Staying For Good


Zoe Brown may have been voted Most Likely to Never Leave River Bend, but the paper-thin walls and suffocating air of her family’s double-wide trailer were not what she wanted for her life. Other than BFFs Melanie and Jo, the only thing that kept Zoe sane during high school was her boyfriend, Luke.

She didn’t just leave, she escaped—turning her back on the shame of her black-sheep siblings and imprisoned dad. Now a celebrity chef in Dallas, she can afford all the things she never could have growing up. But when she returns to rustic, ruggedly beautiful River Bend, Zoe has to face all that she abandoned—including Luke.

While Luke was a refuge for Zoe in the past, he knows they inhabit totally different worlds now. Anchored by his parents and his job as a mechanic in his father’s shop, Luke never felt the urge to leave River Bend—until Zoe’s return.

But when the two rekindle their old flame, Zoe is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: remain in River Bend and confront her past before it destroys her, or say good-bye to everyone she’s ever loved…again, this time for good.


“I can’t believe how fast the weekend flew by.”

Luke sat back as Jo and Zoe said their good-byes before they moved through security and onto the flight that would take them both back to Eugene.

“You need to ditch that uniform and come here more often.”

“The same goes for you,” Jo told her as she bent down to tug her duffel bag over her shoulder.

“Tell Mel and Miss Gina I said hi.”

“I will.” Jo looked over at Luke and said, “I’ll see you at the gate.”

She left the two of them alone.

When Zoe turned her gaze on him, nerves sat on the surface of her smile.

“I’m glad you came,” she said.

“I am, too. I see why you like it here.”

“You do?” She seemed surprised.

“Lots going on…good friends, great food. Everything you like.”

“I suppose.”

“And none of your family drama.”

Which was the real reason she enjoyed Dallas so much.

“They do have a way of reaching me here.”

“Not easily,” he said.

Zoe glanced beyond him where Jo had disappeared in a sea of people walking through security. “Well, you don’t want to miss your flight.”

He opened his arms for the obligatory friend hug. She stepped into them as he folded her close. Luke wasn’t sure who sighed first…him, or her. With a deep inhale he sucked in the feel and scent of her and rested his cheek on the side of her head. He considered telling her he missed her, that he wanted a chance.

He didn’t.

With a fortifying sigh, he ended their hug.

Moisture gathered behind her dark, soulful eyes. He wanted to call her on the tears.

He didn’t.

It was his turn to pick up his backpack and sling it over a shoulder.

Zoe watched his every move with a forced smile.

“Tell your parents I said hi.”

“I will.”

“Good-bye, Luke.”

Yeah…he wasn’t about to say those words to her again. Instead, he saluted her with two fingers and turned.

He managed three steps before swinging back around.

Luke didn’t give her a chance to back away, didn’t offer an out. He dropped his bag at her feet and pushed both hands into her hair before taking her startled lips as his own. If he thought their hug had offered a moan, it was nothing compared to the one they both hummed with their kiss.

She was honey on his lips, sweet and savory and open to explore.

He remembered this. The way she bent into his embrace, the way her timid hands fanned on his chest. The way her nails dug deep when she wanted more. He deepened the kiss long enough to make sure she knew he wasn’t saying good-bye.

This was hello.

Not the kind of greeting they’d shared when they were kids, but the kind adults who knew what they wanted shared at the beginning of something good.

He tasted her tongue, vaguely aware of those people passing by without comment.

As his body hardened in response to her frame pressed against his, he knew he needed to back away. When he did, her head was tilted up toward his, her eyes closed, her lips slacked with wanting.

Zoe’s eyes fluttered open and he rested a finger on her lips.

“I’ll be back,” he told her with a wink.

He wanted her back.

The information took root inside his brain and he smiled.

Before she could utter a syllable, he lifted his bag a second time and strutted as he walked away.

The Book

Staying For Good
The Most Likely To Series, Book Two
January 2017, First Edition
eBook & Print

Ranks & Awards

#5 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
Amazon Editor’s Pick: Best Romance
(November 2020)
Amazon Kindle Bestseller


“If you’re looking for a contemporary romance with women’s fiction overtones, strong bonds of friendship, a love that captures your heart, and a woman who finally finds her voice, her strength, and the life she is meant to live, look no further than Catherine Bybee’s Staying for Good.”

“Get your tissues ready. Catherine Bybee has written a second chance love story of a love that’s never gone away. Staying for Good is also a story of survival and overcoming your past. Of course, Catherine puts in a little suspense, which has you on the edge of your seat. Catherine Bybee is simply a master at what she does.”

“I loved their journey, their love and didn’t want this book to end! Don’t let this book pass you by!”

“I love Catherine Bybee and her books. She always knows the perfect way to show emotion with laughter, sexiness, heartfelt plots and outstanding—characters.”

“…romantic and tender and definitely hot.”

“Catherine Bybee is a go-to author for me when I am in the mood to read a story that pulls at my heart and makes me love the characters.”

“STAYING FOR GOOD is a great take on a second chance at love plot line with a dose of real life scenarios and of course sizzling chemistry thrown in. Readers will get to sympathize with both Luke and Zoe’s take on their rekindled romance and the effort to make it work. Its a great read that will make you cheer for this couple to make it work because they simply are meant to be.”

“Not only can she create sweet and sexy romances, Catherine also gives her characters the best supporting casts.”

“Staying For Good was a very emotional, strong and beautiful story.”

“I enjoyed the friendships in this book and can’t wait for the next book in the series. This is a well-written story with everything you’ll want in a romance. ”

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