Sometimes you find family where you least expect it…
When bass guitarist Jace Warner receives an urgent message from his high school sweetheart to come home, the rocker drops what he's doing to get there. Finding out that his first love, the girl that stole his heart, is dying isn't the biggest shock he receives. The bad boy rocker has a child, and now, he's about to be her only living parent.
After bonding with Kadence, his 6-year-old daughter, Jace knows there's only one thing he wants to be--a father. But that's not going to be as easy as it seems. Social worker, Summer Stephens doesn't deem Jace's lifestyle fit for parenting. She believes the stereotypes about rockers--that their lives are all about sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
Now it's up to Jace to convince Summer that Kadence is right where she belongs--at home with him at CFD. He's facing a fierce battle trying to prove there's room in his life for music and the daughter he wants to share it all with.
Will Summer realize that home is where you make it, and if she looks close enough, she just might see a family for herself?
SNEAK PEEK - Unedited and rough
©2016 Anne Mercier
I head toward reception when a nurse pulls me off to the side.
"Jace Warner?" she inquires.
I nod hesitantly, "Yeah." God, I hope she's not gonna go all fangirl on me right now. I'm not in the mood. All I want is to find Sydney's room and see what the fuck is going on.
"I'm Sydney's nurse. She informed me you'd be coming and about what time. I'll escort you up—the back way," she tells me.
I thank her, more than grateful to not have to deal with the public.
"What's going on?" I ask.
She just shakes her head. "It's not my place to say. I'm just glad you came when you did. Time isn't Sydney's friend."
What did that mean? Shit. Dread settles into the pit of my stomach. This is going to be more than bad. This is going to be epically fucked up.
When we reach her room, it's dark. Only a few small slivers of light beam through where the curtains meet in the middle. One of those beams is resting over Sydney's feet.
I step into the room and see the tubes and wires, and swallow hard. My gaze goes back to those feet and my eyes follow the shape of the body lying in the bed until I meet the violet eyes of the girl I've loved with every cell in my body.
No. No. No. No!
There's one of those soft cloths tied around her head. Her face is pale, her cheekbones too prominent. Her lips chapped and cracked.
"Jace," she whispers as tears begin to stream down her cheeks.
"God, Sydney," I breathe and drop to my knees next to her bed, taking her frail hand into mine. "What's wrong, sweetheart? Whatever it is, we can fix it."
She smiles softly. "Not this time, sweet cheeks."
I shake my head in denial. "No. I won't to believe that. There's got to be something…"
"There's not," she tells me quietly. "I've been through every treatment there is and none of them worked."
"Cancer?" I ask.
She nods. "Breast. Just like my mom."
I close my eyes, resting my forehead on her hand, and I let the tears fall. "Why didn't you call me when you found out. We could have done more. Better doctors, whatever it took, no matter the cost," I ramble.
"Oh, darling, even if I'd have gotten to you in time, I'd have the same outcome. It was already stage IV when I found the lump. One month there were no lumps that I could feel and the next it was there. By the time I got in for my appointment with the doctor, some of my nodes under my arm were infected. It spread so fast, there was no stopping it," she tells me, her hand stroking my hair in comfort.
I look up at her, unashamed of my wet eyes and cheeks. "No. I can't…" I shake my head.
"You have to. I've held on for you, Jace Warner, because I need you," she breathes out heavily.
"What is it? Anything."
"You're going to be so angry with me," she announces, her lip wobbling as she cries.
"Never. What is it? Whatever it is, it can't be that bad. I'm here," I tell her.
She sighs and nods to the nurse who steps out of the room. What the fuck is going on right now? I feel as if I'm in some alternate dimension.
That feeling gets stronger when the nurse walks in with a little girl—a little girl that looks exactly like me. Wait. What?
I look to Sydney. "I'm sorry, Jace. I wanted you to live your dream—and you are now."
"Sydney, you were my dream."
"I didn't want to trap you. I saw how you panicked when I told you, and then how worried you were—trying to make impossible plans. I just couldn’t do that to you. I loved you too much," she confesses.
"You're right. I am angry. I'm angry you took that choice away from me. That was my choice. This is my daughter?" I calculate in my head. "She's six?" I ask, watching as the nurse brings the little girl with pigtails and those gym shoes that blink with each step closer.
Sydney nods. I see the motion out of the corner of my eye. I can't tear my gaze from—my daughter. God. I have a daughter. And she's beautiful. She's got my dark hair, Syd's violet eyes, and a button nose. Right now that nose is wrinkled up and her eyes are leery. Who can blame her? I would be too.
"Kadence, come here sweets," Sydney calls. The little girl goes over, clutching some sort of doll to her chest, the head of which covers half my baby girl's face. Jesus. I want to drop to my knees and weep.
I swallow hard. Who knew a little pixie could scare the bejeezus out of a person?
"Kay Kay, this is…"
"My daddy," she answers.
My face must show my surprise because she continues on with, "Mama shows me pictures of you all the time. She said I should be as proud of you as she is."
I look down, fighting the tears threatening again. I gotta be strong for my girls.
Fuck you, Cancer! You vile fucking bitch!
I look at Syd. "How long?"
"Not long now that you're here. I've been holding on for you, but Jace it's too much. I can't keep doing it. It hurts. I need you to care for Kay Kay. I don't want my dad anywhere near her. I left you a letter and instructions. Please, I know I can trust you," Sydney tells me.
"Why didn't you call my parents? They had my cell—"
She squeezes my hand. "I did. They hung up each time I called. I never made it past, 'Hello Mrs. Warner' before I heard the click. Same deal with your brother. I don't blame them one bit. I'd do the same. I heard what happened after I left. They had a right to want me to fuck off," she whispers.
"That's a naughty word, Mama," Kadence scolds.
"Yes, baby, it is, but just this once it's okay for mama to use it," Sydney says.
Kadence nods. "Okay. But just this once."
Damn if she isn't the cutest thing I've ever seen.
Sydney gasps and the nurse walks over, checking machines and giving Syd a shot of what I'm hoping is pain medication.
"I only have a little time. Please listen, Jace," she begs.
"Kay Kay only has you. I only trust you with her. Please," she begs again.
"Baby, you don't even have to ask. I'd have been here through it all if you'd have let me," I tell her honestly, taking her frail hand in mine, lying next to her on the bed and pulling her emaciated body into mine. One thought keeps going through my mind and I want it more than anything. "Marry me, I blurt out.
She lifts her head, eyes wide. "What? Don't be stupid."
"I'm serious. I want us to be a family for whatever time we have left. I want it to end how it should have been all along. You're the only girl I've ever loved, Syd, and I know you love me. Let me do this. Marry me," I say, knowing in my heart it's exactly right.
"Yes," she whispers as she cries.
About the Author
I was born and raised in Wisconsin and still live here today with my two sons and puppy. (Though one day soon I hope to move to southern California!)
I’m an avid reader who gets inspired by reading the stories from my favorite authors as well as listening to various types of music. I am a huge fan of music, chocolate, fruit, desserts, autumn, M. Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold, and Milo Ventimiglia. Through my books, I am proudly creating new Avenged Sevenfold and Milo Ventimiglia fans one reader at a time.
“The best part of being an author, to me, is being able to take the reader to that one place they long to go when they need to escape reality. Knowing I can do that, for even one reader, makes what I do worthwhile.” ~ Anne Mercier
Hugs and love,
Facebook – http://on.fb.me/1X1dS7S
Twitter – http://bit.ly/1TFJpPQ
Website – http://bit.ly/1QVQ5nc
Goodreads – http://bit.ly/1NsEEXt