Title: The Perfect Life
Author: Erin Noelle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I had the perfect life.
The perfect husband. Colin Cassidy—the incredibly talented, extremely gorgeous, and unbelievably humble star NFL quarterback.
The perfect marriage. Our bond was unbreakable. His support unwavering.
The perfect career. As the recently-appointed executive director for the Boston chapter of Mending Hearts, a child abuse prevention and treatment program, my daily reward was helping to keep vulnerable, innocent children from being preyed upon and destroyed. It’s all I’d wanted to do since I was a teenager.
Perfect city. Perfect car. Perfect house with the perfect view.
From the outside looking in, it was impossible to find a single flaw in my life. I had it all. Everything I’d ever wanted.
But that kind of perfection came at a price. Demanded the ultimate sacrifice.
What happened when I discovered what I’d been missing all along? When I began to question if the lies were worth protecting?
What if suddenly the last thing I wanted was to be perfect?
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“What is that?” Oliver scowled at the gallon of milk I’d just set in the shopping cart. “Does that stuff even come from a cow?”
Confused, I lifted the carton up in the air and skimmed over the label, thinking maybe I’d grabbed the wrong thing by mistake. Once I realized I hadn’t, I cut my eyes over at him and gave him the what-in-the-world-are-you-talking-about look. “Of course it comes from a cow,” I scoffed. “It’s fat-free, organic milk. You said you needed some for your cereal, right?”
With a snicker, he shook his head and walked around the cart, taking the milk out of my hands and placing it back in the cooler. Then, shuffling farther down the dairy section a few feet, he reached down and pulled out a gigantic plastic jug of chocolate milk. Donning a huge grin, he proudly placed the replacement milk in the cart and gave me a triumphant nod. “You can’t ruin Peanut Butter Captain Crunch with that healthy crap you picked. Chocolate milk is the only way to go. Please tell me you’ve tried it before.”
“Uhhh . . . no. I’ve never tried any kind of Captain Crunch, not with regular or chocolate milk,” I laughed. “Actually, I’ve never had any kind of cereal, unless you count granola or oatmeal.”
“What? No cereal?!” Oliver’s eyes grew wide with astonishment. “Surely you ate some when you were a kid.”
“Nope. Never.” I shook my head emphatically.
Moving back to the rear of the cart so he could push it down the aisle, he continued to gape at me in disbelief. “Really? Not even like the gross stuff like Shredded Wheat or Raisin Bran?”
“I’m serious. Not even the gross stuff.”
He stopped momentarily to add butter, sour cream, and cream cheese to the growing pile of food, and then resumed his skeptical questioning as we headed toward the bakery. “How is that even possible? I mean, even if your mom didn’t keep it in the house for whatever reason, how did you not try it when you spent the night with friends or went on vacation? Cereal is like a staple of all kids’ diets. It should probably be its own food group.”
I shrugged nonchalantly, pretending to read the nutritional facts on the back of a package of pita bread crackers while strolling next to him. “I dunno. I didn’t grow up like most kids. I didn’t stay out over at friends’ houses, and at home, we had a personal chef who did all of the shopping and cooking, so I ate what was put in front of me . . . which was always whatever my mom wanted. She was very strict and disciplined about her diet. We usually had egg whites with fresh fruit, or something similar. Then, when I went away to boarding school, I had a meal plan, so it was pretty much the same thing. I ate whatever the cafeteria was serving that day. And I can assure you, my ass is thankful it was never a bowl of sugary cereal with chocolate milk, or I’d have lived on the elliptical machine when I wasn’t studying,” I joked to hide the mixture of disappointment and embarrassment coursing through me.
Glancing up, I was surprised to find him staring so intently at me, and although I had a hard time placing the expression brewing in his fascinating eyes, there was no denying my body’s physical response to his attention. Much like the first time I met him, and several occurrences since, goose bumps prickled over my skin as warmth arose in my core. He looked at me like no one had ever looked at me before, and it was equally as unnerving as it was exhilarating. I never wanted him to stop.
“What?” I questioned in a hushed voice once I realized we’d been standing in front of the baguette stand, staring at each other for who knew how long. “Is the cereal a deal-breaker on the friendly colleague thing?”
Oliver barked out a laugh, my words obviously breaking him free of whatever train of thought he’d been lost in. “No, Rizzo.” He shook his head as he began moving forward again with the cart. “It’s not a deal-breaker, but you are aware it’s the first thing I’m making you eat when we get back to the apartment, right? I don’t care how long you’re gonna have to work out later. I promise every bite will be worth it.”
Half an hour later, as I sat at his table slurping down the remnants of my first—but definitely not last—bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch with chocolate milk, I could see the I-told-you-so smile dancing in the creases next to his eyes, and once again, he was right . . . it was sooo worth it. And I was starting to think he might be too.
Erin Noelle is a Texas native, where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. While earning her degree in History at the University of Houston, she rediscovered her love for reading that was first instilled by her grandmother when she was a young child.
A lover of happily-ever-afters, both historical and current, Erin is an avid reader of all romance novels.
Her titles published include the Book Boyfriend Series, the Dusk ‘Til Dawn Series, the Luminous Duet, Conspire — co-authored with SE Hall, Surviving Us, MILF: Wrong Kind of Love, Spark and Flame.
Her books have been a part of the USA Today Bestselling list and the Amazon and Barnes & Noble overall Top 100.
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