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Lorana Hoopes

When Hearts Collide

When Hearts Collide

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He's secretly in love with her, but she's seeing someone else.

 

Amanda Adams was too busy to date in high school, so when she meets Caleb West, she is flattered that someone like him could like her. She doesn't know that Caleb has a checkered past.

Jared Masterson has long suspected Caleb had something to do with his girlfriend, Nikki's disappearance the previous year, but he's never been able to prove it. When he finds out Amanda is dating Caleb, his heart drops. Not only can't he be with her, but now he has to try and keep history from repeating itself.

This book is  a standalone book in the Heartbeats series. A must read for mothers and daughters attending college. Don't miss getting your copy today. *Includes a discussion guide for reading groups.* Just click the button above.

First Chapter

Fear covered Jared like a blanket. The music that had been uplifting now pounded a drum of dread in his heart. Why did it have to be so loud? He pulled desperately on the arm of a nearby boy, spilling some of his beer. “Where’s Amanda?” The boy rolled his eyes, cursing a little at his spilled beer, and shrugged Jared off. 

Jared turned to another, who gave the same response. His heart pounded like a freight train as his eyes tore wildly around the room. He had known this was a bad idea. Frat parties were often dangerous, this one even more so. 

The crowd of bodies pressed against Jared, surging to the beats of the pulsing music. Sweat from those around him joined his own, trickling down his back. He pushed against the crowd, fighting his way to the other end of the house where the bathroom and bedrooms lay. He had to have taken her to one of them. A hand grabbed Jared’s wrist, and he whirled on a blond surfer type with long hair. 

“Sorry, bro,” the surfer dude said, holding his hands up in apology. 

Jared continued toward the back. A tipsy blond fell into him, and he shoved her to the side. The bathroom door loomed just ahead.

“Amanda?” Jared pounded on the white wooden door. “Amanda, open up if you’re in there.” The pounding of his heart was now reverberating in his head, creating a headache that made his eyes hurt.

The lock clicked, and the door opened. A thin brunette in a miniskirt and crop top stumbled out. “There’s no Amanda here.” Her words were a slur, and her brown eyes barely focused on him.

Jared grabbed the girl’s thin shoulders and shook her. “Have you seen her? Red hair? She would have been with Caleb West.”

The girl shook her head and fell into the wall as soon as Jared released her. Rolling his eyes, he pushed past the girl and opened the first bedroom door. A couple was entwined on the bed, but the girl had blond hair and the face of the man didn’t belong to Caleb.

“Sorry,” He pulled the door shut and moved on the next one. Another couple was heavily involved on this bed too, but again no Amanda.

The next door was locked. This had to be the one. Jared rattled the handle, but to no avail. “Amanda?” He pounded on the door, but he heard no noise from inside. Jared grabbed the arm of a nearby male and pointed at the door. “Hey, can you open this? Do you have the key?”

“Sorry, I don’t live here.” The man shrugged and walked away.

“Aargh!” Jared turned back to the door and rammed his frame into it. The door didn’t budge.  Perhaps a kick would work. He took a step back and planted a perfect front kick. He felt the reverberation up his leg, but not even a tremor from the door. Cursing under his breath, Jared looked around for anything to wedge in the door. Would they have a crowbar in the house? Would anyone have one in their car?

“Jared!” At the sound of his name, Jared whirled around. Emily was fighting her way to him through the crowd. Thank goodness, she had seen the text. A glance at his watch revealed ten minutes had passed since he had texted her when he’d first lost sight of Amanda. 

“Have you seen her?” Emily asked when she reached him.

Jared shook his head, the fear constricting his vocal chords. “Not since I texted you. I saw them at the punch table and then a friend came up to me and started talking. When I turned around again, she was gone. It’s my fault.”

“It’s not,” she said, running a hand through her long blond hair. “You warned her, and that was all you could do.” 

Jared wasn’t sure about that. He should have pushed harder. He should have told her the whole story and not just part of it, but none of that made a difference right now. Right now, he needed to find her. “I’ve already checked those two rooms,” he said pointing to the previous doors, “but this one’s locked.”

Emily glanced around, but like Jared, her search came up empty. “I’m assuming you already tried hitting the door,” Emily said, “but what if we tried together?”

“It’s worth a shot,” he said. “On the count of three, okay?”

Emily nodded, and on the count of three, they both rammed the door as hard as they could. This time the wood did tremble, but the door remained locked. 

“Again,” Jared said through clenched teeth, and together they rammed the door once more. This time a wonderful terrible splintering sound of wood echoed, and the door opened.  Jared rushed into the room.

Amanda lay sprawled on the bed. Her shirt was open and her pants were undone, but still on. 

“Check on her,” Jared yelled to Emily as he scoured the room for any sign of Caleb. The closet was empty, but a chill crept in from the open window. Jared stuck his head out, but the area was dark and devoid of movement. If Caleb had gone out this way, he had gotten enough of a start to be out of sight. Without knowing which direction he had gone, trying to follow him would be pointless. 

With an agitated sigh, Jared turned back to the bed. Emily had wrapped the comforter around Amanda, whose eyes were wide open and filled with fear. 

“Can you move?” Emily asked. No head shake, but Amanda’s eyes moved left and then right. “Okay, it’s going to be okay. We’ll get you out of here. Any sign?”

“No, the window is open, but he’s gone.” A tear slid out of Amanda’s eyes. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him. He won’t get away with this.” Jared patted her hair tenderly and wiped the tear from her cheek. Then he scooped her up and headed back out the door. “Let’s get her to the hospital.”

“An ambulance is on its way,” Emily replied, pocketing her cell phone.

Jared nodded as he pushed his way through the crowd. A few people turned to gawk at them as they made their way to the front door, but most were oblivious and kept dancing to the loud beats or tipping back their drinks. Jared shook his head as disgust boiled inside him. What was wrong with these people? Did they not even care that someone had been attacked?

The night air slapped him as they exited the stifling house, and the change in temperature sent a shiver down his spine as the cool air licked up the wet sweat dripping down his neck.

The ambulance roared up moments later. The EMTs climbed out and took Amanda from Jared, strapping her onto a gurney. As they loaded her into the back, Jared climbed in.

“There’s only room for one,” the EMT said as Emily attempted to climb in too. “Besides, the cops want a statement.” He pointed to the police car pulling up.

“Go. I’ll stay with her, and when you’re done, we can switch,” Emily said.

Jared nodded and mouthed a silent thank you to Emily as the doors closed. He grabbed one of Amanda’s hands and sent a prayer heavenward. Please God let her be okay, please God. He had no other words, and hoped God was hearing his heart, which felt like it was beating out of his chest. Though he’d only known her a few months, Amanda was a friend, and if he were honest, he hoped she would become a lot more.

When the ambulance braked, Jared fell forward a little. Chilly air rushed in as the back doors opened and doctors took over the gurney Amanda was on. Jared jumped down from the ambulance and hurried to keep up with them.

“Amanda? I’m Dr. Patrick, can you tell me what happened?”

“She can’t,” Jared spoke up. “I’m pretty sure she was drugged.”

The dark-haired doctor turned to him. “And you are?”

“I’m Jared. I’m a friend, and I found her. Her eyes were open and seemed responsive, but she couldn’t even shake her head.”

“Okay, we’ll take it from here. You can wait over there.” He pointed to the waiting area. Jared wanted to protest, but he could tell from the look in the doctor’s eyes that his protest would fall on deaf ears, so he nodded and stumbled over to a gray, vinyl chair. As he sank down, the weight of the night descended on his shoulders, and he dropped his head onto his hands.

He hadn’t been able to stop it. Was this what Nikki had gone through? Was this why she left without a word? Would Amanda do the same thing?

“Hey, are you okay?”

Jared jumped at the touch to his shoulder ready to lash out at the intrusion, but relaxed when the eyes he saw belonged to Emily. “Yeah, I guess I’m alright. How are you?”

Emily sighed as she sat next to him and pulled her knees to her chest. “I’ve been better. They asked me a lot of questions. I couldn’t answer most of them, so they’ll be looking to talk to you too. But I told them what little I could. How is she doing?”

“I don’t know,” Jared sighed. “They whisked her away pretty quickly and haven’t been back out yet. I’m worried, Emily.”

“I am too,” she said with a nod, “but the best thing we can do right now is pray.” She took his hand, and they closed their eyes. “Father, our friend Amanda needs your help right now. Please be with her and give the doctors the knowledge to treat her. Lord also help us know how to help her in the future.”

As they said amen, Jared added a silent plea for Amanda to be okay. If she wasn’t, he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to forgive himself.

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Lorana Hoopes

Lorana Hoopes is a USA Today Best Selling Author and now an Award Winning Author as well. She's had two books earn a Page Turner Award Finalist badge and she recently won the Reader's Favorite Book Award for Romantic Suspense.