New Release: Buried Secrets
Let me tell you about Buried Secrets. A long time ago, I wrote this book to take to my critique group and then after months of critique and edits... Well, it was buried in the deep archives of my computer. Last year, I pulled it out and thought: Brynn!!! You have a finished story just sitting here. Why aren't you doing something with this?!?!
And so I did. I pulled it out and thoroughly revised it, and now, it's available to you on Amazon. And it's free on Kindle Unlimited! Here's a peek inside:
I know who you are!
Someone knows about Ellery’s past and they want her to pay.
Star of the hit TV show, Engagements, Ellery is racing toward a happily ever after and a life outside the spotlight with her co-star, Gray. The future looks bright. That is until threatening messages steal away everything she’s spent years building. With the cameras still rolling, it’s time to say goodbye to everything.
There will be no wedding, no happily ever after, and no Gray, or someone will make sure he dies. For his safety, Ellery walks away, but he’s not letting go without a fight—a fight that could be to the death.
"I can’t marry you.”
Gray McKenzie stared at his fiancée, Ellery Radcliffe, and waited for her to finish her joke. It had to be a joke. She couldn’t end their engagement in the middle of a crowded restaurant…and for no reason. Her expression remained serious, her green eyes haunted. Bleak. Her chin wrinkled before her generous lips tightened to hold off whatever emotion threatened to overwhelm her—a clear sign all was not well.
Her gaze darted away from him. She couldn’t meet his eyes.
She set her fork at the top of her plate then folded her napkin, drawing a slender finger along the edge to crease it. “It’s over. I can’t see you anymore.”
“What!” he exclaimed. He straightened as disbelief forged a path along his spine. His stomach twisted as insidious apprehension seeped through him, its origin the knot in his stomach.
Pain tinged her words. “I’ve given this a lot of thought. I…I just can’t marry you.”
“What’s going on? Did I do something? Is there something I’m not doing? We’re supposed to get married next week. Is the pressure too much? Hell, if you want to escape this circus, we could elope. I don’t care as long as—”
Ellery shook her head and pressed her lips together. “Please, just take me home.”
Her fingers pressed her eyes, and still, she wouldn’t look at him.
Right now, it seemed grasping sand would be easier than getting an answer from her. With his world spiraling and no clue how to stop it, Gray flagged down their waiter. Neither he nor Ellery spoke a word while he paid and they left the restaurant. Scenes of their relationship played through his mind.
When they’d met on Engagements, a reality dating show, they’d hit it off immediately. Sure, each time the group of men “courting” Ellery had held out their ring boxes, there’d been a chance she’d close Gray’s and disqualify him. But Ellery never had. That final night when he’d offered his ring, his heart right along with it, his love hadn’t been for show. It hadn’t been acting. What had started out as entertainment had become real. Concrete. He’d thought so anyway. She’d taken the box from him and asked him to place the ring on her finger.
When they’d been interviewed, she’d claimed to have no reservations. At first, her choice had been difficult, but as she’d gotten to know Gray, it had become easier and easier. She’d decided several shows from the end that she’d pick him. She’d even told the director. Gray McKenzie was the guy with whom she wanted to spend her life. She was very sure.
“Why?” Gray asked again when they pulled up in front of her apartment building. Ellery jumped out before he could come around the car. She hesitated then headed for her front door.
“Answer me, damn it!” he exploded.
Anger overtook her sad features as she turned.
* * * *
Ellery bit the inside of her cheek as she tried to get hold of herself. Gray was pushing her, demanding answers she couldn’t give. As much as she’d known he would demand an explanation, she felt completely unprepared. She couldn’t tell him the truth, though she desperately wanted that. And all her excuses just sounded like the lies they were.
Misery filled her, and she said the first thing that came to mind. Unfortunately, it was also the harshest.
“We met on reality TV. You didn’t really think this would last forever, did you?” The dim light on her porch illuminated Gray’s flinch. She regretted the statement the moment she said it.
“Yeah. Actually, I did.” He gave her a wry smile. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I know I’m not the only one who found his perfect match on the show. You did, too. Yeah, we met on Engagements, but people meet in strange ways all the time.” His jaw clenched, a muscle throbbing high on his cheek. Obvious frustration thrummed through him, and he drove a hand through his burnished-gold hair. “My God, it’s been six months since the end of the show. Have you been feeling this since then? Has everything been a lie?”
“No, it wasn’t. You know it wasn’t,” she protested.
“I don’t know anything, apparently,” he snapped.
She’d hurt him more than she’d ever intended. There were no instructional books on how to cut loose a perfectly perfect man. She’d already cried her way through a box of tissues over this decision. “It wasn’t pretend and it wasn’t just for the show.”
“Sometimes, what starts out good and looks wonderful, isn’t such a great thing.”
Weariness weighed down her limbs. His body tensed and she knew she’d hurt him again. Each verbal blow landed double on her.
It’s better this way. It doesn’t matter what I feel. You have to keep him safe.
“Gray, it’s just not going to work between us.”
“We’re going to be married next week. We care for each other,” he insisted.
She shook her head, staring at his heaving chest, and braced herself for the biggest lie she’d ever told. “We’re not and…I don’t.”
Gray froze for a split-second, the only sign his confidence faltered. He straightened and seemed to loom miles above her mere five and a half feet. When she dared a fleeting glance at his face, the hurt in his chocolate-brown eyes stung her.
“I don’t believe you,” he said, his voice hard.
“Believe what you want,” she replied, trying for flippancy.
“I’m not accepting this. We’ve got too much invested.”
Determination drove her on this fool’s mission. “No. We’re done.”
Gray scowled. “Why? Give me one, good—real—reason why. What have I done?”
“It’s not you. It’s me.”
“Oh, fuck that! That’s a cop out, and you damned well know it.”
“Why can’t you just accept that I don’t want to marry you? Is your ego that big?”
His ego was taking avalanche-proportioned hits today, all dished out by her. He crossed his arms over his chest, looking like an immovable mountain, one she didn’t particularly want to try to budge.
“You’re stalling,” he accused.
She pulled his engagement ring from her finger and held it out to him. It felt as if she were removing a part of him. He stepped from her reach, his hands clenched, and her fingers closed around the metal band with which she hadn’t wanted to part.
“This isn’t over.” He backed down the sidewalk toward his silver BMW convertible. “Think about this decision. We’ll talk tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at six.” He didn’t give her a chance to argue before he climbed into the car.
Ellery bit her bottom lip as he drove away. She didn’t want the split from him, but ending it now was her only choice. She’d been given two options: break it off or watch Gray die. The choice was obvious.
With a heavy heart, Ellery opened her door and slipped inside. The light for her voicemail blinked maniacally at her as if mocking her pain. At least, it wasn’t Gray.
The flip of one switch flooded her apartment with light, and she went to the cursed phone, putting it on speaker and dialing into her messages. A second later, she regretted it.
“Hello-ooo,” filled her room. “This is Diego. I need you to call me about the final dress fitting,” he sing-songed through the line.
She closed her eyes and groaned. Diego Couvaird, Wedding Planner Extraordinaire. An industry professional. A pain in her neck. The show had selected him because of his flamboyance—a trait he’d never failed to reveal. She wondered once again if it was part of a Hollywood act, something he put on for the public rather than showing his real persona.
“Call me,” he demanded in the same tone.
“I don’t think so,” she replied, mimicking his cadence. She’d deal with him tomorrow when she didn’t feel so much like bawling. Ending a relationship was hard enough without “unplanning” an entire wedding—and dealing with the wedding-planner meltdown sure to accompany it. Each cancellation would drain away a little more of her life.
The next message started. “Ells, this is Mark. Don’t forget—”
She clicked to the next message, knowing her friend was merely reminding her of their lunch the next day.
“This is Diego. I just found some lovely mauve ribbon for the pews. I think we should change to it. Call me.”
“This is Diego. Diego’s feelings are beginning to be hurt, chica. I need you to call me.”
“I need you to give me a break,” Ellery replied. Guilt burned through her. This wasn’t Diego problem. It was hers.
Her problem sat on the coffee table. Though she’d received another pretty, floral-patterned envelope two days ago. Like this one, the note had made her blood run cold. She picked it up and removed the enclosed message that had submerged her in this river of unhappiness. A note. Received by mail. Not a love note by any means. No, despite the innocuous, but all-capped words on the sheet, she suspected they were filled with hatred.
I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. SOON, HE’LL KNOW, TOO. YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.