Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction - Manna Tree
A night of celebration ends in tragedy, shocking Cole Patterson to his core. Cole's brother breaks his promise not drink and drive and causes a fatal accident with three casualties. Guilt compels Cole to stay and greet the victims’ family, shouldering his brother’s guilt since his brother was no longer there to do it himself. Yet when he sees Margot Reed, something other than grief and guilt fills his soul.
If Margot never sees the inside of a hospital emergency room again, it will be too soon. She barely registers the haggard, yet expensively tailored man trying to give his condolences, her attention completely on the sole survivor of the wreck—her brother. The hospital machines are too loud in her ears, and she nearly collapses under the weight of her sorrow. But Cole is there to support her that night, and he doesn’t seem inclined to ever stop. Margot can’t bring herself to mind, either.
Can people brought together by mutual sadness find their way to happiness and joy, or will grief and guilt be too much for them to bear?
Savannah J. Frierson realized writing was her calling her junior year of high school. She completed her first original work, Reconstructing Jada Channing, as her senior thesis at Harvard University, earning the 2005 Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for most outstanding thesis concerning African or African-American literature. In 2007, Savannah released her first novel, Being Plumville, which earned Savannah SORMAG Readers’ Choice Awards in 2007 and an Emma Award nomination for Debut Author of the Year at the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Conference.
Savannah is dedicated to ensuring representations of Black womyn are as full of breadth, life, and vitality as they exist in the world.
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Excerpt (Chapter 5)
Her body shouldn’t get so warm at his kiss, especially when Cole was so distressed and needed her comfort. Margot shouldn’t be wondering what it would be like to have those soft lips touch hers, or his hands caress her arms and back as if getting used to the feel of her.
She stood, needing to distance herself from him; but when he didn’t let go of her hands, she stifled a groan.
“I…” He frowned, tugging on her so she came close to him again. He scooted to the edge of the couch and locked her between his legs. His hands moved from her wrists to her waist, and he stared at her abdomen.
“I wanna be there for you and the baby,” he said, staring at her middle. He dragged his hand to her stomach and slipped it underneath her tank as if he could feel the baby already.
“That’s a lot of responsibility,” she said, shaking her head. “And not even yours to take—”
“You don’t have anyone,” he said. “You’re gonna need someone. And even if and when your brother awakes, he won’t be able to help very much because of his recovery.”
He was making sense, she knew, but, “We are friends. I don’t need you to act as the surrogate father—”
“Godfather,” Cole said, smirking a little. “I’ve appointed myself.”
“Have you now?”
“You don’t honestly expect me to just abandon you after all we’ve been through together,” he said seriously.
“It’s barely been a week—”
“A week that’s felt like a year,” Cole said. “And there are no rules for what we’ve been through.”
Her body sagged wearily. She was unable to resist sinking her fingers into his hair. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back as if relishing in the contact, the hand at her waist tightening further.
“No pressure,” Margot murmured, though she didn’t know if that was for his benefit or hers.
“I don’t mind.”
She dropped her hands and wondered if she imagined him moan. “I…you’ve done more than enough.”
“Do you not want me around?”
“I don’t want to get used to you,” Margot answered honestly. “I don’t…” She didn’t want to welcome someone in her life who could potentially leave it—and voluntarily at that. She was gun-shy about things like that now, regardless of context.
“Well, that sucks, because I’ve grown fairly used to you,” he said, his mouth quirking.
Margot laughed and shook her head, pressing her palms against her face. “What a pair we make!”
“We are pretty unusual,” Cole agreed, standing. He wasn’t that much taller than she was, but she still had to tilt her head back a little to meet his eyes. “We first got to know each other in the ladies’ room at the hospital, after all.”
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