Ben’s life appears perfect. He has a career to shine in and a beautiful family. But his marriage has broken down, and being a small-town cop is turning into a dead-end job.
Hot-headed troublemaker Donnie is used to being side-eyed by the fuzz. Getting dragged into the station for a crime he didn’t commit is no big surprise – but a cop who gives a damn sure is.
Ben has no clue how much a second encounter with the secretive redneck will shake up his life. Donnie’s sullen vulnerability arouses a passion Ben hasn’t felt for a long time. Soon, nothing matters but helping Donnie fight his demons. Can they carve a new life together out of the ashes?
Book Title: A World Apart (Loving Again Series, Book 1)
Author: Mel Gough
Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design
Genre/s: Contemporary romance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 51 000 words/197 pages
Release Date: January 25, 2019
The first book in a series of three, but can be read as standalone.
First scene from A World Apart from second character’s POV (Donnie)
“What have we got, Lou?”
The voice is calm and quiet, and Donnie glances up. A cop he hasn’t seen before stands by the desk. He’s shorter than the other one, and not so muscled. His hair is blond, and kind of long for a policeman. He has one eyebrow raised as he waits for the clerk to answer.
Donnie stops his nervous shifting. His arms, bound behind him, prickle with tension. What’s happening? He bites his lip and sinks back into his misery. Why are these people not leaving him alone?
“How was court, brother?”
That’s the asshole cop who dragged him in. Donnie’s head jerks up. He balls his hands to fists, shifts on the narrow bench, away from the desk as far as he can. His neck prickles where the cop’s fingers gripped him hard when he shoved Donnie into the back of the patrol car. Donnie eyes the cop. He towers over the new guy, and his biceps ripple under the rolled-up sleeves. His dark eyes are like steel.
“You missed all the excitement,” he says to his blond colleague. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.”
“Hence the handcuffs?” the second cop asks. His voice is flat, and he’s regarding his colleague from narrowed eyes. The first cop smirks.
“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Donnie mumbles. He can’t help himself. This is so unfair. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”
“And I told you this,” the first cop says. “We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”
Donnie feels sick. The guy will do anything in his power to pin this on him. He wishes he could explain himself properly, but as always, when he needs them the most, Donnie can’t find the right words. And now they got him here. Nobody will give a shit. Nobody ever has. They’ll lock him up, and throw away the key.
Donnie sits up on the bench. With as much emphasis as he can he says, “It wasn’t me! Why’re you not listening?”
The other cop’s gaze is on him. In his rage and fear, it takes Donnie a moment to realize how kind and sad the man’s green eyes are. He steps in front of the big brute, shielding Donnie. “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” he says to the first cop.
The brute nods, looking sour. When his colleague turns his back, he lunges for Donnie and grabs his arm. He’s lightning fast and takes Donnie by surprise. The cop’s fingers grip his arm so hard, Donnie suppresses a cry of pain. The other cop steps close again. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.”
The first cop’s eyes bore into Donnie. Finally, he gives a grunt and lets go. Donnie’s arm throbs, his heart is racing. He has to screw up all his willpower not to flinch when the second cop says, “Would you come this way, please?” His voice is very calm. Instinctively, Donnie knows that this one means him no harm. He gets up stiffly from the bench.
He and the second cop are of equal height. He still regards Donnie with his calm, green eyes, and Donnie again thinks that the man looks sad.
He turns and walks down the hallway. A door on the right stands open. “In there,” the kind cop says. Donnie enters the room. When he turns, the brute is right there. Donnie backs away. “Turn around,” the cop says. Donnie doesn’t move.
“Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably,” the nice one says. Donnie narrows his eyes, regards him. He decides that he can believe it, so he turns around, and the brute unlocks one of the cuffs. Donnie turns again, and the cop yanks his arms roughly to lock the cuffs again. They’re too tight, but Donnie doesn’t say anything.
“Sit.” The brute indicates the metal table and chairs.
Donnie faces the one-way mirror, and quickly looks away. Floyd will be pissed when he hears about this. The two cops sit down opposite, chair legs scraping over concrete. Donnie is getting a headache. Just great.
There’s silence. Donnie looks up, into the kind cop’s expectant eyes. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?” the officer asks.
Donnie’s heart sinks. “You’re arresting me?” Floyd would tell him not to say anything at all.
“No, we’re not.” The kind cop’s voice is gentle and patient. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.”
Can he refuse to answer the cops’ questions? Will they let him go if he does? Donnie doesn’t dare risk it. He doesn’t want the big one to get angry again. His hands shake with the adrenaline and he clasps them tightly in his lap. He shrugs.
“Sir.” The nice cop again. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Donnie frowns. Why does the man look upset? He feels in his gut that this cop doesn’t want to trick him, or harm him in any way.
“Go ahead,” he murmurs.
The big cop presses a small button on a panel, and the other one says, “Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” He nods at Donnie. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.”
“Donnie Saunders.” He’s surprised to see Griers giving him a small smile. Donnie keeps his eyes on him. It’s a damn sight nicer than looking at Browne glowering. And it keeps him calm.
Griers says, “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.”
Browne looks sour. “All right,” he says. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.”
“I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me.” Donnie is getting so tired of this. His heart beats fast again. “Why is it that you can’t hear me?”
Officer Griers interrupts, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?”
Now what? It’s bad that they don’t want to believe him. But it would be worse if they knew the truth. But it’s Donnie’s only choice, he can see that well enough. He swallows, then mumbles, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.”
“I need to know who you were there to see,” Griers says. “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”
Donnie feels exhausted. What does it matter if the cop finds out? He can’t arrest him for it. At least then they’ll let him go. With any luck, he’ll never see Griers again, and what the cop thinks of him doesn’t matter. Though his gut clenches with shame as he imagines Griers looking at him with disgust when he finds out the truth. Donnie takes a deep breath. “Stacy Miller.”
“Thank you.” Griers looks at his partner with narrowed eyes, then gets up. “Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.”
Donnie doesn’t want to be left alone with the other one. He shifts in his chair, away from the cop, and doesn’t look at him. He’s sure Browne is still glaring. He can feel the man’s fury.
For a few minutes they sit in silence. Donnie’s heart races like mad. He tries not to think about what Officer Griers is currently discussing with the woman from the DFCS’s Medicaid team, but it’s no use. Why does it even matter to him? He feels sick with shame.
“You’re lucky it’s not me making that call,” Browne says after the long silence. It makes Donnie jump and glance up. He wonders if the tape is still running. He’s about to answer back angrily, but at that moment the door opens.
“Mr. Saunders, your alibi for yesterday afternoon was confirmed by Ms. Miller,” Officer Griers says. “You’re free to leave.”
And that’s all he says. Donnie can’t believe it. The cop actually came through on his word. After a moment of shocked relief, he raises his hands without looking at Browne. “You gonna let me keep them as a souvenir?”
As soon as Browne has unshackled his wrists, Donnie is on his feet. He’s trying not to run as he makes for the door. He wants nothing but to leave this place. But he forces himself to stop when he reaches Griers. “Thanks,” he says without looking the cop in the eye. Then he hurries down the corridor.
Rubbing his wrists, Donnie pushes through the station entry, blinking in the sunlight. He stops and takes a deep, shaky breath.
What a fucking week he’s having. Floyd will be pissed. But as Donnie gets into his truck he feels grateful to Officer Griers. It’s not often that anyone in authority is kind to a Saunders.
All the way back home Donnie wonders why the officer looked so sad. He wishes he could do something to return the favor and make Griers feel better.
Mmmkay, so, this is the first I’ve read of this author, and the blurb had me intrigued. I’ve got a thing for cops and dads, so this one seemed right up my alley, right?
Let’s discus…. Ben is a cop who made his career his life, much to the dismay of his wife, who got tired of seemingly being a single parent. I mean, she might as well have been, right? We don’t learn of his wife and kid right away, they aren’t even mentioned until well after he meets Donnie at the station after being arrested for something he didn’t do. His partner, Jason, was a real jerk and treated him terribly before even knowing if he committed the crime or not. He didn’t, but instead of apologizing, like a normal person or being a good cop, he just keeps on with the sneering and bad attitude. I didn’t like him, even after he apologized at the end. I hope the next book isn’t about him, because I won’t be bothered with him.
Also, the book is supposed to be set in Georgia, which, I could tell some of the dialogue was thrown in to sound southern, but most of the time, it just didn’t work for me. There was also some English words thrown in for good measure….What the heck is a switchboard? Do we have those over here? What year is it? I’ve never in my life called anyplace at all, ever and gotten a switchboard. And here in the south, we drink sweet tea… it’s like our water… we don’t do “cuppa’s”
Okay, so aside from that, I liked Donnie. I’m not sure how he lived, only volunteering at an AA center, working with the children… I mean, how did he buy food? Gas for his truck? Basic necessities? His brother? Who you will also not like, treats him like dirt and beats up on him. Luckily he leaves midway through the story and when he comes back….he’s gone again. Which was just fine with me…
There’s an insta-love thing kind of happening here, the guys meet at a meeting and Ben gets really interested and involved in Donnie’s life. Donnie carries a lot of baggage and I always enjoy a good hurt/comfort story, and this one definitely had that. There are many obstacles for these two; illness, divorce, other family, death of a family member, a job that Ben seems to never go to, a best friend that’s a jerk and not very best friend like…. It was a lot. But through it all, Ben was there for Donnie. He never wavered, he was great, and I liked that for Donnie.
One thing I really hated, were those nurses at the hospital… calling Donnie names and blatantly not helping him.. did they get fired? In trouble? Arrested? I mean…. Seriously? I need justice for crap like that. You can’t just not mention them again. That made me sick. I’m petty, I need repercussions when someone is bigoted, negligent and just plain nasty. Just thought I’d note that because it bugged me the whole book.
Overall though, it was a gritty, real kind of story. Life isn’t always easy, there are sicknesses and disease, crazy family, abuse, and then supportive families and good kids, people willing to help… all the good bad and ugly. I was glad to see that eventually, things worked out for these two…
3 pieces of eye candy from me
Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.
If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.
Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.
In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.
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