Stay With Me
Synopsis:

To the outside world, Birdie Alexander has it all: a bestselling debut novel that’s a worldwide sensation, a great life in New York City, and the world at her feet. What they don’t know about is her crippling writer’s block, the calls she’s dodging from her agent demanding the overdue manuscript for her book’s hotly-anticipated sequel, and the still-broken heart that Jackson—the love of her life—left her with when he suddenly broke up with her four years ago.

She heads off to celebrate her friends’ engagement in a town that’s always gotten her creative juices flowing, at a bed and breakfast that holds a special place in her heart—and in Jackson’s.

To her dismay, he’ll be there too.

She arrives with two goals:

1. Get some writing done, even if it kills her, and
2. Survive a whole week with Jackson in close proximity and come out of it with what’s left of her heart intact.

Easier said than done.

Jackson looks better than ever, and after everything, that crackling, consuming love between them never went away. When Birdie finds out the real reason Jackson broke things off, she starts opening herself up to him again and wanting him more than ever.

What happens when she gives her first love a second chance?

Excerpt:

My dreaded return home begins in the ladies’ room at Reagan National Airport. A symphony of flushing toilets provide the background music to the silent pep talk I’m giving myself in the mirror.

It’s just a short trip, it’s gonna be fine. You’re seeing your friends. Nothing to be nervous about at all.

I stare at my reflection and take stock of the woman looking back at me. 

My makeup is understated today; it brings out the blue in my eyes. I’ve managed to work my brown hair into carefree waves that tumble over my shoulders. The form-fitting simple white tee and jeans it took me hours to decide on make me feel like I’m not trying as hard as I am. 

Despite feeling like a train wreck waiting to happen, at least I look good. 

I lean closer to the mirror, careful not to let the hem of my shirt dip into the mess of water pooled around the sink. I swipe away a little bit of smudged mascara beneath my left eye, then pull a tube of gloss from my purse. My hands shake so badly that I have to plant a dollop on my bottom lip and glide it on with my pinky. 

“You doing okay sweetie?” a kind older woman asks. She keeps thrusting her hands under the soap dispenser, like sheer persistence will make it drop some suds into her palm. 

She must notice that I’m on the verge of having a meltdown. She reminds me of my mom a little bit, which is probably why the words slip out despite not being in the habit of spilling my guts to strangers in airport bathrooms. 

“I’m seeing my ex later. I’m kinda nervous about it,” I tell her.

Ex seems like too simplistic a word to describe Jackson. It feels wrong to reduce everything he was to me into a two-letter word. 

Love of my life fit once upon a time. 

So did man I thought I was going to marry. 

Boyfriend who broke up with me suddenly one day during the most difficult and painful time in our lives? Yeah, that fits.

“You look great, and that’s a start!” she says sweetly with a thick southern accent. “I always say a good lipstick’s the best armor a girl can have against the world, and you’ve got that covered, honey.” 

I could hug her, but that would be weird. I settle for a sincere “Thank you.” 

She quickly dries her hands and gives my arm a gentle pat before she wishes me luck. 

It’d be really nice if luck could help me out here. 

I grab my suitcase and head out of the bathroom, stopping when I see my book on display at the newsstand. I pick it up to remind myself that I did this, that there was a time when I sat down at a computer and words poured out of me. That they formed a book that someone took a chance on publishing. That so many people loved it that it became a New York Times bestseller. 

My name—Birdie Alexander—never looks as beautiful as it does in the shiny, hot pink letters splashed across that cover. 

It’ll help to remember that when my agent calls for the hundredth time asking about the follow-up novel I haven’t managed to start yet. 

My phone buzzes in my pocket. I fish it out and read the text. 

Be there in 5 – meet me outside

I trudge toward the exit like I’m headed to an execution.