Taken by Storm (Give & Take) - By Kelli Maine
Introducing MJ and Maddie into Merrick and Rachael’s lives and love story was incredibly fun for me, but no easy task. From front to back cover and everything in between, the support, encouragement and combined literary brain power of Emmanuelle Morgen, Lauren Plude and Amy Pierpont was invaluable in bringing Taken by Storm together. Jessica Bromberg started introducing Taken by Storm to readers before the story was even finished, and the Grand Central Forever art department went beyond my wildest expectations.
I’m not sure where I’d be today in my writing career if it weren’t for a group of exceptional women who I’ve had the good fortune of talking and sharing my work with daily for the past five years. Michelle Valentine, Emily Snow and Katie Ashley, let’s face it—you guys are family, and Kristen Proby, our newest cousin, you make every day brighter with your kindness and humor. Ava Black, you’re an inspiration. From maps of islands to family trees, you always take on my projects—and you’re next!
Melanie Kramer Santiago, Jennifer Wood, Chanelle Gray, and all the LitBitches, you’re a force of raw talent to be reckoned with. I look forward to many more celebrations and triumphs with you in years to come.
Maureen Mayer has been supportive of Taken and Rachael and Merrick from the beginning. Thank you for suggesting the name Nadia. It’s perfect! Scott Mosley, I’m glad we were introduced, mate! You look handsome on the cover. Neda Amini, Maryse Black, Cris Soriaga Hadarly, Holly Malgieri, Kim Box Person and all the book bloggers who are too many to name, you’re more than exceptionally giving of your time, you’re friends to authors and I’m so glad I got to know you.
I would be amiss to not mention one person who was stuck listening to me drone on and on about writing every weekday for years. Many of my author friends know him as Co-worker Dan. Dan listening to me through the best and worst of times and being there to bounce plot ideas off of has meant the world to me.
Over the past five years, my kids have grown to know that Mom doesn’t leave her laptop for long. For them and my husband, whose patience is constantly tested being married to me, I strive to be the best author I can be so not one minute of the time I spend away from them is wasted.
Thank you to you all. I appreciate you!
The soles of MJ’s boots echoing off the concrete driveway sounded like drum beats in his head. A raging, metal death band soundtrack to his shit life. He reached his car—a black ’68 Camaro convertible bought with blood money from his grandfather—and tossed his duffel bag in the backseat.
“Don’t tell me you’re running away again.”
Her voice sparked chills up his back. MJ turned and looked, but could only see a cloud of cigarette smoke lingering under the garage light. “Stay out of my business,” he said into the darkness.
Her deep, sultry chuckle sank inside his ears and made him close his eyes. That laugh. So many nights… that laugh in the dark, under the sheets. God, how he’d ached for her when she left.
“I thought you quit smoking,” he said, despite himself. Why could he never walk away from her?
Maddie slipped around the corner from the side of the garage and leaned against the door. He could just make out the faint red shine of her lips. Her dark hair loose around her shoulders. The predatory gleam in her eye. “Old habits die hard.”
MJ let out a sharp laugh. “Not all of them.” He opened the car door and got behind the wheel. There was no way he’d stay and get lured into her bed again. No way he’d go through that kind of torture when she took off on him.
Maddie had been his addiction, his drug, and he intended to stay clean. Clean, but not sober. The only place he wanted to be was at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
He fumbled with his keys, giving her one too many seconds to cross the driveway and reach his car. “The first time you ran away,” she said, laying her hands on top of his car door, “you got as far as Coach’s house. That time it was my fault because I spent two weeks of our summer at sleep-away camp and abandoned you here alone. Is it my fault this time too?”
Jesus, she was wearing that perfume—the one that smelled like vanilla