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Nick Roland never had a problem playing the white knight. The problem was that Victoria’s form of protection was not of the ordinary variety.
Is there a chance for happiness after domestic violence? Nick and Victoria are uncertain but when faced with some old-fashioned Midnight Magic they might rethink their positions
It had been quite some time before Nick could actually breathe a sigh of relief, no matter how small. For the past two years, his entire life had been in some strange holding pattern. Actually since his best friend Jessica’s move from Brick to suburbia, her small intimate island wedding to Bennett Brookes and the birth of daughter, Nicolette Clair. Now, Jessica and Ben were expecting their second child, had recently purchased their ideal home, and had finally persuaded Nick to move closer to the hustle and bustle of the city. The minute Jessica had begun using his little namesake as a creative tool he knew he was a goner and a couple of months later Nick had caved under the pressure. Simply put, or according to Jessica, she had gotten her life together and now it was Nick’s turn to do the same. It was a big move as well as a huge change. But Nick needed that change. In fact, he welcomed that change. More so now, since that number Tonia had put him through after nearly ripping out his heart and handing it to him bloodied and bruised. When Bloom Chevrolet offered him the position as their newest Account Executive, he had jumped at the chance and didn’t hesitate pulling up any last roots associated with Brick.
To simply achieve that Account Executive title was a heady feeling, not to mention the hefty raise that went along with it. In Nick’s book, he was definitely on his way up that large ladder of success. Everything around him had been changing and now he was embracing that change. Although his mom, Becca, and her husband Marcus had made their move out of state years ago, she still tried to talk her son into moving to Pennsylvania. Although Nick had known that he needed to begin fresh, he also knew that he would not be leaving New Jersey any time soon as Jersey truly held a place in his heart. So instead, he took the plunge and made the move to be closer to his friends almost one hundred miles north. He needed to be closer to Jessica and maybe now she would stop harping about that. With the new baby coming, Jessica was running on high alert. Knowing her as he did, she would have harped on him until he’d finally relented anyway. He knew from past experience that she could be unmerciful.
The old fashioned apartment that he had finally secured was on a one-way tree-lined street close to the dealership. Actually it was a four apartment duplex with two side by sides. The other three apartments were occupied; one was taken by the landlady, another by a family of four who were hardly ever home, and the apartment beneath him by a pretty little blonde who had just broken up with her boyfriend. Although he’d only taken residence a short time earlier, the rumors had been running rampant concerning the little blonde bombshell. It seemed that her boyfriend had been quite abusive; there had been police activity involved and he had been taken out in handcuffs on more than one occasion. The last incident had been the final straw and had happened a little over a month ago, a few days before he’d officially moved in. That small tidbit had come from the landlady herself.
Trudy Mc Donald was a no-nonsense woman in her mid-sixties who ran a tight ship. Her motto was simple: if you were going to be late with your rent, don’t bother to call her with excuses, just start packing as she had a line of potential renters just waiting for a chance to rent on this beautiful block in this quaint suburban town. And Nick knew that she was right. Trudy definitely talked more than she should and Nick already knew way too much about the lovely Victoria Benson.
According to Trudy, Victoria and Max had moved in about a year or so ago and had started out as quite the little lovebirds. They had been inseparable. And they had made a cute couple. However, the word on the street was that Max was a heavy drinker, recreational drug user and real womanizer. Since Trudy lived on the premises, she made it her business to know everyone else’s business, and since only a thin wall separated her from Victoria’s apartment, she knew more than most. In fact, Trudy had even admitted to calling the police herself once or twice. It wasn’t a secret that she was glad to see Max gone, as it would have been a shame to have started eviction proceedings against such a lovely young woman, and what she was doing with the likes of that hooligan, Trudy would never know. Even Max’s roofing business had seemed shady to Trudy. He’d been a real charmer all right, but Trudy had seen right through that facade. Victoria, on the other hand, was young and naïve.
Trudy had approved Nick out of five other possible candidates on the waiting list for her rudimentary three-room apartment. Sure it was basic, and smaller than he was accustomed to but for now it was a foot in the door as he had his eye on a few condos he’d been scouting out in the area. One or two years in this apartment and he could definitely save some more money and maybe by then he’d be able to consider a townhouse. It was only four blocks from Bloom Chevrolet and he could literally roll out of bed and be at work a scant fifteen minutes later. It was perfect.
So, he’d signed the lease, moved in, and had been introduced to his neighbors, not that he would remember any of their names after today. However, it was that cute little blonde downstairs whose name he’d be unlikely to forget.
Almost everyone called her Tori, but Nick preferred Victoria. It suited her. It was a regal name for a regal lady. She was probably around his age. She was five-foot-five, maybe a little shorter, and she had curves. Better than that was the fact that they were in all the right places. She was a delightful package, from her hourglass figure to her well-rounded bottom. Even her features were striking… from her bright emerald green eyes to her creamy complexion that looked as though kissed reverently by the summer sun. She had a luxurious mane of shoulder length honey blonde hair that fell in subtle waves halfway down her back. It looked as sleek as a curtain of silk which had Nick wondering about its texture. But Victoria usually kept it pulled back into a loose ponytail.
On that very first day that Nick had moved in, he had caught sight of Victoria performing some gardening tasks in the back yard. It was apparent that she tended a modest vegetable garden and also a small bed of flowers. Trudy also mentioned the fact that he had access to the back yard as well if he desired. Idly, he found himself wondering how Victoria would feel if he decided to exercise those rights and invade her small space and share her garden. Tempting as that all sounded, he intended to steer clear as he did not need any complications of the domestic kind. As usual he was scheduled for one of Jessica’s famous matchmaking blind dates. This would make number three in the past month and was not something that he was looking forward to. But he did it to keep Jessica happy. After all, she only wanted what was best for him. Then again, he didn’t know what was best for him so it was unlikely she would know. She wanted him to have what she and Ben shared. It was a nice thought and in a perfect world he would have been settled down already with a wife and a couple of kids. But this wasn’t a perfect world and the woman he thought he might have had a chance with had put his heart through the meat grinder. On second thought, he had bounced back after Tonia’s infidelity rather quickly, which could only mean one thing: he hadn’t been in love with her as he had thought. As for settling down, well, he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.
~ * ~
For the past month or maybe more, Victoria Benson had only existed in some altered state of limbo. At this point in time, all she had been able to do was simply exist. That didn’t count all of the time she had spent looking over her shoulder while double locking every door the minute she was safely inside her apartment. Fear had become such an intense feeling that she didn’t know how to feel any other way. There were your basic fears, which heightened your senses and gave you cause to stand up and take notice of your surroundings, and then there was that deep-rooted fear that had you looking over your shoulder at every turn. A fear that made sure that you were safely inside your apartment before darkness fell. A fear that had Victoria performing ridiculous tasks such as getting out of bed in the middle of the night to make sure that the kitchen chair was pressed against the back door, even though she knew damned well that she had put it there before going to bed. How she longed for one decent night’s sleep, as she hadn’t had one in a long time.
Getting Max out of her life hadn’t been easy. There was also that one fact that kept her up at night should he decide he wanted to come back. However, after the last fiasco with the local police department, she highly doubted he would be that foolish. Then again, put a couple of drinks in Max, and he got nasty. A few more drinks and he might decide to take on two cops at the same time. If he was on a binge, it was no holds barred.
Most of her weekends had been downright horrendous. Max would start drinking Friday night and continue until the wee hours of the morning. There had been many times when he would take the festivities over to a nearby tavern called Charley’s and she would be given a small reprieve. Victoria had known from the beginning that their relationship hadn’t been normal. It hadn’t only been because Max had been so controlling from the very start, although now she could admit that fact in itself had played a big part in their rocky relationship. Every minute of her day had to be accounted for. Not only her workday, but also her commute back and forth from work as well. Heaven help her if she had to stay late at work because Max would accuse her of sneaking away to meet someone. His constant paranoia had her under the gun all of the time. It had gotten so bad that even visiting her sister had become a game of lies and deceit and was impossible. Visiting her parents was another issue altogether. Max scrutinized each and every friend she had until, one by one, they disappeared from her life. The only one who had remained had been Melinda, and that was only because Victoria worked with her so Melinda knew more than most.
Now that Max was truly gone, Victoria was still feeling the aftershocks of being in an abusive relationship. There were constant reminders all around her. She was always looking over her shoulder, almost expecting Max to be two steps behind her watching her every move, just waiting to pounce on her unawares. Fear had become so deeply rooted that she knew no other emotion and days of having fun were nothing but a hazy memory lost in another place in time. Those days had been before Max had beaten down every defense.
Although Victoria longed for some kind of normalcy, she’d forgotten what normal was. Just last week one of the guys at work, a new intern named Tony, had asked her out on an actual dinner date and she’d wasted no time turning him down flat. Melinda had given her the same speech about moving on with her life, but Victoria felt that it was too soon. The wounds were still fresh and they ran deep. All she needed now was time. Time to heal, time to reclaim her life, and time to rediscover the real Victoria Catherine Benson; whoever that was.
To Sandra Bonaldi writing is as natural as breathing and there are times when her characters demand their stories to be told. Sandra finds that she works best while multi-tasking and welcomes the inevitable challenge that writing sassy romance offers always opting for that happily ever after.
Life is about keeping it real. While her children are now adults she and her husband, Tom, are now able to pursue their passion for creativity on a broader scale. Writing has been one of Sandra’s passions but raising a family came first and now her two Rat Terriers Chase and Chelsea have no problem collecting on all the leftover hugs and kisses.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple things - A feel good love story that has you believing that yes, you can come through a horrible ordeal and still believe that happily ever after does exist…
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 285
Paper Weight (lb): 12.0
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