Thursday, January 24, 2013

When We Collide by A.L. Jackson Review


From the bestselling author of Pulled and Take This Regret comes a gripping new tale of loss and love.

William has spent six years running from his past and the last eight months trying to rid his mind of the dreams that increasingly haunt his nights. Trapped in a world of false ambitions and feigned affections, William knows he’s reached a breaking point and something’s going to give.

Maggie had lived her entire life without hope until one man showed her what it meant to be loved. He’d been her light in a lifetime of darkness. Six years ago, that darkness stole him away. Without him, she’s surrendered herself to an existence she doesn’t know how to escape.

When the family William left behind is struck by tragedy, he is called back to the one place he’s sworn to never return to again.

In a moment that will change his life forever, William comes face to face with the girl who, with one look, captured his heart. He is unable to ignore the buried desires and the hope for the future they’d once believed they’d have.

Now William is ready to fight to take back what had been stolen from him six years before.
But he never imagined what that fight might cost him.

A.L. Jackson gives you an intimate look into the lives of a family bound by an unseen connection in this new contemporary romance.

Published November 2nd 2012 by Sapphire Star Publishing 


 I was super intrigued to read this book!  It looked amazing!  I only made it a third of the way through the book before I was a sobbing mess:(  The story was so vivid and gut wrenching that I have no doubt it would have been nothing short of spectacular.  I couldn't bear to shed anymore tears though and you'll have to just go get it for yourselves.  If you are a fan of A.L. Jackson, this is one surely not to miss!

When We Collide ~ 

First Chapter Preview 

Chapter One
Laughter floated over the vacant playground, an echo, a call. William pushed forward, drawn into the dusky haze. Wind whipped at his feet, stirred up the fallen leaves on the dead winter floor. Each step of his boots was leaden with a burden that simmered somewhere in the periphery of his understanding.

“Bet you can’t find me.” The innocent voice was distant as it fell upon William’s ears, filled with mirth at the game the child played.

Those words rushed as fear through William’s veins.

William’s footsteps pounded in his ears as he followed the trail of the soft voice that lingered on the wind, past the empty swings and sandbox and into the forest at the back of the lot. Among the knotty, sinewy trees, their boughs twisted and twined, William paused to listen.

A branch snapped off to his right—another peal of laughter as the child dashed giggling from behind one tree to another more than a hundred yards away.

“Wait,” William called, stretching his hand out in the child’s direction. Please.

For a moment, the small boy peeked out from behind a large tree trunk and stared back at William with huge brown eyes.

William’s heart lurched with the boy’s face—a picture of himself—suddenly consumed with the need to protect and shelter.

The child giggled again, his feet too agile as he took off, his dark blond hair like a flare striking in the moonlight, before he disappeared deeper into the darkness.

Panting, William chased the boy, begging him to stop while he stumbled over exposed roots and overgrown earth that seemed almost alive as it worked to hold him back.

The child’s laughter drifted along the breeze, brushed across William’s face, beckoned him to a place he did not know.

William struggled to find him, to close the distance, but the gap only grew. The laughter shifted and faded. The boy’s sudden fear hit William like a knife to the chest. Somewhere in the deepest recesses, far beyond William’s reach, he heard the child scream.
I shot straight up in bed, gasping and disoriented. Faint slivers of silver light spiked through the room, stealing in through the slats of the window shutters. Gripping my head between my hands, I fought to right myself, to slow my thundering heart, and to stop the tremors rolling through my body.


I shook my head and roughed a hand over my face.

My gaze darted around the massive room. In the dim light, my eyes adjusted. I focused in on the nightstand next to my bed. My black leather wallet and heavy silver watch sat next to the clock that glowed four forty-seven. I glimpsed the entrance to the en suite bathroom off to my right and the short chest of drawers with the tall mirror across the far end of the room.

Everything familiar—everything I understood.

I released a weighty breath and drew in a cleansing one, my bare chest palpitating with one last tremor.

It was just a dream, I told myself as I ran a hand through my hair.

Just the same, fucked up nightmare that had been haunting me for months. Always the same, chasing myself as a boy through the darkened forest, waking when I screamed.

Glancing to the left, I looked to where Kristina slept soundly on her stomach, facing the opposite direction. The duvet was pulled up to just beneath her narrow waist, her blond hair cascading down her pillow and dipping onto the mattress. The pale skin of her arms and back seemed a severe contrast to the black sheets she lay on. Her body rose and fell with each even breath, unaffected and unaware of my distress.

It was hardly a surprise, not that I desired her comfort anyway.

We were little more than strangers sleeping in the same bed for the last six years. Marriage had never been mentioned. Neither of us pretended that was what this relationship was about.

I’d been in love once. It was that stupid kind of love that had kept me awake at night, wanting more. But she’d never really even been mine. I’d been young enough—foolish enough—to hope what we felt for each other could overcome her past, but not na├»ve enough to really believe it would ever work out.

Knowing that didn’t mean losing her hadn’t torn me apart. Even if she didn’t choose me, I’d been desperate to save her from that path. But some things had been so deeply embedded in her that I doubted she’d really ever had a chance of breaking free of them. It was so ingrained she believed it was the only way to live.

I rolled onto my other side and squeezed my eyes shut as I attempted to force the memory of her face from my mind, but it was just as vivid as the day she’d forced me out of her life.

She’d touched me deeper than anyone ever had—deeper than I’d believed anyone could.

Pressing my face into my pillow, I allowed a glimmer of her presence to invade. That innocent and sweet. How she’d look at me with those warm brown eyes. The way her timid, trusting hands felt as they lightly skimmed over my skin. Even the memory stole my breath.

Sometimes I wished I could erase the mark she’d left on me, that I could finally be free of this ache. Another part of me held onto it because it was the only thing she’d left me with. The only thing I had to prove that what we’d shared had been real.

I’d wanted everything with her, but most of all, I wanted her to be happy. Safe.

I rolled onto my back and stared at the shadows playing across the ceiling, before I glanced again at Kristina. How different I’d pictured my life. Instead of lying here virtually alone next to Kristina, I should have been wrapped up in her, her auburn hair tickling my chin as she stirred in her sleep and nuzzled her face in my chest. I should have awoken to the welcome in her eyes, to someone who cared about me as much as I cared about her.

I’d accepted a long time ago that life I wanted would never be, but the isolation of the night always seemed to bring it all back, and it’d only gotten worse since I started having the nightmares six months ago.

Sitting up, I rubbed the back of my neck and tried to chase away the tension that had gathered in the muscles there, to shake off the anxiety that clung like decay. Climbing from bed, I was careful not to disturb Kristina. I knew from experience I had no chance of falling back to sleep now. In the bathroom, I flipped on the light switch and squinted in the brightness, seeing the strain from the recurring dream evidenced on my face in the mirror.

Sighing, I turned the faucet full blast and splashed cold water on my face.

This was getting really old.
Kristina stood in the opulent kitchen, stirring a cup of coffee while thumbing through a stack of paperwork on the counter. She wore her typical slacks, blouse, and heels, the perfect accessories for her perfect body, not one strand of her shiny, sleek hair in disarray.

She barely glanced in my direction when I entered through the archway.

“Meet me after work at Nicoll’s?” she said. Her attention remained on the papers in front of her. Even though it was phrased that way, I knew it wasn’t really a question.

My acquiescence was expected.

All of my success was in her hands, and she never let me forget it. As if she was giving me something I actually wanted. It made me want to laugh in her face. Did she really have no clue how I kept everything afloat?

“I’ll be there,” I muttered, going for my fourth cup of coffee of the morning, hoping beyond hope this would be the one that would finally counter the fatigue weighing down my mind and body.

Kristina’s gaze fell on me, this time her eyes studying. “You look like shit, William.” Her heels clicked against the slate tiles as she took the three steps needed to bring her to my side. Reaching out a hand, she turned me toward her, straightened the collar of my white button up, adjusted my tie, and stroked back the errant pieces of messy dark blond hair that had been purposefully cut that way. “What’s going on with you lately?”

I shrugged, making a conscious effort to keep myself from flinching at her touch. “I’m fine. I just haven’t been sleeping well.”

She pursed her lips, one side drawn up higher than the other, before she turned away. Her brief moment of concern vanished just as quickly as it had surfaced.

Grabbing my briefcase, I headed for the garage. I backed my black luxury SUV out onto the narrow, winding road overlooking Los Angeles. Smog squatted heavily on the horizon, the early morning light a misty gray. The traffic-clogged freeway was no surprise. My car came to a standstill almost the moment I merged on I-10 on the way to my office downtown.

Feeling the effects of the fatigue, I slumped in the seat and rested against the headrest. My eyes dropped closed.

When all I saw were those same brown eyes from my dream staring back at me, my eyelids flew open.

What the hell is wrong with me? I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes. I’d always prided myself on my self-control, my tenacity, my ability to get the job done. Now I felt as if my sanity was hanging by a quickly unraveling string.

Where this unease was coming from, I wasn’t really sure. I guessed the dreams were just an extension of my dissatisfaction with life—a relationship I didn’t want to be in and a job that was so stressful I could barely think straight at the end of the day. I’d lost myself somewhere along the way, and maybe my subconscious was telling me it was time I found that person again, because I sure as hell wasn’t happy with who I’d become.

In the beginning, I’d embraced the escape I found in L.A., but it would never be home. It was only that—an escape.

My whole life growing up, I’d dreamed of getting out of Mississippi, until I left for college and slowly realized that small town was the only place I wanted to be. My older brother, Blake, had always teased me of being a momma’s boy, an accusation that had caused us more than a few fistfights out in our backyard when we were kids. Growing up, I’d always strived to be tough, just like Blake, who was the star football player, the guy all the girls wanted. But I’d been the tall, gangly one—the scrawny little brother who’d end up with a fat, bloody lip after Blake put me back in my place when I tried to stand up to him. Proving Blake’s point, I’d always run straight to our mom, who would tend to my bloody lip with an ice pack and a gentle hand through my hair.

Funny how times changed.

Now Blake had two little girls and a devoted wife, a quiet spirit and a soft voice, and I was no longer the awkward little boy. In the world I worked in, I slit throats before someone else could slit mine. I never thought twice about a quick stab to the back to get me one step closer to wherever Kristina wanted me to go.

Mom called us a power couple with no small amount of distaste, unable to hide her displeasure with the callused person I’d become.

Apparently something inside me didn’t like who I’d become either.

Forty minutes later, I pulled into the underground garage. I parked in the slot plated with my name, drew in a deep breath, and fixed my face with an expression to match the persona that each day seemed to become harder and harder to slip into.

The doorman stood aside with a succinct nod. “Good morning, Mr. Marsch.”

I dipped my head brusquely in a clipped show of power and strode to the elevator.
Nicholl’s was dimly lit and banked with men in designer suits. They were overshadowed by executive women with handbags that probably cost more than my first car. The restaurant catered to the affluent. Not the famous, but the educated who had clawed their way to the top, others who’d been born into it and inherited the seat, and, no doubt, a few who had slept their way in.

Kristina sat at a round, high table in a corner of the lounge, chatting with the two men facing her. She raised her hand in greeting when saw me from across the room, an artificial smile on her face.

I made my way over, and forced myself to kiss her on her proffered jaw.

“William, so good of you to make it.” Her irritation was barely constrained.

I was five minutes late.

“Sorry,” I apologized as I smoothed my tie against my chest and tucked myself onto the empty barstool beside her.

She didn’t seem to get I was late because cleaning up her Daddy’s messes was a never-ending job. How I’d ever fallen into the trap of working with the two of them, I’d never know.

She introduced me to our potential clients, her easy banter putting them at ease. From the way they looked at her, I could see she’d already cinched this account. Even though I’d pull out my laptop and show them how we’d make their investment grow, and Kristina would set out to convince them of the reasons why joining her father’s firm would benefit them, it would all be completely unnecessary.

Kristina had caught me when I’d been an intern during my last year of college. I‘d allowed her to draw something out in me then that I’d never known I possessed, something I wished now she’d never uncovered. Older by five years, she was already preparing to take her place at the top of her father’s company and promised to take me along with her. In the beginning, it seemed like a great arrangement. It served as a perfect distraction from my past, a place where I could pretend I was someone I was not. And I doubted there were many men who’d object to sleeping with a woman that looked like Kristina night after night, but that kind of superficial attraction could only last for so long.

Several drinks later, the two men were signing on the dotted line.

No surprise.

Kristina was pleased and squeezed my thigh under the table. We parted from the men with the typical pleasantries of assured success. Following her home, I parked in the spot next to her red Porsche. She was all coy smiles and sex when she stepped from her car. A slow sense of dread settled in the pit of my stomach.
I really had begun to hate this life.
Kristina slept curled up on her side, once again facing away from me. Her blond hair gleamed in the moonlight that streamed in through the window. Mimicking her pose, I allowed my eyes to trace over her bare skin, down her back where it sloped and met with her hip—and tried to feel something—something other than disdain.

A bitter taste soured in my mouth when I realized there was nothing.

Exhausted, I sank further into the mattress, further into my pillow, and drifted.
Laughter was his call, lost somewhere deep in the forest. The wind came fierce, blew across William’s face, stung as he lumbered through the desolate play yard.

William tripped into the jumbled wood.

A flash of blond hair.

“Bet you can’t find me.” The boy giggled and ran.

Fear surged and twisted in William’s gut, pushed him forward.

“Wait,” William called, stretching his hand out in the child’s direction. Please.

He peeked out from behind a tree, the boy with William’s face.

The child was on the move again, hiding, laughing, stirring the unknown anxiety into a frenzy that beat like a drum against William’s chest.

Please, wait.

The laughter dimmed and waned. The boy’s sudden fear hit William like a knife to the chest. Somewhere in the deepest recesses, far beyond his reach, William heard him scream.
I jerked awake. Gulping for air, I clutched my head and tried to press the dream from my thoughts, but it dug its fingers deep, bored beneath my skin as the seeds of fear I’d felt for months firmly took root.

About the Author:

A.L. Jackson is the bestselling contemporary romance author of Pulled, Take This Regret, and When We Collide. She lives in Southern Arizona where she's surrounded by her amazing family and friends.



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