Series: A Trinity Novel
Author: Audrey Carlan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Not many can say they were burned by fate. I’m the exception. Scalded figuratively, emotionally, and physically… I have the scars running down my arm, ribs, and side to prove it. The doctors have done what they can to heal me by smoothing the abraded skin using other parts of my body. But they can only do so much. Sometimes, what can’t be seen can’t be healed. The fire that night took more than a pound of flesh. It obliterated my talent, beauty, and most importantly, seared the connection I had with the man I loved. Sure, it was me who pushed him away, but I had my reasons. I did what any woman would do in my situation. I gave up everything so that one day he’d find happiness and peace. Now I’ve healed a bit on the outside, and on the inside, but I still crave the one I let go. To this day he looks at me with fire in his eyes, a heat so bright in his being he glows with it. I fear the light, the flames that could consume me whole. The problem now is, he’s not mine anymore. I just may have waited too long to fight for him, for us, for a future together. There’s only one thing I can do. Let fate decide.
There’s a famous quote by Richard Bach, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” Or maybe… its Fate?
Three years since the fire that left Kat scarred inside and out, two years since Kat and Carson’s breakup and one night…one night that threatens to change their Fate.
Three years ago, soul sister Kathleen Bennett (Kat) was severely burned in a fire set by Gigi’s stalker. She barely survived and still battles PTSD. Fire licked one side of her body, from the tip of her fingers and up, destroying her once soft, supple flesh. Kat’s motor skills were impaired and she can no longer do the fine stitchery she once could. After years of skin grafts, rehab and therapy, Kat has discovered great success as a clothing designer, in business with Carson’s sister Chloe. Her grip is showing improvement, but she’ll never be the same.
Over two years ago, Kat pushed Carson away for the final time. It was for his own good she thought. She would never be the same and he could never tell her he loved her then, how could he now…after everything?
One night, a one-night stand Carson has on the night Kat kicked him out threatens to change their fate. It will change everything.
Audrey Carlan’s Fate is written as a standalone, but honesty the real strength, the real magic behind this series is the friendship of four beautiful, strong ladies, Gillian (Gigi) Maria (Ria) Bree and Kathleen (Kat). BESOS they call themselves, Bound – Eternally – Sisters – of – Souls. To get the full measure and depth of love, sacrifice and friendship these girls have for each other, I suggest starting first with Body, then Mind, Soul, Life before coming full circle to read Fate. You’ll find romance, danger, suspense, friendship, pain and struggle in one of the best written series out there.
“Chase…” I warn. “Bringing up the past does not help the future.”
“That’s asinine, and you and I both know it. Tell me you don’t love him still.”
“I don’t love him,” I state instantly. I’ve gotten so good at this lie, it comes out fast with absolutely no hint of emotion.
“Liar,” he growls. “You’re going to regret not winning him back.”
“I already do,” I admit with a drawn-out sigh.
“Then do something about it.”
With a heavy heart, I focus on the destroyed flesh of my hand, the same destruction that goes all the way up my arm, over my shoulder, and down my ribcage. I’ll always be severely scarred. The grafting options and skin-smoothing surgeries are complete. They’ve done what they can. Now it’s all about physical therapy. Getting back additional mobility in the arm and hand. Applying copious amounts of lotion across the rippled flesh to keep it soft and pliant. Staying out of the sun helps but won’t make the scars go away. My body is no longer one a man wants to touch, to run his hands over in the throes of passion.
I shake my head. No, he doesn’t deserve to have his eyes accosted by the reflection I have to face in the mirror every day. It’s disgusting, and I’d rather him remember me the way I was. Beautiful, unmarred, pristine in mind and body.
“No. He’s better off without me. I can’t be what I was. I’m not the woman he cared for.”
“That’s not true. You are the same woman you’ve always been. A beautiful, talented, kindhearted woman with so much to offer a man. I am a man. I’m also Carson’s cousin and best friend. I know what he wants and needs—it’s you. The you then, now, and what you’ll be in the future. Trust me on this. Your scars do not matter. When love is involved, those flaws become a part of what your man loves about you. Gillian’s stretch marks from our children? I love them. I kiss them all the time. They prove my children were there. My son and daughter are alive because of those scars. I encourage her to wear them proudly.”
“You’re not a woman. You don’t get it.”
“No. I’m a man who loves his wife. Every part of her is mine. Scars and all. And Kathleen, she has many from before me I’d love to erase, but they show the path she’s taken to get to me and our life together. To her they are precious, and to me they are proof that sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven. She taught me that.”
“The love you have with my best friend is beautiful, but Carson and I never had that.” I swallow down the lump forming in my throat.
“You did once.”
I blink, close my eyes, and flatten myself against the back of the limo seat. “You see, Chase, that’s where you’re wrong. Carson never loved me. He never once said it. Even though I said it all the time.” I laugh dryly. “He even requested I say it to him over and over. Adored hearing it from my lips. Would ravish me with kisses and more every time. But not even once did he say it to me. And when I asked why, all he could muster was ‘I can’t. Please don’t ask me to.’ So there you go.”
“So, you gave up?” The accusation is thick in his tone.
“Yeah, after everything, what I had to offer, repeated treatments, painful surgeries, and long recovery times… If he didn’t love me before, he could never love me after. I took a calculated risk and it failed. Every single time I pushed him away, he never once uttered those three little words. I begged him to say them. All he did was cry, break down, and shake his head no. I can’t be with a man who refuses to tell me he loves me.”
“I know he does though,” he says softly and with intention.
“Words, Chase. I needed the words. He didn’t have them. I no longer have them for him. I have to move on. Obviously he has.”
Maria: “No problemo. I’ll chop off his conjones and mail them in a jar to his father, so he knows where to buy them along with the body I’ll have Eli beat to a pulp.”
Maria: “Tres años. We should be giving your va-jay-jay a party now that the three-year dry spell is broken. ¡Jesucristo! Tres años. I can’t even go three days!”