The Refrain by Ashley Pullo
Their paths have crossed, setting the refrain in motion.
Ever since flannel and Doc Martens were considered edgy fashion, Canadian cousins Natalie and Chloe have dreamt of a life in New York City. But now that they’ve finally scored a Manhattan zip code, their teenaged fantasies are overshadowed by an adult reality. With Natalie struggling to accept a long-distance relationship—and her constant battle with loneliness, her survival depends on Zach’s safe return. And with Chloe’s endless need to find balance and purpose—and her embarrassing secret holding her back, can Adam Ford be the one to understand her completely?
Change is inevitable and fate is insisting. And when panic follows crisis and love is questioned, stories can change in unexpected ways. The narrative becomes the verse, the part to the whole—the story within the story.
Slamming her hand against the keys to the piano, Chloe shouts, “Who is she?”
“The client is a forty-seven year old man.”
“Not the client, who are you fucking?” Chloe demands, her voice deep and raw.
Adam takes two steps closer, glaring down at Chloe’s pitiful face. “I’m not fucking anyone. Not even my wife,” he snarls. It’s the answer Chloe needs to hear, but not the one she wants.
She moves a step closer and pokes his chest. “Then explain this to me.”
“This—this tension. Why don’t I trust you? Why am I so angry—where the fuck have you been?” Chloe’s voice is dry and emotional, the words stinging her throat and falling from her mouth like hot embers. She punches his arm, hits his chest, and slaps at his smug expression.
Adam grabs her arms, his fingers digging into her flesh, but Chloe fights him. “Stop it,” he says. Chloe continues to wave her arms, desperately trying to break herself free. Adam tightens his grip and twists her arm behind her back, controlling her…controlling her behavior. “I have a career. Do you understand that? I’m working, I’m being a provider, I’m being a dad—doing the right thing.”
With as much contempt as she can gather, she shouts, “The right thing? The right thing—your life is just one blob of obligation now? Fuck you, Adam. Always trying to be perfect—always doing the right thing. We wouldn’t want anyone to know what you really are!”
“What does that mean?” Adam eases his grip, upset by her threat.
“You’re a wall.” Chloe yanks her arms free and shoves Adam’s chest. “A fucking brick wall—no emotion and no attachment to anything that doesn’t fit your definition of right or wrong. I’m sick of it!” Chloe’s voice is shaky and inaudible, tears suddenly drowning her words.
“Really?” He smirks. “You need me. You need me to be your wall—you need an excuse to be destructive. But then when you need that brick wall again, who’s supposed to build it?”
Chloe grits her teeth and holds her breath, rage setting in. “You’re a fucking asshole. God, you’re so arrogant—fuck you.” Chloe shoves past Adam, running straight to the front door. She hesitates momentarily to study her bare feet but then impulsively decides to run out into the summer rain. She wants to run away, she wants to feel that sense of purpose again. Adam follows behind her, shouting her name. He’s enraged and bewildered—this is why he loves her—this is why she needs him.
“Chloe stop.” Adam catches up to her and grabs her hand, yanking her in his direction. The raindrops conceal her tears, there’s no end to one and a beginning of another—no separation of pain and passion. Possibly the secret to any great romance…passion evolves from pain.
Adam takes Chloe in his arms and forces her against the large maple tree. The fullness of the branches protects them from the rain, but their emotions are completely exposed and unrefined.
Chloe sobs, jerking her hand from his tight grasp. “Leave me alone.”
“No,” he responds.
Adam pins her against the tree, slamming his hands above her shoulders. They stare into each other’s eyes—carnal lust brimming with each sensation, old and new…this is one of those moments. Chloe’s chest rises and falls. Rain splatters against the tree. Adam’s lips quiver with need. Eyes wander over familiar features. Drip drop—it’s rhythm.
And then, associating pain with passion, Chloe bites Adam’s lower lip—sucking and licking the delicate, rain-kissed skin. Adam’s hand moves to her neck, squeezing gently to signify his control. He kisses her, deep and satisfying, absorbing every last drop of painful doubt from her mind. Chloe’s arms move to his shoulders, grasping…searching…
Words are meaningless. Words are breathless.
Adam releases his hold, but not his authority. In a hasty, yet sensual effort, he lifts Chloe into his arms—positioning one arm under her legs and the other tightly around her back.
“Shut up.” He commands with a smile.
And just like Rhett Butler seizing Scarlett O’Hara with passionate fury, Adam reclaims Chloe. Under the pouring rain. Up the steps of the ironed stoop. Through the door of their centuries-old brownstone. Dripping wet. Hearts racing. Souls connecting.
…and then he slams the door.
The Refrain, read The Ballad, book 1 & The Intermission, book 2
All 3 are on sale for 99 cents during the blog tour!
Hey y'all! I'm Ashley Pullo, a New York transplant with an abundance of Texas charm and a proclivity for all things pop-culture. I like to think that I'm witty, gorgeous and highly intelligent but honestly, I'm not that funny. I'm a suburban mom living the dream with my handsome husband, two perfect children and a moderately cool dog, Roscoe. Life is pretty awesome, and you taking the time to read my words makes it that much sweeter! The Bridge Series is designed to involve the reader in the authenticity of life, love and loss. Enjoy the journey…revel in the imagery…and fall in love with modern storytelling at its finest.