Magnolia Ellington is all too aware that dangerous things can come in shiny packages. Her husband made sure to teach her that.
Desperate to escape his wrath—and his fists—she flees in the dark of night. Seeking safety and shelter with the only family she has left, Magnolia finds herself in the sleepy, Southern town of Dogwood—and in the arms of Simon McAllister.
Simon has always been more of a thinker than a doer. That changes the minute he meets shy and mysterious Magnolia. She has him rushing into action, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to earn her trust.
Slowly, with his steadfast determination and kind heart, Simon brings Magnolia out of her shell. But just as things start heating up between the two of them, the darkness of Magnolia’s past resurfaces, threatening to rip apart everything they’ve worked so hard for.
With their future hanging in the balance, Simon fears he’s losing Magnolia. Now, he must convince her that, together, they can weather the storm.
I jolt awake, momentarily disoriented by the rhythmic beeping coming from my right. Beep. Beep. Beep. Again and again, the sound causes my temples to throb. Even though my eyes are still pinched closed, I know this is not my room, and I am not in my bed. Without warning, the events that led me here flash through my mind: hitting Simon’s truck and the subsequent ambulance ride. I remember the CT scan, and being given pain medication. I must have fallen asleep shortly after that.
I inhale deeply, trying to get my bearings, and cringe at the smell of antiseptic hanging in the air. God, I hate hospitals.
Slowly, I try to blink my eyes open, only to immediately close them again. Whimpering at the brightness of the room, I sink farther into the small, firm mattress before steeling my resolve to try again.
I peel one lid open and hold it, adjusting, before peeling the other open as well. “So bright,” I whine to myself, squinting up at the light above me. My head feels like an entire drumline has taken it as their practice space; the thrumming and pounding is incessant.
With all the strength I can muster, I roll my head to face the far wall of the small hospital room, only to startle at the sight of the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on sleeping in the chair in the corner, his light-brown hair messy, his chiseled jaw covered in stubble. “S-Simon?” I whisper, more to myself than to him.
All the same, he jolts like someone took a live wire to his skin. “You’re up?” He lunges from the chair toward me, gently taking my hand in his, scanning my body before bringing his deep-blue eyes to mine. “Are you—fuck, you have no idea how happy I am to see those baby-blue eyes right now. Let me call for your doctor.”
He starts to withdraw his hand from mine, and I let out the most pathetic whimper, halting him. “Don’t go,” I beg.
“Not going anywhere. Just gonna hit the call button,” he assures me, leaving me feeling foolish, even though that wasn’t his intention.