It’s cover reveal day for J. Lynn Bailey’s Violet Ugly. Check it out and be sure to grab your copy October 23rd!
J. Lynn Bailey
Sixteen years ago, Merit Young left Granite Harbor, Maine, for California in search of a future that didn’t involve Ryan Taylor. He’d left her in pieces on her bedroom floor, delivering a blow she couldn’t have expected. But, now, at the request of her brother, Eli, she must return and confront the demons of her past—Ryan included. After the loss they both suffered, she isn’t prepared to face him—especially considering he’s the only one who’s always been able to see right through her.
Ryan has lived his entire adult life in survival mode. Growing up with an abusive father has taught him to keep women at arm’s length, and that’s never been a problem. Until Merit—the only woman he’s ever loved—strides through his front door. He’s not sure how long she’s staying, but he knows it’ll be long enough to destroy what’s left of his heart.
To overcome their dark past, they’ll have to shed light on a reality that will most likely tear them apart. Merit has been hiding a heartbreaking decision from Ryan, and he’s been keeping lies of his own.
Can two tortured souls heal after a lifetime of pain? Or will the hideous secrets of the past bury them both?
It’s always easier, staring at Ryan Taylor from afar. His stormy, dark eyes give a warning to strangers: stay away. Tall at ten years old, Ryan pretends that his alcoholic father doesn’t bother him. But he does. I see it in his navy-blue eyes when his dad returns from sea.
It’s summer. The heat from the sun on my face makes me feel warm, almost happy. I watch as Ryan stalks toward me, quietly, as I lie in the middle of the mustard field. The scent of sea in my nose. I pray this pain goes away—the pain in my heart from the riptide that has torn through the Young family this morning. We knew it was coming. I should maybe feel relief that my mother is no longer in pain, but I want to retreat back to before she had cancer. When there wasn’t a cluster of pills on the counter. When it didn’t smell like a hospital on 4578 Opal Street at the top of the hill with the view of the ocean.
“Hey,” he says, breathless.
“You been running?” I peer up at him through squinty eyes.
“Yeah. From my house. When I heard the news.” Ryan sits down next to me and then lies down, placing his hands behind his head, peering up at the same summer sky.
“You okay?” I hear him whisper.
I don’t know.
I feel sick, and numb, too, I guess.
“What are you supposed to feel when your parent dies, Ryan?” The birds chirp.
I wait. Praying that his answer will deliver some peace.
Life is going on at a pace I wasn’t prepared for. Moving
forward. It has picked up and left my mother in the past. And I’m paralyzed.
“I don’t know.” He’s quiet for a moment. “I guess it’s supposed to feel like how ugly looks maybe.”
I laugh because I picture Ryan as ugly, and I just can’t with his skin that looks like the color of caramel, eyes the color of the Atlantic, short dark brown hair, and a long, lean body that is always ready, willing, and able.
I want to tell him I’m sorry his mother left. Before Ryan could walk, his father had just come home from a two-week sea trip, and his mother bent down, kissed him good-bye, and never came back. According to Ryan.
I suppose he knows what ugly feels like. I suppose he knows what it’s like to have his life turned upside down, twisted, knotted, nasty.
“People are shitty,” I say.
“Yeah. People are shitty.”
We both stare up at the bright blue sky and look for our
mothers. We see the sadness, life’s imperfections as the clouds float by. We take heed in the fact that life would just be easier if we didn’t get so attached, if we didn’t become loved, if we didn’t give love. Because, in the end, this ache in our hearts wouldn’t hurt so bad.
I feel Ryan’s eyes on me, but I continue to stare at the deformed elephant that drifts past me.
“One day, this all won’t hurt so much, Violet,” he whispers. And, when he calls me this, the stinging of my eyes begins.
J. Lynn Bailey has loved to write since she learned to read, around the second grade. When she isn’t running after her children, watching COPS, or on the hunt for her next Laffy Taffy joke, you can probably find her holed up in her writing room feverishly working on her next book. She lives in Northern California with her family.