Breaking Love (Broken Love #4), p.4B. B. Reid
“What’s going on in here?” The Chambers burst through the library door, followed by a little girl with dark hair. I knew exactly who she was and who she belonged to. The resemblance was uncanny. “Your guests are worried.”
“Mommy, daddy, I throw flowers now.” The little girl held up her baskets of flowers, practically vibrating with excitement and innocence.
“Kennedy.” I hadn’t realized I’d spoken her name until she, along with everyone else, turned their attention to me once more. I knew Sheldon had gotten pregnant the night of prom, but I had never set eyes on her. I remembered Sheldon had favored the name Kennedy and only assumed she had gone through with it.
“Hi,” she cheerfully greeted. Her arm shot out and at the end of it was a hand full of orange flower petals.
“Oh—um… thank you.” I felt out of place and every bit the intruder, and though I never asked for any of this, I felt responsible.
I couldn’t allow guilt to overrule my judgment. I was without a choice, which also meant I was without a conscience.
“I’m sorry. Who are you?” the man I recognized as Dash’s father questioned.
“Dad, you remember Willow. She was Sheldon’s friend,” Dash offered.
As in not anymore.
Damn, that hurt.
What also hurt was the disregard he had not only for me but our previous relationship and the fact that once upon a time I was his friend, too.
And much more than that—I loved him.
Loving him, in fact, was never the issue. Being with him meant sacrificing more than I was sure I had to give. It meant taking a chance and believing that one day, he might not believe I was a mistake.
“Ah, yes,” he responded pleasantly, but the look in his eyes made it clear that he didn’t approve of my presence or remember me in the least. And why should he? I had been Dash’s dirty little secret and always would have been had I stuck around to fall for his lies as well as him.
“The wedding should have begun twenty minutes ago. Why are you all in here, and Sheldon, why aren’t you dressed?”
“There was a small hiccup that we are trying to straighten out.”
“Well, what is it?” their mother question while casting side glances of disapproval my way. It was clear to them that I was the culprit.
“Nothing for you to worry about. Make some excuse for the guests.”
“Oh, God. This isn’t one of Keenan’s problems, is it? What is it? Does she want money?”
“Mom, enough. This is nothing like that. Now, please give us some privacy.”
Their mother looked ready to protest, and since I couldn’t handle any more slights at my character, I decided to intervene. “It’s okay, really. I’m leaving anyway. I’m sorry to have intruded.”
I was able to escape the room without being stopped and made for the nearest exit as quickly as possible. Being thrown out of a moving van left me with aching muscles, but I ignored the pain and concentrated on getting out of dodge.
In the distance, I heard my name being called, and as his voice closed in, I moved faster.
“No,” he said simply as his hand closed around my arm. “If you’re leaving, I’m taking you wherever you need to go.”
“Thanks, but I don’t need your help. I can manage.”
“Clearly,” he snarled sarcastically. I didn’t get a chance to say anything further because he dragged me out behind him. This was all happening so fast that my head literally spun. There were two of him now, and I couldn’t figure out which one to plead to. My head pounded and my steps slowed until he really was all but dragging me.
He seemed to notice my reluctance when worried eyes landed on me. The stress of being kidnapped and blackmailed along with seeing friends I had abandoned and the one person I couldn’t allow myself to love all at once was too much.
I collapsed right there with only the pavement under me and him to catch my fall.
* * *
“I sent the guests home. Do you think we should take her to the hospital?”
“Dr. Carson is on his way to check her over.”
“What happened?” Sheldon demanded.
“I’m not sure.” Dash sighed. “I offered her a ride and she collapsed.” I could hear the stress in his voice, and if I opened my eyes, I was sure I would see the matching lines on his forehead. It was just like him to worry so much over problems other than his own. He lived for others rather than for himself.
“Are you sure you only offered or did you demand that you give her a ride?” If I weren’t pretending to be asleep, I would have laughed. Sheldon was never afraid to interrogate when she felt the need arise.
“Does it matter?” His frustration was evident by his tone and growing by the second. “I didn’t expect her to faint.”
“Maybe she hit her head when she fell. She could have a concussion. Shouldn’t we wake her?”
Dash didn’t respond, but the next moment, I felt his lips on my ear, whispering. “But you’re already awake, aren’t you?”
My eyes popped open against my will, and sure enough, Dash was leaning over me. One hand rested on the far side of my head caging me in while the other fingered my hair as if he had the right.
I wanted to escape, but his body hovering over me prevented me from going anywhere, and he must have known judging by the smugness tugging at his thick lips.
“I need to get out of here.”
“Oh, for fuck sake, you’re okay!” Sheldon squealed, breaking the connection. Thankfully, she shoved Dash out of the way and hugged me, which caught me by surprise. I would have never expected her to speak to me much less hug me as if we were friends.
“I need to get out of here.”
I couldn’t handle it. Not the guilt.
I pulled away rather than push her away, but it didn’t mask my intent as I had hoped. Her eyes grieved our lost friendship.
She cleared her throat and looked away. I knew my absence hurt her, but my rejection would have stung even worse.
“H—how are you?” she stammered. She hadn’t fully gained her composure, and one look at Dash told me he noticed. He looked ready to rip my head off.
“You don’t look fine.”
My attention followed the sound of the extra voice to the far corner of the room where Lake leaned against the wall wearing the same blank mask from before.
“Well, I am.”
“Hm,” she grunted.
What the fuck was her problem?
Oh, right, Willow. You left.
But not before she left me.
To be with him.
I’d never hated anyone in my life, but after she walked away from me, I truly couldn’t fathom any other thought or feeling.
A part of me wanted him dead even though I knew it was a little harsh. Lake and I were best friends, but they were in love. Unfortunately, the girl who believed in that sort of thing had been replaced by someone who wanted him to suffer, and after four years, the opportunity finally arose.
I reached for my jacket and realized I was no longer wearing it. My panic resulted in my scrambling. “Where’s my jacket?”
“Calm down before you faint again. It’s right here.” Dash lifted my jacket from a nearby chair and tossed it to me. I caught it in midair and shoved my arms into the sleeves.
“Where are you off to in a hurry?”
“Away from here.” My hand was on the doorknob, turning, when I heard, “The least you could do before you run away again is apologize to my sister for ruining her wedding. I’m not sure if you noticed, but she didn’t get married today.”
“No, Dash. It’s okay. Really.”
“The hell it is. She won’t even offer an explanation of how she got here in the first place.”
“I told you—”
“A real explanation.”
“We said our goodbyes a long time ago, Dash. I don’t owe you anything.” I faced S
I didn’t wait around for acceptance because I didn’t deserve it.
* * *
I ran as far and fast as I could. No matter how far I got, it never felt safe enough. I still felt Dash’s gaze watching, accusing and assessing. Before I knew it, I was halfway home. There were at least five or six miles between Dash’s parents and mine. My lungs screamed from overuse and my legs burned with ache, but I couldn’t recognize it. I only wanted to feel safe again.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
I walked the remaining two or three miles until I finally made it home. My mother’s beat up car with the faded brown paint sat in the driveway
“Where have you been? I went to the bus stop, but you weren’t there. What happened to your clothes?”
My mom had followed me from the front door, up the stairs, to my old bedroom with her usual rant of questions, never letting me get a word in. Charles had offered a curt greeting but didn’t bother to move from his perch in front of the television, as usual.
“I fell, Mom.”
“But where were you?”
“Where were you?” I snapped. My tone was harsh and unforgiving. Over and over since running from the Chambers Mansion, I thought if she had for once put us first, I never would have laid eyes on Dash or the rest of them again.
“Well, if you were going to stay out this late in the day, you shouldn’t have come at all. What if Charles had been asleep while you come in here with all your ruckus? You know he has trouble sleeping once he’s awake.”
“You should have just stayed wherever you were instead of bothering us with your nonsense.”
I gritted my teeth and blew out my anger through my nose while praying for patience. “You are the one who insisted I come, remember?”
“Well, what kind of daughter would not visit her parents during the holidays? I don’t know what kind of life you’re leading—only God knows what you’re into these days—but I will not be disrespected.”
“Yes, Mother.” I falsely admitted defeat. I learned early on not to go round for round with my mother.
“Sis?” The deep and now manly voice of my little brother, who was no longer a pimple faced squirt, drifted down from the top of the stairs. I hadn’t seen him in six months, and if possible, he had grown even bigger. His dirty blond locks gave him a boyish appeal, but the rest of him had grown into an adult.
“Buddy, hi!” I ignored my mom and moved up the stairs to give my brother a hug. He enveloped me with his large arms and spun me around.
“You’ve been here for sixty seconds and you’re already at war with Mom.”
“Yeah, I’m looking to break records. What are you still doing here? I thought you would have high tailed it back to school by now.” Buddy’s visits were usually as short as mine were. Our mother was unbearable on a good day, and neither one of us had ever been close to Charles.
“Mom said you were coming, and I couldn’t say no to seeing my little big sister.” He ruffled my hair playfully, and I fought to get away.
“That’s sweet. So the girls aren’t back on campus yet, huh?’
“Not any who are attractive. I’m out of here tomorrow, but speaking of unattractive girls, what happened to you?”
I punched his arm and grumbled, “I fell.”
“How? You look terrible.”
“It’s not important. Why don’t you catch me up on school and your latest conquests?”
I SHOULDN’T HAVE let her go. The thought stayed on constant replay in my head, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since she walked away last night.
I wanted her with fierceness, and it wasn’t until a few hours ago that I decided I would have her.
First, I had to find her.
I stared out the window at the city below and wondered where she’d been all these years. The real head scratcher was why she suddenly resurfaced. I could only assume she had been visiting her parents who had claimed to not be in contact with her either.
Either that was a lie, or they were in for the shock of their life as well, because it wasn’t long ago that I began to entertain the thought of her being dead though my heart wouldn’t allow me to mourn her.
The phone in my home office rang and a quick glance showed it was the line reserved for my father’s security detail who was now employed by me.
“It didn’t take much,” Fisher, my head of security, began immediately. “We tracked her to her mother’s house as you expected. She has just left now.”
“She’s going to the airport, isn’t she?”
“We’ll know soon. She’s still on the move, but we’re on her tail. Should we stop her?”
“No. Wherever she’s going, I want you to follow. Find out what flight she’s boarding and report back to me.”
After almost four years, I would finally find out where she had run to and where she had been hiding from me. I pressed the speed dial for my assistant who picked up immediately despite it being Sunday. “Celesha, I want the jet fueled and piloted. You have thirty minutes.”
By the time I had reached the airport with my security team, I had a change of heart and canceled the jet. I could barely restrain myself as I ripped off the seat belt and tore from the car.
She wasn’t going anywhere.
I managed to arrive right on the heels of her arrival and made a mental note to give my assistant a raise.
I charged for the airport, and it was a wonder the pavement didn’t crack under the forceful pounding of my footsteps. I was running by the time I reached the main entrance. I wanted my face to be the first thing she saw the moment she realized she almost escaped again.
My men by now were already guarding every entrance. I made it to the departure gate where a large crowd of people shuffled about or waited for a passenger to board. It wasn’t long before I spotted her copper colored hair, only it wasn’t styled in its usual mass of craziness. Instead, she had it pulled back into a tight bun, and as the crowd parted, I caught sight of her clothing.
Crisp lines and dull colors covered her luscious frame. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I took in the tight cream, knee-length skirt, and sheer white blouse cut low to reveal the top of her breasts and the splatter of freckles.
Oh, how well I remembered those fucking freckles.
My gaze landed on the cream pumps hugging her feet. I felt my dick harden as a vision of her wearing those pumps with her legs wrapped around my neck while I drove into her flooded my head.
I was so wrapped up in that vision that I hadn’t realized she had come to stand before me until she spoke.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Her voice was full of venom, which to my perverse mind sounded sexy as hell.
“Making yet another mistake, apparently. You look… different.” She hadn’t been dressed like this yesterday or had she? Given the events that had taken place, I never stopped to notice her clothing.
“I had to grow up. Isn’t that what kids are supposed to do? We grow up and let go of childhood dreams and take on responsibilities.”
“Is that you or your mother speaking?”
“Does it matter? We’re not seventeen anymore, Dash.”
“So she finally did it. She turned you into the daughter she wanted and made you let go of who she couldn’t be bothered with.”
“Don’t speak of what you don’t know. It’s been four years, Dash. You don’t know me anymore.”
“It hasn’t quite been four years.”
“No. I’m just better at math than you, apparently.” I had enjoyed the quick sulk before she covered it up.
“Why are y
“I wanted to see what rock you were running to crawl back under.”
“That’s none of your business. Excuse me.” She attempted to walk around me, but my hand on her arm stayed her. “There is an airport full of people in case you haven’t noticed. Move or I’ll scream.”
“It wouldn’t matter. I’ll be taken into custody and you’ll escape—maybe.” The quirk of my lips and confidence in my threat had steam shooting from her ears. “One phone call later I’d be released…” I leaned forward as if to kiss her but stopped short. “And I’ll still know where you are.”
“I don’t have time for this.” I set her arm free when she tugged and watched her make for the exit instead of the departure lane. She had only a small bag on her shoulder that couldn’t hold more than a day’s worth of clothing. Whatever reason she had for coming to Six Forks wasn’t something long term, which only intrigued and irritated me more.
I followed her out of the airport and behind the head of my security who was already on her tail. She looked back as if sensing me or just out of pure instinct. When she spotted me, I could make out the curse that fell from her lips as she picked up speed.
When she made a quick detour to a nearby security officer, I gave the signal.
I WAS STILL reeling from the reality that he had followed me. I willed myself not to be swept up by stupid feelings. I also desperately needed to ignore my pounding heart at the thought that he even bothered to come after me.
I told myself I could have one last look to see if this was my imagination or reality. A quick look over my shoulder showed me this all was very much real as he followed me out of the airport.
Was it completely strange for me to find his stalking hot? And now, he was following me as if he intended to steal me.
But Dash wouldn’t actually take me against my will… would he?
“When it comes to getting exactly what he wants, my brother would do just about anything.”
Breaking Love (Broken Love #4) by B. B. Reid / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes