Jason Bradley is a charming country guy. He lives a simple life that’s nothing like what Cassandra is used to. A single moment in life changed everything he thought he once knew, leaving him with a broken heart and an unplanned future.
“Where are you at? I’m coming to get you,” she stated.
I looked around the room I was in. It was a luxury hotel compared to the motel I stayed in last night. The Cassandra I used to be would have NEVER in a million years stayed in a stranger’s house, but there was something about this family I couldn’t help but feel at ease around. Now was my chance to speak up and have Mel either come get me out of this town or hold my peace and accept that I was staying here with complete and utter strangers until my car was fixed. I took a deep breath in and pulled the phone down from my ear, looking at the picture of the damaged tree on the screen once more. It was weird and truly out of character, but I was going to stay. I put the phone back up to my ear and told Mel my decision.
“Like hell you are, I’m coming to get you right now. Give me the address,” she demanded.
“I’m fine here. This family, oddly enough, is genuinely kind, and I’ll be okay, honestly. I promise to call you every day, as soon as I find my phone that is,” I said, peering around my room wishing the damn thing would appear out of thin air.
“Are you serious, Cass?” she asked, sounding upset. “Can you rent a car maybe?”
I never thought about that, but with the town being as small as it is, I doubt they had one. “I have to use all the extra money I have to pay for the repairs on my car. I couldn’t afford one even if they did have a place.”
“So you’re staying with this family then? I don’t feel right about this.”
“I’m sure. I’ll be okay. You have Jason’s number. I called you on his phone remember?”
“Oh yes, and I intend to call it every day until you are back on the road,” she sassed. “What’s their last name? I need this information in case–in case of an emergency.”
“It’s Bradley. I’ll call you tomorrow then?”
“I guess, Cass. You aren’t giving me any other choice,” she said, sounding defeated. “You okay otherwise?”
I knew where she was going with this question, and I was glad she asked in a roundabout way; I wasn’t ready to accept anything yet. “Eh, okay, I suppose. Not great, that’s for sure,” I told her the truth.
“Okay, call me tomorrow love.” I told her I loved her and flipped the phone closed, placing it on the nightstand next to the bed.
A deep sigh escaped me, deflating my body as I weighed the decision I had just made. It was deeper than just waiting it out for my car and not wanting Mel to come pick me up. Not only did Mel have a life of her own to attend to without wasting a day to come and rescue my ass, but also something inside me made me want to stay here for other reasons. It could have been the kindness of Trish and Jason or the fact that I could be this lost girl around them and not have to worry about it. It didn’t hurt that Trish would be here to talk to if I wanted the chance to discuss my pregnancy with someone. She already knew what was going on and could be a lending shoulder, ear, or voice.
Perhaps it was something about their warm hearts and open arms that screamed to me because I missed having that in my life. I knew deep down in my core I was craving that sort of affection, and here it was, magically landing in my lap. I’d be a fool not to at least accept the attention and wait for my car, all the while, enjoying their company. I guess we would find out just how big of a fool I really was when all was said and done.
JASE POV – BAR SCENE
“I gotta go. I promised Kasey a dance,” Moose said before running off like he was up to something.
I shook my head and took another sip of water.
“Hey there. This seat taken?”
I didn’t even have to look at her to know who the voice belonged to. The sweet sound made everything inside of me melt. “For a girl like you? It’s never taken,” I told her as I finally realized what Moose was up to.
She smiled back, but this time, she didn’t take her eyes off of me. I knew the feeling all too well. I didn’t ever want to stop staring at her. She looked away and began fidgeting with her glass. The contents were clear and only confirmed what I thought I knew.
“What are you thinking about over there Cassie?” She swiveled her stool in my direction and I couldn’t help but watch her cheeks flush. It was the perfect shade of red on her. Jase, get a grip man.
“Nothing,” she replied.
The look in her eyes said otherwise. “I can tell you’re lying.”
“Fine, you seem sad, Jase,” she said.
How could she tell? How did she know? Was I not hiding my feelings or past good enough? I gazed down at the floor as I held my glass tight in my hands.
“You can talk to me,” she said, placing her hand on my knee. My skin blazed with heat under her touch. It was all I could do to keep from screaming out to her what was wrong. She had too much going on in her life to have to deal with my problems too. I was stuck. I couldn’t tell her the truth. She wouldn’t accept it and then it would just be heartbreak. At least at this point, we weren’t anything but friends. I wanted more. I couldn’t deny that part of my heart that was internally punching me for not making a move already. It wouldn’t be fair to her though.
A sudden coldness lingered over my knee. Her hand was back up on the bar. I missed her touch. I needed to touch her. We had to dance.
I hopped off the bar stool and stood behind her gorgeously dressed body. It was all I could do not to put my lips on her bare shoulder as I inched my mouth closer to her ear.
“You can talk to me too you know,” I whispered.
I moved her stool around so she was now in between my legs. “Let’s dance pretty girl,” I said.
A smile tugged on her lips. Her hand was still in mine as I started to walk away, except she didn’t budge.
I looked back; her eyes were double their normal size. “There’s a slight problem,” she said, quietly.
I moved in closer, put my hands on her knees, and leaned my ear by her mouth. She smelled so good. Jase, man you have got to stop. Focus.
“I don’t know how to dance country,” she confessed.
What? I moved back and started laughing, uncontrollably. That was what her problem was? It was adorable and innocent and in turn, only made my feelings for her that much stronger. Why couldn’t it have been that she had to go the restroom or something awkward like that?
The flesh of her palm suddenly covered my mouth and instantly stopped my laugh. My stomach knotted. It took all of the control I had in me not to press a kiss to the inside of her hand that so roughly covered my lips.
“Stop laughing, this is serious,” she said. Yes, it is serious; seriously cute.
I reluctantly took her hand off my mouth. “I’ll lead, you just follow. You’ll be okay. Just go with it, Cassie,” I told her. This time I made sure she came with me as I pulled her off the chair similar to a parent helping a child off.
The song that played through the speakers was perfect. I didn’t even plan it, but it worked out to my benefit. I really hoped she recognized it, but I wasn’t positive she would. I didn’t know if she was feeling the same pull I was and if our moment in the street was one that would stay with her, like it did me.
I took her hand in mine and placed her other behind my back. I pressed our bodies together as I wrapped my other hand around her lower back. I made sure there was no space between us, not even room to breathe. The song had me wanting her badly, and getting her as close as possible was all I could think about.
“Don’t be scared, just like we practiced in the street,” I said. Her eyes gazed into mine as if they were seeing them for the first time.
My mission at first was to get her to let loose and have fun tonight, but now, all I wanted to do was recreate the moment in the street. This was far surpassing that though.
I took control and did as I told her I would. I led and swayed us, keeping it smooth and slow, just like the song. Our eyes hadn’t stopped staring into one another since we stepped onto the dance floor, and every ounce of me wanted our skin to touch. The music kept us moving as I slowly rested my check against hers. The heat of her skin immediately radiated onto mine. It traveled down to my torso and only continued further. This girl had me flushed from head to toe. Her body suddenly relaxed into mine as my hand held onto her. It was that moment that I knew I had her; I had all of her, mind and body. And it was then that my voice box let loose and started humming along with the song.
Her body tensed in my arms and a second later her warm soft cheek slid away from me. Her eyes peered into mine as she searched them. I continued to hum as the wheels in her head seemed to turn. I know you know this song, Sweetheart. Come on. I know you do.
“This is the song you were humming in the street isn’t it?” she asked, her lips smirking.
God yes. She knew it. It came to her. My lips grew into a smile that was larger than life. I pressed our bodies back together and finally without having her eyes to distract me, I moved my lips by her ear.
“It’s called Wanted by Hunter Hayes,” I whispered gently.
Feeling her body mold next to me as I held her, I thought to myself how nothing could ever explain how badly I wanted this girl.
Her hands moved and delicately cupped behind my neck. Feeling her latch onto me was enough to make my brain fog over and my knees want to collapse. I did everything I could to contain myself as I locked both of my hands behind her back. We were a chain link; nothing could break us apart now. Our cheeks were no longer side by side, as our eyes were now peering softly into each other. Her eyes. Those damn eyes could kill a man. The soft hazel color could get you lost if you stared into them long enough. They swirled green and brown and became lighter the happier she was. They were like a drug as they caught your attention and didn’t let go. They pulled me in and I’d be lying if I said I tried to stop it. Her whole face was drawing me in like a gravitational pull. Those eyes, those flushed red cheeks, and those pink lips. They took me in and pulled me so close I could feel her warm breath hitting my lips. We weren’t inches apart or even centimeters. We were mere millimeters, a breath and one second apart.
As the song winded down my heartbeat only grew louder. It was the only thing my ears were hearing. Boom. Boom. Boom. It accelerated faster as I moved and passed our millimeter mark. One last breath and one more second my lips would be on hers. The rights, the wrongs, and every reason why I shouldn’t kiss this phenomenal girl in front of me silenced as my breath hitched and now we were only one second from kissing.
Her eyes seared into me, her body was snug against mine and her lips were within reach. They were almost grazing, and then it happened. We stopped moving toward each other and gravity now yanked us apart. The song changed, the mood altered, and the crowd around us went chaotic. Our moment was gone, vanished. Only one second away from our lips connecting and one second was all it took to steal it away.
Was it a sign? I knew I was playing with fire, but maybe it was bigger than a matchstick flame and more like a bonfire. I almost kissed this fantastic girl. What was I thinking? I couldn’t have her. She wasn’t mine to take. She would kill me if she knew the secret I was withholding from her while I stood there, trying to kiss her and make her mine. I was more than sure this was a sign and I was even more positive it was needed.
“My turn next,” Moose shouted as he grabbed her hand. The very one that was just around my neck.
The stinging pain behind my eyes threatened as I watched her face. It had lost its luster as we both stared. Was she thinking the same thing as I was? Were the wheels turning in her mind about the coincidence of the moment we lost? The first moment I reluctantly stopped and then this one that was cut short for us? I tried to smile for her but I’d be lying if I said it was easy.
Kasey grabbed my hand and led me off in another direction, far away from the only person I wanted to be next to. I lost sight of Cassie as we got closer to the edge of the dance floor, away from the crowd. We were dancing, but it was weak and the allure of having fun on a dance floor vanished the minute my hands left Cassie.
The look in Kasey’s eyes snapped me out of my thoughts. “Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked.
“What was all that about?”
I popped a brow and looked at her like I didn’t have a clue what she was asking.
“With Cassandra. Stop playing dumb. I know you better than you think.”
I felt the tension in my shoulders relax as I let out a breath. She knew me well. Too well. Growing up together didn’t help the fact that she already knew the things going on in my life and the blank emotions I wore on my face to hide my feelings.
“I don’t know what to do Kasey.”
A smile surfaced on her face like she knew something. “Make a move you pansy ass. She likes you. A whole helluva lot. I had to get the scoop out of her too.”
“What did she tell you?” I asked her, sounding way too eager for a guy that’s twenty two.
“I’ve already told you enough. She likes you, you like her. Make your move already.”
“I don’t think it’s a go-.” She hovered her hand over my mouth and stopped what she knew was going to come out of it; the reasons why I should not make a move.
“Just go with it Jason. I see the way you look at her. Even when you brought her over for dinner at Maggie’s,” she said as her eyes went soft. “What is it you always say? Let the-the-“
Damn her and her smarts. “Chips fall where they may,” I reminded her.
“That’s it. Let them fall where they may. Make a move and let the rest work itself out.”
“We’ll see. I can’t promise anything, but I appreciate the subtle nudge.” I laughed.
“You deserve to be happy too, Jason,” she said. Her eyes went from determined to soft as she gave me a knowing smile.
She was right. I needed to follow my own damn advice. Tonight I’d let the chips fall and not look back.
B.A. Wolfe is a girl with a passion for reading and writing, and lives in the good ol’ state of Colorado with her husband (her biggest cheerleader), and her two crazy min pin fur babies. These days, her life is anything but calm, and there isn’t one thing she’d want to change. B.A. spends all her free time either furiously typing stories on her laptop or happily reading through her endless TBR on her Kindle. Her list of favorites would be long enough to fill a book, but most would likely fall under the romance category. She is a sucker for a good love story that makes her cry, and an amazing book boyfriend who will melt her heart. ‘Away’ is B.A. Wolfe’s debut novel.