In Stay With Me, Jessica Cunsolo continues the dramatic, romantic story begun in her gripping debut novel, She’s With Me.
Amelia Collins has finally found happiness and acceptance with Aiden Parker, but leaving their pasts behind may not be so easy, as new threats emerge. When Aidan is wrongfully accused of a terrible crime, putting his entire family at risk, Amelia is faced with a battle of her own: telling Aiden she needs to leave. Amelia and her friends escape the chaos and uncertainty of their lives in King City and flee to a beach house, hoping to delay the inevitability of what awaits them for just a little longer. But it’s only a matter of time before secrets are revealed and Aiden discovers the horrible truth about the man pursuing Amelia.
Amelia knows she can’t escape her past, her painful memories or the killer’s fixation with her. Every day she tries is another day that puts her friends in harm’s way, and that's not a price she’s willing to pay. Overwhelmed by love but haunted by fear, Amelia is faced with an impossible choice. Is staying with the man she loves worth risking his life?
Stay With Me will hit shelves at bookstores and libraries everywhere on Dec. 1, 2020 (preorder your copy by clicking here). Scroll down to see the swoonworthy cover and read an exclusive excerpt.
Sometimes life likes to laugh at you.
I guess things get boring to watch every once in a while, so life goes, “Hey, why don’t we mess around with her a bit? Don’t you think that’ll be funny?”
And then life’s friends, drama, pain, uncertainty and unfortunate events, go: “Yeah, dude! We got your back. Watch the shitstorm we can cause.”
And then they all get to work, inserting themselves into your life, stirring up the pot, and then they sit around with a cold beer clutched in their hands and some boxes of pizza shared between them and they laugh and laugh and laugh at you.
At least, that’s how I think it happens, because sometimes it seems like my life is just one long episode of let’s see how we can screw with Amelia today.
There’s a man out there intent on murdering me. This man has hurt and killed other people in the name of getting revenge on me. And I have the world’s biggest crush on someone I know I can never be with, who just discovered that he was being lied to and deceived from the start, and who was just arrested.
Aiden was just arrested.
The police said he murdered his stepfather, Greg.
But Aiden is not a murderer; he’s not capable of doing something like that.
Or is he?
He’s a fierce protector of those he loves, and he’s been worried about Greg harming his brothers ever since he learned Greg was being released from prison. I know he would do anything to protect his brothers. . . . but murder?
Aiden hates Greg with a burning passion—I’m pretty sure he did abuse Aiden as a child, after all—but I can’t see Aiden taking his life then coming over to my house to watch movies like it was just any other day.
Why would the police think Aiden did it? He was at my house all night, and he was with Mason before that. . . . wasn’t he? When did Greg die anyway? He’s been out of prison for a couple of weeks; wouldn’t he want to spend some time with his son, Ryan, and not bother with Aiden?
I wonder if Aiden’s stepbrother has heard about the death of his father. I wonder if he’s heard Aiden was just arrested for Greg’s murder. Ryan already hates Aiden just for being Aiden; I don’t even want to know what he’ll do if he thinks Aiden is responsible for the death of his father.
We haven’t been told anything, as the only interaction between us and the officers has been them occasionally glaring at us for taking up practically the entire waiting area at the police station.
After Aiden was arrested, Julian, Mason and Annalisa picked up the twins from their friend’s house like Aiden asked and took them to Julian’s house for his mom to watch. Everyone else went to the police station, and Julian showed up a bit later with Annalisa and his father, Vince.
Julian practically grew up with Aiden, so it makes sense that Julian would go to his dad—who’s probably known Aiden since he was a kid—for help. Plus, it’s not like Aiden really has any other adult to turn to.
Vince is tall like Julian, with broad shoulders and a stern face, and there’s a commanding presence about him that gives him an air of authority.
A bit after Vince showed up, Mason arrived with his dad, Brian. The adults went to talk to the police about Aiden while the rest of us sat worriedly in the tiny reception area.
Brian has dark hair and tanned olive skin like his son, but is a bit shorter than Mason. I can tell where Mason gets his looks from, but Brian’s dark eyes lack that certain spark of mischief that Mason’s often hold—but then again, perhaps this isn’t quite the right situation for him to be happy about.
As Brian and Vince talk to the officers, I can tell Brian is getting frustrated by the way he runs his hand through his hair like I’ve noticed Mason does, the gold wedding band sparkling brightly in comparison to his dark hair. I just hope they can work out whatever’s going on and get Aiden out of here as soon as possible.
After a while, Vince is led by some officers to the back, and Brian comes to sit with us.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Mason asks impatiently.
“They have Aiden in holding right now. He’s still a few weeks shy of 18 so they can’t question him without the presence of an appropriate adult, which I guess would be either Vince or me,” Brian explains, pulling out his phone and going through some contacts.
“But they can’t question him without a lawyer! Shouldn’t we be getting him a lawyer?!” Annalisa exclaims, more agitated than she usually is.
“He doesn’t need a lawyer because he didn’t do anything!” Noah defends Aiden. “He has, like, seven witnesses! Eight if you count the guy working the counter at the pizza place!”
Brian ignores Noah and stands up. “I’m calling a lawyer now. Hopefully he’ll be here soon.”
And with that, Brian walks away to find a quiet place to make his phone call, leaving the rest of us to our unproductive worrying.
A half hour later, a professional-looking man in a pressed suit enters the police station, and Brian gets up to shake his hand. They talk to some officers, who hustle the man I’m assuming is Aiden’s lawyer into the back room.
Charlotte is sitting beside Chase, and they’re talking in hushed tones between themselves. Annalisa is looking around the police station, glaring everyone down and looking like she’s trying very hard not to punch anyone who looks at her the wrong way.
Julian’s sitting beside her, talking to Mason and Brian about what could possibly happen to Aiden and what’s going on back there.
Noah’s beside me, his foot rapidly and incessantly tapping the floor in an anxious manner, the sound slowly driving me crazy.
I’m just sitting in the uncomfortable chair, incapable of doing anything except try really hard to ignore the pit of anxiety and worry building up in my stomach.
After a while, my irritability and stress come to a breaking point and I instinctively slap my hand on Noah’s thigh, effectively stopping the incessant tapping.
“NOAH,” I snap.
Noah glances at my hand still on his thigh, preventing him from continuing the repetitive anxious tapping. “I know I’m irresistible, Amelia, but now is not the time or place to get frisky.”
I remove my hand and roll my eyes at him, in no mood for his Noah-ness at this highly stressful moment.
I just don’t know what’s taking so long. Aiden didn’t do anything, so this all should’ve been sorted out already. Right?
After a while, Charlotte’s strict parents start calling, so her older brother comes to pick her and Chase up, who has his own worried parents to get home to. We promise we’ll keep them both updated.
It must have been an hour or two later when the lawyer and Vince come back out, unfortunately without Aiden.
Brian goes over to talk to the other men, and we all sit up more attentively, straining to hear what they’re saying. They talk for a while with some other officers, and then the lawyer and Brian leave with two other police officers, leaving us all staring after them, confused.
Vince heads over to us, looking tired but less frustrated, which I hope is a good thing. We all stand up as he approaches, ready to question him about what’s going on.
Excerpt reprinted courtesy of Wattpad Books.