I tucked my hands in my pockets. “I booked a motel.”
“Cancel it.” He stopped. “Please. You already must’ve spent a fortune taking the first flight here. The least I can do is host you.”
He held his hands up. “I won’t try anything, Kate. No ulterior motives. I’m grateful you came to support Mom and… I don’t want to be alone in the house tonight.”
Softly, I said, “I get that.” Searched his face for any artifice, then said, “Okay. I’ll call the motel and follow you.”
His shoulders relaxed and a small smile lit up his handsome face. “Thank you.”
What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
When finding your true love comes after a bit of heartbreak.
Flavors - like life - need balance. Nearly every cookie or cake recipe includes a pinch of salt. The finest dark chocolate rides the line between bitter and buttery sweetness.
So it is with The Bittersweet Series. Each book starts with Sweet.
The first story for this series is about two thirty-eight-year-olds. It was my latest NaNoWriMo project and I worked on it for four months straight, digging into their baggage and bringing them to their moment of being perfect for each other. I’ve written a lot of twenty-somethings and was frankly bored with that. Doing a book on characters closer to my age with the issues of life that come with experience rekindled my muse for romance. I hope you’ll be able to feel that this was a labor of love.
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Runs September 1 – 30
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Romance writer. Weaver. Crocheter. Gardener. Crafter. Retired singer. Sci-fi lover.
Debuting in 2011, Carla Krae lives in California with a house full of crazy rescue cats and a tech guy.
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