Authors: Caitie Quinn
I’d forced myself not to watch any more of the interviews or gigs. I stayed offline. I avoided the magazine racks at the bookstores. I did everything but delete his phone number from my phone—everything I could think of to get to the other side of this.
And then I walked back into my apartment and it was all here waiting for me.
I grabbed one of the boxes of ARCs on my desk and dumped them out to shove all his stuff in there, but then felt bad because it wasn’t his fault I felt bad. Which made me feel worse.
The girls had been texting me all day, trying to make plans for the upcoming weekend. I had a feeling they were afraid I’d become a slobbering mass of emotions while Connor was gone.
Of course, I had, but I wasn’t telling anyone that.
Part of me was glad he was traveling again. There was something about us not being in the same city that made it feel slightly easier.
I was fine. It had been a deal. We had paid the bet. Move along, nothing to see here.
That’s what I kept telling myself too.
So, I worked myself to fall-down tired and headed to bed, planning on diving back into the book I was nearly finished with from constant fear-driven work, and knowing it would suck me in to a world that was not this one.
The knock at my door was as much of a surprise as anything could be. I crawled out of bed, exhausted in too many ways to count. Wrapping my robe around me, I ignored the second pounding on the door wondering who in their right mind would need me in the middle of the night.
I pulled it open, expecting one of my neighbors, but instead found a tired, rumpled Connor standing there looking better than most men look rested and ready to go. He had an overnight bag slung over his shoulder and the same suit he’d worn last week on TV.
I stared at him, trying to rationalize just closing the door again and going back to bed where it was safe. I didn’t need to add
to that statement, did I? But, knowing that anything he said was going to hurt more than my daily recovery pain, I braced myself. I wasn’t ready for us to be just friends—even though that’s all we’d ever been.
My heart stopped and then triple timed at the sight of him. I took a deep breath, then another trying to get myself under control. Trying not to show him the thing he wanted to see the least…how in love with him I was.
“Hey,” he stepped in, dropping his bag and facing me on the threshold of my home. “Did I wake you up?”
Since it was almost two am and I didn’t know what I’d say. I just nodded, biting back the sarcasm. But, even with that, I was just too exhausted to deal with the emotions rushing over me at the sight of him.
“What do you want, Connor?” Even I could hear it in my voice. The whole
thing wasn’t going to hold up for very long. Or at all.
My tone, my words—I watched them hit him as if I’d slapped him in the face. I know, it wasn’t very friendly, but I wasn’t feeling friendly.
“Seriously, Hails?” He gave me a look of such disbelief that I didn’t know what I’d missed. I didn’t know why he was even here. Why he’d shown up now, why he had to be standing on my doorstep.
Every defensive wall I had went up around me. Emotional moats were dug, trebuchets armed.
“Connor, I’m tired, exhausted. I’ve been traveling. And, aren’t you supposed to be in Atlanta or something today?” I asked as if I hadn’t memorized the schedule I was avoiding watching. As if I couldn’t tell better than Dex at this point where you could see—or avoid seeing so your heart wasn’t further bruised—Connor Ryan.
“Right. I was in Atlanta.” He spoke each word carefully, measuring out where he was going with this. “But now I’m here.”
As if I could avoid noticing that. I wanted to hit him, raise my smaller fists to his thick, solid chest and beat on it. I wanted to beg him to leave and just let me be. I wanted to scream and cry and positively demand to know if he knew he was killing me little by little.
I wanted to wrap my arms around him and never let him go.
I sucked in a deep breath, blinking to make sure there were no tears in my eyes, before raising my gaze again to meet him head on and repeating my question, “So, what do you want?”
Red-flash heat crept up his neck and he looked angry and uncertain and annoyed and a million other things at once before he stepped in further and slammed the door, pacing away and coming back to hover over me.
“You want to know what I want? You don’t know or you want to hear it?” He pushed, verbally forcing me back a step. “I want to be us. I want to not worry about…” He stopped, running his hand through his hair and glancing away. “I want to know if I get traded, we’ll make it work. I want a little place like this, something with an office for you and a guest room because no matter how much money I make, my mother won’t let me pay for a hotel. And we’re keeping that chair because it’s comfortable and your ex is obviously an idiot. I want a dog. I don’t care if we have to get a dog nanny. That dog will know he’s our family. I want to come home to you every night I’m not on the road. I want to be the person who orders your meals and makes sure you eat more than sugar when you’re on deadlines. I want to celebrate launches and deals and bestsellers and buy you the booze when that Paige woman slams you. I want to hold you every night and I
want to have to wear eight layers of clothes to be in your bed. I want your friends to at least put up with me. I want you to never ask if Gavin is single again. I want our lives to become so mixed up that I don’t know where mine ends and yours begins. I want to be the guy who I was supposed to be while we were together.”
He sucked in a breath, his gaze slipping away as he ran out of steam before flashing back up to slam into mine, almost knocking me off my feet.
“What do you want?” he asked, looking more unsure than I thought he was capable.
I leaned back, feeling the ridges of the doorframe support me as my legs threatened to give out. I closed my eyes, shaking, shaking to my core and praying I wasn’t asleep or delusional or part of some weird plan. But when I opened them, he was there, still hovering looking anxious and worried and like he was going to spring forward if I continued to slip down the wall. And I realized that the only way to have what you want was to take that risk. To reach out and trust that those words, those perfect, perfect words were the truth of it all.
“You.” My hands were shaking so badly I was afraid to reach for him. Afraid I’d miss or fall or that he was an oasis in my emotional desert that would disappear if I reached out. “I just want you.”
And I knew, as the words slipped out, that it was true. I just wanted him and I was willing to risk it.
Connor laughed, an exhale of nerves as he swung out and caught me against him. “That’s what I said.”
His mouth came down on mine, sending a jolt through me and waking me from the hazy world I’d been walking around in since my slow fall into love with Connor Ryan.
There was nothing slow about my feelings now. I’d lost my breath either from the kiss knocking it out of me or the strong arms banded around me. But, I’d rather pass out than let go.
Connor kissed like he did everything, smooth and hot. My toes tingled as he pulled away, kissing my cheek, my eyes, my forehead before coming back to my lips and taking them again.
After long, drunk kisses convincing me I was right where I should be, Connor lifted his head from mine, kissing his way up my jaw to whisper in my ear. “I love you, but I’m never sleeping on that tiny couch again.”
I gave him a little grin and reached up to kiss him again. “If you insist.”
Thanks so much for reading
The Catching Kind.
I’ve been so happy at how Connor won the crowd over even before he won over Hailey. They were amazingly fun to write.
This story is a complete stands alone, but if you want to learn more about Abby, John, Sarah, and the Brew Ha Ha ridiculousness, check out The Last Single Girl, where Mr. Right may not be the one with the shiniest online profile.
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Caitie Quinn writes sweet and sassy rom coms because if you can’t laugh in love…when can you? Check out her non-story ramblings
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Table of Contents