Clarity 5: Loving Liam
Publication date: April 26th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense
Happily ever after isn’t always easy…
Helen and Liam are engaged to be married and their relationship is stronger than ever. But when Helen encourages the young doctor to mend fences with his estranged family before the wedding, she unintentionally opens a dangerous can of worms.
A devastating secret from Liam’s past emerges, threatening to tear him apart. The horrors of his family skeletons make him feel that it is a huge mistake to try to start a new family with Helen. Unable to cope, he pushes everyone away, including his fiancée and even his best friend Owen.
Now Helen must do all she can to save the man who has saved her so many times. Liam has put himself on the line to help her heal in the past, and she hopes to do the same—if she can even get close enough to try…
READ THE PROLOGUE:
Liam Larson, 1989
I am standing on the side of the road and holding a newborn infant.
She is looking up at me with curiosity on her face, and I can already tell she’s going to be my best friend. We’re going to do everything together, especially coloring and making snow angels. She’s really tiny right now, but I’m sure that when she’s a little bigger she’ll love playing catch with me. I have a ball, but I don’t have anyone to play with.
First, I need to know her name.
“What are we going to call her, Mama?”
Turning to the side, I look at my mother who is sitting in the driver’s seat of the car and crying softly. I think she’s crying because it hurt a lot to take the baby out of her stomach. There is blood staining her dress, and she is clutching her midsection as her shoulders shake with sobs. She barely makes any sound, but she is shaking so hard that the car is trembling beneath her.
I thought she needed to go to the hospital, but she said no.
The baby in my arms is bloody and red. Maybe that’s why Mama never wanted to touch her. When she came out, I tried to wipe most of the gooey stuff off her before wrapping her up in Mama’s green sweater. Once I got it all off her face, I was able to see that she’s perfect. She has clear blue eyes and chubby little fingers. Her bellybutton was funny. I asked Mama what to do about the floppy string, but she wouldn’t help me.
“Liam,” my mother says from the car, and she is crying so much that she can hardly breathe. “Leave her there. Hurry! Before someone drives by.”
I look around in confusion. It’s early morning, and there aren’t many other cars on the road. Why would Mama want me to leave the baby here? It’s winter and there is a thin layer of snow on the ground. I shift the baby in my arms, because they are growing tired. She might be tiny, but I’m not that big and strong yet and it’s hard to hold her.
“Please, Liam,” my mother says again, placing her face in her hands as though she cannot look at me. “Put the baby down and come back into the car.”
“I don’t want to. She’ll be cold.”
My mother wipes her face on her sleeve, trying to remove some of the tears and clean her runny nose. She sits up a little straighter and grasps the steering wheel tightly. “Liam, if you don’t get your ass back here this instant I’ll tell your father that you disobeyed me. He’ll give you a good beating!”
I flinch at this prospect, and hug the baby tighter against my chest. I don’t want Papa to hit me anymore. He’s been away for a little while, but I know he’ll be back soon, and he’ll start hurting me again.
“For god’s sake, Liam,” my mother whispers desperately. “If you don’t do as I say, your father will kill me. He’s going to strangle me to death, and who knows what he’ll do to the baby. He hates little girls.”
She’s right. I have seen my father choke my mother before, and he always says mean things about girls. I begin to grow very afraid. Will he treat the baby in my arms even worse than he treats me? If putting her down means she won’t get punched or kicked by Papa, is that better? Somehow, she feels glued to my chest, and I don’t want to let her go; not for anything.
“Please,” my mother says frantically as she waves me over with her hand. “Please just leave the baby there.”
“But… but she’ll get hurt. If cars drive by, they could hit her.”
“We’ll come back for her, soon. I promise. I just need to go home. I’m in a lot of pain.”
I look down at the ground fearfully. “Are you sure, Mama?”
“Leave her, Liam!”
I quickly move to do as she says, and place the baby down in the snow on the side of the road. The little girl looks at me in confusion as I stand up, and her tiny arms move a little, reaching out for me. I can tell she already misses the warmth of being held; she misses me. My heart is breaking. This feels wrong.
“Quickly, Liam!” my mother shouts.
Ripping my own coat off my shoulders, I lay it over the baby as an extra layer of protection. She makes a cooing sound as she looks up at me, and I feel tears falling from my eyes onto her cheeks. “I love you,” I tell her, bending down to place a kiss on her forehead. “I’m sorry. We’ll come back for you, little sister. Mama promised.” I have a terrible feeling, but I’m too afraid to go against my mother, so I run back to the car. I can hear the baby start to cry, and my insides ache.
I have barely jumped into the vehicle before my mom starts driving away. I didn’t even get a chance to close my car door, but it slams shut with the force of the car’s acceleration. My mother is sobbing and the car is veering dangerously as she drives away at breakneck speeds.
“Mama?” I ask her nervously. “Are we gonna go back for her soon?”
“Who?” my mother asks brokenly.
“What baby?” Tears pour down my mother’s face as she shakes her head violently. “There is no baby. There never was a baby.”
Her words confuse me, and I look behind the car to try to see where I laid the infant down on the side of the road. I can still hear her cries echoing in my ears. I can still see her sweet face looking up at me. “Mama, we have to go back,” I say as panic begins to fill my chest. “I left the baby there and it’s so cold. She doesn’t even have clothes yet. Can we go back now?”
“There is no baby,” my mother says quietly, repeating the words to herself over and over. “There is no baby.”
I am terrified. There’s something wrong with my mother and I don’t know what to do. What’s going to happen now? Is my little sister going to be okay? I am her big brother. I was supposed to protect her.
What have I done?
When Book Research Gets Personal… and Scary
By Loretta Lost
In the fifth book of my Clarity series, a young couple is engaged to be married and hoping to start a family together. Anxieties run high over whether they will have a healthy baby, and the bride, having been born blind, wants to have a DNA test.
I have done intensive research for many of my books in the past, but I must admit that this time, it made me a little scared and uncomfortable. I ordered a DNA kit off the internet for about $200 and it arrived within a few days. I was worried about all the information I might discover, and if I’d be better off not knowing—but I tried to put my fears aside and do it for the sake of the book. I procrastinated for a little while, but the onset of a friend’s health issues made me realize that I wanted to know as much as possible, as soon as possible.
It ended up taking closer to twelve weeks to get the results, but they came just in time for me to use the experience in writing Clarity 5: Loving Liam. Although I had already written many of the scenes concerning the DNA testing, I went back and edited them with certain details of the experience—both emotional and factual. Regarding how the information pertained to my own health, I really did learn things I had not expected.
First of all, I discovered that I have a high risk of developing Celiac disease. This didn’t bother me very much, because I have never experienced digestive difficulties. I already eat a mostly gluten-free diet since my ex-boyfriend and my mother must eat low-carb, and for some reason, I tend to adopt the eating habits of those around me. If I ever do get a carb craving, I usually only want rice, and I think that having Celiac wouldn’t really change my life. It will probably never be a concern.
The second discovery was much more alarming, and one that I wasn’t expecting: I seem to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. I have always imagined writing books long into my old age, and the idea that I could lose my ability to do so earlier than expected makes me very afraid. No one in my family has any kind of dementia, so this was a huge surprise to me. Of course, it is still only a risk, and it seems like a healthy heart, regular exercise, and strong social connections can protect against developing Alzheimer’s. Although it’s scary, I am grateful to discover this now, at age 28, when I can still try to improve my lifestyle and remove some of the environmental risk factors.
There was a little bit of good news in all this as well. For years I have suffered from cysts in my ovaries, and recently I’ve had cysts in my breasts. They have been benign, but I do have a family history of breast cancer and I often worry that the pain from the cysts could be an indicator of something more serious. However, I was pleased to see that my DNA does not hold an increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Of course, I understand that I could still acquire either, and I shouldn’t assume that these organs will be completely healthy without regular checkups and healthy living.
I’m just happy that I don’t have to assume the worst, and that I won’t need to cut off my breasts as a preventative measure. I rather like my breasts.
I also learned that I am not a carrier of any diseases that could be life-threatening to my future children, which was very reassuring, but I am not taking any of these results at face value. Environmental factors can be just as life-threatening; it doesn’t matter how perfect your DNA is, you can still crash your car if you don’t drive safely.
Overall, I gained a massive amount of material for my story from this one little test I did on myself. It is extremely personal, which allows me to imagine how the characters would feel in similar situations. I think the only way to write is to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and hurt, and to feel—and then to pour those feelings on the page.
When characters are really afraid, and concerned about their own mortality and futures, that is when they are most real and we can connect with them best.
Loretta Lost is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories where very bad things happen to good people. Mystery, tragedy, and danger complicate her unique romances between characters who will do anything to protect each other.
In the two days of summer that she gets in Canada, she grows a garden of the hottest peppers in the world. She loves using these peppers to torture her guests and challenge their manhood. This could be why she isn’t married.
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