July 5, 2014

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Until We Fly (Beautifully Broken #4) by Courtney Cole

Ex-Army Ranger, Brand Killien, has always been good. 
A good friend, a good soldier, a good everything. .
The problem is, good hasn’t gotten him anything but a crushed heart.
So after licking his wounds, he decides to move on.  And moving on doesn’t include being good anymore. 
Bad sounds so much better. 
Jaded and detached, Brand is determined to never open himself up to anyone again.  It’s not worth the pain.  Instead, he becomes closed, hardened, aloof. 
But then he’s called back home for a family emergency… a family that he is estranged from.  A family that he put out of his mind a long time ago for very good reasons…reasons that involve secrets and pain.  Reasons he tried hard to forget.    
But home is where the heart is, and it just might be where Brand finds his again. 
Why?  Because home is where Nora Greene is.  A fiery, red-headed spitfire, Nora is a thing from his past.  A beautiful, feisty thing.  When Brand left, she was away at boarding school.   
But she’s back now. 
And she wants Brand, scars and all. 



Excerpt:

When I open my eyes, I’m not sure how much time has passed, only that my head feels heavy, a splitting pain coming from the back of it.  With shaking fingers, I touch it, and my fingertips come back covered in blood.
I look up. 
The heat is from fire.  And the fire is all around. 
I’m in a pile of rubble in what used to be the café.  Boards and ceiling and tables are piled around me, and people are on the floor.  Dust is everywhere and I can hardly see through it.  But I can see the fire. 
And I can see Brand. 
Like some sort of magnificent and fierce angel, he strides through the dark smoke, and I see him pry the school bus doors open.  He leaps inside, and a scant moment later, he emerges with a child in his muscled arms.   He hands the child to someone, then goes back into the smoking, charred bus. Over and over, I watch this process. 
Some of the children he carries out are bloody, some are limp.  But he continues to make the trips. 
Finally, he comes out empty handed. 
He stands still for a moment, and I see how his shirt is ripped down the front.  I can see a chiseled washboard behind the large tear.  I see how soot is smeared across his cheeks, and the same soot has turned his hair black. 
I see him take a deep breath, I see him look around at the carnage on the street, looking for someone else to save.
And then he sees me. 
I do need saved.  More than he’ll ever know.
His eyes are a blue so bright that I can’t even name it.  Sapphire, maybe?  They shine through the soot, through the flames.  He focuses on me, then with long steps, he comes to me. Straight to me.  Through the chaos, through the havoc. 
“Miss, are you alright?” his voice is husky, probably from the smoke.  I can’t move. 
“I’m stuck,” I manage to tell him.  “My legs.”
My legs are beneath splintered boards, boards that used to be a café wall.  As I glance up at Brand, I see my parents on the street, standing with an EMT.  I can see my mother’s frantic arm movements, and I can read her lips.
My daughter. 
I take a breath, but there’s no way she’d hear me if I called.  She’ll have to wait. 
 Brand draws my attention back to him, back to his brilliant blue eyes, by speaking. 
“I’m going to get this stuff off of you.  I’ll try not to hurt you,” he tells me calmly.  With muscular arms, he lifts the jagged boards off of me, one by one.  True to his word, he doesn’t hurt me. 
When he’s finished, when I’m free, he doesn’t help me stand.
He bends and scoops me up instead. 
My head rests against his chest and I can hear his heart as he carries me effortlessly through the mayhem. 
Ba-bump.
Ba-bump.
His heart is as strong as he is. 
I focus on that, on the strong beats, instead of looking at the people on the floor.  Instead of looking at the blood, or smelling the smoke, or having a panic attack. 
“Are you okay?” Brand asks me, looking down at me.  His face is confident, his voice calm.  “You’re going to be all right.”
I nod because I believe him, because how could I not trust a voice that sure of itself?
But then it doesn’t matter. 
Because out of nowhere, I hear a nauseatingly loud crack, and all of a sudden, the wall next to us comes down in a mass of metallic shrieks and groans and shards.
 It shears my arm, and I can smell the blood.
I’m knocked free from Brand’s safe grasp, yanked from his arms, and I’m falling, falling, falling. 
Then it all goes black and stays that way.  

Chapter Two

Brand

 Fucking son-of-a-bitch. 
White hot pain rips through me, from my hip to my ankle.  I grimace, trying to pull myself out of the wreckage, to no avail.  I’m the one who is stuck now, firmly and painfully in a mountain of broken wood and cinder. 
The smoke surrounding me brings back instant memories of Afghanistan, of bombs and blood.  But I shake those images away.  I’m not there.  I’m here.  And I’ve got to keep my wits. 
The girl. 
The girl I was carrying, the girl with the dark red hair and big blue eyes.  She trusted me.  I saw it on her face.
I twist to find her, scanning everything around me.  And then I see her thin arm, sticking out of a pile of rubble. I know it’s hers because of the turquoise bracelet on her small wrist. 


Excerpt Reveal Schedule:
July 2-Hypable.com



And don’t miss the other Beautifully Broken, now available:

Praise for the Beautifully Broken Series:

"I loved If You Stay. Like, really really loved it. The kind of love that kept me reading until 2:40 am and left me crying, smiling, devastated, and elated. The best kind of book love." - Andrea, The Bookish Babe

"Beautiful, raw, gritty, emotional and breath-taking are just a few of the words I can find to describe this book...reading this book was one of the best experiences I have had." -Amanda, Globug and Hootie Need a Book

"In If You Leave, we continue the wild ride Courtney Cole started us on in If You Stay. This raw story of heartbreak and hope solidifies Cole's standing as a rising star in hot contemporary romance." --- New York Times Bestselling author of Down to You, M. Leighton

"Another raw, gritty masterpiece with a sexy-as-hell Army Ranger to swoon over." --- K.A. Tucker, author of Ten Tiny Breaths

Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.

Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

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