A #BitterSweetHeat standalone.
Delilah Sage was my comfort within all the pain.
Offering open arms when I needed an escape.
The only one trusted to be there for me.
But our dreams were doomed from the start.
And I left her clinging to false hope.
Regret has plagued me for years.
The memories of Delilah refuse to fade.
Each second of every day, I want to claim her as mine.
But I won"t ruin her life.
And she"s better off without me.
When a job lands me in town, I plan to keep my distance.
My scars are mine alone.
Dredging up the past will only cause deeper damage.
But Delilah has always been my weakness.
And resisting her isn"t an option.
After all, there"s far too much for us to miss.Books in Series:BitterSweetHeat Series by Harloe RaeBooks by Author:Harloe Rae Books
I STORM OUT of my father"s house for the final time, ignoring the burn blazing up my side. I"m more than ready to get gone and wrench open the truck door. As I toss my duffle across the seat, soft steps sound behind me. I know it"s her without turning around. My heart beats wildly, even faster than when he was threatening my life a few moments ago.
Will she understand" Here"s hoping.
I turn slowly and my breath falters at the sight of her gorgeous face painted with worry. My beautiful girl looks scared and I"d do anything to wipe the concern away. But I can"t stay.
My feet shuffle toward her and piercing pain radiates from my ribcage. I do my best not to wince. He got me good tonight, but never again.
"Where are you going"" she whispers.
"Away. At least for a while."
A quiet sob hiccups from her throat. "W-why" I don"t want you to leave."
I cup her jaw and tilt her face up. My eyes devour her porcelain perfect features. "The last thing I wanna do is be without you, Trip. But staying in that house, with him, is ruining me. I don"t wanna go but if I stay, there won"t be much of me left. He won"t stop until he"s destroyed me."
"Take me with you," she pleads. "I can"t make it without you, Zee."
My shoulders sag under the pressure of her green stare. I hate disappointing her. "You gotta finish school, Trip. And you"re so strong. I"m holding you back, feeding off your goodness. You"ll do better without me, at least how I am now."
Her bright gaze is fierce and pins me in place. "You take that back. If I"m strong, it"s only because of you. Having you here with me is the greatest gift."
I stroke her velvet skin, letting her kindness sink into my soul. I let the memories of simpler times rush in, easing the agony slightly. Our younger selves were full of so much happiness.
"Remember the day we met"" I ask into the darkness.
She nuzzles deeper into my touch. "How could I forget" I still sleep in that ridiculous shirt."
"And you stumbled in the grass rushing over to me. My little Trip." She laughs, and a hint of a smile tilts her lips. "That"s right. Think of the good."
"I know what you"re doing," she murmurs.
"Is it working""
Moisture coats her lashes as she blinks rapidly. "No".
"Should I try harder""
"Does that involve you sticking around""
I don"t respond. Words can"t express the war waging in my heart.
Trip sighs. "Okay. I"ll be strong. For you."
"For you too. Don"t let them win. Keep your head up," I demand. A loud bang shatters the calm around us. I glance at house before focusing on her. "He"ll be looking for me soon. I gotta go now."
My fingers twist a few locks of her blonde hair, committing the silky texture to memory. Her bottomless green eyes are shining with emotion, and nothing I say will stop her tears.
"No. Please, stay," she cries and clutches onto me tight. I suck in sharply when her fingers dig into the fresh bruises on my torso.
"Trip, baby. I can"t. He"s gonna kill me if I don"t get to him first." I brush away the tracks streaming down her cheeks. Her tears slam into me harder than his fists ever have. With regret pooling in my gut, I lay out the truth. "I can"t survive there another minute. But know if I could, I"d do it only because of you."
She stays silent because she knows it"s true. Living next door, she hears the constant fighting. When Trip clings to me harder, my teeth grind to force the ache away.
"Where will you go""
"I have distant family spread all around. No one stays in contact with my dad, but they"ll take me in."
"Are you going far"" Her lip wobbles, and my thumb presses against it.
I shrug, helplessness soaking into my bones. "I"m not sure. We"ll see when I get there."
"Will you call me" Tell me where you are""
"Of course. You"re all I"ll think about. You know that, right" I"ve always loved you."
She sniffles and wraps tighter around me. "I love you so much, Zee. It hurts knowing you won"t be here tomorrow."
"But it"s only temporary. We"ll be together again soon."
"O-okay," Delilah stammers.
I clear the tightness from my throat and whisper, "Knock, knock."
Her head moves against mine. "I"m not in the mood, Zee."
I"m desperate to dry her tears. "Please humor me""
Her body quakes with a shuddering exhale. "Who"s there""
"Butch and Jimmy."
"Butch and Jimmy who""
I nuzzle into her neck. "Butch your arms around me and Jimmy a kiss."
Delilah laughs, but it"s forced. She snuggles closer and I grip her harder. Silence envelopes us, but my mind is screaming, and time has run out. I can"t leave her with nothing but a faded shirt and cheesy jokes. I fiddle with the chain looped around my neck. As always, my mother"s ring hangs from the center. I pull it off and place it over her head.