Every relationship changes you, some for the better, others can shatter your confidence and almost destroy you.
For the musically talented, twenty-four year old Tara O’Connell, her relationship with Stephen almost broke her, until Tara found the strength to leave.
Now she is on the road to discovering that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and follow your heart.
As Tara’s self-belief grows, she meets two men she is instantly drawn to who will change her life forever.
Corporal Riley Hammond is a soldier in the Australian Military Special Forces. With his smiling sapphire blue eyes, Tara falls for him instantly. He is thoughtful and caring, and gives her the support and love she needs.
While Cole Michaels is the overconfident singer in a popular local band. His charisma, emerald green eyes, tattoos and piercing, have girls falling at his feet. But while Cole pushes Tara’s buttons, he also pushes her to reach for the stars.
Both men couldn’t be more polar opposites, but both offer Tara different qualities that she needs to fulfil her destiny.
As Tara continues her journey, she will discover fate can offer you more than one path. Her fate is in her own hands, and the choices she makes, will shape her life forever.
Excerpt – Cole’s tattoos
I helped bus the tables as I was pretty useless at pulling beers. I had lost track of time when I felt my phone buzz in my skirt pocket. I raced into the back room and just managed to answer the call in time. It was Riley and my heart melted at the sound of his voice.
“Where are you?” he asked, obviously able to hear the band playing in the background.
I told him excitedly about catching up with Jay and lining up the band to meet Marcus, and how I was now bussing tables at the bar. For some reason I felt the need to avoid mentioning Cole. But Riley could hear him singing in the background and commented on his voice.
“Ah, yep he does have a great voice,” I said, feeling guilty when I hadn’t done anything to feel guilty about.
Then I changed the subject and asked Riley what he had been up to. We had only been speaking for about fifteen minutes when the band stopped for a break, and then the door opened and Cole was standing there.
He could see I was on the phone but didn’t seem to care, as he came in and pulled off his sweat soaked t-shirt, before rummaging in a bag and pulling out a clean one.
I looked at his shirtless body in awe. Not only did he have the full sleeve of tattoos up his left arm, but he had angel wings, or was that eagle wings across his shoulder blades.
He turned around to face me and saw me looking at him, so stood still and cockily held his arms out to the sides so I could get a good look, watching my expression.
I couldn’t help it, I exhaled loudly at the sight of his ripped body.
Finally, I managed to tear my eyes away from his amazing body and turn my back to him. I heard him chuckle softly. Then realising that the bar would be busy with people buying drinks now that the band was on a break, I reluctantly told Riley I would have to go.
“I’ll see you in a week,” Riley said as he was getting ready to hang up. “I miss you babe, I think about you all the time.”
“I miss you too,” I said quietly into the phone. “I love you. See you next week.”
“I love you too.” Then he was gone.
“Hmm, I take it that wasn’t your mum,” Cole said. “Boyfriend not around at the moment?” he asked with a smirk.
“He’s in the army, based in Sydney,” I replied as I headed for the door.
“Must get lonely,” he said with a glint in his eye as he pulled his clean shirt on over his head.
Riley’s POV – When Riley met Tara
Leaning back on the couch, I reached around behind the extremely loud and annoying girl beside me, and tapped my best mate Chook on the shoulder.
He ignored me and I knew why.
I tapped again a bit harder, there was still no response, so I slapped him up the back of the head. That made him turn around. He gave me the biggest grin, reading my WTF expression for what it was.
When he’d told me I could crash at his girlfriend Kelli’s place for a couple of days while we were in Melbourne, I had no idea that would mean also having to entertain this completely over the top friend of hers.
Seriously, he had to be kidding!
Chook knew I wasn’t interested in forming any sort of relationship with a girl, and I wasn’t into casual either. But even if I was, this was not the girl to be doing it with. She kept practically trying to climb onto my lap, instead of sitting her ass down beside me. In response, I was edging further and further over to the arm of the couch, but I was quickly running out of room.
Looking back over at Chook and Kelli, I smiled to myself. Now if I had a relationship like that it would be different, but the love of your life doesn’t just walk through the door, and I wasn’t in the type of career where I could foster a long term relationship. Being in the military and being away from home a lot, had taught me that it was all too hard, and in the end I’d decided that I was better off focusing on my career and forgetting about finding the one.
Chook must have been doing another impersonation because the girls were laughing, but I wasn’t paying attention. I really didn’t want to be here.
I heard a knock on the door that the others didn’t hear.
“Hey Kell, I think there’s someone at the door,” I told her over the din.
She grinned at me. “That’ll be Tara.”
As she stood, Tara knocked again.
“I’m coming,” Kelli called.
I rolled my eyes at Chook. If Tara was anything like this Jacqui girl sitting beside me, I was checking into a hotel.
But Chook just gave me a wink as he stood.
“Hey Fox, great to see you again.” He strode over to her and lifted her into a bear hug off the floor.
She squealed and laughed. “Great to see you too ya big lug, now put me down, I can’t breathe!”
Her voice was like music to my ears. Even though she was struggling to get free of Chook and laughing, I could tell she was refined and softly spoken.
Chook stood there with his arm around her shoulder while she glanced at Jacqui. She attempted to hide an eye roll at Jacqui’s presence, before looking over at Kelli.
I smiled to myself. If she wasn’t a fan of Jacqui’s then I liked this girl already.
Taking a moment while she was looking away, I cast my eye over the length of her body, and what a body it was. She had the longest, perfectly shaped legs I’d ever seen, which were highlighted by the fact she was wearing quite possibly the shortest shorts ever made. Somehow though, she didn’t look slutty, she just looked fucking hot!
I stepped around the couch and came closer to her, almost as if she was reeling me in. She turned back around to face me, her long, wavy hair cascading around her shoulders, and our eyes locked.
And I was hooked.
I felt like someone had just kicked me in the guts. She was breathtaking.
Keep it together I told myself, she’s just a girl. But I couldn’t speak, all I wanted to do was kiss those partially open, plump, moist lips.
Chook slapped me on the shoulder. “Have you forgotten your name mate? Fox, this is my army buddy Irish, Irish this delectable young lady who has you speechless is Fox.”
Chuckling, while secretly plotting my revenge on Chook, I looked over at him. “Thanks mate, good to see I can always count on you not to embarrass me or anything.”
I had to get this back on track, I had to get to know this girl.
Smiling, I held out my hand to her. “My name’s actually Riley, it’s a pleasure to meet you....Fox.”
I could feel my stomach rolling nervously as I said Fox, which was obviously a nickname Chook had given her. I took in every detail of her face, from her wise pale blue eyes, high cheek bones and those seductive lips.
She was perfect.
She took my hand and it felt like coming home. I didn’t want to let go, so like some desperate weirdo, instead of shaking it, I held it between mine.
“It’s Tara, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too,” she replied breathlessly.
I smiled at her a little relieved. So it wasn’t just me who could feel this connection, by the way she replied she was feeling it too.
The night was finally looking promising.
I started to lead her over to the couch still holding her hand, and offered her a drink, but she said she was only here to drop off some dresses.
“That’s a shame, do you have time for just one?” I asked hopefully.
She smiled and turned to Kelli. “Did you want to try them now or can I just leave them?”
I looked over at Kelli, willing her to say she’d try them later but she didn’t. She grabbed Tara’s hand and practically dragged her into the bedroom, closing the door behind them.
Jacqui was nearly laying on me again but I tried to ignore her. I could hear voices coming from the bedroom and strained desperately to hear what the girls were saying.
“Oh.My.GOD! Who is that guy? He’s GORGEOUS!” I heard through the thin wall.
Beaming, I looked over at Chook who was obviously also eavesdropping on the conversation in the other room.
We sat there still as statues, occasionally looking at each other and commenting on the girls’ conversation.
“She thinks you’re yummy,” Chook teased.
I tried to contain my smile, I thought she was pretty delicious too.
“So you think I’m a great guy?” I teased back at Chook.
I could hear Tara saying it would be hard for her to do long distance, but there was no reason why we couldn’t hang out and have some fun. I agreed with her, long distance was hard and in my experience, almost impossible.
Chook gave me a slap on the shoulder. “Do ya wanna have some fun with her?” he asked, twitching his eyebrows at me.
For some reason I felt overly protective of this girl I’d only just met, and frowned disapprovingly at Chook.
But of course I wanted to have some fun, I couldn’t stop thinking about those long legs and how they would feel wrapped around my hips, or how it would feel to kiss those amazing lips.
I felt a twitch in my pants and told myself to stop thinking about it. There was plenty of time later tonight once I’d gone to bed to think about her.
Besides, I needed to hear what she was saying. Chook was still laughing and I couldn’t help joining him, when clear as day she blurted out, “It’s been so long since I’ve had sex!”
I put my hand over my mouth to hide a smirk, strangely relieved by her outburst. It may have been a long time for her, but I bet it had been longer for me. So long in fact that I was nervous to get back out there again.
I was just about to call out that we could hear them, before she said anything else that Chook would use against her later on, when he called out instead.
“How long has it been Fox?”
Oh fuck! What was he doing?
Chook had that glint in his eye and I knew he would push this too far, as always.
“Longer than I care to remember Chook,” she called back.
“Well, if you’re really desperate I know a couple of guys...”
Hey, that wasn’t on. I reached past this chick who I swear to god was trying to give me a lap dance, and punched him as hard as I could in the arm.
“Ouch! Fuck Irish what was that for? I was just messing with her, she gives as good as she gets.”
I heard the girls laughing from the other room and just shrugged at Chook.
“Go in there and apologise to her.”
“Well, well, well,” Chook said, still rubbing his arm where I’d punched it, “looks like someone wants to unlock his chastity belt.”
“Fuck off dickhead.”
So maybe I was interested in this girl, and maybe she was the first girl I’d been even remotely interested in since Rebecca, but I didn’t need him jeopardising it before I’d had a chance.
Chook stood and headed to the bedroom.
“Hey!” I called to get his attention. “Find out if she’s free on Saturday night, I want to take her to the ball.”
While Lisa Edward has called Melbourne Australia home for her entire life, she has lived and worked in England, and travelled through most parts of Europe and the United States. She loves nothing more than spending time with her husband and beautiful daughter, or curling up into the early hours of the morning with a great novel. By day, Lisa works in the analytical IT field, so relishes the opportunity to foster her creative side through writing. Her deep appreciation for literature was nurtured from a young age, being taught to respect books and get lost in their stories. She enjoys reading honest and realistic novels that are relatable, thought provoking and leave a lasting impression. She can’t write without music playing, using the emotions from different songs to invoke that of her characters. Lisa takes inspiration from her own life experiences, the people around her and those she has met in her travels.