We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Between Commitment and Betrayal: Chapter 34


ONE NIGHT IN THE GARDEN, lost in the maze of flowers and foliage, under the moonlight, he’d fucked me like he used to.

Rough, in control, on instinct that was too powerful to tiptoe around. But then he’d stared at me with pain in his eyes as waves crashed on the shoreline and the symphony of violins serenaded the night air. It was a devastating soundtrack to play in the background of his words.

“I don’t love you, Drop.”

Five words. That was all it took for me to really feel heartbreak. Deeper than I’d ever felt it before. And when I asked if he could, he shook his head and told me he couldn’t.

How could I continue a night that’s supposed to be beautiful after that? Do could I go back inside and dance as if my heart wasn’t shattered? I whispered that I wanted to go home. And he didn’t fight me at all. He had his car pulled around to a back entrance since it was free of media, and I waited in the lobby hoping no one would see me sneaking out.

The car ride was silent. A painful silence that crushed my soul with unanswered questions and what-ifs, how-could-yous, and is-this-its.

The gate creaked open as we approached our fortress, and I stared at his ridiculously big house where I thought I could somehow make it all work.

“I need to know if you’re—” I choked back a sob that surprised us both. His head whipped over as my hand went to my mouth, and I tried to hold back my pain. I shook my head jerkily and wished I would just stop there but my heart couldn’t let it go. “I need to know if you’re going to try to keep your shares.”

“Everly …” He said it with so much pain that I knew I couldn’t handle the answer. “This is for us. I can’t make this something it’s not. I care about you too much. I thought I could, but you deserve—”

“Don’t.” I stopped him, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to contain my emotions. This was my breaking point. “I’ve handled a lot in my life. But I can’t handle it if you say it’s for me. Don’t you dare.” This was betrayal. This was heartbreak.

This was our end. And I guess he was letting me have it, because he let the car idle in silence, not giving me a damn word of explanation more.

“If that’s the case, Mr. Hardy, I’d like to give my two weeks’ notice.”

“What?” he barked out, his eyes widening. Then he hit the steering wheel when he realized I wasn’t kidding. “No. You can’t quit. Where are you going to go? Back to that fucking town that treated you like shit?”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to stay here,” I retorted back at him and then growled when I felt tears running down my face. Why did I have to cry now? “I can’t stand it here, and without you? I’d rather take my chances back home.”

“You’re not leaving,” he said like it was final. “What Anastasia and I do…you have to know, Everly, that has nothing to do with me and you.”

“It has everything to do with us!” I screamed. “Do you want to watch me have a child with your brother? Should I call Dom?”

“You better fucking not,” he said in a low voice.

“Even if I did, he would never.” I cut my hand through the air to emphasize my point. “He would never ever do that to you. You’re his brother. And that’s what you don’t get. I’m alone here. I’m alone everywhere except when I’m with my mother. I have no one else, but I thought I had you. I thought this stupid commitment we made was real, that we’d get through it and wouldn’t hurt each other. But I was wrong. So devastatingly wrong.” I ripped the car door open and rushed into the guesthouse. When he opened his car door, I yelled, “Don’t you dare follow me.”

For once, he listened. For once, I was in charge. Maybe he gave me that knowing he was crushing my heart, breaking me before he left me. Or maybe he gave me that because he was letting me go. Either way, I knew I wouldn’t fall apart in front of him.

Or any of them.

I wouldn’t let them know they broke me more than I’d been broken before. I was as strong as I allowed myself to be. So, I promised myself I’d get it together in a day or two. I promised myself the emotion I was feeling was only because we’d made a commitment to one another to get through this stupid marriage together. I stared down at his ring on my finger and fisted my hand tight. I’d give myself another day of wearing that too before I took it off.

I fell asleep, tears streaming down my cheeks, broken from his commitment. And then from his betrayal.

THE NEXT MORNING, he texted about breakfast.

Declan: Come eat with me.

Me: No. Please leave me alone.

Declan: I’ll bring you coffee.

His car idled in front of the guesthouse, and I wondered if I could tell him I was sick. Instead, I texted him that Clara was coming to get me. She wasn’t, but that wasn’t the point.

I couldn’t be around him. He had to understand that.

Declan: I’ll wait until she gets here.

Looking up at the ceiling, I let out the exasperated sigh I had been holding in, tears springing to my eyes again. Couldn’t he just stop? Didn’t he get my heart was destroyed?

Declan: Would you like coffee before she comes?

No, I didn’t want coffee. I’d have to see his ridiculously beautiful face. And the sad thing was I wanted to. I wanted to crumble into him and beat on his chest and tell him he’d hurt me and then wait for him to grovel and make it up to me. Yet my heart was scared he wouldn’t, that I’d have to watch my stepsister have the life I dreamed of with him instead.

The babies. The family. The life with the man I loved.

And how was I supposed to leave that man when I still lived next to him, when he was still waiting on me, still driving me to work, still bringing me coffee?

Me: I made some myself.

Declan: Don’t lie. Come get it.

Me: Declan, it’ll hurt to see you, and I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Declan: It hurts me too, but I’ll be damned if I let that get in the way of having you in my life. We’re still friends, Everly. You still have me.

I’d never been his friend. Maybe Declan didn’t understand that about me. I’d never had any of them as friends.

Except Clara. So I did the only thing I could do in that moment that would stop all this. I texted her for a ride. And she immediately texted back.

Clara: Oh, I’m happy to hear from you. I was concerned after we didn’t see you the rest of the night. I can come now if you’d like. I’m going to the bakery early to get some new recipes going.

Me: Can you bring Anastasia over with you if she’s available? I’m convinced both her and Melinda have blocked my number, but Declan would like to talk to her.

Clara: Sure? Why would Anastasia need to come to talk to Declan? Why doesn’t he call her? Tell me what’s going on first.

Me: Just bring her.

Then, I took my time picking out yoga pants he hadn’t bought me and pulling them on. I pulled my hair back into a tight bun so I didn’t have to think about the way his fingers would thread through it. I put on clear lip gloss and ate some breakfast without him.

I stomped outside as Clara pulled up with Anastasia because we were going to end this charade right now. “I’m not driving with you to work.”

Declan’s green eyes narrowed on me like lasers focusing their power. “What are you doing?”

“Anastasia, Declan and I are divorcing. He’d love for you to drive with him to work so he can discuss further details with you.”

“Everly!” he growled as Anastasia squealed and skipped over to his car, but I was already turning around to walk away.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode