by DC Stone
Garden Love Book One
Yesterday, he was married to her best friend.
Tomorrow, her world shatters.
Today, she denies everything…including her heart.
Aimee isn’t a stranger to death and pain, but guilt drives her to make decisions she’ll come to regret. Choices she’ll have to take. A life with a man that shouldn’t be hers.
Genre: Erotic Contemporary RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon Smashwords iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Second Chance, Dark
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Writers In Crime
Excerpt & More
“Look at me,” he snapped.
Nope. She wasn’t going to do it.
“God dammit, Aimee, look me in the eyes when you say you’re leaving.”
Why in the heck was he doing this? She wanted to scream at him, kick his perfect butt off her property, bash her fists into his chest. Just lash out. Why was he even here?
“Jesus, Aimee—” He sucked in a ragged breath and that sound got to her. “Just tell me!” Those last three words seemed dragged out of him, full of pain, a ton of anger, and anguish.
This…she just…she couldn’t. Pressure built in her chest, tearing her up inside until she thought she’d explode. Relief hovered beneath the ball clamoring up her throat, begging, pleading to be set free.
Her eyes stung and her vision wavered.
This was it.
Just do it.
Take control and set it free.
“You!” she screamed and rounded on him at the same time taking a step back. She cradled an arm to her chest for surely she was about to split open. “I can’t stay because of you.”
Tyler’s brows slammed together in a vee over his nose.
“Me?” he asked, his face bewildered. “Why the fuck not?”
“God,” she choked out. “Tyler, it’s you. I—I can’t. I tried and I can’t handle it.”
His eyes narrowed and holy-sugar-plums, while it physically hurt to do this, the pressure in her chest eased.
“Does this decision have to do anything with what you said the other day?”
She lifted her torso, but still cradled her arm. She could do this. Like a Band-Aid…just rip it off. “I wish I could be stronger, but I’m not. I’m sorry,” she said and swiped at her wet cheek. “I hate, I just hate, hate, hate, to bring up the past, but my feelings haven’t changed, Tyler. This here, what’s happening, aches like nothing else. I can’t do this any longer.”
He froze. “You’re shitting me.” Damn. Those words weren’t scary. They were downright menacing. “Fuck,” he punched out and held his hands on his head, looked up, and for a moment she though he prayed for divine intervention.
Good luck, handsome. The big guy never answers me.
He dropped his hands, met her gaze, and asked again, almost like he begged. “Tell me you’re shitting me right now.”
This was getting embarrassing. Obviously, he didn’t want this, or her feelings toward him. She wished it was as easy as dismissing it all away. “Look,” she said, trying to calm things down. Trying to release him off the hook. “I’m leaving, so you won’t have to worry about me anymore.”
“Jesus, Aimee,” he said, eyes wide, his hands spread before him. “Do you not get it? You’re all I’ve worried about for years. Christ, you gave me a chance at life. You gave them a piece of you—your kidney—to put in me and you are now a part of me.” He punctuated the last five words with a punch on his chest.
He looked so torn, as if he didn’t know what to do with himself. Hating that she’d brought him down to feel this way, but knowing they had to get past this so they’d both have freedom, and peace, and a goodbye, she continued. “I know. And I won’t apologize for doing what I did,” she said, as calm as she could.
“Why would you apologize?”
She jerked her head back, tossed her hands in the air, and searched for the right words. He had to know why. “Because of the look you gave me before going into surgery. Because you screamed, ‘no.’ You didn’t want my kidney.”
He barked out a short, ugly laugh. “That’s what you think?” He pivoted, grabbed his head again, and roared out a frustrated howl to the yard.
His shoulders reared with deep breaths for several moments. The setting sun threw an array of colors over the front of her yard, and the whole picture—Tyler and her home—almost brought tears anew.
Tyler faced her. “I honestly have no clue how you could possibly think I didn’t want a kidney, something I damn well needed to survive, because it came from you. Never, never in all my years would I have ever thought you’d come up with some shit that fucked up, but let me straighten this out and make it clear.
“I didn’t want you to give me that kidney because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you, too. I had just lost my wife, Aimee. Didn’t know much of what was going on with my children. Then to see you on the gurney and to hear you were going under the knife for me…I—I just couldn’t imagine losing you, too.”
Her jaw fell open and she stared. His explanation made sense now that he said it, and his words were so damn lovely. But she didn’t know how to respond. Reaching out and hugging him seemed like a good play, but she was frozen.
“You’re shocked? Why are you shocked?”
She pivoted, her mind in a whirl of activity. All of these years she allowed herself to believe what happened between her and Tyler had been less than what she thought—that their friendship was filled with a malicious, ugly cloud. That she had ruined everything. Years of trust, of love and friendship. That she had very well forced his hand.
Her back to the door, she felt thoroughly and utterly disgusted with herself.
She choked on an ugly laugh.
“Maybe it’s because of how everything happened. Because of who you and I are. Of who we were. Of that conversation that night before when you told me we’d never be, the look on your face—God—of it all. I ruined everything, took something that was beautiful to me, friendships that I lived for, and crapped all over them. Because I was in love with my best friend’s husband and couldn’t take his rejection! What kind of messed up person am I? Who does that?”
Tyler didn’t say anything, just stared at her, his mouth open, eyes blazing. His chest heaved from the emotional conversation, she was sure, because hers did the same. She was done. All of this was just too dang much to handle. She hated what had happened between them, the loss of their friendship, of something so precious.
A dark cloud had centered between them, impenetrable, like a shield.
With a shake of her head, she grabbed the knob behind her, ignored Tyler’s step forward, and entered the house. Then, she shut the door in his face.
The pressure in her chest would be denied no longer.
She sobbed and dropped her forehead to the door.
Tyler knocked once. “Aimee, open the door.”
She didn’t, but turned, set her back against the wood and slid to the floor. Great, raking sobs left her throat without mercy. She’d done this. Ruined everything and the guilt of it all hurt.
“Jesus, Sweetheart,” Tyler said through the door and yes, once again, that word said something different. A soft, sympathetic communication. “You can bring a man to his knees.”
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