If you only knew harper.., p.1

If You Only Knew (Harper Falls #3), page 1

 

If You Only Knew (Harper Falls #3)
 



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If You Only Knew (Harper Falls #3)


  IF YOU ONLY KNEW

  HARPER FALLS BOOK THREE

  MARY J. WILLIAMS

  Copyright© 2015 Mary J. Williams

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Want to know how to motivate yourself to write a book? Have your favorite football team lose the Super Bowl. On the last play. With an interception. The next day I was so depressed I tuned out all media. No TV, no internet, no newspapers — nothing. And I started to write. I’m still writing. As you can see, a little motivation can do wonders. Football will play a big part in my next series of books due out next year. And since I’m writing the ending? No interceptions. Guaranteed. Happy reading everyone.

  Mary J. Williams

  Please visit me at these sites and leave a message or ask a question.

  http://www.maryjwilliams.net/home.html

  http://www.amazon.com/Mary-J.-Williams/e/B00V041ET6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-J-Williams/1561851657385417?ref=hl

  https://twitter.com/maryjwilliams05

  https://www.pinterest.com/maryj0675/

  MORE BOOKS BY MARY J. WILLIAMS

  Harper Falls Series

  If I Loved You

  If Tomorrow Never Comes

  If I Had You - Christmas in Harper Falls (Coming In October)

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  About the Author

  More Books by Mary J. Williams

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Epilogue

  PROLOGUE

  TYLER JONES HAD a secret. Not easy when you lived with two brothers who wouldn’t understand the word private if it kicked them in the rear. Then there were her two best friends and the honesty pact they made the year they turned eleven. They pledged to tell each other everything and up until now, Tyler happily complied. However, sometimes something came along that was so big, so special, you had to keep it to yourself, at least for a little while.

  She hid her bike behind a large group of rocks. It still amazed her that anyone in Harper Falls could at this very moment be looking her way and would have no idea she was there. The small cove was a haven, isolated, and all hers. Finding it had been a fluke. One of those happy accidents that when it happened, could change your life. That was how it had been for Tyler.

  Sometimes she needed to get away by herself. Rose and Dani understood. They witnessed firsthand the family drama that seemed to be a daily occurrence at the Jones house. Her father had turned into a bitter, discontented man. Life hadn’t played out the way he planned and he had no problem taking it out on his family. If he wasn’t angry and sullen, he just wasn’t there. He used his job as an excuse to be out of town as often as possible. Her mother had no backbone. She was sweet and quiet, and her husband and sons treated her like a doormat. Tyler could only stand up for her so often. As much as she loved the woman, her complete lack of fight could be wearing.

  When Tyler reached her breaking point, she would get on her bike and ride. It seemed only natural that one day she would ride across the bridge towards Harper House. Her father would have been livid if he’d known, her mother horrified. Nevertheless, Tyler thought of it as having an adventure in a town that too often offered few surprises.

  It was on one of those outings that she found the path down to the beach and her place. She didn’t go there often but when things at home got so unbearable not even Rose and Dani could talk her down, she came here.

  Today wasn’t about getting away. Today, she wasn’t going to be alone. In fact, for the past few months, her alone place had become something else altogether. Tyler Jones, outcast, rebel, nonconformist, was in love. It was her secret and she was ready to burst. She wanted to shout it to the sky, the trees. She wanted everyone to know. But for now, she would be happy just to tell him. She hadn’t, not yet. Neither of them had spoken of feelings, though she was certain he had to feel the same; how could he not? The way he looked at her, the softness of his touch. And his kisses. Only someone in love could kiss like that. So today was the day. She couldn’t keep it inside a moment longer.

  “Tyler.”

  She spun around, her face lighting up, her every emotion there for him to see. There he was, the man she loved — Drew Harper.

  CHAPTER ONE

  TYLER JONES HATED what ifs. It never helped to live in a world where you fantasized about how life might be — if only. If only I hadn’t eaten that entire chocolate cake, I wouldn’t have gained five pounds. What if I’d turned right instead of left and not hit that parked police car? There was no going back. You did it — live with the consequences. However, she was only human. When her best friends found love and made it work, it was hard not to indulge in a bit of what if self-pity.

  Hanging out with Rose O’Brian and Dani Wilde used to be about making a simple phone call and meeting up wherever hit their fancies. Three single women free to go where they wanted, when they pleased. Now, there were men to consider. Rose and her Jack, Dani and Alex. Three had become five. Not that they ever made her feel like she wasn’t welcome. Sometimes though, like today, being around so much happiness made her long for something she’d once had — love.

  She’d had it, reveled in it, and lost it. Or rather, had it ripped from her grasp in the cruelest manner possible. It was hard to forget when it had once seemed so perfect — especially when the source of her heartache stood across the room. If Drew Harper had never come back to town… God, how many times over the past year and a half had she started a sentence like that? He was a nagging ache that had never gone away, but that had been bearable — manageable. She learned to live with it, often forgetting it was even there. But how could she do that when he now seemed to be everywhere she turned?

  Today was a perfect example. Rose had invited her to an end of the season cookout. The house she now shared with her fiancée, Jack Winston, was an entertainer’s paradise and the couple loved to have their friends over. Dani and Alex Fleming, newly engaged themselves, stood with Alex’s sister, Lila, and Boyd Stevens. Boyd worked for H&W Security and looked none the worse for his recent run-in with a mad man bent on killing Dani and Alex. Tyler shuddered whenever she thought about how close they had come to losing Dani. The fact that all three had walked away, living to tell the tale, was a miracle. A miracle, and Dani’s ability to take care of herself. Her friend might look like a frail, fairy princess, but under all that white-blond hair and delicate features, was a warrior — the kick-ass kind.

  “You look pensive.” Rose put an arm around Tyler’s waist and squeezed.

  Their friendship started when they were girls, all knobby knees, and gangly bodies. Before dreams of the future had taken a firm hold and everything was an adventure. They had weathered the storms of adolescence, family dramas, and personal crises — coming out stronger. Not just friends forever — friends no matter what.

  Rose’s dark hair just brushed her shoulders, her brown eyes, warm and welcoming. They were close to the same height though Tyler topped her by an inch. Her friend’s body leaned more towards curvy — a walking wet dream — some man had once called her and Tyler supposed that fit. Maybe it was because Ros
e’s transition from flat-chested girl to heartbreaker had been so gradual. She never acquired the ego some beautiful women possessed — which made her even more stunning.

  “I was just thinking what an eclectic group of friends you and Jack have acquired.” Tyler nodded to the people assembled in the large, open living room.

  “Do you mean the twelve hulking bodyguards, Jilly Underwood, or Regina Harper’s personal assistant?”

  Where to start? The bodyguards were a no-brainer. Alex ran that branch of Jack and Drew’s business. There always seemed to be one or two, or, in this case, a dozen, of them at the H&W compound. They were either being trained, retrained or just checking in. At one time, Jack and Drew had considered dropping that area of their business. In their younger days hiring themselves out as bodyguards had paid the bills. Once they’d made their first million as software moguls, they kept the personal security side of H&W going out of sentimentality, and a bit of superstition. Since Alex had come on board, instead of scaling back, they expanded. As a result, more and more big, brawny men appeared in Harper Falls.

  Which brought her to Jilly Underwood. An annoyance on her best day, the woman had always seen Tyler, Rose, and Dani as her chief rivals. It didn’t matter that Jilly was pretty and smart. It didn’t matter that her family had money and indulged her every whim. Or that Jilly went to Harper Academy, an exclusive, private high school that neither Tyler nor Dani’s families could afford. Rose went there for a few years before circumstances had her finishing her education at Harper High. Yes, Rose had beaten Jilly out of the lead in every musical production. However, was that reason enough for a lifelong grudge?

  Tyler gave a mental shrug. The fact was Jilly equaled mean girl. They were twenty-seven years old, for Christ’s sake. Time to put any slights, perceived or otherwise, behind them. Unfortunately, Jilly seemed determined to hang on by her fire engine red acrylic fingernails. She would resent Tyler and her friends until the day she died.

  “Did we ever discuss why Jilly was here?”

  “It seems it isn’t every day you find out your perfect new boyfriend is a psychotic killer.”

  “Which sent her running here for sympathy?”

  “No. She jumped into the nearest big, strong arms she could find.” Rose clarified. “In this case, Wally Arnot. She hasn’t let go of him since they arrived.”

  “You have to give the woman credit for her nerve.” Tyler shook her head, amazed. “Why would she think she would be welcome?”

  “I made sure Jack let all the guys know they could bring a date. Jilly was the last person I expected to show up. I didn’t want to embarrass Wally, so I let it go. As long as she behaves, I think we can put up with her for a few hours.”

  If she behaved. At the moment, Jilly was busy batting her eyes at her date while simultaneously flirting with any man within range. Tyler had seen men get into fights over less. She imagined Jilly would love to have three or four muscled hunks throwing punches over her.

  “All that bulk could do some damage.” Tyler looked over at the piano. A gift from Jack’s mother, it was Rose’s most prized possession. If it were damaged by three-hundred pounds of falling flesh, it would be devastating all around.

  “Maybe you should herd them to the backyard. How badly can they hurt a pine tree?”

  Rose watched as Jilly admiringly squeezed the arm of a man who was not her date and decided Tyler was right. Walking across the room, she pulled Jack aside and whispered in his ear. Whatever she said had him nodding. Before anyone was the wiser, he and Alex had the party moved from indoors to out — potential crisis averted.

  “Jilly,” Dani said with exasperation. She came over to join Tyler, offering a perfectly chilled glass of chardonnay. “She isn’t happy if she’s not the center of the storm.”

  “True.” Taking the wine, Tyler smiled at her other best friend. “Just remember, the last storm was not of your making.”

  Dani sighed. “I know. I still feel bad. She could have been physically hurt by Pete Landry; the man was unhinged — to say the least.”

  Tyler felt a shiver as fear raced down her spine. She hated remembering how close they had come to losing Dani; luckily, the lady could take care of herself.

  “As soon as Alex suspected anything was wrong, he had one of his men watching Jilly. We both know there was no way to warn her. She wouldn’t have listened if we’d tried.”

  “True. And, as a result, Jilly Underwood is a guest in Rose’s home. How is that for karma kicking you in the ass?”

  They laughed, sharing a joke the same way they had since they were old enough to toddle across the few feet of grass that separated their childhood homes. Neighbors since birth, Dani liked to joke that they became friends while still in the womb. Their mothers went to the same doctor, attended the same childbirth classes. They both joked, and cringed at the thought, that they must have been conceived on the same night. They were born less than a week apart, Tyler being stubborn and refusing to come out on her due date.

  After that, they were inseparable. They had other friends, but the two girls spent almost every waking moment together. When Rose moved in with Tyler’s family the summer they all turned nine, the dynamic duo became the Three Musketeers. The transition wasn’t without its bumps — Tyler had never been good at sharing. Rose, though, had made it impossible not to love her. Within a week, they all ran wild, sharing everything. College and life had them going on different paths for a while, but when Dani had told them she was moving home, it was a no-brainer for Tyler and Rose to follow. At seventeen, Tyler never wanted to see Harper Falls again. Now, she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Full circle — or pretty damn close.

  “I think we may have a budding romance in our midst.”

  “You don’t mean Jilly and her muscle man?”

  Dani shook her head. “No, if that lasts a week, I’ll be shocked. I meant Portia Nessmith and Boyd.”

  “Queen Reggie’s PA and your bodyguard? Talk about an odd couple.”

  “Ex-bodyguard. And as for odd, you’d be surprised how much they have in common. Boyd loves classical music and French food. Portia is willing to learn about both.”

  “God, they’re practically down the aisle.”

  “Tease all you like. I say they’re a good fit.”

  Maybe, Tyler conceded silently. Who was she to judge? Relationships were a constant mystery that she didn’t think she would ever solve. Dani and Rose made theirs work. Her best friends practically glowed with happiness. There had been times — early on — when Tyler had been on alert, ready to knock either man in the head if he hurt her friend. Fortunately, that hadn’t been necessary and now she looked at Alex and Jack as what they were — good men who loved without reservation. Dani and Rose were in good hands, and that made her very grateful.

  “Any progress on the Drew front?”

  “Well, let’s see.” Tyler used one long finger to tap her chin as though contemplating deep thoughts. “I’ve been here for over an hour and he’s not only spent the entire time as far away from me as he can physically get, he’s never even glanced my way. What does that tell you?”

  “That my usually observant friend is blind when it comes to Drew Harper.”

  “What the hell does that mean?”

  “Only that his eyes have been glued to you since you arrived,” Dani said. “Though admittedly, he looks away whenever you look at him. I swear the two of you act like pre-teens with your first crushes.”

  “I distinctly remember my first crush,” Tyler told her. “That boy had no doubt about my feelings.”

  “Poor Kenny Henderson.” Dani practically bent over with laughter when she thought of the tall, skinny boy. “It took him until junior year in high school to recover from that kiss you laid on him.”

  “Hmm. In retrospect, it might not have been the best strategy to do it in front of all his friends. But I was thirteen and thought it was high time I had my first kiss. Once I’d decided on Kenny, I didn’t see any reason
to shilly-shally around. How did I know he would put his head in the sand and not pull it out again for four years?”

  “Boys — an unpredictable lot.” Dani agreed. “He made up for lost time when he finally got going. I remember him that last year of school. He dated every girl that would say yes. Didn’t push it, I’ll give him that. I turned him down and so did Rose — no hard feelings.”

  “It was good to know I hadn’t scarred him for life.” Tyler thought about it for a moment. “He never asked me.”

  “Kenny knew you were still getting over Drew. All the guys did.”

  “I didn’t have a single date that year. Another thing I have to thank Drew Harper for.”

  “You wouldn’t have said yes.” Dani reminded her.

  “I deserved the right to say no.”

  Tyler would have sent the man a dirty look, but as usual, the second she glanced his way, he seemed fascinated by the view out the back window. Frustrating. He’d been frustrating at seventeen and was even more so at twenty-eight. Things had simmered between them for over a year — lately it escalated to a low boil. Soon the lid on that old pot was going to shoot off with all the pent up pressure. It was just a matter of time.

  “I made the first move, now it’s up to him.”

  “Telling him you should hit the sack and get it out of your systems is not making the first move.”

  “What is it?”

  “It’s… passive-aggressive bullshit.”

  “Thank you, Dr. Ruth.”

  Tyler mumbled the words into her wine glass. Friends. There just might be such a thing as knowing someone too well. Especially when that person insisted on pointing out the obvious and had the nerve to be right. It made it almost impossible to argue. Almost.

  “I know what you are going to say.” Dani interrupted Tyler before she could even begin. “All that’s left between you and Drew is an animal attraction. Fuck like bunnies, and you’ll burn it out.”

 
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