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Authors: Sarra Cannon

Tags: #Christmas Love Story, #New Adult Romance, #Christmas Romance, #Small-town Romance, #NA contemporary romance, #College romance, #Womens Fiction

The Fear of Letting Go

BOOK: The Fear of Letting Go
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © by Sarra Cannon

 

ISBN: 978-1-62421-034-1

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

Cover designed by Sarah Hansen @
Okay Creations

 

Editing Services by Janet Bessey at Dragonfly Editing

http://dragonflyediting.blogspot.com/

 

Formatting by Dead River Books

http://www.deadriverbooks.com/

The Fear of Letting Go

By Sarra Cannon

 

For Casey
Whether by blood or by choice,
some people are a part of our families,
and our hearts, forever.
So glad my brother chose you.

Chapter One

Jenna

 

The music is loud tonight, just the way I like it.

“Can I get another beer down here?”

I slide my empty bottle across the counter toward Knox. He nods and pulls a cold one from the cooler beneath the bar.

“Keep 'em coming,” I say.

Next to me, my best friend, Leigh Anne, laughs. “You're like a bottomless pit,” she says. “How can you eat almost an entire pizza and still have room for a six-pack of beer?”

I shrug and grab a handful of peanuts from the bowl in front of me. “It's a gift,” I say. I don't mention that it's probably a product of being hungry most of my life, never entirely sure where my next meal might be coming from. When I was growing up, when someone put food in front of you, you ate as much of it as your stomach could fit.

It's a rare Saturday off work for me, and with school out for spring break, most of the college crowd is ready to party. It's good to see so many people out at Rob's tonight. Since Knox took over, helping his uncle and his cousin Jo get the business back on its feet, they've been growing into the best hangout in Fairhope.

“We should dance,” I say. I grab Leigh Anne's hand and drag her protesting ass onto the dusty dance floor.

“You know, I always took you as more of a rock and roll kind of girl,” she says, shouting over the music.

“Me? No way. I'm a country girl, through and through.” I take her hands in mine and twirl her around. Between school and my job at the restaurant, I've been working entirely too hard lately. I need a little bit of fun in my life, and dancing is just what the doctor ordered.

The small dance floor is crowded with sweaty bodies, and I pull her right into the middle of them. All I want to do right now is dance until I feel sweat trickle down the back of my neck. For just a little while, I'd like to forget about my ghosts, and let go.

An old George Strait song comes on, and I loop my arm in Leigh Anne's and pull her around. She finally gives in and smiles.

Half an hour later, we stroll back to the bar, our hearts racing and our eyes shining.

I down the rest of my beer, which isn't quite so cold anymore, and ask for another. “That wasn't so bad now, was it?”

Leigh Anne shakes her head and laughs. “Everything's fun when you're around.”

“Damned straight,” I say, knocking the bottle on the counter twice for emphasis. “I haven't had a weekend off in ages.”

“I haven't either. Not here in Fairhope, anyway.” Leigh Anne has been traveling up to Boston most weekends lately, getting ready for her upcoming testimony against a famous movie star who raped her a couple of years back, when she was in school there. “It's nice to be home for a change.”

I squeeze her hand. “How have things been going up there?”

She shrugs. “As good as can be expected,” she says. “Some of the media has died down for a while, but I know it's just going to start back up as soon as the trial begins in a couple of months.”

“Assholes,” I say. “They don't care about the people involved. They just want a good story, however they have to spin it.”

“It's only going to get worse,” she says. “I'm scared to death.”

“It's going to be fine,” I tell her. I know how difficult it was for her to stand up and tell the truth about what happened. “No matter what happens, in the end you can know you told your side of the story.”

“Yes, but I'd also like for Burke Redfield to spend the next ten years rotting in some jail cell instead of making multi-million dollar movies.”

“He will,” I say. “Five different women testifying about what he did to them? There's no way that bastard is walking free. I promise you.”

Only, I know I can't promise anything. With the money and influence a guy like Burke has behind him, there's no telling what will happen come May. She knows it, and I know it, and nothing I can say is going to take that fear away from her.

Which is why we both could use a little let-loose time in our lives.

“Either way, I'll be right there behind you every step of the way,” I say. “I just have to figure out where I'm going to stay while the trial is going on. I need something cheap and from what I'm learning so far on the internet, Boston doesn't really do cheap.”

She laughs. “That's true, but don't worry about it,” she says. “I told you Penny and Preston's family is already making arrangements for everyone.”

Preston. Dammit. Why does the sound of his name always send tingles down my spine? I can barely be in the same room with him these days without getting a hot flash. And Preston Wright is not the kind of guy I need to be getting all hot and bothered about. In fact, he's exactly the kind of guy I need to stay twenty feet away from at all times.

“I know, but it doesn't feel right to take charity from them.”

“It's not charity,” she says. “They want to help. Besides, it will be great to have everyone together in one place, away from the media circus. They're looking into renting a couple of neighboring houses in a nice gated community. No press access. If you stay in some hotel, we'll barely see each other.”

I nod and plant a big kiss on her forehead. “I'll do whatever you want, sweet-cheeks. Just say the word.”

“Don't go kissing my woman in public,” Knox says, sliding another beer toward me. He leans over the counter and pulls Leigh Anne into a whopper of a kiss. The kind that makes your knees go weak.

The kind I haven't had in entirely too long.

“I can't help it if she's in love with me,” I tease.

“I love you both,” Leigh Anne says, but her eyes are locked on Knox's.

God, I want what they have someday. How exactly does one find a love like theirs? I guess they say it happens when you least expect it, but I have never expected it. Not a single day in my whole life have I ever really believed someone like me could ever have something like that. Where I come from, true love is nothing more than a fairy tale. And fairy tales are dangerous.

I take another sip of my beer, letting the cold rush of it go straight to my head. My eyes roam across the crowd, and I'm feeling that itch again. I don't need true love. All I need is someone good enough to get me through the night.

Chapter Two

Preston

 

I suppress another yawn. Amici's is the most romantic restaurant in town—and the most expensive—but tonight I can barely keep my eyes open in the dim light of all these candles. The soft music in the background isn't helping.

And it's only eight-thirty.

It will be a miracle if I survive this date.

“Like I was saying, there's just something so incredibly magical about the sunset down there,” Iris says. “Have you been?”

I shake my head and take a quick sip of my water. I wish I could just pour the whole thing on my head, ice and all. “I'm sorry, where were you talking about again?”

Iris smiles. “Aruba,” she says. “I went with my family on vacation last summer, and I was just saying how much I enjoyed it. As long as you don't wander too far off from the resort, it's breathtaking down there. I was asking if you've even been?”

“Oh, no. I haven't been to Aruba,” I say. I look around for the waiter. Where the hell is he with our food, anyway? I feel like I've been sitting here for three hours.

“You really should go sometime,” she says, resting her chin on one delicate hand. She flutters her eyelashes at me, and I wonder if she's having a good time or if she's as bored as I am. “Do you have a favorite beach?”

“I like Fairhope's beaches,” I say. And it's true. I've been on dozens of family vacations over the years, visiting beaches from Montego Bay to Ibiza, but to me, there's nothing quite like home.

Iris apparently disagrees. She scrunches her nose and shakes her head. “Fairhope is nice, but I don't like the water on the Atlantic,” she says. “I'm talking about real luxury vacations where you stay in private suites with a personal concierge and a swimming pool all to yourself. Clear blue water as far as the eye can see. There's nothing like that here in Fairhope.”

She gazes at me, her eyes twinkling in the candlelight that flickers between us on the table. I know that look and something deep in the pit of my stomach turns sour.

“You know what would be a riot?” She pulls her arms up close to her body and raises her eyebrows in excitement, as if she truly just now had this amazing idea and hadn't been intentionally steering the conversation to this exact suggestion. “We should go for spring break. Just drop everything and head to Aruba for a week. Wouldn't that be amazing? Let's be spontaneous.”

For emphasis, she reaches across the table and strokes my hand.

“I bet we could have a lot of fun in Aruba, don't you think? Just the two of us?” she asks. Then, she casually adds, “Do you think you could borrow your dad's jet for a night or two?”

Just once, I would love to be surprised.

I sigh and pull my hand away. Normally, her proposal might be tempting. A beautiful beach with a gorgeous girl? That should be a no-brainer. But I am getting sick and tired of people always looking at me like I'm some money tree. Does this girl even like me as a person? She barely knows me. This is our first date and already she's planning week-long vacations to luxury resorts. With my father's jet, no less.

“That sounds amazing, but I can't leave town right now,” I say, leaning back in my chair. “My twin sister's baby is due soon, and I wouldn't miss that for the world.”

Iris swallows and sits up. “Oh, I thought Penny's baby wasn't due until next month,” she says, doing her best to hide her obvious disappointment. “I completely understand, though. Maybe this summer.”

“Maybe,” I say, knowing full well there will be no Aruba vacation with this girl. There will never even be a second date. I wish, for once, a date had actually wanted to get to know me as a person, rather than skipping right to the topic of how to spend my father's money. I try to change the subject. “You're majoring in Communications? That sounds interesting.”

“Interesting? I hate it,” she says. The waiter sets a plate of steaming lobster linguine in front of her and she pauses and thanks him. The lobster is the most expensive thing on the menu. “My dad pretty much told me that if I wanted him to pay my tuition while I was down here, I'd better get a respectable degree. Honestly, though, I have no intention of going to graduate school like he wants me to. I've been thinking about taking a few years off after graduation and maybe going to Europe for a while. That is, if I don't have a good reason to stick around Fairhope a little bit longer.”

Her eyes linger on me a beat too long, before she glances down at her pasta.

I study her for a second. She's beautiful. Long dark hair. Long eyelashes. A slamming body. She comes from a wealthy family over in Mobile, and I know my parents would approve of her in an instant. So what's my damn problem?

I twirl a fresh noodle on my fork, watching it spin in circles. That's all I've been doing for the past twenty-one years. Spinning in circles, living the same life day after day. And yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds coming from a guy like me. After all, I was born into the wealthiest family in the state of Georgia. I have access to a private yacht, a family jet, a huge estate with tennis courts and swimming pools. Everything I could ever want is right at my fingertips.

BOOK: The Fear of Letting Go
7.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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