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One moment destroyed our perfect love. 

I fell in love with Archer St. James long ago.
We were children, but our hearts just knew it.
We were soulmates.
Our love was eternal.

But it wasn’t.

My future and my heart shattered the day he died.
Well, they say he died, but I still sense him.
They call it ghost pains.
It’s like my soul can’t live without him.

And after seven years, I’m almost ready to let him go…
There are two men who claimed to care for me—even love me.
One looks almost like the man I lost.
The other is so different, but the invisible link between us pulls me to him.

My already shattered heart is torn between the past, the present, and a dangerous future with two men.


Claudia Burgoa

Expected Release Date: 3 April 2023

An emotional new polyamorous duet is kicking off this week from Claudia Burgoa, part of the larger Decker Family series, and I have the whole first chapter for you.

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Chapter One


March 3rd

Anxiety is a form of pain.

Pain no one sees but paralyzes many of us. 

There are books, apps, and exercises claiming to help control the worst enemy of our minds, anxiety. 

So far, I’ve tried everything to calm down, but it’s impossible. Archer, my partner in crime, best friend, and soulmate, has been gone for two months. 

He’s been off the grid for two long, painful months. 

No one knows if he’s okay—not even his boss—and that’s how it’ll remain for another four months. He’s on a special mission with my cousin. It’s not their first rodeo, and they’re capable. 

I should be calm and trust Archer. After all, this is what he does best. It’s a big part of his life. The logical side of my brain understands but being away from him for so long is becoming unbearable.

Trying to live without him by my side is wearing me down. It sounds ridiculous and somehow codependent. It’s not. 

Archer St. James and I have been together since he was four and I was three. First, as friends. As teenagers, we became boyfriend and girlfriend. We were engaged by the age of eighteen and secretly married when he turned twenty-one.

My hand immediately touches the platinum chain hanging on my neck. It holds our wedding rings. I carry both close to my heart until we’re ready to marry in front of everyone. Only two people witnessed the ceremony, but they were so drunk they don’t remember anything.

The point is that Archer has been my constant for so long that this separation is more strenuous than either of us could’ve predicted. I should try therapy or some new coping mechanism to deal with his absence.

“Pull yourself together, Piper!”

Instead of following my orders, I sneak back into my unmade bed and bury myself under the covers. The scent of his cologne is fading again. I might have to change the sheets and spray a little more so I can pretend he’s hugging me.

“Stop being so extra.” I shake my head at my ridiculousness.

I should be okay with his absence. He’s worked for The Organization since he was sixteen. Within the past seven years, nothing has happened to him. But not long ago, my oldest brother, Tucker, was hurt. For a couple of days, we didn’t know if he would live or die.

Is it possible to hate The Organization as much as I love the work they do?

The high intelligence agency Uncle Mason set up so many years ago saves lives and helps the world. However, sometimes during missions, some men come back injured or, worse, dead. 

I can’t stop asking myself: What if something happens to my man?

Archer should quit, but I can’t ask him to. He loves being an agent, saving lives, and making this world a better place.

However, the uncertainty of not knowing if he’s safe is slowly killing me.

I can barely sleep, and when I do, I have nightmares. 

Night terrors where I see him, lost in the jungle, wounded and desperate to come home. Yet, he always promises that he’ll come and find me. That he will never leave me. 

I touch my stomach. My entrails have been tied into knots since last week when the dreams began. 

Last night was the worst. His voice was so clear when he said, “Don’t ever let go of me, baby. I’ll find you soon.”

It’s senseless to be obsessed with those dreams, but this mission is different. Arch and my cousin Seth are isolated. They can’t contact The Organization until the operation is over. If only I knew they were okay.

Push through these crazy thoughts, Piper. He’s going to be okay.

“He will,” I say out loud, finally pushing the blankets away from me. 

Turning to my side of the bed, I pick up the frame I have on my nightstand. It’s a picture of the two of us when we moved into this penthouse—the beginning of our life together. I kiss it, place it back where it belongs and convince myself that it’s time to start my day.

After breakfast, I take a shower, do some yoga, and work for a while. Nothing I do calms me. It’s time for my last resort: to write in our mutual journal.

Bleeding words on the pages makes me feel slightly better. Every sentence carries the anguish I’m living with. It’s around noon when I get a call from the doorman. My family is on their way up to visit me.

It’s probably Mom and one of my fathers coming to check on me after our weekly video call. They weren’t thrilled to hear that I was a little anxious. I hate to be a burden to them, but I’m glad they’re here. Mom might give me some exercises to help with the anxiety that’s keeping me awake all night.

When the elevator doors open to the foyer of our penthouse, I smile. Seth is here. I sigh with relief, knowing Archer is about to rush toward me, lift me up, and twirl me around. 

But there’s only silence. The sigh of relief changes almost immediately when I look at Seth’s fallen face. Archer isn’t here.

A pang strikes my middle, my heart throbbing forcefully and desperately. 

“No, no, no,” I say, shaking my head violently.

“No!” My voice echoes throughout the house.

“Please, no,” I beg. “Tell me he’s okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Uncle Mason says somberly.

“I don’t know,” Seth corrects. He clears his throat. “We can’t confirm anything just yet.”

His response makes sense, and so do my dreams. Archer is alive, he’s just missing. “He’s lost, isn’t he?” I whisper.

“I think so.” Seth nods.

“We’re not sure,” Uncle Mason corrects him, taking a step forward. “He could be—”

“Don’t say the word until you can confirm it,” Mom warns her brother.

“Our people are still combing the area. We were there for days and couldn’t find him,” Uncle Mason rectifies.

I glance at Seth. “What happened?”

Seth pinches the bridge of his nose. “We were caught. I don’t know how or what gave us away, but since we didn’t have anyone from The Organization to help us escape…” He closes his eyes briefly. “One of us had to stay back to detonate a bomb and—I’m sorry, Pipe.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” Uncle Mason places a hand on his shoulder.

“I shouldn’t have let him stay. That should’ve been me, not him.” The frustration and anger in Seth’s voice squeeze my heart.

He’s in pain, and though I’d love to hug him and tell him everything will be okay, I can’t. My body is frozen in place. My heart knew something wasn’t right. I just didn’t know what it was until now. 

I swallow hard. I have to learn more about what happened.

“You’re telling me he stayed behind?” I confirm, my lower lip quivering uncontrollably. I pinch my wrist, trying to control my emotions. I can’t fall apart.

Archer needs me to stay in control. We have to find a way to help him. Well, not exactly me. There’s not much I can do, but Seth and Uncle Mason have the resources.

“Why are you here and not there, looking for him?” My voice loses its strength.

“That’s what we’ve been doing for the last week,” Uncle Mason says. “I left people in the area. We’ll continue the search, but for now, we’ll declare him as missing.”

Missing, I repeat the words inside my head. 


Reporting him as missing is just the first step to declaring him dead, isn’t it?


My heart stops as those four letters echo inside my head. D. E. A. D.

But he can’t be… no, he can’t.

But what if he’s gone?

Did I lose him?

Did I lose my entire world?

Tears fall as I absorb the information.

Did I lose Archer forever?

What am I supposed to do now?

My dreams. I recall all of them. He’s still alive. And someone has to advocate for him before they stop searching.

I look up at my uncle. “Go back and look for him again. Archer is alive,” I say with the last bit of strength I have left in me.

Uncle Mason stares at me.

“You have to search for him,” I insist. “He’s lonely, scared, and wanting to come home—to me.”

I press my lips together, trying to control the tears, but it’s impossible. “Just bring him back to me, okay?”

“We’re trying, Pipe.” Seth walks toward me, taking me into his arms. “We’ll find him.”

“Seth,” Uncle Mason’s warning tone makes me look up at him. “We can’t promise what we might not be able to deliver.”

“He’s alive, I swear,” I mumble. “You can’t comprehend how I know it, but I do. Our hearts beat as one, and they have since the first day I met him. It’s even stronger now. I would know… I would feel it down to my soul if he wasn’t around anymore.”

“I can’t make any promises,” Uncle Mason repeats one more time.

“But you have to,” I beg of him, and that’s when Mom steps closer. 

She takes me into her arms and says, “I’m here for you, Ladybug.”

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(standalone duets with interconnected characters)

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