Braelynn and Peyton are finally headed down a path without torment—until he allows someone else to come between them.
With the remnants of her broken heart scattered, Braelynn begins to piece herself back together, piece by ragged piece.
Peyton has dark secrets of his own. Secrets that leave him no choice but to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved.
But his desire for Braelynn has him fighting between what he wants, and what he needs to do to keep her safe.
Love can only withstand so much. The connection between Braelynn and Peyton has been tested before—could this be their breaking point?
Prologue– Peyton Present
I had lost her. And not like before. Not like when she pushed me away and I’d refused to leave. This time, I had lost all of her. Her heart. Her adoration. It was all gone. The love she’d had for me vanished. Her eyes changed when she looked at me; the brilliance in them faded. I had betrayed her in the worst possible way. Braelynn was the only woman I’d ever loved. She was the one who changed my entire life. All I’d ever wanted to do was protect her, and I had spent months trying to do just that. I wanted to keep her away from my past—away from secrets that could hurt her and destroy us. But instead, I’d stomped on our relationship, dragging her heart through the mud in the process. Her pain and her heartache were entirely my fault. She might never forgive me for what I did. The day he showed up at my office changed everything. I shouldn’t have let him blackmail me but I was caught off guard, and the only thing I’d wanted to do was shelter Braelynn from harm’s way. I watched as she sat on the couch, her loose tendrils covering the tears that dripped from her eyes. The cut on her lip had swollen in the past thirty minutes. Her eye was bruising, turning shades of blue and purple with each passing second. The sling that the paramedics had placed over her body was supporting her right arm. She held her head low while talking to the authorities. Her hands were coated with his dried blood. She glanced in my direction and her eyes told me everything. With that one look, I knew I had lost her. Forever. *** Melissa tapped on my glass office wall. Looking up, I noticed her point to the elevator and give me the thumbs up. I need to give my secretary a raise for putting up with the unstable man she works for, I thought to myself. It had been a little over a month since I last saw Braelynn. She had ignored every one of my calls and she wouldn’t speak to me. Any time I tried to see her she avoided me, and the few short times I did bump into her, she wouldn’t even look at me. Her green eyes had always been the conduits to her emotions. Without being able to look deeply into them, I had no inkling how she felt. She’d given me no choice but to lie to get her here. She would be pissed but at least she had come. There was one thing Braelynn never did half-assed, and that was her job. She took pride in what people thought of her in the workplace. So I had Melissa reach out to her and explain that there was an old case she had worked on while at PH Esquire, and the client would only speak to Braelynn. She took the bait. She looked beautiful in a tight gray skirt and orange blouse. I tried to hide the grin that I knew was spreading across my cheeks. Her heels had slammed against the marble floors before stopping at Melissa’s desk. I assumed she’d want to talk to this previous client and leave as quickly as possible. When Melissa began to explain that there was no client, her face whipped in my direction and her nose crinkled with anger. She tossed her bag on Melissa’s desk and marched towards me. I loved this fiery vixen that couldn’t hold her tongue and braced myself for her anger. “I have a job across town!” she shouted, stomping into my office. “I have cases I need to review. I have a schedule I need to maintain. What do you want?” “You!” I stood, resting my hands on my desk. It was a simple answer. She was what I wanted. What I needed to get back. “I did not get stuck in rush hour traffic to hear this.” She marched over to my desk and mimicked my pose on the opposite side. “Do not summon me with some bullshit excuse again. I am not your dog, Peyton. I do not come when you call!” She stood and twirled back towards the door. “You do not walk away from me!” I knew how to push her buttons. If she walked out of my office now, it would take me months to get her back. She looked back, and her eyes pierced through me with hatred. “We are over. I don’t know how many more ways I have to paint it for you, Peyton,” her finger pointing between our bodies, “but I can’t do this anymore. You lied to me for months. I cried myself to sleep so many times. And for what? Because you were a coward!” I walked around my desk, meeting her in the middle of the office. “We. Are. Not. Over. That will never be true. We’re never going to be over because I won’t allow it. Get that through your head. I won’t ever get over you, so us being over is irrelevant.” I lifted my hand to touch her cheek, but she pulled away. “We’ve done this song and dance before.” Her voice cracked with the pain I’d caused her. “I can’t go back to living that way.” “How many times do you want me to apologize?” I reached for her forearm and she didn’t stop me.” Come back to me, Braelynn. Forgive me.” “Please stop . . . ” She looked at my hands on her skin. I knew she felt the electric current running through us because where our fingers connected, I felt the same current. “I love you.” It was all I could say. “Stop. I’m tired of your mind games. I cried for so long, thinking of everything I could have possibly done wrong. And it was you, not me.” She yanked her arm away. “I’m not a toy that sits on your shelf to play with when you’re bored and horny. I am not the girl who will run back to you because you said you were sorry and that you love me. You want me to forgive you, earn me! Until then, there is no us.” She paraded out of my office. If she wanted me to earn her, I would. Braelynn belonged with me.