Authors: Kelly Elliott
Searching for Harmony
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Loveswept Ebook Original
Copyright © 2016 by Kelly Elliott
Hard to Fall
by Marquita Valentine copyright © 2016 by Marquita Valentine
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
is a registered trademark and the
colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
Hard to Fall
by Marquita Valentine. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
ebook ISBN 9780425284216
Cover design: Carrie Devine/Seductive Designs
Cover photograph: CoffeeAndMilk/iStock
Trey reached for my hand as we stood in my living room. My mother and father stared at both of us as I inhaled a deep breath. My brother, Jake, sat to the side of my parents as he gave me a reassuring smile. “Mom, Dad, we have something we need to tell you.”
Glancing at his watch, my father took in a sharp breath. “Well, Harmony, don’t just stand there; go on and tell us. We have a dinner at eight that I cannot be late for.”
My heart dropped as I felt Trey squeeze my hand. Two days ago, Trey and I had broken up. We were about to graduate from high school and were heading to two different colleges. It wasn’t like I didn’t love Trey. I did. I just wasn’t in love with Trey and I knew he felt the same way.
This morning everything had changed. Both of our worlds came to a complete stop.
Closing my eyes, I spoke the words in almost a whisper. “I’m pregnant.”
Trey dropped my hand and snaked his arm around my waist. I knew it was only a show of support for me. Trey hated my parents. Hated the way they treated me like I was an asset instead of a daughter. I was used to it since it was all I ever knew.
Standing, my father cracked his neck and nodded. “I’ll take care of everything first thing tomorrow morning.”
Pulling my head back in surprise, I asked, “Take care of what?”
My mother stood and faced my father. “We’ll need to do it swiftly and keep the utmost privacy. Maybe we need to look into Harrison County.”
Glancing at Trey, I saw that he raised his shoulders and shook his head. Turning back to my parents, I stepped forward. “What are you both talking about?”
Giving me a weak smile, my mother said, “An abortion. It will be done within a week.”
Bringing my hands up to my mouth, I stood there, stunned. Surely they were not serious. My parents were very religious and did not believe in abortion.
Trey laughed as he said, “You’re both crazy.”
Jake stood up and looked between my parents. “You can’t be serious.”
Shaking my head, I said, “No. I’m not having an abortion. What are you even talking about?”
Daddy turned to Jake and said, “Stay out of this. It does not concern you.” Looking at Trey and then me, his eyes turned to sadness. “You have two options, Harmony. Abortion and continue on to Harvard, or leave and be disowned by your parents. It’s your choice.”
WO YEARS LATER
Looking out the window, I fought to keep my anger down. I didn’t want to be angry with Trey. I knew it wasn’t his fault he had to go to another business meeting tonight. He had started working for his father’s marketing firm as soon as we graduated from high school while he still tried to go to school full-time. While I was pregnant with TJ, I began taking classes at the University of Massachusetts to become a nurse. It was hard on both of us, but we managed, considering neither of us had college degrees yet and we had an almost eighteen-month-old baby.
Glancing into the backseat, I smiled when I saw TJ sleeping. Looking straight ahead, I closed my eyes and thought back to this morning.
“We’re going to find you, Daddy!” I’d said as I took TJ’s hand as we searched for Trey. Laughing, TJ yelled out, “Daddy! We coming!”
“Oh no!” Trey called out.
Dropping to the floor in front of TJ, I covered my mouth and then whispered, “TJ! I heard Daddy. Did you hear Daddy?”
Slowly nodding, his little blue eyes gazed back at mine as they danced with excitement. “Want to go sneak up on him and yell boo?”
Laughing, TJ wrapped his arms around my neck. “Yes, Mommy! Boo!”
Picking him up, I inhaled a deep breath as I took in his smell. Smiling, I held him tighter as we snuck into the living room and climbed up on the sofa. Putting my finger to my lips, I pointed behind the sofa. TJ jumped on the cushion and quickly looked behind the sofa and yelled out, “Boo, Daddy!”
Trey flew up with his hands on his heart as he fell back and said, “You scared me!”
Laughing, TJ reached his arms up for Trey. Reaching for him, Trey scooped up TJ and smiled at me. “It’s Mommy’s turn to hide.”
Pointing at me, TJ smiled and then buried his face in Trey’s chest while Trey counted.
Smiling at me, Trey seemed happy for the first time in weeks.
Turning now to Trey, I took in a deep breath and slowly blew it out. “I’m sorry, Trey. I’m sorry I got angry. I know you have to do whatever your dad tells you to do.”
Gripping the steering wheel tighter, Trey took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. “You know I hate this just as much as you do. There is nothing I can do about it though. My dad was nice enough to open up a position for me and let me basically train on the job. I…no…we owe my parents a lot.”
The sting of his words was painful. “Yes, I know we owe them a lot. You remind me all the time, Trey.”
Letting out a sigh, Trey pushed his hand through his hair. “Don’t you ever get tired of fighting, Harmony? That’s all we do.”
Nodding, I chewed on my bottom lip. The only reason Trey and I got married was because I was pregnant. We both came into this marriage thinking we could make each other happy enough, but I knew that wasn’t the case. I could see it in Trey’s eyes. He was far from happy.
“Harmony, there’s something I’ve been needing to talk to you about.”
My cellphone began ringing as I glanced down at it. “It’s the hospital. I better answer it.”
“Can you, for once, just not be at their every beck and call, Harmony?”
“What? Trey, this is my job. If I ever want to get my nursing degree, I need to work. If that means picking up a few extra shifts here and there, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Letting out a gruff laugh, he whispered, “Of course you are.”
Glancing down at my phone, I sent the call to voicemail. “I won’t go in, but you need to do the same with your business meeting tonight.”
Throwing his head back, Trey laughed. “Jesus. Harmony, are you serious? What in the fuck do you think pays for everything? My job does. I can’t tell my father I’m not coming just because you don’t want me to.”
Feeling the tears building in my eyes, I turned and looked back out my window as Trey drove down Boylston Street. “I miss you, Trey. Spending an evening together was something I thought you would enjoy. It’s been over a month since you’ve even kissed me.”
Feeling his hand on my leg, I held back my sob as he gave it a gentle squeeze. It was gone. That feeling I used to get when he touched me was gone. Who was I kidding? It was gone before I even found out I was pregnant.
“Harmony, I need to tell you something…Oh my God. Shit!”
Quickly turning to look at him, I saw the truck. The sound of tires squealing across the hot Boston pavement caused me to let out a scream. Trey slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. The truck was going to hit us. Hard. Turning to look at TJ, my stomach clenched when I saw he was awake. Smiling at me, he reached out his hand as he said, “Mommy.”
“Trey,” I whispered as I closed my eyes and waited. Waited for a miracle.
Opening my eyes, I instantly felt the pain as I tried to move. “Trey?” I screamed out. “Trey, where are you?” Holding my hands up, I let out a gasp. They were covered in blood.
Oh my God. Is this my blood? Trey? The truck hit on Trey’s side. No, dear God, what’s happening?
Quickly looking around, I realized I was on my back. Pain shot from my head down to my toes.
A friendly smile was looking down at me. “Ma’am. I need you to lie perfectly still and try to stay calm, okay? I’m a firefighter and you’ve just been in a car accident.”
Her eyes were the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. Not even my eyes were that blue.
“Is my husband okay? The truck hit on his side. Is he okay?” My world felt as if it had been torn in two and I wasn’t even sure why. Giving me a smile, she replied, “They are attending to him, ma’am. I need you to lie still.”
“My baby?” I asked as I felt my tears fall down the sides of my face and pool in my ears. My heart felt empty.
“Preston is taking care of him, keep looking at me, ma’am.”
Preston? Who is Preston?
Turning my head, I saw TJ lying on the ground. Screaming out his name, I reached my hand out to him. “No! Oh my God. TJ! My baby! What’s wrong with my baby?”
The firefighter who was giving TJ mouth-to-mouth looked right at me as he pressed TJ’s chest with his hands. Our eyes caught and I saw nothing but fear in his green eyes. Looking away, he continued on with trying to get TJ breathing.
“Don’t do this to me. Please, God, don’t do this!” I yelled out.
My baby needs me. He needs me!
Attempting to get up, I yelled out Trey’s name as I looked for him.
Where was he? Why isn’t he with TJ?
Turning back to the firefighter, I watched as they lifted TJ onto a stretcher.
“No! Wait, please let me go with him. Please let me hold my baby!
” I screamed out as the firefighter turned and looked at me. His eyes were so sad as they captured mine. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought I saw a tear rolling down his cheek. TJ and the firefighter slowly faded away as a cloud of darkness swept me down a dark tunnel.
“Trey. My baby. God, please don’t take my baby.”
Darkness swept over my body as I heard voices shouting all around me.
“He’s gone…we couldn’t get to him in time.”
It’s a dream. This is all just a dream.
Slowly opening my eyes, I looked around the dark room. Machines beeped all around me as my head pounded.
Swallowing, I attempted to talk.
Where am I? Where is Trey? The baby! Where is my baby?
The door opened and I turned my head to see my brother standing there. Finding no energy to talk, I barely whispered, “TJ.”
Jake closed his eyes and the last thing I saw before slipping back into sleep was the tear making a path down my brother’s cheek.