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Meet Lance Knight...

A jaded woman. A man guided by his faith. A dangerous stalker ready to destroy them both.

Running from a past full of secrets that could destroy me, all I am looking for is a fresh start, far away from anyone who has ever known me.

But a threatening letter left in my mailbox less than a week after my arrival in this small town, throws me right back into the flames of my past.

After a terrible first impression with the small town's favorite helping hand, an ex-Army Ranger turned private security specialist, I'm fairly certain that I've already burned the one bridge she could cross for help.

Or so I thought.

One frightened phone call to the Sherriff's department brings the handsome hero to my doorstep.

Can we survive what's coming? Or will my fresh start end with one--or both--of us standing on death's doorstep?
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Popular tropes in Pages of Promise

  • Small Town Romance

  • Forced Proximity

  • Protective Hero

  • Loads of Sizzle (but no spice!)

  • Delicious Tension

I've never been afraid of the dark.

See, I learned at a very young age that the worst
monsters don't hide in the shadows

Read an Excerpt

“Okay, Liza, you got this.” I crack my knuckles and stare at the blinking cursor on the screen of my laptop. Somehow, it feels mocking. Like, as it blinks it’s saying, “Everyone knows you can’t do this Eliza. There are no new words, Eliza. No original stories.”

 

“Ugh.” It’s been a decade since I’ve published anything, and this will be the first book I’ve written for anyone over the age of five.

   

I keep staring straight ahead as though imagining the words will make them suddenly appear. It’s not as though I have a story block, I know exactly what I want to write. Who my main character is and what her struggles will be.

     

Mainly because they are my own.

   

Still, forming the pictures in my mind into words feels like an insurmountable task—a mountain I am not equipped to climb. Running both hands over my face, I groan.

 

I’m exhausted.

   

That has to be it. Even after the Sheriff had searched the house, I hadn't been able to fall back asleep. By the time I’d checked the clock, it was nearly four in the morning, so I’d made some coffee, and say on the balcony in my bedroom staring out at the surf—every light in my house on and the knife beside me.

   

I stand and stretch, opting for more coffee and some time on my porch to clear my head.

     

After making a quick cup, slipping into some comfortable shoes and grabbing the knife I’ve been carrying with me all day, I step out on the porch and shut the door. The scent of seawater fills my lungs as I slide onto the aged patio chairs and set my steaming mug down.

 

Freaky wake-up aside, this place is beyond perfect for me. Erick would lose his mind if he were here, though. There aren’t enough people to fawn over him and fall at his feet. No photographers waiting to take his photo outside of a courthouse.

   

And if he knew I was trying to write a book? Hah. He’d fall over laughing just before telling me how foolish it is. “You’ll never make a living doing that,” he’d say. “It’s a fine hobby, but leave the publishing to professionals.” Two things he’s said to me before, whenever I’d brought it up over the course of our marriage.

 

I’d wanted so badly to do something other than plan charity events or parties enjoyed by people with fake smiles and even worse intentions. I’d wanted to be more. I take a sip of my coffee, then pull my cardigan tighter around me.

   

So many years wasted being told I didn’t need any more than I was given. Like a teenager receiving allowance, I was granted responsibilities as Erick saw fit.

     

Plan this party.

     

Get a dress for this event.

 

Have my suit cleaned.

   

Remain silent at my side during this event.

   

I would be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that even now, I struggle with the idea that I am capable of anything besides being someone else’s punching bag. But that’s what this new start is. My way of pushing past the noise and becoming who I was always meant to be.

   

And not being able to find the words is definitely not helping my self esteem in that department.

     

Gravel crunches as a white truck makes its way up my driveway. I recognize it—and the man driving—immediately. Lance and Elijah climb out of the truck and head toward me.

     

“Are you okay?” Lance asks.

   

“Fine. Why are you here? I thought you were out of town.”

   

“I’m back now.”

   

“Nice to see you again, Ms. Pierce,” Elijah greets.

   

“You, too.” I shake his offered hand, then pull back and cross my arms to avoid feeling like I need to do the same with Lance.

   

“I’ll grab the boxes,” Elijah offers, then turns and heads back toward the truck.

   

“Are you sure you’re okay? I heard you had quite a scare last night.”

   

“It was just a trick of the shadows,” I tell him. “I overreacted.”

     

“When it comes to your safety it’s not an overreaction.”

     

“This time, it was,” I say. “But I’m hoping your system will keep it from happening again.”

   

“It’ll do that,” he replies.

 

He seems off somehow. His tone not nearly as friendly as it has been in the past. Which, of course, should make me happy. But there’s part of me that wants to know what put the dark look in his gaze. A bad day? Or has he just decided he doesn’t want anything to do with me either?

   

Elijah offers a metal box to Lance. “Can we head inside?”

 

“Sure. Sorry.” I grab my coffee and open the door, stepping aside to allow them in. After setting the mug on my counter, I watch both men set their boxes on the couch.

     

“Can you show us where you thought you saw someone?”

   

“Why do you need to see it?” I ask Lance.

 

“We like to do our own preliminary check. We also need to see all the windows and doors so we can make sure every possible entry point is covered.”

     

“Okay.” I swallow hard, nerves churning in my belly. “Right this way.”

     

“I’ll be right up. Going to grab my toolkit from the truck.” Elijah slips outside as Lance follows me up the creaky stairs.

   

“Did you hear anyone on the stairs last night?”

   

“No. That’s one of the things that made me realize I must have been imagining it.”

   

He doesn’t respond. We reach the top and Lance follows me down the short hall and into my room. I move to the side, then gesture to the area beside the desk.

 

“That’s where I thought I saw him.”

 

“A him?” he asks, tone taking on a dangerous edge.

     

I retreat inward, wrapping my arms around myself at the anger in his voice. I’m not that woman anymore, I remind myself. And Erick isn’t here. I may not know him well, but my read on Lance is that he’s not an abuser. Arrogant? Sure. But I don’t actually believe he’d hurt me.

     

At least not physically.

   

“I’m not sure. I thought it was. It was tall. Really tall.” I laugh nervously. “Again, I was clearly not fully awake yet.”

     

“The Sheriff said there was no point of entry?”

   

“Right. Everything was locked up.”

   

He grunts, but doesn’t say anything as he studies my room.

   

“Anything else?”

   

“Show me where you want the control panel,” he says. “Do you typically come in the front or back door?”

   

“The front.”

   

“Then it needs to be near there, close enough you can turn it off in the sixty seconds before it alerts us.”

   

“Okay.” I start toward the door and Lance does the same. My arm bumps into him and I freeze, the contact sending an unwelcome jolt of desire through me. A second one following when I suck in a breath and whatever he’s wearing—aftershave, cologne, body was—fills my lungs.

   

“Sorry,” he says as he steps back.

   

“It’s fine.” My tone is clipped, but I don’t apologize for it. In fact, I wish I’d sounded even angrier so it will erase the feeling of absolute need he stirs within me.

   

As soon as we’re downstairs, I sit back behind my computer and stare at the screen while he begins unpacking things from the box he’d carried in.

Neither of us say a word.

 

***     

 

“Are you writing another book?”

   

I look up from the computer at Lance, who has finished installing a sleek control panel on the wall by my door. “How did you—”

   

“We did a background check,” he says.

     

I stiffen. How much did he learn?

 

“Saw that you wrote some children’s books awhile back.”

 

“That seems like an invasion of privacy.”

   

“Maybe. We like to know who we’re dealing with. I apologize if it crossed a line with you.”

     

“You seem to always be apologizing.”

   

“Not quite sure how else to deal with you since everything I say seems to offend.”

   

I don’t respond, because doing so would mean lying about the fact that it’s not him offending me, but rather my reaction to him that has me angry every time we’re around each other. “I am an author,” I reply.

   

“Nice.”

   

“That’s all you’re going to say?” I demand, my tone sharp. I’m all but frothing at the mouth for him to spout off about how ridiculous it is that I am trying to write anything. Really, I’m looking for any logical reason for me to continue treating him the way I have been. But as he stands here in my living room, installing a security system, I’m finding it really, really difficult.

     

“What did you want me to say?” he questions, arching a brow.

   

“I don’t know. Mock me? Tell me what a great hobby it is?” My cheeks heat.

     

“Sounds to me like you’ve been hanging around with the wrong people,” he replies, then turns back toward the panel and turns it on. It beeps and the screen lights up with three blinking dots. “It’s connecting.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

Lance turns to face me. “It’s searching for local networks—”

“Not that. You said it sounds like I’ve been hanging around with the wrong people.” I nearly growl the words, even more annoyed that he looks completely at ease despite the turmoil burning in me.

   

“If the people you’re speaking to call your chosen career a hobby, then they don’t sound like the greatest people.”

 

I can’t even argue with him. Which, of course, irritates me because it gives me a fresh appreciation for the not-plumber. And appreciation for a man who looks like him is dangerous territory. My wounded heart may need healing, but I refuse to let another man be the bandage.

 

“How’s the foot?” he asks.

 

“What?”

 

“You don’t seem to be limping anymore.”

 

In the excitement since last night, I’d forgotten all about the fact that I’d hurt my foot. “It’s fine. Healing.”

 

“Glad to hear it. How’s the water heater working out?”

 

“Once again, fine.” It infuriates me, the way he’s able to switch subjects so quickly. I’m still reeling over him essentially defending my hobby to me and insulting my choice of friends—not far off there—and he’s asking about the hot water.

 

“What is your Wi-Fi password?”

 

“It’s—hang on.” I get up from the couch and cross into the kitchen to retrieve the pink sticky note I wrote the internet information on. Then, I offer it to him. “Here.”

 

“Thanks.” He touches the panel, then types in the password. It beeps as soon as it connects. After offering the note back to me, he presses a button and a screen pops up with the locations of the sensors and a green checkmark. “You good?” he calls out.

 

“Just finished.” Elijah comes down the hall with the silver case he’d brought in. “Every window and door covered.”

 

Lance scrolls through the list, then turns to me. “Looks good. Ready for me to show you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

He gives me a quick rundown, which includes choosing both a passcode to arm and disarm the system, as well as the way to check and ensure all of the sensors are armed and working. It’s surprisingly simple, something I am incredibly grateful for.

 

“Do you have any questions?” Lance asks as he and Elijah head outside.

 

“No.”

 

Lance reaches into his pocket and withdraws a card, then offers it to me. “My cell number is on there, so if you think there’s an issue, call me.”

 

Having a direct line to him should have made me feel better. Instead, it puts too much pressure on the walls I’ve kept between us since the moment we met. I hand it back. “I don’t need it. I have the office number which—as I understand it—routes to whomever is on call.”

 

Lance looks at the card, then back to me. “It’s just a card, Eliza. Use the number, or don’t I don’t care.”

 

But he does care, I can see it on his face.

 

And so do I. Which is why I shove it back into his hand. “No. Thanks.”

 

Elijah looks from him to me, then back to me. “See you around, Eliza. Let us know if there are any issues.” He heads down the stairs, but Lance still doesn’t move.

 

“You really don’t want the card.”

 

Yes. Which is why I can’t have it. “I really don’t. Thanks for everything. Goodbye.” Without waiting for a response, I shut the door and lean back against it, breathing deeply as guilt presses down on my shoulders.

 

But even as guilty as I feel for treating him the way I am, it keeps distance. Distance that is crucial to my survival. I cannot fall for another guy. Not now, not ever.

 

And Lance Knight is exactly the type of man a woman like me would fall for.

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