Series: Running on Empty #2
Author: M.R. Field
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 28, 2015
I’ve spent my younger years acting, safe in a world of make-believe. I learnt to transform into roles to hold onto a sense of harmony in my life.
Years later, still in that moment, I am another face. Another mask. I am not me—the forgotten daughter, the quiet friend, the unrequited love.
Until the pretending becomes meaningless.
And my life hardens again.
I’m tired of acting for my friends when my parents ignore me. I’m tired of acting for myself when I want the world to stop being so hard. I’m tired of holding back from the only man I’ve ever loved.
Even though being drawn to him petrifies me above all else.
When I act to him, he sees right through me.
Each and every time.
She has haunted my dreams for years. The girl I teased to watch her blush. The girl I watched in quiet agony. The girl I had a chance with, one I ruined when I pushed her away.
Now, after all these years, she’s returning to work for me. A ruse to make her mine.
I will show her that she deserves to be cherished, and loved. I’ll bring back that goddess who took my breath away when I was twenty.
You only live once. Side by side, I only want this final lifetime spent with her.
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I sit on the cracked leather seats that I don’t want to replace. They represent how hard I’ve worked, and what I’ve done to get here. What I’ll keep on doing to get there. Pushing through my weight stations, my arms burn as each weight is pulled back and pushed forward. I won’t let this club fail. I continue to pull each weight as the sweat trails down my back and chest, pooling against my hot skin, my shirt sodden. Still the ache is not enough.
The exercises continue to burn through my body as I power through. There isn’t an area left that doesn’t ache. I pull myself up to my chin-up bar, lifting my body up, crossing my ankles together. You can still be friends. Maybe she’ll come around. Growling in frustration, I release the bar after my set and shake my hands and feet out. She is doing my head in.
I push myself until my exertion has me almost in a crippled mess. I push myself until there is nothing left and my mind can stop thinking about her. I push myself until all I can do is stare at the ceiling above me and wonder how the fuck I ever got in so deep with a girl who I only ever kissed. I close my eyes and mentally kick my own arse. You fell for her long before that. You were just too busy being a manwhore to realise it. I kick my arse for not jumping on a plane and following her. That would have made her believe in us.
I sit up and lift my shirt to my face to wipe the sticky sweat away from my brow and neck. My hair clings to the side of my face in an annoying reminder to get it cut. Something for them to hold onto—apparently except for the one you want. My shirt itches against my skin from the heat so I pull it up and over my head, reaching for my water bottle that is on the floor beside me. Taking a deep swig, I let the water cool my throat and I swish it around my mouth. I wipe my face again with my shirt and am about to take another drink when I hear a muffled, “Oomph” near the door.
I peer behind the fabric of my shirt to find a frazzled Hazel standing awkwardly by the door, gripping the wooden frame with her hands. Is she holding on? The very person who fucks with my head is in my house again. I’m about to greet her when her eyes begin to roam down my chest and linger. She shuffled on the spot as her teeth gnaw on her bottom lip and my chest tightens. Is she checking me out?
Why is she so quiet?
I watch in avid fascination as she snaps out of her stare and awkwardly clears her throat.
“Hey, Robbie … didn’t know you were her … here. ”
I smile as her tell-tale deep blush makes a special appearance. I lift my outer leg over the bench to turn and face her. Standing up, I make a point to wipe my shirt along my chest and smile when her eyes track each movement. So, she’s not so immune after all.
“What are you doing here, Farfalla?”
Her gaze flicks away from my chest as her shocked stare clashes with mine. “We’re we … we were just practising our root … um … routine.
“I get that, but what are you doing here, Farfalla?”
“You’ve called me that before.” She steps into the room, fumbling with her hands, and I feel a surge of pride as I wait for her to remember.
“When?” My tone demands.
“At the bonfire … you, ah … you stopped that guy from coming near me. Remember?” Her eyes gaze into mine, and in an instant I remember standing in front of a scared girl who I wanted to protect more than anyone else. A girl who once sang a song so painfully raw that I wanted to burst into the room and hold her. A girl who had captivated me for years and weaved herself into the tapestry of my skin.
“You have nothing to fear. You deserve to be cherished, Farfalla. No man I know is worthy of you.” She nodded, too stunned to speak as my hand lingered against her cheek.
I’d been right then, and I am still right now. No man is worthy of her.
But as I stare back at the most beautiful woman who makes me wild, and gaze into her emerald lustful gaze encased by the longest lashes I had ever seen, I realise that I can never give her up. She was born for me. It now makes me even more determined to win her over and make her mine.
It’s now or nothing.
I drop my sodden shirt on the floor and swagger over to her, watching her eyes widen as my steps draw me near. She moves slightly, causing her back to stand against the wall like a caged bird. No more flying away.
“Do you know what Farfalla means?”
She gulps and nods. Barely over a whisper, she says, “Butterfly.”
I step closer to her, mesmerised by how fucking gorgeous she is. The rise and fall of her chest heats my blood, and my tired, worn body feels rejuvenated with a charge of life. She looked the meaning up. She wanted to know me.
“It does mean butterfly. To me, you are soft, delicate and beautiful. Fragile and in need of protection.”
She sighs and shivers. Her eyes are hooded as she runs the tip of her tongue in the corner of her bottom lip. If that isn’t an invitation to go to her, then I don’t know what is. I lean forward, placing a hand on her cheek and gently touch her lips with mine. Her body instantly relaxes. I feel her beginning to respond—but I don’t take it further. I kiss her once more softly, savouring the taste of her lips. Leaning back, I run my thumb over her cheekbone as her wary eyes watch me. I brush a loose curl of her silken hair behind her ear as I memorise each feature of her wanton gaze. This moment can either make or break us, and I want to remember each feature, from her pouty lips, to the gentle freckles across her nose, and those deep green eyes, forever. This, if it all turned to shit, she can’t take from me.
“Hazel,” I whisper, as my hand lingers behind her ear, “I will wait for you.”
I release my hand and step away from her, turning towards the door. Each step causes a sharp pain in my chest. I exit the room and aim for the bathroom to shower and wash the heat from my skin.
I push open the bathroom door and look over my shoulder to find her standing there with her fingers against her lips, her brows squishing together. “You’re not ready now, Farfalla, but when you are, come and get me.”
I step into the room and close the door behind me, leaning my back against it. I tip my head against the wood and listen to the moment outside the door. Nothing. I clench my eyes shut for a moment and let the breath that I’m holding out, vibrating through my lips. All I can do is hope that I’ve read those signals right. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, why do I feel as if I’ve dangled my balls to sharks?
M R Field is an author from Rural Victoria and has completed a Bachelor’s degree with Honours from Latrobe University, Melbourne. After growing up with the river at her front door, she returned back to her hometown after many years of living in the city. She now lives a tranquil lifestyle with her husband and two young children.
M R Field has always held a love for writing, filling journals as a child which progressed to more eloquent pieces as an adult. After ten years of creative instruction, she decided to turn these ideas into manuscripts. She adores creating new story lines and is a big fan of a happily ever after, but believes strongly in making her characters work for it.
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