Rushing In (Bailey Brothers #4) - Claire Kingsley
This prologue also appears as the epilogue at the end of Unraveling Him: Bailey Brothers Book 3.
“Skylar, we need to talk.”
It wasn’t just that phrase—naturally so loaded with meaning—that made my stomach twist into a knot of dread. It was Cullen’s tone. Flat. Emotionless.
“Sounds serious,” I said, trying to keep the mood light in case I was overreacting. Maybe we needed to talk about where to make dinner reservations, or a similarly innocuous subject.
Cullen stood in the kitchen of our apartment, all California-boy handsome with his ice-blue eyes, tan skin, and natural highlights in his thick, dark blond hair. Trade his button-down and slacks for a pair of board shorts and a muscle shirt, and he would have fit right in on a beach somewhere.
Which got me thinking… a California surfer boy discovers a body while he’s on a deserted beach at sunrise—
“Skylar,” Cullen snapped. “See? You’re not even listening to me.”
“I’m sorry, I just had an idea. What did you say?”
His words hit me like the jab of a needle straight into my chest, the shock of them rendering me briefly speechless. I stared at him while he took his phone out of his pocket and the corner of his mouth twitched in the hint of a smile.
“What did you say?”
He pocketed his phone, his eyes flicking up to meet mine. That almost-smile on his lips melted into pinched annoyance. “You’re going to make me repeat myself again? Let me guess, you were brainstorming more book ideas that you’re never going to write.”
Ouch. Talk about hitting below the belt. “No. I just don’t understand what you’re saying right now.”
“Why are you making this hard?”
“How am I making this hard? You throw the words it’s over at me, completely out of nowhere, and I’m supposed to just carry on with my day?”
“Well, no, obviously not.”
“Then what do you think I’m going to say? Of course I’m going to ask you what you mean.”
“Fine,” he said, like my asking for clarification was the most annoying request ever. “I’m not happy. I haven’t been for a long time. So this is it. I’m done.”
“Since when are you not happy?”
“I just said I haven’t been for a long time.”
I stared at him, bewildered. Cullen wasn’t what you’d call a happy person—never had been. He was serious and stoic. Focused and responsible. Happy wasn’t his vibe. But the idea that he’d been unhappy with me was such a foreign concept, I didn’t know how to make sense of it.
There had been no warning. None at all. I’d thought he was fine.
I thought we were fine.
That wasn’t even the half of it. I thought we might be forever.
The buzz of the refrigerator suddenly roared in my ears, like a thousand mosquitos flying around my head. I tried to hold still—tried not to twitch. He’d tell me I was being dramatic and unreasonable. Calm down, Skylar, the fridge isn’t loud.
The vibration crawled up my spine. I couldn’t stand still anymore. Not right here. Stopping myself from sticking my fingers in my ears, I wandered into the living room.
“This is just… really sudden,” I said.
“That’s not my fault.”
“Excuse me?” I whirled on him. “You’re breaking up with me and it’s not your fault?”
He let out a heavy sigh. “No, it’s not my fault that this is taking you by surprise. You should have seen this coming.”
“How could I have seen this coming? We had sex last night. You didn’t seem unhappy when you had your dick in me.”
“Jesus, Skylar, don’t be vulgar.”
“Why didn’t you ever say anything? Why didn’t you tell me you weren’t happy?”
“It’s not like you’ve been fully invested in this relationship. You moved out for months.”
“I moved in with my mom so I could take care of her after her surgery. What does that have to do with anything?”
“You said it would be a few weeks, and months later, you were still living there.”
I gaped at him. “I moved back. And she’s my mom, Cullen. She needed my help.”
He shrugged, like her relationship to me wasn’t a factor. “We grew apart a long time ago. You’re just too busy living in fantasyland to realize it.”
I swallowed hard. Was he right? I was distracted a lot. Had I been so lost in my own head that I’d missed the signs? Had I neglected him so much that he’d fallen out of love with me?
He pulled out his phone again and typed something.
“What are you doing?”
He finished, then slipped his phone back in his pocket. “Nothing.”