“Small town romance at its best! Absolutely unputdownable. Cowles grabs you from page one and doesn’t let you go. A brilliant tale packed with heat and heart.”
—Adriana Locke USA Today bestselling author
Tattered Stars, an all new enemies to lovers small town romance and first book in the Tattered & Torn series from bestselling author Catherine Cowles is available now!
Be brave. Just for sixty seconds. Twenty breaths.
One night changed them both forever.
Their lives shattered, beyond repair, with jagged edges and pieces askew.
Now, Everly has a chance to make things right. To bring healing to the place where everything fell apart. But it means facing the family her father almost destroyed, and the boy with the dark eyes—now grown—who still haunts her dreams.
Just one breath away from having your life ripped out from under you.
The last thing Hayes wants is another reminder of all the ways he failed sixteen years ago. When Everly drives back into Wolf Gap, his only mission is to get her to leave. For his family’s sake, and for his own, those demons need to stay buried for good.
But everything about this woman is a surprise, from her spine of steel to the sanctuary she hopes to create with the land her mother left behind. And Hayes is powerless to stay away.
As a careful friendship sparks into something more, someone watches. And they’ll do anything to tear it all apart…
Fall in love with Everly and Hayes today!
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I pressed on the accelerator to make it past the final rise, and as I did, the property came into view. My heart seemed to take up acrobatics in my chest, flipping and tumbling, expanding and contracting. My hands gripped the wheel harder as my foot eased off the gas.
The house itself was in worse shape than I’d expected. One of the walls had a gaping hole in it. But the small guest cabin didn’t look too worse for wear. The cottage had been in my mom’s family for generations, but the house had been my father’s construction after they married. She hadn’t stayed long after he went to prison, choosing to move us down to the flats to live on some land my uncle owned.
While the generations-old construction of the cabin had held steady, the barn and paddocks hadn’t fared nearly as well. The entire structure seemed to lean to one side, and a storm had taken down more than half of the fencing. My back hurt just looking at all the work that needed to be done.
I sighed and pulled to a stop in front of the cabin, releasing my hold on the wheel. My phone dinged, and I sent up a mental thank you to the gods of technology that it seemed I had service up here.
Shay: Are you there yet? Text me the second you arrive.
I smiled down at my phone, feeling a little less alone, knowing that I had someone who would drop anything to have my back.
Me: Just pulled up outside. Cabin looks okay. The house and barn are a disaster.
Shay: Are you sure you don’t want Brody and me to come help you get settled? We can be there in two days.
God, I was lucky to have her as a friend, but I wasn’t ready to open all the doors I’d need to if they came to stay. There were too many skeletons I didn’t want to let out into the light.
Me: Thank you, but I’ve got this. Let me get settled, and then you can come for a visit.
Shay: I don’t like that you’re there all alone.
Me: I won’t be alone for long.
Soon, I would have this place crawling with animals. It had always been my dream to build a home for neglected or abused animals of any kind. A sanctuary. It was simply coming more quickly than expected.
I turned off my SUV, rolled down the windows, and the pine air swept in. It was different than any other type, the Ponderosa pines. And as it filled me, tears sprang to my eyes. I’d missed this, more than I’d realized.
I leaned back in my seat and pulled out my letter.
I know much of this will come a day late and more than a dollar short, but better that than not at all. Even once the doctors told me the cancer had a hold, I couldn’t bring myself to call you, to tell you these things face-to-face as I should’ve. So, I’ll take the coward’s way out. That won’t be anything new. There were so many times I should’ve stood up but didn’t.
But that’s not you. You’ve always been the bravest person I’ve ever known. Even before that night. I should’ve told you, but I didn’t—I’m so proud of you, beautiful girl. You made yourself into this amazing warrior all on your own, without any help from your dad or me.
I wish I had a chance to truly see you shine now. That’s the price for my sins. To miss all of your beauty and light shining on this world.
This should’ve come so long ago, but I’m sorry. For not being there for you. For not getting your father the help he needed. For not taking you and your siblings away when things went sideways. I’m so very sorry that I wasn’t stronger. That I wasn’t more like you.
I don’t have much I can give you, but the land’s still mine. I know a lot of pain’s been poured into the dirt there, but there was good once, too. When I spent summers there with your grandparents. As your father and I made it our home. The babies that grew there. The animals we raised.
Maybe you can find your good there, too.
I understand if you can’t. Or don’t want to. But I know if one person is strong enough to do it…it’s you.
I love you forever and always, my little warrior.
A single tear splashed onto the page. She’d been gone before I even knew she was sick. Buried before I even knew she was gone. My family hadn’t wanted me there. Not my brother—who I was sure still blamed me for everything—my uncle, or any other vast network of relatives still rooted in the area.
To them, I was the enemy, the outsider. And now, I’d returned. The only one who might be happy to see me was my cousin, Addie, but I wasn’t even sure about that. We hadn’t spoken since I’d left. All of my letters came back, marked as Return to Sender in her father’s handwriting.
My mother thought I was a warrior, and I hoped she was right. I would need all my armor if I was going to face them again. Because no one would be happy that I was here. And they’d be downright livid when they learned I was staying.
About Catherine Cowles
Writer of words. Drinker of Diet Cokes. Lover of all things cute and furry, especially her dog. Catherine has had her nose in a book since the time she could read and finally decided to write down some of her own stories. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring her home state of Oregon, listening to true crime podcasts, or searching for her next book boyfriend.
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