Hey, everyone! It’s Samantha Chase and I am psyched to be here with you today. This month I am totally celebrating the release of “I’ll Be There” – book six in the Montgomery Brothers series. I fell in love with this family from the very beginning – and I think some of you have too! But there has been something special about Zach and Gabriella’s story that is different than any of our other Montgomerys.
From the time “Meant for You” came out (book five), readers instantly began asking about Zach and Gabriella. We were introduced to them in that book and you really got a sense that there was a story brewing there. They were snarky and argumentative with one another in a way that you just knew was masking some deep feelings. And by the end of the book we had the makings of a wounded hero and an under-appreciated heroine. The best part is that no matter how angry Zach made us, we still believe there’s room for redemption.
And as for Gabriella, I think readers are waiting for her to put her boss in his place! We want her to stand up for herself and maybe make Zach suffer a little in the process. Who doesn’t love a heroine who finally realizes her self-worth and makes the hero come begging? I know I love that!
I think this story – more than any other I’ve written – deals with the complexity of a relationship between two broken people. It’s more than a personality clash and both Zach and Gabriella have healing to do – both together and apart.
It was now or never.
Shifting again so he had his arms resting on the table, he looked at Gabriella and studied her face. “The truth?” he asked and waited until she nodded. “Okay, Gabs. But remember, you asked. I invited you here tonight because I needed you to realize how sorry I was for the way I’ve treated you. I’ve done some serious soul searching these last few days and I don’t like the man I’ve become. I’m committed to my therapy with Alex and I’m committed to getting back to being the head of Montgomerys. I didn’t want you to come in here on the defensive. I wanted us to just have some time to talk and…get to know each other again.”
She leaned back in her chair and let out a shaky breath. “Wow. Okay.”
That was it? That was all she had to say? “But more than that, Gabriella, I don’t want to do any of it without you. I need you. You are the reason I’ve been able to accomplish all I have with the company. You’re the reason I’ve been successful in just about every aspect of my life for the last five years.” Reaching across the table, Zach took one of Gabriella’s hands in his and just marveled at how soft it was. He always wondered what her skin felt like and now that he knew, he wanted to feel more. “Don’t leave me. Please.”
Her blue eyes filled with tears and she used her free hand to quickly wipe them away before they fell and then studied their hands on the table. “Zach,” she said softly, “we’ve been over this.”
“I know, I know,” he replied just as softly. “I need another chance, Gabriella. I need a chance to make things right.” He looked up, his gaze meeting hers. “I need you.”
Deciding to be bold, he turned her hand over and twined their fingers together and gently squeezed. He was surprised she didn’t pull away and thought maybe—just maybe—they were making progress. “I know I can’t erase the things I’ve said and done, but if you’ll give me one more chance, Gabs, I promise not to screw up. If I do anything to upset you, you can walk away. Hell, you can slap me in the face, kick me in the shin or throw something heavy at me and I’ll take it. I just…I can’t do this without you.”
Her eyes never left their joined hands.
“I don’t want to do this without you,” he said quietly.
“I’m afraid to…believe you.” He barely heard her words, they were uttered so softly.
Everything inside of him clenched with pain. His always confident, ever-efficient assistant was now distrusting and uncertain—because of him. “I don’t know what to say to make you believe me. Tell me. Tell me what I need to do. Anything. Anything you need from me to gain your confidence, and I’ll do it.”
She looked up at him. “It’s not that easy. Every day I walked into the office, I gave you another chance. Every time you berated me or made me feel like I screwed up and I came back, I gave you another chance. From my standpoint, you’ve had two years’ worth of second chances. I think I’ve been more than generous.”
His other hand reached out to cup her hand in both of his. “I know you have and you have no idea how much I appreciated it.” She looked at him with disbelief. “It’s true! I know I never said it but every morning you were there, I was thankful. Every time you walked into my office, I was thankful. Please. I’m begging here, Gabs.”