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Authors: Leighton Riley

Tags: #Romance


BOOK: Catalyst
11.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Copyright © 2015 Leighton Riley

First Edition.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior express permission of the author except as provided by USA Copyright Law. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.

This book is a work of fiction and does not represent any individual, living or dead. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

Book cover designed by Murphy Rae

Paperback and E-book formatted by Cassy Roop of
Pink Ink Designs

Published in the United States of America.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13






street from Liam’s home—or former home, I should say—I still feel numb. The rough, cracked concrete from the curb is hot under my shorts. Everything I know has been ripped away from me. I’m stuck in my head for fear that if I let it out, I’ll crumble into a thousand tiny pieces with no one there to pick them up. I have never felt so utterly alone. I am numb, yet fragile. At any moment, I could see myself turning to dust.

Watching movers pack away his things and throw them into the truck is so impersonal. Tossing the boxes into a truck with no thought as to what they are handling. I wish I had the strength to be the one who packed it all away, but I couldn’t. It was hard enough to pack up my things. I moved my stuff out of the home two weeks ago, but the majority of everything in that home was his.

He was my other half. My soul mate. One morning, we were completely in love and talking about starting a family, and then by nightfall, I had found my boyfriend barely alive in the storage room of the bar I owned. I rode with him as he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, praying he would pull through even though the look on the paramedics’ faces told me otherwise. After what seemed like forever in the waiting room, doctors gave me the news he didn’t make it. The police questioned me extensively, and later that night, I came home to his empty house. From that day on, I have been on autopilot.

We lived together for the past three years, but legally, I was just a guest thrown aside. Liam’s dad, Rick Rhodes, saw putting the house on the market as just checking another thing off the to-do list for when your son is murdered. It had taken just a week to get the home on the market, and in the nice neighborhood the home was in, it received multiple offers and sold in the first ten days. Rick sent an email letting me know to get my stuff off the property or it would be tossed out.

Such an asshole.

In the three years Liam and I were together, I had met his dad twice. Once for a high society gala and the other by coincidence at the grocery store. He didn’t bother seeing his son when he got into an ATV accident last year and broke his arm. Birthdays, promotions, family get-togethers—they weren’t important to Rick. Liam had learned early on not to let it bother him … but me? I wanted to tell him to fuck off every chance I got. His son was the light of my life and deserved to have a loving family, not just loving friends.


I shield my eyes with my hand as I see the prick walk out of the house, the house that I used to live in with his son, patting the workers on the back and handing them their money. His fake, Botox smile sends shivers down my spine. Something is off about that man. He sees me and shakes his head. My stomach drops as he starts to walk across the street. My heart beats out of my chest, and I wonder what he’s going to say to me.

“Don’t you have better things to do, Tinsley?” He looks down at me when he’s within two feet of me. At the moment, I wouldn’t mind if a car drove by and ran him over.

“Why does it concern you what I do with my day, Mr. Rhodes?” My hands fidget as I wait for the next blow. His eyes are a dark brown, almost black. His hairline is receding and the once dark locks are turning gray.

“Move on. He’s not coming back, and I really don’t want to have to explain to the new owner why there’s some country bumpkin watching their home like a creeper. Will you please go home and deal with your loss in private?” He exaggerates the last word as if he can’t stand the sight of me.

Country bumpkin? Really? My loss? It was his son too …

Liam and I met at an entrepreneur’s convention. At the time, I already owned three high-end bars in the city. His son was one of my main distributors, providing a locally made vodka, and we were the perfect pair. Just because I wear shorts and a tank top when it’s a thousand motherfucking degrees outside doesn’t mean I’m a country bumpkin. Whatever.

“I’ll be leaving soon. Can I go inside one last time?” I ask with hope. Everything that made it our home was now gone, but it was the last place I saw him before … We had so many memories in that house.

“Fine. Five minutes, you hear?” He scoffs as if I’m intruding on his superior life. Fuck him.

I look up at him in disgust but know I have to take whatever he gives right now. I need to go in. One last time. Tears cascade down my cheeks as I nod and get up from the ground. Brushing the tiny rocks and debris from my shorts, I mouth ‘thank you’ and start walking toward the house. I hear him call me pitiful when he thinks I’m out of earshot, but I don’t let it bother me. He doesn’t know the slightest thing about my relationship with Liam, or anything about me for that matter.

Taking a few deep breaths, I grasp onto the bricks surrounding the front door. I’m empty, having cried so many tears over the past few months. I miss him so damn much. If taking his place had been an option, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I touch the doorknob and twist gently, my lips quivering. Liam was normally home before I was, and as soon as I would open the door, I’d hear him calling my name before giving me a welcome home kiss. I always laughed at how cheesy and domestic he was, but now? Now, I can hear him in my head, but I know it’s not real.

Nothing is real anymore.

The home in front of me is no longer a home, but a reminder of what could have been. We wanted our 2.5 kids and the dog named Spot. We lived life like there would always be another sunrise, never realizing how wrong we could be. Liam was the planner of the two of us, and now that he’s gone, I might as well be too.

Looking into the wavy glass of the front door, I can see the house is empty. Instead of a home, our home, it’s two by fours and sheetrock. The love and happiness that once filled the space have evaporated and left the remnants of what could have been.

I take a step into the home, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it empty. I look to the left where we used to watch movies on Sundays and open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. Smiling at the memories, I hate knowing that’s all I have left. I haven’t smiled in an over month.

I try to do mundane things, like going to the grocery store, but people are always in a good mood—smiling as if nothing is wrong and all is right in the world.

I hate those people. They don’t understand why I can’t smile back. I used to be one of the happiest girls, and now, I’m a shell of the Tinsley they once knew.

The problem is they have no clue. And when they ask what’s wrong, I break down and cry. They try to relate and tell me their stories about losing a loved one, but it doesn’t help. They’ve had their time to grieve and eventually get to acceptance. Don’t I have the same right?

Cream-colored walls surround me as I walk through the house one last time. I let my fingers trail along the walls, feeling the little bits of texture under my fingertips. I’m seeing the house like never before. In the past, I didn’t really look at the rooms where we spent our time. The dirty baseboards make my nose scrunch up. The draperies in each room, though, are mesmerizing. Liam knew an interior decorator and had her use a deep aqua color with intricate beading and patterns that somehow worked with the rest of the home. It’s so quiet now, eerily so.

Having no one to talk to, thoughts fill my head as if I’m some crazy person. Maybe I’ll turn into one of those cat ladies who never marries or has children. My future seems so uncertain, so unfair. I’m damaged goods.

Fuck, I’m depressing even myself.

Our bedroom is empty. I lie on the floor where our bed used to be. I take a few, heavy breaths before breaking down. Tears fall freely and I let the vise cinching around my heart loosen just a bit so that I can truly feel the pain. My hands rest on my chest over my heart, and I bawl for a few minutes, thinking about what could have been.

“It’s not fair. He was good for me. I was good for him, dammit!” I scream to no one and everyone. “He was mine! We were supposed to live our happily ever after.” I think about whoever did this to him, the man who took away his life, and the man who was still out there, free as can be.

BOOK: Catalyst
11.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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