Hi everyone! Nashville Dreams is coming very soon and I’m excited for you to read it. It’s a bit different from my other books, which are more straightforward romance or mystery. Nashville Dreams is a bigger book, that spans multiple years. It’s more of a saga. If you enjoy stories by Danielle Steel or Debbie Macomber, you might enjoy this. At least I hope so!
Laura Scott lives in a trailer park in Charleston, SC, with her divorced, alcoholic and very sweet mother. She is a senior in high school when the story starts and is madly in love with her best friend and soul mate Cole Dawson. He’s an aspiring country music singer and songwriter. His father is Dalton Dawson, an ambitious billionaire who wants to be the next governor. He is powerful and driven and does not approve of Laura, or Cole’s country music ambitions. He wants him to follow in his footsteps and go to law school. He most certainly does not approve of Cole marrying Laura, especially at such a young age. When he finds out she is pregnant he is even more furious. None of this will reflect well on his candidacy as a conservative Republican.
A tragic car accident changes everything when Cole’s father is given the news that Laura has completely lost her memory and the doctor doesn’t expect her to recover it any time soon, very possibly never. He seizes this opportunity, justifying his actions to himself by saying that what he is doing will be better for his son, and for the entire family in the long run.
But an action like this has consequences and fate takes people in different directions with new people and talents. The rest of the story follows Laura and Cole’s journeys. Can true soul mates be kept apart?
Read on for a sample excerpt, and if you’d like to be notified when Nashville Dreams releases–and to get it at the early discount price, be sure to get onto my special email list. Click here to join the list. Or read the excerpt first. Thanks for reading! ~Pam
Laura Scott patted her stomach and snuggled against her boyfriend, Cole Dawson. He tightened his arms around her and kissed her forehead gently as the warm, Charleston breeze danced over them. They were in their favorite spot, sprawled on the soft grass and leaning against the big old oak tree that overlooked a shallow pond, where a family of swans floated along. They’d come here on their first official date, two years ago, after getting ice cream cones and strolling through the park. The old tree had beckoned to them and gave a bit of privacy as they watched people walking along the water’s edge.
Laura sighed with happiness. On this sunny afternoon, a week after graduating from high school, she suddenly felt very adult and ready to take on the world, and relatively sure of her place in it. She glanced down at the modest diamond engagement ring she was wearing. Cole had given it to her a few days ago and she couldn’t stop staring at it. Her mother had been thrilled, and relieved, considering.
Laura hadn’t ever really worried though, except for the initial day of panic when she learned the news and couldn’t understand how it had happened, as they’d been so careful. Her doctor explained that the antibiotics she’d been taking for an ear infection had canceled out the birth control. She and Cole had already talked about getting married though and having children. She loved kids and he said he wanted a houseful of them, though neither one of them had expected to get started quite so early. It did change their plans a bit.
“I’ll have to let Montana State know that I won’t be attending after all. Hopefully Clemson will still let me in.” Laura was planning to be an elementary school teacher.
“Of course they will. They did accept you. And if it’s too late for this year, you can do community college and then start up fresh in the Fall.”
“That could work. How do you think your father will take it? Do you want me to come with you?” Laura noticed a muscle clench in Cole’s jaw and knew that he was dreading the conversation that he needed to have with his father.
“He’s back tonight, and we’re having dinner at the club. I thought that might be a good place to tell him. He can’t go too crazy if we’re out in public, especially there.”
Cole’s father could be intimidating, and although she’d offered to join Cole, to support him, Laura was actually glad that she wouldn’t be there. As sure as Cole was about getting married, she knew that his father was going to give him a hard time about it.
Dalton Dawson was a big deal in Charleston. No one knew exactly how much he was worth, but it was rumored to be multiple billions. He was a real estate developer with holdings all over the country. He was smart, driven, and Laura suspected, a bit ruthless. She didn’t particularly care for the man. He and Cole couldn’t be more different. Where his father was hard and ambitious, Cole was sensitive, caring and creative. His dream was to be a country music artist.
Laura suspected that Cole took after his mother who had once been a singer too. She’d never had the chance to meet her, as she’d died a year before she and Cole started dating, but he spoke of her often and had played some of her old recordings for Laura. She had a lovely voice. She had softened his father’s edges and they’d been madly in love. When she died, six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer, his father changed. He threw himself into work even more and recently found a new focus.
He was determined to be the next Governor of South Carolina. Which was another reason he wasn’t going to like their news. Dalton Dawson was a staunch Republican and conservative family values were a key part of his platform. His son knocking up a teenager who lived in a trailer park with her alcoholic mother wasn’t going to go over well.
“He’ll just have to deal with it. People have babies all the time, and at least we’re getting married. I told him over a month ago that I was going to ask you to marry me, so that won’t be a surprise.”
Laura chuckled. “He tried to talk you out of it, I imagine?”
“Well, yes. He said we’re too young for one thing.” Cole looked like he was going to say something else, then thought better of it and Laura imagined that his father had shared a few more reasons as to why their getting married wasn’t a good idea. He didn’t think she was good enough.
Cole reached into his pocket and drew out a swiss army knife. He opened it and then smiled at Laura as he turned around and found the heart he’d carved into the old tree on their first date. It said Laura and Cole and the simple gesture had endeared him to her then. They’d seen each other almost every day since. Cole didn’t care that she lived in a trailer park, and he liked her mother.
Cole was her best friend, and she couldn’t imagine not having him in her life. She watched with curiosity as he carved something below their names. When he was done, he leaned back so she could see. It was a single word, in small letters so it could fit into the heart and it said, ‘Forever’.
“There is nothing that my father can say, that will change my mind. We are getting married, as soon as possible. And then we’re going to start the rest of our life together.”
* * *
Laura’s mother was sitting on the patio smoking a cigarette when Cole dropped her off. He waved as he drove off and Laura joined her mother and pulled up a chair. Technically where they lived was considered a mobile home, but there were no wheels. They were manufactured homes, modest, but well-kept and Laura had never minded living there. It was other people that seemed to mind, catty girls mostly, and as her mother had reminded her more than once, if they had a problem with where she lived, that said more about their own issues.
As of a few years ago, her mother had paid off the mortgage and now owned her home free and clear. She was a tiny woman, just over five feet tall and about a hundred pounds. Laura smiled as she noticed that even after a long day of work, her mother’s hair still looked good. That was one thing she envied about her. Unlike her own hair, which was long, fine and stick straight, her mother’s was the same sandy blonde, but short and wavy and she didn’t have to do a thing except run a comb through it.
She also had blue eyes, a cute nose and an easy smile. She’d been beautiful when she was younger and in Laura’s opinion, still was. She looked tired today though. She worked as a waitress at a family restaurant and must have worked the lunch shift as she was still in her uniform and had a glass of chablis by her side. Her mother enjoyed her wine and often had several glasses at the end of a long day.
“Has Cole told his father yet?” Her mother seemed worried. She knew as well as Laura did that Dalton Dawson was not going to be happy to hear the news.
“He’s been out of town. They’re talking tonight, at the club.”
Her mother took a sip of wine and then a long drag on her cigarette.
“You don’t have to get married you know. You and the baby can stay here. There’s room for all of us.”
Laura reached out and squeezed her mother’s arm. She knew that she really wouldn’t mind having them stay. In fact, she’d probably love it. She had been about Laura’s age when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant. Like Laura, she’d been madly in love and Richard, Laura’s father, had felt the same. They’d married and everything had been wonderful, until a few years later when her father hurt his back on a construction site and became hooked on painkillers.
He died in his sleep one night after an accidental overdose, which her mother blamed herself for and never really got over. Richard had been the love of her life, and though she occasionally went on a date, her heart wasn’t in it. Laura worried that it might be hard for her when she moved out, and she was glad that Cole had agreed to stay in Charleston, so they would still be close to their families.
“Thank you. I think it will be okay though. Cole is determined to get married, with or without his father’s blessing.”
* * *
Cole met his father at the club. His father’s office was right around the corner and Cole was relieved to take his own car and not have to deal with with the black mood his father was sure to be in. The Breville Country Club was the most exclusive club in Charleston. His father was a regular there and often held business meetings in the bar or over dinner.
Cole parked his old Volvo sedan in the parking lot and made his way into the club. It was an ostentatious place and he’d never felt comfortable there. His father loved it. A marble entry-way opened into the lounge, which had plush royal blue carpet, black leather seats and polished dark wood. Cole found his father at the bar, chatting with several friends over a freshly poured martini. He smiled when he saw Cole.
“Right on time. What can I get you to drink?”
“I’ll have a beer, an IPA on draft if they have it.”
Mandy, the bartender, winked at Cole as she slid a freshly poured beer toward him.
“Nice to see you, Cole. It’s been awhile,” she said with a smile. Mandy had just graduated too and Cole had known her for years. He hadn’t been to the club in a long time though. He used to golf more, but in recent months it hadn’t been on his mind much.
“Thanks. It’s been too long.”
“You ready to sit down? Our table is ready whenever you are,” his father said as his two friends paid their tab and left.
“Sure.” As ready as he’d ever be. His father led them to a corner table by a window that faced out onto the course. Two menus were already there and the other two settings had been removed. They sat and his father took a long sip of his drink, looked like he was about to say something, then opened his menu instead.
A moment later, Edwin, the waiter that had been at the club for as long as Cole could remember, came by to tell them the specials and take their orders. They both always got the same thing, sirloin strip steaks and a loaded baked potato. Once Edwin took their menus and left, his father turned to him.
“All right. Out with it. What’s so important that we’re having this conversation here?”
Cole took a deep breath. His father was still dressed for success in a rich tweed blazer and red silk tie and he exuded power. He was tan, from spending the last week in the Bahamas and though he was in his early fifties, he had only a dusting of grey around his temples, which was mostly hidden by the gel he used on his thick, black hair.
“It’s Laura. You know how I told you a month or so ago that we wanted to get married?”
His father scowled and reached for a hot roll as Edwin set a bread basket on the table with a tub of butter.
“I thought we decided that it was too soon for you to be thinking marriage? Better to wait until you are out of college. See if you’re still even together then?” He slathered butter on his bread, took a bite and then added, “Maybe you’ll find someone more …..appropriate?”
Cole clenched his fist and fought the urge to smash something. He had to look away from the sneer on his father’s face. When he spoke about Laura it was as if he was thinking of something distasteful and it disgusted Cole.
“Dad, there is no one who is more appropriate for me than Laura.”
“You say that now. You have to think of your future, and where you are going and choose a partner that will be an asset.” He ripped off another piece of bread and as he reached for the butter he added casually, “Bernie Thirwood told me just the other day that he’d be happy to have you join them when you finish law school.”
Cole sighed. “I’ve never said I would go to law school. I don’t think I want to be a lawyer.”
His father set his butter knife down and slipped into his lecturing tone, “It’s an excellent choice for you. It will give you options. Open doors for other things. If you major in tax that would be really helpful for the business. If you eventually decide to come on board.”
“I don’t see myself following in your footsteps Dad. I’m sorry, but real estate development doesn’t interest me.”
“Well, what does then? You’re not still thinking foolish thoughts about Nashville and country music?”
“I am. That’s my dream.” Cole lifted his chin and met his father’s eyes. “I’m good too. People have said so.”
His father laughed. “Who said that? Your girlfriend? And you wonder why I don’t think she is a good choice for you.” He shook his head. “You need to be practical, son. Play around with music all you want, as a hobby. But you need a good education, a business degree at least, followed by law school.”
“I’ll think about it, law school that is. I am in for the business program.” Cole figured it might not be a bad idea to make his father seem like he was going along with his recommendations. To calm him before they headed into stormy waters.
“Good. And I’m glad you decided on Clemson. Now what’s so important?”
Their meals arrived and Cole waited a moment, letting his father cut into his steak and take his first bite before proceeding to ruin his meal.
“Dad, we’re going through with getting married, sometime over the next few weeks and then we’ll get a place together near Clemson.”
“Why would you do that? I thought you said she was going out of state? Washington or Montana?”
He cut another bite of steak and Cole did the same, and was just about to explain when his father set his fork down.
“She’s pregnant?” His voice was cold, his eyes stormy as he glared at his son.
“This isn’t good, for any of us.”
Cole nodded again.
His father furrowed his brow and Cole knew he was scrambling for a solution, a way out.
“You know I’m considering a run for governor? People are telling me the time is right. I think it might be, too. But this isn’t good. This is the kind of thing that won’t reflect well on us. She lives in a trailer park for god’s sake.”
“It’s not like that. Not really. Where she lives is nice and neat.”
“You can put lipstick on a pig, but everyone knows it’s still a pig. It’s a trailer park, no matter what else you want to call it.”
“Fine, but still, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“And she’s pregnant and now you want to marry her. You should be starting your college years unencumbered, not with a baby on the way.” He paused for a moment and then asked, Will she consider an abortion?” He brightened as he said it and Cole cringed. His father was such a hypocrite.
“I didn’t think you approved of that? That you were pro-life?”
“Well, yes, I am. Of course I am. But sometimes hard decisions must be made, for extenuating circumstances. As long as it’s handled discreetly, no one needs to know.”
“She doesn’t want an abortion. Neither do I.”
They finished their meals in silence. His father ordered another martini and checked emails on his phone while Cole gladly accepted another beer. When their plates were cleared, his father turned to him with an offer.
“If she agrees to get an abortion, I will pay for her to attend that school in Montana. I think that would be the best solution for everyone. If you’re still wanting to be together after you finish college, then so be it. But I think it would be a huge mistake for the two of you to have this baby. You’ll run this by her, let her decide?”
Cole felt his meal threaten to come back up.
“She won’t agree. I know her.”
“That may be. But you’ll ask her?”
“Fine. I’ll ask her. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”
* * *
“I think it’s really sweet that Cole wants to come with you,” Laura’s mother said as they pulled up to the Dawson mansion. Laura had spoken to Cole briefly earlier that day. He’d called and confirmed that he still wanted to come for the doctor visit. Her doctor was going to do the first ultrasound and they were both excited to see their baby.
Cole had sounded tense on the phone though. She’d asked him how the dinner had gone the night before and all he’d said was that it had gone about as well as he’d expected and he’d fill her in later.
Laura jumped out to walk to the front door and get Cole, while her mother waited in the car. Since it was the middle of the afternoon, she knew she wasn’t likely to run into his father, but she was still nervous as she approached the front door. It was an intimidating house. It was huge, and they had live-in help. When Laura knocked on the door, it was opened by Sergio, their Brazilian butler. He broke into a wide smile when he saw Laura.
“Come on in, I’ll tell Cole that you’re here.”
Laura stepped inside and waited in the foyer while Sergio went to get Cole. She glanced around, at the sleek marble floors and soaring ceilings with elegant artwork on softly shaded walls. His house was gorgeous but felt more like a museum than a home to her. She never said anything to Cole, as it was all he knew, and it was beautiful. Just not what she would ever want. She heard footsteps and looked up to see him bounding down the stairs, a smile on his face.
“You’re in a good mood,” she said as he pulled her in for a quick kiss.
“I’m in a great mood. We’re going to meet our baby for the first time. How cool is that?”
Laura relaxed a bit as they walked outside and toward the car, where her mother was smiling and waving at them. She’d trusted that Cole wouldn’t let his father get to him, to change their plans, but still the worry had been there. Dalton Dawson was a powerful, and ruthless man and she knew that he had never approved of her.
Laura got into the front seat and Cole settled into the back. They both buckled up as her mother pulled out of the driveway and onto the main road. The doctor’s office was just a few miles away.
“Thanks for coming to get me,” Cole said to her mother.
“Of course. I’m thrilled that you wanted to be there for Laura.”
Traffic was light, and they were running a few minutes ahead of schedule. The last thing that any of them remembered was a large SUV that was going much too fast. It swerved into the opposite lane—and there was no time for her mother to react, to get out of the way. The SUV hit them head on, and in the span of just a few seconds, everything changed.
~~Coming very soon~~
Click here, for an email notification when Nashville Dreams releases, and for the opportunity to get it at a special early release discount.
Thank you, and Happy Holidays! ~Pam