Pain isn’t new to me.
I’ve been to hell only to find it never really leaves when you get back. It haunts me through nightmares, unrequited love, lies, broken hearts, and now death.
A monster almost took my life.
My best friend carries half my soul a world away.
My boyfriend broke my heart but refuses to let me go.
And my father is dead.
I don’t believe in fate and I don’t believe in happily-ever-afters, but for some reason, I still hope.
Live, even with a tainted spirit.
Long for my other half to come back to me.
Risk another broken heart, just to feel loved again.
And refuse to let another horror break me.
In the face of my most recent tragedy, I have to decide whether forgiveness is something I can give. But even if that’s an option, can I be forgiven?
PURCHASE THE BOOK!
I’m in such a state of shock that I lose concept of space and time. I stare at him for a good two minutes before I jerk back to reality.
He gives me a small wave and a slight lift of his beautiful lips. It is a sad and withdrawn smile, enough for me to know he understands exactly what happened.
I glare back at him, not in any mood to be civil, and start stomping my way toward him, intent on giving him a piece of my mind. He has no right to be here.
As I draw closer to him, he pulls himself from the tree and approaches. We meet up and stand so close I almost forget the reason why I came up to him. In my mind’s stuttering state, he speaks first.
“Hi Josie.” His deep, dominant voice washes over me, and I’m angry that it thrills me to hear his voice again. I swallow down the warmth, and try to keep my guard intact.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I hiss. “I’m pretty sure I made it clear I never wanted to see you again. How dare you show your face here?”
“Jo… I just wanted to come and say how sorry I am about your loss. I heard about Will, and I needed to come see how you were doing,” he responds, sadness clear from the roughness of his voice.
Hearing him use my nickname with his gentle tone makes me weak. I wrap my arms around my body to try and keep my anger from being impacted by his kindness.
“I don’t want you here,” I whisper, looking anywhere but at him. I don’t want him to see me break down ever again, but between my loss and seeing him, I don’t know if I will be able to hold back. In that one sentence, filled with the longing and sadness that I didn’t want to show, I made it clear to him that I’m still hurting over what happened.
“I understand. I needed to make sure you’re okay. I know how hard this is for you.” He slowly starts to reach out his hand, and while my cheek tingles at the thought of him touching even an inch of my skin, I think he knows that it’s unwelcome. As I turn the slightest fraction away, he lets his hand fall back to his side, a look of regret crossing his face.
“I can’t do this. Dad needs me right now. I have to take him back to the house,” I say, wanting to get rid of him and the memories he is bringing back.
“Let me stay with you for the day. We can catch up and I can help you with things. Today is tough as it is, let me help,” he says, confidence and determination starting to come back into his personality. This is the man I knew.
I hear footsteps behind me as my dad walks up to us. He stands there, lost in a world I don’t want to enter. He said his goodbye and now he’s retreated back into his shell. I look up at my unexpected visitor and get ready to tell him goodbye for the last time.
“Mr. Sommers, I am so sorry for your loss,” he says softly to my dad. “Josie and I were talking about heading back to the house to catch up and throw away some of the food your neighbors sent over.” He gives me a sly smile and then returns his attention to my dad. “Would one extra person be okay?”
My dad grunts and gives a barely noticeable nod, and we both know him well enough to know that he has accepted the offer. I shake my head at his response.
“Dad, go ahead to the car. I’ll be there in a couple minutes,” I say, hoping to convince Blake Porter to leave. When Dad is almost at the car, I whip myself around to scowl at the same stubborn Blake I used to know. He has a small cocky smirk playing on his lips, and I don’t like how distractingly handsome he still is.
“You need to leave and never come back around here or me again. I can barely even look at you without wanting to punch you in your stupid face!”
The last part is only partially true; a part of me wants to hit him again, and the other part wants to kiss him. His smile grows a little after he hears me say that, because he knows me well enough to figure out that I really do want to hit him.
“I get that you never wanted to see me again after the last time, Josie. Just let me be here for you today. Let me be your friend this one time. I can help. You know I can help,” he says sincerely. I know he can help, but that scares me.
I take a deep breath and try to sort out my thoughts. He is the last person I need to be talking to, and the second person I’ve wanted to talk to since this happened. I know exactly who is standing before me, and I know without a doubt that if I let him back in, I will be hurt and betrayed all over again.
About the Author
Victoria Klahr (pronounced “Claire”) lives in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with her husband and daughter, Stephen and Alexis. She loves her chug (Pug/Chihuahua), Bandit, and daughter to pieces. She is a huge and proud book nerd who looks at her bookshelf in admiration daily. When she’s not daydreaming about book boyfriends and fantasizing about being a badass heroine like Rose Hathaway, she’s busy doing schoolwork for her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and writing the stories that speak to her in her head. She loves peanut butter with Oreos, good friends, amazing gossip, driving in the middle of merge lanes, comedies, crude humor, pretending like she can dance, pretending like she can kick major ass, and a really, really good laugh.
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7304003.Victoria_Klahr