California Betrayal, Katelyn Marie Peterson, Amore Moon Publishing, TWB Press, Romance

 
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Katelyn Marie Peterson

 
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24,450 words

178 page paperback

By Katelyn Marie Peterson

New York City transplant Shay Collins is apprehensive about returning to California for her brother’s wedding. She knows she’ll cross paths with her ex-husband, the drunk, and Jason, her secret high school flame and brother’s best man, and she’s excited to see her dad, her rock, but facing her manipulative mother again is her biggest fear. True to form, Mom’s got her nose in everyone’s business, but when her brother’s ex-girlfriend comes to town, Shay learns the depths of her mother’s evil doings, and from there, it only gets worse as more lies are revealed. The wedding is off, her drunk ex is hospitalized after crashing his car, and Jason, the sweet man that he is, can’t help her put out all the fires, but when her dad dies suddenly, one final betrayal comes to light, and that one is unforgivable. Through it all, Jason stands beside her, and the flames grow higher.  

California Betrayal is a fast-paced and moving story about family, betrayal, and the power of forgiveness.

Susan Breen, author of the Maggie Dove mystery series

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On the fifth floor of a swank New York City apartment, Shay Collins felt as if she were waking up from a dream and walking into a nightmare. She stared at her luggage by the door and worried over what fresh hell she would stumble into this weekend.

“Are you sure about this?” Caroline asked from behind her.

“I don't want to miss my brother's wedding.”

“You left California for a reason, to get away from your mother. You’re asking for trouble.”

“I'm only going to be there a few days.”

Caroline looked at Shay with concerned eyes. They had been friends since they were kids. Caroline knew her better than anyone and knew a trip back home, even for a weekend, would not end well for her. “Okay.” Caroline sighed. “Call me when you get there.”

“I'll be back Monday.” She looped the strap of her black leather purse over her shoulder. “Oh, and please make sure Chloe gets to bed by 8:00 tonight.”

“She’ll be fine, but aren’t you pissed that Sherry wants an adult-only wedding?”

“At least Chloe doesn’t have to miss pre-school.”

“True.”

Shay picked up her suitcase and duffle and lugged them downstairs to a waiting cab. Once seated, she wondered if she had made the right decision. Caroline was right about her; she’d left an overbearing and manipulative mother who’d always managed to make her feel like a massive failure. No reason to think Janine had changed. Her most recent bone to pick was the fact that Shay was a 29-year-old divorcee, another failure. She also dreaded seeing her ex-husband again. Matt Blanco lived one town over from her parents’ house in Renwick. She had divorced that alcoholic prick a year ago, before moving to New York with Chloe and Caroline. Like Shay, Caroline was also going through a bad breakup and needed a fresh start.

Both women were nervous to start over in such a big, complex city, but after a few months, they had figured it out, for the most part. Caroline found a job at a local clothing store where she became the assistant manager, and Shay landed a great job as a copy editor for a major publisher. She loved her job for many reasons, but among them was the fact that she got to work from home two days a week.

As she was thinking about her past and all the ways this trip could go wrong, the cab stopped in front of JFK airport. She decided to enjoy the journey and push her worries aside until she reached California.

Once she settled in on the plane, she received a text from Caroline: Have a safe flight and call me if you need me to come out there and straighten out your mom.

Shay smiled. Though she knew Caroline was joking, it was nice to know she had a friend she could always count on.

As Shay sat there waiting for the plane to take off, she thought about the day she and Caroline met.

It was her first day of kindergarten. Shay's father had just walked her into Mrs. Peterman's class, and like any child reaching a new milestone, Shay was nervous. All she wanted to do was follow her father out the door and never leave his side, but instead, she found a quiet corner in the back of the room and watched her classmates play with one another.

As Shay sat there, feeling the urge to cry and run home, a chubby little girl with curly brown hair and red-framed glasses walked up to her. She was carrying a coloring book and a box of crayons. “Hi, I'm Caroline. Do you want to color with me?” She pointed to the Disney princess on the cover.

“Okay.” Cinderella was Shay’s favorite princess.

That simple exchange was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship between Shay Collins and Caroline Fisher.

Her pleasant flashback was interrupted by a flight attendant’s voice on the intercom. “Folks, please stow your belongings in the overhead or under the seat in front of you.”

Once everyone was seated, the cabin door closed, and the jet was pushed back from the gate. While taxiing to the runway, the flight attendant demonstrated the safety equipment and pointed out the emergency exits. “Enjoy your flight to California.”

Shay took a deep breath. Here goes nothing.