X-Treme Love Series, Book 4
The dramatic conclusion to Extreme Sacrifice, X-Treme Love Series, Book 3.
Dana Di Grazio has overcome emotional and physical pain all her life. After weeks of caring for injured motocross rider, Peter Fontenot, she’s slowly learned to trust again. But when the man she’s given her heart to storms out of her life with no excuses, she’s left feeling abandoned and alone, unworthy of love.
Motocross rider, Peter Fontenot, is faced with a choice – stay with the one woman who’s captured his heart or fulfill his family’s unreasonable obligations. When a ghost from his past threatens Dana’s life in unimaginable ways, will Peter be able to reconcile with his family in order to save her? Or will his declaration of love be too late?
Dana may be capable of forgiveness, but when the one man who broke her heart asks for a second chance, will she find the strength to trust him again?
Extreme Trust is not a stand-alone book. It is the exciting conclusion to Extreme Sacrifice, X-Treme Love Series, Book 3.
Read an Excerpt
“So, let me see if I have this right, Peter Joseph Fontenot,” my mother scolded, her glowering expression almost painful. Crap! She’d pulled out the middle name. This was not good. “This girl spills her deepest, innermost secrets, that she almost died, that she loves you, and you leave her without reassuring her? Is this correct?”
“It wasn’t like that, Mom,” I tried to explain. I tried, but it was pointless. Dana had confessed her biggest fears to me and I’d left her before making things right, without assuring her I was completely okay with her revelation that she couldn’t have children. And that I loved her.
“But she did tell you she loves you? Right before you left?” I nodded my head, fearing where my mother was taking this line of questioning. “What did you say?”
“Well, I love her.”
“You told her that, right? Before you left, I mean?” Her brows lifted in question. My head sagged as I shook it in silent answer. “You didn’t tell her, Peter?” Her voice was shrill and at least a decibel higher. It was clear she was getting more and more upset and I feared for her physical safety, and mine.
“Look, Mom, I love Dana, no matter what. No, I didn’t say the words before I left.” My mother rolled her eyes in anger. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I do. I was just overwhelmed about her revelation that she was a cancer survivor. My brain kind of went into overload thinking about her not being here with me, thinking of the cancer coming back, of facing a life without her, ever.” Hot tears burned my eyes and I pushed my thumbs deep into the sockets, trying to keep them at bay.
“Oh, Peter,” my sister, Victoria soothed, coming to sit on the arm of my chair, rubbing my back.
“Did you at least tell her you were concerned about her health and safety?” my mother asked.
“I think I did.” I shook my head. “I actually don’t know, Mom.”
“But you didn’t say anything to her about it being all right that she couldn’t have children, I mean, physically carry them?” she continued to badger. All I could do was shake my head.
It wasn’t like Dana’s inability to carry a child changed how I felt. But somewhere in my haste to get to my mother, I hadn’t expressed that, not in a way that would put Dana’s mind at ease and reassure her that I still wanted to be with her, forever.
“That’s why I’ve got to find my phone,” I pleaded.
“We’ve torn up this entire room,” our family friend, A.J. announced.
I scanned the area, looking at the items strewn about the floor.
“Call my phone again,” I demanded. I had to talk to Dana. Now.
“Just use my phone,” Victoria urged, holding hers out toward me. I laughed at the absurdity of my situation. “What?” she asked, her face wrinkled with confusion.
“I don’t know her number, it’s in my phone,” I confessed, rubbing my hand over my hair.
“What do you mean you don’t know her number?” my mother asked in disgust. It was obvious she was still extremely perturbed with me for not settling things with Dana before I left Austin.
“Look, Mom, I already feel like crap, and you going off on me isn’t helping, okay. I just need to call her, talk to her and settle this.”
“Are you sure she’ll even talk to you?” my mother asked sarcastically.
My eyes roamed up to meet hers, not surprised to find her brow arched in question. I was transported back to the third grade, remembering when I’d cut off half of Brenda Randall’s pigtails. Back then, the disappointment that radiated from my mother’s body was the worst form of punishment, and I felt it even more so now.
“If I can just talk to her, Mom….” I couldn’t go on. I knew it would lead to a complete meltdown on my part, just thinking of Dana refusing to accept my apology, of her never forgiving me.
“We’ll find the phone, Peter.” My mother tried to comfort me with her words.
“What about her work?” Victoria exclaimed. “Wouldn’t they know how to reach her?”
“Her dealership is closed now.”
Victoria’s face fell, but instantly lifted again with a new idea. “I know! I’ll look up your cell phone bill online,” she announced, pulling her own from her back pocket. “It will have a list of all the numbers you’ve called since your last billing cycle.”
My shoulders sagged in relief, and I knew I’d have Dana’s phone number soon.
“Crap!” Victoria shouted.
“There’s no Wi-Fi connection here in the room. And the data range on my cell phone sucks. It’s too weak to pull up anything on the Internet.”
“Great,” I sighed.
“I’ll call my friend Jesse real quick,” Victoria announced, picking up my mother’s hospital phone as she scrolled through her list of contacts on her cell.
“What can she do?” I asked, feeling somewhat relieved.
“He,” Victoria corrected with a wink, and suddenly I became nauseated, knowing exactly what that twinkle in her eyes meant. “He works at a cell phone kiosk in the mall. He’ll have access to your cell phone records in no time. Besides, he owes me a favor,” she waggled her brows.
“For heaven’s sake, Victoria,” my mother rolled her eyes, “I’m hooked up to a heart monitor. Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” All action in my mother’s hospital room ceased as everyone’s attention focused on the monitor sitting next to her bed. “I’m kidding,” she joked, her face washed with amusement. Realizing my mother’s statement was in jest, we all let out a collective sigh of relief. “But really, Victoria.”
““Isn’t the mall closed now?” I asked.
She narrowed her eyes as her mouth twisted into a smirk, giving me her silent answer.
“Is that even legal?”
“Does it matter?” she asked, not waiting for my response before she lifted my mother’s hospital phone to call to her friend, I hoped. When had my kid sister turned into such a cunning predator?
“Hey, Jesse,” she spoke softly into the receiver, her voice laced with seduction. “I need your help. I need a copy of my brother’s cell phone bill.” There was a slight pause and I feared he might deny our request. “Yes, I have a brother.” She smirked, cutting her eyes up at me. “Whatever, look my mom’s in the hospital, I need it ASAP, okay?” There was another pause in her conversation and my stomach cramped in fear. “No, she’s fine. Her boyfriend just rode her too hard in the sack and she had a heart attack.” She giggled, and my mother’s face flushed forty shades of crimson as A.J. chuckled in the corner.
I yanked the trashcan closer to me for fear of vomiting at Victoria’s suggestion. Feeling the room begin to spin, I plopped down in the chair next to my mother’s bed, burying my head in my hands and shaking it aggressively in an effort to rid myself of all the awful images flying through my mind.
“Peter, what’s your number?” Victoria asked. Thankful to have something else to concentrate on instead of my mother and sister’s love lives, I rattled off my phone number.
I listened intently while she repeated it to her friend, thankful that perhaps we’d found someone to help.
“Do you think she’ll forgive me?” I asked, looking up to my mom for motherly, female advice.
She peered down at me with anticipation. “Do you love her?”
“With my whole heart, Mom. I’ve never felt like this with anyone. Ever,” I added.
“She’ll forgive you, Peter,” Victoria answered.
“How do you know?” I asked, twisting my neck toward her, my voice riddled with doubt and self-loathing. “What makes you so sure? I mean, she told me her deepest fears and I just walked away. I didn’t even tell her I loved her before I left. I’m an idiot. She’ll never forgive me.”
“I’m not saying there won’t be sufficient groveling.” Victoria smiled.
“With lots of flowers, candy and ‘I’m sorrys,’” my mother teased, sharing a girlish moment with my sister.
“I’ll do it, whatever she wants,” I choked out as if they were the gatekeepers to Dana’s forgiveness.
“And that, my dear, is how I know she’ll forgive you,” my mother admitted.
“You’re willing to do anything, including groveling, at the expense of your own dignity. Am I correct?” I nodded my head fearlessly. “Are you sure you’ll be all right with what she’s revealed to you, Peter?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Her not being able to carry your children?”
“Mom, there are so many other options for us. And if she doesn’t want that then, I don’t know, we’ll figure something out. All I know for sure is, I have to hear her voice or I’m going to die.” And I meant it. Dana was my lifeline and I felt dead inside.
“Wow!” A.J. exclaimed.
My head snapped up to meet his gaze. “What?”
“Sounds like you’ve got it just as bad as I do.” He smirked, looking over my head at my mother, giving her an all-knowing wink.
I wanted to be disgusted that my mother was romantically involved with anyone, but the truth was, I was actually happy for her. If there was anyone I’d ever want my mother to be with, it was A.J. Rhyne. They both deserved to be happy, and I knew they would be with one another.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” I offered, turning my attention back to her.
“Why?” she asked in genuine ignorance.
“For leaving you, leaving you with so much responsibility with the company. I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for this,” I said, motioning toward the monitor now beeping with lines and blips.
“Peter, I’ll never fault you for living your life the way you wanted to. I won’t lie, having you here helping me probably would have been easier for me, but A.J. was here, and truth be told, it is probably what brought us closer, so maybe I should thank you.” Her face lit up as she reached out toward A.J. who immediately pushed off the wall and bolted to her bedside. The guy was hopelessly in love, I recognized the signs because I wore them myself.
“Well, still,” I started to apologize, “I should have at least called.”
Taking in a deep breath, I tried to rid myself of the suffocating guilt.
“Peter….” She hesitated, letting go of A.J., reaching across the bed toward me.
I slid my hand into hers, gazing down and admiring how similar we were. “It doesn’t really matter what happened in the past, I’m just glad you’re here now.”
Our eyes locked on one another’s and my heart constricted with overwhelming love, a love I’d never really felt from my mother before. I’m sure it had been there all along, I’d just never realized it, or maybe I’d never allowed myself to feel it.
“Hey,” she said, shaking my hand, “it doesn’t really matter anyway. Neither one of us will have to worry about it for much longer. We’re going to sell the company. I know half of Salt Lake City will probably rumble with an earthquake from your father rolling over in his grave, but it’s time I started living.”
The expression of love on her face was overwhelming and lit up the entire room as she lifted her hand to stroke A.J.’s face. For my mom, living included a life with A.J., just like mine included Dana. I missed Dana and I had to find her, I had to talk to her and make this right.
“He’s downloading your records,” Victoria said in jubilation, covering the mouth piece. “He’s gonna call me back in just a minute. He said there are several numbers on it from an Austin area code.”
“Can’t he just read it to you?” I asked impatiently.
She cut her eyes at me and I knew I was already asking her to sacrifice too much as it was.
I shut my mouth and offered her the smile she deserved more than air.
“Thanks, Jess.” She winked at me, her earlier chastisement washed away. “I know you do, but not tonight.” Her tone and expression were proactive, seductive, two things that no guy wants to hear from his baby sister.
My stomach churned with disgust. “Yeah, okay. I’ll call you later.”
She hung up the phone with self-satisfaction. “Like that’s really gonna happen.” She snickered, looking at her phone as if Jesse was still on the line.
“Well, it looks like you’ll be reunited with your lovely lady soon,” A.J. announced, “and if you sign the papers, you’ll be able to provide for her, regardless of what happens with you motocross profession.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, I keep forgetting, you didn’t stick around for the reading of your father’s will,” A.J. answered.
“What did the will say?” I asked, fully expecting the wrath of Barbara Fontenot at any moment.
“Peter, you own forty percent of the company,” my mother said with no emotion.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” My voice was sterner than I intended, but their revelation baffled me.
“You left so quickly, Peter, it was obvious you didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” my mother offered. “I didn’t want you to feel obligated to stay.”
“What?” I half shouted. “Did you know that was in his will this whole time?” I interrogated them, looking at her then over to A.J. They both shook their heads.
“Not until the attorneys read the will,” my mother replied flatly.
“I don’t understand,” I whispered, shaking my head.
“I think deep down your father really thought you’d come back to run the company. He wanted to make sure you held controlling stock,” she explained.
“But it’s only forty percent,” I answered not wanting to sound ungrateful.
“Forty to you,” A.J. announced, “thirty to your mother, and thirty divided equally between your brothers and Victoria,” he added.
“It’s really up to you, Peter,” my mother stated firmly as if I knew what the hell she was talking about.
“What is?” I asked, confused by the recent revelations.
“Selling the company,” she answered softly. “I want to, the boys and Victoria want to.”
I cut my gaze over to Victoria who was smiling and nodding her head.
“But we need your approval,” she continued. “We need you to oversee the sale and sign the papers. It ultimately comes down to you, Peter, and I truly think your father wanted it that way. He knew you were bright and intelligent, and he trusted your judgment over all of ours. He knew you’d make the best decision for this family if anything happened to him, and I believe he was correct,” she said with genuine admiration in her voice, her eyes alight with motherly affection.
“So, what’s next?” I asked.
“Well, you have to sign off on the contract to negotiate an initiation for sale, putting the company out on the market, so to speak,” A.J. explained.
“Then we select the best offer.”
“Best offer? You already have potential buyers?”
“Peter, companies have been knocking on your father’s door for years wanting to buy the business,” A.J. said.
“Why haven’t you contacted me before now?”
“Coming home was your choice, Peter,” my mother answered firmly.
“So, you faked a heart attack to get me here,” I teased. My mother’s face fell flat, void of any emotion, and I knew my attempt at a joke at her expense was inappropriate and hurtful.
“I’m sorry. That wasn’t funny, and I didn’t mean it, Mom.”
“I think everything happens for a reason, Peter. You being here is an indicator that it’s time for all of us to move on, don’t you think?”
“Mom, I’ll sell anything you want if it means your dreams can come true. I’m sorry about the way I’ve treated you before,” I confessed, scooting my chair closer to her.
“You’re here. That’s all that matters now, sweetie.”
“What did you mean before when you said that I would be able to provide for her, no matter what?” I asked.
“You have no idea how much the company is worth?” A.J. questioned.
I shook my head. I knew my father had built up a solid company during his years in business, but since I’d left for college, I’d never really kept up with his net worth.
“Let’s just say with your forty percent, you won’t have to worry about anything for the rest of your life.” A.J. smirked.
I sat stock-still, dumbfounded by his words. No worries for the rest of my life, financially? He couldn’t be serious. Was it possible that I could make my dreams come true, my real dreams, with Dana, offer her the security she deserved?
“Oh my God!” I shouted.
“What, that’s not good news?” my mother asked in obvious disgust.
“I still haven’t heard from Jesse with your phone records yet,” Victoria interrupted. “Your phone has to be here somewhere. Have you looked in your bag?”
“My bag!” I yelled. “I completely forgot, it’s at the nurses’ station.” I shot out of my chair like it was on fire. “I’ll be right back, Mom,” I offered, kissing her lightly on the cheek before bolting out of the room, swinging the door open with a hard tug. My heart stopped and my stomach caught in my throat as I stared blankly at the person standing in the hallway in front of me.
“Looking for this?” an all too familiar voice asked as she held her long fingers in the air shaking my cell phone in my face, her unmistakable green eyes boring into mine with a look of desire and disgust.
I was thankful to be in a hospital because the thought of collapsing at any minute was ever-present in my mind as my world began to spin out of control.
“What the fuck is she doing here?” Victoria shouted, pushing past me and making her way fully into the hallway.
“Nice to see you too, Tori,” the unwelcome guest seethed at my little sister.
“What are you doing here, Jillian?” I asked, my voice barely audible as I tried to conceal my fear and anxiety.
“What, you’re not even going to offer your wife an ‘I love you, sweetie’?”
A thousand needles jabbed into every square inch of my body as the air surrounding me vanished, sucked into the bottomless vacuum by the woman standing in front of me, glaring at me.
She wasn’t lying, she was my wife, and I thought I’d long escaped her years ago, along with all the hypocrisy that she represented. To me Jillian Vanguard had just been a bad nightmare, forgotten years ago. But now, here she was standing before me, threatening to cost me every good thing in my life.
I literally fell to my knees in fear of what her presence could cost me, realizing in my heart that Dana would never forgive me for keeping this type of secret from her. No matter how much I loved her, no matter how much she loved me, I knew enough about Dana Di Grazio to realize she would never forgive this type of deceit. Read more…