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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cover Reveal ~ Their First Fall by MJ Fields

I am completely obsessed with this cover and I can't wait for you to read Keeka and Trucker's story! As a special treat for my newsletter readers, I'm sharing the first chapter with you today! I can't wait to hear what you think!
Adult Contemporary Romance
Cover Models- Colin Wayne Erwin and Breanna Erwin
Cover Designer- Juliana Cabrera at Jersey Girl Design
Photographer - Golden Czermak at Furious Fotog
Alone in the world, after her mother’s death, she tries to find the life she dreamed of as a child.
Alone in the world the family he felt part of began to fall apart, as his dreams of being an NFL quarterback become his reality.
What happens when everything you had is gone, everything you wished for seems to be in arms reach, and your world begins to spin in circles?
You Fall.
Add it to your TBR today!
Forever Steel 
MJ Fields
Chapter One
One Year Ago…
It’s five thirty in the morning as I sit on the ledge of the rooftop of our apartment building, looking at my sketch pad.
“I don’t know if you can see this, Mom.” I look down at my picture, hoping she can.
Hope may not be a strong enough word. Need is stronger. I need her to see it.
“Remember when we moved here? Remember how I lost you in a crowd of people and I couldn’t see the sun? I needed to see the sun because you taught me to tell time and direction from its position, and I couldn’t find you because New York City wasn’t like New Jersey or Florida, not the places we lived there anyway. Not places where the sun met the water. I didn’t know where to stay away from or where to go so you’d find me.”
I sigh as I feel the first tear fall, and then I wipe it away, knowing she hated when I cried. It wasn’t that I did it often; it was when I did she always felt like she had done something wrong. I didn’t want her to feel that way, because when she did, she overdid the mom thing. And when she was exhausted from it all, she crashed, and she crashed hard. Even though everyone tells me that she’s been resting peacefully for almost a year, knowing her, I find it hard to believe.
I push back those memories and look up at our bridge, my bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and smile, remembering our first morning here, the day after the incident.
She had woken me up to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise. I was terrified, so scared, but because she was doing the over-the-top momming, I tried to hide my fear and soak in the next two or three days before the inevitable crash.
Despite my best efforts, she somehow knew.
I remember her kneeling before me at the beginning of the bridge, tugging on the blue ribbon holding my braid and smiling as she told me, “Brooklyn’s bridges never fall down.”
I nodded and told her, “So, not like the bridge in the storybook?”
She closed her eyes and smiled. “No, sweetie. Brooklyn’s bridges are much stronger than the London Bridge.”
As she held my hand and we walked, she told me how many people had come to this very bridge to watch the sunrise. She told me the same water beneath us connects to every place we have ever lived through the Atlantic Ocean, and that I should find the beauty and comfort in it.
Halfway across, I felt a little braver and switched sides with her. She stopped and took a picture of me. I smiled from ear to ear for her, for my mom, for her ability to tell me a story that made me feel like everything would be all right.
When I turned around to peer over the side, to show her how brave she made me feel, I saw the sun was in fact perfectly positioned in the middle of the next bridge over, the Manhattan Bridge.
I didn’t tell her that, though.
Several months before that day, something had happened that made her crash harder than ever before, for longer than ever before. Something I didn’t know about, which was odd, because she had always told me why she was sad.
I woke up one morning in our little two-room New Jersey shore bungalow to boxes stacked next to the door and my mom smiling.
“You ready to go on an adventure?”
I smiled the brightest smile I could manage, one that I hoped matched hers as I nodded enthusiastically.
That was when we moved here, next to my bridge. The bridge she thought had the most beautiful sunrise, when it fact, the sunset was far more unforgettable.
Looking down at it, I can’t help feeling angry, so angry that tears spill onto my drawing, the one I did last night of the sunset, trying to make it beautiful … again.
I hear her footsteps before she clears her throat, letting me know she’s behind me, probably afraid I will fall the seven stories to my death.
“Mocha Angel, what are you thinking?”
I look up at my mom’s best friend, the woman who has truly raised me since we moved here ten years ago. She’s beautiful, strong, and truth be told, she’s the real angel.
In Mom’s darkest hours, she supported her by taking care of me. The time between crash and becoming super mom wasn’t quite as jarring. Shakeeka, my angel, explained to me that three of her six kids suffered from depression. She explained it worsened when they began having children.
The crash, as I call it—the darkness, as she does—seems to worsen with the guilt of those they know suffer along with them. Their loved ones.
I look back at her as she leans over the edge. Then she quickly shuts her eyes and giggles.
“Child, I have no idea how you don’t get as dizzy as a goose.” She steps back, her hand over her belly.
“You said the same thing the first night you found me up here.”
“Child …” She laughs. She always laughs, regardless of how hard life is. “You were nine years old.”
Swinging my legs over the side, one at a time so she doesn’t worry even more, I nod and remind her, “Just turned nine.” I stand on the rooftop, take a deep breath, and then start to tell her, not ask this time, “I’m going to be seventeen in two days …”
“One more year, honey, till you’re of legal age.”
Inhaling a deep breath, I continue, “I quit school today.”
Her lips turn up, intent on forming a smile, but even she can’t make it happen.
I don’t wait for her response, because I don’t want her to waste her time trying to convince me to stay. I know she will, and that will only worsen the hurt we are both sure to feel.
“I can’t look at it anymore.”
She nods once, waiting for me to continue. Then she reaches over and squeezes my hand, encouraging me to continue. The burn of tears threatens far too early in this conversation.
Right now, I’m struggling to voice the truth in why I need to leave, even though I am aware she knows it. And, right now, I wish she would say the words so I don’t have to.
Before Shakeeka, I never expressed my emotions out loud. I was afraid it would make my mom crash. And as I found out later, I really didn’t understand them. Shakeeka is the reason I can now, yet it’s not without difficulty.
“I have a train ticket. I have a plan.”
“I want you to stay,” she interrupts.
I shake my head. “I need you to be okay with this. I need you to understand.”
“Can’t be okay with you leaving. You’re a sixteen-year-old girl,” she protests.
“I’ve never been sixteen,” I remind her.
To that, she does smile as a tear slides down her cheek.
“I can’t make you stay.”
I shake my head no as she steps up to me and throws her arms around me.
March twentieth, at five fifty in the morning, I am walking down 42nd Street with a backpack strapped to my back and a duffel bag slung across my body. I’m no longer looking for where the sea and the sun meet. No longer looking for her to appear and save me from a place where I’m alone and afraid. A place she told me to wait for her because she was my person, and I was hers, no matter who else she had in her life.
She always made me feel special that way. Always. But now, a year after she took that step off the edge and left me where the water never really meets the sun, I know that she was never healthy enough to be someone’s everything. And I know I’m not going to grow and become my own person until I let go.
I can let go, finally, because she did.
I chose this time of day and mode of transportation out of the city that haunts me for a reason. Neither the sun rising or the view of the waters will pull me to look for something … or someone who isn’t there. Something or someone who will always be beautiful in the most confusing way. Something or someone who isn’t here and isn’t real anymore, who is holding me back from growing, and God how I wish to grow.
Stopping at the corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Street, I reach up and untie the pale blue ribbon from my hair. Then I close my eyes and rub it between my fingers, soothing myself, feeling the silky softness that I have felt since she gave it to me. She told me that this scrap of ribbon had once run around the edge of the blanket that a man, who she assured me I have met before; a man she said wasn’t strong enough to be what he truly was supposed to be—my father.
She insisted I always keep a part of him, symbolizing that I was the best part of him, the part he didn’t even know he held. To me, that part of him, that scrap of nothing, has been a hindrance to me and her.
I remember a day playing in the sand when, by chance, I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw it had somehow come untied and was flying in the breeze.
Panicked, I looked around as I jumped to chase it. Mom was talking to a man, smiling from ear to ear for him, engrossed in the attention he gave her, and he was smiling back at her the same way.
That day, I chased a blue ribbon, knowing it meant something to her and, in theory, meant something to me, as it wisped through the airI panicked, thinking that, after she was done with her crash after that man had broken her smile, she would notice it was gone when I lay next to her, when she would rub the ribbon between her fingers like she always did, soothing herself with its silky softness, just like I did.
Looking up at it, I ran right into a boy who was running along the beach, holding a kite string.
We both jumped up, and then he ran toward the kite string as the wind blew it away like my ribbon.
“Oh shit.” The little boy with black hair laughed as he jumped high in the air, grabbing both the ribbon and the string in different hands at the same time. Then he fell onto his bottom in the sand.
When he looked at me, he smiled and reached out his hand, the one holding the string, not the ribbon. When I didn’t take it from him, he looked at me like I was odd, yet he was still smiling.
“Go ahead; it’s yours.”
When I stll didn’t say anything, he looked away from me and at his hand.
“My bad,” he said, then stretched out his other hand. “This is yours.” His smile grew bigger, and then he shrugged. “You want the kite instead?”
I looked behind me to see where my mom was, to see if she was worried. She hadn’t even noticed I had run off.
For a brief moment, I wanted to say yes. I wanted the kite, and I wanted him to take the ribbon. But then he would have to carry the burden of responsibility, and that would make his smile fade. I was sure of it.
Before I could answer him,  he pulled off one of the kite’s tail ribbons and stood.
I cupped my hand over my eyes as I looked up at him, shielding it from the sun’s blaring glare, wanting to know if he was still smiling.
He thrust his hand out, the one holding my ribbon and now a part of the kite’s tail. “Here. Now you can have both.”
I took it and looked at the thick orange ribbon, inspecting it. There was a round, orange cartoon character all over it. Then I looked up at the kite, seeing it had the same orange-looking cartoon character on it. I looked back at him to see he was smiling … still smiling.
“His name’s Otto.”
I couldn’t help smiling back at him. But then, I didn’t want to smile at him, because that meant he could take it away—the smile—and make me crash, make me sad.
“Looks like a Lou to me.”
He started to laugh, and it was so loud it startled me and made me jump.
He grabbed my hand. “You fall, you’ll end up with sand in your suit. Don’t fall.”
I nodded as I steadied myself. That was when I heard her call my name.
“I gotta go.” I tried to hand him back the ribbon, but he shook his head.
“It’s yours.”
I looked at my hand, at the blue ribbon, and pondered whether to give it to him or keep it when I heard my name again. I looked from the ribbon and back to the tall, smiling boy framed in the sun.
“You better go.” He nodded toward my mom.
I nodded. “Thank you.”
“Anytime.” He smirked. “Lou.”
Back in the now, I hold the ribbon up and look at it as the wind blows its end about. Then I close my eyes and think of that day as I release it and watch the wind whisk it away.
Like the kite, it blows higher and higher until it’s gone, and with it, the last of what has held me back. All the burdens, all the responsibilities I had put upon me, knowing they were more a weight than a means to grow.
Turning, I walk into Grand Central Station and take in her beauty as I walk toward the track that I pray will lead me to a place where smiles are in abundance and life will begin.
Sitting in the cushioned train seat, I close my eyes. The fear of the unknown takes ahold of me, but just a little.
When the woman beside me taps my hand, I open my eyes. She hands me a tissue, and I force a smile and thank her.
A total stranger showing me kindness.
While I wipe my eyes, she asks me what my name is as the train leaves the station, as I leave behind my past.
“My name is Keeka.”
And from that moment on, it would be.

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