Never Over You - Ryleigh Andrews


April 2011

“I’ve got you, suga,” Ethan soothed as he sat her down on the bench in front of the bed. He knelt in front of her, his eyes kind and full of love, his demeanor calm while her mind focused on what her father’s assistant, Vivienne, had just said on the phone. Her papa had collapsed, unconscious, and was now in the hospital. He had to be all right. He just had to. “I need you to tell me where we need to go and I’ll take care of it. I promise. I’ll get you to your father as fast as I can, but I need you to help me out a little, okay? Can you do that for me?” he said, kissing one cheek then the other.

With a wooden nod, Mia just barely got the info out to Ethan and then second by second began to shut down. He took her phone from her and stood. She locked her eyes on him as he started making calls. The first to Allie. From what made it to her ears, it took a bit of cash, but Ethan secured a private jet to Michigan. Allie was taking care of their car arrangements to the airfield and onward.

Ethan quickly got their bags packed and put them by the door, then took her by the hand and led her to the closet.

“Suga, I need you to get dressed, okay?”

Glancing up at him, Mia noticed that he was now dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. Without letting go of Ethan’s hand, she walked over to her long skirts, not even paying attention to what she grabbed. She robotically took out a T-shirt and a cardigan, then headed to get some underwear and a bra.

She sat down at the bench and stared at the bookcase of pictures she had, her eyes focused on the small frame up high, slightly hidden from view. But she knew exactly where and what it was—a picture of her and her father from when she was younger—before her mother left. They were happy then … and her whole life had been spent unsuccessfully trying to regain that happiness.

“Let me help you, Mia,” Ethan murmured as he slipped her panties up her legs. “Stand up for me,” he said, his voice full of patience. She did as he asked and he pulled the silky fabric the rest of the way up, then he did the same thing with her skirt.

“Allie said the limo should be here in about fifteen minutes. I need you to finish getting your clothes on.”

She nodded blankly at him. Glancing around, she took inventory of what else she needed to put on and did so—clumsily, she realized when Ethan adjusted her sweater. She was so thankful to have this man by her side, taking charge and making sure she was all right. His strength and that support. He didn’t care what it took, he would get her to her father no matter the cost or trouble. And for that, she was grateful … and loved him even more, if that was even possible.

A few minutes later, he returned. “Limo is here. Where’s your purse?”

“My office,” she answered quietly. With a swift nod, Ethan took her hand and led her down the stairs to her office where she’d thrown it.

Once in the limo, Mia stared out at the passing scenery, letting her mind empty, though the hand linked with Ethan kept her anchored to the present. Once they were in the air and told they could take off their seatbelts, Ethan turned on the TV across from them, found a movie, and then released her from her seatbelt. Mia hadn’t said a word since they’d boarded the plane and was happy that she could let the movie have her focus. Ethan gently guided her head to his lap. She sought comfort in those strong thighs of his. He’d been so patient with her, taking care of everything to get them on their way to her father. He brushed his hand over her hair as her head rested in his lap. The sense of urgency to see her father plus the fear of losing him without fixing their relationship overwhelmed her.

Her papa could not die.

She kept repeating that to herself. No matter what had happened between them, she didn’t want her father to die. She’d missed him for twenty-four years. That was enough.

She missed playing in their big backyard, running around and laughing. She missed when he sat by her