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Exclusive Excerpt—Scene: Caryn and Andrew face the first bump in their new relationship. Andrew’s gorgeous ex shows up unexpectedly and informs Caryn she is back and intends to continue her relationship with Andrew. Caught off-guard, Caryn doubts Drew’s true feelings and avoids him for several days while she tries to sort through her feelings…From This Piece of My Heart’s Chapter 12. © 2016 Robyn M. Ryan

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Caryn sat at the kitchen table, sipping her tea as she read Andrew’s texts. So he knows I met Monique and needs to talk with me. That’s an understatement. Sure, he wants to try to explain how she blindsided me yesterday. Why even bother? I got the message loud and clear. I just need him to answer one question—why did you deliberately deceive me all summer? Maybe if I’d known going in that this was just a summer thing…I might have agreed to that. But as soon as I started to really fall for him, at least I could have ended it before I got hurt.

Tears blurred her vision, and Caryn stood to take her empty plate to the sink and turned the stove on to heat water for another cup of tea. She just couldn’t seem to get warm. She’d stepped out front for a moment for some fresh air—the unusually warm temperature surprised her. But, back inside, Caryn felt chilled to her core.

She heard the knock on her door a few minutes later, but made no move toward it. She heard the door open and Andrew calling her name. Shit. Why didn’t I remember to lock the door when I came back inside? Still in the kitchen, she heard his steps, stiffening in apprehension. Please just leave.

 “Caryn, you here?” Andrew called, walking toward the kitchen, stopping short when he saw her standing beside the stove, her back to him. “I’ve been trying to reach you since…”

Caryn took a deep breath, anger quickly resurfacing. She turning to face him, irritation tinting her words. “Don’t bother, Drew. I don’t need to hear anything you have to say.”

His blue eyes darkened in frustration mixed with annoyance. He locked eyes with hers for a long moment before speaking. “I’ve been worried about you.”

Caryn shrugged. “I’m fine, as you can see,” she said, her tone flippant. She gripped the counter behind her, determined to cling to her anger.

“I’m sorry Monique showed up like that. I had no idea…”

She interrupted, “Don’t worry about it, Drew. No big deal.”

“You avoiding me, refusing to take my calls is a big deal to me.” She could tell Andrew was controlling his temper with an effort. “You don’t want to hear what I have to say?”

“There’s no need. I told you I totally get it. Don’t worry about me. We had a nice summer while Monique was away. I understand that since she’s back now, you’ll be spending your time with her.” She shook her head as he tried to speak. “I honestly don’t mind that we just had a ‘little summer romance.’”

“Are you going to give me a chance to talk?” Andrew’s voice was taut with suppressed anger.

Caryn shrugged, crossing her arms against her chest. She nodded for him to continue.

Andrew sighed, leaning against the counter, but careful not to approach her. “I didn’t even know Monique was in the country. I haven’t seen her since we broke up last May.”

“Yeah, she told me she spent the summer in Europe.”

“Did she mention that we are no longer in a relationship?” Andrew challenged.

Caryn took a deep breath and sipped her tea, amazed that her hand did not shake. “I don’t think she got that memo, Drew.”

“Believe me, Caryn, she got the message. Loud and clear.” Andrew’s tone was harsh. “She went to Europe with a man she’d been seeing for months. I was the one who didn’t get the memo.”

“She cheated on you?”

Andrew nodded. “Yep. In my apartment. When I got home early from a road trip and found them, that was it. It’s been over since May.”

Caryn avoided his eyes. “If she hadn’t cheated, you’d still be together.”

“You don’t know that, Caryn.”

“Do you?” She met his eyes steadily, trying to read the truth.

“Yeah, I do know,” Andrew shot back, anger spiking his words. “Our relationship was toxic. It was just a matter of time before we self-destructed. Do you honestly think I would have spent all summer with you if I was involved with someone else?”

“Before yesterday? No, I wouldn’t think you would.”

“So Monique shows up, fills your head with lies, and you believe her and not me? Enough that you’ve been dodging me for more than a day?”

“I don’t know what to think,” Caryn said softly, her eyes on her hands.

“And refusing to talk helps you, how?”

She cringed at his tone. “I’m angry, hurt and confused. I need time to think.” She looked at him, trying to read his expression. He stepped toward her, stopping just a few feet away, causing her to lean back against the counter to see his eyes.

“Do you trust me, Cary?”

She closed her eyes for a long moment. “I want to, Drew.”

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“This Piece of My Heart delivers a sweet love story that still sizzles — a must-read for anyone looking for the perfect happily-ever-after.” 
— Cara Lockwood, USA Today bestselling author of “I Do (But I Don’t).”

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