Title: New Forever
Author: Yessi Smith
Haunted by a past Max can’t seem to escape, he invests everything he is into Hayley. He pampers her and shows her a love she never knew she could experience. His entire life revolves around making her happy and eventually protecting her from his demons. Even if that means hurting her in the process.
While Max tries to pick up the pieces of his broken past, Hayley protects her own heart the best way she knows how - through laughter and mayhem.
But when secrets unravel, both must decide what is most important. Feeling more vulnerable than ever before, they must fight for each other and for themselves.
**This is an interconnected standalone for Love, Always. **
“You know you can take the blindfold off and I still won’t know where we’re going,” I complain although I secretly love the mystery behind our early morning drive.
I hear Max laugh beside me and feel my heart warm when he takes my hand and squeezes it.
“Almost there,” he says for the third time since we left our apartment.
“A hint?” I say again, practically jumping in my seat on the passenger side of Max’s car. “Just one hint.”
He sighs and I smile, knowing I’ve won this little battle. “You think you’ve seen the sunrise, but never quite like this.”
“Okay, Riddler. That wasn’t helpful at all.” I pout while I mull over his words.
We’re gonna see the sunrise, but in a different way. So, we’re not going to the beach. There are no mountains in South Florida. So what does that leave?
“Scuba diving?” I ask and he lets out a loud bark of laughter as I feel the car stop. Does that mean we’re here or that he’s at another red light?
“Yeah, Hay,” he agrees, brushing the hair away from my face so he can kiss the side of my mouth. “We’re gonna see the sunrise from twenty feet under water. The crepes you made might get a bit soggy, but it’s the latest thing.” I’d made crepes early this morning when Max told me he was taking me somewhere as a surprise the night before. God forbid I let either of our stomachs grow hungry and ruin whatever he has planned for us.
I stick my tongue out at him and yelp when he bites it, but sink into his kiss, giving him my soul.
“We’re here,” he says, after ending our kiss and already, I miss his breath on me.
He gently takes off my blindfold and I blink several times to get my eyes accustomed to the predawn light, but I still don’t see much of anything. Unless a dark, open field is my big surprise.
I look back at him curiously and smile when I imagine us making love on a blanket with nothing but nature around us as the sun rises. I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him in for another kiss.
“I love it,” I tell him between kisses and feel his lips turn into a smile.
“I’m glad, but you haven’t seen your surprise yet. Over there.” He points to our left and I squint my eyes, only seeing the silhouette of something very large. Whatever it is, it is so large, it takes up a huge amount of space on the ground and in the air. We walk toward the direction of my surprise and I see what seems to be some sort of flame floating inside the silhouette.
Max takes my hand and leads me towards it and I can’t even begin to guess what it is, but I feel my heartbeat quicken as we get closer. My eyebrows furrow together and I stare in the direction of my surprise with intense focus. I stop suddenly when finally, I see it and my smile builds slowly across my face.
A hot air balloon!
I squeal and jump then throw myself at Max, hugging him with my arms and legs.
“You like?” he asks.
“I love! But nowhere near as much as I love you.” My breath catches in my throat as I pull Max the rest of the way towards our hot air balloon.
The desire to explore the balloon is strong, but not as strong as my need to hug Max. So I hug him, molding our bodies flat against one another. A soft cough interrupts our embrace and Max spins around with me still latched onto him like a koala. After the mandatory introductions are made and safety instructions are told, we climb into the basket of our hot air balloon with our guide and basket of crepes.
Max puts his arms around my waist and I lean into him as we softly float off the ground. Once we’re in the air, I feel it—the freedom I envy every time I see a bird in flight. I watch the city grow smaller as we float higher and higher in the atmosphere. The wind tickles my nose and I close my eyes to enhance the scent of the fresh, warm air. This is freedom. In Max’s arms, I watch the sunrise as it paints the clear sky in an explosion of orange, red, and gold.
This is to live. To love.
Yessi Smith lives in South Florida with her husband, seven year old son and newborn baby. She is also owned by a neurotic Border Collie and “ferocious” Rottweiler.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s in Human Resource Management and has held several jobs, from picking up dog poop to upper management positions. And now she hopes to leave the business world behind so she can live full time in a world that does not exist until she places her fingers on a keyboard and brings them to fruition.
She is the proud Momma of Life’s A Cappella and Love, Always
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