What do you do when everything in your life just feels wrong?
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Claire Reynolds has had to fight for everything that she has achieved in her life. An erratic foster-care upbringing has left her determined to put in the hard work necessary to achieve her dreams and build a solid future. Armed with her MBA and a five-year plan she has landed a prestigious internship with Bellingham…
Elise Leroux seems to have it all; a glittering pop career and a cabinet full of awards, not to mention her hot pop-star boyfriend, Silas. But it's not all that it seems – the songs chosen by her management are cheesy and as for Silas, well, that is nothing more than a "showmance", encouraged by their shared management.
Despite her frustration at the lack of input she is allowed into her career, Elise is not looking forward to an enforced break between touring and starting her new album and is even less thrilled when her manager suggests that she return to Louisiana to get in touch with her Cajun roots. The last time she was home, she wasn't exactly made to feel welcome in town. And then there is Avery. A past love, not yet forgotten, how will she respond when she finally sees him again?
"Elise Leroux? Is that really you?"
"Avery?" I gasped. Boy has he grown up! I tried not to stare.
"You deign us with your presence?" He laughed, reaching for his jeans after he’d toweled off most of the mud. I’d seen him do this a thousand times, but he’d been a boy back then.
"Don’t be mean; you know I love this place!" I said playfully, encouraged by his lighthearted tone.
"Come on over, I’ve got a load of grass ready for Léoma. I should have been back a month ago, I’m sure she’s out by now."
"Not quite." I poled over to the dock where his pirogue was loaded with the kind of grass you could only find deep in the bayou. He’d been working hard all day.
"I feel bad you’ve been doin’ this for gran all these years," I said as I joined him on solid ground, trying not to stare at the hard muscled chest of a man I hardly recognized, but he seemed so familiar at the same time. "I just assumed she got her swamp grass from ole Mr. Thibodaux."
"She does from time to time, but I don’t mind helpin’ her out."
"So what brings you home?" He asked, clearly avoiding my gaze as he tied the last bundle of grass and hefted it into the boat. His jaw was clenched almost like he was intimidated and didn’t know how to act around me. I’d seen that look often enough with the people who worked for me and I did not want to see it on Avery’s face.
"Oh taking a much needed break from my life as a performing seal," I said with a huge sigh, hoping to ease the tension I felt between us.
He burst out laughing, and I saw a bit of the old Avery return. "I’ve often wondered if you saw it, or if you were so blinded by the glitz and the glam that you didn’t realize it."
"What that I’m a pop-princess-puppet, dancing to the strings my managers wield? Yeah, I see it, I’ve always seen it Avery - I’ve just always hoped it would lead to something more me."
"And has it?" He asked, easing his pirogue back into the water, linking it with mine, and securing both to the dock.
"I don’t know who I am anymore, so no, I suppose not." It was odd how quickly we slipped back into our old ways of brutal honesty. I had always been able to count on Avery to tell me the truth. It was part of what hurt us the most when we parted ways; we’d been too honest, and hurtful, with one another.
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