What if love can’t heal all wounds?
Second Chances, Book 1
After too many years of secretly loving her best friend, Zoey realizes she’s been shortchanging herself. It’s time to take action. This New Year’s Eve heralds the year she’s going to tell Rob the truth. Even if he is on the road, reaching for musical stardom with his band.
Her plan is derailed when she discovers a lump in her breast—and it’s not “nothing to worry about”. How can she ask Rob to take a chance on love when her future is so uncertain?
Rob has spent his entire life chasing his dream, but the moment he hears Zoey’s voice on the phone, he realizes he’s been running the wrong race. Zoey never sounds like she’s been crying. Ever. Without a second thought, he books a flight for home, determined to give her everything she needs. A shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold…and nights of intensely emotional, passionate sex.
His biggest challenge, though, is convincing his best friend that he’s in it for the long haul. Because he finally knows what he wants, and it’s not fame and fortune. It’s her—and her love.
Product WarningsThis book runs the emotional gamut between scorching-hot passion and the pain and fear associated with cancer. Keep a box of tissues next to your glass of ice water.
Copyright © 2012 Mari Carr
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Rob unlocked the door to the townhouse he’d shared with Zoey for a decade and a half. His band mates gave him shit about living with a gorgeous woman and not sleeping with her, but he wasn’t about to screw things up with his best friend. Zoey was more than an opportunity for sex. She was…everything to him.
As soon as he entered the house, he took a deep breath and sighed. He was home. A grin crossed his lips as he tried to determine the scent. Zoey was a candle addict, burning them constantly. This month’s flavor smelled like cinnamon. She often paired her scents with the time of the year—pumpkin spice in the fall, balsam and cedar over the holidays, beachy smells in the summer. He grumbled whenever she lit one, claiming he felt like he was living in a chick’s place. Truth was he liked the candles. They were one more thing that made their house feel like a home.
He glanced at the clock in the hallway. It was three a.m. Rob hadn’t been able to concentrate during tonight’s show, Zoey’s unusual phone call tugging on his conscience. As soon as the band walked off the stage, Rob got a taxi straight to the airport and hopped on the first flight home. Luckily he’d only been a state away. The up-and-down flight got him here in good time.
Chip, Express Train’s drummer, had gone ballistic when he’d said he was leaving, but he couldn’t ignore the voice that told him something was seriously wrong. He assured the guys he only needed to make sure Zoey was okay and that he’d meet them at the next venue in two days.
Mercifully the tour was winding down. Rob was sick of buses, the road, takeout food and all the crazy after-parties. More than a few times he’d recalled the saying Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. He’d wanted to be a musician since the day he turned thirteen and got his first guitar, but now that Express Train was on the cusp of something big, he was second guessing that choice. Life on the road sucked.
There was a light on in the living room, so Rob passed the stairs and walked toward it. It was way too late for Zoey to still be awake, but it was unlike her to leave a light on. She was the queen of energy conservation.
He saw her the second he entered the room. She was fully dressed and sound asleep on the couch. She was surrounded by tissues. Fuck. He’d been right to come home. Zoey didn’t cry, but her puffy eyes betrayed she’d been doing quite a lot of that tonight.
His first thought was perhaps she’d suffered a broken heart, but she wasn’t dating anyone. Hadn’t had a steady boyfriend in over a year, ever since she finally made a clean break from Drake the Prick. Jesus, he hoped that abusive asshole hadn’t made his way back. Last time Zoey had seen her ex-boyfriend, Drake had given her a black eye. Rob had repaid the favor, only instead of one black eye, he’d left Drake with two, as well as a broken nose and four loose teeth. If Drake had come back—
Then Rob’s breath caught as he considered something even worse. Her parents weren’t exactly old—both of them only in their mid-sixties—but if something had happened to one of them, Zoey would be desolate, devastated. Her dad had been diagnosed with high blood pressure recently and Rob recalled Zoey worrying that her old man would die of a heart attack like her grandfather had. But why wouldn’t she have told him that on the phone?
He walked over and knelt in front of her. Her face was pale.
“Zoey,” he whispered, gently pushing her dark brown hair away from her eyes. He didn’t like seeing her so tired, so frail-looking. A surge of protectiveness rose up inside him. “Zoey. Wake up, baby. I’m home.” God. He must be tired. Where had that term of endearment come from?
Her eyelids lifted slowly. “Robbie?”
He grinned. She was the only person on the planet who still called him by his childhood nickname. The second he hit high school, he’d instructed his teachers and friends to call him Rob. Zoey was the only one who couldn’t make the switch. She’d told him he would always be Robbie to her. He liked the idea, so he didn’t pick a fight about it.
She sat up slowly. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugged, then claimed the warm spot next to her on the couch. “I was worried about you.” He gestured to the tissues scattered on the floor and coffee table. “What happened?”
Her response was worse than words. She quite simply fell apart.
Rob reached for her, pulling her into his arms as she cried. “Shhh. It’s okay. Whatever it is, it’ll be okay. We’ll fix it.”
His words, rather than comfort her, seemed to open the floodgate even more. She clung to his shirt, loud sobs wracking her small frame. He held her tighter, each cry slashing through him more sharply than a machete. Twenty-five years of friendship and he could count on one hand the number of times she’d cried in front of him. His heart raced as his mind whirled over what could have happened. Jesus. Whatever it was, it was bad. Really fucking bad.
He tightened his arms around her, desperate for a way to calm her. “You’re killing me, baby. Please. Please tell me what’s wrong.”
She shook her head against his chest.
He cupped her face, forcing her to look at him. “Say it, Zoey. Fast. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.”
“If I say it out loud, then it’s true.”
He wiped the tears away from her cheeks. “It’s true one way or the other. Tell me and we’ll take care of it together.”
“I have cancer.”