Catching Summer (A Second Chances Novel)

By: L.P. Dover


How do you get someone to love you when they don’t believe in it anymore? How do you get them to see that maybe the bad shit that happened in the past is what led them straight to you? I knew what happened to Summer and I’d always kept my distance, knowing she wouldn’t want anything to do with me, or any man, for that matter. She kept a smile on her face, but I could tell she was broken and dead inside. Summer Jacobs had saved me in more ways than one, and now it was my turn to save her.

And this time, I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

—Evan Townsend





Prologue


Summer


Memories. I hated them. All I wanted was to forget the past and move on, but I couldn’t. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see it all as if it had happened yesterday. Sleep was not my friend. The second I’d drift off, I’d be taken back to that nightmare. I wanted to rip out my heart and throw it away so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain anymore. Or feel anything, for that matter. It was too much. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to live through it.

How could I when my whole life had been taken from me? To this day, even when I was awake, Austin’s shouts demanding that I be let go still echoed in my ears. All he wanted was to be recognized, to show the world how good a fighter he could be. Instead, he was lured into a deadly game, promised a life of riches and fame. I could still feel my captors’ fingers digging into my arms as they held me tight, whispering in my ears what they were going to do to me and to my husband. I was blindfolded at the time, but I could hear every goddamned thing that was going on. It was the exact moment I lost all faith in humanity.

I wanted to be strong, to believe that we would get out of it alive, but it was no use. Austin didn’t have a chance, and neither did I. All he had wanted was to be the best fighter in the UFC and to make something of himself, to finally earn the money to open up the restaurant he and his brother had been dying to start ever since they were young. Instead, our dreams scattered to the wind that day, gone for all eternity. I don’t know how many men were in the ring with him, but it had to have been at least three by the sounds of it. Fists hitting flesh, grunts of pain, and bones breaking were the noises of my nightmares. They were nightmares I could never escape from. The endless torture never ceased.

“Summer? Are you okay?”

My sister’s voice broke through the memories, but it wasn’t enough to snap me out of it. Lara had tried desperately to help me, to talk to me in hopes it would ease my pain. She was my twin sister, and with a bond like that she was sure she’d have the healing touch to help me forget. But her soothing words were no match for the evil tainting my soul. Nothing helped, not even when I sold our house in Georgia to move back to North Carolina. Our parents lived in Virginia and had tried to get me to move in with them, but I couldn’t escape from my demons no matter how far I moved away.

I could still hear Austin choking on his own blood, begging them to let me go. The men taunted him about how they were going to have fun with me when he was dead. I’d tried to hold in my screams because I knew it would only torment him more to know that I was scared. My arms were covered in bruises for weeks after the attack. The trauma made me forget, and for a while my memories had escaped me, but they came back with a vengeance. While in the hospital, I had no clue who I was or what had happened. It was like I didn’t exist. Sometimes I wanted to go back to that, to be in a state of ignorant bliss where the memories couldn’t haunt me. It wasn’t until Mason Bradley, a friend of mine and Austin’s who also happened to be an undercover cop, showed up and sparked my memory that it all came back to me. Mason found Austin’s murderers and brought them to justice, almost losing his own life in the process. I would always be grateful for what he did for me, but nothing was going to bring Austin back.

Lying broken and beaten in the hospital bed, I’d wanted my life to end so that I could be with Austin again, to see his smiling face and feel his arms around me. We didn’t have any kids, so it wasn’t like I had anything at home waiting for me other than my sister. With his last dying breath before the final blow took him away from me, Austin had shouted that he loved me.

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