(Toby & Claudia #2)
Suzanne McKenna Link
Publication date: June 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
How do you love someone whose past goes against everything you’ve ever known or trust in a future you’ve yet to believe in?
Back home in a town she once fled, headstrong Claudia Chiametti returns to the arms of the only guy ever to awaken her heart. Everything about Toby contradicts her family’s traditions and values, but she’s ready to take a chance on love.
Toby Faye is a new man, and the girl he’s long dreamed of is finally within his reach. With Claudia’s help, he’s put the past behind him. But one last secret hides in the dark corner of his past. The one that could undermine it all.
Can Claudia love him unconditionally … or will the truth cost Toby what he wants most?
Keeping Claudia is the emotional finale to the love story that began in Saving Toby, an unforgettable journey of a couple who discover the only way to love someone is with an open heart.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.
Full length, Contemporary Love Story. Recommended Reading Age 18+ Though part of a series, may be read as standalone.
At the house, I bolted up the driveway, planning on making a silent and quick escape inside, but at the steps, he grabbed my arm and tugged me round to face him.
I covered my face with my hands, not wanting him to see me cry, but I couldn’t stop the wail that warbled from my throat. The pitiful sound seemed to terrify him. He immediately stepped back and shoved his hands in his pockets. He had never backed away from me before, especially when I was upset.
“Christ, don’t cry.” A hiccup in his breathing told me he was not unaffected.
As fresh tears rolled down my face, my head throbbed painfully. I felt him pulling at my elbow. I resisted halfheartedly, only to be engulfed in his arms. My body automatically curved into his.
“I fucked this up. I shouldn’t have come,” he said. “I came over to help you. I wanted to say something nice, something encouraging, like you’ve always done for me. But I’m not in a good place right now. The other day, how I treated you … it was wrong, and what I said just now, damn it, I’m sorry. I’m being terrible to you when all I really want to do is to take you home and hold you and kiss you until you stop crying.”
I slipped my arms around his waist; under his jacket, his body heat radiated up my arms, and for the first time, I was able to inhale a full breath. Pressing my face into his chest, I willed him to shut up, to do what he wanted. I would go. I’d willingly make the same mistake over and over. Despite it all, I wouldn’t think twice.
“I’ve been infatuated with you for a long, long time.” He rested his chin on my head, exhaling a slow, tight breath. “Every time I held you, there was a piece of me that wondered how I got so lucky. I knew keeping you was a long shot. I’ve tried so hard to hold onto you, but somewhere in the back of my head, I guess I’ve always known I would lose you.”
“No.” I fisted the hem of his leather jacket and shook my head against his chest.
“I don’t blame you, Claudia. I understand how I look in your eyes. I’m not the prince in anyone’s fairytale.” Letting out a strained burst of air, he freed me. I struggled to keep hold of him, but he pushed my arms away. Through my tears, I saw the crushed yet defiant set of his face. “If you want me to leave you alone, you can’t come to the house or watch my band play anymore. I can’t see you, at all.”
“No!” His sharp edge jolted me. He dragged a hand through his hair. “Please, I need to do this my way.”
It took everything I had not to protest, but I couldn’t keep contradicting myself by holding onto him.
“I understand.” I stood up straighter and wiped my face, trying to put on a good show. I left him standing there and went into the house. From inside, I leaned my forehead against the glass storm door, an unbearable, crushing weight on my heart, as I watched Toby put Bernie in the Jeep and drive away.
Letting him walk away felt akin to carving my heart out of my chest, but the truth was the combination of Toby Faye and Claudia Chiametti was never going to be an easy fit. A future together meant forever compromising, bending and battling.
I had to let him go because love shouldn’t be this hard.
The shame of it all was that, when we worked at it, it had been beautiful. More than I had ever expected.
Suzanne McKenna Link works for a family of newspapers that cover events in and around the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She lives in the town of Sayville with her husband and two children.
SAVING TOBY is her debut novel. The literary love story follows the moving journey of a damaged young man and his love for a girl who might just save him. An avid interest in psychology has Suzanne digging deep into the reasons for her characters’ behaviors. The native Long Islander is fascinated by the how and why of people’s actions. As a result, her characters come to life on the pages.