*Sensitive Subject Warning*
Morgan Young had a perfect upbringing, and now she’s got a perfect boyfriend and a perfect future—until her twenty-first birthday changes everything. First Morgan finds out, in the most painful way possible, that her relationship is a sham. But that’s nothing compared to the nightmare about to unfold.
It’s too late for Tucker Noscalo. A brutal childhood left him with a bad reputation and a criminal record. Fresh out of jail, Tucker has a score to settle with Baybrook’s crooked chief of police—his own father. Nobody will believe Tucker’s explosive accusations without proof and a good lawyer, neither of which he has on his side. Until he sees someone he used to know, someone who just so happens to be the daughter of the best lawyer in the county.
He needs Morgan to convince her father of the ugly truth. But first he has to convince her, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get her to listen. Confronted by the story of Tucker’s dark past, Morgan feels utterly compelled to help him. And as their connection grows into a fierce bond fueled by raw passion, Morgan finds herself falling for the wrong guy—but never has the promise of love felt so right.
Happy Freaking Birthday
I’m still gaping at my boyfriend from across the table at Pinky’s taco-slash-karaoke bar, and, if he doesn’t proceed very carefully, his final resting place.
Drew has an exaggerated look of remorse on his face I just know is manufactured.
“We didn’t plan to, Mo,” he tells me.
“Don’t call me that,” I manage and it’s the first words I’m capable of since he and Shayna dropped the bomb that they were doing the nasty. An accurate description, I think, mind still buzzing from either the tequila shots or the new information stinging my brain like a horde of angry bees.
“You’re disgusting.” I shoot daggers from my eyes at Shayna, who sits across the table from me and does her best kicked-puppy impression. Screwed over by my best friend. Correction: ex–best friend.
My accusation shifts her face from guilt-ridden bestie to offended bitch in such a short time frame, it’s almost laughable. “Drew has needs.”
She seriously did not just say that. I blink, stunned, and turn to face Drew, who is having a staring contest with his beer.
“I’m sorry?” I say to him, not the least bit sorry. “You have needs involving your penis in Shayna’s vagina?”
“In my mouth, actually,” she interjects, and it’s such a skanky thing to say I feel my mouth drop open. How was this my best friend? What the hell sort of circumstances led to my linking myself to the girl who one by one alienated our combined group of friends. And Drew! I glare at him.
“This breakup is about blowjobs?” I say a little too loudly.
“Several,” Shayna says with a smirk.
Every inch of me wants to tear her dark hair out by the roots. But I’ve seen enough daytime TV to know not to be the girl who yells at the other girl while the man in the room sits smugly and watches them fight over him.
A rendition of “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood (being sung by a very drunk blonde in a very tight dress) plays from the stage behind me as I stand from my seat. Neither of my exes seems to notice the blatant appropriateness of the song, but I do. And while I don’t possess a Louisville Slugger, and Drew doesn’t have a four-wheel-drive truck, I feel inspired.
“Any reason you waited until tonight to share this with me?” I ask.
My father had offered to take me to a nice restaurant, give me my gifts there, treat me like a princess. But no. I turned him down. Told him Drew had “special plans” to take me out and surprise me.
In Drew’s defense, I am surprised.
“This was your epic plan for my birthday?” I ask.
“No.” He makes a sharp hand gesture and looks almost excited to have found some ground to stand on that’s not mired in quicksand and R.O.U.S.'s. “This was never the plan. Michaela and Jon and Bethany were planning on coming, too.”
His friends more than mine. Mine have absconded to college where they made college friends, went to college parties, and in general left those of us in Baybrook to our simple lives. Right now, I envy them.
“We were supposed to start here and finish at Milson’s summer party,” he adds.
Oh, my bad. The “big plan” for the night was a crappy karaoke bar followed by a party not thrown for me. What a jerk. I down my last tequila shot, and then, what the hell, Shayna’s tequila shot. I don’t need it, but I earned it.
“I’m going to have to get tested for skank diseases.” I curl my lip at Shayna. She sputters and crosses her arms but, wisely, says nothing. Maybe because Drew has put a hand on her arm communicating that her input would not be welcome at this juncture.
I decide, while watching him stroke her arm tenderly, that I’m not nearly drunk enough to handle my current sitch. I’ll buy a bottle of wine on the way home and drink it in the comfort of my plush bedroom. Surrounded by teddy bears from my youth under my canopy bed. Maybe I’ll even dig out my old diary and write down how much I hate the two people I loved just four and a half minutes ago.
“And where are Michaela and Jon and Bethany? Did everyone just . . . cancel?” I gesture around me, aware I’m standing and talking loudly and drawing the attention from the girl yowling on stage. She’s trying. She really is.
“I texted everyone and told them to go to Milson’s. I said we were skipping Pinky’s,” Shayna explains. “I didn’t think you’d want them here.”
“We were trying to save you the embarrassment,” Drew’s cheeks turn a ruddy shade. As if my embarrassment is the issue?
“God. You are an idiot,” I say, but the anger is starting to burn off, leaving something ugly behind. Regret. And the kind of palpable sadness that cannot be soothed by Ben & Jerry’s and a Twilight marathon. Loss pings in my ribcage when my thoughts turn to the friends who left me behind. If I had gone to law school like my father had encouraged, how different would my life be?
I can’t do this right now. I cannot have a breakdown in the middle of Pinky’s, for God’s sake. Ire is my only ally.
“We thought it was only fair to tell you before things between us went further.” Shayna’s gaze slides to one side where a pink cosmopolitan in a fancy glass rests by her manicured nails. “Well, that was the plan. We almost made it but couldn’t resist. . . .”
An evil smile twists her lips as she twines those talons around Drew’s hand.
“You had sex with her on my birthday?” I shriek, my temper hitting apocalyptic levels.
The room stills. The girl on stage stops her warbling. All that’s left is the canned background vocals on the track and someone behind me whispering “Wow.”
Through my fuzzy vision and heartbeat sloshing in my ears, I straighten my shoulders and mutter, “You two deserve each other.”
Grabbing Shayna’s drink, I dump it over Drew’s head and leave her to clean up her new bed buddy. As for me, I snatch my new Kate Spade (gift from my father), flip my freshly blown-out and highlighted hair (gift from my stepmother), and march out of Pinky’s without a single glance over my shoulder.
*about that Sensitive Subject Warning...
If you're familiar with my writing, Forgotten Promises, while it is a Jessica Lemmon book, may not feel exactly like a Jessica Lemmon book. Forgotten Promises is dark and intense and emotional. You still have the happily ever after payoff at the end, but Tucker's tragic upbringing alone will carve a hole in your heart.
Told in dual first person POVs, Tucker’s past was an incredibly emotional journey for me to write. I hope Tucker and Morgan find homes in your hearts the way they did mine.
Happy (intense!) reading,
Forgotten Promises earned the Guilty Pleasures Reviews Purest Delight award