© 2019 by A.M. Williams. Proudly created with Wix.com

First Chapters

Here you can find excerpts from my first chapters. I hope you enjoy!

 

Chapter 1

 

“You always say you’re going to come and then back out.” Bailey flopped face down on Karlie’s bed.

Karlie rolled her eyes and continued to read her computer screen. Bailey was being dramatic, as always. Even still, Karlie knew Bailey’s words were true. She always backed out.

“Karlie, I swear to God,” Bailey sat up and glared at her, “if you say something about being busy, I’ll stab you.”

Karlie cocked a brow as she turned to face Bailey. “With what?”

Bailey glanced around the room and discovered what Karlie already knew: there wasn’t anything sharp to use. Her lips curled into a smile as Bailey groaned in frustration.

“It’s almost the end of the school year and you’ve been telling me all year that you’d come with me to at least one of these concert series.”

“I know, it’s just—”

“It’s just what? You’re allergic to fun?”

“I think that’s taking it a bit far, don’t you?”

It was Bailey’s turn to roll her eyes. “Please. Taking it a step too far is calling you a shut in.”

Karlie glared at her best friend. “Why do I spend time with you?”

“Because you love me. Come on, get up and get dressed. We’re going to the local jam.”

Karlie sighed but dutifully closed her computer and stood to join Bailey who was now standing in front of her open closet flicking through clothes.

“I knew you’d give in.”

“Only because you don’t take no for an answer.”

“Damn straight. If I didn’t make you come out, you’d sit inside all the time with your bottle of wine, and your phone off.”

Karlie didn’t have a retort because Bailey was right. If given the choice, she’d curl up on her couch with a bottle of wine and a good TV show. She was a homebody at heart, and she had no problem admitting that.

“Go hop in the shower while I pick out your outfit,” Bailey said.

“I can dress myself,” Karlie grumbled.

“Yes, in frumpy clothes. If we’re going to the concert, then we’re going to make sure you step out in style.”

Letting out a low growl, Karlie turned on her heel and trudged into the bathroom. She showered quickly, wrapped a fluffy white towel around herself, and wiped the steam from the mirror. She eyed herself; she had shoulder-length, caramel colored hair cut into long layers and blue eyes framed by thick eyelashes. Her skin was pale and smooth and she was lucky enough to get by with minimal makeup.

“Karlie! Get your ass out here!”

Tightening the towel around herself, she stepped back into her bedroom. Bailey thrust clothes into her hands and pushed her back into the bathroom.

“I guess I should get dressed?”

“Is it that obvious?” was Bailey’s muffled reply.

Shaking her head, Karlie did as Bailey commanded. She snorted when she saw the barely-there lacy underwear Bailey picked out, but had to admit, however, that the clothes looked good on her. A simple navy-blue t-shirt and cropped pants were simple enough but still looked nice.

Karlie stepped back into her room where Bailey thrust more accessories into her arms. Her eyes widened. “What the hell is all this?”

“What you’re pairing with your outfit.”

“Why do I need…ten bracelets? And a necklace? And what the hell are these?” Karlie held up ridiculously long earrings. “I don’t think I own earrings that look like this.”

“You don’t. I brought them.”

“And…for that reason, you can take all these back. I think I’ve got it from here.”

With a huff and a glare, Bailey left Karlie alone. Breathing a sigh of relief, she quickly finished getting ready, putting on understated, gold, dangling earrings and light makeup, and joined Bailey in her tiny living room.

Bailey flicked through a magazine on her oversized couch. “Ready?” she asked without looking up.

“Yep.”

Karlie trailed Bailey outside and, after locking her front door, climbed into the passenger seat of Bailey’s two-seater convertible. Soon, they were zipping through the streets of their small town. It was late spring, and the weather was delightfully warm and sunny. Even at seven o’clock at night, it was still warm enough to go without a sweater. That made it the perfect weather to go to an outdoor concert series. Her hometown hosted a twelve-week concert series called Gunner Falls Jam where local bands were highlighted.

“So, who’s the headliner tonight?” Karlie asked, tipping her head back on the headrest as the wind whipped through her hair.

“It’s a newer band called Southern Sands. I think some guys you went to high school with are in it.”

Karlie lifted her head to glance at Bailey. “How do you know that?”

Bailey shrugged and tightened her hands on the wheel. “I might have overheard someone talking about it.”

“You overheard someone?”

“Yeah.”

“Who?”

“Harry.”

Karlie sighed and dropped her head back, looking at Bailey from the corner of her eye. “When did you see Harry?”

Bailey’s jaw clenched, causing Karlie to raise her eyebrows. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“I might have run into him at Flashbacks.”

“You might have?” Karlie asked dubiously.

“Alright, I did.”

“What else aren’t you telling me?”

“He invited me.”

Karlie snorted and shook her head. Bailey and Harry had quite the history. Whenever they got together, sparks were sure to fly. It was mainly a question of whether the sparks would set everything around them on fire.

“So, we’re going to see him?”

“No! We’re going to see his band. He’s excited and nervous about it. He said he’d like to see some friendly faces.”

Before Karlie could respond, Bailey whipped her car into a parking spot across from the parking lot where the concert was going to be held and turned it off. 

“It’ll be fine.” Bailey flapped her hand at Karlie as she checked her makeup in the flip-down visor.

Karlie just shook her head and opened her door. She ran her fingers through her hair as she looked over the downtown area. This series always drew a big crowd. People loved to see local bands play, especially when the concert was free. It not only drew in the locals, but people from surrounding areas as well. It was the highlight of the spring and summer seasons and one of the biggest events the city hosted.

She joined Bailey at the trunk and pulled out the camping chairs Bailey stashed there. They wound through the crowd and Karlie smiled at everyone. It was a small town, and she recognized most of the people here from growing up. The ones she hadn’t grown up with, she was able to meet being a middle school teacher. It was both wonderful and awkward to know so many people in the town. It meant that there was almost always a friendly face, no matter where she was. But it also meant being stopped while out around town and it was almost guaranteed she’d be stopped on that one day she was wearing stained sweats with no makeup and her hair was in a messy bun. She specifically hated when it was her students that saw her that way.

“What do you think?” Bailey asked, stopping in front of the stage. “Close enough?”

“Looks good.” Karlie glanced around at the open asphalt and saw they had a good view of the stage.

They unpacked their chairs and settled in as others around them did the same. Karlie checked the time and realized it was later than she thought. The concert would be starting within the next ten minutes.

“Do you want a drink?” she asked, standing.

“Sure.” Bailey dug through her purse, but Karlie waved her off as she stepped back.

She walked over to the beer tent and waited in the short line to get two cups of a local craft beer. They had a rotating tap for each concert, highlighting local brewers. It was a big hit, usually. 

She smiled as she paid for their beer and slowly wound through the crowd that was still growing. She nodded at a few people she recognized and exchanged a few words with others. She handed Bailey her beer and sat down beside her. As she took her first sip, members of the band and crew walked onto the stage.

Bailey had been right earlier when she’d said Karlie would recognize members of the band.

Harry was one of Karlie's best childhood friends. He stood, fiddling with the microphone at center stage with his electric guitar hanging off his back. 

Veronica, the quintessential cheerleader who had graduated a year two behind Karlie, and who Karlie had heard from her mother was considering going for her doctorate in business was chatting with a man wearing a black band-shirt, enthralled by the screen of an iPad. 

Harry's friend from high school, Grayson, stood just behind Veronica with his shaggy brown hair hanging in his face as he tuned his bass.

And Bentley, Grayson's older brother, sat at the drums, looking out of place among his bandmates, furiously thumbing away at his cell phone.

Karlie's eyes finally slid to the final band member on the stage, and she sucked her breath in. The man tuning the acoustic guitar looked like a blond god. He was wearing a tight, navy blue t-shirt and ripped jeans with work boots. Her eyes raked over him from those boots to his hair that was just a bit longer than she normally preferred. It brushed the collar of his shirt, and he had a bit of a Kurt Cobain look about him.  If she was honest, she dug it.

As she finished her appraisal of him, their eyes met and her breath hitched. He had bright blue eyes that pierced right through her. She held her breath as he shamelessly checked her out too, and a slow smile spread across his face before he winked at her. She ripped her eyes from his and tried to find something else to concentrate on.

“You okay?” Bailey asked, breaking Karlie from her trance.

Her head snapped to the left, and she met Bailey’s eyes. “Yeah, I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Bailey arched a brow at her. “I don’t know. Maybe because you were just eye-fucking blondie over there.”

Karlie’s face warmed. “I was not eye-fucking him.”

“Please. The way the two of you were looking at each other, I’m surprised we didn’t all spontaneously combust.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Karlie muttered, slumping in her chair and sipping her beer.

“Keep telling yourself that.”

Karlie opened her mouth to retort, but a burst of feedback cut her off. The crowd hushed as Harry cleared his throat. “How y’all doing tonight?”

The crowd cheered and Harry smiled. “That’s great to hear. We’re so glad to see y’all, and we appreciate you coming out to hear us play. For those of you that don’t know, we’re Southern Sands, a band based right here in Gunner Falls.” Harry paused again, waiting for the cheering to die down. “We like to consider ourselves a southern rock band, which means we play covers from bands that we all know and love. Who’s ready for some music?”

While the crowd cheered even louder, Bentley tapped out a three beat and they started their set. The first song of the night was “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band. Karlie tapped her foot to the beat as Harry crooned the lyrics. She tried to stop herself from looking at the acoustic guitar player, but she found her eyes sliding over to him more often than not. There was something about him that seemed to call to her.

It was sexy watching him strum the guitar, the sinews in his arms tightening and loosening as he played. She imagined his fingers were calloused, and she wondered what they would feel like dancing over her skin. Realizing the tenor of her thoughts, her face heated, and she consciously turned her focus back to the concert. She laughed when she realized what song they were gearing up to play.

“Now, when you think of songs of the south, there are certain ones that just come to mind, am I right?” Harry asked the crowd, playing it up. “This next song is one of them, and we have someone joining us on stage: Waylon Duke, here, is going to play the fiddle and he’s one of the best damn fiddle players I’ve ever met. I hope y’all can help convince him to join our band on a regular basis. We can’t get him to commit.”

The opening bars of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” started and the crowd cheered. Karlie watched some people move closer to the stage, watching Waylon as he played the fiddle throughout the song. She had to admit that he was quite good and she could see him winning the duel with the devil just like the man in the song. Some of the people standing at the front of the stage paired off and started to dance. Karlie smiled as she watched. It wasn’t a song she considered good for dancing, but that didn’t deter anyone else.

“They’re great, aren’t they?” Bailey yelled at her as the closing chords finished. 

Karlie nodded. “They really are.”

“Now, this next song is for all the ladies out there. We want you to sing along because we know you know it.”

They started playing “Summer of ’69’” and, sure enough, all the women started to sing, many of them holding their beers in the air while they danced and sang along with Harry. One song turned into two and Karlie realized her beer was empty.

“You got the first round. I’ll get this one,” Bailey said, grabbing her cup.

Karlie turned back to the stage as blondie pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to the side. She was drooling, she just knew it, and she couldn’t bring herself to care. Him in a shirt was sinful, but without a shirt? It should have been illegal. He had tattoos covering his torso and she could make out some on his arms as well. She could see the definition of his abs from where she sat, and she longed to drag her nails across them.

When her gaze trailed up to look at his face and met his eyes hers widened. A blush crept up her cheeks, as he smirked and licked his lips, having caught her ogling him. Her eyes immediately darted away. As she glanced around, she noticed that she wasn’t the only woman to notice how scrumptious blondie looked. Women all around her were eying him like he was a piece of meat. She turned her attention back to Harry when he started talking.

“As I said earlier, we’re Southern Sands. I’m Harry and I play the electric guitar and am the lead vocalist. This lovely lady over here is Veronica. She’s our lead female vocalist and sometimes she doubles as our keyboardist. To the left of her is our bassist Grayson, and the ugly devil behind me is his brother Bentley. To my right is the jack-of-all-trades, master of none, acoustic guitarist and harmonica player, Jax.”

Jax. She now had a name. It suited him. 

“Here.” Bailey thrust a cup of beer in her face. It sloshed over the rim.

“Thanks.”

The rest of the concert passed quickly and Karlie unabashedly stared at Jax for its remainder. He didn’t seem to mind and continued to meet her eyes.

She snapped out of her trance when Harry said, “Alright y’all. We have one more song tonight and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I’m sure y’all know it. If so, sing along.”

Karlie’s eyes closed as they started playing “Wagon Wheel” and she sang along with the band. No matter what, “Wagon Wheel” was always one that people would sing along to. Living in North Carolina, it was a requirement.

“Thank y’all for being a great crowd. We have a table over there,” Harry pointed to a small table to the left of the stage, “where we have shirts and a calendar of our upcoming events as well as a CD with some of our covers for sale. We hope to see y’all there.”

With that, canned music came on and the place started to clear. Karlie and Bailey packed their chairs, but instead of heading to Bailey’s car, she tugged Karlie to where the band was packing up. They stopped behind Harry and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and smiled. “Hey, you two. What’d you think?”

“You were great!” Karlie said, smiling.

“Thanks. That means a lot coming from you. I remember how you used to sit to the side when we practiced in your parents’ garage.”

Karlie laughed. “I remember that too. I was your first, original groupie.”

Harry chuckled and pushed his hair back. “That you were. Oh! I know you know everyone in the band except our new member. Let me introduce y’all.”

He beckoned for them to follow and led them to Jax, stopping a few steps away. As they walked closer, butterflies rose in Karlie’s belly. It was one thing to watch from afar and another to actually talk to one of the hottest guys she’d ever seen. His shirt was still off and she was able to see his tattoos more clearly. On his chest, he had the name “June” in a flowing script along with musical notes. He also had words inked on his arms, but she couldn’t read what they said.

 “Hey, man, let me introduce you to two of my good friends,” Harry said.

Karlie glanced at Bailey and saw her friend’s brow twitch. She wondered how annoyed she was at that comment. “Girls, this is Jax. Jax, this is Karlie Stewart and Bailey Kay.”

“Hey, how’s it going?” Jax asked them with a brilliant smile.

Bailey just lifted her chin a bit in greeting before pulling Harry to the side. 

Jax cocked a brow as he watched them. His eyes met Karlie's. “They have a history or somethin’?”

“Or something. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

He leaned against the speaker behind him and raked his eyes over her. “So, you’re from here? Known Harry your whole life?”

“Yep. Grew up next door to each other.”

“Y’all ever hook up?”

Karlie snorted. “Please. He’s more like a brother to me.”

Jax nodded but didn’t say anything. Now that she was up close to him, Karlie wasn’t sure what to say. She struggled to think of anything but came up blank. Before she could clear the fog from her brain, a group of women joined them, pushing her out of the way. She was a bit taken aback by their audacity but stepped back further to watch the scene.

Jax flashed a grin at all of them, flirting with them, and he even pulled two of the girls into his lap. It was at this point that Karlie realized Jax was just another player. He was flirty with everyone, and she was just one of many. That connection she thought she felt while he was on stage had just been a figment of her imagination.

Rolling her eyes at herself, she turned and walked over to Bailey and Harry. They both looked angry, their faces tight and drawn, as they gesticulated.

“Hey guys,” she said carefully, interrupting them.

Bailey looked at her and gave her a weak smile while Harry looked past her breathing heavily.

“You ready?” she asked Bailey.

“Yep. See ya later, Harry.”

He didn’t respond and stalked off. Karlie watched him briefly before turning to Bailey. “What’s the story there?”

“No story.”

“Hmmm.” She didn't believe Bailey for a minute.

They walked in silence to the car, stowing the chairs in the trunk before climbing in.

“You good with the top down again?”

It was now dark and much cooler than it had been earlier, but it was still warm enough for a quick ride through town. “I’m good if you are.”

With a grin, Bailey started the car and zipped out of the spot. They were both quiet on the ride home. Karlie’s thoughts were on Jax and how attractive she found him, but she refused to let herself entertain thoughts of seeing him again. It was obvious from his reaction to the girls crowding him on the stage that he craved the attention they gave him, and she wasn’t interested in a guy like that. She’d been there, done that, and had the t-shirt to prove it.

 

Prologue

Keri jumped at the loud crash from behind her in the kitchen at the homeless shelter. She turned to see the new volunteer grumbling as he picked up the pans that tumbled to the floor. She watched him several moments before returning to her work.  She turned the heat down to low on the stove and worked her way around the room, checking on everyone before stopping beside the new guy.

He was attempting to chop vegetables. He was really maiming them. Carrots were in chunks and peppers were thin slivers with seeds still clinging to them.

“Do you need help?” she asked tentatively.

“No,” was his terse reply.

Her eyebrows rose to her hairline.

“Are you sure? If you continue chopping them like that, there won’t be any veggies to speak of.”

He paused and stood stiffly, white-knuckling the handle of the knife. Her eyes raked over him quickly and she noticed the hard set of his shoulders and she realized he was most likely uncomfortable. Keri grabbed a second knife and cutting board, setting up beside him. She grabbed a carrot and slowly chopped. Once she finished that one, she did several more before grabbing a pepper, coring it before slicing. When she was done, she glanced at the man and saw him watching her intently.

Their eyes met briefly and her breath hitched at their light gray color. They were expressive and she could read his discomfort in them.

He grabbed a carrot and mimicked her earlier movements, slowly chopping it. Keri smiled. “Great job.”

She helped him finish up chopping vegetables before checking the pot she left simmering on the stove. She hummed quietly to herself and let her mind wander to the new man. He was attractive, no doubt about that. He was well built and had brown hair that was almost auburn.

Shaking herself, she focused on the pot. She shouldn’t be daydreaming about the new guy like he was a piece of meat. That wouldn’t help anything.

With efficient movements, she and the other volunteers started the dinner service and she found herself sitting at a table with patrons of the shelter. She chatted with each person, asking how they were. Her eyes roved around the room, taking in the long tables filled with patrons and their families. A deep sense of contentment spread throughout her body as she saw everyone enjoying the meal in the small dining room. 

Movement across from her caught her attention. The new guy pulled a chair out across the table. She smiled and turned back to her plate. Eventually, they were the only two sitting there.

“I’m Keri,” she said, holding her hand out over the table.

“Jeremy,” he told her as he shook her hand.

She squinted at him, trying to figure out why he looked familiar. Now that she saw him full on, there was something about him that niggled in the back of her mind, but she wasn’t sure what it was. Shaking it off, she smiled.

“How are you liking it so far?” she asked as she took a sip of her water.

“I enjoy it. It’s the first time I’ve volunteered in a while.”

“You used to volunteer?”

“Yeah, growing up. My mom required that we volunteer on school breaks and holidays.”

“What made you decide to come back?”

Jeremy shrugged and looked at his plate, picking at the food. “I wanted to give back to the community more.”

She waited to see if he said anything else, but he didn’t.

“What about you?” he asked, looking back at her.

“I have some experience with shelters and I always think they need all the volunteers they can get.”

“That makes sense.”

They lapsed into silence. 

The rest of the evening passed in a blur and soon she was pushing out the door into the brisk fall air. Clouds hovered in the night air and it felt like it might rain later. She wound her scarf around her neck and pulled her jacket a little bit closer as the cold started to seep through her layers. She held the door open to let Jeremy out behind her.

“See you next week?” she asked, huddling further into her pea coat.

“Yeah, see you then.”

With a wave over his shoulder, he walked away, shoulders hunched. She watched him for several seconds before turning to walk home. The new guy intrigued her and she hoped to talk to him more the next week.

Prologue

 

Seven Years Ago

 

Bailey sighed and rubbed her hand over her face as she worked to finish the paper that was due to her professor by midnight. She thought her basic studies were difficult to deal with, but her major classes were worse. The bright spot was that she was now in mostly physical education classes, even if she did have to memorize a lot of things she wasn’t sure she’d use as a P.E. teacher.

Her cell phone rang, pulling her from her trance. She glanced at the screen and saw Harry’s name flash and stifled another sigh. She’d been dodging his calls for a week now, but she knew if she didn’t answer soon, he was likely to make the trip from Gunner Falls to see her and that was the last thing she wanted.

She glanced behind her and saw that Karlie’s side of the room was still empty and decided to go ahead and talk to Harry. She answered and placed the phone on speaker. “Hello?”

“Bailey?” Harry sounded surprised that she answered.

“Yeah.” She scrolled through her paper, trying to find a place to add more information.

“I kinda can’t believe you answered.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, believe it.”

They were both silent for several moments and she realized she was probably a bit more blunt than she should have been considering she’d been ignoring her boyfriend for the last week.

Harry coughed before saying, “Anything new?” His voice cracked a little at the end.

She paused in her scrolling and squinted at her phone. Was that nervousness creeping into his voice? “Nothing much. You?”

She resumed reading through her paper while Harry started talking. She had no clue what he was saying and it wasn’t until he was silent again that she said, “Wait, what? What did you say?”

Harry sighed and frustration crept into his voice. “You weren’t listening. Again.”

“Sorry, I’m trying to finish up a paper that’s due at midnight.” Her eyes slid to the clock and she winced at the realization she had only fifteen minutes to finish but still needed several hundred words. “Look, I’m going to have to let you go. I need to finish this and it’s due in a bit.”

Without waiting for an answer, she hung up and turned back to the paper, determined to finish it. In a flurry of typed words, she submitted it at 11:59 p.m. and did a fist pump when it was finished. She laced her fingers together and bent them outward, cracking them as she stretched the tired muscles in her back and arms. It felt good to work the kinks out.

She checked her phone and saw Harry hadn’t called back, but that Karlie also hadn’t gotten in touch with her. They usually let each other know if they were spending the night with someone else, but there was nothing.

She grabbed her phone and room keys, deciding to go and see if Karlie was outside or if her car was there. She shot off a quick text to her, hoping she would respond, and opened her door, jumping when she saw Harry standing on the other side of it with his fist raised to knock. His eyes widened in shock when he saw her.

“What the hell, dude?” She sagged against the door as she tried to calm her heartbeat.

He shrugged and dropped his hand to his side. “Sorry. I didn’t know you’d open the door.”

“That’s not what I was talking about. What are you doing here? And on a Wednesday? Don’t you have class tomorrow?” She fired her questions rapidly as she took in Harry’s appearance. He was wearing a beanie pulled low over his eyes, a ratty long-sleeved tee, and ripped jeans with boots. He looked a bit haggard. She assumed it was because he drove this far to see her.

Though Bailey went to one of the large state universities, Harry attended the community college campus in Gunner Falls, which was a solid two hour drive away.

He grinned sheepishly and scratched the back of his neck. “Class is canceled tomorrow, so I decided to surprise you.”

She stared at him as she thought over his words. Surprising her was nice. If she wanted the surprise. As it was, she was exhausted and had an 8 a.m. class.

“Ummmm...” She tried to think of something to say. “Wow, that’s…great.” Even to her own ears she sounded less than enthused. 

Harry’s face fell. That semi-hopeful look he had been wearing when she opened the door was now completely gone. “Oh, I guess I should have called first…”

Bailey shrugged and looked at the floor. “It’s just…I have this early class and a full day with that and practice. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see you.”

“Well, I can just meet you for lunch then.”

Bailey cringed. “I have class at 12:15…and then practice immediately after. I usually pick up something in the education building and eat it during class.”

Harry’s shoulders drooped and Bailey felt like an ass, but she couldn’t help that she had no time to see him or even deal with him.

“I’m really sorry,” she said slowly.

“It’s fine…maybe dinner? I can just leave later in the day.”

“Ummm…” She glanced away from him as her cheeks heated.

“You can’t do that either, can you?”

She shook her head and glanced at him. She winced at the angry look now on his face. “I have a study group tomorrow night.”

“What the fuck, Bailey?” Harry’s tone matched his face, and she cringed. He didn’t get angry often, but when he did, it could get ugly.

She stepped back and waved Harry in. She didn’t want them in the hall if they were about to argue. Living in the dorm was like living in a fishbowl. People were always in her business and talking about who was screwing whom, who got in a fight, and who was passed out drunk.

Harry brushed past her, and she shut the door softly behind him before turning to lean against it.

“Seriously?” He glared at her, arms crossed. “You can’t make fifteen minutes to see me in your schedule tomorrow?”

She bit her lip before saying, “No, not really. I have back to back classes and practice before a study group.”

Harry scoffed and shook his head. “How much do you want to bet that if you were to be asked to go to a party tomorrow night or do something with your teammates that you’d drop everything to do it?”

Bailey didn’t say anything because she didn’t know what to say. She dropped her gaze to the floor in shame. He was right. She would completely rearrange her schedule to hang out with her teammates or attend a party. So she stayed silent.

Harry snorted, drawing her gaze back up. “Exactly. You’d do whatever you could. Don’t you see something wrong with that? We haven’t seen each other in weeks! You’ve claimed something is going on every weekend and you wouldn’t tag along with Karlie when she came home last weekend.”

“I have had something every—”

Harry cut her off. “Bullshit. I talked to Karlie and she said that the weekends you claimed you needed the study time you were out at parties with your teammates.”

Bailey grimaced and tamped down on her anger with Karlie. They were best friends and she should have Bailey’s back, though, considering Karlie had known Harry for a lot longer, she shouldn’t be surprised. It didn’t make it right for her to rat her true plans out though.

“Those were all last minute decisions,” she said slowly.

“Please.” Harry scoffed and threw his hands in the air and paced a few steps before turning to go the other way. They were silent while Harry walked back and forth, Bailey watching. He abruptly stopped and turned to face her. “What are we doing?”

Her nose wrinkled. “What do you mean?”

Harry waved his hands in the air. “I mean, what are we doing together? It’s obvious that you don’t want to be with me while I’m ready to commit to you—to our relationship, even with the distance.”

Bailey was taken aback and wasn’t sure what to say. Where was this coming from?

“Is this because I didn’t answer your calls this week? I’m sorry, I was busy.”

Harry scrubbed his hand over his face and barked out a laugh. “No, it’s not because of that. We haven’t seen each other in God knows how long. You always make excuses. Case and point? Me coming here to surprise you and you can’t be bothered to make time to see me.”

She still didn’t know what to say. “I’m not sure what you’re looking for here…”

He stared at her for a few moments before shaking his head. “Nothing. I’m looking for nothing.”

With that, he stepped toward her, gently moving her to the side before he opened the door and stepped outside. Bailey watched as the door shut and listened to his steps as they echoed down the hall. “What the hell just happened?” she asked herself as she walked to the small window that overlooked the parking lot.

A few moments later, she saw Harry walk out the front doors and down the steps. Her eyes followed him as he walked through the dimly lit lot to his car. The headlights soon came on and he backed out and left. She just wasn’t sure if he was leaving her or not. Her chest hurt as she thought about the previous conversation and what it could mean.

She didn’t want to be in a relationship, that was for sure, but she didn’t want to lose Harry either. She just didn’t know how to make that happen, and that’s what led to the dodging of the last few weeks.

Her phone dinged and she looked down. It was a message from Karlie saying she wouldn’t be home. As she typed her response, her phone dinged again, this time with a text from Harry.

 

I can’t do this anymore. Call me if you ever decide to give a relationship a try again.

 

Check back later for more sneak peeks!