Today’s topic. You Were Always On My Mind. I always hear Willie in my head when I hear those words.
And I have the perfect story from which to pull a snippet.
“Green as in eco?” Blue was completely interested and found the idea fascinating. She could see that being a very lucrative business. Cabins like that could potentially bring in money from wealthy vacationers which would boost the local tourist economy. Of course, it was kind of going in the opposite direction of a bed and breakfast, which also would need to thrive on tourism. There was room a plenty for both kinds of accommodations.
She’d lived there all her life, as had Rosie. They knew drawing more people from outside could help the older businesses and more solidly establish the new ones. It would bring more attention to the mountains. Even though there would always be those who’d want to destroy the beauty with their money, there’d be others who’d want to preserve it, just as she did. “I wonder why no one has thought of that before. You’re talking for rentals?”
“And for buying,” Decker added, grabbing Rosie and holding her against the front his body. “We want to build a couple of cabins first and put them up for sale. Use a couple as demos and test cabins, but overall, we want to build to suit owners and if they want to rent them, so be it.”
Blue zeroed in on Cort. “So that really is why you left this morning? The only reason?” She didn’t try to hide her questions or ask it softly so no one else would hear.
And there it was, a guilty flush. He looked away but those dark blue eyes quickly met hers again quickly. There was heat there and vulnerability too.
He didn’t squirm or fidget or try to look away. He held her stare as he answered. “Yes.”
“It could have been handled better.”
“It could have,” he admitted. “But, in my defense, I did kiss you before I left. You just didn’t wake up.”
“You should have tried harder.” It seemed as though she were grasping for straws, but she needed him to know how she’d felt. He’d let her know how it had hurt him to be left. They didn’t handle it the same way. He did with openly hurt feelings and anger. She did it with pointed questions, and sarcasm. Life in their house wouldn’t be boring.
“I knew I’d see you again, so I let you sleep.”
“That’s exactly what I told her,” Rosie interjected. Blue shot her a look but all she received in return was a grin.
“A note, maybe?”
He let out a sigh through thinned lips as he clenched his jaw. “Look, I handled it wrong. I get that. So wrong it seems that I drove you to eat a whole pie. Next time I will shake you until you rattle, or roll you onto the floor to wake you before I leave. I was trying to be nice in letting you sleep since we were up half the night fucking.”
Blue snickered. Cort’s voice had gone from soft to loud, to louder, to almost yelling with each word. “For someone who doesn’t like to make a scene, you sure are making one.”
He looked stunned for a moment but quickly recovered. “Yes, I am.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair and glared at her without any real anger. “Are you going to tell me what you were thinking had happened and why you felt the need to eat pie or shall I take a guess?”
Blue shrugged. “I just felt like it.” She couldn’t help the defiant tone in her voice anymore than she could help the happiness she felt deep down inside at his appearance and his obvious irritation at her wayward thoughts. She knew that he knew what had crossed her mind. She didn’t have to admit it out loud.
“Right,” he said, not bothering to hide his skepticism. “And you can’t make pie?”
She shook her head. “Not like Rosie can.”
“Then I’ll definitely have to try some.” He studied her for a moment. “Let me see. You weren’t perhaps thinking that I left with no intention of coming back, were you?”
“Of course not.” There was no way she would tell him the truth. No. Way. Her shame at having left him followed her, but she wouldn’t let him know that she feared he would do the same to her. Especially after their time together throughout the weekend.
“Pretty little liar. That’s exactly what you thought.”
Blue shook her head but kept the eye contact.
He smiled. “Yes, you did.” But then he sobered. “Friday night, I might have. I might have taken you to bed and left as you did, pay you back with that same empty, panicked feeling in your chest that the best fucking thing to ever happen to you was gone, but you were drunk, and I couldn’t take advantage of you like that.”
Well, at least he didn’t make how he’d felt a subtle thing and the fact that he’d aimed her exact thoughts at her… “But at Rosie’s, you said we should fuck like rabbits to get it out of our systems.”
“Yes, I did. And we have fucked enough to make the rabbits proud, I think, but I wasn’t trying to get you out of my system, Blue. Shit, you’ve been with me every day for the last five years. I knew there was no way taking you to bed was going to do anything more than work you deeper inside me. I said that that night just because I was… Hell, pissed? I don’t know. Seeing you was the last thing I’d expected and the one thing I needed.”
She knew that feeling well. “So, where does that leave us?” Okay, so that question totally disregarded her resolve last night to live in the moment, but that was then and this was now, a few hours and one pie later. She sighed. “No, never mind. Don’t answer that.”
“It’s an unfair question. Spending one night together doesn’t make a relationship that has a future. It means one night of great sex and…God, Cort, I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this.”
“Do what? Have a relationship?”
“Yeah. Or this.” She waved her hand in the air between them. “I’ve never been good with the interpersonal stuff, with the emotional stuff. I don’t know how to handle it. I want it. I want it so desperately with you, but I don’t know how to do it. I’ve never really had a relationship. Lovers. Friends with benefits.” She slid her gaze over the diner, focusing on the pie case. “And if this feeling is what comes with being in a relationship with someone, then maybe I don’t want it as much as I think I do. I’ll be as big as a house, always running to Rosie for pie when there are problems.” She buried her face in her hands. Who knew she would be the one so emotionally torn up? Who knew she’d be the one scared to death of… Well, anyone who knew her would’ve known she’d be scared of being in love. “Love hurts too much.”
“It doesn’t have to.” Cort reached out and gently tugged her hand away from her face, not letting go, but curling his fingers around hers. “You just have to trust it, trust your partner, trust me. And believe me, if I can, you can.”
“Everyone I’ve ever loved has left me.”
“Dying is different than leaving you, baby. They didn’t want to leave, they simply had no choice.”
“You have a choice, though. What if you want to leave?” She hated asking that. She was now the one showing her vulnerability, her insecurity. She, who posed for pictures of her tattoos, who traveled the country, who was undertaking a large renovation project, was scared and insecure. She’d done so much stuff on her own that now she was afraid of losing the one thing she wanted to hold onto.
“I can’t imagine that, but the reality is, Blue, that neither one of us knows what will happen. You might find you don’t love me anymore.”
She started to deny it, but had to admit he was right. The rational part of her knew her parents, her aunt, hadn’t left because they’d wanted to, but her broken heart had never completely healed. She was strong, independent, full of life, went her own way, but she was still aching inside to feel that connection with someone, have someone to spend the days with, and now, the nights.
This book wasn’t well received by readers, but I sure loved writing it and love these characters…
I have errands to run now before the All-Star Race and you have other snippets to read…