Home > While It Lasts (Sea Breeze #3)

While It Lasts (Sea Breeze #3)
Author: Abbi Glines

Prologue

“Your Mom brought me the letter today.” The pain in my chest was so sharp I had to fight to keep from bending over and screaming. “I read every last word. Several times.”

The autumn wind caressed my face but wasn’t enough to dry my tears. The tears were endless. Never ceasing. Swallowing hard, I forced myself to continue. I needed him to hear me. “It isn’t fair you know… a letter isn’t the proper way to say goodbye. It sucks, Josh. It sucks so damn bad.” A sob tore from my chest. I pressed my fist against my heart. How much more pain could it take before it just exploded into a million pieces?

“You always told me we’d grow old together. We’d sit on our front porch swing, holding hands and watching our grandkids play in the yard. You promised me that,” I choked out as I pressed my thumb against the tiny diamond solitaire that he’d placed on my finger just six months ago.

“You broke your promise. You’ve never broken a promise before. This time you let me down and left me this letter. How do I move on from this, huh? Did you expect me to just read it and everything would be better? Did you expect me to cry a few tears then move on?” I would get no response. Nothing more than the letter weighing heavy in my back pocket. It was so tear-stained now that several of the words were hard to read. Didn’t matter though. I had it all memorized. Every. Last. Word.

“I started to write you a letter and bring it to you today. My chance at a few last words— but I couldn’t. I can’t scream and yell in a letter. Words on paper can’t hold the emotions churning inside me.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the worn letter that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

“Instead of writing you a letter I decided I’d respond to yours in person. It’s only fair. No… it isn’t fair,” I spat angrily, “because none of this is fair but this is all I get. This is all you allowed me to have.”

I opened the one page letter carefully. I didn’t want to tear it because the words written on it, were all I had left. I began to read aloud:

“My Eva Blue.” Fresh tears streamed down my face. Just reading the nickname Josh had given me when we were nine years old was painful. How could I read this entire letter aloud without crumbling to the ground?

“The fact I’m writing this letter pains me more than you could ever know. This isn’t something I ever want you to read but I know that you deserve a goodbye. You deserve so much more than that and God willing you will get the perfect life that we’ve spent hours together daydreaming about.” I stopped reading and lifted my eyes from the words on the paper.

“We made those plans, Josh. You and me. Those aren’t just my plans. They’re our plans, damn you! How could you just leave me? We had it all figured out. All those nights spent lying under the stars choosing the names of our children, the color of our bedroom, the flowers we’d plant in the pots on our front porch, the summer house we’d have on the beach, ALL OF THAT WAS US!”

Another tear rolled down my face and I quickly swiped it away with my hand before it could drop to the paper below. I had to finish this. As hard as reading this was, I had to finish it. This would never be closure. I’d never get closure. This would be the closest thing I’d ever get to a goodbye.

“I’ve loved you since the moment I looked into those pretty blue eyes of yours. Even at five years old, I knew there’d never be a girl that could take your place in my heart. No one would ever compare to you. It would always be you for me, Eva Brooks. Always. Please remember that, you were all that ever mattered to me. No one else ever touched my heart the way you did. My life was marked with every year I grew more and more in love with the wild, crazy, beautiful girl next- door. I lived in awe that this perfect angel wanted me, that this amazing woman would be my wife. The life we planned. The life we dreamed about was what kept me going as long as I did.” Sinking to the ground, I pulled my knees against my chest and sobbed as I forced my eyes to focus on the words I had to read. I had to. I had to.

“I pray to God you never have to read this letter. I want this to be a letter I pull out of my box one day for you to read when we are old and gray. We can smile and realize how much we have to be thankful for that this letter was never needed. But Eva, if you do receive this letter from my mom one day, then know: I loved you until my last breath. You were the only thing on my mind when I closed my eyes the last time. Our time together was more perfect than anyone’s life should be. The life I lived was heaven on Earth because I spent it with you.”

“Oh God, Josh, I can’t do this without you! I can’t do this without you. I love you so much. Please, please God,” I wept loudly. No one heard me. The graveyard was empty. The last few lines of the letter were the most impossible to accept. How could he even think that his words were possible?

“One day you will heal. Life will go on for you. Another guy will be lucky enough to find a place in your heart. When that happens, love him. Move on. Live that life of happiness that you deserve. Know that I loved you. Know that you made my life complete. But move on Eva. Love again. Live your life.”

Love,

Josh

Eighteen months later…

Chapter One

Cage

“Thanks for giving me a ride,” I said, reaching for my duffle bag holding my entire summer wardrobe.

“I did it for Low,” Marcus Hardy reminded me for the second time. My best friend was a chick— a smoking hot chick. Marcus, her fiancé, was an elitist ass at times but I dealt with him; had to if I wanted to keep Low in my life. All that mattered was that he understood that Low walked on f**king water. As long as he kept that in mind and treated her as such, I could live with the prick.

“I never questioned that,” I replied with a smirk, pulling the straps of my bag up on my shoulder. Turning my attention from Marcus, I looked at the large white and tan farmhouse in front of me. It was surrounded by miles and miles of green grass and a helluva lot of cows— my purgatory for the entire summer. Glancing back at Marcus I nodded and started to close the door. I knew he was ready to get back to Sea Breeze where Low was waiting on him. No one wanted to be stuck in this f**king cow town.

“Cage. Wait,” Marcus called out before I could completely close the truck door. Slowly, I opened it back up and arched an eyebrow in question. What else could Marcus want with me? He’d barely spoken to me on the hour ride up here.

“Don’t screw this up, okay. Stay sober. Don’t drive a car until you get your license back and try not to piss off your coach’s brother. Your future is riding on this summer and you’re upsetting Low. I don’t want her worried about you. Think about someone other than yourself for a change.” Well hell, I’d just got a parental lecture from Marcus f**king Hardy. Wasn’t that sweet?

“I know what happens if I screw things up, Marcus. Thanks for the reminder though.” I let the sarcasm drip from my voice.

Marcus frowned and started to say something more before just shaking his head and putting his truck in reverse. Conversation over. Good. The guy should learn to mind his own damn business.

I slammed the door and turned my attention back to the house while Marcus’s tires spun out of the gravel drive. Guess I’d better go meet my warden for the rest of the summer and get this party started. All I had to do was make this guy happy. I’d take care of his cows and do manual labor for two and a half months then my coach wouldn’t kick my ass off the baseball team. The DUI, he’d had to bail me out of jail for, would be forgotten and my baseball scholarship would remain intact. I only had three problems with this plan:

1. No girls.

2. I hated manual labor

3. No girls.

Other than that this wasn’t all that bad. I’d get Sundays off. I’d just have to get my fill of sexy little sorority girls in tiny bikinis on Sundays. I reached the front door of the house. The wrap around porch was pretty damn nice. I wasn’t into the farm thing but this place wasn’t half-bad. I bet the bedrooms were a nice size.

“You must be the fella Wilson hired for the summer.” A guy in a pair of faded jeans and some worn-looking badass boots started up the steps of the porch. He was smiling like he was really glad to see me. Must be the guy’s son. I’d be shoveling hay and cow shit all summer instead of him. Bet he liked me a lot.

“Yeah,” I replied, “Cage York. Coach Mack sent me.”

The guy grinned and nodded, sticking both his hands in his front pockets. All he needed was a damn piece of straw hanging out of his mouth to look like every stereotypical country boy.

“Ah, that’s right. I heard about you. DUI. Man, that sucks. ‘Specially since Wilson is a damn slave driver. My brother and I worked many a summer for him through high school. I swear you’ll never drink and drive again.”

Guess he wasn’t the old man’s kid after all. Nodding, I turned to knock on the door.

“Wilson ain’t back from the stockyard yet. He’ll be here in ‘bout an hour.”

The guy held out his hand, “I’m Jeremy Beasley by the way. I reckon we’ll see enough of each other over the summer seeing as I’m the next-door neighbor. And well, then there is Eva,” he stopped and his eyes shifted from me to the door. I started to ask him who Eva was when I followed his gaze to find the light at the end of the tunnel standing in the doorway.

Long brown hair that curled loosely was draped over one bare shoulder. The clearest blue eyes I’d ever seen, framed by thick long black eyelashes and red full lips, completed the perfect masterpiece of her face. My gaze slowly traveled south to take in smooth tanned skin that was barely covered by a bikini top and a pair of tiny shorts that hung on her narrow hips. Then legs. Legs for miles and miles until two small bare feet with red toenails finished the f**king ridiculously perfect package in front of me. Damn. Maybe I should have come out to the country more often. I didn’t realize they grew girls like this out here.

“Eva, you aren’t ready yet? I thought we were going to make the six-thirty show,” Jeremy said from behind me. Ah, hell no. Surely not. This goddess was with that guy? I brought my eyes back up to her face to find her blue eyes staring directly at me. They really were the bluest damn eyes I’d ever seen.

“Who are you?” The icy tone to her voice confused me.

“Down, girl. Play nice, Eva. This is the guy your daddy has helping him this summer.” Her eye flashed something that looked like disgust. Really? I’d seen that look in a girl’s eyes before but never before I’d used her then tossed her. Interesting.

“You’re the drunk,” she stated.

It wasn’t a question. So, I didn’t reply. Instead, I flashed her a smile that I knew affected any female’s panties and took a step toward her. “I got a lot of names, baby,” I finally responded.

Her eyebrows arched, straightened her stance and shot me the coldest glare I’d ever witnessed. What was this chick’s deal? “I’m sure you do. Let me guess STD, Loser, Jackass, and Drunk just to name a few,” she clipped, stepping out of the door and slamming it behind her. She swung her gaze to Jeremy who I could have sworn just chuckled.

“I can’t make the movie, Jer. I need you to ride over to Mrs. Mabel’s with me and help me get her well working again. It needs to be primed.”

“Again?”

“Yes, again. She really needs a new one.”

Eva walked past me, grabbed Jeremy’s arm and pulled him toward the stairs. Apparently, I had been dismissed.

“Has your dad called her boys yet? They need to get their asses down here and help their momma,” Jeremy said as they started walking away without a backward glance.

What the hell? Who just walks off and leaves a guy standing on their porch without a word? She was one insanely gorgeous but crazy assed bitch.

“Hey, do I just go inside?” I called out.

Eva stopped and spun around. The same disgusted expression was on her face as before. “The house? Uh, no,” she replied with a shake of her head like I was crazy. She lifted her hand and pointed toward the two story red barn that was located back behind the house. “Your room is in the back of the barn. It has a bed and a shower.”

Well, wasn’t that just f**king fantastic…?

Eva

I hated guys like Cage. Life was a joke to him. There was no doubt in my mind that females of all ages drooled at his feet. He was healthy, alive and throwing it all away like it was a game.

“Pull in the claws, sweetheart. You got your point across. He won’t come sniffing ‘round you again.” Jeremy reached over and squeezed my leg gently then turned on the radio.

“He’s a jerk,” I said through clenched teeth.

Jeremy let out a low laugh and shifted in his seat. I knew he was deciding on how to respond to me. The only other person who had known me as well or better than, Jeremy was Josh—his twin brother and my fiancé. We’d all grown up together. Jeremy had always been the odd one out but Josh and I had done our best to include him as much as possible.

When Josh had been killed by a bomb just north of Baghdad eighteen months ago, the only person I could stand to have near me had been Jeremy. Josh and Jeremy’s momma said it was because Jeremy was the only one I felt could understand my grief. In a way, we’d both lost our other half.

“And how’d you get that outta the brief conversation we just had with him? Seemed like a nice guy to me.” Jeremy was always optimistic. He always saw the best in people. It was up to me to keep people from taking advantage of his trusting spirit. Josh wasn’t here to do that anymore.

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