Authors: K Larsen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Other Books by K. Larsen
First, to Emma
, Emma, Sherry, Reagan, Marisa, Renee, Yaya and Tara. You know who you are. You are my sun! You make my life so much fuller just for knowing you. Thank you for all your encouragement and feedback. Resistance would not be what it is without you all. Truly. You help me in ways you will never fully understand!
I always need to thank my family. My daughter. My husband. My parents (all of them). My sister
her husband. My friends. I have so many amazing people in my life. I’m truly blessed.
, crap. It gave me nothing BUT resistance while writing it. I don’t know why. I don’t much care why. It took longer to accomplish but I got there. I hope you fall in love with Sawyer. I hope you understand Pepper (better than before). I hope you get the “feels” from this book.
There are so many blogs who support me
Short and Sassy, Ana’s Attic, SMI, I’ll Be Reading, Book Quarry, Beg Me for Beta, Talk Books, This Redhead Loves Books, I Heart Books, For the Love of Books, I Love Bookie Nookie, Talk Books
, the list seems endless to me. I’ve missed many. I know that. It’s not that you aren’t important to me, it’s just that I can barely keep all the names and faces straight! I appreciate your pimping and love SO SO SO much. It’s made such an amazing difference in my experience as an author. People, if you don’t follow blogs—what are you waiting for?! They are awesome!
As always, you can find me on Spotify. All my books have playlists. Check them out! Feel free to stalk me
—let me clarify—feel free to stalk me on social media. Please—I love you and thanks for reading my books—but don’t show up at my door unannounced, it’s just creepy. I love hearing from you all. Messages, emails, tweets, or posts. It brightens my day!
, what are you waiting for?! Go jump into Sawyer!
I’m crawling in my skin. Always. It never ceases. I’ve had this feeling for the last sixteen months. Time has done little thus far to mend me. People keep promising that time heals all wounds. Bullshit. I call
. I intend to kick the “I have a penchant for wounded women” addiction. Relationships are a death sentence. Casual dating is my new m.o. Love is a four-letter word.
Love is not blind – it's blind
. I didn’t want to see. I
want to see. I chose to ignore all the signs, and there were plenty. I was in denial. I pretended that Clara and I were more than we were. I knew it was wrong, but I buried that feeling way down deep, flat-out refusing to let it bubble to the surface where I’d have to deal with it—where
have to deal with it.
I’d tear out my insides if I could go back and change it. I don’t want that statement to be true, but it is
I didn’t give her room to breathe. I never gave her the chance to come to
, to want me. I gave her what I wanted to give and convinced myself that it was exactly what
wanted and needed. It wasn’t.
Our arrangement had been simple. We slept together if and when we wanted to. We were always best friends first and we were to raise Allie together with love. Four years into it, did people assume we were married? Yes. Did people assume I was Allie's father? Sure. Did I love every second of that? Most definitely.
We met when Allie was four. It fizzled out fast but I stuck around as a friend because we got along so well and we’d been a threesome ever since. I’m all Allie knows of a dad.
The problem is, real women don’t
you. Clara always needed me. I knew that. I liked it; hell, I loved it. I thought it would be enough to keep her attached to me, but it wasn’t. She put my heart in a blender and watched it spin around until it was a pureed mess. I’d love to blame her entirely, but when shit hit the fan and she told me she never asked for my love outside of our arrangement, she was right. She never did and I never listened.
She was upfront, honest, and clear with me from the start. I tried to change that subtly over time, to embed myself into her life so wholly that eventually she would want to submit to me entirely. My game got sloppy, I grew complacent. I used my dating life to try and piss her off and make her jealous. Sometimes, depending on the woman, it worked. Mostly she held up her end of our deal and knew that we’d agreed to be able to date, therefore never bringing it up
My weakness was that I let myself care too much. It was all a well-played game between the two of us. A balancing act with no safety net. Games that never developed into more than they were meant to eventually played themselves out
I watched her put the car in park and stare ahead blankly. It was just after one. Allie would be home from school in two hours or so. My motorcycle was parked in the driveway, she knew I was home. She exited the car, heading into the house. I was on the couch, head in my hands, doubled over. I know she was with him. I felt it in my gut.
she called softly. The house was a disaster: dirty clothes strewn all over the floor, take-out containers littered the coffee table, and the entryway was covered in shoes. I knew she was probably disgusted at the sight. I snapped my head up, feeling more pissed than I had ever been.
“Were you with him?” I barked at her
“Yes,” she mumbled
“Does he know?”
“How could you
, Clara?” I shouted, pushing to my feet.
“Sawyer, we both knew this was coming. I don’t love you like that.” Her voice wavered ever so slightly
“Really, Clara? That’s the line you’re going to use?” I snorted. “I’ve given you five years of my life. I’ve raised Allie, loved her, loved you! Does he even know you? Does he know Allie hates tomatoes or how to braid her hair? Does he know you hate mushrooms or how you take your coffee? Does he?!” I shouted. Her bottom lip
started to tremble and her eyes welled with tears.
“That’s not fair. He deserves the chance to learn all those things,”
she cried out. “I don’t love you like him.” Her words made me stumble a step backward. I felt them like she'd physically slapped me. “Sawyer, please...let me go,” she pleaded.
I stalked to where she stood and pounded my hands on the wall at either side of her head, trapping her
“Let you go?” I snarled.
“I’ve supported you. I’ve loved you, I’ve cared for you and been there for everything. I’ve given up so much to just to stand by your side,” I hissed.
“I never asked you to do that,” she snapped
“You never asked me?!” I shouted, offended. “Tell me, Clara, does he know you like it rough?” I growled and leaned into her face. “Does he know how much you like to be dominated and thrown around?” My hands slid up her arms, hooking Clara’s jaw tightly. “Does he do it better than I do?” I
“Stop,” she cried
“Stop?” I barked back. “Why? You never stopped for a second to think about me. Or Allie for that matter! Who the fuck takes off for a week and leaves her kid?!” She recoiled from me. “You’re a liar and a bitch.” I released her face and punched a hole in
the wall next to her head before storming upstairs to my room.
“Sawyer...” she called as she stepped into my room
“You’re right,” I answered
“You never asked me. I just gave and gave, hoping that you’d return my feelings,” I said. How could this happen? I’d been so sure to entwine our lives together. I’d thought we’d had it all.
She knocked lightly on the door. I glanced at her briefly as she crawled onto the bed with me, staring up at the ceiling
“I’m so sorry. I never expected this,” she murmured. My hand found hers and grabbed it, holding on tightly. I just needed to feel her. Truth be told, I’d believed her. I knew she didn’t plan all this to happen. It just did
“What are we going to do?” I asked dejectedly
“I can move out...” she started
“No!” I cut her off. “You and Allie stay in the house. Please don’t uproot her because of me.”
“Where will you go?” she asked quietly.
“I’ll find a place to rent.”
“What about Bloodlines?” she hedged.
“We’ll figure out a way to work together
, all right? I just need some time,” I lied. “You and Allie will always be my girls,” I mumbled. Clara sobbed again.
“Sawyer, I don't want you out of our lives...I just want to be friends and free to fall in love.”
“We’ll get there. Consider yourself free,” I muttered, rolling off the bed. “I’m going for a ride. We need to tell Allie tonight,” I clipped, walking out, leaving Clara a bumbling idiot curled up on my bed. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to soothe her. Yet, I couldn't. She didn't fucking want that from me. I punched a hole in the drywall on my way out the door. My frustration was better taken out on that than her.
I was careless and stupid
Clara is many things, but she’s not an asshole, contrary to what most think. She’s a straight shooter. Calls it like she sees it, a
take-action kinda gal. She loves fiercely and wholly, even when she’s not
love with you. If she loves you, you get all of her for better or worse.
All things I love about her
Clara makes mistakes and people view her actions as self-centered, but they don’t understand how she works. She’s not a selfish woman. She’s bold. Takes no prisoners. Driven. She gives back in so many ways
People look at her and judge; they don’t see or maybe they choose to overlook all the things she does from the heart. Her friends
and family and their personal well-being come first. Her two jobs follow next. She’s committed, blunt to a fault, and owns her flaws. It’s refreshing, really. Her past was so much worse than even I knew—and I knew most of it—but when the parts I didn’t know came out, so much came to light, for me at least. But by then it was too late for us. There was a void so endlessly deep, a chasm so impossibly wide between us there was no bridging it.
She loves Allie fiercely. She
is a wonderful mom. I admire that about her. Sure, she’s made mistakes—we both have—but she’s never claimed she hasn't. When the school told her the chorus program was being cut, she volunteered to continue teaching the kids for free. Bloodlines thrives as a business because she puts her heart and soul into it. Even from a distance she's loyal to Marg and Amanda, staying in touch, talking often, putting in the effort to make sure they all stay connected. She’s thoughtful and kind and funny. Maybe that’s why being without her hurts so much or maybe it’s just that after years of living together and pretending I feel empty not coming home to my family—the family I built up to more than it was. The one I should have realized was slipping away.
Napoli, Clara’s now fiancé, swooped in and threw us all off balance. I can’t say that had the situation been reversed I would have handled it any differently than she did. It was confusing. Where did we draw the line? How do you give up someone that has been an intimate part of your life without giving them up completely? How do you tell what’s right and wrong? Can we maintain our family still for Allie? When you never talk about the hard stuff together, how can you expect the other to just know what’s in your head? Bottom line, you can’t. It was a clusterfuck to say the least. We’ve found some semblance of peace now. We’re just rearranging. We both knew dating other people could lead to wanting to make it permanent with someone else, but I guess I just never thought Clara would be the one to settle down. She was always so restless, a free spirit. Being a two-household family is shitty and hard but I’m supposed to accept that and move on.
“Supposed to” being the key phrase
I haven’t figured the
“moving on” part out quite yet. The heart wants what it wants, right? Or maybe the mind wants what it wants
the heart. All of those scenarios are bullshit, though. It’s about being in control. Clara went for the gold. She carved out the happiness she needed, wanted.
Now it’s my turn