Authors: Michelle Lynn
Copyright © 2016 by Michelle Lynn
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events portrayed in this book are the product of the author’s imagination or are either fictitious or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
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Table of Contents
To my daughter
Always listen to your heart
I’M A CHEATER. THERE. I
said it. Two years ago, I fell into a hole, and as fast as my fingers clawed to escape, the dirt continued to pile on me. I’m not saying it’s an excuse. I’m not even saying she should forgive me. Although, I hope she does. But I can’t live without her anymore. I tried. I found a girl and proposed to her, while imagining the delicate finger I slid the ring on belonged to someone else. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t go through with marrying anyone but her. For sure, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m nothing without her. She brings out the good in me. That’s why I’m here, in some small-ass town, to grovel my way back into her heart.
She’s different now, and I’m not referring to the disappearance of her bleached blonde hair back to her natural brown. I loved her as a blonde, but the dark suits her better. I wouldn’t care if she had rainbow-colored hair. I’m not sitting outside the hospital where she works, watching her walk to her car like some stalker, because she’s gorgeous. I’m here because of her heart and kindness. That’s what I’m fighting to get back. The package it comes in is just an added bonus.
Her ponytail swings back and forth as she laughs with what I hope is a co-worker, unless she’s turned lesbian in the last two years. She waves good-bye to the girl and throws her purse into the passenger seat of her Jetta. The car has a little more rust than it did back in the day, but it’s held up well. Still, it’s old and she deserves something newer.
She pulls out of her parking space, and my heart constricts as I watch her drive away from me again. I should duck down so she doesn’t see me, but my eyes won’t veer from her. The beat-up Jetta passes and my stomach clenches. My hand itches to yank the car handle open. My feet beg to disobey and run to her. I don’t have to, because she slams on the breaks and her eyes are locked on mine. Hope pours from mine while hers fume with anger.
She throws the car into park, thrusts the door open, and stomps directly to my door.
She bangs on the window and I jump. “Why are you here?” she screams through the pane.
As I lower the window, the smell of jasmine breezes in. Her perfume still has the capacity to calm me.
“Don’t ‘Hey’ me. Why are you here?” Her voice is sharp and cold, and nothing like I remember. Not sure why I wouldn’t expect less though.
“I thought we could talk.” My fingers move to the knob of my stereo to turn down the music.
“There’s nothing to talk about. Leave.”
She turns and walks back to her car.
I exit my truck and wrap my fingers around her wrist to stop her. She yanks it out of my grip.
“Don’t ever touch me,” she seethes, and I hold my hands up in the air.
“Taylor,” I whisper, and she twists around. The look of fury heavy in her eyes.
She ignores the fact that I’m talking and climbs back into her car. I try to slide through the sliver of the open door, but she squeezes me out and the door rattles shut.
I knock on the window, but she shifts the car into drive. Her hesitation as she sits and studies the steering wheel, tells me my cause isn’t lost. Maybe I have a chance. I knock again, softer this time. Her tear-filled eyes look up at me through the dirty glass, and my heart breaks for what I’ve done. If I affect her this much two years later, how bad did I destroy her then?
“Please,” I beg, and she closes her eyes. I watch her shallow breathing falter.
As though she had a lapse of judgment, she shakes her head and the pain in her eyes disappears, returning to resentment once more. “Go back to your fiancée, Brad.”
Her tires squeal before the rubber catches pavement. Within a minute, she’s left me—again.
“Fuck!” I lift my leg in the air as my toes ignite with heat. She fucking rolled over my foot.
The pain in my foot is nothing compared to the pain in my heart as I watch her taillights disappear around the corner.
Looking up at the Hospital sign, I figure there’s no better place to be. I limp to my truck to lock it up and grab my phone. My foot throbs as I step closer to the sliding doors, but Taylor Delaney occupies my mind with every excruciating inch. There has to be a way I can get her to talk to me and, hopefully, forgive me.
A half hour later, I’m finally in a room being fixed up by Edward Scissorhand’s sister. You’d think they’d have some protocol about the length of a nurse’s nails.
“Shit. My foot is still attached to my body?” I move the phone away from my ear, glaring down at the blonde. She shoots me a tight, insincere smile.
“Brad?” my sister, Piper, screams through the phone.
She’s going to laugh her ass off. I roll my eyes while thinking about being her and Tanner’s entertainment for the night and the two of them falling into a fit of laughter over my crushing situation.
“She ran over my foot when she left me in the parking lot.”
I hear the snickering she’s trying to mask.
“Go ahead and laugh,” I say.
“Are . . . are you okay?” she asks around another muffled sound, which I suspect is her attempt at concealing her amusement.
“I’m fine. Thank God it was my left foot. Ouch!”
I pull my foot back from the hands of Hannibal, and glare down at her. I decide I don’t need to talk to my sister, with her perfect life amongst my best friend. He’s living my dream of being the fast-track Olympic swimmer with the love of his life to snuggle up to every night.
“I gotta go. I’ll call you tonight.”
I hang up the phone and toss it on the bed behind me.
The blonde nurse continues bandaging now that I’ve given her my foot again.
“Seriously, wasn’t there a ’How to be kind and gentle’ class in nursing school?” My fingers rip the paper under me from the pain she’s inflicting.
“I’m barely touching you.” Her eyes narrow before she heads to the cabinet to get God knows what.
Looking at my foot, I notice it’s quickly turning black and blue.
The door opens and the scent of jasmine floats in. My head jerks up, and there she is, standing with her hands on her hips and her eyes on me.
“Taylor,” I murmur.
“You know this guy?” blonde nurse says, sneering at me.
“Brad.” Her voice is curt and to the point. Then she turns to Nurse Scissorhand. “I got this. Did he have x-rays yet?”
“Taylor, you were off a half hour ago.”
“It’s okay. We have unfinished business.” She tilts her head my way like I’m a bag of her weekly garbage. I’m not going to argue her point.
“But what about Em? It’s Halloween.” The nurse’s face glows with compassion as she pats Taylor’s arm.
Who the fuck is Em?
Taylor shakes her head, dismissing her immediately.
“It’s fine. This shouldn’t take long.” She points to my foot, and I notice her nails aren’t manicured anymore. Obviously, she got a memo that Scissorhand hadn’t. Actually, the purple nail polish is chipped and mostly worn away. Another thing that’s unlike her.
“If you say so. X-rays are complete and there’s no break. Dr. James said to put the boot on him for a few days. I printed off the instructions; they are on the counter. Have a great Halloween, and give Em a big hug, okay?” Miss Scissorhand wraps her arms around Taylor’s shoulders.
She narrows her eyes at me with complete disgust, before exiting the room.
Taylor moves over to the counter to inspect my orders, disregarding that we’re in this room alone together. God, her occupying the same space as me is like playing in the State Championship my senior year. Her perfume, the way her hips sway back and forth, and her pouty bottom lip, make images of our time together flicker through my mind. She sits on the rolling chair and lays an ace bandage on her leg. Those fingers are gentle when she grabs my foot to prop it on her thigh.