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Unavoidable Chance (Running Into Love Book 5), page 1

 

Unavoidable Chance (Running Into Love Book 5)
 


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Unavoidable Chance (Running Into Love Book 5)


  Unavoidable Chance

  Book 5 in the

  Running Into Love Series

  by

  Annalisa Nicole

  All Rights Reserved

  Copyright © 2015 by Annalisa Nicole

  This book is a written act of fiction. Any and all names, places, or similarities are coincidental. No part of this book may be used without written permission except for brief quotations for reviews or blogs. This book may only be distributed by Annalisa Nicole, the owner and Author of this series.

  This book is dedicated to

  my mom

  Always my best friend,

  always my rock,

  always remembered.

  I love you.

  7/13/53 - 11/11/09

  Table of Contents

  Dedication

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  A little about Annalisa Nicole

  Other Books by Annalisa Nicole

  Where you can find Annalisa Nicole

  Acknowledgements

  Character Glossary

  Chapter 1

  Ava

  There are several defining moments in a person’s life. For me, they are the day I graduated Valedictorian from high school. The day I graduated at the top of my class from Seattle University School of Law. And the day I got a job offer from the most respected law firm in Seattle, Smithe, Parker, and Foley, the day after I graduated. And most recently the biggest defining moment in my life, the day my dad died. That day, six months ago, was the worst day of my life.

  I have a very close family and when I was a little girl we started the tradition of Sunday family dinners. They weren’t an option either. They were, and still are, mandatory. You have to stop what you were doing and make time for family; it was and still is the number one rule.

  I’m the youngest of five siblings and I’ve always hated being the baby. I have three older brothers, Adrian, Aiden, and Asher, and an older sister, Amelia. All but Aiden, who is also a fellow lawyer, have settled down and have families. I love all my nieces and nephews and love how my family has changed over the past few years. Me, I’m never getting married, or having children. I have too much to do, too much to accomplish.

  A couple of months ago at a Sunday family dinner, my brother, Adrian, and his wife, Shay, announce that after months of trying and ultimately giving up, that they are three months pregnant. They recently adopted my handsome nephew, Micah, and my beautiful niece, Makayla, and just when they had given up all hope of conceiving naturally, they are over the moon happy to add to their family. I’ve always loved Sunday dinners. I love the noise, of course, it’s increased over the years as spouses and children have been added, but it’s music to my ears. But, our dining room table hasn’t been the same since my dad died.

  Just before my dad died, he pulled me aside to have a private conversation with me. I immediately went on the defensive and felt like he was attacking me. He said he and my mother were concerned with how many hours I’ve been working. Since I got hired at Smithe, Parker, and Foley, I’ve made it my mission to become the youngest partner at the firm. I’m twenty-eight. The youngest partner was thirty. I only have one more year to achieve my goal. I’ve taken on as many cases as I can and usually work seven days a week, and if you add up all the hours I put in at the office and at home, I probably average well over one hundred hours a week.

  I know it’s a lot, but ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always placed high expectations on myself. Hence, being valedictorian and then top of my class in college. I’ve always done it. No matter what I’ve done in my life, I’ve had to be the best at it. At school, at sports, at playing the piano, shit I’d have to be the best at ironing if it were necessary. I’m not sure if there’s a disorder for this need to be perfect and the best at everything, but now that I think about it, maybe I should look into that.

  The way things were left with my dad weren’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly, and I’m utterly and completely ashamed of myself. I’m not proud of the things I said. I basically told him to butt out of my life and leave me the hell alone, and that he didn’t know me at all anymore. Words I wholeheartedly regret today. As I stomped away like a petulant child, he called out to me, “I love you, princess,” a name I so adored and one that always put a bright smile on my face. But after he said those beautiful words to me, I just kept walking. I got in my car and drove away. The next night my dad died in his sleep from a brain aneurysm. I didn’t say it back. I always say, “I love you too, Daddy,” back to him. That was the first time in my life that I didn’t, and I’ll never get the chance to say it to his face ever again. Even at twenty-eight I still called him Daddy, and I loved to see his eyes melt every time I said it. I’ll never see that look again. The last opportunity I was given I threw it away like a spoiled brat.

  There have been some pretty serious changes in my life over the past six months. My best friend and roommate, Chloe, moved out. Chloe and a close family friend, Max, recently got married. Even though she’s moved out, I’m ecstatic to finally have my BFF back. She’s been through some serious shit, and for a while there I was thinking hers would be the next funeral I went to. She was kidnapped by a crazy, mad man and held for three years. This man kidnapped my sister, Amelia, too, which is how Chloe and Max met in the first place and started dating. Max is a PI and got it into his ridiculous male sized brain that Chloe was better off without him. Chloe went into a tailspin of depression and it literally took a village to bring her back to this side of sanity.

  Max and Chloe just had this amazing kickass wedding in a park that involved motorcycles, and let me tell you it was so amazingly romantic. I think Chloe kind of felt guilty about moving out and suggested that her new friend Savvy move in with me. Good Lord that woman is hell on wheels! She comes into a room talking a mile a minute and the next thing you know she’s gone. You look around at an empty room and wonder what in the hell just happened. I honestly didn’t have the energy to argue with Chloe and agreed that Savvy could move in with me. I don’t need the money by any means, I make a good salary. But her company and just knowing that I’m not alone is worth the constant annoying gum smacking that she does. I seriously think she sleeps with gum in her mouth.

  I don’t really see her that often. She too has a busy schedule working full-time for Max as his receptionist, going to nursing school full-time, and if that isn’t enough, she even works part-time at a bar at night called Deuces. I don’t know where she gets her energy, but I’d like to know because I could use some.

  Tonight at dinner something seemed to shift and I have this need to go see my dad. I think until tonight my mind has been clouded by grief and obsessed with work, that I just haven’t been thinking clearly. Sure, I go and see my dad often, but this idea just popped into my head, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

  Shay has been so kind to take me to see my dad whenever I want. Alright, that’s not the entire truth. She made me promise to not go by myself, and said that she’d be happy to take me whenever I want to go. God, I love my sister-in-law. I scan the room looking for her. I see her talking to Adrian. I quickly make my way across the room and say to her, “Can you and Adrian take me to see dad? I need to tell him something.”

  “We’d be honored to,” she says with
a smile.

  A huge weight feels like it has just been lifted off my shoulders. I feel like a complete idiot that I didn’t think of this sooner. Now I just need to formulate the right words to say to my dad.

  It’s a short drive to the cemetery, too short. I just need a little more time to think of exactly what I want to say. It has to be just perfect. We pull up to the curb and his headstone comes into view. My stomach does a flip flop and it feels like I’m on a giant roller coaster.

  “You four can go first, I’d like to talk to Dad alone,” I say, squished in the back seat between my niece and nephew. Adrian, Shay, Micah and Makayla get out of the car; Adrian takes Shay’s hand as the kids follow behind. They place flowers in front of his headstone, then I see them talking. Until today I never really wanted to talk to my dad. I just never had the right words to say. I’d walk up to his grave and just get choked up. All I could do was stare at the blurry headstone as tears ran down my face. Tonight the words crowd my brain and I want to tell him a million different things. I’m afraid they’ll all come out jumbled and not make any sense at all.

  Adrian kisses his palm and places it over our dad’s name. Shay gives him a side hug, and they start to walk back toward the car. I start to panic because I haven’t worked out the words in my head that I want to say yet. I open the door, step out and pass them on the lush, green grass on the way to my dad. Shay offers a small smile. I muster up what I hope is a smile and not a look of I’m suffering from gas pains, where’s the bathroom.

  I have my mission and I tune out the rest of the world knowing my intent. I’m still trying to calculate the words and their order when I hit a brick wall. Well, it isn’t a real brick wall, but more a figurative brick wall. A person who I didn’t see barrels right into me, knocking me straight on my ass. My first thought is, dude, what the hell! My second thought is, shit that really kind of hurt, but I can’t let that show. My third thought was to finally look at the person who ran me over AKA, ‘The Brick Wall’.

  God, I had almost everything I wanted to say on the tip of my tongue, too, and in only a few more steps, I would have been right there.

  A hand is extended down in my field of vision. It’s a rather muscular and calloused male hand, yet I can’t help but notice his well-manicured fingernails. I follow the hand up his forearm, a very muscular, well defined forearm, I might add. Next, my eyes trail to large defined biceps and a broad, full chest wearing a light blue t-shirt that is stretched taut against said muscles. His neck, as much as I’d like to put my hands around and wring, I couldn’t no matter how much I wanted to. It’s like the size of a watermelon. His jaw is chiseled like a GI-Joe doll, but my gawking stops at his incredible green eyes. My first impression of a brick wall wasn’t that far off. This man is stocked, locked, and loaded.

  I had to take a minute to realize that I’m staring at him with my mouth hanging open. I snap my jaw shut only to open it back up again with a gasp. I know this man. Why do I know this man? Where have I seen him before? I start to file through memories when BAM, it hits me. It’s the chef guy from that restaurant. Oh God, what’s his name? Dax, no, that’s not it. OK, start with the beginning of the alphabet. A – no, that’s stupid, there’s no name Aax, Bax, Fax, Hax. Shit, this isn’t working. JAX! That’s it. He’s the owner of that new restaurant where we had Adrian and Shay’s adoption celebration dinner. Score one for, Ava! Man, I have an awesome memory.

  “Did you want to take my hand so I can help you up, or did you want to sit on your ass the rest of the night?” he asks. His deep voice reverberates in my chest, and again, I realize I’m just staring at him with my mouth open. I roll my eyes and reluctantly put my hand in his. He pulls me to my feet like I’m a feather. “Sorry, I didn’t see you coming. Are you alright?” he asks.

  “Uh, yes, I’m fine. Sorry, I think that was more my fault. I was on a mission and kind of had some tunnel vision going on,” I say embarrassed.

  “Again, sorry,” he says, as he wipes a tear from his cheek with his left hand. My brain comes back to me and I recall that yes, we’re in a cemetery. And why is he by my dad’s grave? Did he know my dad? No, he couldn’t have, my dad didn’t act like he knew him at the restaurant. I then notice the additional wet tear drops on his t-shirt just under his collarbone.

  “I, uh…I’m just here to see…you’re the chef from Jax, right?”

  “Yes, I’m Jaxon Landry, and you’re Amelia, right?” he says, squinting his eyes trying to place the correct name.

  “Close, I’m Ava. My sister is Amelia,” I correct him.

  “I knew it started with an A,” he says, glancing at the grave next to my dad’s. I look at the headstone and read the name, Scarlett Landry. She was born the same year I was but died two years ago. Is this his sister? Below her name is the inscription, ‘Beloved wife, mother, and friend’. I’ve processed all this information in the matter of only a few seconds and have come to the conclusion that this has to be his wife. A flood of memories hit me as I think of my oldest brother, Asher, when he lost his first wife, Olivia, to a drunk driver, and just how emotional and heartbreaking that was for my brother and our entire family. I also realize that I’m still holding Jax’s hand.

  If you could only live in my brain and navigate the million different directions I can think in such a short amount of time, I think you’d fall over dizzy. I’m here to see my dad. I’m holding a cute man’s hand in a cemetery with his wife watching. I need to get home and answer e-mails. I need to send my assistant a text. Don’t forget you have to be in court at ten in the morning. Shit, I left a load of laundry in the washing machine. I need to take back those shoes I bought. It’s going to rain tomorrow, so don’t forget to take the umbrella out of my gym bag. Oh, and again, you’re holding a cute man’s hand!

  “Again, I’m sorry for knocking you over,” he says, letting go of my hand. Then he turns back to the grave next to my dad.

  That was a strange conversation. He kneels down on one knee, plants his right fist in the ground, then he places his left hand on top of her grave. He closes his eyes and his lips start to move, but no sound comes out. I stand there for a few seconds hoping he’ll finish up soon and leave so I can talk to my dad in private. I glance back at Shay, Adrian and the kids and I see Shay and Adrian leaning against the car with smirks on their faces as the kids run around the car giggling.

  Jax is still down on one knee and really, what do I care what he thinks if I talk to my dad. So I get down on both knees, because he’s down on one so I have to do better and get down on two. I start to feel shy and a little crazy about talking out loud as I glance at Jax out of the corner of my eye to the right. He’s still down on one knee with his eyes closed not giving me a second thought, so on with it, I guess.

  Jax

  My wife’s grave was the only one in the row the day my two beautiful and sweet little girls, Skylar and Hope, and I buried their mother. Over the past year, plot after plot has started to fill up. Then one day I came to see my wife, and the rectangle of freshly moved earth and grass next to her held the tell-tale sign, she had a new neighbor. My wife’s marble headstone stood out next to the small bronze temporary marker they place in the ground until a permanent headstone can be made. I read the name S. Wellington and foolishly introduced my wife, Scarlett Landry, to her new neighbor.

  In the beginning, I visited my wife’s grave every day. I was destroyed the day I got the call while I was over in Afghanistan that my wife had died. It was never supposed to be her. If anyone it should have been me. I was doing my third tour of duty the day my world stood still. I was a PJ or a pararescue jumper, in the United States Air Force. My wife and I had this silly little ritual we’d do whenever I was deployed. She’d make me pinky promise to come back to her and our girls with a smile on my face. The smile on my face was important to her. She knew what it took to do my job. Coming home with a smile on my face was never a problem. The minute I got home and my eyes locked with my three girls I couldn’t help but smile. It nev
er occurred to me to make my wife promise me to still be here when I got back.

  I joined the Air Force straight out of high school. I knew I wanted to make it my life-long career. I wanted to be a PJ. My job was to recover and give medical treatment to personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. It was a long and grueling training process, but I thrived on it. I was a self-proclaimed nerd in high school, and I couldn’t wait to graduate and join the Air Force, where no one knew me, or my past. Where I could have a fresh start, and create a whole new person, and be whoever I wanted to be. I went in a scared, scrawny eighteen year old boy, and after the initial ten weeks of Team Training, I came out a confident trim, and fit man.

  The PJ program is one of the military’s toughest programs. There are several sections to the program that take from days to weeks and months to complete. Many times I thought I’d die just from the physical demand they required, but the first day I placed that maroon beret on my head, the satisfaction coursed through my veins and I knew it was well worth it. I had achieved what I had set out to do.

  My life changed yet again the day I met Scarlett. I was doing my six week Combat Diver School program in Panama City, Florida. During the limited free time I was allowed, I liked going to the beach. I was born and raised in Seattle, but nothing compares to the beaches in Florida. I spotted a tiny blonde-haired, blue-eyed goddess wearing a lifeguard swimsuit sitting in a tower. She was my Rapunzel in a castle. It wasn’t the brightest idea, but I pretended to be drowning. I guess I swam out a little too far, and I was the one who ended up rescuing her. When she found out I was in fact, an expert swimmer, she was slightly pissed. To make up for it, I asked her to dinner. We spent the next few hours talking, and as it turned out she too was from the Seattle area, and growing up we only lived about thirty miles from each other.

  Both of our families still live in Seattle. Just goes to show you what a small world we live in. We spent every minute we could together. I was headed off to Washington in only a few weeks for Basic Survival School, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this woman. We started a long distance relationship until I finished my training. It was crazy to think that up until then, I never saw myself being in a relationship. I only knew her a short time, but I just knew I was going to make her my wife. I only just met her, but I missed her so much. I survived on letters and Skype.

 
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