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Come Back to Me Paperback – November 29, 2016
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About the Author
Mila Gray is the pseudonym for Sarah Alderson. Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the nonprofit sector in 2009 and took off on an around the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. They are currently located somewhere between India, London, Canada, and the US. Sarah is the author of several YA novels, including Out of Control, The Sound, Hunting Lila, and its sequel Losing Lila, plus the paranormal trilogy Fated, Severed, and Shadowed—all published by Simon & Schuster UK.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Come Back to Me
A whorl in the glass distorts the picture, like a thumbprint smear over a lens. I’m halfway down the stairs, gathering my hair into a ponytail, thoughts a million miles away, when a blur outside the window pulls me up short.
I take another step, the view clears, and when I realize what I’m seeing, who I’m seeing, my stomach plummets and the air leaves my lungs like a final exhalation. My arms fall slowly to my sides. My body’s instinct is to turn and run back upstairs, to tear into the bathroom and lock the door, but I’m frozen. This is the moment you have nightmares about, play over in your mind, the darkest of daydreams, furnished by movies and by real-life stories you’ve overheard your whole life.
You imagine over and over how you’ll cope, what you’ll say, how you’ll act when you open the door and find them standing there. You pray to every god you can dream up that this moment won’t ever happen. You make bargains, promises, desperate barters. And you live each day with the murmur of those prayers playing on a loop in the background of your mind, an endless chant. And then the moment happens and you realize it was all for nothing. The prayers went unheard. There was no bargain to make. Was it your fault? Did you fail to keep your promise?
Time seems to have slowed. Kit’s father hasn’t moved. He’s standing at the end of the driveway staring up at the house, squinting against the early morning glare. He’s wearing his Dress Blues. It’s that fact which registered before all else, which told me all I needed to know. That and the fact that he’s here at all. Kit’s father has never once been to the house. There is only one reason why he would ever come.
He hasn’t taken a step, and I will him not to. I will him to turn around and get back into the dark sedan sitting at the curb. A shadowy figure in uniform sits at the wheel. Please. Get back in and drive away. I start making futile bargains with some nameless god. If he gets back in the car and drives away, I’ll do anything. But he doesn’t. He takes a step down the driveway toward the house, and that’s when I know for certain that either Riley or Kit is dead.
A scream, or maybe a sob, tries to struggle up my throat, but it’s blocked by a solid wave of nausea. I grab for the banister to stay upright. Who? Which one? My brother or my boyfriend? Oh God. Oh God. My legs are shaking. I watch Kit’s father walk slowly up the drive, head bowed.
Memories, images, words, flicker through my mind like scratched fragments of film: Kit’s arms around my waist drawing me closer, our first kiss under the cover of darkness just by the back door, the smile on his face the first time we slept together, the blue of his eyes lit up by the sparks from a Chinese lantern, the fierceness in his voice when he told me he was going to love me forever.
Come back to me. That was the very last thing I said to him. Come back to me.
Always. The very last thing he said to me.
Then I see Riley as a kid throwing a toy train down the stairs, dive-bombing into the pool, holding my hand at our grandfather’s funeral, grinning and high-fiving Kit after they’d enlisted. The snapshot of him in his uniform on graduation day. The circles under his eyes the last time I saw him.
The door buzzes. I jump. But I stay where I am, frozen halfway up the stairs. If I don’t answer the door, maybe he’ll go away. Maybe this won’t be happening. But the doorbell sounds again. And then I hear footsteps on the landing above me. My mother’s voice, sleepy and confused. “Jessa? Who is it? Why are you just standing there?”
Then she sees. She peers through the window, and I hear the intake of air, the ragged “no” she utters in response. She too knows that a military car parked outside the house at seven a.m. can signify only one thing.
I turn to her. Her hand is pressed to her mouth. Standing in her nightdress, her hair unbrushed, the blood rushing from her face, she looks like she’s seen a ghost. No. That’s wrong. She looks like she is a ghost.
The bell buzzes for a third time.
“Get the door, Jessa,” my mother says in a strange voice I don’t recognize. It startles me enough that I start to walk down the stairs. I feel calmer all of a sudden, like I’m floating outside my body. This can’t be happening. It’s not real. It’s just a dream.
I find myself standing somehow in front of the door. I unlock it. I open it. Kit. Riley. Kit. Riley. Their names circle my mind like birds of prey in a cloudless blue sky. Kit. Riley. Which is it? Is Kit’s father here in his Dress Blues with his chaplain insignia to tell us that my brother has been killed in action or that his son—my boyfriend—has been killed in action? He would come either way. He would want to be the one to tell me. He would want to be the one to tell my mom.
Kit’s father blinks at me. He’s been crying. His eyes are red, his cheeks wet. He’s still crying, in fact. I watch the tears slide down his face and realize that I’ve never seen him cry before. It automatically makes me want to comfort him, but even if I could find the words, my throat is so dry I couldn’t speak them.
“Jessa,” Kit’s father says in a husky voice.
I hold on to the doorframe, keeping my back straight. I’m aware that my mother has followed me down the stairs and is standing right behind me. Kit’s father glances at her over my shoulder. He takes a deep breath, lifts his chin, and removes his hat before his eyes flicker back to me.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“Who?” I hear myself ask. “Who is it?”
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved this story so much. I never really read contemporary romance because most of the books feel like they're from the same basic template, only with a few changes made to make it a little different from the others. I haven't read a lot of stories that deal with romances surrounding the military either - they just never appealed to me. I took a chance with this one - and I am SO glad that I did! This book is literally a roller coaster ride of emotions. It took me from smiling, laughing, and swooning over Kit and Jessa's relationship - to being upset that he had to go back, and then my heart breaking right along with Jessa's when she hears the news. By that time, I was seriously crying my eyes out. I don't normally get very emotional when reading - but this book had me going from one end of the spectrum to the very opposite and everywhere in between. It's a beautifully told story that's filled with love, heartbreak, grief, and real life issues - which made it all the more realistic and easy to identify with the characters. I loved watching Jessa and Kit as they're hidden feelings for each other blossom into something so much more. They both grow a lot in the book - individually and as a couple - and I enjoyed seeing it all happen in front of my eyes. I'm not going to go any further into the plot due to possible spoilers, so I'll finish by saying that this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances that I've read and I can't recommend it highly enough to fans of the genre, as well as readers who are looking for realistic fiction, romance, and a story that deals with the ups and downs of being in the military. Go and read this book now!!
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
“Come back to me. Promise you’ll come back to me.”
WOW WOW WOW!!! Just finished this book in one sitting at early hour in the morning. I am so emotional right now. I LOVE LOVE this book so much!!! I have a sample on my kindle for a few week and once I started I could not put it down. I mean just read this description of the book below you know it will be an emotional rollercoaster and let me tell you I am totally exhausted.
“In this heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, a young Marine and his best friend’s sister plunge into a forbidden love affair while he’s home on leave.
When a Marine Chaplain knocks on her door, Jessa’s heart breaks—someone she loves is dead. Killed in action, but is it Riley or Kit? Her brother or her boyfriend…
Three months earlier, Marine Kit Ryan finds himself back home on leave and dangerously drawn to his best friend Riley’s sister, Jessa—the one girl he can’t have. Exhausted from fighting his feelings, Kit finally gives in, and Jessa isn’t strong enough to resist diving headfirst into a passionate relationship.
But what was just supposed to be a summer romance develops into something far greater than either of them expected. Jessa’s finally found the man of her dreams and Kit’s finally discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.
When it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither one is ready to say goodbye. Jessa vows to wait for him and Kit promises to come home to her. No matter what.
But as Jessa stands waiting for the Marine Chaplain to break her heart, she can’t help but feel that Kit has broken his promise…
Riley or Kit? Kit or Riley? Her brother or her boyfriend? Who’s coming home to her?”
Mila Gray does not mess around. The tears and the heart break start right away at the Prologue when a Marine Chaplain knocks on Jessa’s door – there is only one reason for that – someone died. It either Jessa’s brother Riley or her boyfriend Kit. How do you stop reading after that right? Well, you can’t! I had to find out… I know right then that this is going to be a great book. I always download sample and if I get through the sample and still intrigue by it I know the rest will be awesome! And I was right!
The next half of the book goes into Jessa and Kit’s relationship. Jessa had a crush on her brother’s best friend since she was 14 years old but Kit never noticed her until he came home from his tour the first time. The two emailed and and flirted while he was deployed. Kit does not do girlfriend – he has plenty of woman but no attachment. He knows Jessa is off limit but when Kit came home and attended Jessa’s birthday he can no longer resist a now grown up Jessa. The two dived into a secret rendezvous knowing that Kit will be leaving again in 4 weeks. This part of the book was so lighthearted, cute, sexy, and funny.
“Well, you just make sure your type knows your brother is a marine with a big gun.”
Jessa is just a beautiful, sweet, innocent young lady. She goes to a private all girl school and the rest of the time she is in a choir or in a play. She hardly goes out which is basically impossible with an overprotective PTSD father. Kit – well he is older, little bit trouble as a teen but he is also loving, romantic and caring. The way he takes care of Jessa and court her ---- GEEZ! I can just SWOON over him all day. Not to mention the face off with Jessa’s dad showed that Kit is super protective and can stand up for his woman. Now that’s damn HOT to me!!!
“How do I get enough of her to last me a year”
Then the second half of the book goes into Riley and Kit deployment, the heartbreak goodbyes, the promises made. Then the story picked up from the prologue. That is when we get to find out who died and circumstances surrounding his death. How can Jessa and the Marine who survived as well as their family cope with it all. That’s when the water works were flowing for me. Obviously this is a romance story between Jessa and Kit but to me all the side plots and characters make the story complex and good. The story explores the relationship / fall out between Kit’s father and Jessa’s father (they were best friend at one point), it also touches on Riley and his girlfriend, the bro-mance between Riley and Kit, Jessa and her brother. Seems like there is a lot going right? But trust me, every single characters and their stories is important and essential to make this book beautiful.
“I’ll always hold you in my heart and think about you but this is the only way. Thank you for all the beautiful memories.”
“Come back to me” has everything I want - soul mate kind of love, deeply emotional story, second chance at love, friendship, family. The writing is gorgeous - everything flows from beginning to end, very funny dialogues, and also dialogues that make you cry nonstop. Sometimes when I read, I skim through the narrative – well not with this book – I hung on to every single words. I highly recommend this book you guys. If you are in a book funk at the moment pick up this one – it did it for me! It’s really really good!
“You are my light, Jessa. My north star.”
This is a standalone, HEA but bittersweet. Have lots of tissues ready!