The fifth and final book in Samantha Young’s Adair Family series is coming next week, and I am so excited to share the Prologue with you. This is Brodan Adair’s book—an angsty story of second chances, unrequited love, and lost connections between two childhood best friends who haven’t seen each other for almost two decades.
The cinema was a quiet place on a Monday morning, even if it was summer and the school holidays. Only a handful of people waited in the large foyer. Nothing to distract me from the vertical ceiling banner with Brodan Adair’s gorgeous face plastered over it. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw his brother Lachlan on a chat show promoting his debut Hollywood film.
From there, Brodan started appearing in secondary roles. Nothing that tempted me to watch his movies and TV shows. However, it had been hard to miss his escalating success. Now, there he was on a giant poster advertising his first big lead role in a blockbuster movie.
An ache I’d carried around in my chest for years splintered painfully.
Turn around and get the hell out of here, I urged myself. Stop being such a masochist.
But I couldn’t.
The desire to see what had become of him was too great. I thought years apart would numb it, might even erase it … but ironically, the distance had only made my heart stubborn.
Throwing my shoulders back, I marched across the foyer to the ticket counter and bought a ticket to the next showing of Brodan’s movie.
* * *
There he was. That horrible ache bloomed hotter as I stared up at a larger-than-life Brodan, playing the role with a flawless American accent. It almost made him seem like a different person. Except for those eyes. Everything was always in Brodan’s eyes. It was a wee bit disconcerting to see he was such an excellent actor because, for a while, I could almost forget this leading man was once my best friend.
Until he kissed the leading woman with genuine passion.
Rumor had it they were dating in real life.
Watching them, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t true—their chemistry was fire.
Ridiculous hurt and jealousy filled me. Possessiveness.
He was mine first, I thought childishly.
Brodan had never really been mine in the way I wanted, but when we were children, he was my everything. Memories I tried so hard to forget consumed me, whirling before me, blurring the sight of Brodan Adair, Hollywood actor …
I knew by my mum’s cut lip as I walked into the kitchen that it was one of those days. I opened my mouth to talk, and she shook her head frantically.
We lived in a small row cottage on the edge of Ardnoch. Our village was tiny, but not so tiny that we didn’t have streets that were known for housing folks who had less than other folks. We lived on one of those streets.
“That Monroe?” Dad yelled from the living room across the hall.
Mum mouthed, “Leave.”
My heart lurched in my chest, and I turned to go just as Dad appeared in the kitchen doorway.
His face was red, his eyes bright with whisky, fists clenched at his sides.
As a kid, I didn’t know Dad was an alcoholic. Or at least I didn’t understand it. I was twelve now, in my first year at Ardnoch Academy. So I knew. I knew things now that I didn’t know then. I knew it was the drink that turned my dad into a monster.
My hands became clammy.
“Where you been?” He stepped toward me belligerently.
“You should be out working, helping,” he snarled.
“I’m t-twelve,” I quietly reminded him.
“I was working at twelve, you lazy wee bitch.”
“I have to go to school, Dad. It’s illegal not to.”
His nostrils flared. “You think I don’t know that? You trying to be smart with me?”
“No. It’s just … few places here will hire you for a part-time job until you’re fifteen.” Plus, I wanted to go to school. I wanted to do something with my life.
“Try harder. We’ve got bills to pay.”
I don’t know what came over me, if I was sick of walking on eggshells with the man, but I muttered, “Maybe if you didn’t spend all your money on drink.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I froze, nauseated with fear.
His expression darkened. “What the fuck you say?”
“Callum, don’t,” Mum pleaded.
“Cheeky bitch. Come ’ere!”
Everything from that point was a blur of black and red and pain. I could hear Mum screaming, “Stop!” She must have finally gotten him off me, but my face hurt everywhere, and I couldn’t open one of my eyes.
“Why?” Mum hissed. “Why did you provoke him?”
I tried to speak through the agony, but the only thing I could think of was my best friend’s face.
I wanted to be with Brodan.
He made me feel safe.
My right side screamed with pain as Mum pulled me up onto unsteady feet.
“Look what you made him do,” Mum cried softly. “This is your fault.”
Maybe it was.
Brodan’s dad would never dare hurt his children. I knew Brodan wished he was around more. Looking after the Adair brothers and their sister, Arrochar, had mostly fallen to the eldest, Lachlan, but still, Mr. Adair was a gentle man. He’d never beat his daughter to a pulp.
“Now we’ll have to keep you off school for Christ knows how long,” Mum huffed, and I could see through my one eye that she was tearing up. “Let me get some antiseptic for your lip, and then we’ll get some ice on your face.”
On which part? I thought numbly.
As she walked dejectedly out of the kitchen, I got up. Dad was still here. He could come back and do more damage. Maybe even kill me this time.
So I stumbled toward the kitchen door, the floor bobbing up and down like waves in the sea. I pushed past the strange feeling and threw myself out of the house.
Terror made me pick up my heavy legs, and I ran. I took the back streets toward the road that led to Ardnoch Estate. Brodan and his siblings rode their bikes to the castle they called their home. In a few years, Lachlan would be old enough to drive them to school.
Sharp pain cut through my ribs, and I had to slow to a walk. It would be ages before I got to the drafty old castle, and I hurt so much, I didn’t know if I could make it.
“Roe!” a familiar voice called.
I lifted my head, trying to see through my one good eye. Blurry figures appeared on the road ahead.
Brodan! I tried to open my mouth, but suddenly the world tilted and my legs disappeared.
Pain shot through my knees.
It seemed like only seconds later that hands were on me, and I looked up into Brodan’s frantic face. Tears glimmered in his eyes. “Arran, get Dad.”
“What … what’s going on?” I heard his brother Arran whisper.
“Arran, get Dad!” Brodan yelled. I could hear the panic in my friend’s voice.
Then his arm was around me, and he held me to him. “You’ll be okay, Sunset, you’ll be okay. I won’t let anything happen to you ever again. You’re safe. I’ve got you, Roe.”
I blinked, coming out of one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. Tears wet my cheeks, and I glanced around to make sure no one paid attention.
There were only two other people at the screening, and their attention was glued to the film.
From the moment my father had begun beating me, Brodan, my best friend since our first day at primary school, had become my protector. Even at twelve, he’d been determined to take care of me. Because of him and his father, my life changed after that day.
And I’d stupidly thought Brodan’s passionate commitment to my well-being meant something.
I would be fourteen years old when I finally admitted to myself that I loved Brodan more than just a friend.
Hope had bound me to him until he shattered it.
In my hurt, I’d acted impulsively.
We ruined everything, he and I.
So why couldn’t I be free of him?
My emotion spilled over as I looked at his face on the screen.
Yet so much a stranger.
I didn’t know who that man was. That knowledge was so fucking painful I couldn’t stand it.
Wiping angrily at my tears, I pushed up out of the seat and turned my back on the screen.
Enough. It was enough now.
I had to forget him. To move on.
I had to.