Hold Me (Love The Way #2) - W. Winters Page 0,1

a sledgehammer. Afterward Damon had to repeat everything they’d said. He was the one who told me about the mugging. About her murder. About what happened to Quincy.

I’ll never forget our conversation after she told me to give her space on that street corner.

“I want to be with you.” Quincy’s blue eyes shone with tears, but she didn’t let them fall. She stood her ground on the concrete and looked up at me with her arms folded over her chest. “I want more.”

My response was short and immediate. “That’s not where I am.” The words seemed inadequate, and they were.

“But someday—”

“It’s not going to happen.” I thought she’d appreciate honesty. After all, it wasn’t her fault. I didn’t want more and I didn’t know if I ever would. But her eyes fluttered shut for a brief second, the pain setting in, and when she opened her eyes they were cold.

“I’m going for a walk.” The iron chair grated against the sidewalk, the streetlights outside the bar providing nearly all the illumination in the late night. I’ll never forget how they cast shadows down her face. She would be in tears within minutes. I knew it and I hated myself for it.

“I’ll walk you. You don’t have to say anything to me.”

She held up a hand. “I need space, Zander. If you don’t want to be close to me, then I need space. Don’t follow me. If you don’t want all of me, then I don’t want any of you.”

I didn’t follow her. I had another beer, the cool summer breeze and the guilt keeping me there, wondering if she’d turn around. She didn’t. After forty minutes, I left, figuring she’d gone home and hoping I’d find her there. The thing I dreaded as I walked was the thought of her packing up her things. Even knowing I couldn’t give her everything she wanted, I didn’t want to lose her.

I waited for her to show. We’d fight about it, I thought. We’d argue, and she’d make her case, and I’d make mine. I didn’t love her like she did me. I didn’t want a fairy-tale wedding and children. I wanted what we had and I would be happy to stay there, like we were, for as long as she wanted.

Three hours into the darkest part of the night, I started calling her and then two more hours slipped by. The digital clock of the cable box barely moved as time crept by and I was met with voicemail after voicemail. Every place was closed by 3:00 a.m. There was no reason for her to be out that late. She never answered. Then I called her friends, her mother. I called anywhere and everywhere I could think. Damon and I went out to look for her and came up with nothing. We came up with nothing because by the time we were looking for her, Quincy was already dead.

A car honks loudly behind me. Through blurry vision I move my gaze from the rearview that features a line of cars behind me, to the green light above me. Easing on the gas, I bring myself back to the present.

Back to Ella. To them trying to take her away from me. And keeping me from her.


The fact they took her doesn’t change the way I feel for her or what either of us wants. It doesn’t change a damn thing, except my standing with The Firm. And perhaps The Firm will take a hit to its reputation … but that pales in comparison to what Ella and I stand to lose.

Part of the reason I let Quincy walk away from me that night was because I was too much of a coward to have the real conversation. The one that would end with her moving out, deleting my number from her phone and never speaking to me again. I was trying to honor her wishes for space, but in truth I was acting like a fucking coward because that conversation had been long overdue.

I can’t honor anything for Ella, because I don’t know what she wants now that they all know.

I don’t know if she’s imagining I’ve abandoned her, or that I slept with her and never looked back. I don’t know a damn thing and that’s also un-fucking-acceptable.

What kind of man would I be if I went back to the motel and left it at that? If I let men who aren’t part of our relationship decide it was over because of