Innovative Online Book Tours Presents: Mangled Hearts by Felicia Tatum
Francesca and Cade
Can two loves find their way back to each other despite an addiction and a hardened heart? Will their love overcome it all? Francesca Taymon is young, successful, and broken. A tragic accident years ago haunts her to this day, and she blames only one person--the one that holds her heart. When she finally gets her first case, will she be able to handle seeing him again? Can she do her job and keep her heart intact?
Cade Kelling doesn’t take life seriously. He’s reckless and irresponsible, drinking all his problems away. When his parents bail him out for the last time, will he be able to handle seeing Francesca after all of these years? Will he be able to tell her what really happened that night 5 years ago or will he lose her forever? And the most important question…. Can these mangled hearts be mended?
I cast my eyes down, letting her tear me a new one. Everything she said was right. I was stupid. My drinking had caused her enough pain, and now I was pulling this. “I’m sorry, Francesca. You’re completely right. I wasn’t thinking. And I’m sorry to bring back thoughts of the accident,” I told her, scraping my chair back to stand. “I think it’s time I head home.”
She didn’t budge, but called out, “You don’t have to remind me of the accident. I’m haunted by it every single day.”
I opened the door, and slipped out. I inhaled the fresh air, and closed my eyes. She’d stolen my heart, and in return, I’d ruined her life.
Felicia Tatum was born and raised in Tennessee. She always loved reading, and at the age of twelve began writing. Her passion for creating stories grew and in May 2012, she finally wrote her first novel, The White Aura. She still lives in Tennessee with her daughter and her kitty. She loves cooking, books, and animals are some of her best friends. She watches a lot of Disney channel and often dreams up new book ideas. She's currently working on various projects, including the rest of the White Aura Series, the Scarred Hearts Series, and a novella series. Her dream is to write as many books as possible while entertaining as many people as possible.
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CHAPTER ONE: FRANCESCA
The steaming hot water rolled down my skin, leaving a trail of red lines. I lathered the shampoo through my long, dark blonde hair. Closing my eyes, I let the lavender scent tickle my nose. Inhaling deeply, my lungs filled and my body relaxed. Continuing the gentle massage of my head, I thought about the past few years. The stress was consuming me to the point I missed much needed rest.
I went through the same routine every morning. Nightmares tortured me throughout the night, reminding me of all that could have been. I woke with the memory fresh on my mind. The day that was forever etched in my brain; my best friend coming to break the heart-wrenching news to me, the world shattering before my eyes, and the blur that followed. My day always started with me in a tangle of blankets and covered in sweat. I would lie in my bed attempting to calm my fast beating heart until my breath would finally slow enough for me to get up and shower. At least I had a routine.
I finished rinsing my hair and body, the suds covering me like a white, fluffy blanket. The water mixed in with my lingering tears, clearing my face of the night before.
I hurried up the stairs of my building, tripping over my own feet and almost falling flat on my face. “Perfect,” I muttered as I gripped the handrail for support. I bent and slipped the too-high heels off. I usually took my shoes off in the office anyway, but they would have to come off little sooner than usual today. I rushed in the door, raising my hand to wave at the office assistant, Zander. He usually wanted me to stop and chat but I was running late. I slept too late, pushed snooze too many times, and spent too long in the shower trying to forget, and tripped over my own feet as I got dressed, so I was in a rush to get to the meeting with my boss.
I flung my briefcase on my desk, sending papers flying. Groaning, I crawled around the floor picking them up. Pain shot through my head as I rammed it into the desk while attempting to stand. I rubbed the spot in a circle, trying to ease the intensity of the throbbing. I searched for the folder with my notes on the Archuleta case. Being unable to find it, I slumped in the chair, closed my eyes, and rubbed my temples. This was the worst Wednesday I’d ever had. Nothing seemed to be going right, and it was only 9 a.m.
Being employed as a Worker’s Compensation lawyer for the last three years had been rough. Directly after graduating college with my B.S. in Business, I ran off to law school. I hoped being around new faces in a different town would help me forget. And I did for a brief period, but it didn’t last. After the graduation ceremony, I got a job with a firm back in my hometown, putting me right back where I started. Now I had a job I didn’t particularly like, mainly because they treated me like an intern. Most entry level lawyers were able to move up to the higher end cases after their second year, but not me. I was still stuck on the simple cases, and that frustrated me to no end. I was ready for the challenges that came with being a lawyer.
Sighing, I opened the top drawer of my rusted desk to see if, by some miracle, the folder was in there. I shuffled the contents, gasping when I realized it was in my briefcase. Muttering obscenities to myself, I pulled the heavy leather case closer to my seat. The lock clicked as I popped it open to reveal the treasure. I laughed at myself as I opened the folder to ensure all needed papers were present. I moved my feet around under my desk, attempting to find my shoes. I got them on just in time to see my boss walk by on his way to our meeting. Jumping up, I slid the chair away from my desk and rounded the edge to get to the door.
“Mr. Phillips,” I called, taking long strides to catch up. It wasn’t difficult because I was fairly tall for a woman. At five feet, eight inches, I generally stood well above other women. And some men. When I was younger I hated my height. It seemed that every boy I had a crush on was at least three inches shorter than me, making me feel extremely awkward for most of my teen years. Once I hit my twenties and grew in confidence, I didn’t mind it as much. If I was attracted to the man, height shouldn’t matter.
“Ms. Taymon,” he said, nodding in acknowledgement.
I smiled politely, and slid in step with him. “Good morning, sir. I was just on my way to our meeting for the Archuleta case.”
“Yes, indeed. I am, too. Do you have everything ready?”
I held the folder up for him to see, shaking it a bit. “Yes, sir.”
“Good. We have a conference call with the company at 11 a.m. This meeting needs to happen fast so we’re prepared.”
Great. A conference call meant he would want to make our final offers today. We had a long meeting ahead of us, and I dreaded what would happen. The Archuleta case was about a woman that was injured while driving her company’s car to the post office. A semi-truck rammed into the driver’s side, completely crushing her. She had barely survived, and her spine had to be completely restructured. She was in a wheelchair and her doctors seemed uncertain if she would ever walk again. Her company didn’t want to accommodate her new needs, nor did they want to pay the big settlement she deserved. The lawyers at J & B Law Firm were determined to get her the money she would need to survive.
I wished I was the lawyer fighting in court, but I was only here to gather facts, numbers, and information. The case would definitely go to court, because the company felt they were getting the low end of the deal. How they figured they were getting the bad end, when Ms. Archuleta may never walk again, I didn’t know.
“I’m ready, Mr. Phillips. I have all the information you asked for, and I made a few more notes with relevant facts and cases I came across while researching.”
“You always do a thorough job, Francesca. Thank you. You may sit in on the conference call, if you’d like.”
I nodded, a twinge of pain shooting through me. He said I could “sit in”, not participate. Once again, I was stuck on the sidelines.
I listened intently during the call, though it drove me crazy not being able to chime in when I felt like it. I took notes, hoping to impress Mr. Phillips. I planned to discuss this with him during my next evaluation, but that was a few months away. After it was over, I gathered my stuff to take back to my office, including another folder with all the information I’d given Mr. Phillips. I made back-ups in case anything happened to his copies. I filed everything away in the proper places and pulled out my to-do list for the rest of the day. The conference call set me back a couple of hours, so I anticipated staying late tonight. The joys of being a lawyer were few and far between. At least in my current position.
I scribbled down a short list of what I would need to do for the rest of the Archuleta case, put that paper in my to-do pile, and moved on to the next task. Researching old court cases was getting old for me, and I groaned as the list kept getting longer. I mumbled a few words when I heard a man clear his throat. My head snapped up, and my eyes widened in shock. Mr. Phillips stood a few feet from my desk with a smirk on his face. I never heard him come in, so I had no idea how long he had been there or what he heard.
“Oh, Mr. Phillips,” I exclaimed as I stood hastily. My knee connected with the bottom of the desk, causing me to sharply inhale. “I apologize, sir. I didn’t hear you come in.”
He laughed, “It’s alright, Francesca. You work hard, I appreciate that. I have a task for you, that’s why I’m here.”
Hope soared through me. Could he be allowing me to work on a case as the actual lawyer? I couldn’t get too excited. I’d had my hopes and dreams crushed too many times before. “I’d be happy to help. What do you need?”
“One of my close friends from college needs some help. His son has gotten himself into a bit of trouble and I told him we could help him out.”
Intrigued, I prodded for more info. “Ok, sir. What exactly will you need me to do? Do you need research on something similar?”
He shook his head, and my heart quickened. “No, Francesca. I want you working on the case.”
My mouth fell open, but I quickly closed it. “Of course. I’d be happy to do it. Let me take notes.” I sat, and motioned for him to take a seat in front of me. “Go ahead, I’m ready.” My pen was poised and itching to write.
“Well, first you should know this isn’t a worker’s comp case. I know that’s our specialty, but since he’s a friend I told him we would take it. His son got into a fight in a bar, and the owner pressed charges. Since his boy has gotten into a few fights before, not to mention more than a few tickets, the case will go to court. I just need you to review his record and make sure he doesn’t go to jail. He said he will agree to community service, but he doesn’t want his boy to do time.”
I nodded. “Ok, and the name?”
“His son’s name is Cade Kelling.”
My heart stopped. The shaking of my hand caused the pen to fall and roll across the desk. I watched it make its way all the way to the edge, falling in slow motion to the floor. I’d stopped breathing. I gazed up at Mr. Phillips, trying to make words come out of my mouth. “Cade Kelling?” I choked out.
“Yes, do you know him?”
I nodded slightly. Oh, boy did I know him.Mangled Hearts by Felicia Tatum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mangled Hearts: Francesca and Cade (Scarred Hearts #1) is a 2014 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The first few chapters of this book had me thinking this was another New Adult novel with immature characters, crying at the drop of a hat over an old high school romance. Well, keep reading because that is not the case at all.
Yes, Cade and Francesca were friends in high school. Cade could see Francesca was a really pretty girl but she had no confidence in herself and was the target of some cruel classmates from time to time due to her introverted ways. Cade was the 'bad boy' through and through and he never represented himself in any other way although Francesca saw the potential in him. Cade made sure he kept the relationship on a friendship level because he knew Francesca deserved better than him.
Just when it looked like the relationship might change, a horrific turn of events separated them for nearly a decade.
Through the years, Francesca has become a lawyer and is trying to take on some cases of her own with a little substance. Cade hasn't changed much at all. In fact, he is just plain unimpressive. He is in trouble again and his father has arranged for an attorney to help him out. Yes, Francesca is given his case. For the first time in many years the two will face each other.
Cade has a very serious problem with alcohol since his high school days. This is why he can't hold a job and is always in trouble. His change encounter with Francesca opens up old wounds for both of them, but it also brings their feelings for one another back to the surface again. But, it doesn't matter how much they care for each other if Cade can't get a grip on his problem and get some help.
So, the subject matter in this book is a serious one. The author does a good job of addressing this issue without the story becoming maudlin or preachy or a story of harrowing withdrawals. Instead the story focuses on the power of love and commitment and the amazing effect knowing you are loved can do for a person. Cade finally owns up to his drinking problem and with a chance with Francesca motivating him he starts to pull himself together. Cade makes this decision alone, goes into rehab without being nagged death and makes this difficult journey in order to be the man Francesca deserves. The book leaves us on high note, but there is more to this story coming in the next installment.
Overall not a bad effort considering the subject matter. Some plot points were a little far fetched when it came to Francesca blaming Cade for something that happened in the past. I think a full report would have cleared up that misunderstanding, but still Cade does deserve some of the blame. Other than that one little complaint I thought the author did a great job with this one. 3.5 rounded to 4.