I’ve tried several times to regret the events that took place on June 5, 2008, but for the life of me, I can’t. I'd never regret the pain, the suffering, or the heartache because it ultimately led me to the place I am now. And I can’t regret the place I am now. What I still can't figure out is this: how is it possible that the single worst day of my life inadvertently became the very best day?
Five years ago my life was irrevocably changed.
Seventeen minutes was all it took—
to lose my best friend…
to lose the love of my life…
Seventeen minutes was all it took for the seeds of hope—the seeds of my future—to be planted in the worst possible way.
My name is Harley Thompson, and this is my story.
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Slumping down onto the picnic table, I close my eyes, praying that this was all a bad dream and I just have to wake up. Realistically, I know it’s not, but there is always that small window of time right after something horrible happens when you feel like if you hope and pray hard enough, you can actually rewind time and undo what’s been done.
I grip my hair tightly at the scalp and watch as my tears cascade off my face and hit the table below. I'm not sure how long I sit, but eventually I get up and pace the alley behind the bar, trying to wrap my head around everything that just happened. This is why I never told him before...for exactly this reason.
What on earth have I done?
He can’t seriously end our friendship.
He can’t really walk away.
There is way too much history for him to do that. Right?
A gravelly, slurred voice interrupts my thoughts. "Harley? That you?" The hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I squint through my tears, trying to see whom the drunken voice belongs to. Relief washes over me at the familiar face. I try to respond, but a deep sob comes out instead. He moves to my side quickly. "You're crying," he says, putting a comforting hand to my back. "Please don't cry."
I normally wouldn't get this close to someone who isn't Tyson or Quinn, but right now I need the familiarity and comfort he offers. In a desperate move, I wrap my arms around his middle, bury my face in his chest, and cry like I've never cried before.
The stench of smoke deeply rooted in his shirt fills my nostrils and the stale odor of liquor makes me sick as he whispers calming words in my ear. I should be worried. I've heard that he's gotten into some heavier drugs recently, but I know I'm safe.
We stand there for several minutes, neither of us saying a word. His body sways slightly to the left. I grip him tightly to steady his balance and raise my eyes to his. "Are you okay?"
His red-rimmed, glossy eyes lock onto mine, but he doesn't respond. I watch as his expression changes. A shiver runs up my spine as goose bumps immediately cover my body. "Are you okay?" I repeat, trying to keep the fear out of my voice. Loosening my grip, I attempt to step back, but his arms tighten around me.
"You always smell so good," he slurs, his eyes roaming my face. His hand slides up my back and to my neck. He wraps his fingers around my hair and tugs, forcing my head to snap back. Leaning into me, he runs his nose along the side of my neck, and my stomach churns. "I would have given you anything. But I wasn't good enough for you, was I?" I don't respond and he yanks my hair again, arching my back. "Was I?" he seethes.
I’ve never been in a situation where I feel legitimately uncomfortable in the presence of another human being, but right here...in this second...I am terrified. Adrenalin courses through my body. My heart slams violently in my chest and my muscles tense as terror washes through me. I squeeze my eyes tightly shut. A sharp pain rips through my scalp. My face smacks the ground, and a metallic taste fills my mouth.
Please, God. Please let me survive this.
"Okay. First of all," she says, waving her fork in the air, "don't ever say that again! Balls are not strong. Growing a set of balls will not make you stronger. Now, a vagina, that's strong. Take your vagina, for example. You pushed out a ten-pound baby without a lick of medicine. That," she shoves a bite in her mouth, "is a strong vagina. You’ve got like the superhero of all vaginas!" I'm at a loss for words. Quinn is known for her random rants, but this is way off-the-wall. I keep staring. What the hell do I say to that? She's right. My vagina freakin' rocks!
A deep cough sounds behind me and I turn around to see a woman about my age, slapping her husband on the back. Said husband is looking at Quinn and I with a horrified expression and an extremely red face. I can't help but smile when his obviously pregnant wife slides out of the booth, tosses some money on the table, and high-fives me on her way out of the diner.
His cerulean eyes and deep voice are hypnotizing and have me completely paralyzed. Using the back of his hand, he slides his fingers over my cheek. “You’re flushed,” he says softly as his hands trail down my neck, “and your pulse is racing.” As his fingertips reach the swell of my breast, he murmurs, “And you’re breathless.”
Fuck me running. This guy is sex on a stick and I'm horny as hell.
Levi leans down, the stubble on his square jaw tickling me as he nuzzles the soft spot below my ear. Dropping my head, I can’t help but watch as his hand descends past my breast and under the soapy water.
Keep going, you’re almost there.
His hand is no longer visible, but I can sure as hell feel every inch of skin it’s grazing under the water. His touch is leaving behind a tingly goodness that is quickly building the tension back up in my body. I tilt my head up, offering him my mouth, and he quickly accepts the invitation. Molding his soft lips to mine, I allow him in and our tongues begin to slide against one another effortlessly.
About K.L. Grayson:
K.L. Grayson resides in a small town outside of St. Louis, MO. She is entertained daily by her extraordinary husband, who will forever inspire every good quality she writes in a man. Her entire life rests in the palms of six dirty little hands, and when the day is over and those pint-sized cherubs have been washed and tucked into bed, you can find her typing away furiously on her computer. She has a love for alpha-males, reading, tattoos, sunglasses, and happy endings … and not particularly in that order.