Forbidden Lover ebook
Forbidden Lover ebook
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- Forbidden Love
- Family Saga
- Coastal Small Town
Ella and Lucas seem destined to be together — until they discover their grandfathers are sworn enemies! When their secret romance collides with the past, will they have to choose between family and true love?
If loving him was wrong... why did it feel so right?
A family tragedy brought Ella Moretti home. Seven years later, with her dreams still on hold, living with her grandfather and working in the family restaurant, she is stuck. Until, a handsome stranger on the bus makes her dare to dream again.
Unfortunately, his last name makes him completely off limits. Neither wanting to betray their family, they start a secret love affair, but when the past resurfaces and old feuds refuse to stay buried, Ella and Lucas have to decide if their forbidden love is worth the consequences.
Forbidden Lover is the first in a steamy and exciting series set in the beachy town of Willow Cove.
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Ella took a seat on the Greyhound bus just like she had every third Friday of the month. It had been her routine ever since her dad got sent to prison eight years ago. Her brothers hated that she took the trip and wished she could just forget about their dad like they had, but she couldn’t bring herself to abandon the man who once kissed her boo-boos and carried her on his shoulders. Convicted felon or not, he was and always would be her dad, and she held hope that her family’s wounds would one day heal, that forgiveness wouldn’t be a dream, but a reality.
She closed her eyes, envisioning her three brothers, dad, and grandfather sitting together at the dining room table, passing plates of spaghetti around, joking and laughing, just like they once had before everything had gone so terribly wrong.
The fantasy eased the tension in her shoulders and the emotional knots in her stomach she always got after seeing her dad dressed in the same canary-yellow prison uniform he wore like a badge of shame and regret.
Yellow used to be her favorite color, but now it just reminded her of her father’s crimes and of the time that was taken from them. He wasn’t there to take pictures with her for senior prom or high school graduation. He didn’t get to teach her to drive or wish her good luck as she left for college. So much time was taken from them because he chose to break the law.
While she didn’t agree with the choices her father had made and wished he would have taken a different path, she could almost understand.
He wanted to take care of his family after losing his wife, and instead of swallowing his pride and asking his own parents for help, he found his answers in dealing drugs. In the end, he lost the house, his family, and his freedom.
“Is this seat taken?” a masculine voice asked, and Ella opened her eyes, completely taken by the handsome stranger pointing to the spot beside her. His dark blond hair was cut short and stylishly swept to the side. His piercing blue eyes were as beautiful as the sky on a warm spring day, vibrant and inviting.
A brown leather messenger bag hung from his broad shoulders, and the sleeves to his dress shirt were rolled up, revealing tanned arms.
“Hi,” Ella said with a goofy grin on her face.
He arched an eyebrow in her direction and swept his gaze back toward the empty seat. “So, is someone sitting here?” he asked.
“Oh! No.” Heat exploded in her cheeks, spreading down her chest. She’d been openly staring like he was a model on a poster and not an actual living breathing man. Ella snatched her bag from the seat and placed it on her lap. “Sorry about that. It’s all yours.”
He offered a smile and stepped out of the aisle, letting the people behind him pass. “It’s quite all right,” he said, easing the strap from his bag down his arm. He sat, surrounding her in a mouth-watering aroma of leather and cedarwood, and pulled out a laptop.
“Not from around here, huh?” she asked.
He turned to her, those two perfect sapphires filling with curiosity. “What makes you say that?”
“Your arms,” she said, nodding to the tanned skin poking out of his crisp white and blue plaid shirt.
He laughed. “My arms?”
“You don’t get a tan like that in the northeast until at least July.”
“I could’ve gone on vacation to somewhere tropical.”
“Possibly, but then there’s also the University of California sticker on your laptop.” She pointed to the blue and yellow insignia.
He followed her finger, and the edge of his lip quirked. “You’re very observant.”
“My grandfather would call it nosy.”
“Are you close with your grandfather?”
“I am.” Close didn’t even begin to describe their bond. He was the foundation that kept her standing from one tragedy to the next—an unbreakable force who helped her keep one foot in front of the other. It was why after her grandmother passed away, she knew what she had to do.
College had always been the goal. She wanted to be the first in her family to get a degree, then make a name for herself in the interior design world, but her grandfather had carried her on his shoulders time and time again. It was her turn to return the favor.
“I actually live with him.”
It was only supposed to be temporary, a year at best, but seven years later, she was still there. The degree she dreamed about—walking across the stage to receive while her family cheered her on in the audience—was nothing more than a distant memory.
But she was okay with that. For seven years she got to know her grandfather even more, and when the time came when he would take his last breath—hopefully not anytime soon—she would be grateful for all the time they’d had together. It was time she never got with either her mother or her grandmother.
“That’s kind of funny actually.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m on my way to see my grandfather.”
There was a great deal of sayings about how you know a lot about a man by the way he treated animals or his parents, but Ella firmly believed a man’s true colors showed based on the relationship he had with not just his parents and siblings, but his grandparents as well. The older generation was so easily forgotten when life got in the way.
“Are you two close?” she asked.
He rubbed a hand under his chin, the corners of his eyes squinting slightly. “Not yet, but I hope one day we will be.”
Ella’s eyebrow arched in genuine curiosity. It was in her nature; she just couldn’t help herself. He couldn’t just dangle a piece of meat in front of her and not expect her to attack, but she’d been trying to rein in her curiosities. Her older brother, Enzo, told her it made some people uncomfortable. She didn’t think that was her problem. If they didn’t want to talk about something, then they shouldn’t present it in a way that left room for questions.
She literally just met this guy, though, and they still had a bus ride home to get through. The last thing she wanted was to make either of them uncomfortable.
“That’s a loaded response,” she finally said, unable to resist the urge.
He smirked, which caused an unexpected dimple to appear in his right cheek. It was quite charming, and she tried not to stare at the adorable little indent.
“You don’t miss anything, do you?”
She shrugged. “It’s a gift, but it’s also a curse. Sometimes I can come across a bit intrusive, so please don’t feel like you have to appease me with a response, unless you want to.”
His smirk bloomed into a full smile, and it was like watching the change in seasons—the peaceful calm of winter morphing into the bright, blissful spring.
“Why do I have a feeling if I don’t tell you it will eat at you this entire ride?”
“I’ll just have to create my own scenario in my head, and it’s very possible you can turn out to be the villain in my story.”
“The villain? That’s a bit harsh.”
“Can’t control what my imagination comes up with.”
He shifted in his chair, that cute dimple now staring right at her. “Now you know I can’t let myself become the villain.”
“You prefer to be the hero of your story?”
He shook his head, the dimple disappearing. “No hero.”
She couldn’t help but notice the slight tinge of sadness that crept into those two words, nor the way his lips curved downward and how he broke eye contact, his gaze drifting toward the window.
“So if you don’t want to be the villain or the hero, then what do you want to be?”
“Just a guy with a story.”
“Okay then, guy with a story, hit me with it.”
He laughed. “Your grandfather is right. You are nosy.”
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you. Though, maybe in the future I should think about wearing a sign for emphasis.”
“I bet someone would take your picture and post it on the internet.”
She sucked in an exaggerated gasp. “I could go viral.” She slapped her hands against her chest and looked longingly at the ceiling. “Dreams can come true.”
He laughed again, and it was a welcome sound. He rummaged in his messenger bag and pulled out a small plastic bag.
She pointed, unable to hide the massive smile on her face. “You did not just pull out a bag of black jelly beans.”
“Go ahead,” he said. “Tell me how they are the worst jelly bean to ever exist, that no person could actually like them. I’ve heard it all.”
Her mouth fell open, acting as if she was completely appalled by his words. “I was just going to say those are my favorite.”
He glanced at her, eyebrow arched. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. I love them. My grandmother used to buy them for me every Easter, and my brothers would make fun of me, but she and I would sit down with the bag between us on the couch and watch Singin’ in the Rain. By the time the movie was over, the bag would be empty. But my grandma always had a back-up bag for me to take home. She called them little beans of happiness.” Ella also knew they reminded her grandmother of anisette, her drink of choice.
“She sounds like a great woman.”
“She was,” Ella said as she fought the burn at the back of her eyes, the onslaught of emotions that crept up her throat. Pesky little things. She could never control them when she remembered her grandma.
Ella waved her hands at her eyes and forced a massive smile on her face. “But we weren’t supposed to be talking about me,” she said.
The gorgeous stranger held up the bag. “Have a bean of happiness.”
This time the smile wasn’t forced, it was big and grateful. “Thank you.” She took a handful and leaned back in the chair as she popped one in her mouth. “Mmm,” she groaned as the licorice flavor mingled with her taste buds. “So good.”
“I’ll keep the bag here,” he said, placing it between them.
“Don’t think because I’m distracted by the goodness of these jelly beans I’ve forgotten you still have a story to tell.”
“Definitely nosy.” He popped a jelly bean in his mouth. “Truth is, I didn’t even know I had a grandfather until six years ago. I thought he wanted nothing to do with me.”
Ella’s eyebrow lifted on its own accord as she swung her gaze toward him. “How does that even happen?”
“Before I was born, he and my father had a falling out. My dad up and moved with my mom across the country to California.”
“Wow. I couldn’t imagine not knowing my grandparents. They helped shape who I am.”
“My whole life I didn’t have grandparents. My mom’s parents died before I was born, and then there was my grandfather. My dad told me my grandfather wanted nothing to do with me. I believed him, he was my dad, until I was twenty-one, home on spring break for a couple days, and found a stack of cards in my dad’s desk drawer. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, a couple Easter cards… all addressed to me, unopened.”
“Your dad hid them from you?”
“I was furious. My dad took my right away to a relationship with my only living grandparent because he couldn’t see past his own resentment.”
“I’m guessing you eventually reached out to your grandfather?”
“I did. Not right away, though.”
“Honestly? I was afraid after never hearing back from me, he’d have written me off. Finally, I realized that if he sent cards every year for almost twenty-one years that had to have meant something. So, I wrote him back, and as they say, the rest was history. Now six years after that, I’m going to stay with him for a couple weeks and help him out with his finances.”
“Wow. Now that’s a story. One I think will have a happy ending.”
“I hope so. I want to be able to have a relationship with my grandfather. It may not be like the one you have with yours, but something.”
“You will. As long as you both want it, it’ll happen, and clearly that’s what he wanted all along. What about your dad?”
“Haven’t spoken to him in six years.”
“That’s a shame,” Ella said, thinking of her own brothers. People made mistakes, they were only human, but if she learned anything, life was too short to hold a grudge. Things happened at rapid speed, and the opportunity to seek forgiveness was gone, and all that was left was a big ‘what if’. Ella didn’t think it was worth it.
Everybody deserved forgiveness, but when it came to her dad and her three brothers, they were about as forgiving as a brick wall.
“He made his choice.”
“Have you never made the wrong choice?” she asked. If she couldn’t change her brother’s stubborn ways, maybe she could at least help someone else.
“Plenty of times, but I never took the choice away from someone else.”
“Do you ever think you could find it in your heart to forgive him?”
“Only time knows the answer to that.”
“Well, as someone who has watched what happens to a family when people are unwilling to forgive, I hope time is kind to you and yours.”
“Now look who’s giving loaded responses,” he said as he ate another jelly bean. “Care to elaborate?”
“Not even if you know it’s going to drive me crazy the entire rest of this bus ride?”
“Still no, but nice try. Besides, I don’t even know your name.”
“Well Lucas, I’m Ella, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her palm, and when he wrapped his strong hand around hers, heat shot to her core, fireworks erupted along her arm, and every movie meet-cute suddenly paled in comparison.