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Forging History

Book Three in the History Series

Can their love overcome the past or will history just keep coming back to haunt them?

Forging History is the third book in a second chance romance series from USA Today Bestselling Author, Hanleigh Bradley. The banter is quick witted, unprofessional and downright naughty as this pair try to find out if they have a future together despite their past.

Clara and Andrew seem to have finally come to terms with their past. Not only can’t it be erased, it’s what makes them, Clara and Andrew.

Now when their past comes calling once again, they face it head on, together.

After over a decade’s worth of tears, what lies in store for this pair?

Is history all that lies between them or will they finally have the future they want?

"Hanleigh, my beautiful new friend, stand proud, for you are an extremely talented writer." - Bloggers Down Under

Fans of the History series can read special bonus scenes on Hanleigh's Patreon.
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A+ Broken Rules-1.jpg

What if all your worst memories happened at Christmas?

What if the worst moments of your entire life always seemed to happen around the holidays?

I don’t have good luck; at least not when it comes to the holidays. It all started when I was twelve, with a heart attack. It had been Christmas morning, and we’d been having a great time. We’d opened our presents. Everyone had been smiling, laughing. We’d been happy.

Then we sat in the dining room and started devouring our Christmas dinner. Something went wrong, though. I still don’t understand it. I still dream about it now. He’d been sitting there on his chair, eating a piece of turkey and then he wasn’t, not anymore. His face had turned bright red, and he’d clutched his chest.

At first, I thought he was choking; he was coughing so much. He didn’t seem able to breathe, and we were all panicking.

Mum wasn’t much help. She just kept screaming; begging someone to help her husband. My big brother, Jacob, was the quickest to react.

He’d grabbed the phone before I’d moved from my seat.

My dad’s face was turning grey, and he looked wobbly in his chair. Mum was at his side, holding him upright as best she could. Maya, my then seven-year-old sister, had been sitting in her chair crying. She didn’t understand what was happening, only that something was very wrong with her daddy.

After a few minutes of watching her cry, I’d managed to get out of my chair so that I could wrap her in my arms and try to soothe her.

Jacob tried. He really tried. He was only fifteen, but he phoned an ambulance. Answered all their questions. When my dad passed out on the floor, he even tried to perform CPR.

'He’s not breathing.' Mum was screaming. 'Daniel! Daniel! Wake up Daniel; I need you!'

Jacob didn’t stop giving CPR. Not for a second.

It felt like it took the paramedics ages to get to us. Maya didn’t stop crying. My mother was no better. She sat next to my father’s head, holding his hand, tears pouring down her face.

'Daniel. Please, wake up, Daniel.' She was shaking. That was the first time I saw my mother break.

When the paramedics arrived, Jake had been doing compressions on my father’s chest for over fifteen minutes. One of them took his place. They tried to start his heart again with a defib machine. I watched as his chest rose off the ground, but it didn’t work.

They tried twice.

They tried three times.

But nothing happened.

His heart didn’t start again.

He just lay there with his eyes open, staring at the ceiling. Gone. He was gone.

Returning to school the following week had been a huge challenge. The only thing that helped me cope was teasing Clara Delos about the colour of her hair.

She didn’t appreciate it.

Her face went a fiery red that matched her copper hair. But I didn’t care. I loved knowing that I could make her angry.

For a moment, I forgot that my dad was dead.

The next Christmas was no better. In fact, it was worse.

Dad was gone. Mum was in her bed. She didn’t leave her bed for about a week.

There was no tree. No presents. No turkey. Nothing. No, dad.

The year after that, things started to improve, but only because my brother, Jacob, had got a part-time job and had saved up all year to buy us all a Christmas present. There was still no tree. Mum still spent the whole week in her bed and dad was still dead.

From there on out, things began to improve. Mum struggled through. She tried to stay positive, but she didn’t really succeed. I started to help my brother Jake pay for the presents; I got myself a paper round.

Eventually, we even managed to get a tree. It was an artificial tree. It wasn’t as pretty as the real trees dad used to get us each year, but it was better than nothing. Mum didn’t like it one bit. It made her cry, but at least Maya was delighted to see a tree lit up in our living room. I’d thought things would get better after that.

But I was wrong.

When I was sixteen, Jake was nineteen and Maya was eleven, things had become significantly worse. That Christmas was the worst of my life.

Jacob and I were excited for once. We’d gone all out.

We had a beautifully decorated tree. We’d bought several presents for everyone. Late on Christmas Eve, we’d snuck down the stairs to wrap the presents. We had thought Maya was fast asleep. Jacob and I had wanted to make sure everything was perfect and so we’d bought mum a present we were convinced would make her happy; a large photo of our entire family, all five of us, on a canvas. We were wrapping it together when Maya sneaked down the stairs to see if she could catch Santa Claus in the act.

What she didn’t expect to see was her two big brothers taking the place of Santa. That wasn’t it all, though. She didn’t just lose her faith in Santa that year. That would have been bearable.

No. She’d ran up the stairs and into our mother’s room where she found our mother passed out on her bed, in a pool of her own blood, a razor blade on the bed beside her.

This time, I reacted just as quickly as Jake.

I put pressure on mum’s wounds to stop the bleeding while my brother called an ambulance. I checked that she was breathing, and I tried to calm my sister down. The poor kid couldn’t stop crying. She was shaken up. A complete mess. No eleven-year-old should ever see what she saw that night.

That Christmas was completely ruined. Fortunately, our mother didn’t die.

No. Much to her disappointment, we saved her life.

The ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital. We spent Christmas Day in a hospital waiting room, all thoughts of Christmas once more forgotten.

I’d gone back to school the following week and did the only thing that had any chance of making me feel something other than loss. For two minutes, I managed to forget about losing my dad. I pissed Clara Delos off, but it was totally worth it. She wasn’t the only one I lashed out at, but it’s true that she got the brunt of it. I’d thrown my half-eaten apple at her, aiming for her face. My aim was off. She caught it and threw it right back at me; hitting me square in the nose. The pain in my nose was bearable compared to the pain of almost losing another parent. All I’d wanted was to have Clara’s attention for a few minutes. I’d needed her to see me. I’d wanted her to make it better.

Now we’re all grownups. I’m not just a spoilt bully anymore. A boy who bullies the girl he likes to make himself feel better; to make himself feel something, anything. Last Christmas, nothing terrible happened. This time mum coped through the day and the weeks that followed, and it wasn’t until February 3rd that she lost hope.

Again, it was Maya who found her. Maya had popped round on the off chance of spending some time with her, and it was lucky she did because she found Angela Contius in a bathtub of her own blood.

We won’t always be there to save her, and that thought terrifies me.

I desperately want this coming Christmas to be better. I need the holidays to mean something good. I need them to have a purpose other than bringing me misery and fear.

Perhaps with Clara by my side, things might be different—except that doesn’t fill me with much hope because in some way or another, Clara has always been with me and it’s never kept me safe at the holidays so far.