Globetrotter, Danica Pavlova spends her days scouring old folktales and her nights trying to forget her life is anything but a fairy tale. Ten years ago, she ran away from her best friend the night after causing his crippling accident, convinced Adam King was better off not loving her.
But when her brother is diagnosed with leukemia, she resolves to come home to care for the family she abandoned and face the love she never forgot. Will she find forgiveness for the mistakes of her past, or can there be a second chance for a woman who walks in moonlight?
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You” and John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, She Walks in Moonlight explores both redemption and romance in the face of tragedy.
*Warning-Contains Adult Situations & Some Language*
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Listen to my inspiration behind “She Walks in Moonlight.” Music, art and literature inspire us to create and make us feel. While I normally listen to movie scores while writing, for my contemporary romance I wanted to listen to music that would give our characters their “voice.” Hope you enjoy!
STORY BEHIND THE STORY
I set about writing this novel as a challenge to myself and a joke. While I do enjoy the contemporary romance genre, I often have laughed at the melodrama and tropes. So I thought writing She Walks in Moonlight would be easy. I even planned on hamming up the more heated moments and didn’t take the romance seriously. Until I started writing it and discovered the real story.
Danica’s story as the fallen girl who just wants to come home, who is just looking for a second chance, started to hit home for me. Especially once her big brother, Peter, makes his life-changing phone call. What started as a simple second-chances romance soon became so much more. This story captured my heart and has taught me so much along the way. Also, coincidentally, while writing and sharing chapters of this story with my beta reader, her parents were diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly the struggles Danica and Peter and their family go through became personal to me. Which is why I wanted to dedicate this novel to Melissa and her family.
To all the families who have lost loved ones, who sit at their parent’s and sibling’s and loved one’s bedsides, hoping and praying they get well. To those who have lost hope in their lives, don’t ever give up. Live each day one breath at a time and love with everything you have. There is always room for second chances, to right wrongs, and to come home. This book belongs to you.
I had spent so long wrapped in my selfish wants and desires that I forgot to care for someone else. It wasn’t something I’d planned on happening, but by the time I realized the truth, it was almost too late. The person I had always taken for granted, the boy I had tried so hard not to love, was dying.
I ran the entire way to his house, through backfields. I hopped two barbed-wire fences, tearing holes in my shirt. My Converse sneakers and the hems of my flared blue jeans were soon covered in mud, but I kept running. My lungs burned from lack of oxygen, thanks to a lack of practice. But if I was honest with myself, I hadn’t been able to breathe properly for the past three hours. A pressure clawed its way up my chest, the same weight that had settled in the moment the phone rang. Because I already knew what had happened. My older brother, Peter, wasn’t aware I was the indirect cause of the accident. He didn’t know Adam wouldn’t have been out in the first place if he hadn’t been looking for me.
Please wait for me, I prayed. Adam didn’t know I was a liar, and I had to tell him the truth.
I almost collapsed the moment I caught sight of his family’s two-story, white-board farmhouse. I focused on the soft yellow light shining from his bedroom window upstairs as I hopped the picket fence around his front yard.
I fell against the front door, panting as I lifted a hand to pound on its cruel surface. I needed to see Adam, to feel his hand in mine. I stumbled when the door gave way to a familiar, albeit haggard, face. My heart fell into my stomach at the sight of Adam’s big sister, Hailey. Her mouth twisted as she recognized me, and I felt the full weight of the bad blood between us. Hailey had dated my brother Peter off and on for the last few years. She had never been a fan of mine.
“Please, Hailey,” I gasped and braced a hand on the doorpost.
Her green eyes narrowed, and she crossed her arms over her chest. “Haven’t you done enough already?”
My heart sank, while my mind screamed at me, your fault! She was right, and I couldn’t argue with her. I looked at the familiar front porch and tried to think of something. I could climb the lattice to reach his window. We had sneaked in and out of his bedroom plenty of times growing up. I could sleep on the porch until they let me in. Peter would understand, and he would confront Hailey if I called and asked him to. My hand reached in my jeans pocket for my flip phone, when another voice called from the hallway, “Hailey, who is it?”
I peered over Hailey’s golden-crowned head and tensed when Ms. King stepped into view. She still wore her hospital scrubs, and I wondered if she had been on duty when Adam was brought in. Her pale-blue eyes were worn and so sad that I couldn’t look up at them too long before staring down at my muddy Converse.
“Danica?” Ms. King’s voice was filled with compassion and, to my shock, relief. I looked up again to find the same warm smile that filled some of the gap my mother had torn open. Her plump hand came to rest on Hailey’s narrow shoulder, and she spoke firmly to her daughter without breaking eye contact with me. “I’m so glad you’re here. He’s been asking for you every time he wakes up. He was worried sick until Peter confirmed you were safe at home.”
Your fault, I thought. If Adam hadn’t been so worried about me, he never would have gotten in that vehicle to come after me.
Hailey continued to watch me with a poisonous glare as she stepped aside. Ms. King reached out for me, and I bit my lip before rushing into her arms. Her embrace was almost too tight, but I wasn’t complaining. I pushed off my muddy shoes onto the foyer floor before following her the rest of the way inside.
“Dr. McMorries let me bring him home, thank God. The hospital couldn’t take care of him any better than we can. And I want him to be as comfortable as possible while he recovers,” she explained to me while guiding me up the hardwood stairs.
I knew some of this story already, thanks to Peter. Ms. King was a physician’s assistant with more than enough experience in emergency situations. Hailey worked as a registered nurse at the hospital as well, so Ms. King wasn’t lying when she said they could provide the best care. Still, I was impressed they let her bring Adam home.
Maybe his injuries aren’t as bad as we thought?
“The jeep was totaled, of course. And he’s not out of the woods yet, but it could have been a lot worse.”
“How bad?” I asked.
Again, she attempted a careworn smile as she put her hand on his bedroom door. “We aren’t sure if he’ll be able to walk again, Danica.” She pushed open the door and shut it behind me as I walked in alone.
Shadows tipped the atmosphere to match my mood. Instead of seeing Adam’s band posters and a smattering of my artwork, all I could focus on was the broken boy lying in the twin bed under soft lamplight. I wrapped my arms over my chest to keep from throwing myself at him. His eyes were squeezed shut, hiding the beautiful color I loved. His summer-tanned skin was a winter pale now, from loss of blood, no doubt. I sank to my knees beside his bed and bit my nails to keep my fingers to themselves. His chest rose and fell in unsteady gasps.
I laid my head on the duvet and drank in the familiar scent and whispered, “I’m so sorry.” As my eyes fluttered shut, my fingers found his, and I imagined that his squeezed mine just as strongly back.
“Dani, I know things are going to change when we get to college. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I want us to stay close.” Adam paused and took my hand in his.
When did he get so much taller than I was? And why was he always so warm no matter how cold I felt on the inside? The look in his eyes…
“Adam,” I began but froze when he took a step even closer.
“Dani, I’m not one of those guys, you know. I’m not going to drop you just so I can date a bunch of other girls. That’s not what I want.”
“Adam, please listen to me. I need to tell you…” My words trailed off before I could say it. It was the reason I came over here with Adam after Caleb’s party. Every time I tried to tell him, the words were banished by the way he held my hand, the way he smiled only for me.
“I’ve wanted to tell you this for so long, Dani.” He took in a deep breath, the light in his eyes growing with his courage.
“Adam…” I couldn’t stand the hope in his eyes, the need, or the way my body was responding to him.
“Adam, I’m going to St. Petersburg in two weeks.” I watched in horror as the glow in his beautiful eyes dulled, and like the masochist I was, I kept hurting the both of us.
“Adam,” I moaned in my sleep, and a hand squeezed mine in response. I opened my eyes and blinked against the light bleeding through the window blinds. The golden rays seemed to hold me, envelop me, and I snuggled closer to the comforting heat, only for my heat source to groan in pain.
I would have fallen out of Adam’s bed had he not kept a secure arm around my waist.
“Adam!” My hands fluttered over his exposed and partially bandaged torso. Guilt and self-hatred ate away all the warmth I might have felt in his arms. I wasn’t sure how I had ended up in his bed last night and was surprised his mom and sister let me stay.
“I am so sorry!” I bit my lip to keep from telling him everything else. In the light of day, the truth was even harder to confess. I couldn’t even look him in the eye, just stared at the bandages wrapped around his head. “I don’t know how I ended up in your bed,” I continued. “I swear I fell asleep on the floor. I came as soon as I heard…”
Despite everything I had put him through, despite the verbal lashing I deserved, Adam offered a pale grin instead. His voice was scratchy from disuse. “You think I was about to let you sleep on the floor?”
“Oh, guess that answers that question.” I ducked my head and held my breath when he reached up to tuck a stray black curl behind my ear.
“I’m really glad you came, Dani. I was worried when you tore out of here like you did last night. I don’t know what I’d do if something had happened to you.”
I was haunted by what he didn’t say. It drove me over the edge. “Adam! Don’t you dare pretend this whole thing isn’t my fault.”
He frowned. “What are you saying?”
“It’s my fault!” I slapped my palm on the bed between us. My Russian accent thickened the more my emotions took over. “I didn’t want to deal, so I just ran! I’m such a coward…” Tears made his visage blurred. I didn’t want to look. I wanted to get up and run out of his room just like before.
Don’t be a coward again, Zvezda Danica Pavlova, my conscience demanded.
I barely registered that he was pulling me onto his broken form as I sobbed, “I—almost—killed you last—night!”
“Shh… it’s okay, sweetie,” he whispered, and I clung to him, even though he winced. He held me just as tightly, and I closed my eyes, wanting to believe him when he said, “I came after you because I love you and because you love me.”
Part of me wanted to deny it. I couldn’t say anything, though. I came here to tell him the truth, to tell him I had lied out of my ass last night when I’d tried to crush every feeling he felt for me. Tried and failed.
“Adam,” I sighed, “I shouldn’t have thrown all that back in your face. The things I said to you… I can’t believe I said I hated you.”
“Forget it. Let’s just forget last night, please? You’re here now, Dani.” He reached down to tip my chin up to meet his gaze, and this time, I couldn’t hide from his electric-blue eyes. “That’s all that matters.”
I couldn’t be sure whether I reached up or he bent down, but somehow our lips met. Maybe it was chemical, two opposing forces coming together. In that moment, we were in perfect sync. The kiss began chastely, but this changed when his hand reached inside my T-shirt and his callouses grazed my bare skin. Then there was too much space between us, and we pressed and molded together in our effort to expel it. I thought I had known passion before with the guys I dated. Adam was enigmatic, despite his bruising and stitches and the fact that he may never walk again.
I gasped, afraid I would hurt him and attempted to tell him so. He grimaced as I tried pulling away and groaned as he pulled me roughly back to him.
Soon we were way past the point of no return now, even past the point I had been with other guys before. Despite our school’s insistence that I was “easy,” I was anything but. Something always held me back from getting too close, and I knew that for a fact Adam hadn’t gone past second base. I had kept up a steady string of boyfriends through high school, but Adam had barely gotten past the first date. He’d always claimed something just didn’t connect, but I knew there was more to it. I knew by the way he would always come back to me why no girl could get her slutty claws in him.
“Dani…” he breathed against my lips, eyes shut, brow uplifted. My own eyes blinked open, and reality sank in the moment he looked up at me with both pleasure and pain. “Please,” he whispered, and I nodded. He couldn’t move his legs, but I could move for the both of us.
We moved together until my vision blackened and blurred with bursts of color and light. We suppressed our cries against each other’s shoulders, and afterward, he held and caressed me. The light in his cerulean-blue orbs was a perfect blend of hope, male pride, and tenderness that I wanted to bask in forever.
“Love you, Morning Star,” he whispered against my forehead, and suddenly, all my old feelings of guilt and dread filled me to the point of suffocation. After his breathing slowed and evened, I slipped from beneath his covers and pulled my pants up with trembling hands. I listened to the cold, dark voice in my head that had warned me this would happen, that knew he would never let me go after this.
You will only hurt him and leave him, just like your mother, the voice said.
Because I was scared of myself and even more scared of Adam’s love, I walked out his front door that day and didn’t look back.
Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Silverwood