Series: Sign of Love
Published by Self-Published on 02/19/2017
There were two brothers—identical twins—and though I loved them both, my soul belonged to only one.
Annalia Del Valle has loved Preston Sawyer all her life. The daughter of an impoverished migrant farmworker, she grew up as an outcast in what was no more than a tiny, cooped up shack in California’s Central Valley. But her heart found freedom in the land, in the wide-open spaces of Sawyer Farm, and in the boys who were her only friends.
Preston has yearned for Annalia since he was a boy. But a sense of honor kept him from pursuing her until he’s unable to hold back any longer and their worlds—and bodies—collide one hot summer night. A night that sets off a chain of events that will alter their lives forever.
Now Annalia is back in town after disappearing without a trace for six long months. Determined to reclaim her heart, her life, and the baby she left behind—the son who was created in a moment of lust and love and pent-up yearning.
Preston has survived grief, a ravaging drought, and the despair of heartache, but he’s not sure he can survive Annalia again. And he might be unwilling to try. Will pride and bitterness keep him from the one thing he’s always longed for?
How do you heal what is irreparably broken? How do you forgive that which is unforgivable? How do you discover that real honor comes not from circumstance, but from the place deep in our hearts where truth resides? And how do you move beyond the wounds of the past to discover that some loves are as solid as the ground beneath your feet, and as enduring as the earth itself?
THIS IS A STAND-ALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY GEMINI. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
Mia Sheridan is an author I have come to appreciate so much. Her emotionally driven stories are among some of my all time favorites. I love the powerful messages, the relatable characters and sweeping romance found among the pages. I am so excited to say that her latest, Preston’s Honor, has found its way onto my all time favorites shelf.
Many of the highlights include:
- Tender and romantic highs
- Heartbreaking lows
- Poetic, affective prose complemented by an emotive storyline that is well balanced and engaging
- Flawed yet determined protagonists that show eagerness in character and emotional growth
- Purposeful and delightful cast of secondary characters
- Rife with talking points such as spirituality, depression, self-worth, and morality
- Rich and vivid setting
- Relatable issues of childhood first love and new adult love depicted honestly
Should I continue? You probably get the idea, but to best sum it up I would describe Preston’s Honor as an emotionally full romance. If you don’t know by now they are the ones I love the most. I loved it and absolutely recommend.
We said goodbye and began the short walk back to our farm. I got lost in my own thoughts and didn’t notice that Cole was quieter than usual until he stopped, turning toward me, one hand on the towel slung over his shoulder. “I think I’m going to ask Lia out.”
For a minute the words didn’t make sense and then a fierce blast of jealousy punched at my guts. “What?”
“Oh come on, you haven’t noticed how gorgeous she is?”
“Of course I have. But Lia’s always been gorgeous.”
He squinted up at the sun. “Yeah, but she was a kid. Now . . .”
“She’s only fourteen.”
“Old enough for what?” My voice sounded like a cold hiss, even in my own head. I scratched my bare stomach, feigning nonchalance.
Cole’s smile was slow and knowing. “Old enough to kiss.”
“Lia’s never been kissed before.”
“How do you know?”
“I just . . . fucking do,” I sputtered. Or I figured. Who would she be kissing? I suddenly felt mildly panicked as if I hadn’t been paying enough attention and someone had wormed his way past me and gotten to my Lia. My Lia? Maybe I’d taken it for granted that she’d just always be there, and all I needed to do was wait for her to grow up a little bit.
“Are you interested in Lia, Pres?” he asked casually.
“Yeah. But she’s too young now. I just . . .” I was waiting for her. I’ve always been waiting for her. I ran my hand through my hair. I wasn’t just . . . interested, didn’t just think she was pretty. It was more than that. I didn’t know how to voice my feelings for Lia, even to my brother. The emotions inside me felt too big to put into words.
“We’re going to college next year,” Cole said. “Time is of the essence.” He gave me an easy grin, the one the girls apparently lost their minds over.
Someday, I’m going to leave here . . .
Only, Cole was right. We were the ones who were going away. But I hadn’t decided on the location—how near or far—and it’d always just been a given that I’d be back. I’d be back for Lia. Oh God, I’d stupidly assumed I had time . . . that waiting was the right thing to do. Maybe I’d been wrong. No, I’d definitely been wrong.
“But, what about Shayna?” I asked, the mild panic I’d felt a few moments ago, blooming inside me.
Cole shrugged. “There’s nothing serious between us. We’re only having some fun.”
“Is that what Lia would be to you? Fun?”
“You know she means more to me than that.”
Yeah. Yeah, I did and that’s what made this unexpected turn of events so incredibly awful. “I’d wait for the timing to be right,” he added. Right timing? No timing was right for him to move in on Lia. I stared at him for a moment, a red cloud filling my brain.
“Hey, if you’re interested, too, let’s race for her,” Cole suggested.
“Race for her?”
“Yeah, a foot race like we used to have when we were in track. Winner earns first dibs on Lia.”
“She’s not a prize to be won, Cole. Why don’t we both ask her out and let her choose.”
“How can she choose? She cares about us both, and we’re identical twins for Christ’s sake. Let’s make it easy for her.”
I stared at him, noting the pleased look in his eye, the happy-go-lucky expression on his face, the easy way he carried himself. We were identical twins, but we were about as different as two people could be. And that might be the problem. If Lia had to choose between us, wouldn’t she choose Cole? I paused, a sick feeling of certainty squeezing my guts. Of course she would. Oh fuck, of course she would. They had so much in common. Cole was funny and outgoing and made everyone laugh. People just naturally flocked to Cole. They always had. God, I should be happy he’d left it to a foot race. I could win in a foot race. If Cole had his sights on Lia, this might be my only chance.
He nodded. “Same track as usual?”
I nodded back. When we’d been younger, our dad had taken us out in his pickup truck and measured the distance on two different back roads with a thick growth of forest in the middle, that met in the same spot, each ending at the mailbox at the end of our road. They were the same distance. Cole and I would each take one, not knowing the other’s pace until we came around the bend and spotted the mailbox. It had taught us not to use the other runners’ paces to determine our own, to simply picture the finish line and get there as quickly as we possibly could. We’d been really good and had beaten all kinds of records in middle school. But we’d moved on to other sports when we started high school and hadn’t run this route or any other for a couple of years.
“Brother oath,” Cole said, spitting in his palm and holding it out to me. I looked down at his outstretched hand. We hadn’t done this for years either. I supposed it spoke to the importance of the match we were about to enter into. Could I do this, though? Bet on the only chance I might have to make Lia mine? I hesitated, but when Cole thrust his hand closer, I spat in mine and gripped his, the wetness of our mixed saliva creating what we’d deemed an unbreakable bond.
When we were seven, Cole and I had gotten into an argument about something and when our dad broke it up, we’d both turned away, each of us holding onto our personal grudge. Our dad had made us turn back to each other and that’s when he’d told us about the brother oath. We’d shook, promising to drop the grievance. “All right then,” our dad had said, “you’ve promised to let it go, and so you will. A man is only as good as his word.” He’d repeated it often over the years.
A man is only as good as his word.
“Brother oath,” I repeated. He nodded once. “If I win, you step away from her. If you win, I’ll step back. Honor between brothers.”
I pressed my lips together but nodded. Brother oath. Honor between brothers. And we’d never broken either.
A man is only as good as his word.
We dropped our towels and took a minute to stretch, eyeing each other like two gladiators about to go into the ring. We were each wearing water shoes, which weren’t ideal for running, but at least we were on even footing, literally.
We lined up, facing opposite directions, the dirt road I was going to run stretched out in front of me. This was stupid. This wasn’t right. I turned to my brother to call it—
“On your mark, get set, go!”
Despite my last-minute reservations, the words jolted me into action, and we both took off, shooting apart, running toward our goal. My legs pumped and my lungs ached, but I ran my heart out.
I pushed myself as far as I could possibly go without breaking, not caring that I was shaking with effort as I rounded the bend. I ran for Lia. I ran as if I were running straight into battle for her. I’d never run so hard in all my life. And yet as I came around the corner, I let out a sharp cry of pain and defeat, the bitter blow of disappointment knocking what little wind I had left completely out of me.
Cole was just arriving at the mailboxes. He’d beaten me by twenty-five yards. How the hell had he done it? I was obviously far more out of shape than I’d thought. Fuck!
I came to a walk, breathing harshly, my lungs still aching from my effort, a sharp pang in my side where a nasty stitch had started. Cole was breathing just as hard, but he leaned back against the post, shooting me a smug smile.
“Don’t gloat, asshole,” I said, bending forward and resting my hands on my knees in an attempt to slow my breathing. I’d lost her before I’d even had her, and he had the gall to rub it in.
He laughed, slapping me on my bare back. “I guess she was just meant to be mine,” Cole said. I wanted to own those words. I guess she was just meant to be mine.
I tried to pretend it didn’t hurt as badly as it did that I’d just lost Lia. In a fucking foot race.