The Long Road Home (These Valley Days #1) Read Online Bethany Kris

Categories Genre: Action, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, Suspense Tags Authors: Series: These Valley Days Series by Bethany Kris

Total pages in book: 116
Estimated words: 112249 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 561(@200wpm)___ 449(@250wpm)___ 374(@300wpm)

Crying into an iced coffee in front of a stranger isn’t high on anyone’s priority list but …

Gracen Briggs has history in this valley—deep roots, dead dreams, and an ex whose smiling face she sees plastered all over town, every single day.
Wonderful, right?
Malachi Anders left things unfinished here, too. All his trouble and traumas … God knows he already spent too much time trying to leave it behind.

He never wanted to come back.
She can’t find a way out.
Welcome to the valley.
It’s a long road home.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

Chapter 1

“I’m going.”

“You’re absolutely not,” Gracen returned just as strongly as her friend.

Delaney scoffed over her shoulder at the reply as she walked through the front door with a fresh coat of candy apple red paint. “I will, and I am.”

“You’re seriously considering it? Delaney, the last time we ran into your mother at the supermarket, she turned around and immediately raced down the adjacent aisle. Doesn’t your brother still call you “that one” whenever someone asks about you at the hardware store? What are you talking about? Your cousins don’t treat you much better!”

“That’s enough. Bexley has always—”

“As long as nobody’s around to see her talk to you, yeah, your cousin isn’t so bad. I guess.”

Gracen let the screen door between the porch and foyer slam shut, and left the main one open, when she darted in after her typically bubbly friend. A ray of damn sunshine on her worst days, Delaney Reed wouldn’t be caught in public behaving in any other way.

Her proudly conservative, Pentecostal upbringing taught Delaney to smile even in the face of critics, and all the time in between, but especially when doing her duty; serving a godly man. She might have escaped from her family’s control and demands after high school by going out on her own and accepting their shunning, but some habits were hard to break.

Delaney kept the sweet personality for the most part. Very little else.

Right then, Delaney did her best to ignore the way Gracen stalked down the foyer’s short hallway behind her before the back of her friend’s shiny pin-straight mane of jet-black hair swerved for the kitchen. By the time Gracen’s white runners squeaked to a stop on the linoleum floor, Delaney faced her with fists—one still clutching tight to the entire reason for their current conversation—dug into her hips, and a familiar gleam in her narrowed hazel eyes that needed to look up to stare Gracen in the face.

All five-foot-one inches of her friend acted like a wall Gracen couldn’t pass to enter the kitchen. The opposite of Gracen not only in appearance but also personality, that was the thing about Delaney which often brought the friends to a head. She proclaimed to never liked a challenge; she couldn’t stop herself from answering one, though. Sometimes, the sweetness meant nothing when Delaney couldn’t keep her mouth or temper under control.

“What, are we going back to high school, or something?” Delaney asked with an arched brow that dared Gracen to try it.

The comment made Gracen bristle in all the wrong ways, but Delaney likely knew it, too. After all, there was a reason she hit out with that barb, and the start of their friendship had begun in the halls of their shared high school while they sat side by side with matching bruised faces outside the principle’s office.

Maybe Gracen had been a bit of a bully. On that day, though? Delaney showed she had something to prove even in a baggy hoodie and a jean skirt that swept the floor with the slit in the back hemmed to below the knees for modesty.

“What does high school have anything to do with the engagement dinner invitation I found shoved in the mailbox, Delaney?”

Waving her hands high, and the invitation in question, Delaney mockingly hissed, “Oh, you know—we both do. If Gracen Briggs doesn’t like you, nobody does. What, are you going to tell me I can’t go to a party with my cousin? Really?”

“First of all, you need to get off that.”

“First of all, nothing,” Delaney cut in before Gracen could attempt to defend herself. Not that she planned to, really. She didn’t have any good excuse for the crown she chose to wear so that high school was survivable, but that also wasn’t the point.

Just as cutting as before, Delaney started, “Listen—”

They would get nowhere like this.

“It’s not about your cousin, or her friend,” Gracen said fast. “And you’re blatantly ignoring what I said about how your family still treats you despite living in the same town.”

A town with a population of one thousand five hundred and three people stretched over what was appropriately named The Valley—they were bound to see Delaney’s family especially considering they owned the hardware store at the top of town.

A portion of the Acadian Peninsula where the Trans-Canada Highway cut through the upper section of the right side of town coming down the Saint John River, a bridge connected both sides of The Valley. The two main streets of town stretched on for less than a kilometer, connected to backstreets filled with everything from children’s schools to dental offices. One didn’t need to go on any more than a fifteen-to-twenty-minute walk within the town to be where they needed to be whether it was the grocery store or the post office. Twice daily they could watch a familiar black sedan—owned by Delaney’s father—go past the tall windows at the front of their salon as he drove to and from work.