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

Powerless: Chapter 9


Cade: Why don’t you join us for dinner soon?

Rhett: Beers tomorrow?

Roman: If you need to talk, I’m always around. Take care of yourself.

I curl up in my childhood bed, huddled in a tight ball like I might if I had a hangover. Like if I just lie still and quiet, I won’t hurt.

But then I remember that my brother is missing and everything hurts.

I don’t even want to think about it. I want to push it into the same corner where I keep my sister Jenny. But it’s not working. My mental game is shit right now—something I’ve proven over and over on the ice lately.

Years of ongoing sports therapy to hone my mind to handle the pressure of my position and it all crumbles with one swift kick to the foundation. Those vine-like intrusive thoughts creep up and threaten to strangle me.

I tried to do the exercise that’s always worked for me. Four seconds is all I give myself to think dark thoughts. I soak in them but only for four seconds. After that I swap to envisioning myself kicking ass, playing my best, and making a highlight reel-worthy save. And then I think about something else entirely.

Just four seconds of fear or sadness or doubt. Four seconds of insanity. That’s all I’ll allow.

But not anymore. Right now I’m sitting with those dark thoughts like they’re an old friend.

I push to sit, pads of my fingers sinking into the too-soft mattress. The house was quiet when we got here. Everyone hiding away in their own corners to deal with this in their own way.

Rhett has Summer.

Cade has Willa.

Violet has Cole.

It seems like every Eaton has someone to lean on. Except me. And Harvey. Which is why I’ve stayed here for so long. I can’t stomach the thought of leaving him all alone in this house after he made sure that I wasn’t all alone as a teenager.

Everyone I’ve cared about in life has left in me in some way or another—it’s part of my persona now. I can’t control who leaves, but I can control everything else to a point where my anxiety doesn’t cripple me.

But this? This is ravaging me and I can’t control shit.

“Fuck!” I roar, right as I turn and smash my fist into the wallpapered drywall beside me.

A low, sob sound lurches from my lungs as pain lances through my knuckles. I shake my hand and internally berate myself. How fucking old am I? Punching a wall like an angry little teenager.

My door flies open, and Sloane’s slender frame is a silhouette in the open doorway. “Jas?” She sounds panicked, a little breathless, like she ran here.

“I’m fine. The wall isn’t but I’ll patch it.”

“You hit the wall?”

I groan and shake my hand again. “Go to bed, Sloane.” I don’t feel like talking. And I’m tired of worrying. Right now Sloane is just one more thing I worry about.

Not only because she left her fiancé practically at the altar but that I’m deeply satisfied she did. Too satisfied. The last thing Sloane needs is me crossing that line.

She doesn’t make it easy though. Because she flat out ignores what I tell her to do and pads across my room, bare feet on smooth hardwood.

I wish she had ignored other assholes when they told her what to do. Marry some asshole to close a business deal. Leave her job—her passion—to plan a wedding.

It’s all such bullshit.

The wild girl I knew would’ve stuck her tongue out at them and carried on with her life. So I can’t help but be a little satisfied she walks to my en suite bathroom muttering something about “dumb boys” before returning with a warm, wet washcloth.

She comes back to stand right between my knees, still wearing my jersey.

My cock thickens at the sight. The silvery moonlight highlights the shimmer on the fabric, and my eyes snag on the hem that falls midthigh.

My fingers twitch like they’ve got a mind of their own. Like they’d enjoy exploring that hemline. Hike it up gently and see what’s beneath. Erasing and ruining years of friendship as they go.

Nonetheless, there’s the part of me who wants to erase everywhere that Woodcock asshole got to touch her. Got to have her.

He doesn’t deserve her.

“Hand out, Gervais.” Her voice is soft and soothing. Sleepy and resigned somehow. All it takes is one glance at the digital clock on my bedside table to know she just fell asleep.

If she fell asleep at all.

Jealousy and guilt swirl in my gut. “I’m fine. Go back to bed.”

She cocks a hip, making my jersey slip higher on that side. Really not helping my wandering eyes. My hand doesn’t even hurt anymore. All I can think about is reaching beneath the fabric and shaping the soft curve of her waist. Tracing the little dimple on either side of her spine just above her hips.

Every part of Sloane is toned and strong. Long and lean. She’s like a piece of pale marble that’s been sculpted to perfection for years.

“Hand. Now.”

I blink, leaning back slightly. I’m too worked up, and neither of us is wearing nearly enough clothing for this interaction. But the expression on her face hedges no room for debate. Grinding my molars, I hold my right hand up to her and hiss when the wet cloth presses against my knuckles.

“Idiot,” she mutters, dabbing carefully over every ridge of each finger and holding my wrist with a tenderness that feels unfamiliar in so many ways.

Because, while I do have sex with women, I keep it very private. Separate from every other part of my life. Work and family never cross over. And it’s not . . . personal. I’ve ensured that it’s not. Because getting attached hurts, and finding someone to get attached to that I can trust at this point in my career seems downright impossible.

“Wow. Very soothing. You should have become a nurse.”

I see a sliver of a smile on her lips as a curtain of blonde hair tumbles down over her face. “No, you should have. You were terrific at tending to my feet.”

Her feet.

My eyes trail down her legs to the floor, and I remember those days. The blisters. The redness. The swelling.

I kept coming back to help her even when she didn’t ask me to. Even though I was told not to. In retrospect it was one of those nights when I first saw Sloane as a woman, and not the little blonde girl on the ranch. A cousin. A friend.

It happened while I rubbed her sore feet and trailed a thumb up the arch of her foot. Her head fell back against the pillows on her plush, cream-colored couch, and the exposed column of her throat caught the warm glow of the floor lamp behind her in a way that transfixed me. Shadows played across her collarbones. Her cheeks turned a rosy shade.

The moan that spilled from her lips had me shifting uncomfortably in my jeans.

After that I stopped rubbing her feet.

I realized she wasn’t a little girl at all. And I wanted what I couldn’t have.

She was still young, though, and new to living on her own. She needed a friend. And before long, she had a boyfriend, and the ship had sailed. With our age difference, the close family relation, her dad . . . there were too many ties, too many complications.

Too much fear that I might lose her.

Not that I would have subjected her to me anyway. But now and then, I’d find myself dreaming. Or her face would pop into my mind while I showered, while my hand wrapped around—

“There. Now lie back and let it dry.”

Her palm lands in the middle of my chest and pushes me back into bed, her bare legs pressing against the inside of my knees as she does.

So many people eye me like I’m a Rubik’s cube they can’t solve. My colors are all jumbled and on the wrong sides, but Sloane doesn’t care that I’m messy. She’s never looked at me like I need fixing. She always looked like she does now. Tender and supportive.

When her eyes drop to my bare torso, tracing the outlines of my dark tattoos, the comfort of the moment turns intimate. Her exhale is harsh in the quiet room before her eyes snag on my boxers and drift to where her bare legs press against the inside of mine. My gaze latches onto her lips, watching them pop open in surprise. Like she was so busy tending to me she failed to notice our mutual state of undress.

I clear my throat, standing quickly and gently guiding her back away from me. Taking the damp rag and tossing across the room into the hamper. “Thank you.” My voice comes out all hoarse and strained. I wonder if she notices, but I can’t bring myself to look at her. Instead, I focus on the steady beat of my heart. Grappling blindly in the darkened drawer of my dresser.

“Goodnight.” My voice cracks like I’m a teenager, and I shake my head before I pull on a T-shirt and sit on the bed, as if a shirt and simple duvet will protect me from whatever that moment was we just shared.

I thump my sore fist into the pillow, making a show of getting it just right. It hurts but I ignore the pain. Or maybe I relish in it.

“Jas?” Her tone is soft and uncertain as she stands by watching me, and I hate the thought I might have made her feel uncomfortable with my gruff response.

I hit the pillow harder because I hate a lot of things right now.

“Jas? Talk to me. Tell me what’s in your head.”

I turn to her, all my restraint snapping under the weight of the night. “My head? My head, Sunny? My head is a fucking mess. I hate that Beau is missing and my family is hurting. I hate that my team is struggling and I’ve been sidelined. I especially hate that someone took advantage of you, that he hurt you. Belittled you. Yelled at you. You’re one of the most important people in my life, and he treated you like shit. And I really fucking hate that.”

I hiss the last words with venom. Once they’ve cleared my lips, I pant, breathless over the word vomit I just hurled all over my childhood bedroom at the girl who always listens.

The girl who’s always there for me.

The girl I almost lost.

I should be able to let this go, but her arranged relationship with Sterling hurts so intensely that it aches deep in my bones. And I’m not good at letting things go. Every corner of my mind is heavy with regret.

“Jasper, why are you so angry about this?” She looks confused. “I’m fine.”

“I’m angry because I want you happy and safe. You weren’t. I pulled away when I found out you were engaged.” What I don’t admit out loud is that my feelings were too jumbled and complicated to face in the wake of that announcement. It winded me in a way I never saw coming. “But you still needed my help, and I wasn’t there for you. You came so damn close to being trapped in a life that would have been miserable for you.”

This last week has put me into a state where I’m practically frothing at the mouth to protect her, to rescue her—to ensure she never ends up in that position again. And I’m realizing that what I’m feeling is a whole lot more than a brotherly sense of protection.

It’s envy. It’s possession.

“Jasper.” Her eyes are like saucers, her hands held wide as she lifts them and drops them back down in an exhausted shrug. She steps closer, eyes roaming my face. “I’m here, aren’t I? I’m here. With you.” Her fingers slide over my hand still fisted on the pillow, and she locks in on my eyes. “It’s just you and me. Together. And I’m safe.”

I offer her a terse nod. It’s all I can manage right now. My limbs are seized up. Too many emotions. Her body too close.

“Move over.”

My head flicks in her direction. “What?”

“Move your ass over.”


Those pale blue irises roll back into her head with so much attitude. It reminds me of her as a teenager. “Because I’m not leaving you alone tonight.”

My body goes rigid. “Why?”

“Because I’m concerned for the safety of the walls in this room.” The voice she uses is light, but her eyes are just a bit pinched.

Sloane’s not worried about the walls. She’s worried about me. It’s why she used to come out on the roof with me too. She’s always been a little uncertain if I would take a turn in that direction.

If I’d hurt myself.

Sure, I’ve contemplated suicide. But mostly in the way everyone has. What it would take. If I could follow through. In the wake of Jenny’s death, I’d toed that ledge, but ever since the Eatons took me in, it was never an option.

I know how it feels to lose someone you love, and I couldn’t do that to these people who’ve become my family. I’ll suffer before ever making them do the same.

“Why?” I ask, wanting validation in a moment of weakness. Wanting to hear her say she worries about me or wants to comfort me. It’s insecure and I shouldn’t be hoping for something like that from a woman whose relationship dissolved mere days ago.

Her responding sigh is tired. “You’re glitching, Gervais. You sound like a scratched record. Move the fuck over.”

One cheek twitches at the fact that she resorted to swearing at me. There’s something satisfying about proper little Sloane having a sailor’s mouth. So I move over, not letting myself think too hard about whether it’s a good idea. We’re just friends.

My eyes flutter shut at the sound of the sheet rustling, the small mattress dipping under her weight.

Just friends.

A few strands of her hair tangle in the stubble on my cheek as she lays down facing me, but I leave them there, opting to breathe her in instead.

“Well, this bed is tiny.”

I chuckle. “It is.” The bed usually feels too small for my six-foot-three frame, never mind adding in another person.

The silence stretches out just a little too long. A little too far.

“Am I bugging you? Do you want me to leave?”

My heart slams against the cage I keep it locked in. How could Sloane bug anyone? She has to be the least annoying person in the world.

“No,” I husk as I reach down and wrap my hand around her delicate wrist, as though pulling her back from even thinking about leaving.

“Okay,” she breathes, sounding relieved.

We fall into silence again, and I let my mind wander to how these last few days must feel for her. We’ve been so wrapped up in my life—Beau, hockey, me punching walls like a rage-case teenager—that I’ve failed to give her the comfort she might need.

“Are you sad, Sloane?”

She shifts, head turning to gaze up at the ceiling, giving me a darkened view of her profile. Her hair slips away, and my fingers twitch on her wrist with the instinct to run them through the silky strands, to rub my cheek along it like I do when we hug.

“I mean, of course. I know Beau isn’t my best friend, but he’s my cousin. Some of my best memories are of long, sweltering summer days spent out here with all of you. I’m . . . devastated.” Her voice breaks a little, and I watch her lashes flutter rapidly.

She’s close enough that I could reach out and hold her.

But I don’t.

“I meant about—” I stop suddenly. His name doesn’t belong here in the dark with us. “The wedding.”

She hums thoughtfully as she runs two fingers across her lips before firmly pressing on them. Her cheeks go round, and it’s like she’s trying to push the smile back down. “No.”

“Are you trying not to laugh about your big fancy wedding going to shit?” I chuckle quietly, turning on my side to face her.

A grunt-snort noise escapes her, and she’s now pressing her entire hand over her mouth. “No!”

“You have always had a fucked-up sense of humor.”

Her body shakes with laughter, and she gives me a look of feigned offense. “I have not!”

“You laugh at the most inappropriate times. You know you do.” I point at her playfully. “You laughed that time Rhett fell off the llama and broke his arm as a kid.”

She laughs harder. “He deserved to be laughed at! He had no business riding that llama! And the way he latched onto its long neck made him look a big, dumb koala or something.”

She’s wheezing now, curling in toward me, and I can’t help but laugh with her. He really did look like a big, dumb koala.

“And it wasn’t even an impressive fall! He just plunked down in the most lackluster way. I’ve seen him take worse spills off an angry bull and walk away totally fine.”

The giggles hit us hard on the walk down memory lane, and I wipe happy tears out of my eyes as I gaze up at the stucco ceiling. God, we had fun as kids out here. It feels good to reminisce. Good to laugh.

Good to lie here with someone who knows about some of the happiest days of my life. We’ve been in a rut of games and workouts this week. I think Sloane’s been dancing for fun in a spare room at Summer’s gym and then tending to Harvey. We’re all hiding out. Hunkering down. Trying to keep things normal—but failing.

She sighs deeply and carries on, “Anyway. No. I’m not sad about the wedding. I’m . . . relieved. Isn’t that awful? All I feel is intense relief. Am I going to hell for admitting that?”

My thumb brushes over the bone in her wrist. The way I feel about her wedding crumbling into nothing is intense relief too. “Nah. If you’re going to hell for that, then I’ll definitely be there for all my shit too.”

She yawns, and her body softens beside me; she has to be so tired. “Hell might be alright if you were there with me.” She stiffens. “I didn’t mean—”

Not wanting her to second guess anything she says, I cut her off. “Hell might actually be alright if we’re stuck there together, Sloane.”

The sound of her head rustling against the pillow tells me she’s nodding in agreement. And then I give in to that little voice in my head. The one that tells me I need her.

I draw her body against mine, my arms wrap her up, and our legs tangle together instantly.

“Goodnight, Sunny,” is all I say as I revel in the comforting heat of her.

A beat of silence passes and then she sighs. “Goodnight, Jas.”


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