Sydney Sommer’s world fell apart after senior prom. Since then, her life had become a constant loop of unfortunate scenarios that kept her in constant fear of what might be lurking around the next corner. Her trust in others was at a standstill. Even those who were closest to her were held at a distance.
After serving active duty overseas, Jaxon Triggs moved away from his hometown, hoping the change in scenery would help him build a new future for himself. What he wasn’t expecting was to fall for a girl who was broken.
From the first moment Jaxon laid eyes on Sydney, he was curious. He became determined to do everything he could to break through the armor Sydney held around her so securely. His instinct to protect her and keep her safe kicked in as the dangers she encountered became more personal.
With dread always looming close by and secrets discovered, would Sydney be able to handle the new changes in her life yet heal at the same time?
Barnes and Noble: https://www.amazon.com/Fixing-Sydney-Bransons-Kind-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01HFSQVAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485802210&sr=1-1&keywords=Fixing+sydney
I looked at myself one last time as I picked up my bag, put on my happy face, and headed to my red Jeep.
I lived in a small loft over my brother’s garage. Holden had bought a farmhouse a few years ago and renovated it. Logan had moved in to help pay the bills when he had returned from his tour of duty and had invited a friend from his squad to come back with him to rent the third bedroom.
I had originally been staying on campus at the university, but a lot of freaky things had been happening to me there. At the beginning of this year, my room had been broken into and trashed.
Holden had suggested I move into the loft, and I had jumped all over that idea, loving the idea of creating my own space.
A short drive later, I pulled into my parents’ driveway and noticed the boys had gotten there before me. There were three Harleys sitting in the driveway, two belonging to my brothers. It never surprised me to find there was an extra person at our dinner table; it had been like that my whole life.
I could see the barbeque smoke billowing up in the backyard, so I decided to go straight to the back. Just before I swung the gate open, though, I took a deep breath and blew it out. I put my hand on the gate and debated about how this evening’s questioning was going to go. I decided I couldn’t think of that. Happy face.
I pushed the gate open, calling out, “Hello, everyone,” and quickly noticed the new face
looking back at me.
I had met most of my brothers’ friends, but not this one. I actually found myself stopping to size him up.
When he stood up, I noticed he was a little taller than Logan—maybe six-one or six-two. He had sandy brown hair cut short and was wearing a fitted black T-shirt, which showed the guy worked out, and jeans that had a worn-in look that sat right on his hips with a black belt and black boots. I couldn’t get a look at his eyes, though, since he had on wraparound sunglasses. Eyes were my thing. I could usually tell a person’s character by their eyes.
“Hello, Cat!” Logan called out to me as Holden came around the corner with some corn to put on the flames, bumping my shoulder in greeting and bringing me out of my daydream.
I must have looked like an idiot. I walked over to Dad and gave him a peck on the cheek then turned to introduce myself to Logan’s friend.
“Hi, I’m Sydney, these bozos’ sister.” I pointed over my shoulder to where my brothers were standing.
He looked confused. “Sydney? I thought your name was Catherine. Logan always refers to his sister as Cat.”
“Nope, Sydney’s the name.”
“When she was little, her hair was a lot redder, and you could never hear her coming,” Logan piped in. “She always snuck up on us and scared the living shit out of us, so we started calling her ginger cat, and eventually, we shortened it to Cat.”
I hated that nickname. Only my brothers were allowed to call me that. As he leaned forward to shake my hand, I could see dog tags under his shirt, and that was when I realized this was Logan’s Army buddy who was going to rent the third room.
“Well, I’m Jaxon. Hi.” His handshake was firm with just enough gentleness, and it gave my body a spark I hadn’t felt in a long time.
My mom came into the backyard, interrupting my train of thought.
“Did you meet Jaxon, Logan’s friend?”
Oh, have I met Jaxon...I grinned to myself.
“Yeah, just now.” Tonight’s dinner was going to be an interesting one, but hopefully, the focus would be off me. No awkward silence. I could just sit there and enjoy checking out Jaxon.
We all sat around outside on the patio, chatting. Logan and Jaxon told us how they had met the first week of basic training and how they’d wreaked havoc, which didn’t surprise me. Holden told us about his new renovation job in the city and what a pain in the ass it was to travel back and forth. Then the awkward silence rolled in, which was my cue that the conversation was about to turn to me.
I needed an escape.
“Dessert, Mom?” I started to clear the table and bring the dishes inside.
I knew I needed about twenty minutes before they would forget about me. I didn’t want to answer the same questions they always asked: When are you going to be normal again? Have you made any real decisions about your future? How are your sessions going with Dr. Thore?
I knew my parents were happy I had decided to return to school after taking online classes and picking up a few courses over the summer. Then Dr. Thore had suggested I adjust my path, so now I was back in school full-time. I had worked my ass off to get there, and now I was going to graduate at the end of this school year.
I was taking my time cleaning up the last of the dishes when I heard the ruckus of someone coming in.
“Sydney, you in here?” Shannon asked a moment later. Mom had invited Shannon and Danny, her boyfriend, over for dessert since they had been over at Shannon’s parents’ place for dinner, too.
“In the kitchen!” I shouted back.
“Hey, you hiding out again?”
I laughed. Shannon knew me well.
Sunday night dinner attire for Shannon was nice, blue, cropped pants with a white golf shirt and white sneakers. She actually looked like she had just gotten off the golf course. Me? I was still the opposite: black on black on black.
“Who is the eye candy out there?” Shannon asked as she helped put away the dishes.
“One of Logan’s Army buddies who was overseas with him. He’s moving into the house with them.”
“Well, aren’t you a lucky girl, then?”
We both laughed.
“Girls, do you mind running to the store to get some cream?” Mom interrupted as she came into the kitchen.
Great, there was my escape!
“Sure, Mom, no problem.” I grabbed my bag.
Shannon offered to drive her nice, safe, silver Acura as we listened to the new tunes she had uploaded.
“Park anywhere, Shanny. I’ll run in,” I told her when we pulled into the shopping center.
She turned into the grocery store parking lot and was circling the lot when we both saw the green Ford pickup truck with the worn-out bumper sticker that read: “Education is Important, But Big Biceps are Importanter.”
When I saw that truck, it felt like someone had just kicked me in the gut. I could feel the blood draining from my face, and my hands started to sweat. I knew whom the truck belonged to, and I just wanted to press down on the gas pedal and peel out of there. Thank God for Shannon, because that is exactly what she did.
She looked over at me with concern in her eyes, heading right back toward my parents’ house. “Shannon, we can’t go home without the cream. They’re gonna ask why.” I had left my body for just a few minutes, but I was getting better at controlling my inner freak-outs. Shannon looked at me with confusion.
“I don’t want this to become a manhunt when I get home,” I explained. “Things have been getting better. I haven’t seen Steve in almost three years. We don’t even know if that was him. He might’ve sold his truck.”
Shannon continued to look at me in bewilderment. “Are you shitting me, Sydney? You know that was his fucking truck, and that means he’s back in town. He can’t be anywhere near you.”
There was no official police document saying that. Steve just knew better, and Shannon never held back. “Please, let’s go to the corner store to get the cream then go home.” All I needed was my protective brothers, one who had just gotten home from his second tour in Afghanistan and the other who thought it was his job to protect me, to get wind of this. I knew they both felt guilty for not being there when all the craziness had happened.
Shannon reached over and squeezed my hand. We stopped at the corner store, and Shannon ran in while I continued to collect myself. I can do this. Then Shannon ran back to the car, and we drove back to my parents’.
“Please don’t say anything to them,” I begged, my hands shaking again as we turned down my parents’ street. I needed to do the whole meditation self-talk before I went in and faced all of them.
Shannon just looked at me with frustration and anger. “You know your family loves you. You need to let them in. You need to let me in.”
I knew she was right, but I couldn’t do it. I needed to handle this on my own. Besides, I was in therapy once a week now and doing great. Dr. Thore had even said she was pleased with my progress and suggested cutting back to once a month. After today, I doubted that would happen.
“Just cover for me. I’ll be right out after I go to the bathroom.” What I really needed was to pull myself together. I had taught myself how to get my control back, but I needed some more time. Shannon shook her head in disapproval, but I knew she would do it.
I went straight to my parents’ en suite bathroom and looked in the mirror for the second time today, trying to pull myself together.
“Don’t cry. Don’t cry.”
I cried for the first time in a long time. Seeing that truck had hit me hard. Once I was done, I cleaned up my eyes the best I could and pulled down my sunglasses and looked back in the mirror. It would have to do.
I came around the back again where everyone was lazing around the outdoor fireplace, another addition to the backyard. Mom was cleaning up the dessert dishes while Shannon was pouring coffee.
When Shannon saw me come around the corner, she mouthed, “Are you okay?”
I gave her a thumbs up and the best fake smile I could muster. Then I looked over at the boys and noticed Jaxon’s shades were pushed back onto his head, the perfect distraction I needed.
I didn’t know what the curiosity was with the man, but I had to see his eyes.
I was just about to come around the corner to look at him when my mom suddenly tripped and started cursing in Italian on the way down, landing flat on her face. There she was, sprawled on the patio with the dessert’s remains across the ground.
When she sat up, I saw her knees were scratched up and starting to swell a bit. Always attentive to my mom, Logan quickly came over to help her into a chair and took a closer look at her knees. Holden sent me in to get ice and the first-aid kit.
We patched Mom up, and then Brad sat with her while the rest of us finished cleaning up the dishes for her. With all the excitement, I forgot about my own inner crisis.
After all the cleaning was done, the boys decided to take Jaxon over to the Open Cork, the bar I worked at on the weekends where I could pretend for a few hours I was normal and alive. It was the only social interaction I had.
The boys mounted their bikes after thanking Mom for dinner and rumbled off. I stuck around a bit longer to chat with Shannon, Danny, and my parents. However, the whole time I sat by the fire, talking, all I could think about was Jaxon and his caramel eyes. I didn’t get a good look at them, but I knew I wanted to get to know them better.
She was never a big reader or writer in her youth—Coles Notes were her best friend through college. Her enthusiasm for reading came later in life when she joined a book club. She loved those books, but she wanted raw, simple, and happily ever after with a bit of get down and dirty. That was when her love for bad boys on a Harley was set in motion.
After reading so many books, her mind started to create her first story, and she needed to get it out.
Fixing Sydney of the Branson’s Kind of Love trilogy is her first book, and she hopes you enjoy it as much as she has enjoyed having these characters running around in her head.
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