THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY
When Francesca asked me to do this post and select a favorite excerpt, I opened the book and jumped to all the obvious scenes first, the ones that show the hero and heroine having a moment. But then I realized that though I love those parts (I am a romance writer after all!), there was another entirely different layer of this book that I hold just as dear—the strength of bond between the four female friends in the story.
I’ve written prominent friendships into some of my other books, but in general, they are side characters that act as sounding boards or allies. I keep the focus tightly on the hero and heroine (or heroes and heroine in some of my erotic romances) because it’s a romance. But in this book, the friendship between Liv and her three friends from high school took on a life of its own, one I hadn’t planned.
These four women have all been through the same unspeakable tragedy when they were teenagers. That formed a special kind of soul-deep bond that I’d never written before. All of these women came from different social circles in high school, but they connected after the tragedy and were truly there for each other in a way that had none of the things we often see written into female friendships—cattiness, jealousy, competition. These women are having none of that nonsense. They are on each other’s side, period, end of sentence. I loved writing four smart, funny, complicated women supporting each other and cheering each other on. I have friends like that in my life, and I can’t imagine a greater gift.
So I’m sharing a scene between Liv, the heroine, and her friend Kincaid. In the series, each of the four women will have their own book, so I hope to be spending a lot more time with these ladies in the future. I hope you will too!
Kincaid was the only one left when Liv walked back into the restaurant. She was spinning the overturned mason jar round and round on the table, chin in hand, obviously lost in thought. Liv reached out and tapped her. “Hey.”
Kincaid startled and then turned, looking disoriented for a second before a smile touched her mouth. “Oh, hey there, Hot Lips.”
Liv groaned. “Guess we’re not going to pretend that you didn’t see anything?”
“Nope.” Kincaid got up from the table, letting the spinning jar slow to a halt. “I have a photographic memory.” She tapped her temple.
“There’s no erasing that.”
Liv crossed her arms. “Fantastic. And everyone else?”
“Taryn went home, so she doesn’t know what happened. Rebecca went to bed.”
Liv shifted in her shoes and glanced toward the door that led to the hotel lobby. “Is Rebecca all right? She looked kind of freaked out. I mean, she mentioned Finn in her letter…”
Kincaid’s smile dipped. “She’s okay. Confused, I think. She told me she didn’t think you two knew each other. At least not like that.”
Kincaid gave her a look. “Sure you don’t.”
Kincaid held up a hand, bangle bracelets clinking. “Hey, you don’t need to explain anything to me. But, honey, I know the difference between a let’s-get-to-know-each-other kiss and a reunion. Either way, it’s not my business. My only business is following the girlfriend rules.”
“The girlfriend rules?”
“Yes. Friends don’t let friends bang drunk,” she said sagely.
Liv snorted, mainly because debutante Kincaid had said bang. “Sounds wise.”
“It is. It’s bad for regrets and all that crap. But also, if you’re going to bed a guy that hot, believe me, you’ll want to be sober enough to remember it. Because damn. That boy grew up nice.”
Kincaid gave her a you know what I’m saying look, and Liv laughed. “I think I’m not the only one who’s a little drunk.”
“You’re telling me.” Kincaid put her arm around Liv and used her for balance as she took off her heels. “Which is exactly why we’re going to walk up to our rooms together. I’ll keep you safe from Mr. Dark and Broody, and you keep me away from that adorable bartender who keeps calling me ma’am and making it sound dirty.”
Liv glanced over her shoulder at the college-aged guy behind the counter, and he gave them a wink. She choked down her laugh. “Come on. I think that one’s out past curfew. We both need to get some sleep.”
They walked toward the lobby as Kincaid declared, “Yes. Sleep. Great idea.”
“I’m full of great ideas tonight,” Liv muttered.
“Oh, don’t be like that.” Kincaid gave Liv’s shoulder a bump. “Your idea wasn’t terrible. I mean, even though we’re both ending our night like this—drunk and alone,” she said with a dramatic flourish, “gold star for being the first to take the plunge. I didn’t expect it from you.”
Kincaid glanced over at her as they made their way through the small lobby. “We read those letters, and you went immediately into action. Bam.” She opened her fist like a firework exploding. “No hesitation.”
“No I didn’t. I went outside and drunkenly made out with a guy.” Liv pressed the button for the elevator, and the doors slid opened. “It’s an old bad habit of mine. Not a plan of action.”
Kincaid gave her a sly look as she stepped inside and turned to Liv. “That’s not what I saw. You said you wanted to date passionate guys. I think that was a helluva good start. That’s why I invited him to breakfast. You should try it sober with him.”
Liv cringed. A good start? With Finn? Yeah, right. She got in the elevator and hit the button for the third floor. “I appreciate the gesture. But there are no starts with Finn. What you saw—that was just wrapping up unfinished business. The period on the end of a run-on sentence.”
Kincaid was quiet until the elevator dinged and the doors whirred open. She stepped out, her shoes dangling from her fingertips and a knowing smirk on her face. “Hmm, I don’t know, sweetie. That didn’t look like a period to me. That looked like a big ol’ dot-dot-dot.”
But Kincaid was already strolling down the hallway and wiggling her fingers in a backward goodbye. “’Night, Peaches.”
Liv stared after her. A dot-dot-dot. A to be continued.
“An ellipsis,” Liv said finally, but Kincaid’s door was already closing. “It’s called an ellipsis.”
But it didn’t matter what the hell it was called because Kincaid was wrong. Finn wasn’t going to come to breakfast. There was no start.
Tomorrow, Liv would go back home to her job and apartment in Austin. He’d go wherever he lived now. And this would just be another memory filed away. Closure.
by Roni Loren
Released: January 2nd 2018
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Twelve years ago, tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a small number of students survived, a group the media dubbed as The Ones Who Got Away.
Now, web designer Liv Arias, along with the rest of the survivors, have returned to the small Texas town to tell their stories for a documentary. Which means Liv seeing former star-athlete and old flame Finn Dorsey. A lot happened between them that night and Liv is ready to end their decade-long riff and move on. But when her attempt at closure turns into a steamy kiss, moving on proves much more difficult than either of them thought...
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THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY by Roni Loren
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