USA Today Bestselling Author
Life doesn’t come with a script but some moments don’t need one.
Senior year pushed us all. It dared us to embrace wonder and chase love. It challenged us to find out who we were as people, as partners, as a family. We’re so much better together.
Graduation isn’t the end of our story by any stretch. It’s the next chapter.
This is a reverse harem and the author suggests you always read the forward in her books. Contains some bullying elements, mature situations, and is recommended for 17+. This is the eighth in a series and the story will continue through future books.
This book opens right where the last one ended, with Jake opening the door to Frankie’s biological father. A somewhat tense moment, but honestly it quickly became friendly and I immediately liked Professor Henry ‘Hank’ Jackson. He actually came to meet Frankie and attend her graduation. He also mentioned Harvard, since he is a tenured professor, and she is his daughter she could attend for free. She lets him know their decision on NYU is firm and he doesn’t push. He is really the father Frankie should have had in her life. Now she at least has the opportunity to get to know him.
Oh my, why do graduations make me cry? I loved this so much, from the prep, to Rachel, to the Guys teasing, to texts with KC, to Pomp and Circumstance it’s all just perfect. That is until the end and the meeting up with family. It seems there’s an uninvited guest, Maddy.
This is just one of my favorite scenes.
“Maddy,” I said, not bothering to disguise the hostility in my voice even if I kept it cool. “I don’t recall inviting you to crash this event.”
The woman had the temerity to sniff once. “Frankie, I understand that you’re angry with me. But could you really expect me to miss my only daughter’s graduation?”
I snorted. Legit snorted, and didn’t even attempt to disguise my disgust. “Your only daughter. That’s convenient. I’ve been more of a doll. One you take down off the shelf to parade around when you want people to applaud the poor put upon professional raising her child alone. Then dismissed to take care of myself when you didn’t have the time or wherewithal to put up with me.” The words just flowed out. “I may be your ‘daughter’ and I use that term loosely, but you’ve never been a ‘mom.'”
Her expression transformed.
“Maddy,” Eddie said suddenly appearing next to her. “Maybe we make an appointment with the kids another time.”
“Don’t you dare,” she snapped, yanking her arm out of his hand. “You already let her poison our relationship because she wasn’t yours. Don’t pretend that we’re anything at the moment. If we were you wouldn’t have had your dick down another of your secretary’s throats.”
He let out a pained sigh and next to me, I swore Archie chuckled. It was a quick, blink and you’ll miss it sound, but I had bite the inside of my lip.
“She’s not my daughter,” Eddie said drily. “Despite your attempts to make it otherwise.” He met my gaze briefly. “But she’s a clever, intelligent girl and she made more than a few solid points about my parenting. I wouldn’t want me for a father either.”
Yeah, okay. Whatever. I cut a look back at Maddy. “Well, sounds like you and Eddie are on round one hundred and whatever of this crazy fucking merry-go-round you like to ride. Do us all a favor, take it somewhere else. Today is about us, not you.”
Muriel laughed. I swore to God, she laughed. It began like brittle glass breaking, but it turned into something a lot warmer and filled with far more humor.
“You’re absolutely right—” Eddie began, but he couldn’t finish before Mad Maddy erupted.
“You ungrateful little bitch,” she spit out, rage heating her eyes. There she was. This was who I’d been waiting for…
“Watch your mouth,” Hank said abruptly, his back filling my vision as he cut between me and Maddy. “I was going to take the high road about your choices and behavior. I wasn’t going to call out your lies about her health or how you decided to involve a child in your delusions, but you’re not talking to or about my daughter that way now, or ever again. I don’t know what can of crazy you popped open to drink this morning, but that shit stops right now.”
I stared at Hank’s back, rooted to the spot. Even Eddie looked mute at the words Hank delivered in a steely, almost cutting tone. My heart fisted in my chest, not only at his swift defense, but the immediate sense of safety I felt rolling off him.
I wasn’t afraid of Maddy. Not anymore. I refused to let her terrorize me. Not when I had a chance at a much better life. But having him step into the gap and shield me…
There weren’t words for it.
“How dare you talk to me like that?” Maddy floundered, but the fury in her voice was unmistakable. “You were a nobody. I slept with you out of pity.”
Voices murmured behind me. People shifting. Hopefully moving the kids away from this ugly scene.
“Really? Interesting. I slept with you because I was drunk. I never could figure out how you maneuvered yourself into my apartment or my bed.” Hank gave a shrug. “But it was a one-night stand and you said nothing, and it was better to leave it alone.”
“Then why the hell do you care now?”
“Because the moment you became pregnant, that one-night stand became my daughter, and you stole her from me. You stole her, and you robbed her of me.”
“Oh, like she needs you…” Maddy scoffed. “This is ridiculous. Eddie…”
“No,” he said firmly, taking a step back and putting his hands in his pockets. “The professor isn’t wrong. You made these choices and every single one hurt her. Hurt me. Hurt him. Hurt our families. I’m hardly innocent, but I know when it’s finally enough. This is it.”
Then, as if the whole world hadn’t shifted and pigs sprouted wings as it snowed in hell, Eddie looked at Hank.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “She’s an amazing kid.” Then his gaze went past me. “Just like mine. At least I know you won’t fuck it up like we did.”
The hand on my lower back kept me steady. I hadn’t even realized I’d swayed. Those were words Archie deserved to hear, but it seemed so strange they were coming right now. This was not the moment.
Maddy seemed too stunned to speak. Her eyes actually filled with tears. “Eddie…”
“Stop it,” he said. “You should go. You’re making a scene, and this is their day.” With that, he glanced at us again. “If you have a moment, I’d like to speak to both of you when you’ve finished visiting with your families.”
Then he stepped away.
The look on Maddy’s face was equal parts stunned and furious. She glanced at Hank, but he hadn’t moved. “You heard the man,” he said coolly. “Keep walking. Frankie doesn’t want you here and I’m pretty sure I speak for every other parent here, you aren’t invited to stick around.”
“On that,” Carly said, suddenly stepping up next to me and just behind Hank’s shoulder. “I couldn’t agree more. Go away, Maddy.”
“Agreed,” Sara said, stepping up on my other as Archie wrapped an arm around my middle and flattened his front to my back. “This is extremely inappropriate. You should go and take some time for yourself.”
“Maybe go and seek out some help,” Alicia suggested, but they were forming a barrier between me and Maddy. Hell, they were forming a barrier for Hank, too. Ian’s dad was there, Jake’s, and even Coop’s. The guys were fanning out next to us. Thankfully the sisters were away from the tempestuous storm breaking.
The hum of vehicles and dozens of other conversations filtered through the abrupt quiet.
“Or you could just go straight to Hell,” Muriel suggested into the silence. “If you really need advice.”
“Muriel,” Eddie sighed, but she just scoffed at him.
“Madeleine,” Patience said. “Please.”
“Why are you even here?” Maddy demanded as she snarled at her mother.
“Leave her alone,” I said, pushing forward. Not that I got far with Archie and Hank both acting to shield me from both sides. “I invited her and my grandfather. I’m surprised they made it, but they are welcome.”
Shock traveled over her face and for a few seconds, she ripped her gaze from them to me and I read every ounce of the hatred shimmering in those eyes. Yeah, that expression would have had me tucking tail before and keeping my head low, but I refused to do that.
Not ever again.
Heather Long. Graduation and Gifts: Untouchable Book Eight (Kindle Locations 712-770).
Let’s see from graduation and getting the best of Maddy, we move to the guys pampering Frankie, not really unexpected. We get a shibari lesson with Ian, followed by really sensuous and sexy night.
There’s a very fun conversation with Chloe her half sister, a shopping trip for bathing suits and that’s all just the beginning. Texts with KC and Rachel full of fun and information. The plans Archie and the guys made for their summer are perfect! Outrageous, fun, full of surprises and kindle melting sizzle.
There’s also some things that brought me to tears, both happy and sad. Darn you Heather the endings in these books are killing me!!!
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.