The air around us was silent save for the crickets chirping off in the distance. The cool Cincinnati breeze nipped at my skin while I waited for his reaction. When I’d started writing this novel, it had been an ode to my past love. My past life. But then it’d taken on a life of its own and become so much more. Which had made it that much more poignant. That much harder to fathom the one word that’d been haunting me for years.
At long last, he turned to the final page and sucked in a breath. My stomach twisted in knots because he was about to read the end. And I didn’t know how he’d interpret it. Half scared he’d tell me that I’d lost my mind and no one would ever want to read this story, especially with that ending.
He didn’t make me wait long. As his head slowly rose, I was taken aback at the tears shining in his usually cheerful eyes. This man, who had always been like a second father to me, had been reduced to tears by my words. My words. Words we both knew for whom they were meant. And, instead of calling me a fool or attempting to kill me, he watched me with tearful appreciation, switching between nodding and shaking his head as if trying to process it all.
I didn’t know how to react, so I simply stared at him, waiting for him to say something. Anything.
He closed the manuscript and set it on the table in front of us before taking a long swig from his whiskey glass. I followed suit and enjoyed the smoky burn that did little to soothe my nerves.
“Jesus Christ,” he muttered, his eyes locking in on mine. “Tucker. You did it. You fucking did it,” he whispered, seemingly unashamed of his emotional display.
I nodded, the same emotion welling up inside me when I remembered the ending of my first novel. So many love stories begin with the girl who got away. Mine wasn’t any different. Not only in my novel, but in real life as well. Ava Banks was, and always would be, that girl for me. But, instead of slipping through my fingers, she’d made the conscious decision to leave. And, like most dumbass men, I’d let her. Hell, I’d pushed her away. I’d regretted it ever since.
But, now, I was hoping like hell I could get the second chance Trevor did. Hoping like hell my story would turn out differently than his. But, either way, I was putting myself out there, as terrifying as that was. She finally, finally would hear the words I couldn’t say all those years ago.
Now, I just had to wait to see what she’d do about it.