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Hopeless: Chapter 40

Beau

Beau: Gary wants me to tell you he’s on your side.

Bailey: He fucking better be.

Beau: I’m on your side too.

Bailey: You fucking better be.


I knock on Bailey’s door.

She said she needed time, and I don’t blame her. I’d want a break from me too. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with myself—hating myself—and obsessing over how to make this right. Last night, I went back to the bar to help out. Came back just in time to watch her swim in the river by herself from the top of the bank like a total creep. Then went to bed, where I didn’t sleep a wink and laid awake despising myself instead.

I see a swish of her curtains. Movement. A sure sign that she’s in there and knows I’m standing out here like a sad puppy.

“I’m not done being mad at you,” is what she calls from inside.

My lips twitch. She sounds so … huffy. And I can take this. I can take her being mad at me. I can wait her out. I will happily wait her out.

“That’s fine. I just came to bring you breakfast and your tips from last night. And a little something else.”

I glance down at the tray in my hands. Coffee. Scrambled eggs. Strawberries. Cash. Envelope.

Her door swings open and my heart lurches in my chest. Her eyes are puffy, thick hair drawn back in a high ponytail.

“Why are you bringing me tips?”

“Because it was your shift.”

“I quit.”

“I worked it for you anyway.”

She sniffs and her nose wiggles as she glances away. “Didn’t know you could bartend.”

“I can’t, and Gary was really mean to me all night.”

Her dark eyes laser in on me and I can see her fighting her lips into a downward curve at that tidbit. “Good.”

“Here.” I hold the tray out to her and sigh with relief when she takes it and I see my ring still on her finger.

“What’s in the envelope? Why does it say #teambailey on it?”

I shrug. “Some people from town dropped by with cash to help with your new unemployment status. Gary wrote the hashtag.”

“People from town? Gave me cash?”

“It would seem you going off on them had an effect. You may have inspired some … remorse?”

She sniffs. “I don’t want their cash. Don’t need it.”

“Well, good luck returning it. There’s a lot in there. From multiple different people and businesses. I don’t think they know how to say sorry to you, and this is the best they could come up with.”

Her irises widen as she stares down at the tray, lips lightly parted like she’s ready to say something but can’t find the words. To be fair, I was surprised too.

“Fuck me,” is what she settles on.

“I know.” I agree with a light chuckle, which just earns me a sour glare.

“Stop agreeing with me. We’re still fighting.”

I hold my hands up in surrender and start backing away from her. “Sorry. My bad. It’s just that I am also hashtag team Bailey.”

She shakes her head at me. “You’re relentless, you know that?”

And I just give her a salute and a wink. Because yeah, I am.

No one has ever showed up for Bailey, but she’s about to get the full experience.

“No, sugar. When it comes to you, I’m downright hopeless.”


“What is this?”

I smile because Bailey doesn’t look as disheveled today. No, my girl looks stronger. Like she slept.

Her oversized crew neck is loose on her petite frame, long tan legs stretching out of her sleep shorts, stacked fuzzy socks on her feet as she holds the trailer door open with a scowl on her face.

She’s got a pen stuck behind her ear.

I imagine this is how she’ll look when she’s cramming for final exams at university.

I’ll be bringing her breakfast and coffee then too.

I stare down at the tray. “Food. And caffeine. Thought you might need it before you head to the gym again today.”

“How do you know I work at the gym today?”

“I asked Summer. She didn’t know that anything was amiss between us.”

“Why would she?” Bailey crosses her arms and quirks a hip. Ring flashing on her finger.

I shrug. “Thought you might have told her while you were there yesterday.”

She rolls her eyes, looking her age. But what comes out of her mouth is wise beyond her years. “No, Beau. I’m not going to run to your family wagging my tongue about what a shithead you’ve been because that’s our business, not theirs.”

Our business.

That sentiment gives me hope.

I clear my throat and offer her a nod, not wanting to overstep. She’s clearly still miffed with me.

Bailey’s finger points down at the tray. “What’s that?”

“Cash.”

“Why?”

“Because I worked your shift at the bar again last night. Gary stiffed me. Said he wasn’t paying someone as stupid as me to pour his beers and then threw his keys at me.”

Her hand comes up to cover her mouth as her eyes flit away. I know she’s trying to smother a laugh.

“You should keep it—”

“Bailey. Take the cash. You deserve a fresh start. You deserve a fair chance at what everyone else gets. Take the money and make it happen. I don’t need it.”

“Beau … ” Her head tilts, confusion painting her features.

“No, listen. You need out of this town. For a while there, I thought you didn’t. For a while, I thought I could make it better here for you. But the truth is, you made my life better, so much fucking better, and I worry I made yours worse.”

She looks stricken by my words.

But she still takes the tray before turning back into her trailer.


“So you’re just going to keep making her breakfast? And sending her on her way?”

I flip the bacon with my phone wedged between my ear and my shoulder, trying to ignore what a smug prick Jasper sounds like on the phone.

“Yeah. She was up late. I could see the lights on in her trailer. And she needs to leave. It’s what’s best for her.”

“Dude, I told you to tell her. I hope she makes you bring her breakfast for years.”

“Fuck you.”

Jasper laughs. “You could use a little humbling. It’s good for you. Builds character.”

“I’m full of character!” Bacon grease splashes me on the hand, and I pull it away, shaking it out.

“You’re full of shit, is what you are. And she figured you out.”

“Jas, what the fuck? You’re supposed to be my brother from another mother. What is this tough love garbage? I thought you were on my team.”

“It’s a kick in the pants. Wake up, Beau. You’re not the same person you used to be. The class clown, the shiny, happy hero. Now you’re a mere mortal, like the rest of us. One who makes dumb mistakes. One who doesn’t get everything handed over to him easily.”

“Hey, I—”

“I know, I know,” Jasper placates me. “Not everything has been easy. But your path has always been clear cut. The decisions you make are obvious. Did you even think twice about going back into that bunker to get Micah?”

“No,” I grumble. “I already knew I was going to.”

“Yeah. Exactly. So what’s your plan for this? You gonna keep working a job you hate in a town you clearly feel uncomfortable in because of your misplaced sense of duty while she leaves and lives her life? You’ve got a choice to make, and I’m not sure you realize it. You going with her or not? You keep saying that leaving is what’s best for her, but what about what’s best for you?”

“I have a plan,” I mumble. Because I do. I have for quite some time. I just haven’t told anyone. Haven’t given anyone the honest truth about my plans in years, and the only person I’m going to change that with is Bailey. Truthfully, I don’t want any input. I trust my judgment where she’s concerned. I haven’t felt such a single-minded purpose since before my accident.

And her comment about not sharing our business with everyone hit home.

She and I.

We started out as a secret but turned into so much more. Even though we’re both doing our own thing right now, it always feels like we’re …

Alone together.

“She’ll probably meet someone a lot less old than you in the city,” Jasper prods me and jealousy lashes at my stomach even though I know he’s joking.

“You and I are the same age, dick.”

“Yup.” He pops the P, and I hear the clatter of him doing something in his kitchen. Lazy fucker could have just driven over to see me. “Old enough to know better.”

“Good lord, man—” I stop when I see Bailey step out of her trailer. She’s wearing a pretty white dress and a denim jacket, and her hair is all silky and freshly brushed. I know she’s been showering at the gym. Summer told me so with a piercing glare that dripped with don’t fuck this up.

I glance at my watch, realizing it’s pretty early for her to be leaving already. I don’t want to miss her.

“Gotta go, Jas. Bye.” I hang up on him before he can get another word in and toss the bacon in the waiting bun, complete with tomato, lettuce, and mayo. Then I wrap it in a paper towel and race to the front door, where I know the path around the side of the house will take her.

“Bailey. Wait!” I call right as I rip the door open and bound down the stairs. “I made you breakfast.”

She stops in her tracks and turns to look at me. “You don’t need to keep making me breakfast.”

“You were up late.”

Her head tilts, and she regards me with a confused expression on her face. “How do you know?”

“Lights were on. Checked on you.”

Bailey clears her throat and reaches forward to take the bun. Ring still on her finger. “Thanks.”

“Sure,” I say, tucking my hands into my pockets. “Where are you off to so early?” I kick at the driveway, feeling like a teenager talking to his crush.

She’s quiet just long enough that it has me looking up at her to see what’s wrong.

“To the city.”

“Oh, yeah?”

She nods, teeth sinking into her bottom lip.

“Can you wait five minutes?”

She sighs.

I can’t stop cataloging every move she makes. Like it gives me some insight into what she’s doing. What she’s thinking. When she’s going to let me come close enough to kiss her again. Leave a bite mark again.

“For what?”

“I’m heading in too. Can I catch a ride?”

It’s a moment when she could say no. There’s zero reason I couldn’t drive myself. Truthfully, I’d rather be the one behind the wheel, but I also just want to be near her. And if sitting in her shitty little truck while she gives me the cold shoulder is what I can get, then so be it.

I can also tell by the way she’s peeking at me that she’s curious about why I’m heading into the city. And the feeling is mutual.

Maybe if she’s stuck in a vehicle with me, it will force her to talk.

If nothing else, it will force her to listen.


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