I’ve loved SarahBeth in one form or another her entire life. The steps that brought us closer together weren’t easy for me to take. After letting her dictate our relationship, I’ve found myself practically homeless and estranged from my closest friends.
Now I’m left trying to move on, finding a new place to live and getting everything I need in order, while she’s trying to mend her broken heart. There’s just one problem…SarahBeth’s still keeping secrets - and her secret just might change everything.
"Is she okay?" It's all I can do to keep my voice level when I reach him and ask the question I need the answer to the most.
Tyler's looking everywhere but at me when he replies, "Yeah mate, she's fine. You can go back to whatever you were doing now." His voice is hard, it's easy to tell he's not happy at finding me with Mel, but his feelings aren't what worry me now.
Before I can ask any more questions, Olivia and Sarah are walking back in our direction. They both stop in their tracks when they see me standing with Tyler. The moment she notices Melanie standing next to me her already pale skin loses all color and she begins backing up, away from our little group. The hurt in her eyes has me moving towards her before I can even process it. I want to explain myself. When what I'm doing registers, I stop, trying to keep myself in place, but when her eyes fill with tears and they overflow, rolling soundlessly down her cheeks, I melt.
Reaching her, I cup her face in my hands, brushing away the tears as she trembles beneath me. It's the first time I've really touched her since everything went to shit and having my hands on her, having her this close to me, I feel like I've come home. Unable to hide the emotions racing across my face, I let her see just how much I've missed her as her breath catches in her throat. Her eyes are bouncing back and forth between mine in disbelief while the look on her face has me aching to touch my mouth to hers, to pull her into me so I can hold her.
I don't get the chance to do any of that because at the same time a hand touches my back, SarahBeth sucks in a breath and steps back, her eyes brimming with tears even while she glares up at me, betrayal all over her face. I want to explain, to tell her what I'm doing here with Mel, to reassure her that it's not what it seems, but in the back of my head I think this is a good thing. I want her to let go of me, to begin to move on, to find someone that deserves her. Letting her think I've replaced her, no matter how much it hurts us both, is probably for the best.
"Wait SarahBeth," Melanie begins as I step away from her touch. Instead, I grab the hand that was on my back and link our fingers together, this draws both her eyes and SarahBeth's. Mel's looks confused, but SarahBeth's guts me. She stares at our linked hands with an expression that's a cross between fury and despair before swiping her hands across her cheeks to brush away the few falling tears, and meeting my gaze head on.
Her eyes are sparking with a fire I haven't seen in so long that I'm almost relieved. As she straightens her spine and holds her head high. she turns to Mel and smiles. Just barely tipping the corners of her lips up her smile is clearly fake but there nonetheless, she says, "It's fine really. I'm glad he has someone." Mel starts to speak up, but SarahBeth keeps her eyes on me as Olivia walks up beside her, puts an arm around her shoulder and glares at me. If looks could kill...that girl hates me. She starts to say something in her ear, but Sarah shakes her head. "There's nothing to say. I'm done with this," with that said she scoots out from under Olivia's arm and turns her back on me, this time I'm sure for good, and leaves me to watch her walk away from me this time.
Tyler hurries to walk after them, muttering, "You're a bloody idiot mate," as he passes me. He doesn't get far before he stops, turns around and glares at me, much like Olivia did. "If you only knew..." he shakes his head, "Well, that would have gone a lot differently." I don't get the chance to ask him what he means before he heads after them, dropping an arm across each of their shoulders and handing the bags he was holding to Olivia.
Stacey is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of Second Chances (co-authored with H.M. Ward) and the Nashville Nights series.
She is also a wife, mother, writer and self-professed bookwhore - not necessarily in that order! As the mother of three growing boys, her Kindle has become her temporary escape from the insanity of boys, dogs and her husband. Stacey can usually be found curled up with her iPad when she's supposed to be writing or creating endless playlists on Spotify.