This Piece of Our Being
Robyn M. Ryan
(Clearing the Ice, #3)
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Sports
She no longer believes that love conquers all.
He questions his convictions.
Alone, each faces an uncertain future.
However, Fate has other ideas.
Just as Fate placed their lives on a collision course five years ago, Andrew and Caryn Chadwick’s paths cross once again in Toronto after a four-month separation. Despite Andrew’s assurances that he wants to repair their marriage, Caryn is wary, not certain she can trust him, and struggles with doubts and questions about his relationship with a member of his Rehab Team. Wracked with guilt, Andrew questions his determination to return to the Tampa Suns hockey team, and he seeks to convince Caryn their marriage will survive.
Fate intervenes with a gift at the worst possible moment.
Caryn can hide this secret for only a short time, but is Andrew capable of pushing his needs aside when he discovers the truth? Can she risk her heart and soul once again? This Piece of Our Being follows Andrew’s and Caryn’s journeys through a fragile reconciliation. Both vow to place honesty at the center of their future. But, will the secrets revealed heal their marriage or drive them further apart?
The conclusion to the Clearing the Ice trilogy, This Piece of Our Being delivers Andrew and Caryn’s Happily Ever After, but the path to reconciliation is rocky and missteps prove costly.
**Please note: For your best enjoyment please be sure to read THIS OF MY HEART and THIS PIECE OF MY SOUL before this book. Check your favorite ebook site for special offers on the first two books in the series during THIS PIECE OF OUR BEING’s preorder period.**
PRE-ORDER SPECIAL—Just .99 through December 5 release
SPECIAL—Buy the first book in the series, This Piece of My Heart, for just .99 (Save $2.00)
(Caryn and Andrew continue to spend time together—usually during Andrew’s therapy sessions—hoping to resolve the issues that had put their marriage on hold for four months. Caryn had poured her energies into expanding her business and begins to second-guess her decision to secure corporate clients.)
Andrew sensed Caryn’s presence the moment she entered the room. Not because he saw her in the mirror…he just knew. He caught her eye and nodded toward the mat he’d placed on the floor next to his. Caryn’s smile delivered warmth that spread quickly through his body. Well, that and the fact those yoga shorts make me crazy. A longer T-shirt would help…maybe.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said quietly as she kicked her sandals to the side.
“Glad you made it.”
She caught him watching as she stretched and nodded toward the instructor. Andrew shrugged and grinned. He enjoyed watching her blush, even as she shifted to avoid meeting his eyes.
She distracted him the remainder of the class. He couldn’t keep his eyes from drifting in her direction. Although she’d claimed she’d forgotten most of the regimen, she appeared to keep up easily with the class. Wish I were the one helping to make corrections to her form.
He flashed a smile when the instructor caught him watching, but she merely shook her head and tapped his shoulder as she passed him. Luckily, the session ended several minutes later…Andrew knew his ability to focus had dissolved.
“How’d the conference call go this morning?” Andrew asked as they walked toward the cardio class.
Caryn waved her hand back and forth. “Some good, some not-so-good. As in we’ll have a fourth contract to review sometime today.” She saw the hint of a smile cross Andrew’s face. “No, contract number three was not the charm. Two hours later, I’m totally conflicted.”
“Because…” he prompted.
“Lauren wants this so much. She promised to take the lead, hire the contract workers, manage everything.” Caryn shook her head as she met his eyes. “So, I asked her to take the lead on the call, and I basically took notes. So many compromises, I still don’t know the bottom line. One thing I do know—there’s no further discussion after we review the fourth contract. We either sign or part ways with McRainey.”
Andrew stopped and leaned against the wall near the entrance to the room. “So you’re torn between giving Lauren the opportunity she’s requested and making a decision you feel’s the best for the business?”
“That about sums it up.” Caryn looked up at him as she shrugged. “Makes me appreciate how nice it was working with a manageable list of clients. I can’t figure out why I wanted this account or remember what I was thinking.”
Andrew laughed softly and gently brushed his hand against her cheek. “You researched and saw an opportunity for growth. That sounds very reasonable.”
Caryn allowed herself to lean her cheek against his palm. She shut her eyes briefly, pushing aside everything that separated them. It felt so right…the warmth of his hand as he slid it against the back of her neck, and then gently massaged the tense muscles. She realized how much she’d craved his touch, had missed these spontaneous caresses. She only had to take a step toward him and those arms would close around her, just like in her dreams. She felt his lips press against her forehead.
“How about lunch and a massage?” he asked.
“Is that an offer?”
“An offer you can’t refuse,” he returned, his blue eyes capturing hers. “It might take me all afternoon to loosen those knots between your shoulders.”
“These have been months in the making.”
“When I’m through, you’ll be so relaxed you won’t want to move.” Andrew slipped his hand to her lower back and guided her to the gym. Caryn saw that the room was configured for step aerobics and groaned.
“After this class, I may not be able to move.”
Ten minutes into Andrew’s final morning session, physical therapy, Caryn turned on her phone and saw a long list of texts and voice messages from Lauren and Jim Wesley. Inwardly cringing, she stood and held her phone so Andrew could see it. He nodded his understanding, and Caryn quietly excused herself from the session.
She glanced through the text messages, and then quickly read the voicemail contents that the app had transcribed. Whoa! They’re getting ahead of things. Wonder if Lauren’s read the new contract? She leaned against the side of the elevator and sent a quick text to each, promising to call once she had reviewed the document.
She hoped Drew still used the same password on his laptop. She did not want to read this on her phone. She helped herself to water before opening the laptop, easily logging in. She ignored the queue of emails waiting for her and sought the one that contained contract number four. After a quick scan, Caryn began to read each page. By the fifth page, the words danced on the screen and Caryn blinked several times to clear her vision. She absently rubbed her temple as she continued to read. Good, we get the retainer upfront. Not as much as they’d proposed, but Caryn could live with that. A set payment for each seminar due immediately after the session—good thinking, Lauren—and a series of bonuses that depended on meeting explicit metrics.
Caryn closed her eyes as she leaned back in the chair. Doubts continued to nag her thoughts, but she tried to separate legitimate concerns from her “what-if” scenarios. Her worst fears centered on the final three months of the project. If for some reason Lauren were unable to complete the seminars and wrap-up the project, Caryn knew she’d have to step in…right up to her due date.
She’d worked so hard to secure that initial meeting to outline the services they could provide to an international corporation. The “what-ifs” never crossed her mind before she read McRainey’s response to the initial contract. And only continued to multiply after speaking with her father and the ongoing contract discussions.
Cold feet? Maybe. How naïve to think what they did for pro athletes could easily transfer to the corporate world…of all people, she should know better. Pregnancy brain? But, should she call this off because she has second thoughts…now, when they’ve got a contract waiting for her signature?
Before she could spend any more time obsessing over the contract, Caryn texted both Lauren and Jim Wesley, indicating her approval. Just easier this way. Lauren could run with it while she touched base with their sports clients and updated their accounts. Then, she’d still have time to work through everything with Andrew.
She pushed the laptop aside. She should be celebrating this major contract…a month ago, she probably would have. Just so tired…working crazy hours, wasting energy worrying about this contract…Drew…our marriage…our baby.
Spending this short amount of time with him left Caryn more conflicted than ever. She couldn’t reconcile this version of Andrew with the man who’d shattered her heart and her world only four months ago. She hated the tension simmering just below the surface, didn’t understand the pull that still held her captive…even after months of separation.
What if “this Andrew” were just temporary? What would happen if her anxiety over Drew playing hockey increased? Would his frustration and anger return? Would he ask for space again? She knew she only had to make a move and Andrew would brush away the past…come home…be her husband again. But, could she so easily erase the memory of the past months? Or would it continue to haunt her?
Andrew’s frustration level increased every minute of the PT session. Glenn pushed him further and harder than Kristen or any of the Suns’ training staff. They’d spent the hour on eye-hand coordination. He did okay as long as both feet stayed firmly planted on the ground. But, balancing on one leg? Jogging diagonally across the room? Not so okay. After he’d retrieved the tennis ball he’d missed catching for the thousandth time, Andrew drilled the ball past Glenn and watched with satisfaction as it bounced against the wall on the far side of the gym.
“You sure you don’t want to play baseball? That’s quite an arm.” Glenn suppressed his smile. “You’re supposed to feel frustrated, Andrew. If you could do all this easily, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
“Frustrated doesn’t begin to describe it.” Andrew took a deep breath and calmed his mind. “I’m not in the habit of throwing tantrums.”
“Hey, with a tennis ball, I’m fine. But when we’re working with the puck, definitely not without warning. If you’d like to try swinging at the ball, I’ll bring a bat or tennis racquet tomorrow,” Glenn offered.
“Yeah, maybe. Whatever you think I need.”
“Have you worked outside yet? We have a nice outdoor gym area.”
“Didn’t know one existed,” Andrew said.
“Then tomorrow we’ll head out there. There’s a ball field, tennis court—which we could use for street hockey, half court basketball. Let’s shake up your routine. If the heat doesn’t bother you, we can work there.”
Andrew nodded. “I can get excited about that.”
“If your wife wants to join us, I could put her to work shagging balls.”
“Give her a tennis racquet—she’ll send any tennis balls zooming right back past us.”
Andrew smiled as he returned to his room, remembering the frequent tennis dates the summer they first met. Too bad we didn’t get the opportunity to play on the courts in our new neighborhood. Maybe some PT homework?
He quickly bit back the greeting when he entered the room and saw Caryn resting her face against her arms at the table. He closed the door quietly and then walked toward her. The golden hair tumbled about her face, hiding her eyes. A sudden urge to run his fingers through her silken hair prompted him to brush it back from her face and over her shoulder.
Caryn murmured her approval while not opening her eyes, and she sighed when he started to massage her neck and shoulder. “Is this a dream?”
Andrew leaned to kiss her temple. “Absolutely not.”
“Feels so good,” Caryn whispered.
“It will feel much better when you’re not hunched over the table.”
Caryn opened an eye and looked at him. “Sir, what are you proposing?” A teasing smile crossed her face.
“The massage I promised. You can have your choice—on the table, the sofa, or on the not-so-comfortable hospital bed.”
Caryn shut her eyes. “You decide. I can’t make any more decisions today.”
Andrew helped her to her feet and slipped his arm around her waist to hold her securely against his side. Caryn’s arms wrapped around him and she pressed her head against his chest. Andrew wasn’t positive that Caryn had awakened fully, so he carefully guided her to the bed. “Here, sit down, sweet.”
Instead of sitting, she pulled him beside her as she lay back on the bed, immediately placing her head against his chest.
“Kiss me,” she whispered. She raised her head, her amber eyes locked on his as she hooked her arms around his neck and reached to find his lips. He met her half way, gently caressing her lips, and then deepened the kiss when her lips parted, welcoming him. He ran his fingers through her hair before boosting her further across the bed so they were face-to-face. He placed little kisses along her cheek, her neck, before he reached that special place below her ear. A tiny moan escaped her lips, drawing him back to hers.
“If this is a dream, please don’t wake me,” she said against his mouth.
“No dream. Just you and me.” Andrew pulled back, searching her eyes. He read nothing but desire and need, and he gently caressed her cheek as he spoke. “You know where this is heading?”
Caryn giggled, her amber eyes suddenly sparkling. “I think I might.”
“Are you sure you want this?” Andrew asked quietly.
“More than I’ve ever wanted anything.”
He kissed her gently. “It’s not exactly taking things slowly.”
She pulled him back toward him, craving his kiss and the feel of his body pressed against hers. Andrew’s reservations dissolved as Caryn slipped her hands beneath his shirt. Her hands explored his chest and his abs before tugging at the shirt until he pulled it off and tossed it aside. Her shirt followed, and they both relished the skin-to-skin contact.
He wanted to go slowly, demonstrate his love through each caress and kiss—the love that had never wavered. Caryn responded feverishly, demanding more, pulling him along with her on the waves of desire. She clung to him as if he were her life preserver and only this validation of his love could save her.
By the time she was an eight-year-old tomboy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Robyn M. Ryan definitely knew what she wanted to do when she grew up—play major league baseball or write. She wrote throughout elementary and high school, first composing novels featuring favorite TV and music personalities, and then venturing into sports writing.
Attending UGA’s journalism school launched her career in public relations, which included an internship with the Atlanta Flames NHL hockey team. This Piece of My Heart, a hockey romance, and the first book in Robyn’s hockey trilogy Clearing the Ice was published May 2016. The second book in the series, This Piece of My Soul, was published January, 2017, and the final book, This Piece of Our Soul concludes the trilogy with a December, 2017 release.
Besides writing, Robyn’s passions include following the New York Rangers, NASCAR, and the Atlanta Braves; splitting time between homes in Atlanta and Palm Coast, and visiting Paris as often as possible. Two brilliant Westies rule both homes.
As do many writers, Robyn chooses to write using a pseudonym—hers is a combination of her sons’ names, a contribution from her youngest nephew.
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