Once upon a time, a girl loved a boy and he loved her back. They lived happily ever after.
But our story was never that simple.
I loved Josh with all I had, right until the day he left. Now, all these years later, he was back—and wanting me the way I’d always longed for him. Except now, I belonged to someone else. Someone who never left me the way Josh had. I figured that was the end of our story. I couldn’t alter the past.
I didn’t want to rewrite my future.
Brianna was always more than my best friend. She was the shining light in my black hole of an existence, and I loved her with every cell and bone in my body. I wasn’t good enough for her, though—more the villain than the hero in our fairy tale. When I had to leave, I vowed to come back a better man—for her. But when I finally did return, she wasn’t waiting for me anymore. She had someone new, her very own Prince Charming. Did that mean our story was over? I couldn’t change our past.
It was time to rewrite our ending.
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“This place is amazing, Josh.”
My chest swelled with pride as Brianna’s widened eyes darted around the shop. Maybe it wasn’t really my place, but Uncle Billy trusted me enough to run it on my own. I hired the employees, handled the books, and met with customers. He depended on me instead of waiting for me to fuck up. The local troublemaker came back and made good, but that wasn’t such an easy sell for everyone. Good thing I didn’t give a shit about everyone. The only opinion that ever mattered stood in front of me, beaming with pride.
My mouth split in a wide grin. “Thanks. It’s getting there. Hoping things pick up a little after the holidays. No one wants a new bike when there’s an inch of ice on the ground.” I laughed until Brianna’s face fell.
“Can I ask you something?” She slid into the chair in my office as her lips pursed.
“Of course.” I leaned my hip against the edge of my desk and crossed my arms. “What’s up, Cupcake?”
“Did . . . did you really have a new client in Manhattan last week, when you drove me to work?”
I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Why would you ask that?”
“Scott and I—” She shook her head and waved her hand. “It’s nothing. Don’t mind me.”
“No.” I nudged her ankle with my foot. “Let me guess. Scott isn’t too happy about me hanging around so much.” I raised an eyebrow.
Brianna reluctantly nodded. “It’s a guy thing, I guess.” She chuckled to herself. “They get territorial if someone else tries to play with their toys.” She laughed until she realized what she said and then covered her mouth with her eyes huge. She was so fucking cute I couldn’t stand it. “I didn’t mean play, I meant . . .” She dropped her head into her hands, and I couldn’t hold in a laugh anymore.
“C’mon, Bri. I’m dying to know.” I peeled her fingers away from her face and crouched in front of her. “What did you mean? Scott thinks I want to play with you? Don’t tell him about the GI Joe and Barbie castle we made when we were kids. He’ll flip the fuck out.” Her cheeks flushed as she nudged my shoulder.
I caught her hand and held it in both of mine. As our gazes locked, laughter stopped. There was no way in hell what I was feeling was only one-sided. I doubted it ever was.
We didn’t talk about it, but I remembered every moment of that night at my apartment. Brianna rushing over to take care of me, the tortured look on her face when I asked her to get into bed with me. It wasn’t my finest hour, but I needed her. My soul cried out for her that night and she came, like she always did. She may have ignored my wimpy confession, but when she said she loved me, I knew she didn’t mean as only her best friend.
“Josh,” Brianna pleaded on a whisper. “Don’t, please.”
“Don’t please what, Bri?” Feeling brazen, I tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and cupped her cheek. I ran my thumb along the delicate curve of her jaw. Her eyes fluttered, urging me on. “Don’t touch you?” I let my finger drift over her full bottom lip. “Don’t kiss you?” I whispered with a husky rasp. Our faces were so close, our lips brushed. Brianna’s mouth parted, and I uttered a curse under my breath. We were so damn close. All we had to do was close that distance. Her hand drifted up my shoulder and clutched the back of my neck.
“Josh,” Brianna sighed as she rested her forehead against mine. “We . . . We can’t.” Her hand drifted down my jaw. Her hooded eyes and flushed cheeks disagreed with the words sputtering from her mouth. I caught her hand and pressed a soft kiss to her palm. It trembled as she took in a quick gasp.
“Yes, we can, Bri,” I whispered as I leaned in. “You’re so damn beautiful.” Shit, I almost tasted her. She stilled as I cupped her neck and inched closer.
Stephanie Rose grew up loving words and making up stories. Being able to share them with readers is her dream come true. This lifelong Bronx girl loves Starbucks, wine and 80s rock. Her voice often gets mistaken for a Mob Wives trailer.
She married her prom date and has a seven-year-old LEGO obsessed son. She believes there is nothing sexier than a good guy who loves with all his heart, and has made it her mission to bring as many as she can to the page.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StephsRoseGarden/
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