Here’s an exclusive from author M Dauphin and the first book in her Devastatingly Beautiful Volume, Alive. Enjoy!
Exclusive excerpt from Alive- Devastatingly Beautiful Volume 1- Out now!!
I shouldn’t have come here. This feels too much like a trap, but it is the only way to ensure my safety. Hopefully Tatum is out of town by now. It makes my chest ache thinking about never seeing him again. The man was the first ever to truly make me feel alive and worth something and I had to let him go. I just hope he found the note I left for him.
The plane ride gave me plenty of time to think. I had been shunning myself away from love and affection for so long I had forgotten how good it felt to be desired. Tatum set me on fire when he grinned at me that first time, but I ignored the ache, blaming it on not getting laid in a while. What I didn’t expect in our few short days together that I would fall head over heels for him. Just two days into our work relationship and I ached to be around him all day. When I went home to rest, before the attack, I actually had to stop myself from inviting him to come for a nap as well. There is something about him that makes me want to never leave his side which scares me.
Now I sit in a cab on the way back to the one place I never hoped I’d have to return. Things seem more lived in now in our old neighborhood. When we bought the house there were fledgling trees and unmanicured lawns. In these 5 years the trees have grown and people have taken time out of their schedules to make their lawns lush with greenery.
The cab stops in front of a white two story house with a wraparound porch. I pay and get out, grabbing my one bag on the way. As soon as the cab drives away I drop my bag and stare at the house. My breaths come in short spurts and I can feel an attack coming. Not wanting to be seen, I head for the porch and sit behind one of the pillars.
I haven’t been here since I left, but we had enough money for me to be able to keep the house and still live comfortably. Every memory I once had in this house is now tainted. Tainted with death, tears, and so much blood. Sometime while I was in the hospital the house was professionally cleaned, wiping all visible traces of the horror that happened here away. I, however, will never forget. One night took away all I knew, and now I was walking back into that place before the same sad series of events happened to those I loved.
My thoughts drifted to Tatum as I sat on that old front porch. For the first time in years I was happy about the thought of being near a man. He made me feel something that I hadn’t felt before. Ever. The way he smiled, the carefree way he seemed to take life. Just thinking about those muscles and chiseled jaw set me on fire. I let my thoughts wander to the time in my office. Remembering his strong hands, the way they touched me, the way he knew just the right thing to say. I was getting wet just thinking about him.
I wasn’t here to dwell on things I walked away from though. I was here to try and find the money. Hopefully I knew what Brian was thinking when he hid it. If he hid it. For all I know it could have been long gone before the time those thugs came into our home, but I had to try.
Grasping the keys in my hand, I stand to enter the house. Taking one deep breath I unlock the door and step in. The first thing that I see is a table with a light on. Strange. No lights were set to timers, the house shouldn’t be using much power.
Then I hear him.
“Hello Molly.” His deep familiar voice echos throughout the house.
What the hell? I walk into the living room, just to the right of the foyer and almost faint.
Here is the first chapter of Betrayed: Devastatingly Beautiful Volume 2 (Out this Friday!)
***Spoiler alert- Some of the topics in this chapter contain spoilers from book 1***
“No fucking way” I whisper. There are so many thoughts running through my head and I don’t know how to sort through any of them. Pregnant?! I can’t get pregnant! I know I told Tatum it would be difficult, but I haven’t had a doctor yet that seemed positive I’d ever be able to have another baby. Now, after everything that has happened, my body decided to defy all odds. Not that I’m not happy, but that’s only one of the many emotions going through me. Scared was the other emotion that was pulsing through me, making me start to panic that he would leave me.
When I told him it would be difficult if I ever wanted to have a baby again he almost seemed relieved. It was like he doesn’t want kids. I don’t blame him, though, the two of us have been through so much heartbreak over the last few years who would want to take the risk of going through it all over again. The lines on that tiny blue stick are glaring at me when there is a knock at the door.
“Hey babe, you ok?” He sounds worried. I guess I have been in here for a long time.
“Uh, yea. Yes, I’m good. I’ll be right out.” I stash the test and make a mental note to call the doctor two towns over. I’m not stupid. I know a trip to one in town would get the town talking, and no one needs to know anything before it’s confirmed. False positives happen all the time.
Walking out to the rest of the house I stop and look around. So much has changed in the last few weeks. Tatum is in the middle of moving in with me and there are boxes everywhere. Currently, he is unpacking and setting up his home office. Apparently after everything that went down with his father he left the family business behind and headed out on the road until he landed here. He said the daily reminder of what happened was too much for him. I get it. I had to leave Washington for the same
thing. Well, that and because I feared my life. Now he wants to help out his father in other ways…I’m not sure what that entails and I’m honestly scared to ask.
“Your brain is turning, I see it. What are you thinking about?” How does he do that?
“Just everything. This is so surreal that you are here right now. Setting up your office, doing laundry. It kind of doesn’t seem real. It all has happened so fast. All of this excitement swirling in my head, just mere hours before we go to mourn the death of my only friend for the last 5 years. I’m not sure how I should feel right now.”
He put his arms around me and I nuzzled my head into his neck, his hands rubbing my back slowly. Such a comfortable, soothing movement. He knows how much I’m still hurting from Evie’s murder. It wasn’t just a death, it was cold blooded murder. I watched her die. I can’t close my eyes at night without hearing the gunshot, seeing her figure slump forward. My tears were all cried out for now, but I’m sure they will return. I sighed heavily, the weight of having to relive those moments at the house in Washington weighing heavily on me. Going tonight would just make it all seem so real.
The memorial was being held at the coffee shop. Evie’s mom wanted her buried in Washington, but she had made so many friends here in the last 5 years that it didn’t seem right not letting these people mourn their loss. I’ve been working on a speech since we were practically sisters the last five years, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to address anyone. Walking in the shop the first thing I hear is one of her favorite songs, and it makes me laugh out loud. Such a depressing event, yet blaring ‘She Don’t Use Jelly” over the speakers lightened the mood a little. Tatum made sure to keep physical contact with me at all times of the night. He would either be holding my hand, touching my arm, or resting his hand on the small of my back. Just a small gesture like that from him made me more grounded. It made me feel alive.
Alex, a girl that was around the same age at Evie, took the microphone first. She looked absolutely devastated, and for good reason. Her friend was murdered. She didn’t get to say a proper goodbye like those do when they lose loved ones who are sick. She will never know the events that happened that night. She will never know the truth. No one here will.
“Thank you, everyone for coming tonight.” She started, then cleared her throat before continuing. “Evie was one of my very best friends. She was eclectic, energetic, and full of life. She never feared and always pushed people to do their best. I will miss her every day for the rest of my life, but I know she is in a much better place than living in this world.” She started crying and if I had any tears left they would be flowing too. I heard the sniffles coming from the crowd as Alex thanked everyone again and walked to the bathroom. Poor thing. The shop owner gestured towards me, letting me know that I could say something if I wanted.
I wanted to, I really did. I couldn’t, though. I couldn’t lie to everyone’s faces. I couldn’t hold myself straight and believe it wasn’t my fault she was dead. Everyone here thinks that Evie was killed in a drive by shooting while home visiting her mom. Even her mom doesn’t know the truth about her death. I, however, know fully what happened to her, it haunts me every moment of the day. What I still can’t wrap my mind around is how she was involved in the first place. The minute my eyes hit hers I
remembered our moments when she was younger. What I don’t understand is why she followed me, why she befriended me, and why she, of all people, knew where the money was.
Tatum broke into my thoughts just as they started to spiral out of control.
“You look ready to go. Let’s head home.” He whispered.
I shook my head and he lead me towards the door, giving me time and space to say my goodbye to my best friend.
Praise for “Alive”:
“I loved this story and didnt want it to end because of how awesome Author M. Dauphin drew me in! And she is a brand new author!! This story was beautifully breath taking and soulfully heart wrenching.”- 5 stars
“I could not put this book down! I read the entire thing in one sitting! I loved it! And now I’m anxiously waiting for the next!”- 5 stars
Praise for “Betrayed”:
“As a reader who reads stand alone’s to series’s you always hope that the author will capture you just as much if not more with each new book, Mallory did that for me with Betrayed!! Now I have to impatiently wait for the next one. Highly Recommend the Devastatingly Beautiful series!!”- 5 stars