Authors: Jillian Dodd
Tags: #YA Romance
Copyright 2014 by Jillian Dodd
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Jillian Dodd Inc.
Flower Mound, TX
THIS BOOK IS FOR
Mandy and Melissa
I can’t thank you enough for all you do.
This series is continuous. There is no recap of what happened earlier.
starts the day
If you haven’t read the previous books, be sure to read them first.
When we last saw Keatyn, she had just told Aiden that she wouldn’t be going back to Eastbrooke with him.
Below are the last few lines of
Oh gosh. This is it. This is where I finally have to do it.
I’ve been dreading this moment since we stepped off the plane.
“Yes, you do have to leave for the airport soon.”
“What do you mean, you? And why do you look sad again?”
“Because I’m not going with you. I’m not going back to Eastbrooke.”
“Family stuff, kinda.”
“Then why did you let me come with you? Give me hope? Why didn’t you kick me off the plane?”
“Because I didn’t handle it well when we were at school. Things felt unsettled, and I wanted to give you closure. Give us closure. I didn’t do it to hurt you, Aiden. I just wanted to be able to say goodbye.”
Aiden stands up quickly and paces in the sand in front of me. “Where are you going?”
“Probably France,” I say, pushing back tears.
Aiden pulls me off the sand and into his arms. The wind blows my hair across my face in front of me. Aiden pushes it behind my ear, gets close to me, and says softly, “Then I’m moving to France too.”
“Wherever you go, I go.”
“What? No. What about your sister?”
He looks over my shoulder, so I glance behind me to see Peyton happily laughing and swinging her feet off the edge of the pool, Damian sitting next to her.
“I think it's time I start living my life for me,” he says.
“But, Aiden, it’s not that easy. You have school.”
“School is overrated. Let’s stay here.”
He kisses me, effectively stopping me from speaking.
When the kiss ends, he gently pulls away and looks at me seriously. His eyes tell me everything I already know. “Keatyn, I mean it. Wherever you go, I go. I don't have a choice.”
“Sure you do—”
He pulls my hand up and places it on his chest.
“You have my heart and I kinda need it to survive.”
He kisses me again. A good, long, powerful tongue kiss. Either I’m becoming weaker or he’s definitely becoming more powerful.
“Do you trust me?” he says, still holding my hand against his chest.
“Good. Because when I said we’re going to be together forever, I meant it.”
Tears run down my face because this is exactly what I dreamed a boy would say to me.
But my life isn’t a dream.
He sweeps my hair behind my neck and kisses it.
He must think he needs to infuse me with more love potion.
But I never really needed it.
He's had a piece of my heart since the moment I laid eyes on him.
“Forever is a really, really long time, Aiden,” I say softly.
“And I was thinking just the opposite, Boots. Forever isn’t going to be nearly long enough for us.”
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27TH
“You can’t come with me. Not right now. You need to go back to school.”
“Please, don’t shut me out. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“It’s my mom. I told you before. There are some family things going on.”
“You did, but you were very vague. You know you can tell me anything, Boots. Seriously.
“I’ll come with you and help.”
“But you can’t.”
“Then I’ll move to France and see you when you aren’t busy.”
“Aiden. Please,” I plead. “Go back to school.” I need him to leave before I start bawling.
“Is your mom sick?”
“Kinda. She’s stressed and it's making her sick. I need to help.”
“Mentally or physically sick?”
“Both, maybe. I don’t really know because I’m not there. And she’s sort of shut me out and—”
“I thought your trip home was good?”
“It was, but my mom was, um, sorta distant. Not like herself. And she's lost weight. I'm really worried about her, Aiden.”
“What does your stepdad say?”
“He's trying to talk her into taking some time off.”
“Do you think she will?”
“I think so.”
“Then maybe things will get better on their own.”
That’s what we hoped would happen,
I want to say.
But things have not gotten better on their own. They seem to have gotten worse.
Aiden continues, “I would think your mom would be upset if you left before the semester is over. You won’t get any credit for all your work this year. Besides, it’s only a few weeks until Christmas break. Come back with me and we’ll finish out the semester together. Then we can go anywhere you want.”
I back away from Aiden, trying to put distance between us, both physically and emotionally.
He notices and immediately pulls me back into a hug.
I try to stay stiff, but I can’t. I melt into his arms. I wish I didn’t have to lie to him. Or hurt him.
He looks deep into my eyes and runs a gentle hand across my shoulder. “Don’t.”
“Pull away from me. You’re emotionally retreating. It hurts.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Aiden. I’m just trying to do what’s right.” I throw my hands out in frustration. “For everyone.”
He slides his hands into mine, holding them tightly. “Keatyn, I know you’d never hurt me on purpose,” he says softly.
Tears flood my eyes and I shake my head.
“Is it the forever stuff?” he asks. “Am I freaking you out?”
His forever stuff could be my out.
All I have to do is say yes.
That we’re too young.
But I can’t. I can’t lie to him about that.
“I can’t promise you forever, Aiden.”
“I’ve never asked you to promise me forever, Boots,” he says, the hint of a smirk playing on his lips. “Just promise me tomorrow.”
I tilt my head and study him. “Is that your sneaky way of getting me to promise you forever? Because there is always
He laughs in the deep, sexy way I adore. “I didn’t think of it that way, but I guess maybe I am.”
I notice movement out of the corner of my eye; it’s the security guys coming out of the turret with my suitcases.
They're going to try to force me to go back.
I mentally scroll through my options. I can run . . .
“Miss Keatyn,” Sven’s voice comes over the intercom system. “You have a phone call in the main house.”
I see Inga walk out onto the deck, waving one of the handsets.
“Um, hang on, Aiden.”
As I walk to get the phone, Damian leaves Peyton's side and intercepts me. “What's the verdict?”
“Aiden says if I don't go back then he's not either. But that’s the least of my worries now. Garret's goons packed my luggage. I think they're going to try to force me.”
“Whatever you need, you know that,” he says, squeezing my shoulder reassuringly.
I give him a big hug. “I love you. It feels good to have you on my side.”
Inga clears her throat, so I let go of Damian, go up the stairs, and then take the phone into the house.
I’m mentally gearing up for a battle with Garrett when I answer. “This is Keatyn.”
Oh, thank goodness. It’s just Tommy. “Hey, Tommy,” I say cheerfully. “What’s up?”
"I just got off the phone with Garrett.”