Skip to product information
1 of 1

Just As I Am - Signed Paperback

Just As I Am - Signed Paperback

Regular price $6.99 USD
Regular price $7.99 USD Sale price $6.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Order your signed paperback directly from the author
  • Include your email at checkout to get shipping updates
  • Books are shipped within three days of order unless otherwise indicated

She’s running from trouble, but a fake relationship with a kind stranger might give her the protection she needs and a love she never expected.

Unfailing Love Series Book 1.

Main Tropes

  • Fierce Protector
  • Fake Relationship
  • Return to Hometown


She’s running from trouble, but a fake relationship with a kind stranger might give her the protection she needs and a love she never expected.

Declan King has lived a life of solitude and duty for the U.S. Army. When the deaths of his grandparents bring him home to his family farm, he is forced into contact with people who know too much about his past to simply leave him alone.

Adeline Rhodes makes a daring escape from her controlling boyfriend, planning to hide out in the small town of Carson, Georgia. When Addie’s past catches up to her, she finds herself thrust into a fake relationship to protect her from her vengeful ex.

As Addie and Declan’s chance meeting begins a journey that heals old wounds, they struggle to stay ahead of the danger and deny their growing attraction to each other.

Declan will do anything to protect her, and failure isn’t an option when Adeline’s life is on the line.

Welcome to the small town of Carson, Georgia where a group of friends vow to do whatever it takes to protect the women they love. Just as I Amis a gripping romantic suspense with an inspiring happily ever after.

Read Chapter One

Adeline dropped another piece of clothing and cursed herself for the delay. She was racing toward a panic attack, and her hands were trembling as she stuffed another shirt into her bag. She would never make it out of here at this rate. Her chest constricted at the thought of what could—no, what would—happen to her if she couldn't get her things together and get out of here before Jason got home.

Her heart was still hammering trying to process the new information that had her world turning inside out. She felt stupid for not putting it all together sooner. Shame crowded her when she thought about how blind she’d been all these years. How had she lived with Jason for so long and never really known him? In the beginning, she’d been naive and had trusted him with more than he deserved. She had grown complacent in the years since then, overlooking small pieces of information that had been bright-red flags.

She wondered now if things would’ve been different had she learned his secret in bits and pieces over time instead of all at once. Would she have formed a better plan to leave him? Would she have confronted him? She couldn’t help but think that the escape she was making now would be easier had she been given time to prepare.

She closed her eyes tightly for a moment and wondered how her life had turned out so wrong. She hadn’t wanted any of this. Not the relationship, not the lies, not the control he asserted over her life. For years she’d been afraid to even think about leaving. She had no money, no job, and no home. How could she possibly make it on her own?

Jason, her boyfriend for six years, the man who controlled every aspect of her life, was not the head of the marketing department at a prestigious firm in downtown New Orleans. No, when he dressed up every morning and worked odd hours of the day and night, he wasn’t attending meetings and pushing projects. He was dealing drugs.

Jason had drilled many of his rules into her head from the day they moved in together, but one rule sat above all others: don’t ever open the door for anyone.

Until today, following the rule hadn’t been an issue. Until today, no one had shown up at their door.

She’d been cleaning the dishes after her breakfast for one since Jason hadn’t come home last night when a determined fist had begun banging on the door and a man’s voice had pierced the apartment, frantic and high pitched.

“Let me in, Jason. I know this is your place. Mike told me. I need some of that stuff from last week quick. I’m dying.” The man spoke fast, running his sentences together.

She stopped with the dirty dinner plate hanging in the air above the sink. What should she do? She knew Jason told her not to answer the door, but that man said he was dying.

“Please, Jason, just open the door. I have the money,” the man on the other side of the door pleaded, and she waited a heartbeat before his knocking resumed more vigorously, making her jump. “Jason, I mean it. Open this door.”

Caution overrode the concern she had felt for the man only a moment ago as he slapped his open hand against the wooden door.

“Come on, Jason. I know you told me not to look for you outside the meeting place, but this is an emergency. I need a fix now.”

Eventually, the man left after carrying on a conversation with himself and kicking the door. She stood paralyzed, staring at the dirty dishes in the sink for almost five minutes after he left, letting the man’s words fill in the blanks she conveniently left gaping in her mind.

She and Jason had never spoken a word to each other about drugs, and the thought had never crossed her mind. She liked to consider herself a smart woman, but that thought had been blown out of the water in light of the revelation. Not to mention a smart woman would have figured out how to get away from Jason by now. He could have implicated her in his crimes, and it seemed he had done so without a bit of remorse.

She scrambled to the tiny bathroom off the living area, quickly getting to her knees and opening the cabinet under the sink. She said a silent prayer that her lifeline was still hidden and expelled a heavy breath when she saw it. She grabbed the tampon box and hugged it to her middle as she tore the top away. The money was still there. A wad of single dollar bills that wouldn’t get her far. She hadn’t been hiding the money for long enough, and even now it frightened her to think what Jason would do if he knew. A single, silent tear graced her cheek.

A shaky half-laugh escaped her. This box contained the spoils of the years she spent putting back every lone dollar she could get her hands on. She felt confident that Jason would never think of touching a tampon box, but she could never be certain. He was thorough, if nothing else.

She stood and threw the remaining things she owned into the bag hanging from her arm. She swung herself around, made for the bedroom, and grabbed the bag containing the clothes she’d already packed.

She didn't have much in this world that was truly hers. The apartment was Jason's. The furniture was Jason's. The car was Jason's. Everything she thought of as hers was really his.

Adeline didn't stop to say goodbye to the place where she’d slept every night for the past four years. She hightailed it directly for the door. She never thought of the apartment as home anyway, since Jason wouldn't allow her to put her own touch on the place. Not to mention the awful smell she couldn't seem to eradicate. It seemed to seep from the floors and walls, but she was never allowed to get to know her neighbors, so she had no idea what caused this entire building to smell like rot. She could guess it was mold, but she couldn’t be certain.

Her doubts were stacking one on top of the other in her mind, and her fear was growing by the second. She closed her eyes and said a prayer for deliverance as she hitched the bag higher on her shoulder and started for the door. God, please lead me to safety. It had been so long since she talked to God, she was afraid to ask for anything. Should she expect Him to carry her through the hard times when she hadn’t been the child He wanted her to be lately?

She was about three feet from the door when the sound of Jason’s rhythmic footfalls on the stairs momentarily paralyzed her. The echoing blows of his steps were deafening against the silence of the apartment.

Jason was here, and she was too late.

As the panic released her, she lunged for the door, locking the deadbolt and the latch at the top in one fell swoop. She pushed off the door behind her and propelled herself toward the fire escape. She was out the window and down the escape faster than she knew her body could carry her. She couldn't help thinking it was a good thing her flight instinct had chosen this moment to shine.

When she hit the ground, a jolt of pain ran up her shins, and she bit her lip not to let out the string of profanities that threatened to escape. She didn't want to draw attention to herself, in case Jason had made it inside the apartment already. He would know something was wrong, as soon as he realized the thick metal latch was secure and she wasn't coming to the door when he knocked. She had precious few minutes, and he was too smart to let her get far. He’d never hit her before, but she’d always been careful to stay on his good side. This was her first act of defiance, and it was a big one.

Brushing her dark hair from her face, she cursed her waist-length tresses for hindering her. Jason hadn't let her cut it, and she’d come to loathe her chocolate mane in the years it’d been growing wildly.

She thought about the fact that she didn't have a car and briefly considered taking Jason’s. She had no doubt that he would report it stolen if she tried to use it to escape.

Stopping for only a beat to take a deep breath, Adeline set out at the fastest run she could manage with the bags bouncing on her back. She had to create space between herself and the apartment so she could figure out a plan.

Pulling her cell from her purse, she quickly connected to Uber and requested a pickup for the bus station. If she was going to use the driver service, it was now or never. She would have to disconnect Jason’s credit card as soon as possible. She would also have to ditch her cell phone somewhere between here and wherever she ended up. Breaking the chains of the life she was running away from would have to be thorough.

Two minutes until pickup. In any other situation, she would be praising the quick service. In her current state, two minutes could mean success or failure… possibly life or death.

The older model Ford Taurus hit the curb in front of her as the exhaust struck her nose. She was having trouble breathing through this anyway. What would one more factor hurt?

She slunk into the car, threw her bags onto the seat beside her, and immediately shouted, "Please drive. I’m in a hurry." Thank goodness for this skinny, older man who did just as she asked. He floored it, and she turned around to make sure no one was following her. There was no sign of Jason.

Adeline turned to face forward again, expelling a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. Not only were her hands shaking, but her body seemed to be trembling. Even her teeth were chattering. This must be the leftover adrenaline, the fear that had finally overtaken her weak indifference. She stuck her left index fingernail between her teeth to stop the chattering.

In that moment, she promised herself no more looking back. She was leaving the only life she’d ever known, and what's done was done. There would be no going back now.

She wouldn't miss it, for the most part. She’d grown to resent Jason and the way he controlled her and every aspect of her life.

Once upon a time, she had been happy—a free, young, spirited girl with only dreams to look forward to in the future. Now, sitting here in this car, driving away from New Orleans, the city she had grown up in, she wondered how her life had gone so wrong.

She loved living in New Orleans and had never imagined she would ever leave knowing this city owned her heart. The parts she would miss had been a foggy memory for a long time now. She had to let it go, but she wouldn't forget this place that she had called home.

A single tear glided down her cheek, and she closed her eyes as the wetness shocked her into the here and now. Get a grip on yourself! You can do this without falling to pieces. If you let the darkness in, it will tear you apart.

She pulled herself up to the back of the driver's seat. "Thanks for not asking questions. I know I'm a mess." She took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.

He half turned to look at her. "You look like you’re in a hurry to get outta here.”

“You could say that.” She’d feel a lot more relaxed if she could put some distance between herself and that apartment.

The man’s gaze found hers in the rearview mirror. “I’m Paul. It’s good to meet you.”

Adeline gave a soft smile. She had rarely been allowed to venture outside the apartment, and meeting a friendly face in the middle of the storm she was running from felt like a sign. “I’m Adeline.” As an afterthought she added, “You can call me Addie.” She didn’t know what had prompted her to add the last bit. No one had called her Addie since her mom and dad.

Paul took a left turn on two wheels, and she grabbed onto the seat in front of her. She appreciated his sense of urgency. When the vehicle had righted onto a straightaway, he cocked his head toward her but kept his eyes on the road. “I don't got nothin’ else goin’ on tonight. I can be off the clock and take you farther than the bus station."

He sounded so fatherly. She could almost hear her own dad’s voice. “You’d do that for me?” Hot tears pricked the back of her eyes at his offer.

Paul looked back at her as he did a rolling stop through an intersection. His voice rang with the uninhibited yat accent of her city. “You look scared, an’ if my daughter needed help, I’d hope some nice person would offer. Plus, I’m an old man. I don’t do this for the money. Where ya headed?”

She sat back and gave in to another deep breath to ease the tension. With the release of the tightness in her shoulders came a little clarity as she thought for the first time about where she should be going.

"How far east can you take me?" she asked.

"I wouldn't mind a drive to Mobile tonight."

God bless this sweet man. He was willing to drive over two hours through two states. The closer she could get to her final destination in Carson the better. The idea of getting closer to that little town in Georgia gave her a glimmer of hope that she could really do this.

"That sounds perfect. I can’t thank you enough." She gave his shoulder a light squeeze.

He nodded, and she picked up her phone. Turning it over in her hands, she realized she hadn't seen her Aunt Karen and Uncle Butch in at least four years, but they were good people and would take her in without thinking twice. They were the salt of the Earth, and her throat constricted with the thought of their unending kindness to her in her younger years.

She hit call, and a smile stole over her face when she heard Aunt Karen's sing-song voice answer, “Hello.”

“Hey, Aunt Karen, it’s Adeline. I know it's late, but can I come visit for a while?”

View full details