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Full Circle

(The Becky Chronicles, Book 5)


By: Sienna Duncan


Full Circle (The Becky Chronicles, Book 5) by Sienna Duncan

Text copyright © 2017 Sienna Duncan

Smashwords Edition


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Dedication

To second chances


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

EPILOGUE




Sometimes goodbye is a second chance. -Shinedown



Prologue

MAX


I stood there and watched her walk away. It hurt like hell, too. I wanted to grab Becky and show her that without a doubt, she's mine. Make her come to her senses, and realize I am the man she belongs with.

That asshole, Chad, had his chance when she was still a part of his life. A chance he wasted. He took for granted she would always be there. I have never taken Becky for granted and I never will. My gut instinct tells me she will realize Chad belongs in her past and I am her future.

He better not hurt her or he will have to deal with me.

I just need to be patient.

The problem with that? Patience, isn’t my strong suit.

I watched the woman I love walk away, and didn’t try to stop her. What the hell was I thinking?

That gut wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach wouldn't go away. I knew she needed to make peace with her past before she could move on with her life. I deluded myself into believing Becky was completely happy with me. I know she was happy most of the time, because I could see it in the way she looked at me when she didn't think I noticed. When I was inside her. Fuck! I've noticed everything about her since the moment we met. I know it was real!

I thought in time she would finally forget about him. Chad Fucking Matthews. I've never said his name out loud, because that would make him have some control in our relationship.

After two years you’d think that wasn't the case. No such luck. She tried to tell me she wasn’t ready for a commitment. Hell, I didn’t know I was ready, until she walked into my life.

I chuckled at my own stupidity. That's saying something, because I'm a very intelligent man. Many of the women I've dated, well just fucked to be honest, would say I deserve what I got. I've avoided serious relationships for a reason. I rarely called a woman a second time. They start to get the wrong idea when you do. I've been called a heartless bastard among other things over the years. But that never stopped them from trying to convince me.

I never thought one woman could keep my attention long enough to matter.

Until Becky Stevens. Sassy, smart mouthed, and the sexiest curves you’ve ever seen. I could feel myself getting hard thinking about them.

I chuckled thinking back to the day we first met. I'd been curious to meet her since my assistant, Jeannette, went on and on about the rave reviews her articles received. She wrote for the travel magazine, Oasis. Jeanette thought it would be a great idea if we took out an ad for the hotel in the magazine. She was optimistic I could persuade Becky to include The Sanctum Grande Hotel in an article about New Orleans. Supposedly, this city was on her list of future destinations.

My first impression of her was an interesting one. I walked out her editor’s office and my attention was immediately drawn to a young woman with bright (she later informed me it was burgundy) hair. My first thought was “who fucked that up?” Then I wondered if she did it on purpose. All questions went out the window when her beautiful blue eyes met mine. There was a mischievousness about them. My heart did this funny little flip. I didn't know it could do that. She was so beautiful.

There was barely any make up on her face because she didn’t need any. I really liked that. I hate it when women cover up their natural beauty with all that junk. I caught her checking me out just as I was doing the same with her. When my eyes glanced to her hair, she gave me a look daring me to say anything about it. I think I was hooked then. It made it even better once I realized she was the writer I was supposed to meet with.

Becky turned out to be so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. I won’t lie. I wanted her from the moment we first met. She tried her best to resist me in the beginning. It was a bit of a challenge. I’m not used to women challenging me. Not to sound cocky, but I’ve never had a problem getting a woman’s attention.

There was something different about Becky from the beginning. Special. She wasn’t impressed by my money, cars, or family name. That shocked me more than anything. I thought she would show her true colors within a few days, but I soon realized she was unlike any woman I had ever known. I fell in love with her more and more as the weeks went by. I wanted to tell her so many times, but I knew she wasn’t ready to hear those words from me. I knew she was skittish about marriage. Her mother made her that way because of the way she tried to push Becky into marriage in the past.

I wonder if my mother would’ve been like that. I was so young when she died, but I believe she would’ve wanted my happiness no matter who I chose.

My mother…well, I don’t like to talk about her. The pain of her loss never goes away. When Becky was here the emptiness I felt left for a while. Now that she’s gone it has come back full force. Now I have the loss of the one woman who finally made me feel whole. Made me want to be a better man.

I remember reading something Jeanette sent me about love from the internet. She started sending me shit like that when it looked like I was going to finally settle down. I usually don’t waste my time with those type of things, but something made me read it. Well, she printed it off the computer, and it was on top of the file she brought to me. Jeannette likes to think she is a slick one.

Love brings up emotions that run the gamut from agony to ecstasy. Love can inspire us to accomplish some of the craziest and most amazing feats.

Love can make you happier than you've ever been, sadder than you've ever been, angrier than you've ever been. It can elate you and deflate you almost at the same time.

While we can all pretty much recognize the emotions associated with love, actually finding the words to explain those feelings is a pretty tough order.

People have searched for centuries to find the right way to say "I love you" and to try to explain those butterflies in your stomach, that warm fuzzy feeling in your, belly and that heart skipping a beat.

One thing we DO know is that whether you've love and won — or loved and lost, it's ALWAYS worth it.

-Unknown author-


I walked over to the top drawer of my dresser and pulled it open. I reached inside and grabbed the small black box that was nestled in the corner. I opened the lid and stared at the diamond ring inside. Damn! It still hurt to think about her rejection. For the first time in my life, I wanted to get married. Unfortunately for me, she was still stuck on the last guy.

There is a part of me that hopes she thinks about me when she’s with him. There is no fucking way he can make her feel all the things I have. The way her body responded to my touch. She couldn’t fake that. Damn it! The saddest part of all is knowing she loves me, but she’s too stuck in the past to see it. It’s that selfish part of me that wants her to come back.

I know I should cut my losses and bow out gracefully. I should do a lot of things.

BUT I don’t give up that easily.


Chapter 1


I leaned my head against the cold hard window, while sitting in the passenger seat of my brother’s car, thinking how fucked up my life is right now. The movers left the day before with all of my furniture and other junk. It’ll be in storage until I figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

The latest song by Bruno Mars was playing on the radio, but it wasn’t enough to drown out the thoughts in my head. I continued to playback the events of the past few days.

Las Vegas.

Max.

The proposal.

My head throbbed from all the tears shed and unshed. I watched the miles go by as Trevor drove closer to our hometown of Arab, Alabama. I could still hear our mamas voice when Trevor told her I was coming home. It was a mixture of shock and excitement. I know she wanted me to come back home, but also I know my mother well enough to know she was full of unanswered questions. Our dad wanted to speak with me personally instead of me using Trevor as a buffer. I know it’s because he’s concerned about me, and everything that led up to my decision to come back home after three years, of pretty much running away. Three years of avoiding everything. This time I feared my life was in more shambles than it was back then.

I just got back from a disastrous trip to Las Vegas. My heart still hurt thinking about it. Did I do the right thing? Did I ever really give him a chance? I know I loved Max (still love him to be honest), but my heart has been trapped in the past all this time.

No, it was the right decision. I know it was.

Right?

The decisions we make can have a rippling effect that is beyond our comprehension and control. There is no clear right or wrong decision. Which path is the right one to take? Which one will lead to disaster?

Obviously, I don’t have a clue. If the cluster fuck that is my life is any indication of the bad decisions I have made over the course of the past three years. Even with all those bad decisions, I don’t have many regrets. You live and you learn from them. Sometimes.

My head and heart have been in such turmoil. It all began three years ago when I left the small southern town I had grown up in, and moved down to Fairhope on Alabama’s gulf coast. I remember being so frustrated with everything and everyone in my life. I have since learned to share the blame with them. I allowed so many people to directly or indirectly dictate what I did with my life. I was too much of a people pleaser. I learned the hard way, once you start that pattern, it’s a never-ending cycle of bending to everyone’s will but your own.

The culmination of all that frustration led to seeing my then boyfriend, Chad Matthews, in what appeared to be a compromising position. He was at dinner with clients (he works for his dad’s engineering firm) but when I walked into the restaurant, I saw a woman’s hand on his thigh. I could’ve brushed that off if he had pushed her hand away, but the thing is, he did not. Oh, he told me over and over that he never cheated, and blah blah blah. That’s pretty much all I heard after that. I wanted to believe him (really, I did), but I wanted to not have to deal with it.

I told everyone, including Chad, that I needed time to clear my head. After I left, I tried my best not to think about him. I kept telling myself I would talk to him later, because there was plenty of time for it to be resolved.

The problem with that genius thinking is that I never called him up to talk about it. He reached out to me a couple times, but I wasn’t ready. That’s what I always told myself. No time was good to rehash painful memories. Especially, the one that ripped my heart out.

Through it all, I never stopped loving Chad. He was my heart and soul for so long. There is no way I could just forget that. No matter what my broken heart said. I didn’t know how to be me without him.

Hell, I still have his t-shirt I took when I left our apartment. I slept with it for weeks after I moved. Pathetic, I know. I breathed in his scent every night, but it only served to torture me more. Just because I left, it didn’t mean the memories were gone. Oh no. They assaulted me with full force each night when I climbed into the bed. I would stay awake until the early hours of the morning second guessing everything I had done. I relived so many conversations Chad and I had over the years. Especially the one when I finally realized he was interested in me beyond friendship. That was funny because I didn’t have a clue. It still brings a smile to my face thinking about it.

You never forget your first "real" love. Ever. It hurts like hell, too.

In those moments, when I allowed my mind to wander, I often wondered what would’ve happened if people from the outside hadn’t influenced our relationship. What if my mother (along with Chad’s) hadn’t pressured us about marriage? “The perfect union” they’d say or “It’s what everyone expects.” It seemed the more they said anything about marriage, we would evade the conversation all together. It’s quite possible we would be happily married by now. Or maybe not.

The relationship with my mother was strained to say the least. It has improved some, but we still have a long way to go. Too many hurtful things have been said in the past. My mother was constantly pointing out my shortcomings, and she reminded me over and over that Chad would never marry me if I didn’t settle down. She scoffed at my job as a travel writer for Oasis. She never understood how much I loved it. Getting me married off seemed to be her top priority. Her only priority.

Imagine my surprise when she did a complete turn-around after I started dating Max. I think we have finally come to an understanding.

Maybe.

Truthfully, I don’t know how I would’ve made it without the support of my friends. My best friend, Lynn, has been here for me from day one. Once I moved to Fairhope, I was surrounded by my little quartet: Shelby, Taylor, Eric, and Johnny. They helped keep me sane during those first few months. I know Johnny wanted to kick my ass more than once because of the things I did and didn’t do.

I like to say that I don’t have any regrets. That’s true for the most part. But… if I had to pick something I have done and regretted, it would be my one-night stand with Stephen. He's related to my editor's boyfriend. We had just met that night and it was obvious everyone wanted us to hook up. I knew deep down that I shouldn’t have, but I did it anyway. The sad part is, he wanted to see me again. I honestly didn’t think I left that good of an impression. It didn’t take him long to realize that I had just used him. It made me feel kind of dirty when I really thought about it later. That wasn’t me. I didn’t do things like that. I always got pissed off when other people did that kind of shit. Yet, there I was, no better than them.

After the proverbial shit hit the fan in Vegas, and I packed up everything in my apartment, the four of them stopped by to see me off. I hated to see the disappointment on their faces. They thought their feelings were well hidden, but it was obvious from their awkward body language. Taylor was the only one who was brazen enough to ask if I had spoken with Max since the day we left his home.

I knew I would probably never speak to him again. Nor see him again. My mind betrayed me with images of that seductive smile of his and the deep chuckle that could make me smile no matter what was happening. His touch… I brushed away the sadness before it had time to overwhelm me.

No, I didn’t want to think about what that meant. Nope.

I took a leave of absence from my job at the travel magazine, Oasis. I am in the position where it isn’t required I go to the office very often. I can do everything from home. I began as a travel writer, but now I manage Oasis’s online magazine. I still travel from time to time, but nothing like I used to.

I guess I dozed off, because the next thing I knew, Trevor was nudging me awake. My face was smashed against the window, and I could see light red marks on my cheek as proof. I pulled down the visor overhead and tried to straighten my mussed-up hair. Between the crazy hair and marks from the window on my face, I was going to present an interesting picture to my parents.

“At least you didn’t drool on the window.” Trevor patted me on the shoulder before moving his hand back to the steering wheel.

I glared at him.

Trevor glanced at me from the corner of his eye. He raised his eyebrows. “What?”

I rolled my eyes at him and flipped the visor back up. I blinked my eyes to clear them; it took me a moment to get my bearings. Once I did, I realized we were just outside of Arab, in the small town of Joppa. I looked ahead and saw the big water tower that indicated the Arab city limits. I looked on the right side of the highway and saw the “Welcome to Arab” sign. I took a deep breath. Then another.

It’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay.

Too bad I wasn’t more convincing to myself. My hands felt slick, so I wiped them across the legs of my pants a few times. I glanced at Trevor and saw him watching me out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t comment on my obvious nervousness. I need to remember to thank Claire for teaching him how to keep his mouth shut. That was no small feat. I looked out the window and tried (unsuccessfully, I might add) to get my nerves under control. I felt a little nauseous. Okay… a lot. Not kidding anyone here.

My heart started beating faster when Trevor turned on the road to our parents’ house. My eyes quickly glanced over at the Matthews. I sighed in relief when I didn’t see anyone outside. I know I will have to see them sometime. I’m sure it will be sooner rather than later. Especially, if my mama happened to mention I was coming back home.

Trevor pulled into the driveway, and I saw our mom and dad were waiting for us on the front porch. My brother exhaled loudly.

“Are you ready to do this, sis?” He widened his eyes in question.

The frown on my face must’ve said it all because I saw Trevor look over at our parents and shake his head. My parents stopped their descent down the steps. My mother looked at my dad with a worried expression on her face. Well, shit. They probably think I’m one step away from a break down. What the hell did my brother tell them, anyway?

Before I could say anything to him, Trevor opened his door and walked up the steps to greet our parents. I don’t know what they were saying, but from the wary glances they were sending my way, I can only imagine.

I haven’t been that bad. Well, maybe a little.

I took a deep breath and opened the car door. I didn’t have a chance to take more than a step or two before my dad had his arms wrapped around me. I felt my body relax a little. This is my safe place.

Unfortunately, I’m not a little girl anymore. My daddy can’t make it all better for me. Don’t get me wrong, he would if he could.

“Phillip, give the girl some room.” My mother huffed.

I looked up and saw my mother’s anxious expression. My dad stepped back to allow her to give me a hug, too.

“My baby girl has finally come home.” She rocked me back and forth in her arms.

“Hey, Mama.” I wasn’t sure if the tears I could feel on my cheeks were hers or mine. She stood back and looked at me. I watched as her eyes scanned over my face. “I know you must be tired. Let’s get you inside.” My mother grasped my elbow and we walked into the house.

“Trevor and I will unload the car.” My dad walked around to the trunk.

“Thank you, Dad.” He smiled in response. Trevor said something to him, but I was too far away to hear.

I walked inside and immediately smelled my mama’s cooking. I turned around in surprise.

“Are you making lasagna?” My mama’s lasagna is the best you will ever eat. The sauce has just the right amount of spices, and don’t get me started on the cheeses. It’s perfection in one bite.

My mother beamed. “Yes, I am. I know how much you always loved it. So, when Trevor called and said you were coming home, I knew I had to make it for you.”

“Thank you, but you didn’t need to go to any trouble.”

“It’s no trouble. I wanted to make you something special.” She smiled as she brushed a stray piece of hair, that had escaped my ponytail, off my cheek. Her eyes roamed over my face.

I looked at my mother and realized how much I missed her. We disagree about most things, but I know she loves me and always wants the best for me. If only, I could break her habit of gossiping and meddling.

I knew she had lots of questions for me, and I must say, I am very surprised she hasn’t started to ask them. I know Trevor called our parents and gave them the condensed version of what happened. I could hear the shock in their voices and the many questions that followed. Trevor left the room to save me from having to listen to it, even if it was one-sided.

I know my parents were very impressed with Max. No, it wasn’t his wealth that impressed them. They aren’t superficial like that. Dad summed it up by telling me that any man who continues his family business and has the fortitude to make it more successful, is one who has earned a tremendous amount of respect. My dad respects men who are very responsible and determined to make things happen, and not wait around for whatever they are given. That is Max in a nutshell.

They also liked the way Max treated me. I usually laughed when my dad said things like that, but I appreciated the fact that he wanted to make sure the man I was involved with treated me with respect. Max reminded me of my dad in that way. No matter how much my mom drove him crazy, and trust me when I say she did it often, my dad has always been respectful to her.

I spent two years with Max, and he always treated me with respect. That doesn’t mean we didn’t butt heads sometimes. He never gave in just to let me have my way, nor did he allow me to run away from anything. By doing that, he helped me become a better person.

I’m comfortable in my own skin now.

When you hear how beautiful and sexy you are on a daily basis, it has an effect on you. I am so much stronger now than I was when I left this small town in tears. Isn’t it funny that I’ve also returned in tears? I know they’re tears of my own making.

I know if Max was here right now, he would tell me to be confident is my decision and to own it. I know he’d be right, but right now my mind is torn. What’s new, right?

No matter what happens, I’m glad Trevor encouraged me to come back home. I needed this for so many reasons. I didn’t plan to stay away so long. It just happened. Well, I let it happen. I had become good at avoiding anything remotely difficult. I have never liked confrontations.

Dad and Trevor walked into the house carrying my bags. They took them to my old bedroom, and I followed them to start unpacking. Our parents wanted Trevor to stay for dinner, but he said he needed to get home to Claire and the kids. He hugged me before he left and promised to check on me later.

I was left with my mom and dad and an uncomfortable silence. My dad, the wonderful man he is, walked over to put his arm around my shoulders. That comforting gesture is all it took for me to relax. I looked up at him and smiled. He squeezed my shoulder to further give me reassurance.

“We’re not going to pressure you to tell us what happened. When you’re ready, we’ll be here for you.” My dad looked from me to my mother and then back again.

My eyes filled with tears. I tried to bat them away. I nodded to him and we followed my mother into the dining room. My dad pulled out my chair for me and then did the same thing for my mother before walking to his. My dad, the gentleman. The rock of this family. He smiled at my mother as he cut the lasagna, and put a large piece on everyone’s plate, along with a thick slice of garlic bread.

For the first time in years, it felt like home.



CHAPTER 2


Over the next few days, I took the time to get settled in my old bedroom. It felt strange to sleep in my old bed again. I know this isn’t permanent, but I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. True to their word, my parents have not asked any questions about Max. I could tell they wanted to, though.

I overheard a one-sided phone call between my dad and who I assumed was Trevor. It didn’t take me long to figure out he had called Max. I was a little surprised my dad decided to call him without knowing the details from me.

Oh, I’m sure they got tired of waiting and decided to take matters into their own hands. It made me a little aggravated. I was momentarily speechless; when I heard my dad say that he had been so sure this time was different, but that my head just wasn’t on straight. Something about me taking after my mama.

What?!?!

Although, the phone call itself had my mama written all over it. I’m sure it didn’t take much to convince my dad to place the call, but my mother had to be the one who came up with the idea. He’s putty in her hands.


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