Title: Change of Heart
Author: Jennifer L. Allen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 6, 2015
(until Nov. 5)
Casey Evans and Decker Abrams have been best friends since they became neighbors at the age of six. After high school, Casey abruptly leaves their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina for the west coast, leaving Decker wondering where she went and why she left.
Three years later the two are reunited, both harboring some old resentment towards the other. Not to mention, Casey has been hiding a pretty big secret from Decker all those years. Not willing to risk losing Casey again, Decker follows her back to California in an attempt to save their friendship.
Will Casey and Decker work out their issues and be best friends again? Or will they finally become something more?
I lie in my bed, staring at the text on my phone.
Deck: Still up?
I look over at the alarm clock on my nightstand. It’s after midnight, and I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow. At this hour, Decker only ever wants one thing. I know what I should do, but what am I going to do?
What’s one more night, right? Does that make me a bad person?
Things with Decker have been strained, to say the least, since Cade’s graduation party. It’s like he knows something is wrong but is too afraid to stir things up by asking me about it. I usually don’t hide things from him. I’ve always been an open book.
But this…this I can’t be an open book about.
Deck: Is it open?
He’s referring to my bedroom window. His point of entry.
Deck: I’ll be right there.
I roll to my back and stare up at the ceiling, the glow-in-the-dark stars shine back at me. Decker and I placed them there when we were twelve. It was only six years ago, but it seems like a lifetime ago. Things are so different now.
I hadn’t been sleeping with him back then.
And I hadn’t been in love with him, either.
Yep, that’s right. I’m in love with my best friend. At Cade’s graduation party, when I saw him with Carrie, it’s like my heart had stopped. I’d believed what he’d told me—that it was a ruse to get him upstairs and that he stopped when he’d figured out what she was up to. But it was in that moment that I’d realized my feelings for Decker were much stronger than they should have been. And then, when he and I had spoken outside before I’d left that night, I’d realized my feelings were stronger than his, too.
You’re my best friend.
Those four words were like a punch in the chest. But what had I expected? For Decker to have the big ah-ha realization moment at the exact same time as me? Not likely. Hell, my moment of realization wasn’t even all that awesome. Since we took our friendship to the next level, Decker has never expressed that he wants us to be anything more than what we are. In fact, he’d always seemed pretty content to just keep our whole “relationship” a secret. Maybe if he would have just come out with it, his friends would have laid off with the teasing and the name calling. Or maybe it would have been even worse.
Then, to make the situation even more complicated, what do I do? I go and fall in love with him. Smooth, Casey. Real smooth. I’ve always loved Decker, but it’s different now. Too different.
I hear the tell-tale sound of the window being raised so I roll onto my side to watch him climb in. Decker has been climbing in and out of my bedroom window for more than ten years, but it’s only happened at night, like this, the past few months.
Regardless of the obvious strain, our appetite for one another hasn’t changed. All summer long we’d feasted off one another night after night. It’s as if I’ve been trying to quench all my desires before our impending separation. The separation he’s still unaware of.
My heart pinches inside my chest at the thought of this being our last night together. Maybe, just maybe, things can be different. There is still time.
I take in his slightly disheveled appearance and my stomach clenches. He’s really filled out over the past year. Thick, corded muscles in his arms and shoulders—natural for a pitcher, tight abs, and muscular thighs. Now another part of me is clenching.
He struggles his way into the room, then stumbles over to my bed. His auburn hair is slightly longer than last summer’s buzz cut, but still quite short, and spiked in a messy, yet organized, way. He gives me a half smirk, his eyes are hooded.
Great. He’s drunk. Just how I’d wanted to remember tonight. I should’ve said no. I should’ve ignored the text. I should’ve locked the damn window.
But it’s Decker. My kryptonite.
“Have you been drinking?” I foolishly ask him, already knowing the answer to my question.
He laughs as he drops on the edge of the bed and starts pulling off his shoes. “A little,” he admits.
“I thought you were in training.” The frustration is evident in my tone—not that he’d notice in his present state.
Decker got a baseball scholarship to go to the University of South Carolina. He is going to be a Gamecock, and everyone in our town is so proud of him. I’m proud of him. Even though the baseball season isn’t until the second part of the year, they have the team train all-year-round to some degree. And when he’d accepted the scholarship, he also accepted a pretty extensive summer training schedule to prepare him for what he will have to deal with once he is on campus.
“It’s one night, Case. Stop being so serious all the time. It’s summer,” he slurs. He finally wrangles off his pants and shirt and flops down on his back.
“It won’t kill you to take things seriously every once in a while.” Maybe if you took things seriously once in a while, you’d realize that life was about to change, I think to myself but don’t dare speak. I don’t want a confrontation with Decker. Yeah…I’m a chicken.
“And it won’t kill you to give it a rest every once in a while,” he counters. And he’s right. It is our last night together, the least I can do is refrain from lecturing him. It is too late for it to do any good anyway. Isn’t it?
I sigh in acceptance, and he takes it as an invitation, rolling towards me and cupping my face. I look into his deep green eyes, and for a moment, I swear he looks sad. But he can’t possibly be. He doesn’t know what’s really been plaguing me these past couple months.
He closes his eyes and presses his lips against mine. I pull him closer and he moves himself above me. My mouth opens on a soft moan and he takes advantage, pushing his way inside. Our tongues clash and our bodies grind against each other as we rid one another of our clothes, coming together completely one last time.
It’s a night I will never forget. I’m so grateful that the bedroom light is out, and the moon is low so he can’t see the tears I can’t hold back in the dark.
“Decker?” I take some comfort in the heat radiating from his naked body pressed up against my back. It makes me feel bold. Bold enough to speak my heart? My mind?
“Things are going to change.” I close my eyes tight, badly wanting to tell him everything. How much I love him…really, really love him. And that I’m going to Stanford. I want him to assure me that everything will be okay…that we’ll be okay. That he loves me, too, and we’ll make it work despite the distance. I need his strength.
“Nah.” He yawns loudly, the liquor on his breath wafting over my shoulder as he exhales and pulls me tighter against him. “We might not see each other as much…but we’ll always be best friends.”
The small glimmer of hope I had burns out in the night.
“Best friends…right.” A final tear falls from my eye, runs down my cheek and drops to the pillow with an audible plop.
“Forever…” he murmurs.
By morning, Decker is gone.
A few hours later, so am I.
Jennifer lives in South Carolina with her husband and their four fur-kids. She is in grad school, pursuing a Masters in Psychology for Clinical Counseling. When she is not at work or taking classes, she is either reading or writing. Books have always been a passion. She also enjoys spending time with her family, traveling to new places, and music. She released her debut novel, Our Moon, in June 2015.