Home > Escape (Getaway #3)(7)

Escape (Getaway #3)(7)
Author: Jay Crownover


That was all nice to hear. It assuaged some of the fears I’d had when there had been nothing but endless road and doubt while I was driving, but none of it was enough to have me packing a bag and hightailing back to Wyoming.

“What about you, Brynn? Why are you the one who came to get me? Why not Cy if he needs me so badly?” I was a dick, pushing for something when I didn’t even know if she still belonged to someone else. I was putting my return entirely on her slender shoulders when I was intimately acquainted with the heavy load that slim frame already carried. Getting me home was the rock, and I was the hard place, so fucking hard, and she was stuck directly between the two of us.

“Oh, Lane,” her voiced dipped, and I heard her suck in a shaky breath. “I don’t need you to come home.”

I fell back a step like her words were a bullet that pierced through all my toughest armor. I was getting ready to grab my niece and toss her in the truck so I could get as far away from this woman as I could, when one of her hands reached out and touched the side of my face. I felt the tremor in her fingers and the truth in her pulse as it raced in the wrist lying against my jaw.

“But I want you to come back with me more than I’ve ever wanted anything ever. I want to see you at the breakfast table and hear your stories about the tourists that can’t ride. I want to pass you in the hall and share that same smile we’ve shared since we were kids. I want to bitch at you to separate your damn laundry, so I don’t have to, and I want to yell at you to put the toilet seat down. I want to patch you up when you get thrown from a horse and agree with you that Cy is an overbearing ass most of the time. I want you in my life, Lane. I don’t know how to live without you there.” She looked down at the tips of her boots which were as worn as the ones I had dangling loosely in my hand, and just as out of place on this beach. “I feel like I’m missing half of myself when you aren’t around. It hurts.”

I pulled my eyes away from the hope in hers and looked to where Daye was examining the shells she’d collected on the beach earlier. She seemed oblivious to the heaviness of the conversation going on around her, but I knew better. The little sprite was sharp as a tack. If I didn’t answer the right way she was going to have something to say about it and no doubt she would give Em and her father an earful when we got back to their house.

I let Brynn’s words sink in.

We’d always been friends until I couldn’t handle it because I was so confused about the way she made me feel and terrified if I admitted to wanting more, then everything would fall apart. Maybe she was right and having part of her was better than having nothing. I’d cut her out of my day to day to save myself the heartache of seeing her knowing I couldn’t ever let myself have her, but I missed the little stuff she was talking about. The familiar camaraderie that I’d shut down because it made sharing the same life but moving in opposite directions so hard.

I tunneled my fingers through my damp, dark hair and looked down at my feet. They looked naked without my cowboy, and I suddenly realized everything about me was exposed and vulnerable out here in the world so far away from the one that was meant for me. A sigh so heavy, so thick, that the waves wouldn’t be able to carry it out to sea, escaped. I had no idea what the right thing to do was anymore, but constantly running away from her hadn’t gotten me anywhere. I couldn’t deny that her finally chasing after me was doing something to my insides. I was so confused, but one thing was clear. If she cared enough to come after me, I could show her that I cared just as much by going back with her.

“I want you in my life too, Brynn. Even if that means that you come with someone else. I’ve been stubborn and selfish. I’ve been acting like my mother, wanting things to be different than they are but not doing anything to make the situation better. When things got hard she left, I did the same damn thing—not once, but twice.” And wasn’t that enough to make me feel lower than low? The one person I never wanted anyone to compare me to was the woman who ruined what love meant for all the Warners. I wanted to be the man my father raised me to be, but I’d been acting like the son my mother left behind instead. It was shameful, and for a second I wallowed in that until I remembered the woman in front of me saw someone worth fighting for.

A heartbreaking smile split her beautiful face and her entire body sagged with relief. “Does that mean you’ll come home with me?”

I hesitated because I still wasn’t sure it was the right call. After a few moments, I nodded and moved forward to wrap both Brynn and my niece up in a rib-crushing hug which made them both squeal. That embrace felt so much like home it made my knees weak.

There was no escaping the way Brynn made me feel. Those feelings didn’t stay in Wyoming, they followed me to California. There was no screwing it out of my system or shoving it down into the pit of my soul. All I could do was face those emotions head on and hope I didn’t get crushed under the enormity of how vast and heavy they were.

 

 

In or Out

Brynn

For the first time in days, it felt like my world was set back to rights.

Everything was crooked and off center the minute Lane walked out of the house in Wyoming and disappeared. I couldn’t think straight. Every step I took was wobbly and unsteady. From the moment I opened my eyes, to the second I fell into a fitful sleep at night, it was like I saw things through a grainy black and white filter. There was no color in any of my days when Lane was gone. There was no joy or light. There was only a massive void where I knew I should be able to feel my heart hurting and my soul suffering, the way they always did when it came to the youngest Warner, but when he left there was nothing.

I thought I knew what it felt like to have everything inside of me freeze and shatter. When word came that Lane had been shot while trying to protect his niece from a madman hell-bent on destroying everything that was important to Sutton, I was sure I would never be able to breathe or feel again. That icy pain, that frigid fear had nothing on the numbness that followed when Lane walked out the door seconds after Jack dropped to his knee. At that moment, I knew I was supposed to focus on the man asking me to share his life with him, the one who wanted me for me, and not because he was driven by some chivalrous need to save me from my messed up family and tumultuous home life.

But I hadn’t been focused on Jack. All I could see was the resignation and regret flashing through Lane’s pale blue eyes. We were both reliving the moment another man had asked me to marry him. Only that time, Lane hadn’t been able to escape the outcome. He’d been reminded of it for years, every waking moment when I’d technically held the title of his stepmom. I was something neither one of us could get away from no matter how hard we tried. It was amazing how much one little yes could change everything.

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