Today I am so pleased to welcome Marley Valentine to Joyfully Jay. Marley has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Ache. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
“Place your bets,” the dealer calls out, and Jordan reaches over me and places one round disc on a black eleven before taking possession of the rest of the chips. It’s the exact same play I would’ve chosen. With both our birthdays falling on the eleventh day of the month, it’s been our lucky number for as long as I can remember.
The dealer follows up with a “no more bets,” and the table falls into a muffled silence as we all watch and wait with bated breath as he spins the wheel.
A disappointed “fuck” leaves Jordan’s mouth as the little white ball stops on a red twenty-five, but that doesn’t stop him from placing another hundred dollars on the same exact square.
I look over my shoulder. “Are you sure?”
“When has this number ever steered us wrong?”
I swallow hard, trying my best not to conjure up the memory of a moment so very similar to this one. When we lose another three times, I watch him place the last hundred-dollar chip down with nothing but absolute certainty and confidence that we’ve got this.
He nudges my shoulder. “Don’t look so disheartened, you know this is our hand.”
“I’m not going to watch,” I tell him, my stomach rolling in nerves. I’m not a huge gambler, and my mind always spends money like a struggling college student, constantly forgetting I have more than I had then and I can afford to splurge on whatever I want every now and then.
“Come on,” he cajoles. He wraps an arm around my neck, keeping me in place. “Watch us win our money back.”
Chewing on my bottom lip, I anxiously wait for the wheel to stop spinning. When the ball lands on a black eleven, I hear Julian and Deacon cheering in excitement behind us and Jordan just squeezes my shoulder.
It’s the simplest action, but it sobers me up immediately, bringing every suppressed memory to the surface. I turn to look at him, and his eyes are already on me. Staring at one another, I let myself revisit my most painful memory, remembering the screaming and cheering. Remembering the adrenaline and the excitement of being two young, drunk kids winning a shitload of money and feeling on top of the world.
Remembering the way he wrapped me in his arms.
Remembering the way he pressed his lips to mine.
Remembering how much I wanted it.
I couldn’t tell you when I fell in love with Gael Herrera, but I wish I knew how to make it stop.
Falling in love with a straight man is a rookie mistake. But falling in love with my soon-to-be-married-to-a-woman best friend is nothing but heartache.
Through all the years, and all the men I’ve fooled around with, he’s always been at the back of my mind. An unrequited crush I wish I could shake. A dream that was never going to come true.
When I whisk him off to a surprise bachelor party weekend in Vegas, I surrender to the idea that this is an opportunity for me to finally let go of my feelings for him and say goodbye.
But after a heated exchange and an even hotter kiss, everything I thought I knew about our friendship changed.
Maybe I had it wrong. Maybe, after all this time, we were more than best friends. Maybe, just maybe, he felt it too.
Living in Sydney, Australia with her family, Marley Valentine is a USA Today bestselling author and a former social worker who uses her past experiences to write real life, emotional and heartfelt contemporary romance.
She enjoys mixing it up with both M/F and M/M Romance incorporating all forms of life, lust and love as her characters embark on their journey to their happily ever after.
When she’s not busy writing her own stories, she spends most of her time immersed in the words of her favourite authors.
Marley enjoys interacting with her readers so please feel free to reach out to her via Facebook, Instagram, email and/or subscribe to her newsletter.
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Welcome, Marley, and best wishes for the success of Ache!