Gas station coffee is the highlight of Lily Slone’s boring outing until fate intervenes… Along with the barrel of a gun and a lost soldier who saves her life.
Jasper Hutson—a homeless Marine, discarded by his family after returning home from the war wounded—reacted on instinct. But this one act brings him to Lily’s attention, and not because he saves her life. She sees something else in him. Something no one else sees.
Refusing to give up on him when everyone else does, Lily offers Jasper a place to stay and an opportunity to get back on his feet. That one offer will change her world. When they grow closer and Jasper makes Lily’s life so much easier, she’s not sure she can go back to living without him.
As life moves forward and they get into their own rhythm, Lily discover something about Jasper that he’s kept hidden. Will she continue to reach for her happily ever after or will they both remain wounded?
As you may or may not know, I have been a fan of Erin’s for a long time now. I follow her on her blog and Facebook. Reading this book was like reading her biography in a way. There is so much of Erin in Lily. I could pick out things that Erin has shared in the past with readers. I found myself carefully reading to see what else I can remember.
The story itself was endearing. Watching Jasper and Lily fall in love one odd job at a time was awsome. Kind of reminded me of a line from a Rosie O’Donnell movie: Slave says “How can I please you ma’am?” Her answer, “Paint my House!”
There is a big twist in this book, that I didn’t see coming! I will not say what it is, you will have to read it to find out! A read worth reading! 5 Hearts!
Most people complained or picked on gas station coffee. It was even a running gag that only hospital food being horrible beat it. But still, thousands of people across the country got it every day because it was easy, cheap, and already where they need to stop.
I wasn’t most people. It was a treat for me because it had real sugar. Those goofy-flavored cappuccino machines were the highlight of needing gas for me. No, I never claimed to be remotely normal.
And to make things worse, I filled the last quarter of the cup with ice—because I didn’t like hot coffee. Lukewarm or iced. That was what tickled my fancy. That was a lot of detail for one drink, but that was what you focused on when the scariest thing ever happened to you—the details sear into your brain.
That day I’d gone with a caramel white chocolate large one, glancing at the donuts and reminding myself they’d probably been sitting there for hours and were so not worth the calories.
Then people screamed.
I knocked the cup, spilling scalding liquid all over my hand as I turned to the door and saw the man with gun. Faster than I would have thought I was able to move, I darted behind the condiments counter, the gunman a blur. Part of me wanted to chew myself out for not getting a better view of the guy, the police would need that later. The sane part of me patted myself on the back for thinking so quickly.
“Money. I want the money,” someone demanded and I didn’t need three guesses who was speaking.
“And the expensive booze back there. The good stuff.”
“Yeah, sure. Take whatever you want,” a woman whimpered. Tears burned in my eyes at the fear in her voice. It wasn’t like I would have traded places with her, but I did wish there was some way I could help her without getting shot. Then again, sometimes people tried to be heroes and made the situation worse. I made a mental note to remind myself of that later.
“Faster!” the same man snarled.
I won’t judge if she pees herself. I might have. I rolled my eyes. What a random thought. My parents would be very disappointed with the lack of manners I was mentally having as I crouched there looking out the windows and praying the police somehow showed up.
At least that was a better use of the time.
Something brushed my shoulder as it moved past me. Then I heard someone hiss behind me and I realized why when I glanced at what it had been.
I wasn’t thinking—and that was what I’d say later—when I jumped up from my spot and grabbed the little girl’s arm. I quickly shoved her back to where I saw her parents hiding, cursing how stupid they were to not have held on to her better.
And debating calling Child and Family Services that they hadn’t gone after her.
“What are you doing over there?” the man bellowed. My heart stopped as I realized he was talking to me. I slowly turned towards him with my hands up, thinking that I might throw up instead of pee my pants when I focused on the barrel of the gun pointed in my direction. “I asked what you’re doing!”
“I tripped,” I lied, swallowing loudly. “I was hiding and I tripped. I’m sorry.”
“Keep filling the bag,” he snapped at the poor attendant before taking a step towards me. “I could shoot you!” I saw his eyes darting around wildly and my heart sunk in my stomach. He was high. I mean high as a mother fucking kite kinda high.
“My name is Lily Slone,” I blurted, remembering somewhere that if you personalized yourself that a gunman was less likely to shoot you. “I’m thirty years old. I live here in Bellevue. I grew up in Chicago. I have an older brother and a younger sister. I’m an author—”
“I hate authors. They took my spot with publishers,” he seethed, taking another step closer.
“I’m not with a publisher. I self-publish.” Yeah, not my finest moment, and not completely true but I didn’t think the drug-influenced gunman holding up the gas station was going to Google me at the moment.
“And you made it that way? Why you? Why not me?”
“I’m not Danielle Steele,” I squeaked. “No one’s ever heard of me. I just do the best I can.”
“I could write what you do. I could become you.”
Right because no one would ever tell anyone that he’d killed me and the crazy man could just pick up in my series without there being any continuity issues. Sure he could.
He cocked the gun and my brain froze. There was nothing left to say that could help me when talking had made things worse. Plus he was bat shit crazy.
A cammies-covered figure plowed into the gunman, and on instinct, I dropped to the ground. The shot echoed in the store and I begged whoever was listening that no one got hit when he’d been aiming for me. I heard some grunting and looked up in time to see the solider punch the guy twice in the face. Then he picked up the gun and tucked it into the back of his pants before glancing at me. He gave me a nod that everything was okay and I was staring into the prettiest green eyes I’d ever seen.
And not just because he’d saved my life. No, they were a bright green with flecks of blue in them, but not hazel.
Focus. Stop acting like a loony toon.
I slowly got to my feet, my legs shaking and my knees sore from dropping to the hard tile so fast. That was going to bruise later—a bruise I’d love because I was still alive.
The solider walked out the door, and I blinked after him, shocked that was how he was reacting. Then again, he just dove at an armed man. He could sing a happy tune and he’d still be my favorite person for a long, long time.