Publication date: April 29th 2022
Genres: Christian, Romance
Elizabeth Carlson turns heads wherever she goes but has never moved on from Tyler Williams, with whom she shared a whirlwind relationship her senior year of high school. After only a month together, Elizabeth ran away from her past and her broken family. Ten years later, Tyler comes crashing back in her life, eager for a second chance. But she can’t forgive him for the order he issued all those years ago. Slowly, a high school romance turns into so much more, but her secrets, and his anger, threaten to ruin their happily ever after. Will God’s grace and love lead them back to each other?
The past finally caught up to me. I remember the month after Tyler and I met. We were inseparable. He offered an escape from my father’s lies and my mother’s grief. He listened, was sensitive to my feelings, and made me laugh. And when he ran his hand through his dark brown hair, messing it up just so. When he stared at me with those eyes that showed me the attention I craved, I fell a little harder each day.
My thoughts travel back to high school, and I consider how much to reveal to Gina. There was a party that night. It was the day before his birthday. After begging for days, my mom agreed to a 12:30 curfew so I could wish him a happy eighteenth birthday at midnight. We walked in together, and everyone who greeted me complimented my hair and clothes. I stood taller. They no longer called me ‘Jesus freak’ behind my back.
While I talked to two girls in my Spanish class, Tyler started the birthday celebration and quickly consumed too many pours from the keg. Then he turned into all the other guys—the ones who made me avoid these scenes all through school. He flirted with every pretty girl who passed by, then glanced my way as if he wanted to witness my hurt. Yesterday, he found every reason to graze my skin. Today, if our hands brushed, he recoiled as if I scorched him.
The friends I made over the past month kept their distance now, taking their lead from Tyler, the cool kid in class. Standing alone at the party, I felt like Cinderella—pre-Prince Charming and glass slipper. The best month of my life was over with no Fairy Godmother in sight. I watched him laugh at one of our classmate’s jokes and eye her tight V-neck top. If I walked out of the house in that thing, my mom would ground me for life. So would dad, but I no longer cared what he thought. He taught me one thing, though—how to mask my feelings. I perfected it so well, it may as well be an Olympic sport.
I sauntered out of the party like I had somewhere better to be, and somehow, I held back the dam—until I reached my house and spotted the wrapped present I’d left for Tyler on the swing. He was supposed to walk me home, open the framed photo of us, then kiss me goodnight, signaling the start of something beyond friendship.
I stood outside the door, hoping my mother was sleeping so I didn’t have to explain why I came home so early after begging all week for a late curfew. The sound of raised voices stopped me before I turned the knob.
My mom’s pained voice shocked me. “You said you would stop!”
“I couldn’t,” was all my dad uttered. It was almost a whisper through the door.
“You didn’t want to!”
“I did, but I’m not strong enough. You have to forgive me.”
“Forgive you? And that’s an excuse. You’re the strongest person I know.” The rest of the words remained muffled by her sobs.
“Sandy.” One word, but I hear the pleading in his voice.
Her voice raises several octaves this time. “Get out!”
I ran away, back toward the party, not wanting to see him leave or witness my mother’s cries if he stayed. Either way, I needed to forget.
Tara Taffera is an avid reader and the author of A Divine Love Series. She writes contemporary Christian romance enveloped in God’s grace and love. Book two in her series, Love Unfailing, won the silver medal in the 2022 Illumination Book Awards in the romance category. The program shines a light on Exemplary Christian Books. Love Unfailing was also a semi-finalist in the Indies Today Awards.
She lives in Virginia with her husband of almost 25 years, a non-reader himself who provides valuable advice on her books—all those baseball scenes! He is one of her biggest cheerleaders, along with her three daughters.
You can find Tara on all the major social media platforms, and her books are available on Amazon. Learn more about her at tarataffera.com.