In Moonlight and Memories trilogy
By Julie Ann Walker
Release Date: July 1, 2019
From NYT and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker comes an epic tale of sacrifice, friendship, and the awe-inspiring power of love.
Maggie: Ten years ago, Cash Armstrong stole my heart. Then he promptly joined the army—dragging my best friend with him—and left me crying on the front porch in a red sequined prom dress. Now he's back. They're both back. Cash, the one who still has my heart. And Luc, the one who saved my life.
Cash: How do you know if you’re at the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? That's what I've been trying to figure out since a traumatic brain injury made me "unfit to serve." I'm back in New Orleans, and picking up the shattered pieces of my past means I must confront where my life's journey began... and where it all might end.
Luc: Long ago, Maggie May was mine. Not mine in the way you might think. She was mine because she was my only friend. Then Cash came along and we became brothers by something stronger than blood. We became brothers by choice. When tragedy struck, I was forced to make a decision that changed all our lives. I thought, after ten years, it was safe to come back home. I was wrong...
Sneak Peek #3 for In Moonlight and Memories
I tug on his ear. It's a gesture that, once upon a time, was as normal as breathing.
He tilts his face into my palm, closing his eyes and blowing out a windy breath. His beard stubble is scratchy against my skin.
Is it weird to be touching him with such familiarity? We may not be strangers, but neither are we those same two lonely kids from high school. I jerk my hand away.
To hide the speed of my retreat, I unpin my pillbox hat, give my scalp a good scratch, and quickly change topics. "On a happier note, I have this friend—an acquaintance really—who was at the second line tonight. Her name's Lauren. I was going to introduce you, but then, you know..." I make a rolling motion with my hand. "Cash happened. Anyway, she teaches my spin class and sometimes comes into the bar for a drink. She's sweet and funny, and she sure had eyes for you. Want me to set something up?"
His lips twist into an impudent grin that would've seemed alien on the face of the boy I knew. On his man's face? It looks right at home. "Sweet and funny usually means bad butt and weird boobs," he says.
I laugh and punch his arm. "No, it doesn't, you big Neanderthal! Sweet and funny means sweet and funny. And did you miss the part where I said she teaches my spin class? I think that pretty much guarantees a good butt, at the very least."
My brow pinches. "Why not?"
He looks out at the street, his expression unreadable. "I'm not in the market for romance."
"Could've fooled me." I grunt. "Probably could've fooled that blonde the other night too."
"That was nothing. Just some fun and done."
"Oh, I get it." I purse my lips. "And if I set you up with someone I know, it'll obligate you to do more than have some fun and then be done?"
Planting my elbow on my knee, I cup my chin in my hand and study his profile. "Enjoying the bachelor life, are you?"
He shrugs. "It's suited me so far."
"Funny. I always pegged you for the marrying kind. I thought you'd have a ring on your finger and a whole passel of kids hanging off your arms by now. Did I read you wrong? Or have you changed that much?"
He eyes me for a moment, then asks, "Would you believe me if I told you it was neither?"
"Would that be the truth?"
He makes a face of distaste. "The military is hell on relationships. I watched most of the guys in my unit get married, get wronged, or do the wronging themselves, and then get divorced. When and if I ever tie the knot, I aim to do it only once. And to make sure that happens, I'm thinking I oughta be the last thing my wife sees before going to sleep at night and the first thing she opens her eyes to each morning." Before I have time to digest that, he hitches his chin toward my throat. I realize I'm working my locket in my hand when he says, "You're still wearing it."
Looking down at the silver filigree heart, I murmur, "I remember the day you gave it to me. It was that first summer after we met, the third anniversary of my parents' deaths."
He nods. "I thought Miss Bea was gonna bar me at the door when I came to drop it off."
"I'd been crying all morning, and she doesn't believe in not putting your best face forward when it comes to company. But I jumped out of bed the minute I heard Smurf coming up the street."
"You were still in your pajamas when you came downstairs. She was shocked to her core."
"She was even more shocked when I sat with you on the porch swing without first putting on some clothes. 'Magnolia May'"—I do my best impression of her—"'the neighbors will think you were born in a barn!'"
Switching back to my own voice, I ask, "How many houses full of furniture did you help move that summer so you could afford this?" I hold up the locket, letting it catch the light of the moon.
He puts an arm around my shoulders. The clean, woodsy scent of his aftershave tickles my nose. "Every drop of sweat was worth it. Your expression when you opened that locket was priceless."
I open it now to see the faces of my parents staring up at me. The old pain is there, ever present, but it's softer around the edges. Tempered by the years I've carried them close to my heart. Thanks to Luc.
"I never knew how you got your hands on photos of them." I softly trace the graceful line of my mother's cheek with a fingertip.
"I went to the newspaper. They had pictures of the hurricane victims, and when I told 'em what I wanted to do, they let me make copies."
I shake my head in wonder. "You've always been a better friend to me than I've ever been to you."
His vehemence startles a laugh from me. "It's true!"
"The hell it is. I was a miserable outcast at Braxton Academy. Until you came along, I thought about dropping out every day. You're the only reason I got that damned diploma."
And I'd been considering doing a lot worse than dropping out before he showed up in my life. A lot worse.
A gentle breeze rustles the leaves of the sweet gum tree on the corner. Bourbon Street's bawdy laughter and loud music are nothing but a soft din here, but the familiar sound of cheer and happiness makes me realize how far I've come in the years since Luc and Cash left. As I look up at the sky, a black blanket studded with diamonds, I try to imagine what the next ten years will bring.
He sees the direction of my gaze and murmurs, "The night sky always reminds me of the past."
"That's weird. I was thinking about my future."
He's doesn't say anything to that, simply continues to stare at the sky. Reflected starlight glitters in his eyes.
"So why does it make you think about the past?" I prompt.
"'Cause it is the past. Take the Little Dipper." He traces the stars that make up Ursa Minor. I still remember the names of the constellations thanks to my fifth-grade teacher who taught us a song about them to the tune of a Kelly Clarkson hit. "See the big, bright star at the end of the handle?"
He looks at me, one eyebrow raised.
"Don't look so impressed. There are more than keg prices and liquor margins stored up here." I tap my noggin.
"Never doubted it for a minute," he assures me. Then, "Polaris is 434 light-years away."
"Now, that I didn't know," I admit.
"Which means the light we're seeing now is 434 years old. For all we know, Polaris has gone supernova. But we can't see it 'cause we're not looking at Polaris's present. We're looking at its past."
I study the star in question, watching it pulse and twinkle. A snapshot of time gone by. Just like Cash and Luc.
"It makes me feel small," he admits.
"You're many things, Luc. But small isn't one of them."
"What I mean is, we all think of ourselves as the heroes and heroines of our own epic tales. When instead, we're simply bit players in the bigger story of the universe."
He's always been a philosopher at heart. Pondering the big questions. Thinking the big thoughts.
"I guess that puts our paltry problems in perspective, doesn't it?" I say, realizing the alliteration only once it's out of my mouth. "Ha! Say that ten times fast. Paltry problems in perspective."
He changes the subject so quickly I'm caught off guard. "What time d'ya have to be at the bar tomorrow?"
I cut him a glance, wondering if we were getting too close to a truth he's not ready to share. "Eight," I tell him. "I have to meet my beer distributor. He's dropping off the kegs for the week."
He pulls a cell phone from the breast pocket of his sports coat and checks the time. I'm surprised to see it's going on midnight. "I'll walk you home," he says.
I turn to stare through the open door at the lump on the mattress that is Cash. "But Cash—" Before I get out another word, a soft snore drifts our way.
"He's fine," Luc insists. "But I'll come back and spend the night anyway. Just to make sure."
I shake my head. The silver locket has found its way into my fist again. "Neither of us ever deserved you, Luc."
A little about Julie…
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Julie grew up in a house full of women – she has three older sisters. As you can imagine, there was no lack of drama… or romance. Her mother enrolled her in a book club as soon as she began to read and it was the small spark that ignited her voracious appetite for the written word.
Because of Julie’s early immersion in literature, she found writing came quite naturally. In high school, she won multiple writing contests and was the proud senior editor of The Tiger’s Tale – her school newspaper.
During her college years, however, she longed for a challenge. “Reading and writing felt like second nature to me, so I looked for a way to flex my mental muscles,” she recalls. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree, Julie began teaching advanced high school mathematics.
“I loved working with the students and facing the challenges of the classroom, but I longed for the occasional snow day when I could race to the local book store, buy two or three new novels, and curl up in front of the fire to read.”
It wasn’t until a fortuitous move to Chicago that Julie once more returned to her first passion.
Now Julie loves to travel the world looking for views to compete with her deadlines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys camping, hiking, cycling, cooking, petting every dog that walks by her, and… reading, of course!
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