Yours Forever

By: Joya Ryan

Dedication





To Anna,





Thank you for your support and believing in this book and this series.

You are truly wonderful.





Acknowledgments





Thank you Anna, Grace, Tara, Clara, and the amazing team for all your hard work on this book. Thank you Jill Marsal for being the best agent in the galaxy. Thank you E-book formatting fairies for the wonderful edits. Thank you to my incredible family and friends for supporting me. Special thanks to Cary and Brittany for all your support. You both are made of pure awesome!





Chapter 1

A gust of winter air hit my face so hard it felt like God had reached down and slapped me. The cold hurt. Hurt so deep that hugging my black jacket around me did nothing to ward off the intense chill.

The creak of my father’s casket being lowered into his grave pierced my ears as I watched it gently sway and wobble, the flowers atop shaking as it descended further and further into the ground.

Everyone was leaving. Turning and walking back to their cars. They’d likely go back to my step-mother’s house for mini sandwiches and talk about my father as a friend or colleague.

Not me. I simply stood. Alone. No one looked at me. No one even attempted to make eye contact. They all just walked away.

The burning in my stomach was the only thing that reminded me this wasn’t a dream. Wasn’t a nightmare even. It was real. Last week, my father, my house, and my soul were ripped from me. Whoever said the truth will set you free clearly had never experienced such truth. Like the truth that I’d fallen in love with two men, only to be betrayed by both. Or the truth that my step-brother was violent and walking free.

I absently ran my fingertips along my cheek where he’d hit me. It was mostly healed. But the memory stuck. I didn’t know if I was number from the Colorado cold or from shock. Shock I hadn’t quite kicked yet. Despite having a little time to get used to these new truths and facts, it still hadn’t sunk in. I’d stopped counting the hours, because it was too much to think through. All I knew was that it was days ago my father died. Days ago, I’d watched my house burn to the ground. Days ago, the last part of my heart had been torn from my body and I’d lost the second man I’d ever loved.

Alone.

I was all I had left. And I really wanted to demand a recount.

“Lana Case?” a balding man with thick-framed glasses asked.

“Yes?” My voice was little better than a croak.

“I’m Greg Simpson, the attorney for the Case-VanBuren estate.”

I nodded. Of course, my father and step-mother would have an attorney. His name had come up a few times over the years. Greg had been a part of the “Case-VanBuren union      ” since my father married my step-mother, Anita. It was no surprise he was here. Especially since the reading of his will was set to happen in the next hour.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said. I wanted to be polite. To say thank you, but my mouth refused to move. Just like the rest of me.

Anita and Brock played the part of grieving family well as they headed my way. The short manicured grass squished under my heels and I couldn’t decide which instinct to trust, flight or fight. Unfortunately, neither came. And I stood. Still.

“We better be on our way,” Anita said to Greg, not sparing me a glance. Not that I wanted one from her. “I didn’t think you’d show up, Lana,” she snapped my name like spitting poison from her lips. “What with those charges you pressed, I would assume you were far too afraid to be near my son.”

Her tone was light, yet challenging. Any moment, she’d adjust her oversized black hat and start studying her nails like the fact that her son had assaulted me was no big deal. Brock had muscled his way into my home, hit me, and would have done far worse if I hadn’t gotten away. He had posted bail and was out of jail for now, but I wouldn’t cower away.

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