Bringing Home the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


First and foremost, to God, for each and every day I wake up breathing. Essentially, that’s what this book ended up being about—the people in life who make it worth getting up and living. For those of us who have lost loved ones, it’s about learning to live without them now that we’ve been left behind. And like Evan and Charlie do in this book, learning to love those we lost in a new way: from afar.

Thank you to the usual suspects: family and friends who make my life worth living.

Beta readers Lauren Layne, Charissa Weaks, and Jennifer Hill, thank you for your feedback. To my Facebook friends who answer my questions about kids when I want to make sure little Lyon Downey rings true.

Nicole Resciniti, my agent and constant supporter—how you deal with my flailing and stay sane is a remarkable feat.

Lauren Plude, this book would not be what it is without you. You pulled deeper meaning and theme out of places I never would have thought to. Thank you.

Shannon Richard, who read this first—you loved Evan before anyone else did. And for that, he and I are very grateful.

Everyone at Forever and Grand Central Publishing responsible for the outside of this book. The cover is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you to the cover model, and the artists who painstakingly put Evan’s tattoos in exactly the right places.

Thank you to my publicist, Julie Paulauski—you rock! And to Leah Hultenschmidt, for your support and excitement over this series.

Fellow writers Jeannie Moon, Megan Mulry, Maisey Yates, Jennifer Probst, Diane Alberts, Katee Robert, Teri Anne Stanley, Melissa Landers, Jennifer Stark, Jules Bennett, Lexi Ryan, Rachel Van Dyken, Rachel Lacey, Erin Kern, and Audra North. What would I do without you???

Thank you to Lori Foster for the cover quote, and for welcoming me into your home and to the group book signings… being new is like being a lost lamb, but you made sure I fit right in.

Readers, you are the butter on my bread. The vegetarian ham with my eggs. The yin to my yang. Thanks for reading my books, loving them, and asking for more. I’d open a vein for you guys. Hopefully, you find proof this is true in the pages of this book.

~Jess





CHAPTER ONE




He’d heard the stress of moving was like dealing with death, but since Evan Downey had dealt with a lot of death, it was with a fair amount of authority he called bullshit.

There wasn’t anything particularly fun about packing, selling, and leaving behind the house. He and his wife, Rae, had purchased the place together when they first got married—the only home their son had ever known.

The house had been a place of love and promise, but now painful memories poisoned the good ones. He would miss the door frame where he and Rae had scribbled Lyon’s height each and every year. Their walk-in closet where Evan had laid Rae down and made love to her the day they moved in.

What he wouldn’t miss was the hallway where she’d staggered, hand on her chest, and collapsed, never regaining consciousness despite his and the 911 operator’s attempts to keep her heart pumping until the paramedics arrived.

Moving didn’t compare to the living nightmare of losing someone he’d expected to be around when he was old and gray.

At the very least until their son entered elementary school.

As he watched the house dwindle in the side mirror of the family SUV, he calculated he should be rounding the acceptance stage of grief right about now.

About damn time.

“Bye, house,” his son Lyon, age seven going on seventeen, announced from beside him. Gone was the Superman action figure he’d clung to last summer. Now his sidekick was his iPad. He had one earbud stuck in his ear and one dangled onto his chest, as per their agreement that Lyon not completely shut him out. Though the music wasn’t loud enough for him to hear—another of their agreements—Evan knew it was tuned to classic rock.

Definitely his kid, he thought with a smile.

With 1417 East Level Road behind them, he turned his attention to the city that lay ahead; the city he’d called home since he’d married one beautiful, sassy woman named Rae, the curvy black girl who’d busted his balls about nearly everything since they were teenagers.

God, he missed her.

She’d built a life alongside him, settling into her nursing career while he set up his tattoo shop.

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