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Authors: Natalie Ward

Stubborn Love

BOOK: Stubborn Love
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Stubborn Love

by

Natalie
Ward

 
 
 

Published by
Natalie Ward

ISBN-13:
978-0-9874159-1-2

 

This book is
also available in print at selected online retailers.

 

Copyright 2013
Natalie Ward

 

All rights
reserved. This book may not be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any
printed or electronic form without permission from the author. Please do not
participate in or encourage the piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of
the author’s rights. All characters and storylines are the property of the author
and your support and respect for this is appreciated.

 

The characters
and events portrayed in this book are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to
real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Cover photo
Copyright Veer.com.

Cover created
by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations.

 

For more
information please come and visit me at
http://www.natalieward.com.au

 
 
 

Note from the author

This is a companion novel to I Love You to
Death and features overlapping characters, events and timelines.

Reading I Love You to Death first is highly
recommended.

 
 
 
 

Stubborn:
(
adj
)
having or showing determination not to change one’s
attitude or position on something, despite very good reasons to do so
.

Love:
(noun) an intense feeling of
affection and/or sexual attraction for someone.

 
 

Jared
&
Mia
’s Playlist

 

Opposite – Biffy
Clyro

Let Her Go – Passenger

Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

All I Want –
Kodaline

The Scientist – Coldplay

Just Give Me A Reason – Pink,
featuring Nate
Ruess

The Reason –
Hoobstank

Brother – Matt Corby

Sorry For It All – Dead Sara

Never Let Me Go – Florence & the
Machine

One & Only – Adele

 

Last night 6:35pm – Mia

 

“Shit…”

Jared and I smack into
each other. Hard.

He’s coming out of the
bathroom just as I’m walking in. Neither of us sees one another and we literally
smash together, our faces practically bouncing off each other’s before we both
fall backwards. If I wasn’t wearing my boots, I’d probably have missed his face
and hit his chest. If I’d been two inches to the left though, my lips might
have hit his lips in a hard kiss, instead of colliding with his cheek.

My body shudders at the
thought.

“Fuck, are you okay?” he
asks, his hands gripping my shoulders to stop me from falling.

No. I’m not okay. I’m
pretty far from okay, actually.

Because right at this very
moment, I find myself backed up against the bathroom wall. Jared’s hands, which
were just on my shoulders, have now slid down my arms as though he’s about to
pull me into his. Which would be fairly pointless really, because we are
already as close as we can get. His body, his deliciously hard, warm body,
which I have missed so badly, is now pressed right up against mine. With the
wall at my back and Jared against my front, I am literally stuck between a rock
and a hard place. And my heart, which is of course, right against his, is
pounding in my chest, my breathing coming hard and fast.

So no, I’m pretty much the
opposite of okay right now.

“Ah, yeah, sorry about
that,” I finally get out, taking a deep breath as I try to calm myself down.

Big mistake. Not only do I
have his body pressed up against mine, I now have his scent, his amazing scent,
surrounding me, filling me, flowing all the way through me. My legs practically
give way beneath me and I feel Jared’s fingers tighten, as though holding me up,
stopping me from falling.

“Mia,” he says, bending
down a little to look me in the eye. “You sure you’re okay?”

I nod at him, not really
trusting my voice right now. One of Jared’s hands lets go of my arm and brushes
the hair back from my face, tucking it behind my ear and I swear I’m going to
pass out in a second. God, I haven’t been this close to him in what feels like
forever. I haven’t had him touch me like this, hold me like this, have his body
pressed against mine like this, in so very long, and I miss it. Badly.

His finger tilts my chin,
so I’m forced to look at him and all of a sudden, I can barely breathe. I feel
his thumb brush gently across the spot on my cheek where it hit his, as his
beautiful blue eyes stare into mine. And all at once, everything around us
disappears.

Because all at once, I’m
hit full force, right in the chest, with an overwhelming urge to just lean in
and kiss him. As I pull my bottom lip between my teeth to stop myself, I see
Jared’s eyes darken, feel the soft gasp he lets out, his breath warm against my
skin. His fingers around my arm tighten, his hand that is cupping my cheek
presses ever so slightly harder. And that’s when I lose what little control I
thought I had left. I feel myself leaning in to put my lips against his and do
exactly what I’ve just pictured, what I’ve been
wanting
to do for a year now.

My eyes stay open, staring
into his as I gradually move closer. Everything is moving in slow motion, my
breathing now non-existent, my heart long stopped beating inside my chest. It’s
only his beautiful blue eyes looking back at me, which fill my vision, pulling
me closer. Just as we are less than an inch away from touching, an inch away
from kissing for the first time in forever, Jared suddenly lets go.

“Fuck,” he breathes out,
his hands releasing me as he takes a step backwards, his body immediately
leaving mine so I’m left feeling empty and aching.

“Fuck.”

Then he pushes past me,
his shoulder brushing mine as he walks out of the bathroom without saying
another word, without even acknowledging what just happened or was about to.

No longer held up by his
hands, his body, or his eyes, I slump back against the wall, slowly sliding all
the way down till my butt hits the floor.

Shit.

Five years ago – Jared

 

“Jared,” Mom says to me as
she walks into the living room. “Mia’s here.”

I look up and my eyes are
immediately drawn to the woman standing beside her.
There is
no mistaking her as being anything other than Luke’s sister
,
they look incredibly alike
. She isn’t as tall as him, but
she certainly isn’t short either. Long brown hair and blue eyes, but it’s the
way she’s standing there, half defensive, half about to bolt, that really
reminds me of him. He’s looked like that practically the entire time I’ve known
him and after seeing what their dickhead father did to him four days ago, I can
kinda
understand why. I
can’t imagine that life has been a party for either of them, growing up under
the same roof as that
fuckhead
.

She smiles at me and
hoists her bag higher onto her shoulder. Without thinking, I stand up, walk
over and take it from her, slinging it over my shoulder. I want to say
something to her, anything, but it’s Mia who speaks first.

“Is Luke okay?” she asks,
and I can hear a tiny hint of fear in her voice.

I look right at her, stare
into eyes that are so blue, they are the colour of the deepest ocean. I can’t seem
to find the words to answer her. I know I need to open my mouth and speak, but
for some reason, I just can’t seem to do it.

“Physically he’ll be
okay,” Mom says, stepping closer and putting her arm around Mia’s shoulder as
she says all the things I should be saying. I watch as Mia flinches a little
before she turns to look at her, not moving from the half embrace of Mom’s arm.
“It will take some time, but physically, he’ll be fine. It’s the other damage,
the things we can’t see, that I’m more worried about. That’s why I’m glad
you’re here.”

“Of course,” Mia answers,
her eyes shining from tears she is desperately trying to blink away. “I’ve been
trying to contact him for days. I usually talk to him every day and when he
didn’t answer, I…I was so worried.” I watch as she swipes angrily at a tear,
which has escaped and run down her cheek, before turning to face me. “Thank you
for calling, Jared, for telling me what was going on.”

I swallow, still unable to
speak to her, as I nod my head. My heart is racing in my chest for some reason.

“Maybe you should take Mia
to see him, Jared,” Mom says, breaking whatever it is that’s preventing me from
talking to Mia right now. I didn’t seem to have any problem speaking to her on
the phone, and I don’t understand why the
fuck
I can’t
just open my mouth and speak to her right now.

I
nod,
tilting my head and indicating Mia should follow me as we head out into the
entry and up the stairs to the second floor of my parents’ house. Mia falls
into step beside me and the second I’m no longer looking at her, I start to
find the words I should’ve been saying before, feel my racing heart slow down
inside my chest.

“He’s pretty out of it,” I
say as she walks beside me. “He’s been sleeping since we got here earlier
today. Mom thinks it’ll take a couple of days for him to really wake up. She’s
a doctor, in case you were wondering,” I continue, seemingly unable to stop my
stupid rambling now that I’ve finally found my voice.

Mia keeps following me up the
stairs, saying nothing. As we pass one of the rooms that used to belong to my
older brother Simon, I drop her bag at the door, before continuing down the
hall towards the room Luke is staying in. “Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t
wake up or know you’re here, okay? And you probably need to prepare yourself
for the fact that he doesn’t look so hot right now.” I know I’m overloading her
with information when all she wants to do is see her brother, but I can’t seem
to stop. I wonder if I should tell her exactly what his injuries are or just
gloss over them. “His face is pretty swollen and bruised, and he’s got some
stitches in his cheek. They don’t think there will be any permanent damage, but
when you see him, it won’t look so good, okay?” Glossing over his injuries
seems like the better option right now.

We stop outside the door
of Luke’s room and I turn to face her again. Mia hasn’t said a word the whole
time we’ve walked up here and right now she looks fucking terrified. Maybe I
shouldn’t have opened my big mouth after all. I’m glad I didn’t elaborate about
the fractured eye socket, the close call on being permanently blind in one eye,
and the burst blood vessel. Fuck.

“Mia?”

She looks up at me with
nothing but sadness and terror written all over her face. She looks so fucking
scared and vulnerable that I immediately feel like a dick for even saying what
I did.

“Sorry, shit, I…look, he’s
gonna
be okay, Mia, it’s…”

Suddenly I am engulfed as
Mia throws herself at me, her arms wrapping themselves around my neck. As she
buries her face in my shoulder, I feel something strange happening to me. At
the same time, I realise Mia is crying. Her whole body is shaking against mine,
her wet tears falling onto my neck. Without thinking, I wrap my arms around her
shoulders, pulling her tightly against me, even though it only intensifies the
strange feeling that’s happening inside my chest now.

I can feel her body
shaking, almost violently, in my arms and I hold her tighter, trying to make it
all stop. I don’t know what to say anymore, what I could possibly say to even
try and make her feel better. I know everything I’ve just said has probably
caused this reaction anyway.

“Thank you, Jared,” she
eventually chokes out. “Thank you.”

I hear myself make
soothing noises as I bury my face in her hair and wonder what she’s thanking me
for. She smells like vanilla, which combined with the feel of her body against
mine, now leaves me feeling really strange, confused about what is going on
here.

“Thank you,” she says
again.

I need to say something,
anything. “He’s going to be okay Mia, it’s going to be alright,” I finally
whisper in her ear, even though I have no idea if it will be.

I don’t know how long we
stand here for, but eventually Mia pulls back, her hands angrily wiping away
her tears, as though she’s pissed off she’s even crying in the first place. I
watch my own hands reaching out to cup her cheek, tilting it so she’s forced to
look at me. When her blue eyes meet mine, hers shining from tears she’s now
stubbornly trying not to cry, something really fucking weird happens.

All at once, the only
thing I can make sense of is that she is crying and obviously upset, but at the
same time, that she just looks
so
incredibly beautiful. I actually feel my stomach flip or something. I didn’t
even know that could happen. And then my heart, for some strange reason, now
decides to stop beating inside my chest and I wonder how it is that I’m even
still standing. I want to say something, anything, to make her feel better, but
I can’t seem to talk again, my mouth has gone completely dry. As I lick my lips
in a desperate attempt to get them to work, I see Mia’s eyes widen, her pupils
dilate until those deep blue ocean eyes, become pools of blackness.

Now my heart starts
fucking racing, as a million different scenarios play out in my head, all of
them involving those lips and her mouth.

I feel Mia swallow, her
shallow breathing suddenly hitches, as I realise I am holding her face in my hands.
We stare at each other for what feels like forever and I know I need to say
something, anything, to stop myself from all the other possibilities, the other
thoughts, which are stupidly running through my mind and which I know could so
very easily happen.

Jesus Christ, I want to
lean in and kiss her.

I force a deep breath into
my lungs. “Do you want me to come in there with you?” I finally manage to get
out, desperate to get myself under control.

“Ah…no, no, I’ll…I’ll be
okay, thank you,” Mia says, her voice cracking.

I nod again, dropping my
hands now before I do something really stupid. “I’ll be downstairs okay? If you
need me.” I don’t know what the fuck I am saying or what the fuck is happening
here, but I need to get away from her before I do something completely
inappropriate, especially given the reasons Mia is here in the first place.

“Thank you,” she answers,
before taking a deep breath, turning and walking into the room.

As the door closes in my
face, I stand glued to the floor just staring at it. I have no idea what just
happened and for some reason I feel unable to move, unable to go back
downstairs. Maybe I’m waiting to make sure Mia really is okay in there,
especially when she sees what her own father has done to her brother. Maybe I
want to see if Luke will wake up when he hears his sister speak to him. Or
maybe, just maybe, I’m hoping Mia will need me to comfort her again and I will
have an excuse to wrap my arms around her and hold her body against mine.

“Or maybe, you’re just a
fucking idiot,” I say out loud to myself, shaking my head as I finally turn and
head downstairs when it becomes apparent Mia doesn’t need any of those things
at all.

 

It’s over two hours before
Mia comes back down. She finds me in the living room, watching TV and trying to
pretend like I’m not worried about her upstairs when she sees what’s happened
to Luke’s face.

“Hey,” she says quietly as
she takes a seat next to me on the couch.

“Hey yourself,” I say
back, trying to lighten the mood.

Mia smiles a little. “What
are you watching?”

I turn to face her.
“Nothing much,” I say, which is true. I’ve been channel surfing the whole time,
unable to focus on anything. “How’d it go up there, did he wake up?” I’m
pointing at the ceiling with the remote, as if to indicate I’m talking about
her brother, like she wouldn’t know otherwise. I am such an idiot.

“No, he was sleeping. He
didn’t wake up at all,” she says, her head dropping to stare at her hands in
her lap.

“Are you alright?” I ask,
reaching out to gently touch her arm.

Mia turns to look at me
and her long hair hangs down over her shoulder, hiding her face. She looks so
very sad and so very beautiful, all at the same time.

“I can’t believe he did
that to him,” she whispers and the tears start to fall again. She turns back to
her hands, hiding her face behind her hair now.

“Mia,” I say, moving
closer and pulling her into my arms. Her body is sideways to mine, her shoulder
resting against my chest. Her legs are crossed and half resting on one of mine.
It’s awkward as hell, this position we’re in, but I don’t move.

I want to tell her that
it’s going to be
alright
, but I don’t know if it is. I
don’t know what Luke plans to do about his dad, whether we’ll even see him
again. And I have no real idea what Mia thinks about any of this. Basically, I
have no fucking clue if it’s going to be
alright
at
all.
But none of that matters at the moment, as Mia cries in
my arms.
My hand rests against her other shoulder, holding her to me as
I listen to her quiet sobs. She’s buried her face in her hands now and her
sadness is palpable. I wrap my other arm around her, trying desperately to
comfort her, but having no clue what to say.

When she finally pulls
away from me, I release my hands, silently begging her to look at me, but she
keeps her eyes forward, looking anywhere but at me. Her face is still hidden
behind her hair and I have no idea what she’s thinking, only that I want to
move her hair away and try to find out.

Suddenly, Mia laughs. “Are
you kidding me, you have this game?”

I turn to where she is
pointing. Smiling I look back at her, reaching out and tucking her hair behind
her ear so I can see her face like I wanted to. “Yeah of course, why wouldn’t
I?”

I watch as Mia shakes her
head, laughing at the same time. “Unbelievable, just never would have expected
it, that’s all. You
wanna
play?”

I raise an eyebrow at her.
“You’re challenging me? To
Guitar Hero
?”

“Yeah, why the hell not?”
she asks, as though it should be obvious that’s what she’s doing.

“Ah, you do realise, Mia,
I actually play the guitar?” I answer, watching as she runs her hands over her
cheeks, wiping away her tears.

Mia just laughs again as
she jumps up and grabs the controllers before turning to look at me. “Whatever,
you making excuses already?”

It’s amazing how quickly
she has just gone from sad to happy. It’s like she’s flipped a switch and
whatever was happening before, whatever she was feeling, is gone. I don’t think
it’s real, I think it’s a distraction from what she’s seen upstairs and what
she doesn’t seem to want to talk about now. But if it’s what she wants, then
I’ll do it.

Smiling, I grab the guitar
she hands me, and watch as she looks through the games we have, before choosing
something and loading it up.

“You
wanna
start on easy?” I say to her.

Mia actually snorts in
response, and I laugh. “Only if you want your ass kicked even more,” she says
smiling back at me.

“Is that a challenge?” I
can’t help but throw back at her.
I’m loving
that
she’s smiling right now, even if I know it’s just a mask she’s hiding behind.

This time it’s Mia who
raises the eyebrow at me. “You up for it, pretty boy?”

I laugh
for real this time
,
I just can’t help it
. The
change in her is so fast and while it might not be real, I
kinda
don’t really care either. As long as I can keep
her smiling, I’ll play along with whatever it is she wants me to. “Pretty boy,
you think I’m a pretty boy?”

“Well, you did just
suggest the easy level, so I mean, I had to assume.”

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