Title: I Could Never
Author: Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Forbidden Romance/Enemies to Lovers
Release Date: August 21, 2023
From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward comes a new forbidden, enemies-to-lovers story…
It all started with an unexpected phone call.
Two years after my fiancé passed away in an accident, his father died suddenly, leaving Brad’s adult, special-needs brother with no one to care for him.
The next thing I knew, I was on a cross-country drive to New Hampshire where I’d be moving in to look after Scottie until I could get him into a group home.
The last thing I ever expected?
I wouldn’t be taking care of him alone.
Josh Mathers, my fiance’s best friend—who also happened to be my sworn enemy—insisted he was the better person for the job. He told me to go back to California, and I told him where he could stick that demand.
Our disdain for each other wasn’t anything new. It dated back to a text I’d accidentally read years ago.
We hated each other. But we both loved Scottie, so neither of us budged.
Now we were living together in a tiny house—with one available bedroom. Thank goodness it was only temporary.
Over time, I realized the broody jerk I thought I knew was different than I’d imagined.
I found myself slowly growing attached to someone I once considered the enemy…and growing attracted to him.
Sure, both of us were guilt-ridden over Brad. We were also two grown people with pent-up frustration toward one another—stuck in a cabin in the woods.
But this was Josh.
I could never.
**No Amazon e-book preorder.
Will go live on/around release day
Copyright © 2023 by Penelope Ward
Josh sat at the table, casually having coffee as I walked into the house after my drive home from the salon. The smell of cigarettes emanated from him. He hadn’t smelled like that since the first day he arrived.
“Where’s Scottie?” I asked.
“In his room,” he answered without making eye contact.
I stated the obvious. “You smell like smoke.”
“Must be the firewood.” He brought his mug to his mouth.
“Bullsh*t. The pellet stove doesn’t emit any fumes.”
“Yeah. I caved and had one. Big deal.” He pointed toward the door. “I did it outside, though, while keeping an eye on Scottie through the window.”
“You’d been doing so well. What happened?”
He still wasn’t looking at me, and instead stared straight ahead. “Just human, I guess.”
Then something in front of him on the table caught my attention: pieces of ripped pages piled atop…my journal.
A rush of adrenaline shot through me. “Why do you have that?”
“It’s apparently your diary.”
“I’m quite aware of that.” My heart began to pound. “You were snooping in my room?”
He shot daggers at me. “Think, Carly. Of the two guys in this house, who is the one more likely to have been ransacking your room?”
“You were supposed to be watching him while I was at the salon,” I yelled.
“God forbid I take a piss in peace. Is it not bad enough that I’m showering with him now? Getting my balls tugged?”
I wanted to laugh, but this moment was far from funny.
“Scottie ripped those pages out?”
“The notebook is bright orange, like his iPad cover. Probably caught his attention. The drawer next to your bed was open, so he must have gone in there. I assume that’s where you kept it. Admittedly, I’d been letting him hang out in your room, but you sometimes do, too. I went to check on him, make sure he wasn’t doing anything bad, and found those pages strewn about.” A vein popped in his neck.
Josh was angry. Why? I should’ve been the angry one.
“Did you read it?”
“I only happened to see what was on the pages he ripped. I didn’t read anything else once I figured out what the hell it was.”
This is bad. Starting to sweat, I asked, “But how much did you see?”
He stood up from his seat and slowly approached me. With each step he took toward me, I took one back. When we could go no farther, he placed his arms on either side of me, leaning his hands against the wall. And I forgot how to breathe.
Fear. Arousal. Embarrassment. You name it, I was feeling it right now. Every emotion hit me at once.
His breath grazed my face. “How much did I actually see?” He paused. “Enough to know you think I’m an evil pig.”
Ugh. No. Now his anger made sense.
When he backed away, I walked over to the ripped pages on the table and sifted through them.
“It’s the last one, for reference,” he noted.
I read what I’d written the other night.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.