Off The Record - Sawyer Bennett

This has been a wild ride...the Off Series. I have had such amazing support from so many people, that it wouldn’t be possible for me to name them all. But a few do stand out when it came to writing Off The Record.

First, my amazing husband, Shawn. He has continued to encourage me in my writing career, even though it has meant many hours with my nose buried in a laptop and saying, “Uh-huh” when he asks me something, even though I’m not really paying attention. I hope that one day things will settle down and I can give you the attention you deserve.

My law partner, Jennifer, for letting me take so much time away from our practice, particularly when I got tight on deadlines. You are amazing that you let me pursue dreams other than the ones that we built together.

Shout out to my pal, Wendy, for helping me tweak and refine the manuscript.

To Jeanne Frazier and the gang at Vitalink for the amazing cover design.

Thank you to Jay Byars, Major Model Management and Rick Day Photography for letting Jay’s hot face grace the cover. I love it and I know all of the readers will adore him too. I first found a picture of Jay on the internet before I even started writing the book. He was literally who I envisioned as Linc Caldwell, so it was extra special that I was able to put him on the cover. Ladies...try not to may short out your E-Reader or smear the print!

Finally, to Ellie at Love N. Books and Kayla at My Book Muse. You gave me invaluable opinions and advice along the way, and let’s not was your brilliant minds that came up with the title!!! Much love!!!

Five years ago...

He’s gone.

I can’t believe he’s really gone.

Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe he’ll realize what a stupid, selfish decision he’s made and he’ll come back. He’ll beg forgiveness and after we make him grovel just a bit, we’ll open our arms up and tell him it’s okay. We’ll assure him that a moment of weakness is all it was. I know my mom can’t do it, but I’ll give him the strength and fortitude he’ll need to get us through this family disaster. I’ll take care of both him and mom, and he’ll see...that as a family, we can handle anything.

But deep down...I know he’s not coming back.

My tears have finally dried and I sit up in my bed. I rest my hand on my pillow, which is soaking wet from the rivers of sorrow I cried. My brain is thumping like a brass band has taken up residence inside. Cocking my head slightly, I can still hear my mom’s muffled sobs in her room next door. I think her tears may take a little longer to subside than mine.

Swinging my legs over the side of my bed, I stand. I’m a little wobbly but I guess that’s to be expected after lying here for almost two hours...just crying. My head feels fuzzy and my body weak. There is no time for that, however.

I need to go to my mom.

Opening her bedroom door, I see her lying on her side. She’s curled in a fetal position, with one of her pillows crushed to her chest. She’s trying to hold on to something, and sadly, a pillow is all she has.

I walk to the edge of the bed. Her eyes are closed but wet rivulets seep out from beneath her dark lashes. Her nose is bright red and her lips are dry.

With extreme gentleness, I pry the pillow out of her clutches. She doesn’t even open her eyes, but a warbled sound comes out of her throat, and fresh tears start pouring. I slip into bed and replace the pillow with my body. Her arms come around me, desperately clutching to my warmth. She buries her face into my neck, and now I can feel her tears streaming from her skin onto mine.

I reach up to stroke her hair, which is thin and brittle. I’m surprised it doesn’t break off in my hands.

“Shh, Mommy. It will be okay.”

My mom just sobs harder, and for the first time, my own grief starts to subside. In its place, I feel a boiling hatred start to manifest. It starts in the middle of my chest, and I can almost imagine liquid lava bubbling and expanding in my heart. It overflows, running through my veins. I can almost feel the heat in my fingertips