We are so excited to bring you this exclusive excerpt of Moments Like This by Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha!
About Moments Like This:
After Andrea “Andie” Matthews chooses her career over a marriage proposal and then loses a promotion she worked so hard for, she jumps at the chance to take a break and help run a friend’s coffee shop.
Alone in Hawaii, Andie befriends the staff and quickly grows to care for them, making her determined to revive the company.
As luck would have it, she meets the mysterious Warren Yates on Christmas Eve. They share a cup of coffee, some conversation, and even a moment, which leads to many more in the coming weeks.
When Andie learns who Warren really is—and what he actually wants—she is torn between her feelings and his deception.
But will Warren be able to win her heart back?
My breath caught in my throat. The ceiling, a mere four inches from my nose, suffocated me. My heart raced so fast my ears rang with the rush of blood. I closed my eyes tight, like a child, in an attempt to block out my confined quarters.
Click. Click. Whurrrr. Click.
The technician’s voice boomed through the speakers.
“Please don’t move, Andie. Not even your eyes.”
I whimpered. Ragged breath followed ragged breath until I couldn’t take it anymore. “Get me out of this.”
Not waiting for the technician to respond, I wriggled my way toward the foot of the table. Freedom lay beyond the tiny gap of light between me and the round edge of the hellhole. After a couple of clicks, the table smoothly glided away from the ceiling, then out of the CT scan machine, and into a glaringly bright room. I gulped the air and tried to calm my shaking. The technician, dressed in a white lab coat, strode into the room.
“I can’t do it. I can’t go back into that tube.” My voice cracked into a high, tight whine. “I’m claustrophobic. I can’t even get on the Chunnel without—”
“What’s a Chunnel?”
“It’s the train that goes from London to—”
The technician sighed loudly. She had probably heard it all before. “Why don’t we give you something to calm your anxiety?”
It would take an elephant tranquilizer to get me back in that machine.
After the nurse administered the medication and my pulse slowed to a normal rate, the technician coaxed me back onto the table.
I can do this. Just one more embarrassing memory from this worst day ever to torture me. I took a few deep breaths as they slid me back under the CT scan machine, my head in what resembled a football helmet, loud music blaring in both ears to help keep me calm. Click.
Click, click. Whurr. Buzz. Bang. Screech-ch-ch. Click, click.
“Hold still, almost there,” the technician’s singsong voice interrupted my head trip. The table jerked this way and that, inching forward and then thrusting back. The music did nothing to mask the loud banging against the machine walls, nor the tremors that followed with every click of the technician’s switch.
All I wanted was NSYNC to drown everything out—the noise, her voice, my thoughts. What I remembered was bad enough and I’d rather walk across glass barefoot than go through it again. But what I couldn’t remember sent my stress levels back into the stratosphere.
Click, click. Whurr.
My thoughts turned into NSYNC’s words and NSYNC’s words became a muffled mess. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Why am I here? Honestly, the club owner should stop the construction work going on outside. It messed with the beat of the band. But before I could complain, I floated into Justin’s arms, then on a cloud, and then on a Christmas tree wishing everyone a happy holiday. “Merry …”
When I opened my eyes, the holiday cheer and the Christmas tree drifted away, and a huge weight settled on my chest. I must have done something I would regret forever.
Something utterly stupid and embarrassing.
Because the last thing I remembered before landing in the hospital, I had been standing in front of a whole group of people with a drink in my hand. Except that toast, that celebration—it wasn’t for me.
Heat flooded my cheeks and I lifted my right hand to touch my face. Bad idea when you have an IV stuck in the crease of your arm. The same arm that had been poked more than once, as evidenced by the bruises around the needle still stuck under my skin.
I should have warned them I had no veins. Heartless was what I had been called. Who needed veins when you didn’t have a heart?
I thought back to that night when Nick, my ex, said I was devoid of a heart. Not ambitious or hard working or motivated, which I would have preferred. Heartless because I had stuck to my guns on many occasions, made decisions that would benefit the company and not those who brought their dreams to us. I exemplified the nature of our business—venture capitalists—bent on financing the next big idea, the sexiest startup. How the applicants and businesses got there wasn’t my concern. Their lives were retold on a single piece of paper, and no amount of pity or drama would sway our decision to invest. We were in it to make a profit. And profit doesn’t have a heart.
Anyway, why was I thinking about this now? I’m in a hospital bed, for heaven’s sake, and there’s someone snoring quietly behind the curtain next to me.
I peered past the bed rails and surveyed my surroundings. From the IV post to the heart rate machine sidled by me, it was a normal hospital room—and I didn’t look like I was dying or anything. Nurses strolled leisurely past the open door, and whoever was next to me didn’t seem to be in distress. The TV was on, some anchor on CNN murmuring words I couldn’t make out. Can someone turn the volume up, please? I need to see how the stocks are doing.
Speaking of … where was my phone? I reached out my left hand and began patting the table next to the side rail, knocking the telephone receiver off and wincing as it landed on the floor with a soft thud.
“Oh good, you’re awake.” A blurry, elderly gentleman stooped down very slowly and proceeded to arch his back like a cat as he handed me the phone.
I blinked a few times and he came into focus as he leaned over to kiss my forehead. “Hi, sweetheart.”
“Uncle Don,” I whispered, relieved. He was my father’s brother and the head of Neurology at Northwestern. Okay, so I’m at his hospital. Still in my city. That’s good, I guess. “What happened?” I pressed the remote underneath my pillow to prop myself up. My head felt like it was about to fall off, but only right after expelling the contents of my entire body.
“Easy, easy,” Uncle Don said, firmly cradling my shoulders.
“What happened?” I asked again.
He pulled out his penlight and shined it into my eyes. First the left one, motioning me to follow the light in tiny circular movements, and then the right. “You passed out at your company meeting. Don’t you remember? You’ve got a slight concussion and a nasty bump on the back of your head.”
“But I’m okay, right? I’ll be okay. When can I go home?” I asked while he grabbed the tablet at the end of the bed.
“Well,” he muttered, swiping his fingers left, then right, then up and down. “Your mom and dad are on their way here now.”
“From Florida?” I lurched forward, causing the sharp pain in my head to return. “Why?” “You’re concussed but only slightly. Your dad wanted to make sure we run other tests on you, and I’m glad we did. Everything looks low—blood count, iron. And your cortisol is up, indicating extreme exhaustion, fatigue, and stress.” I shook my head, confused. “You’ve lost fifteen pounds in the last year, you—”
“You wouldn’t have known that,” I cut him short, arms tucked tight and tone terse, grimacing as the needle sank deeper into my skin.
“Your dad told me. They’re concerned.”
“It was that acquisition and all the traveling I had to do, but nothing out of the ordinary. Things should calm down soon and maybe I’ll even get to take a vacation.” Uncle Don gently pushed down on the rail and sat on the side of the bed. I moved my legs over to give him room. He took my hand. “Andrea, listen to me. I’ve seen these symptoms in my patients all too often. You need more than a one-week vacation. The fact you collapsed means your body is slowly giving out. We ran the blood work, I authorized it. You’re malnourished, tired, and emotionally spent. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask your parents to support me on this. You need to take a break. A sabbatical, perhaps. Don’t they give that nowadays, especially to executives like you?”
I shrugged. Never thought of it. Never cared to ask. Never dreamed I’d have to even think about taking a break. I had nothing to say, no argument to make. I was on a plane three hundred
days out of this year; I’d stayed in over seventy hotels, traveled around the world five times. And for what?
He took my silence as acquiescence and handed me a tiny paper cup with two white pills. “You need to catch up on your sleep. Take these. Get some rest.”
About the Authors:
Under the pen name Christine Brae, Anna Gomez has published six novels, has an established fan base, and a dedicated following. Her titles rank in the Top 100 months following their release. Her last three novels, In This Life, Eight Goodbyes, and The Year I Left, have won literary awards and were immediate bestsellers on Amazon, ranking #1 across multiple categories.
Kristoffer Polaha is best-known for his long-running role in the critically acclaimed series Life Unexpected (The CW). Other TV series credits include Get Shorty with Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd, the limited series Condor opposite William Hurt and Max Irons, The CW’s Ringer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Valentine, as well as North Shore (FOX). In addition to co- starring with Rainn Wilson in Backstrom (FOX), he had a multi-season role on the acclaimed series Mad Men (AMC) and Castle (ABC). Polaha is also well-known for starring in Hallmark Channel movies such as Dater’s Handbook with Meghan Markle, and the Mystery 101 franchise on Hallmark. Polaha has a featured role opposite Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984 and the forthcoming Jurassic World: Dominion.