We are so excited to bring you an exclusive look at one of my most anticipated reads of 2015, Promise Me (Alexa Reed Series #3) by Hilary Wynne. This series swept me up with its drama, angst and the very sexy Julian Bauer! ** If you haven’t the first two books of this series, this contains minor spoilers. — Whitney
Promise Me by Hilary Wynne
The Alexa Reed Series #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Very soon!
When I whispered the words ‘trust me’ into Julian’s ear last night, I meant it. I need him to trust me. The problem is that I’m not so sure he should. There are so many emotions coursing through my body that I’m not sure how I actually feel. I’m so incredibly happy that Julian is here with me, and that it appears this nightmare with the baby is over. I’m also freaking out because the reality that I slept with Luke is very much on my mind, and I have no idea how I’ll ever be able to tell Julian that I slept with a man he hates while we were broken up … two weeks after we broke up. Fuck. This is never going to be okay, and when I tell him, he’ll never trust me again.
Dawn is barely breaking. It’s still pretty dark outside, and this is what I’m thinking about as I look at this beautiful man lying next to me. Julian is still asleep, which is rare. He was so exhausted last night, and between the emotional and physical sharing we did, I’m not surprised he’s still out. I, on the other hand, am wide awake. As I look at Julian, the man I love with everything I have, I can’t push away the guilt that’s gnawing at my soul and has kept me from falling into a real sleep. My guilt is compounded by how honest he was with me last night about how he was feeling about everything. He was so vulnerable, and let me see all of him. He truly bared his soul to me and I’m hiding from him … still.
Last night was raw. I can’t think of any other word that would better describe the energy. The way we talked, the way we touched and made love, was raw. If I’m being honest, I’m still feeling that way this morning, and it’s not just because of the Luke thing. We haven’t really gotten into specifics about what happened with Caroline and the baby, and it’s the proverbial elephant in the room. I have so many questions. I want to know what happened, but I know I need to let him tell me in his own time. I snuggle up to Julian, wrap myself around his warm, naked body and thankfully, am able fall back asleep. When the sun streaming through the windows wakes me up a few hours later, I find Julian staring off into the distance, lost in his thoughts. I broach the subject delicately and ask him in a whisper. “Do you want to talk about it? We can. We should.”
Julian rolls over onto his side and I can see the mix of emotions in his eyes again. “She lied, Lexie. She said she didn’t know if the baby was mine or not, but she wanted it to be so she convinced herself and everyone else that it was mine.”
I hear the hurt in his voice and it hurts me too. I grab his hand and thread my fingers through it. “Who’s the father, Julian? Does she know?”
His voice is monotone. “Jordan.”
I’m shocked by his answer. “Jordan? From the bar? The Jordan who works for you?” The Jordan who is one of Luke’s close friends, I might add.
“Sí. That Jordan. Apparently they were hooking up at the same time that we were ending things. She got pregnant and chose to not say anything because she didn’t know who the father was. She and I did have a night when the condom broke, and I guess that they also had a night with, I don’t know, an opportunity for her to get pregnant.”
My head is reeling as I put the pieces together. I’m not sure that I like how this puzzle is fitting together either. My suspicious mind has me wondering if Luke knew anything about this. The words he said to me, “If the whole thing with the baby went away …” are ringing in my ears. No way. He wouldn’t have kept that from me. I push the thoughts of Luke aside and concentrate on Julian, who is obviously and understandably still very upset by this.
“And you knew it wasn’t yours because the baby didn’t look like you? It looked like Jordan?”
“It’s a boy, Lexie, and yes, he looked like Jordan.”
Jordan is bi-racial, and I’m assuming Julian means the baby was darker than he would have thought considering everyone in Julian’s family is fairly light-skinned. Caroline is blond and blue eyed too, so I guess there would be no way for her and Julian to produce a dark skinned baby. I don’t want to be insensitive and ask for specific details, so I’ll assume this theory is right.
“And you knew right away?”
“Do you really want to talk about this, Lexie? You aren’t going to be comfortable with all of the details, and I’m not sure you really need to know all of them anyway.”
“Yes, I do, and no I don’t. I mean, I’d rather all this not have happened, and I wish it wasn’t something we need to talk about, but we do. I do. If we don’t, I’ll always wonder, and it’ll end up being an issue between us. Trust me, it’s better to get it out in the open now. So go, tell me all the details before I change my mind.”
Julian can’t help but smile a little. “Look who’s being all emotionally mature and rational.”
Okay, I guess I deserve that. I’m a good sport even though his words sting a little. “Yeah, it’s the new me. Like it?”
He hears the hurt in my voice, and gives me a little peck on the lips to smooth it over. “Love it.”
Now that he’s convinced that I’m going to deal with this information in a “mature and rational” way, he starts talking and sharing all the details. It’s a perfect “be careful of what you ask for” moment. In retrospect, I could’ve lived without all of the details.
“Caroline went into labor Friday night, so I picked her up and took her to the hospital. I called Danny and my parents, and they met us there. Her parents live in Ohio, so it was just us. Her labor was pretty intense and she wasn’t dilating, so after about ten hours they put her on Pitocin because the baby wasn’t coming out.”
I’m trying to stay focused, but I’m struggling. I’ve never had a baby. I don’t know much about the technical stuff he’s talking about, and to be honest, listening to your boyfriend/ex-fiancé/love of your life talk about his experiences in the delivery room with another woman sucks. It really sucks. But I asked, so I hang in there and let him talk.
“She got an epidural, which made things calm down. We waited for another three hours and finally she was ready to push. ”
You know how people get lost in the story when they’re remembering the actual events? How they can look like they are reliving them? Well, that’s what’s going on with Julian, and I have to literally bite my tongue from telling him to stop talking. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I don’t want to hear this.
“It was crazy, Lexie. Seeing a baby being born …”
“Okay, Julian, STOP! I lied. I can’t handle all the details. I’m not that mature and rational.” I cringe when I hear how whiny my voice is.
“You want me to stop telling you what happened? You said you wanted to know everything.” He looks disappointed, which makes it worse.
“Julian, would you want to hear me tell you about another man watching me give birth? Really? This is something I thought we’d be sharing for the first time together, and now that dream is gone. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually, but the step-by-step on how you were sharing the miracle of child birth with someone other than me isn’t working for me.” No joke, I feel nauseous.
He pauses for a moment and considers what I’m saying. I’m sure he puts himself in my shoes for a minute, and then agrees that he wouldn’t be okay with hearing what he’s telling me. I’m grateful when he skips the rest of the birth part.
“Anyway, when the baby was born they took him right away to check and make sure everything was okay. I couldn’t really see him, but they told me he was perfect. When they brought him back over to Caroline, he was all wrapped up in a blanket and it was hard to see anything but his face. They handed him to her first and when she looked at him, really looked at him for the first time, I was looking at her. I can’t describe the look that crossed her face other than to say she looked scared to death. She started crying. I thought she was just emotional from having just given birth, but when she really started to sob it freaked me out. We were in the room alone. I mean there was a nurse in there, but nobody else had seen the baby yet. I hadn’t really seen the baby yet. I asked her why she was crying, and I reminded her that the baby was perfect and that everything was okay.”
I can picture the scene and hear Julian talking to her in his comforting and soothing voice. He’s got a special way of making everything seem like it’s okay.
“She just started shaking her head, and after a minute she said that no, everything isn’t okay. I got nervous and took the baby from her, thinking she saw something the nurses and doctor didn’t. But when I looked at him, the baby boy that was supposedly mine, I saw exactly what she saw. I saw a baby that could no way be mine.”
Oh wow! I can’t imagine the shock he had felt in that moment. I know that it floored me when I heard Brady had a baby, and this isn’t even close to the same thing.
“What did you do, Julian?”
Again his voice is monotone and very matter-of-fact. “I asked her. I asked her if the baby was mine, and she whispered no, she didn’t think so.”
“And? All hell broke loose. The baby started crying and she was crying and I was in shock. I wanted to yell at her, but I couldn’t get the words out. Nothing was making sense. The nurse was looking at us like we were crazy, and asked if she could take the baby. I think she was worried because I was holding him, and I just found out that he wasn’t mine. She took him and walked to the other side of the room. He was crying and clearly wanted Caroline, but she didn’t even reach for him. It disgusted me. I asked her who the father was, and she said it was Jordan. She told me that after I told her that I didn’t want to see her anymore, they got together. She was sobbing and saying over and over again that she was sorry, but that she had to do it. She said her family would never accept a black baby, and that she prayed and prayed for the baby’s sake that I was the father, because then at least she would have help taking care of it. She said she wasn’t going to tell anyone and was going to try and support it herself, but then changed her mind when she got scared that she wouldn’t be able to model after having a baby.” The words are just tumbling out of his mouth.
This story is freaking insane and I know my mouth is hanging open. It’s like a soap opera or a Jerry Springer episode. My heart breaks for him, the betrayal and confusion he must have felt. Actually, must be feeling. This is still so fresh.
“I’m so sorry, Julian. I can’t imagine how you felt. What did you do?”
“What could I do? I had no idea what I should do. I was livid and I was stunned. I knew I had to walk out and tell my parents, who had been there the whole night, that the baby wasn’t mine. I felt bad for her because she was inconsolable, but then there was you. I felt relieved, and all I wanted to do was come to you. It felt so wrong to feel that way. I felt guilty.”
He felt guilty and I feel happy that all he wanted was me. That’s the selfish and immature Lexie poking her head out, and I push her back down and focus on him. “How were your parents, and Danny?”
“To be honest, I don’t really know. I walked out and told them what I just found out. My mom was immediately in tears, my dad was pissed and started ranting in Spanish about gold diggers, and Danny just wanted to know if I was okay. They asked me where I was going, and I didn’t answer. I just walked out of the hospital and came here. You pretty much know the rest.”
“Julian, have you even looked at your phone or talked to your parents, or to Danny?”
“No, Lexie, I haven’t. I took a page from your book and went dark. I have to say it felt fucking awesome. I just needed a break from dealing with everyone else’s feelings.”
Oh God. Not one of my better habits to imitate. I roll over and look for his pants on the floor. I get his phone out of his pocket, turn it on, and hand it to him. “Julian, I realize how hypocritical this sounds coming from me, but don’t do that again. Your family is probably freaking out and by the way, you run a hotel. You need to call them, like now.”
Julian looks down at this phone, and I can tell he’s jolted back to reality by what I’m sure are a large number of missed calls and texts. “Fuck!”
“Uh huh. Fuck is right. It’s always a good idea until it isn’t, Julian.”
His smile is thin as he makes his first call. It’s to his mom. I get up to give him some privacy and to use the bathroom, but he pulls me back down next to him and shakes his head. He’s speaking in Spanish so quickly that I have a hard time keeping up. They speak for a few minutes and he finishes the conversation with, “Sí, Mami, estoy bien. Te amo.” I hear in his voice he wants to be strong for his mom. I’m not sure that he really is so okay.
He places the next call to Danny and keeps it brief. He tells Danny he’s with me, that he’s okay, and that he’ll call him later. Then he calls work. That conversation doesn’t go well as Julian is filled in with what he missed last night when he checked out of his world. I watch as his face clouds over with concern by whatever is being told to him, and I know it must be bad when he gets out bed and heads to the bathroom. I hear him say that he’ll be there soon, and I hear the shower turn on. Ten minutes later he emerges and sits down next to me.
“I have to go in right now. That was Candace. We had some issues in Ursa’s last night. They did the best they could to take care of them, but I really need to get involved. It sounds like Dario got insulted by a customer and didn’t handle it well.” He shakes his head almost in disbelief. “I can’t believe I did that, turned off my phone. I can’t do shit like that.”
“Probably not, but cut yourself a break, you had a very rough night. Sometimes we have to shut down, Julian. It’ll be fine whatever it is. You’ll take care of it like you always do.”
Julian offers a small smile and puts his fingers on my cheek. Warmth shines in his eyes. “Last night was one of the worst nights I’ve ever had. It was also one of the best. I’m here with you, and that’s what’s making everything seem okay. I missed you Alexa Reed. More than I even knew.”
Tears well up in my eyes when I hear his words and I feel his love. I sit up and wrap my arms around him. “I missed you too, Julian Bauer, but I always knew how much. I was so lost without you, and I’m so sorry I left. I’m so sorry. I promise you that I’ll never leave again. I’m so sorry.”
“You promise? Good. Porque te necesito en mi vida, mi amor.”
“I promise, Julian. I need you in my life too.”
New to the series?
Stay (Alexa Reed #1)
Set against the steamy and sultry world of South Beach, Florida, a modern romance unfolds in Stay.
Alexa is beautiful, independent and hard to resist for serially unattached Julian. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but their palpable chemistry and instant emotional connection is too strong to ignore.
For the first time in years, Julian is interested in more than just sex. He wants a relationship with intoxicating Alexa, but it’s not that simple. Not only are Julian and Alexa struggling with the intensity of this new relationship, but they also have to contend with Luke, Alexa’s best friend, whose own love for her leaves him willing to do anything to convince her that Julian is not the man for her.
Luke’s determination and Alexa’s secret past threaten to tear Julian and Alexa apart as she struggles to open her heart to love. Julian and Alexa embark upon a roller-coaster ride of emotional and physical passion that both pulls them apart and holds them together. Despite their affinity for each other, Alexa fears that Julian will leave when he learns about her past and Julian is unsure he can love a woman who in so many ways remains a mystery, a woman who keeps threatening to run, a woman who can’t decide if she is going to STAY.
Hold On (Alexa Reed #2)
Hold On…The sizzling second installment in the acclaimed Alexa Reed series.
Beautiful and successful Alexa Reed has dark secrets in her past that prevent her from trusting in love. Her fears start to fade when she meets charismatic, South Beach hotel owner, Julian Bauer, who is willing to put his extravagant playboy lifestyle behind him just to be with her.
He’s a man who likes a challenge.
Alexa’s newfound bliss is still fragile as she struggles to deal with the trauma of her ex-boyfriend’s death. Is Julian’s love for Alexa strong enough to heal her emotional scars and convince her their love is real?
Alexa is not the only one with secrets and what’s to come threatens to destroy their future together. Now it’s Julian who needs Alexa more than ever. Will she be able to hold on?
Hold On is Book 2 of the Alexa Reed series and is the follow-up from the hugely popular, Stay.
For your chance to win an ebook of Stay AND Hold On, please comment on this post with why you want to read this series. If you have already read book one and two, please let me know why you love Julian and if you win, you’ll get a $5 giftcard. Winner will be chosen randomly later this week. Kindle or Nook only.
About the Author
I’m originally from sunny Southern California and spent my summers in South Florida. I attended college at FSU and received my Masters in New Mexico. I finally settled in the Washington, DC area. My happy place has always been anywhere near the water.
When I’m not writing, I help run a business with my husband, watch an inordinate amount of sports (my kids play something 365 days a year), indulge my competitive spirit on the tennis court, and spend time with my awesome family and friends.
I am an avid reader, but find my characters feel neglected when I hang out with other author’s characters for too long. When I do read, historical fiction is my favorite genre. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures, places, and times.
I feel so blessed that my love of books inspired me to finally do something that I forgot I had always dreamed about doing.
My someday has arrived!