I sat on my Harley and waited for Bethy to walk out of the clubhouse. Woods had been texting me Bethy’s work schedule every two weeks, and I made sure she made it home from work safely every night. It wasn’t stalking her, exactly. It was just the only way I could remain sane.
Watching over her was all I had. If I got too close, she flipped. The last time I’d tried to talk to her, she'd started screaming. I hadn’t been able to calm her down. I was watching her lose herself slowly. And it was tearing me up.
So I followed her to work everyday, and I followed her home every night. Once she was safely in her apartment, I often sat parked across the road and watched her window until it went dark. She never looked at me, even though I wasn’t hiding the fact I was following her. There was no use in hiding it from her.
The last words she’d actually spoken to me -not screamed at me, because there'd been a lot of that- had been eighteen months ago on the beach when we'd lost Jace. My cousin, my best friend, and the love of Bethy’s life. He’d drowned saving her life when she'd wandered into the ocean drunk and got caught in a riptide. Losing him had taken a part of my soul. He’d been the little brother I never had. He’d been the good Newark heir. He’d been everything I should have been but wasn’t.
And we had loved the same girl. Although he never knew it.
Watching her pull away from life more and more each day was so damn hard. Jace wouldn’t have wanted this. He would have hated it. He loved her more than he loved himself. Seeing her like this would break his heart.
Bethy swung her long dark hair over her shoulder as she stepped out of the clubhouse. The shorts she wore had once been tight and cupped her perfect round bottom. But just like she'd lost the will to live, she’d also lost weight. Too much.
The need to hold her and help her heal was so fucking strong. But she didn’t want me. I hadn’t realized how badly she hated me until I’d returned to Rosemary Beach a little more than two years ago. I'd run like hell eight years ago from a life threatening to suffocate me. My father wanted something for me that I didn’t want, and I hadn’t been able to see my way out.
I had been eighteen years old and scared, because in three short months, one sixteen-year-old girl had become my sole concern in life. Bethy had stolen my heart the summer I met her at Rush's party. When I'd been ready to throw away the life I'd been planning for the past year in order to be with her, my father had reminded me of just how much control he had over me.
I wouldn’t have been able to keep Bethy if I'd stayed. That wasn’t the life he’d let me have. So I'd run, hoping that when I came back in two years, when she was old enough, I could take her with me. But first, I'd needed to escape.
I watched as Bethy opened the door to her old beat-up Ford Taurus and climbed inside. The stiff way she held herself and the way she kept her focus turned away from me told me she knew I was here. She expected me to be there.
Once she would have broken into the biggest, most beautiful smile in the world and run into my arms. But that was the past. I had broken that. I had broken her, and I hadn’t even known.