Six years ago Penny Munez made the mistake of leaving home too young and moving in with a man who beat her for recreation. She'd fled with the shirt on her back, no pants and no shoes and jumped into a car that had stopped at the traffic light, urging them to drive anywhere. She didn't care where. Now that she's on an island surrounded by water, the fear of looking over her shoulder hasn't stopped. She doesn't trust anyone. That is until Drake Sutton decided he was going to give her a reason to trust again. Drake knows a dark past when he sees one because he’s lived it on the streets and done things to survive that he’d rather forget. Now he owns a successful business and he's calling the shots. But can Drake's love break down walls Penny has fought hard to erect to keep her safe?
Order MOMENT OF TRUST by Lisa Mondello
of Trust is a new adult & college romance novel with steamy sexual
situations that are not suited for people under 18.
Only weird people love playing in dirt. Well, it’s only weird when
you’re twenty-two years old and still playing in the dirt like I am. Maybe it’s
the dirty feelings inside of me. The ones that I find hard to let go of. But I
like to think it has more to do with good memories of making mud pies in the
side yard with my next door neighbor when I was a four instead of the four
years that are closest in my memory. The ones I want to forget.
Maybe that’s why I’d taken this job working for a landscaper. Sure,
Drake Sutton is a hottie. Any girl who spent two seconds with the man would
think that he belonged on the cover of a magazine, not playing in dirt like I
do every day. But I’m the lucky one.
“Shit. Worms are eating the flowers.” I drop the
bag of mulch I hoisted out of the back of the truck at our job site and
crouched down to take a closer look at what I know is happening. Destruction of all our hard work this
summer. The sun did its job. The rain fed the soil. But worms had conquered
and are taking over the beauty of all the begonias lining the side of the
Turning one of the leaves over in my hand, I see the telltale
marks that Drake warned me about when I’d started working at the Sutton
Landscape Company at the beginning of the summer. I look at another plant. Then
Pickam isn’t going to be happy about this.
“Drake?” I call out. When I turn, I see my boss headed my way
carrying another bag of mulch. His body is slick with sweat that has seeped
through the white T-shirt he’s wearing. He always wears a white T-shirt because
he says it reflects the sun when he’s working. He works hard and expects the
same out me and Gus.
It had rained hard over the weekend and most of the mulch that had
been on the ocean side of the Wayside Inn, had been washed down the sidewalk. It
wasn’t enough to just sweep the mulch back into place. Drake wants it to look
perfect all the time so he’ll be a shoe-in to get the contract again next
going to like this either.
As I look at the begonia leaves I’d planted in front of the Inn
earlier this summer, I sigh. Why does
everything beautiful have to be destroyed by something?
This should be a normal job. Pull some weeds. Replace mulch that
rain and wind had eroded from the flowerbeds. Then on to the next job site. They
were going to have to fix this before they could move on.
Drake, the owner of the landscape company I’ve been working for
this summer, walks up behind me and peers down at the brown leaf with holes
burrowed out of it.
He yanks a leaf off the flower and then says, “Shit. Well, doesn’t
this just suck?”
I chuckle as I look up at him, shielding my eyes from the hot sun.
“What do you want to do about it?”
He sighs and glances down the length of the flower bed on the side
of the building. “We still have a full month of tourist season to get through
before I pull these flowers and put in mums to last through the end of October.
Beverly likes her flowers pretty. In fact, this side of the building is
normally her turf. She specifically asked for a little space.”
“Her turf? I thought the whole thing was her turf.”
“Her little garden. We planted the begonias. For some reason she
put in petunias everywhere. We didn’t. I don’t know where she got these flowers
from. They could have been from someplace with infested soil. That’s probably
how these plants became diseased and infected the surrounding plants. I didn’t
see any signs of this when I spread out the new mulch in the front of the
“Damn. Regardless, we have to eat the loss and replace these flowers
with healthy ones or it’s only a matter of time before the front looks as bad
as the side and it’ll ruin my plantings for the fall. I’ll grab some spray.”
“We? If Beverly tampered with your landscaping, shouldn’t she be
paying for it to be fixed?”
Drake stood still and looked up at the Inn. I can tell he’s
pissed, but he has so much control over his emotions that I’m constantly
surprised by his reaction to setbacks, no matter how big or small. When Gus,
the other landscaper I work alongside with every day, got arrested the other
night and dragged back to the mainland, I thought for sure Drake would fire him
on the spot. Instead, since Gus is dating my roommate Lily, he stayed in
constant contact with Lily about what was going on with Gus. He didn’t yell
about being short a landscaper for the jobs he had scheduled for the week. I’d
been all ready to defend Gus to Drake since I’d been there the night at the
club when a fight broke out and Gus had to help drag my other roommate,
Heather, out of harm’s way. I wanted Drake to know it hadn’t been Gus’s fault. He’d
helped save Heather.
But Drake never uttered a harsh word about Gus and how he’d landed
in this situation. He just took the news that Gus was sent to the mainland and
went back to work as if I’d told him that Gus had called in sick with the flu
“If I want to stay on the island and have any chance of getting
next year’s contract, I’m going to have to take the loss.” He sighs as he looks
down at his hand and crumples the dry leaf in his fist.
I watch him walk back to the truck. Such control.
“You plan on staying on Nantucket after the summer?”
Drake glanced toward the long stretch of beach the Wayside Inn was
located on. “Don’t you? How can you leave a place like this?”
I wanted to say it was easy. Rachel always says that women like me
need to move on. But I can’t deny that leaving here will be hard. I only have
another month on the island then…I’ll be somewhere else. Meeting new people. Trying
to make new friends.
I look at Drake and the thought of it leaves me cold.
He catches me looking at him and asks, “You like it here, don’t
Normally, I’d look away quickly. Not make eye contact. But that
was before. This is now.
“Yeah. Nantucket is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.”
And it is. I haven’t felt as happy as I’ve felt here on Nantucket since I was a
little girl. Since before my parents died and my life became a cataclysmic
“You said it,” he says. “Why leave then?”
I give him an idle shrug, not sure if the truth is something I’m
ready for. No one here knows how I ended up on Nantucket. No one knows what it
took to get me here.
“Pfft,” Drake says with a wave of his hand as he walks back to the
“Well, it is,” I call back to him.
That answer seems to satisfy Drake and he drops the subject. I see
him talking on his cell phone for a few minutes. When he comes back with an
empty black trash bag, he’s focusing on the plants.
“Change of plans. I called Beverly and she okayed me putting in the
fall plants a little early. The shipment of asters and mums came in early from
the mainland to the flower market I use here on the island, which will save my
ass since no one has replacements for these flowers to get us through the end
of the month. Why don’t you start pulling the plants and putting them in the
trash bag while I pick up the plants at the nursery. I’ll mix up the bug spray
when I get back and we’ll just blow through this job.”
“Why the trash bag? Why not barrel it for compost like we always
“The heat from the compost will probably kill whatever disease
there is here, but we can’t risk it.”
I look down the length of the flower bed again. “You sure you want
all new plants? Some of them are still going strong. It seems a shame to pull
“If we don’t, whatever has infested the plants here will migrate
to the other flower beds. I don’t need that black mark on this job. I’ll be
back in a few.”
The hot sun is now beating down on my back as I get to work
pulling the plants and shoving them into the industrial sized trash bag. Sweat
pours down my neck and my chest, soaking my shirt but giving me no relief from
the heat. I know the skin on my neck beneath my ponytail is getting burned so I
pull my T-shirt up an inch just to spare what skin I can from the sun.
When Drake gets back, we work alongside each other like we always
do. We fall into simple conversation about whether or not we’d watched the last
Dr. Who marathon on cable and debate about the best way to barbeque steak. To
butter or not to butter. I’m firmly on the butter side.
And when the job is done, Drake doesn’t bother to take the time to
look at all the work we did and just appreciate it like I do. The purple asters
are just barely showing their color. The buds haven’t yet begun to burst open,
but they will within the week. Drake had picked up another variety of asters
that looked like little daisies. They were in full bloom and made the side
garden come alive just a little. The mums were still small and the buds were
still tight together, waiting for their moment to shine.
“Are you ready?”
I turn to see Drake standing by the truck.
Looking back once more, I look at all the clean mulch and fresh
flowers. It’s going to grow and be beautiful again. As I climb into the truck
cab, I see Drake shaking his head and laughing.
“You always do that.”
“I like to appreciate our hard work. Don’t you?”
“Of course. I have to make sure everything is done right or I’ll
get a phone call from my client. But I don’t stand there as if I’m taking
pictures for a prom.”
My mouth drops open at his comment but I still laugh. “I was not
“Yes, you were. You always do that.”
I think back to the jobs we’ve done over the past few months and
chuckle. “I guess I do.”
“I like that you do,” Drake says, shifting the truck into gear. “It
means you care.”
The compliment Drake gave stays with me the whole afternoon as we
work on two smaller jobs. We finally finish late in the afternoon.
“It’s just you and me today. How about we catch some dinner down
at the burger shack? They have some mean fries there.”
“I know. I’ve had them. But…not today.”
After a long day, Drake usually drops me off at The Bluffs, the
beach house where I’m living with three other girls around my age. Each of us
couldn’t be more different. Lily is a dancer. I have a feeling she had an
eating disorder. She works out endlessly, even after she’s worked all day at
the restaurant on the beach. About the only time she doesn’t work out is when
she’s with Gus.
Jenna is a cancer survivor. She’d stared death in the face, went
through chemo and is now cancer free. And her boyfriend Bobby, who just happens
to be our landlord’s nephew is as sweet as they come. He’d been married before
and lost his wife and baby in a terrible accident. But he found love again with
Jenna. It always makes me feel happy when I see the two of them together.
Then there is Heather. Oh, what a hot mess Heather has been all
summer. But now that her ex-boyfriend, Jason seems to be out of the picture,
hopefully Heather will be happier and not spend so much time crying in her room
over the asshole. She’s been gone the past few nights and I wonder just who
As the truck pulls onto the road, I notice Drake shaking his head
A small sigh escapes my lips. “Why do you keep asking me to dinner
when I always say no?”
“Because I’m hoping one day you’ll say yes. I can’t help it. I’m
“We have lunch every day together. Isn’t that enough?”
“Lunch is lunch. Lunch is taking a short break from work. You have
yogurt and a banana. Sometimes an orange. I have a burger or a leftover sub
from the night before. We’re both sweaty and dirty and talk about stupid
“I don’t think that reruns of Dr. Who are stupid.”
“Damn right, they’re not. But that’s just it. We both like Dr.
Who. We both talk about watching it. Alone. But after nearly three months of
talking about it, we’ve never watched it together. We’re never together outside
of working together.”
“That’s not true. You’ve come over to The Bluffs for campfires
before. We’ve had barbeques at the house and you’ve come.”
He nods his head as he concedes the point.
“But never just you and me. It’s always with your roommates or
I stare at Drake’s profile as he drives. His features have always
seemed too strong to me, as if they’d been chiseled out of stone and shaped
into kindness. The man is flat out gorgeous. Lily is always asking me how I can
work with him all day and not jump his bones.
She doesn’t know the real reason has nothing to do with Drake or
how he makes me feel.
“Why are you doing this now?” I ask.
He frowns as he takes his eyes off the road for a second. “I’ve
been doing this all summer, Penny. You just keep saying no.”
He’s right and I have no reply that I can think of that will shut
down this conversation without me sounding like a bitch.
“You intrigue me, Penny.”
I turn away and look at the scrub pine lining the side of the road
leading to my place. “I’m nothing special.”
He chuckles and shakes his head again. “You’re not seeing yourself
through my eyes.”
I continue to avoid his gaze. I’ve caught him staring at me
before. Hell, I’ve stared at Drake many times. I love his eyes. I love the
warmth in them when he’s giving instructions or talking about something funny.
But now it just feels awkward and leaves me off-center. I’m
relieved when Drake lets it go. I’m not used to compliments. Not any more. I
still have that nagging fear that everything is a big deal. A way for me to
fail the moment I let my guard down. And Rachel has told me countless times
never to let my guard down.
He pulls into the driveway of The Bluffs. A mixed feeling of
relief and disappointment washes over me. I should be thinking of nothing more
than getting myself washed up after this long day.
I hear the sound of Drake’s cell phone beeping with a new text
message. He stops the truck halfway down the driveway, but doesn’t put it into
park. Instead, he reaches for his phone and reads the text.
“Get Lily,” he says, still staring at his phone.
“Gus is on the ferry. Let’s give him a welcome home at the pier. I’m
sure he’s feeling like a pile of shit right now after spending last night in a
jail cell. It’ll be a pick-m-up.”
The thought of surprising Gus at the pier makes me forget the tension
that had filled me just moments ago. “Do I have time for a quick shower or is
he already here?”
Drake makes a face. “No way. If I have to smell like sweat, so do
you. Gus will feel loved.”
I laugh with excitement as I get out of the truck. Drake rolls
down the passenger window and leans over the seat. “No fair cleaning up while
you wait for Lily either. Just get Lily and let’s go.”
I continue to laugh as I run toward the house. Laughing feels
good. It’s so much better than that dead feeling I had before. Three years. Eight months. Seven days.
Laugh, Penny, I say to myself as I run up the front porch. Those
days are behind you.