by Elizabeth Perry
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Table of Contents:
5- Reese, Ten years ago
8- Becket, Ten years ago
10- Beckett, Ten years ago
14- Reese, Ten years ago
18- Beckett, Ten years ago
19- Reese, Ten years ago
22- Beckett, Ten years ago
The screech of my tires
is all that I can hear over the pounding of my heart. Even jamming on
my brakes isn’t enough to stop my car in time from hitting that
stupid deer, the one who decided that now was a great time to cross
the road. The airbag flies up, hitting me in the face with enough
impact to knock out my teeth. Luckily, it didn’t.
Welcome back to
Tennessee, where everything turns to shit the second you set foot
across the state line.
At least it does for
me, and my luck only seems to get worse the closer I get to my
hometown of Westmont. Seriously, no joking around, I got a flat tire
about five miles past the state line. My already long trip grew by
two hours while I waited on the side of the road for roadside
assistance. Now here I am, almost to my destination, and I hit a
deer. Are you freaking kidding me?
I take a few deep
breaths, trying to slow my racing heart, but instead, I inhale a
giant cloud of dust from the airbags. I begin to cough so hard that
my eyes water and I’m pretty sure part of my lung pops. Ok, that
may be an exaggeration, but still. I cough pretty damn hard. I manage
to push open my door, and standing up on shaky legs, I survey the
Seriously, I just want
to cry. Lay down somewhere, roll into the fetal position and ball my
eyes out, that’s how bad my little car looks, that’s how bad this
entire stupid situation is.
I’m so sad for it,
and for myself. I shouldn’t have to be here, and my cute little
convertible? Shouldn’t be smashed right now.
Curse whoever and
whatever is forcing me to come back.
I swear, I almost
passed out when the court courier knocked on my door, and handed me a
piece of paper that completely redirected my ship of life. I had sat
and stared at it for a long time, long enough that he asked if I was
ok and needed some help.
Who in their right mind
would summons me to appear in city court in Westmont, Tennessee? I
haven’t set foot inside of that town in the last ten years.
The second I left?
Lord. I’m sure I kicked up enough dust to cause a tornado as I flew
down this same road in my beat-up jeep, wearing a wedding dress,
driving as fast as my beat up old rust bucket would take me. I was on
a mission to get the hell out of this backwards town, determined to
make something out of myself and to prove everyone who ever doubted
And I did, I most
certainly have done just that. When I hastily packed my things that
day, the plan had only ever been to get past the county line. But the
county line turned into the state line, one state line ended up
leading to another state line, and before I knew it, I had driven
through almost three entire states, landing in Chicago, Illinois.
From there, the rest has been history.
I busted my ass,
burning the candle at both ends by working two jobs to pay my own way
through college. After I graduated, I rocked out my LSAT and got
myself into one of the best law schools in Illinois. Since I had done
so well on my LSAT, some of the bigger firms in Chicago kept an eye
on me throughout law school, so once I graduated and of course, made
the bar exam my bitch, I had a flood of job offers.
I ended up being picked
up by Hyler Schmidtt Attorneys at Law, which, in my world? Means that
I have friggin made it. Whenever there is a big case that is all over
the news? Odds are, the defense attorney is from my firm. Because we
are the shit, and I’m totally not even trying to toot my own horn,
here. Our attorneys are just that good.
Being a defense
attorney is trying on my conscience, but on my bank account? Yeah.
That part is nothing but nice. No longer am I the girl from the wrong
side of the tracks, the girl who grew up in a trailer without a
father. Nope, not me. That girl is long gone. Now, I’m a successful
independent woman, who can afford to buy myself whatever I want. In
fact, that was how I was supposed to be spending my Sunday, shopping
until I dropped, or at least until the stores closed with my friend
and partner at the firm Stephanie.
changed when I ended up getting sent to exile, aka, Westmont
Tennessee. In fact, my entire week got screwed up over this stupid
court appearance. Tomorrow, I had tickets to the opera with my
Things have been
strained between us lately, with both of us working so many extra
hours, defending our own cases. But, since I just slam dunked my last
case, I had the whole next week off to get my office and things in
order before picking up my next client. Brad was able to set aside
some time for me tomorrow, and now, I can’t even spend it with him.
Brad is one of the few
good guys left around, and I’m lucky to have him. Not only is he a
successful attorney like me, he’s also caring, and kind. And while
he may be a little on the boring side, that’s fine with me. Because
the fun good looking guys? Those are the ones that get you into
trouble. The kind that get you pregnant and decide to marry you out
of responsibility, but, can’t manage to keep their dick inside of
their pants long enough to do so.
Those are the kind of
guys that break your heart so damn badly that you will never be the
same again. And I have no time in my life for anyone like that. Been
there, done that, and no way in hell will I ever put myself through
Brad isn’t the heart
crushing type. He’s too boring and faithful to break my heart, and
that is exactly the kind of guy that I need to be with. Because the
other kind? Leave you so damn broken that you can barely move on.
I had a guy like that
once, and man oh man. The damage he did to my heart is indescribable.
I met him when I wasn’t expecting to, and honestly, at a time that
I didn’t want to. It was the summer before my senior year in high
school, and I was trying to go places. Trying to keep my grades up so
that I could get a full ride scholarship anywhere far away from where
I grew up. But then, I met him, and everything changed. Suddenly, I
was a girl hanging onto every word that he spoke, falling blindly in
love and never looking back. I was all too eager to climb into the
back of his pickup truck, letting him take all that I had to offer.
Which he did. He most certainly did.
He took everything from
me, from my virginity to my sanity, and told me that he loved me and
would never let me go. And, for a little bit over a year, I believed
him, and was willing to give up my entire future just to have him. It
was a love story right out of a fairy tale. Except until the part
where he broke my heart and cheated on me.
With the devil,
disguised as my own step sister.
From that moment on, I
was forever changed. My heart was shattered, and I was left
scrambling to pick up the pieces. The full ride scholarship that I
had been working for? That was long gone, since my grades slipped
while I was obsessed with Mr. Wrong for me. I threw away my future,
thinking that I had one with him, and then he was gone, and so were
all of my dreams.
Essentially, though, it
made me stronger. Having to pick up the pieces all by myself? Made me
learn to depend on no one but me. I managed on my own just fine,
without a single bit of help from anyone. Which in hindsight is
probably the best, because everything that I have now? Is mine, and
was earned by me.
Nowhere in any of my
future plans, did I ever intend to set foot back inside of this town.
I cut ties with almost every single person from this hell hole, even
the friends that I grew up with. I couldn’t risk ever having to
hear his name mentioned again, or to hear if he ended up with a
happily ever after with the she devil of a step sister that I was
forced to grow up with, Aurora.
So, when I left, I left
them all behind. Even my momma, but cutting ties with her was the
easiest of all. She was never the kind of mother to me that I needed
growing up. She allowed me to be mistreated by her husband and his
retched daughter, and while Chuck never put his hands on me, he never
gave two shits about me either. He pretended as though I didn’t
exist, and my mother let it happen.
The only person that I
kept in touch with was my savior growing up, a friend of my father
who I never met, a man named Mr. Orville. I swear, he was the only
person in my life that ever really cared about me. Like, really and
truly loved me and wanted the best for me.
He was a single guy,
whose beloved wife died shortly after they were married. He opened
his gorgeous home as a bed and breakfast, and every summer, he gave
me a job there, allowing me to live there, away from the trailer of
hell. On the weekends during the school year, I stayed there as well,
helping out whenever I could. It kept me away from Chuck and Aurora,
and kept me away from my mother, who barely ever visited me while I
was there. Yet another reason why it was so easy to cut all ties with
I did call her when I
was summonsed, just to check in and make sure that this had nothing
to do with her. We spoke briefly, but I never actually told her that
I was coming. Actually, I didn’t tell anyone that I was coming. Not
even Mr. Orville, even though his house is where I’m planning to
So here I sit, with a
smashed-up car on the side of the road, and there is not a single
person that I can call for help.
“Uncle Beckett? Where
do babies come from?” My head snaps in the direction of the sweet
little voice, asking me a question that no way in the world l am
My niece Bailey
flutters her long black eyelashes up my way, her blue eyes large with
“Ah, why the
Bailey shrugs and casts
her pole back into the water. She sighs before looking back to me.
“Well, Bobby Murphy
told me that I was hatched out of an alien egg. And now Momma is
pregnant again, so I was just wondering. Does that mean my daddy is
“Why are you
listening to anything Bobby Murphy says Bails? He’s a bozo.” I
make a funny face, loving her giggle. So where do I go from here? I’m
definitely not having the sex talk with five-year-old. Hell-I’m not
having the sex talk with Bailey at any age, but most definitely not
now. I could go with the storck theory, but that never really made
any sense to me. I mean, really. A bird drops off a baby? So
unlikely. And how do you explain the big pregnant belly? Doesn’t
make any sense at all.
“Jesus planted a seed
in momma. And that seed turned into a baby. Not an alien Bailey. And
next time Bobby Murphy tries to tell you something about, well
really, about anything, you tell him that you could get better advice
from a donkey.”
She giggles again,
filling up the quiet evening air with her laugh.
From the moment she was
born, my entire world has revolved around her. My sister Berlin
thinks that I’m spoiling her, but I don’t care. She reminds me of
my baby sister at every turn, and I couldn’t love her any more than
I do. Don’t get me wrong, I have four nephews who I adore as well,
and my oldest brother Brett just announced to us today that his wife
is expecting again, this time with twins. I am crazy about all of
them, but Bailey is the only girl, so she has me, and every other man
in our family, wrapped around her finger.
Sunday is our fishing
day. Every Sunday, without fail, Bailey and I head to the river on
the county line after church and spend a couple of hours fishing from
the bank. Since Bailey is a princess, she has a hot pink sparkly
fishing pole. It nearly killed me to buy it, but she likes pretty
things like her momma. So, that’s what she got. Fishing with her is
really the highlight of my week, which for a single
twenty-eight-year-old guy, might make me pathetic. But I don’t
care. Sundays with Bailey are something that I look forward to all
week long. We sit, and talk, eat too much junk and laugh as much as
we can. She fills me in on the kindergarten drama, asks me all of the
enlightening questions that she can, tells me how much she loves me,
and then we fish. Six days go by, and we repeat.
She nods her head,
seemingly fine with my answer on babies. Thank goodness. That is so
not a subject that I even want to touch on right now.
“Uncle Beckett, are
you ever going to have a baby?”
I raise an eyebrow at
her and shake my head. “Um, Bails? You remember I’m a boy, right?
Boys don’t have babies.”
She giggles again and
rolls her large blue eyes my way, shaking her head full of blond
“I know that silly.
But are you ever going to get yourself a girlfriend and then make her
your wife? Like Uncle Bentley is doing. He is making Savannah his
wife and now she is going to be my aunt.”
Yes, he is. Because all
of my three siblings have settled down, engaged or married, and are
giving my parents all of the grandchildren they could ever want.
Except me that is. And I have no plans for any of that in the future.
I wrinkle my nose up
for effect and shake my head hard. “No way Bailey. I don’t have
time for one of those. Besides, I already have a number one girl, and
she’s sitting right next to me.” I nudge her softly and she looks
up at me with the adoring smile that I have come to treasure.
“I’ll always be
your number one girl Uncle Beckett, right?”
I nod and reach an arm
around her tiny shoulders, pulling her in close. “Always Bailey.
We’ve caught a total
of two fish by the time we pack it up for the day. Two.
This has been an
abnormally slow fish day, but that’s alright. Bailey did more
eating and chatting than actually casting her pole.
“We can still keep
em, right Uncle Beckett?” she bites her lip as she looks into the
nearly empty cooler.
“Of course we can.”
She nods her head and
smiles, before running to my truck and waiting patiently by the door
for me to boost her in.
I really need to get
some kind of step stool or something for her. My truck isn’t all
that lifted, I just have big tires on it. But Bailey is abnormally
small, even for a five-year-old. She is going to be a petite little
thing like her momma.
I boost her in and then
load up the fishing gear. By the time I make it inside of the cab,
she is almost asleep. I buckle her up and then turn my truck down the
two-lane highway that leads back into our town of Westmont.
It’s about a
twenty-minute drive back into town, and since my family and I all
live on the outskirts of town on the water’s edge, it’s another
ten minutes after we hit town.
I’m about ten minutes
into the drive, when I see it. There is a tiny Audi convertible and a
deer in the road. I’m not sure which one looks worse, the car or
the dead animal. Or maybe the frantic woman standing outside of the
car kicking the tire.
I chuckle to myself at
the sight of her. She’s obviously not from around here. Number one,
little cars like that don’t work so well out here. This is the
country. You need a truck or an SUV to get around these parts. Most
of the roads are a mix of dirt and gravel, with bumps all over them.
These are roads built for trucks, not tiny little cars.
She looks as stuffy as
they come, in a tight-fitting navy skirt and suit jacket, her hair
perfectly straight and cut in some trendy do, and she looks pissed.
Her long legs, clad in
heels, kick the tire again as I role to a stop behind her. She
glances up in my direction, looks around behind her at the deserted
road, and bites her lip, before her arms raise above her head and she
begins to wave frantically.
I pull over to the side
of the road behind her, fighting to keep my smile off my lips.
“I think the deer
lost the fight.” I tell her, shutting of my engine and hoping out
of my truck.
She at least cracks a
smile, and gestures down to the deer. “Yes, that darn thing jumped
right out in front of me.”
She is most definitely
not from around here. There is no drawl in her voice, no sign of
anything southern on her at all. In fact, she screams northerner. And
not from the north country either. North and city. I’d bet money on
“Where you headed?”
I ask her, as I step closer to her, inspecting the damage on the
front of her car. I’m not a mechanic, but I would bet that this
little thing is totaled. Both airbags went off, the front is all
smashed and the windshield is broken.
I take a step closer to
her, so close that I hear her sigh softly and can see the impressive
cleavage that mounds underneath her polka dot button up shirt. I try
my best not to stare, but lord. I am a man after all. And it’s been
well over a year since I’ve been intimate with a woman.
I force my eyes up to
her sunglass covered eyes, and a strange sense of recognition washes
over me. She starts to point down the road toward town, but stops
abruptly and turns around.
She side steps me and
walks to the back of her car, pops the trunk and grabs her suitcase
I narrow my eyes at
her, watching the way that she moves. I know those movements. The
gentle sway of the hips, the graceful strut that most woman have to
force comes oh so naturally to this one. And in that moment, it hits
me who she is.
My jaw drops as the
recognition sets in. Holy shit.
We both freeze as I say
her name, and she sighs loudly.
She looks different.
Obviously, ten years older than the last time that I saw her, but
still, she is as beautiful as the last time my eyes feasted on her.
The last time I saw her, she had blond hair that hung in curly waves
down her back. Her skin was tanned from a Tennessee summer, making
her bright green eyes shine against her skin. She wore mostly cutoff
jeans shorts and cowgirl boots, showing off her perfect body which,
let me tell you, is to date the best body I have ever laid eyes on.
But this woman?
Different. Her long blond hair is now in a short shoulder length bob,
and it’s not curly. Its stick straight. Her cutoff jeans have been
replaced for a suit, her boots traded for heels. Her large green eyes
are hidden behind a pair of designer shades, and her drawl is gone.
From the sound of her voice, you would have no idea that she was born
and raised in southern Tennessee, near the Georgia border. You
wouldn’t know that she spent nights catching lightening bugs and
crawfish in the river. Or that she rode almost everywhere in a truck.
No, those are not the things you would think about this woman.
Because she has become as city as they get.
My words get stuck in
my throat, as we both stand absolutely still, staring at each other.
Of all the people I expected to see on the side of the road, Reese
Crawford is the very last one. The feelings that seeing her surface
aren’t exactly welcome ones either.
There was a time that I
would have given just about anything to come face to face with Reese
again. For one more minute with her, one more chance. But that time
has long since passed, and instead of the ache that she left in my
heart, all I feel right now is fury. Utter and complete fury towards
My eyes narrow, and I
take a step back.
“What are you doing
She crosses her arms,
forcing her breasts up higher and glares at me from behind her
“Way to roll out the
welcome wagon, Beckett. I’m here on business that will hopefully be
She storms past me and
cranks open the driver’s door, grabbing out a purse and her phone.
“I just need to call
a cab and a tow truck.”
I roll my eyes so high
I worry for a split second that they might get stuck. “Are you
crazy? There’s no cabs here Reese. You should know that.”
“Ugh. Seriously? When
is this backwoods town going to step into this century?” She fumes,
stomping her heel clad foot. “Well, at least I need to call for a
tow truck then.”
I could leave her right
here. Stuck on the side of the road, and let her try to use her cell
phone, that I know damn well won’t work out here. And a huge part
of me wants to do just that. Hop back into my truck and haul ass back
to town, far away from her and her smashed up car.
But the man in me just
can’t do that, regardless of how much I dislike the woman. I sigh
loudly and cross my arms, letting my eyes travel up her body.
Damn. Time has been
nothing but kind to Reese. While her skin is no longer sun kissed,
her skin is creamy white and smooth. Her legs are still endless,
perfectly toned leading up to her narrow waist. I can’t see her
behind, but I am betting that it is still tight and firm, and
perfectly rounded. Her breasts are still phenomenal, large and
mounding out of her button up top. Her lips are still plush, and if I
could see her eyes, they would certainly still take my breath away.
She is absolutely
gorgeous. I used to sit and stare at her, letting the sight of her
take my breath away. Which it did, always, it did. I used to thank
the lord every night for letting her be mine, and not just because of
her outer beauty. Because at the time, I thought that she was as
beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. I was wrong.
Unfortunately, I know
better than anyone that while Reese is beautiful, she is uglier than
sin on the inside. She doesn’t care about anyone but herself, she
never has, and odds are, she never will.
I motion over to my
truck. “I’ll give you a lift, and you can call for a tow when you
get into town. That thing probably isn’t going to work out here.”
I motion to the fancy phone in her hand. She glances down at it and
groans, obviously realizing that she has no service.
screams, stomping her foot before kicking her tire again. She mutters
her word a few more times, kicking the tire until her heel breaks off
of her shoe. She then stops, pulls the shoe off her foot, and
launches it at her car.
“Temper tantrum about
done here? I don’t have all day, so if you could wrap it up and
come on, that would be good.” I cross my arms, leveling my glare
“I’m not going
anywhere with you.” She seethes, before leaning up against her car
and crossing her arms, matching my stance.
Forget this. I spent
too many years dealing with her pain in the ass self. I’m not about
to go there again. I shrug and head back towards my truck.
“Fine. Suit yourself.
It’s about a ten mile walk into town, but hell woman, you already
know that. Good luck to you. Try not to get eaten by any creatures.”
I intend to laugh only to myself, but it ends up coming out as a
roar. “On second thought, do that. Play tag with a mountain lion
for all I care.”
I open up my door and
start to get in, when she pushes herself off of her car and throws
her hands up in the air. “Are you serious right now Beckett? You’re
just going to leave me stranded here?”
I throw my head back in
frustration and exhale slowly, trying not to blow up.
“Reese, if you want a
ride, get in the truck. Otherwise you can walk. Clearly, you are
really good at that, so it shouldn’t be problem for you.” It’s
a dig and I know it. But I don’t care. It’s the truth
“Oh, nice one
Beckett. I do clearly remember having to walk away. And, if memory
serves me right, you gave me a damn good reason to do so.”
I whip around and stalk
towards her, grabbing her suitcase out of her hand and throwing it in
the back of my truck. I let her stand and stare at me with her mouth
wide open, but luckily, no words come out. This is the last thing
that I want to do right now. No way do I intend to bring up the past
and fight it out with Reese in the middle of this highway that is
growing darker by the minute.
“Get in the god damn
I hop into the driver’s
side, and unbuckle a sleeping Bailey before pulling her over towards
me, into the middle of the bench seat and buckle her in. Her eyes
flutter open, as she moves her head to rest on my lap, but then she
goes right back to sleep. Thank goodness for small favors.
Reese storms over to
the passenger side door, opens it with probably all the force her
tiny self can muster, before she struggles to climb in. I just sit
and watch her impatiently, until she climbs inside and shuts the
“Ever the gentleman I
see.” She mutters, but stops mid-sentence when her eyes connect
with Bailey. She glances down at Bailey and then up to me, before
taking off her sunglasses and looking between us again.
A hurt look flashes in
her eyes, but only for a moment, before she turns her eyes forward
and sits as still as a statue in her seat.
She probably thinks
that Bailey is my daughter. Judging by the look I saw in her eyes,
I’m sure of it. A good man would correct her thinking. But when it
comes to Reese, I’ve never been a good man. And as shitty as it
sounds, I want her to think it. I want her to feel hurt over it.
Hell, this woman ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped all over
it. Then took off to god only knows where and never looked back.
I want her to hurt.
“Where am I taking
She’s silent for
several seconds, before her voice breaks the silence, calm and cool.
“Um, ok. Did you
happen to call ahead?”
She scoffs and looks
out the window. “No. Why would I? It’s not like that place is
ever full. Besides, even if it was, Mr. Orville will make room for
me. Even if it means I have to sleep on the couch.”
She’s right. He
would, he most definitely would make room for her. Growing up, Reese
practically lived at the Bed and Breakfast. She worked there every
summer and lived in one of the rooms during those months. The rest of
the year, she would stay there on the weekends. So, I can understand
her thinking, but obviously, Reese hasn’t kept in contact with the
man, because Mr. Orville died a few months ago.
As much as I would like
to hurt her, I keep this information to myself. She’s going to find
out soon enough anyhow.
“You call your momma
at all and let her know that you’re in town?”
Silence. So, that’s a
“Actually, you call
your momma ever? You know, on Sundays or something? Just to say hey,
I’m alive, all is well, anything like that?”
“Not that it’s any
of your business, Beckett, but yes. I spoke with my mother on
“Well, why don’t I
just bring you to her place then? It’s closer than Orville’s
I don’t even need to
look over at her to know that she is rolling her eyes.
“I’m not going to
barge in on her and her family. Besides.” She pauses, and her voice
lowers. “She doesn’t know that I’m in town.”
I groan, and pull the
truck out onto the road, heading back into town.
“You spoke with her
Monday, yet you didn’t tell her that your coming into town.”
It’s not a question.
It’s a statement, and she doesn’t even look up at me.
I shake my head, and
turn the volume up on the radio. Just loud enough to drown out
anything that Reese might say, but not loud enough to wake up Bailey.
Her smell surrounds me,
making it hard to concentrate on anything other than the fact that
Reese is sitting here with me. Inside of my truck, close enough to me
that I could reach out and touch her if I wanted to.
But I don’t. Not even
slightly. The only touch I would like to give to her is maybe my hand
around her neck.
So I force my attention
on the road, and try to block out the feelings that circle inside of
Of all the people to
drive by and come to my rescue, it had to be Beckett McCallister. I
swear, the universe is totally against me today.
I mean, first of all,
I’m here. If that isn’t the worst thing ever, then I don’t know
what is. Then, I got a flat tire, and finally, totaled my car. Oh,
yeah. And I broke the heel of my favorite new pair of shoes.
I would have gladly
broken off all the heels to all my cute shoes if that meant that I
could have been saved by anyone other than Beckett. Seriously, I
would have rather taken my chances with a serial killer who loves
blonds. My chances of getting hurt would have been less than they are
sitting next to him.
The worst part about
this, is dear lord. He looks good. Really good. It’s been ten years
since I last laid eyes on him, and I have to admit, time has been
nothing but kind to Beckett. His blond hair that used to be longer in
the front is now clean cut and short, styled off to the side in a ‘I
just ran my hands through it and it looks this good’ kind of way.
His eyes are still the same shade of sapphire blue that I remember,
but his body? Jay-sus. He was always in shape, but it’s obvious
that he works out like it’s his day job. Every inch of him is cut
and strong, his muscles rippling with every movement. The boy that I
remember is long gone. There is nothing boyish about him anymore. He
is all man. And dear lord, what a man he has become. Beckett
McCallister is sex on a stick.
Well, honestly, he
always was. At least to me. Just the slightest look from him used to
be enough to make me climb into the back of his pickup truck and let
him have his way with me. Hell, it had been enough for me to give him
my virginity all those years ago.
I force myself not to
look at him, although, my traitorous eyes want to. But I can’t.
I’ve never been able to control myself around Beckett and it’s
never worked out for me. As hot as he is, there is just too much
history between us and regardless of how much time has passed, the
reality is that he broke my heart. Instead, I watch the scenery fly
by, as we make our way back into town.
It’s amazing how in
Chicago, things change all of the time. One day, you wake up, and a
building is gone and has already been replaced by something else. But
here? It looks exactly the same as the day that I left. The sign
introducing the town looks more rundown than before, but it’s still
standing. Smith’s barbershop still flags the end of the red brick
strip mall on Main street. The grocery store is still standing in the
exact same spot, with the same letter O burnt out on the sign. We
pass the bar next, with the parking lot packed. Still the same in
this small town. One bar, and it’s always full.
I was always too young
to frequent it when I lived here, and even though I’m old enough
now, I have no desire to go there. I can guarantee that many people
from my past would await me there. And while there are some friends
from school that I would love to reconnect with, I don’t want to
risk prolonging this trip any more than I have to. Tomorrow I am
going to the local attorney’s office to deal with whatever it is
that they summonsed me for, and then hightailing it back to the city.
The truck bumps along
the road to the bed and breakfast. It’s located directly on the
water, on a large inland lake where only the richer people in town
live. Beckett’s family lived on that same lake, just on the other
side of it.
My family? We lived in
a double wide trailer on a couple acres of land on the opposite side
of town. The ghetto so to speak, except it was the ghetto of
Hickville, USA. I swore up and down that I would never set foot
inside of that trailer again, and I have kept true to my word.
Beckett is silent as he
turns his truck into the driveway of the large old Victorian style
home that was converted into a bed and breakfast years ago. I blink a
few times, before glancing around the yard. Can we possibly be in the
Unlike everything else
in this town, this house is nothing like I remember it growing up.
Back then, it was breathtakingly beautiful, with flowers always
blooming from the many gardens that cover the property. Not a single
window that faced the wrap around porch went without a blooming
flower box. The porch was always painted every year and the trim too,
making the entire house gleam. But now? It looks like a dump. The
front porch has almost all of its white paint chipped away, and most
of its sagging. Not a single flower blooms in the boxes, and the
flower beds are overgrown with weeds.
I glance over at
Beckett, before sitting forward in my seat and staring at the house
that I called a home for at least half of the year, feeling myself
die a little on the inside.
Bad condition or not,
just the sight of this place fills me with so many memories, some
that are good, and some that I just shouldn’t even allow myself to
This is the place where
Beckett and I spent most of our time together, and down some ways on
the property, far out of sight of the house, is where Beckett took my
That’s probably not
the best thought to be running through my mind right now, but for
whatever reason, it’s there, in my mind, next to all of the other
jumbled thoughts racing through me.
Beckett puts the truck
in park but doesn’t cut the engine. I glance over to him and then
back at the house, a sinking feeling hitting me in the pit of my
“We’re here.” He
says, although his voice is cold, devoid of any emotion. I nod my
head, and reach down onto the floorboard of the truck, gathering my
purse and jacket.
I glance up to him,
ready to thank him, when his daughter stirs. Her little eyes flutter
open, and she snuggles in closer to him before shutting her eyes
again. I try to force my eyes away from her, but I just can’t. It
shouldn’t hurt that he’s a daddy. I mean, really. What did I
expect? It’s been ten years. A lot of things change in ten years,
and obviously Beckett moved on. I have too. But having the vision of
his moving on clear as day in front of me? Hurts worse than it
I smile down at her and
then glance up to Beckett. “She’s beautiful.” I tell him,
hating that my voice cracks as I force the words out. She is
beautiful. A head full of white blond curls, the cutest button nose
I’ve ever seen and a face scattered with freckles. She looks so
much like Beckett that it makes my heart ache.
“Thanks. She looks
just like her momma.”
Oh. Yes, of course.
Beautiful, like her momma. Beckett’s wife. I swallow hard.
“Thanks for the
ride.” I force the words out as I hop out of the truck. I grab my
suitcase out of the bed, and I’m not two steps away from his truck
before he pulls out, kicking up gravel as he flies down the drive.
The dust covers me, so
I do what any rational women would do. I hold up both hands and flip
him the bird. Asshole.
Good riddance, Beckett
McCallister. May we never, ever meet again. I keep my fingers up in
the air just in case he missed them until his taillights disappear
down the road.
Taking a deep breath, I
turn my attention back to the house. What happened to this place? The
last time that I spoke to Mr. Orville, he mentioned nothing negative
about the house. In fact, he went on for what seemed like forever
about how all of his flowers were doing. But that wasn’t that long
ago that we spoke, was it?
How could everything
have deteriorated so fast?
Taking a deep breath, I
trudge forward, pulling my wheelie suitcase behind me. I make it up
the front steps, but stop short of the front door, nearly falling
into an enormous hole right past the steps.
I quickly step to the
side, but the porch nearly collapses under my weight. The rotting
wood sags dangerously low, making me step back to the safety of the
stairs. Glancing around, I see that there are huge holes everywhere.
This porch is an ankle breaker for sure. Maybe even a neck breaker.
Something is definitely
wrong here. The house is quiet. Too quiet for anyone to be here.
There isn’t a single light on anywhere in the house, and there is
no familiar sound of music coming from inside. Plus, the front door
is shut. That door hardly was ever shut. Usually he would just keep
the screen door closed, with the large mahogany door wide open like a
What in the hell
happened here? I swallow hard before stepping back another step. No
lights. Dilapidated house, not a single sound, except that of the
waves crashing on to the shore below.
That’s when I notice
the sign posted clearly on the door. A notice to vacate the premises.
I squint, trying to see the date on the notice, but I can’t. Dusk
is settling, and I am at least six feet away from it. If I go any
closer, I will likely fall into a hole and die.
Not happening today.
Sighing, I sink down
onto the steps. The house is obviously empty. Never has there been a
time that I’ve come here and not heard the sound of music playing.
Mr. Orville always had
opera music playing. He said that it reminded him of his wife, who
was an opera singer before she passed away.
He told me once when I
was young that the music made him feel like his beloved Sally was
still here with him. He had said that she was his one and only true
love, and that while he was lonely at times, he could never bring
himself to remarry, because his heart just didn’t have room to love
another woman the way that he had loved his wife.
When I met Beckett, and
when it was obvious that I had fallen head over heels in love with
him, Mr. Orville had given me the best advice of my life when he told
me that I should do anything that I could to treasure that love.
Because sometimes that kind of love is a once in a lifetime thing.
At the time, I didn’t
take the advice, but that was because Beckett had decided to go on
and break my heart.
But out of anything
that anyone has ever told me, those words couldn’t have been any
Because the love that I
had for Beckett was most definitely once in a lifetime. I’ve never
felt that way about anyone since.
In all honesty, I
haven’t really tried. At least, I haven’t really put myself out
there to see if that kind of love could happen again. That kind of
love is amazing. It fills you up, makes you believe that you can do
anything, and makes you want to give anything up just to be with that
one person. But then when that love goes away, it’s the most
horrible feeling ever. I think I cried myself to sleep every night
for a year straight after I lost Beckett. It was a terrible time for
me, so bad, that I don’t even like to think about it, because my
heart breaks a little all over again. That’s why I’ve never
opened myself up to love like that again. I just physically can’t
When I left town and
went off to school, I didn’t date. While my girlfriends were busy
hooking up with fraternity guys at parties, I busied myself studying.
I centered my goals on my grades, and of making something out of
myself. I mean, hell. I had already let one guy make me give up on my
goals. No way was that happening again.
By the time I hit law
school, I still only had one notch on my belt, and that belonged to
Beckett. I finally ended up getting incredibly drunk with my friend
Stephanie, and spent a single night having sex with some random guy
that I met in the bar. Definitely not my style, but, the alcohol made
it easier to do.
The only bad part about
it, was even though the guy was gorgeous, I couldn’t have an
I chalked it up to the
booze. I mean, that happens to people when they are drunk all of the
time, right? Even though I was able to convince myself of that, I
wasn’t in any hot hurry to repeat that night. For one, drunken one
night stands aren’t really my thing. But also? No way did I want to
run the risk of having no orgasm sex happen again.
When I met Brad,
honestly at first? He kinda bored me to death. I didn’t mean to
date him. I’m really not even sure how we ended up in a
relationship. When he began flirting with me, I brushed him off for a
long time. But of course, he ended up growing on me, and the more I
got to know him, the less boring he became. Not that he is a ball of
laughs and good times by any means, but he’s safe. He’s
trustworthy and loyal, and is in love with me. That counts for
Loyal and boring don’t
usually lead to a heartbreak, and in my opinion, one heartbreak a
lifetime is one too damn many. The first time I got my heart broken,
it nearly killed me. If it happened a second time, I’m fairly
certain that I wouldn’t make it through.
But, where Brad lacks
in personality, he makes up for it in hotness and hot body.
That’s always a
bonus, right? Hot and in shape. Two of my most favorite qualities in
a man. Let’s not forget to add in successful either, because he is
all that. And a bag of chips.
And while he may not be
Beckett McCallister hot, still. He is a fine looking male specimen.
I figured that as long
as he kept his mouth shut during sex, that I would be able to get off
on his body alone.
Ah. Yeah. That didn’t
go exactly as planned.
I’ve tried. Lord
knows, that I have tried to talk myself into coming. I get so close
during sex, but then just as fast as the feeling comes, it leaves,
and I am left to lay there and fake it.
Now, don’t get me
wrong. I can bring myself to that place just fine. But add in a man?
A man that apparently isn’t Beckett? Yeah. Fail.
No orgasm zone.
But hell. Maybe Beckett
couldn’t even do it for me anymore. Maybe I’m just broken, and
it’s a wrap for me. Not that I will ever get to find out if he can
or can’t, because honestly? The thought of getting busy with
Beckett is not on my radar. Not at all.
Ok, so leaving Reese
stranded was kind of a jerk move. I realize that, now that I have put
a little bit of space between us.
After dropping Bailey
off at home, I went to my house, popped the top of a beer and went to
sit out on my back deck. I had stared across the lake in my backyard
for about two minutes, staring at the dark and desolate water,
knowing that the abandoned bed and breakfast was on the other side of
the lake, although it’s too far away to see it. I stared off in
that direction long enough to take a few swallows of my beer, before
my conscience took over. Regardless of the fact that its Reese, and
she totally deserved to be abandoned, I felt like a total prick for
having left any woman stranded there.
In my defense, that
woman tends to bring out the worst in me. And I know for a fact that
I bring out the worst in her. We used to fight, all of the time. More
times than I can count, we would end up fighting over the dumbest
things, and then as I would try to walk away, she would follow right
after me, yelling and waving her hands around like a crazy person.
Most often, I would stop, turn around, and grab her into my arms,
press her against my truck with my body and then we would have crazy
make up sex. She is the only person in the world, I swear, who can
drive me that absolutely crazy. But she is the only woman in the
entire world that I have ever loved like that. I fucking loved her
with every ounce of my heart. She owned every inch of my body, and
losing her crushed me unlike anything in the world ever could.
We were young, crazy in
love, yet totally oblivious to the realities of the world.
I like to think that
I’ve grown up a lot since then, but in all honesty, what I did to
her tonight doesn’t seem very kind or grown up.
“Fuck.” I mutter to
myself, slamming the rest of my beer before tossing the can into the
bin in my garage on my way out the door. Damn my conscience for
taking over right now, because that is the only stupid reason that my
body is even moving towards my truck.
I make it back to
Orville’s in less than ten minutes. It would have been quicker to
just paddle across the lake, but then I would have no choice but to
put Reese in the boat with me and paddle her back to my house.
I would then have to
fight the urge to drown her, and well, I don’t know that I could.
Going to prison is definitely not on my bucket list, so, no way
should I be allowed anywhere near Reese and water.
The temptation to kill
her is just too damn strong.
The air is cooler now
than it was earlier, and dusk has settled in. I pull into the gravel
drive, shut the truck off, and step out onto the ground. I scan the
area, but she’s nowhere in sight. I can’t imagine that she went
into the house, since the doors and windows were all bolted shut by
the city. I can’t really see her trying to walk anywhere either.
There is nothing around for miles, plus she was in one heel and a
suit, with a giant wheelie suitcase. Not exactly walking attire.
Maybe she fell down one of the holes in the porch.
Am I an asshole that
the thought makes me smile? Of course, I wouldn’t want her to be
seriously injured, but a few scrapes and a good scare? I’m not
I take a few steps onto
the porch and shine my phone flashlight down a few of the larger
holes. I’m slightly disappointed to not see her twisted up at the
I start around to the
back of the house, and the second that I turn the corner, I see her
sitting on the swing the still hangs from the old limb of the oak
tree that hangs over the water.
Her suitcase sits off
to the side, propped up against the tree. If she hears me coming, she
doesn’t turn around. She stays sitting on the swing, with her knees
drawn into her chest, staring out over the water.
I hear her sniffling,
as I make my way closer. I stop next to the tree, and look up at her.
She glances my way, a
shocked look crossing her beautiful features. “Beckett, hey. What
are you doing here?”
I blow out a sigh, and
run a hand through my hair. “I felt too guilty to just leave you
stranded here, even though you deserve it.” She cuts her eyes at me
as I cross my arms and meet her glare. “Listen, I’m sorry, ok? I
should have told you that this place was vacant.”
She doesn’t answer,
but I see her swallow hard, even in the dusky night air
“It’s fine.” Her
sigh is loud as she turns to face the water. “Can you at least tell
me what happened to him? To Mr. Orville?”
I keep my arms crossed
and lean against the tree. “Cancer. He had cancer just about
everywhere. He put up a really good fight against it, but he died
about three months ago.”
I see her hand reach up
to her eyes, wiping away a tear that I can’t see. I’m sure this
must hurt; I know how much she loved Mr. Orville. But, people don’t
live forever, and she has been gone a long time. She must have
suspected something could have happened to him. It’s not like he
was a young guy. He was an old man when she took off without a single
glance back to any of us.
“You would have known
that, if you kept in touch with people. Had you called him, maybe he
would have told you.”
She sniffles again and
wipes her eyes.
“I know Beckett, ok?
Please.” She swallows down a sob and wipes her eyes again. “Stop
rubbing it in. I don’t need anyone to tell me what a horrible
person I am. I feel terrible enough already.”
I blow out my breath
and sink down onto the dock.
“Listen, I wasn’t
trying to make you feel bad. I know you cared about him. He cared a
lot about you too, but hell. You already know that. He lived a good
life. And he got to go here, right inside of his house.”
Her voice is shaky when
she replies. “Was he alone?” Her green eyes are filled with tears
as she finally breaks her gaze of the water, and swings her head in
I shake my head. “Nope,
he wasn’t. A couple of years ago, he hired a nurse to move in here
and take care of him. Rumor has it, that they also became lovers. She
stayed with him right up until the end. He wasn’t alone, and he got
to go here. Right in his own bedroom, next to a picture of his
Through her tears, she
“Good. I’m glad.”
She pauses, before a sad smile breaks out across her face. “I
really hope those rumors were true.”
Honestly, I hope so
too. Mr. Orville was a good man, and dammit, he deserved to get laid
again before going out. The man was so in love with his dead wife,
that I never thought he would be able to move on. After Reese had
left me, I was so broken hearted that I could barely function. I had
gone over to Mr. Orville’s to see if he had heard anything from
her. Of course, he hadn’t, because no one had. She just took off,
and never looked back.
But he had told me that
day all about his wife. And how hard it had been for him to get over
her. I could relate, completely, but the idea of never being able to
move on had scared the crap out of me. I left his house that day on a
mission. I was going to screw Reese out of my system.
And so my days of
whoring around began. I ended up transferring out of Tennessee State
to Georgia University so that I had to live on campus. I nailed my
way through that school, and then continued my ways into adulthood,
even after moving back here following college.
But it never made it
better, and eventually, the continuous sex just left me feeling even
more empty. So, I stopped. While I still partake in a casual lay here
and there, my man whore days are long over.
“How about if you
come on down from there, and I’ll drive you over to your momma’s?
I’m sure she’d love to see ya.”
She closes her eyes as
if pained, and exhales long and slow. I’m sure going to her Momma’s
is the last thing she wants to do, but hell. Her momma is not a bad
person and would love to see her only daughter. Well, only daughter
by blood at least. Reese has one step sister, Aurora, but the two of
them never got along. Really, she didn’t get along with her momma
either, but that’s just because they are both so much the same.
Both stubborn as hell southern women. That’s a bad combination
Reese sighs again, and
then hardens her expression. “Fine.”
She struggles down from
the seat, still wearing her slim skirt but her feet are bare. Her one
heel is held in her hand, and the other is trying to hold on to the
seat in order to jump down. I reach up and hold up a hand to help her
down, but she doesn’t take it. Instead, she stares at my hand as if
it has the plague.