Copyright © 2016 Kaylee Ryan
All Rights Reserved.
This book may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the written permission of Kaylee Ryan, except for the use of brief quotations in articles and or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, locations, businesses and plot are products of the author’s imagination and meant to be used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events throughout the story are purely coincidental. The author acknowledges trademark owners and trademarked status of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication and use of these trademarks is not authorized, sponsored or associated by or with the trademark owners.
The following story contains sexual situations and strong language. It is intended for adult readers.
Cover Design: Perfect Pear Creative Covers
Cover Photography: Marc-André Riopel & Josée Houle
Cover Model: David Juteau Marineau
Editing: Hot Tree Editing
Proofreading: Masque of the Red Pen
Formatting: Integrity Formatting
This bar looks as good a place as any to take a break. I’ve been driving for hours with no destination. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be, and no one who will be looking for me. That is my reality.
I’ve always tried hard to be positive with the life I’ve been given. I always had three hot meals and a safe place to lay my head at night. I’m one of the lucky ones who landed within the system that didn’t have to sleep with one eye open. Jeff and Maggie were great foster parents and even better adoptive parents. They made sure I had everything I needed, and in turn, I did what was expected of me. I did my chores, my homework, and never broke the rules.
Rebel, I know.
My chest literally aches at the thought of Jeff and Maggie. Did I tell them thank you enough, show them how grateful I was for bringing me into their home? My eyes start to burn with tears.
I’ve lost the only family I’ve ever known.
I was blissfully happy, one week from graduating college, moving back home to help Jeff and Maggie at their law firm. I chose paralegal because of them.
It’s been a month since I got the phone call. Thirty days since my world came crashing down.
“You need to come home.”
Those are the details of the call that I remember. The night I lost the family that chose me. Jeff and Maggie’s family were not as open to me as they were. They felt it was silly that they were able to conceive their own children, but decided to adopt me instead. I was the only one. They said they didn’t want to have to share their love. Needless to say, now that they’re gone, it’s just me. I’m alone in the world once again, no family and no close friends. I have acquaintances, but I spent all my free time in the library. I didn’t go to parties or football games. I studied. I wanted to do it for them to show them how much I appreciated all they had given me. Everything I’ve ever done in my life has been for them.
Now they’re gone.
Where do I go from here?
The neon sign flashes in the window advertising different kinds of beer. I don’t care what kind it is; I just need something to help take the pain away. Across the street is a motel.
Good. I plan to drink until I forget.
Quickly, I cross the street and reserve a room. It’s actually perfect that I won’t have to drive. I pull out my debit card and pass it to the young receptionist. I have money, lots of it. Jeff and Maggie left me everything, just something else their families didn’t approve of. I was about to give it back, tell them they could shove it. That money won’t bring back the only parents I’ve ever known. It won’t bring back my family. It wasn’t until the attorney handed me a letter from them, my parents,’ that I changed my mind. The letter said that I brought joy to their lives, that I was their greatest accomplishment. I have that letter memorized.
“Take it, Melissa. We want to know that you will always be taken care of. Live your life and follow your dreams. Live for you, sweet girl. No one else.”
They were always telling me that. “Pick a career you love, Melissa. Not for us but for you.”
I lived for them, and because of them, my life wasn’t the hell that it could have been. How do I learn to live without them? Learn to live for me?
“Sign here.” The receptionist hands me a pen.
I scrawl my name on the receipt, take my key, and head back outside. I don’t want to feel this pain anymore. I just want the pain to go away. The flashing neon sign calls to me. Maybe I can drink it away.
Opening the door, the smell of smoke and alcohol invade my senses. The place—Danny’s, as according to the sign, is packed for a Thursday night. I make my way to the bar and spot an empty stool at the end. Perfect, it’s just me. I’m good with being tucked away, as long as the bartender keeps the drinks coming.
My ass hasn’t even hit the chair before a woman in her late fifties or so is asking for my order. I’m not much of a drinker, but Maggie used to drink cranberry and vodka, so I go with that.
“Coming right up.” She smiles causing the laugh lines around her eyes to be more prominent. “Here you go, sweetie. You want to start a tab?” she asks, wiping down the bar.
“Yeah, keep them coming.” I tilt back the glass she just set in front of me and drain it.
She studies me. “You driving?”
“No. I have a room across the street.”
She nods, accepting my answer, and then gets to work making me another drink.
I take my time with this one. I’ve got nowhere to be.
I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been sitting here, lost in thought, waiting for the alcohol to dull the pain. I don’t know how many drinks I’ve had, having lost count of that too, but my mind is finally starting to turn off.
“Can I get another round for our table,” a deep voice says beside me.
Glancing over, I take him in. Tall, dark hair, tattoos. Not someone a good girl should be attracted to, but I am. He’s wearing a tight shirt that shows off his ribbed abs. Holy hell, he’s sexy. Turning back to my drink, I try to shake off the thought.
When he reaches back for his wallet, his elbow bumps mine. “Nothing like rubbing elbows with a beautiful woman.” He winks.