Ava has watched her parents, Caleb and Maggie, live the perfect fairy tale, the perfect love story, played out in front of her eyes her entire life. Her family is love, life, and happiness. The Jacobsons are everything a family should be and Ava is loved and well taken care of. But the one thing that’s missing from her life is the one thing she’s waited for every day, the one thing her kind knows will make them complete, the one thing they thought was gone and lost forever.
Seth has lived with the Watsons his entire life. They’re the only family he knows, but he knows that there are things they keep from him. He knows that they lie and they do unspeakable evil, things from when he was a child that he can barely remember that cling to the edges of his memory. He barely remembers his real mother and all he knows is what he’s told. He doesn’t know what to trust. He wants to believe that the Watsons love and care for him, have his best interest at heart, but isn’t so sure of that anymore when he finally—after a lifetime of waiting for her—meets his soulmate, and the Watson’s first act is to try to take her away from him.
The Virtuoso worlds collide, hearts are exposed, humans are endangered, and the lives of Seth and Ava are changed forever. They’ll have to love without judgment or reservation, they’ll have to be wise and accepting beyond their years, they’ll have to forgive for things before they’ve even happened, they’ll have to trust without seeing, have faith without knowing, and they’ll have to light their own way in the dark when everyone else is blind to show them the way. And more than anything else…
… they’ll fight like hell to keep each other.
When I entered the kitchen where the breakfast nook was, everyone stopped eating and talking, which made me feel so uncomfortable until Seth stood up so fast that his chair almost tipped over behind him.
He let his out in a slow, low noise before… “Wow.”
Mom chuckled and leaned back with a smile, clapping twice. “And that, ladies and gentleman, is how it’s done.”
My neck was so pink I could feel it, and Seth—realizing he’d just practically fallen at my feet in front of everyone—smiled that smile that tore through me like tissue paper and then turned it on my mother. She sat up straighter and looked at me with wide eyes.
‘I know’, I mouthed as I moved toward him.
“Eat, Ave,” Dad said, knowing what I was doing.
“I’m going to be late. And it’s the last day of school before winter break.”
“Gee, I wonder why you’re late—” Rodney began. I punched his arm.
“I’ll just take this.” I grabbed a biscuit, stuck a piece of sausage in it, and wrapped it in a napkin. “I’ll eat it,” I promised.
“I’ll make sure she eats,” Seth told them. Mom came and hugged him, telling him something in his ear and he nodded. “Thanks, Mrs. Jacobson. I will. I promise.”
Dad patted his shoulder and told him to make sure to stop by anytime, no invitation needed. Dad went to the counter and started making me a coffee in a to-go cup. I knew he was doing it, because I saw him pull the Hazelnut creamer from the fridge. But I saw him pull out a second to-go cup…and he made it black. How did he already know that Seth took his coffee black?!
“What is going on here?” I muttered under my breath.
Seth took both of the cups from my dad and guided me with an arm around my back. “Thanks for the coffee and breakfast. Bye, guys.”
“Bye, Seth!” Mom called cheerily.
I looked at the snow and the porch as we came outside to make sure that everything was the same, that I hadn’t entered an episode of a TV show of some alternate reality or something.
I looked at Seth. “If you tell me your name is The Doctor, I’m outta here.”
He laughed loudly. “And now you’re a “Doctor Who” fan? Freaking adorable,” he mumbled under his breath. “Your parents are awesome, Ava.” He was so sincere.
“I was worried I was going to have to save you.”
“No need.” He used his elbow to swipe the snow off of a spot and then set the coffees on his hood. The truck was already cranked so he must have the kind where you do it from the key fob because there were no footprints in the snow. He opened the door, helped me in, and then got the coffees, handing mine to me. “They were awesome about not making me feel weird. Even Rodney wasn’t too bad.”
He laughed before shutting my door.
My dress wasn’t too short, but I did notice how it rose up mid-thigh when I sat down. But the leggings kept the ensemble decent. And warm.
The truck was so warm, but I still slid over as soon as he shut my door. When he got in and saw how close I was, his grin was adorable. He got in and turned the heat on even more, looking at my legs and shutting his eyes for a few seconds too long. “You’re not too cold with those on?”
“Leggings?” I laughed.
“Is that what they’re called?” he half-growled as he backed out and got on the road. “They should be called evil.”
“They’re just like pants, just thinner. Jeans, just not made of quite the same thing. Jeggings.”
He laughed and shook his head. “As long as you’re warm, sweetheart, call ‘em whatever you want.” He looked at my legs again and then away with a little groan. “I’ll just call them evil because I can see every inch of your legs in those things.”
My heart practically did the Tennessee Waltz behind my ribs. “And that’s evil?” I squeaked.
“Evil,” he reiterated and smiled.
Shelly is a NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay-at-home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. She hoards paperbacks, devours sweet tea, searches year-round for candy corn, and loves to spend time with her family and friends, go out to eat at new restaurants, site-see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music, and, of course, loves to read, but doesn't have much time to these days with all the characters filling her head begging to come out. She is author to over twenty books and counting!
Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn’t go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, where her best ideas are born.