Synopsis:The New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author returns with a sizzling novel of love, loss, guilt, and forgiveness.Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.
It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?
About the Author:Molly McAdams grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband and furry daughter. Her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling and long walks on the beach, which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. When she's not at work, she can be found hiding out in her bedroom surrounded by her laptop, cell, Kindle and fighting over the TV remote. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies, fried pickles and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm...or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren't really happening.
Molly's Website: http://www.mollysmcadams.comMolly's Twitter: https://twitter.com/MollySMcAdamsMolly's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MollyMcAdams
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1tugTnj
Grey May 10, 2012
“Then over there is where the girls and I will be waiting before the
ceremony starts,” I said, pointing to the all-seasons tent just off to
the side. “I think the coordinator said she’d get us in there when
the photographer is taking pictures of Ben and the boys on the
other side house, so he won’t see me.”
I glanced to my mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law talking about
the gazebo behind me, and what it would look like with the
greenery and flowers, and I smiled to myself. They’d been going
back and forth on whether we should keep the gazebo as it was or
decorate it ever since Ben and I had decided on The Lake House as
our wedding and reception site. And from the few words I was
hearing now, they were still undecided. I honestly didn’t care how
it was decorated. I wanted to be married to Ben, and in three days,
I would be.
“Grey, this place is freaking gorgeous. I can’t believe you were
able to get it on such short notice,” my maid-of-honor and best
friend, Janie, said in awe.
“I know, but it’s perfect, right?”
I grabbed her hand and rested my head on her shoulder as I stared
at the part of the property where the reception would be. Ben and I
had promised our families that we wouldn’t get married until we’d
graduated from college, but that had been a much harder promise
to keep than we’d thought it would be. School let out for summer a
few days ago, and we wanted to move off campus for our junior
year … together. That hadn’t exactly gone over well with my
parents. They didn’t want us living together until we were married.
I think in my dad’s mind it helped him continue to believe I was
his innocent little girl.
I’d been dating Ben since I was thirteen years old; the innocent
part flew out the window over three years ago. Not that he needed
to know that. After a long talk with both our parents, they agreed
to let us get married now instead of two years from now.
That was seven weeks ago. Even though Ben had asked me to
marry him last Christmas, we’d officially gotten engaged once
we’d received the okay from our parents, and had started planning
our wedding immediately. Seven weeks of being engaged. Seven
years of being together. And in three days I would finally be Mrs.
With how the last few weeks had dragged by, it felt like our day
would never get here.
My phone rang and I pulled it out of my pocket. My lips tilted up
when I saw Jagger’s name and face on the screen, but I ignored the
call. Putting my phone back in my pocket, I kept my other hand
firmly wrapped around Janie’s and walked over to where the rest
of the bridesmaids were. My aunts and grandma had gathered
around the gazebo-debating duo, and were helping them with the
pros and cons.
“So what are we going to do tonight?” I asked, hoping to get some
kind of information about the bachelorette party.
“Nice try.” Janie snorted. She started saying something else, but
my phone rang again.
Glancing down and seeing Jagger again, I thought about answering
it for a few seconds before huffing out a soft laugh and ignoring
the call a second time. I knew why he was calling. He was bored
out of his mind and wanted me to save him from the golf day Ben
and all the guys were having before the bachelor party. Normally I
would have saved him from the torture of golfing, but today was
about Ben. If he wanted to go golfing with all his guys, then Jagger
just had to suck it up for his best friend.
Almost immediately after ignoring the call, I got a text from him.
Jagger: Answer the goddamn phone Grey!
My head jerked back when the phone in my hand began
ringing just as soon as I’d read the message, and all I could do was
stare at it for a few seconds. A feeling of dread and unease formed
in my chest, quickly unfurling and spreading through my arms and
Some part of my mind registered two other ringtones, but I
couldn’t focus on them, or make myself look away from Jagger’s
lopsided smile on my screen. With a shaky finger, I pressed on the
green button, and brought the phone up to my ear.
Before I could say anything, his panicked voice filled the
“Grey? Grey! Are you there? Fuck, Grey, say something so
I know you’re there!”
There was a siren and yelling in the background, and the
feeling that had spread through my body now felt like it was
choking me. I didn’t know what was happening, but somehow …
somehow I knew my entire world was about to change. My legs
started shaking and my breaths came out in hard rushes.
“I—what’s happ—” I cut off quickly and turned to look at
my mom and Ben’s. Both had phones to their ears. Ben’s mom was
screaming with tears falling down her cheeks; my mom looked like
the ground had just been ripped out from underneath her.
Jagger was talking, I knew his voice was loud and frantic,
but I was having trouble focusing on the words. It sounded like he
was yelling at me from miles away.
“What?” I whispered.
Everyone around me was freaking out, trying to figure out
what was going on. One of my friends was asking who I was
talking to, but I couldn’t even turn to look at her, or be sure who it
was that had asked. I couldn’t take my eyes off the only other
women currently talking on a phone.
“Grey! Tell me where you are, I’m coming to get you!”
I blinked a few times and looked down at my lap. I was
sitting on the ground. When had I sat down?
Janie squatted in front of me and grabbed my shoulders to
shake me before grabbing my cheeks so I would look at her instead
of where my mom and Ben’s were clinging to each other.
“What?” I repeated, my voice barely audible.
Just before Janie took the phone from me, I heard a noise
that sounded weighted and pained. A choking sound I’d never
heard from Jagger in the eleven years we’d been friends. The grief
in it was enough to force a sharp cry from my own chest, and I
didn’t even struggle against Janie when she took the phone from
I didn’t understand anything that was happening around
me, but somehow I knew everything. A part of me had heard
Jagger’s words. A part of me understood what the horrified cries
meant that quickly spread throughout every one of my friends. My
family. Ben’s family. A part of me acknowledged the sense of loss
that had added to the dread, unease, and grief—and knew why it
A part of me knew the wedding I’d just been envisioning
would never happen.
Two years later…
I dressed in a fog and sat down on the side of my bed when I was
done. Grabbing the hard top of the graduation cap, I looked down
at it in my hands until the tears filling my eyes made it impossible
to see anything other than blurred shapes. I knew I had to leave,
but at that moment I didn’t care.
I didn’t care that I’d done my make up for the first time in two
years and I was ruining it. I didn’t care that I was graduating from
college. I didn’t care that I had already been running twenty
minutes late before I’d sat down.
I just didn’t care.
Falling to my side, I grabbed the necklace that hadn’t left my neck
once in the last couple years, and pulled it out from under my shirt
until I was gripping the wedding band I’d bought for Ben. The one
he should be wearing, but I hadn’t been able to part with—almost
like I’d needed to keep some part of him with me.
The last year had been easier to get through than the one before it.
I hadn’t needed my friends constantly trying to get me to do my
schoolwork. I hadn’t needed Janie pulling me out of bed every
Grey May 10, 2014
morning, forcing me to shower and dress for the day. I’d even
taken off my engagement ring and put it away a few months ago.
But exactly two years ago today, I’d been showing off the place
where I was going to marry Ben. Completely oblivious to anything
bad in the world. And Ben had died.
At twenty years old, his heart had failed and he’d died before he’d
even dropped to the ground on the golf course. He’d always
seemed so active and healthy; nothing had ever picked up on the
rare heart condition that had taken him too early. Doctors said it
wasn’t something they could test for. I didn’t believe them then,
and even though I’d read news articles of similar deaths in young
people, I wasn’t sure if I did now. All I knew was that he was
Heavy footsteps echoed through the hall of my apartment seconds
before Jagger was standing in the doorway of my bedroom, a
somber look on his face.
“How did I know you wouldn’t have made it out of here?” One
corner of his mouth twitched up before falling again.
“I can’t do it,” I choked out, and tightened my hold on the ring.
“How am I supposed to celebrate anything on a day that brought so
Jagger took in a deep breath through his nose before releasing it
and pushing away from the doorframe. Taking the few steps over
to the bed, he sat down by my feet and stared straight ahead as
silence filled the room.
“I honestly don’t know, Grey,” he finally said with a small shrug.
“The only way I made it to my car and your apartment was
because I knew Ben wanted this, and would still want it for us.”
“He was supposed to be here,” I mumbled.
“Our two-year anniversary would have been in a few days.”
There was a long pause before Jagger breathed, “I know.”
I stopped myself before I could go on. Nothing I would say right
now would help either of us, not when all I wanted to do was curl
up in a ball on the bed that was supposed to be our bed, and give
into the grief. I had to remember that today wasn’t hard for only
me. I hadn’t been the only one to lose him. Ben and Jagger had
grown up together; they’d been best friends since they were six.
And two years ago they’d been in the middle of a conversation
when Jagger had looked over at Ben because he hadn’t answered,
and watched as he fell.
“Jag?” I whispered.
“How do we do it?”
The bed shifted as he leaned forward to rest his forearms on his
legs, turning his head so he could look at me. “Do what?”
“Keep moving on. I thought this year was easier, I thought I was
doing better until this last week. And then today…” I drifted off,
letting the words hang in the air for a few seconds before saying,
“It’s like no time has passed. It’s like I’m right back where I was
when you picked me up and took me to the hospital. I feel like my
world has ended all over again. There are still some days where I
don’t want to get out of bed, but not like this.”
“There isn’t an answer to that. Even if there were, it would be
different for you, for me, for anyone else who’d ever been in this
situation. I get up and keep going because I know I have something
to live for, and I know it’s what he would want. I can’t think about
how I’ll deal with the next day, I just take each day as it comes.
There will always be hard days, Grey, always. We just need to take
them with the good days, and keep living.”
“I feel like it’s cruel to his memory to move on,” I admitted softly
a few minutes later.
“No one ever said we had to move on, we just need to keep
I met his gaze and held it as he stood up and turned, holding a hand
out to me.
“You ready to move?” he asked, and the meaning in his question
“No,” I replied, but still held my hand out. Slipping my hand into
his, I let him pull me off the bed, and wrapped my arms around his
waist, dropping my head onto his chest.
Jagger folded his arms around me, and brought his head down near
mine to speak softly in my ear. “Don’t think about next week, or
tomorrow, or even tonight. Just focus on your right now. Right
now we have to go to our graduation. Right now Ben would be
flipping out because you would be making both of you late.”
I choked out a laugh, and a deep laugh rumbled in his chest.
“And you would tell him?” His question drifted off, waiting for my
“To get over it and bet him twenty bucks that we would still beat
This time his laugh was fuller, and he rubbed his hands over my
back before stepping away from me. “Exactly. Then he would put
an extra twenty on it, saying I would show up with fresh charcoal
on my hands.”
“And face,” I added.
Jagger rolled his eyes. “That was one time.”
“It was to your mom’s wedding.”
“I didn’t like the guy anyway.” I smiled and his eyes darted over
my face before he held his hands up. “No fresh charcoal, and we’ll
show up at the same time. So no one wins today.”
I took a deep breath in and out, and nodded my head. “I think I’m
ready to move now.”
“All right.” He bent forward and grabbed my cap and gown off the
bed before turning to leave the room.
I followed him down the hall and into the living room, pausing in
the entryway only long enough to look in the mirror and wipe
away the streaked make up. Once we were in his car, I touched his
forearm and waited for him to look over at me.
“Thanks, Jagger. For coming for me, for talking to me—just …
thank you.” He had no idea how thankful I was for him, and I
wouldn’t have known how to explain it if I tried. He was just
always there to make things better, always there to help me …
always there to be everything I needed.
He shook his head slowly once, and his green eyes stayed locked
on mine. “Sometimes I need motivation to keep moving too. You
don’t need to thank me, just let me know when you have to talk
about him, okay?”
“Yeah.” Letting go of his arm, I sat back in the seat and grabbed
the long chain holding Ben’s wedding band on it. Taking comfort
in the feel of it in my palm, and the knowledge that he would be
proud of Jagger and me right now.
I made it through the graduation without crying again, but I never
felt like I was happy that it was happening. Even though Jagger
had gotten me to a point where I’d been smiling and laughing, the
second he’d left my side when we’d arrived, I’d fallen back into a
state where I was constantly on the verge of crumbling from the
grief of what today was. Only to be made worse when Janie had
hugged me longer than normal, and then I’d seen my parents and
older brother, and none of them had been able to force anything
more than a strained smile and “congratulations.”
Lunch afterward didn’t prove to be much easier for anyone. One of
my uncles mentioned the date and asked how I was dealing with it,
and it had turned into some awkward hush-fest where everyone
started kicking the other under the table, and giving them
meaningful looks as if to say: shut the fuck up! For the next forty-
five minutes, no one said a word. Not even a thank you to the
waitress when she’d brought the food.
As much as I hated it, and as much as I loved my family, I was
relieved when we’d said our goodbyes and my brother had driven
me back to my apartment.
“You doing okay, kid?” he asked when he pulled into a parking
“But not today.” It wasn’t a question, he knew.
“Yeah … not today,” I said softly.
“Do you want me to come up? I can hang out, crash here for the
night, and head back tomorrow.”
“No, it’s fine. I didn’t really sleep last night, so I’ll probably go to
bed when I get in there.”
“Grey, it’s four in the afternoon.” He looked at me with either pity
or sympathy, neither I wanted to see.
“Today was kind of rough, it felt like three smashed into one, and
like I said, I didn’t really sleep last night. I’m tired.”
He was silent for a minute before he twisted in his seat to face me.
“I’m worried about you.”
I gritted my teeth and took calming breaths before saying, “You
shouldn’t be. It’s been two years, I’m getting better.”
“Are you?” he asked on a laugh, but there was no humor in his
tone. “I knew today would be hard for you, there’s no way for it
not to be. But, shit, how much do you weigh?”
I jerked my head back. “What? I don’t know.”
“Do you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you see how you look
in your clothes? You look like you’re wearing someone else’s
clothes, and they’re a size or two too big.”
Glancing down at my shirt and skirt, I shook my head. “No
they—well, I’m eating! You saw me at lunch, I ate half that
“No, Grey. I ate half your burger. You picked it up and put it down
at least a dozen times before cutting it in half, and then picking up
one of the halves only to put it back down. I watched you. You ate
two fries. Nothing else.”
I tried to think back to the restaurant, but I couldn’t even remember
ordering the burger, let alone cutting it. I just remembered half of it
was gone when the waitress asked if I wanted a box. I’d said no.
As for the clothes, today was the first time I’d actually done my
hair or make-up in years. I usually just put on clothes and left, not
caring to see how I looked.
“Well, what do you want me to say, Graham? I’m trying. You have
no idea how hard it is to lose someone who has been a huge part of
your world for over half your life. Who has owned your heart for
most of that. Who you were supposed to marry days before they
passed! You don’t understand what I’ve been through,” I seethed,
and wiped at my wet cheeks. “I finished school, I’m living, what
more do you want?”
“I want you to live, Grey.”
“I just said—”
“You’re existing,” he barked, cutting me off. “You’re existing, not
living. You’re going through the motions you’re supposed to
without realizing that you’re doing them, or why.”
“That’s not true!” I screamed. “You can’t judge me based on what
you’ve seen of half a day. A day that is a horrible reminder of what
He grabbed my hand and squeezed, and when he spoke again, his
voice was calm. “Kid, I’m not saying any of this only based off of
what I’ve seen today. Janie’s worried about you—”
“Janie? Janie?! You’re having my friends keep tabs on me,
“How often do they check in with you? Huh? Do they only see me
now so they can tell you how I’m doing? Because I don’t see them
very much, but, then again, who the hell would want to be around
someone who is just existing.”
“Grey!” he snapped when I opened the passenger door and jumped
out of his truck.
“Screw you and your existing bullshit, Graham! I’m fine! I’m
dealing the only way I know how, and I. Am. Fine.”
I didn’t care that I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I didn’t
care that I was overreacting. I was overreacting because I was
terrified he was right, and I didn’t want him to be. I was tired of
everyone looking at me with sympathy or pity. I was tired of
rooms getting quiet when I walked into them … still. I was tired of
the way everyone seemed to walk on eggshells around me. And I
was tired of feeling like I was giving them a reason to.
I took off for my building, ignoring Graham’s voice as he followed
me from his truck. Grabbing my keys from my purse as I ran
toward my apartment, I fumbled to find the right key so I could get
in there before he could catch up with me. The keys slipped from
my hand, and I reached out for them at the same time I tripped out
of my sandals and hit the concrete on my hands and knees.
Ignoring the spilled contents of my purse, I rocked back so I was
sitting on my heels, and let my head hang as hard sobs worked
their way through my body.
Two large hands grabbed at my upper arms to help me up, and I
swatted at him. “Leave me alone, Graham!” I cried.
“Shh. It’s okay,” a deep voice crooned. I lifted my head enough to
see Jagger before letting him pull me into his arms. “It’s okay.”
I pressed my forehead into his chest, and shook my head back and
forth. “It’s not. This day won’t end, and the way everyone is
looking at me or talking to me is making me feel like I’m failing.”
“Failing?” he asked and tipped my head back, a soft smirk playing
at his lips. “Hardly, Grey. I told you, you just gotta keep moving,
and you are. You have been. You’re strong, not everyone sees that
because they’re waiting for you to break. Just because they’re
expecting you to not be handling this doesn’t mean you’re failing.”
“But they won’t talk about him, they won’t talk about what
happened. Graham said I’m not eating, and I’m losing weight. He
said Janie’s telling him that she’s worried about me. He said I’m
just existing and going through the motions.”
“Fuck Graham. He’s wrong. He’s not with you every day to see
how you’re improving.” Jagger’s green eyes bore into mine. “Your
family hasn’t seen you much this year while you’ve been getting
better, so they don’t know how to handle the situation—especially
because of what today is and the fact that you are upset. He’s your
brother, he’s going to be worried about you; but, Grey, don’t let
him make you feel like you’re not doing better than you should be.
Today is an exception. And he just happened to see you on an
exception, all right?” His arms tightened around me, and he leaned
back until he was pressed up against the wall. “You’re doing fine, I
He held me until I stopped crying, and released me when I pulled
Today was making me question everything; I didn’t think I could
agree with him on that. “What are you even doing here?”
“I thought you could use some company since it’s an exception
day, but I’m gonna go so you can spend time with your brother,”
he said, jerking his head at something behind me.
I looked over my shoulder to see Graham standing against the wall
opposite us, his arms crossed over his chest, a strange look on his
face. “How long has he been there?” I whispered to Jagger when I
turned to face him again.
“The whole time.”
“So he heard you…” I had the sudden urge to stand up for Jagger.
Graham had hated him ever since we’d become friends when we
were nine. But, then again, he hadn’t really ever liked Ben until
right before the wedding was supposed to happen, so it could have
been an overprotective big brother thing.
“Yeah, but he knows I’m right.” Jagger’s eyes moved to look
behind me, and one eyebrow rose in silent challenge, but Graham
never said anything. “Go hang out with—”
“I don’t want to,” I said quickly, cutting him off. “I need to either
be alone, or be with someone who knows what it’s like to force
yourself to keep moving.”
He looked down at me for a few seconds before nodding. “Okay,
“We’re not staying here?” I asked when he bent down and started
shoving things back into my purse.
“No. You want to keep moving, Grey. We can’t do that if we sit in
that apartment all night.”
I took my purse from his hand, and turned to follow him out of the
breezeway, Graham behind us the whole time. Jagger opened the
passenger door of his car and shut it behind me after I’d slid in,
and I met Graham’s stare from where he stood a few feet from the
front of the car.
Graham’s hand shot out, gripping Jagger’s arm as he went to pass
him, and I opened the door—ready for who knows what. It’s not
like I could stop them if they went at it.
“Make sure she’s okay,” Graham demanded, his gaze hardening
when Jagger ripped his arm free.
“What do you think I’ve been doing for the past two years?” he
hissed. “She is okay, she’s better than okay. Today sucks for her,
but you can’t treat her like she’s made of porcelain because it’s a
bad fucking day. She needs to talk about him; she needs to talk
about what happened. She doesn’t need the way you all stood there
at the graduation staring at her like you had no idea who she was.”
“Do you see her?” Graham asked, getting closer. “Do you see how
thin she is?”
“Yeah, I see her. I see her every day. She lost a lot of weight; she’s
also put on weight in the last few months. Give her some fucking
credit, Graham. Don’t just take Janie’s word for it—Janie isn’t
around enough to give you updates on her. You want to know how
your sister is doing, ask her yourself. Don’t tell her how she is.”
Jagger didn’t wait for him to say anything else; he stalked around
the hood of the car and slid in to the driver’s seat.
Graham looked like he couldn’t decide if he wanted to stop me
from leaving with Jagger, or if he was relieved I was leaving.
When I shut my door, he put a hand over his chest in our silent I
love you, and kept his eyes trained on mine until I put my hand
over my chest as well; nodding once as Jagger backed out of the
Jagger May 10, 2014
I let my phone fall to the table, and sighed loudly as I rubbed my
hands over my face. After driving around with the music blasting
and windows down for a few hours, we’d come to one of the
places we used to always go to before Ben died. They had live
music on the weekends, and the best diner food in the area.
“Graham?” Grey guessed, and I grunted in confirmation.
“He just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“You haven’t,” she began, but paused for a few seconds. “Have
you been giving him updates too?”
“Seriously, Grey? Your brother hates me; I didn’t even know he
had my number until a few minutes ago. Besides, if I had, he
probably wouldn’t have said all that shit to you, and your family
wouldn’t have acted like statues at the graduation.”
“I heard you say something about that to him before we left. So
you noticed it too, huh?”
“Wasn’t hard to. My sister wanted to see you, but after we found
you and saw the way they were all just staring at you, she was
afraid to say anything.”
“Charlie was there? Were your mom and brother there, too?”
I stopped myself from rolling my eyes, and just shook my head
instead. “No. Mom was probably busy with her new boyfriend or
Grey rolled her eyes at the mention of my mom’s boyfriends, and
her lips tilted up in a soft smile. “I doubt that was the reason she
didn’t show. But I wish Charlie had said something. I’ll have to
call her this summer, or something. I haven’t seen her in forever.”
Her mouth fell into a frown for a second before she turned to look
at the stage when everyone clapped.
I hadn’t set foot in here in two years, and it felt strange, but good,
to be in here again. Almost like I could see Ben sitting on the
opposite side of the booth, right next to Grey. But just as soon as
the memory hit me, it was gone. “Do you ever feel like he’s
disappearing?” I asked suddenly.
Grey’s head shot up, her eyes wide as she took in my words.
“Ben. Do you feel like his memory is disappearing? Everywhere,
all around us.”
“All the time,” she murmured and nodded absentmindedly for a
few moments. “I forced myself to stop buying his cologne, and
there are times I don’t remember what he smelled like. When I
realize that, I panic. I’m afraid I’ll forget forever, and I want to go
buy another bottle. But I know I can’t, I know it’ll just make it
harder to move on. I don’t—” She cut off on a quiet sob, and
covered her mouth with her hand as tears filled her eyes. “I don’t
remember what his laugh sounded like. I don’t remember the way
it felt when he held me. I’m afraid to go back to Thatch, Jag.”
“I don’t want to see his parents’ house and know that Ben’s been
completely erased from it.”
I sagged into the booth and blew out a heavy breath. “Yeah, I’d
forgotten about that.”
Six months after Ben died, his parents had moved. Not just to
another house, not just out of town. They’d moved across the
country to get away. They hadn’t been able to handle all the
memories of Ben when their only child was now gone. And in a
town the size of Thatch, there were memories everywhere.
I’d felt the same, but now I was in the same spot as Grey. I was
terrified of forgetting him, and now I wondered if his parents
“So what are you going to do?”
She blinked a few times, like I’d just pulled her from somewhere
else, and after a few seconds she shrugged. “I’m still going back.
The apartment here isn’t much better. He’s the one who picked it
out, and all I ever think about when I’m in there is that he’s
supposed to be in there too. It’ll be hard at first, but I need to go
home. What about you?” Grey’s lips curved up in a rare smile, and
I felt myself smiling back at her until she spoke. “I always pictured
you just taking off. No one has ever been able to hold onto you,
and I feel like towns and cities are no different. I don’t see you
ever finding a place where you’ll want to settle down forever.”
Of course you don’t. My eyebrows pinched together, and I
looked down so she wouldn’t see anything she wasn’t supposed to.
There was truth to her words, and at the same time, she was so
wrong. No one had ever been able to keep me because I’d only
ever belonged to her. I’d dated a handful of girls in the first two
years after leaving Thatch … if you could call it “dating”, and had
only ever had one girlfriend back home—and that had been in
hopes that it would get a reaction out of Grey as much as it had
been a distraction for me from the constant in-my-face relationship
of Ben and Grey. If Ben hadn’t died, and if they’d gotten married,
leaving is exactly what I would’ve done. It was one thing to stay
back, not saying anything to her, hoping one day she would see in
me what I’ve seen in her since we were kids. It was another when I
had to finally acknowledge she would never be mine.
But even though I wasn’t sure she would ever get to a point
in her life where she was ready to move on, there was no way I
could leave her now. She wasn’t mine, but she needed me. And I
would be there for her as long as she did.
“So where do you think you’ll go?” she asked, and I looked
back up at her.
“Thatch,” I said, my voice low and gravelly. “I belong in Thatch.”