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Whispers of Forever, #4

Whispers of Forever, #4

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Samantha Diederik's virtual crush on her brother's best friend, Ethan Walters, is about to become a reality during a road trip. While Samantha navigates the thrill and uncertainty of transforming an online bond into love, Ethan grapples with his own insecurities and a looming decision between his ambitious career goals and the captivating woman who has begun to dismantle his guarded heart, all under the ominous shadow of a stalker.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to Lovers
  • Road Trip Romance
  • Stalker

Synopsis

Love's First Meeting: When Virtual Sparks Ignite

Samantha Diederik’s digital world is about to collide with reality. Ethan Walters, her brother's college roommate and best friend, has been more than just an online presence; for the last year, he's a whispered secret in her heart. From a simple online acquaintance, her crush has grown into a yearning for something far beyond pixels.

Finally, she will meet him in person on a road trip with her brother. The journey will test if their powerful friendship can blossom into love. But the lingering threat of a stalker casts a shadow on it all.

Ethan, whose life has been overshadowed by the brilliance of a remarkable stepbrother, has always fought insecurity. Determined to pursue a career as a surgeon—just like his brother—Ethan is confronted with an agonizing choice: protect his aspirations or surrender to the intoxicating allure of a woman who has cracked the walls around his heart. He can’t have both.

Intro Into Chapter One

“Colton, we can’t keep going like this.” Samantha Diederik’s voice came out tight from frustration and determination. She squared her shoulders and pinned him with a hard look, hoping her words would finally penetrate his stubborn pigheadedness.

“You’re right, Sam. It’s time for us to take our relationship to the next step.”

He shocked her by abruptly seizing her wrists and pressing them against the cotton of his button-down shirt. Colton’s eyes bored into hers with a dark intensity that made her uncomfortable. They no longer captivated her, not since she had realized her mistake.

There could be nothing between them because, idiot that Sam was, she had transferred her feelings for one man onto another. How could she have ever thought his hazel-green eyes were anything like Ethan’s? Sure, the color was similar, but the depth of thoughtfulness was missing.

“Let me go!” As Sam struggled to free her hands, Colton forced one to his lips, his touch now invasive. He had never acted this way before. “Stop it! You’re freaking me out.”

“But we’re perfect together, baby.” Colton’s voice had turned sultry, his words sending a shudder down her spine. How many times had she told him not to use that pet name? It was too icky. Her daddy’s childhood endearment for her did not belong on her boyfriend’s lips.

Ex-boyfriend.

“We’re meant to be together,” Colton insisted, his grip still firm and unyielding as he tried to kiss her hand.

“I swear, you’re so dumb you could throw yourself on the ground and miss.”

He blinked, confused once again by one of her Southern expressions.

“Listen to me, Colton.” Sam enunciated each word slowly. “We. Are. Breaking. Up.” She finally jerked one hand free. A minor victory.

He shook his head, a smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. Did he think this was funny, that she liked this tug of war—with her arm?

“Let me go,” she hissed, prepared to give his foot a fierce stomp.

“Is there a problem, Sam?” a familiar deep voice asked from behind, interrupting the tense standoff.

Relief flooded her. Lennon would protect her from this oaf.

“This is none of your business,” Colton growled, pulling her closer to him with a display of bravado.

And that was all it could be. Sam could almost see the calculations spinning through his mind, and Colton’s gaze shifted to the younger man’s bulging biceps and broad shoulders.

“You heard the lady. Let her go.” Her business partner’s kid brother easily embodied a hulking persona when he wanted to. For a second, he seemed larger than life, his voice resonating with an air of authority and simmering rage.

Lennon, like a protective brother, stepped forward, his focus never leaving Colton. He released her hand. Relief flooding through her, Sam drew in a breath, and Lennon moved a little in front of her. For a fleeting moment, she thought Colton might strike him but must have decided against it since he didn’t put in the same gym time.

“We’re not done, Sam,” Colton declared, pointing first to himself, then to her. After a defiant glare at Lennon, he stormed away.

“Oh, yes, we are,” she called to his departing back. He shook his head but didn’t glance back at her.

“I’ve always wanted to say that,” Lennon said with a satisfied smirk.

“What?” Sam looked up at him, using a trembling hand to shield her eyes from the glaring sun.

“You heard the lady,” he growled, then gave a satisfied chuckle.

Sam almost smiled, grateful for his attempt at levity. “What, you never had to use it when you were working as a bouncer?” He had supported himself through college with the job.

Lennon furrowed his brows, scrunching his face in thought. “Not that I recall, and I think I would have remembered.” He glanced at her wrists. “Did that moron hurt you? Because I can still take him down.”

Gratitude and tenderness for such a stalwart friend filled her. “Don’t you dare go after him.” Sam stopped rubbing her wrist, so he wouldn’t worry. “That man could drive a preacher to cuss.”

“Please tell me you’re finally done with him.” Lennon’s hands had gone to his pockets, his stance protective, but his gentle statement held a touch of hope. Had he and Haley been that worried about Sam?

“Oh, I am so done with that man.” Sam sighed. “You picked a mighty fine time to be driving by. I’m grateful you showed up. Never would I have expected Colton to go all caveman on me like that.” As she realized it was also odd for Lennon to be there, she frowned. “Why are you here at the park?”

Lennon shrugged. “I was driving by and recognized your car. Since it’s lunchtime, I thought you might appreciate some company. I’m glad I stopped.” He glared in the direction Colton had disappeared, a silent promise in Lennon’s eyes.

“I’m glad too.” Despite the late July warmth, a chill crept into Sam’s bones. How could she have dated Colton for nearly a year without seeing this side of him?

“You going to be okay?” Lennon watched her, concern etched on his face.

“I’ll be fine, just disappointed in myself. I think I need a break from guys.”

He raised an eyebrow, his doubtful expression morphing into amusement.

A laugh finally bubbled up from deep within Sam, releasing her pent-up emotions and surprising her with a newfound sense of release.

“All right. Not a break from all guys.” Since Lennon handled IT programming and tech work for her business website, he always attended their meetings. Plus, he often hung out with her and his sister Haley. Besides, Sam couldn’t escape men entirely at her day job, especially with the Boulder Fringe Festival. “What I need is a moratorium on dating.”

“Maybe just one for dating the wrong guys.” Lennon shot her a wise older brother-like glance, even though he and Sam were the same age. “You’ll tell Haley what happened with Colton, right?”

Sam groaned inwardly, not looking forward to that inevitable confrontation. Haley could go all mother hen as much as Lennon, and neither of them had approved of Colton, saying he was too much older than Sam.

“If you don’t, I will,” Lennon warned, his firm voice colored with a touch of sympathy. “I told you from the start that guy was too controlling.”

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