One More Chance

By: Abbi Glines


To my brother, Jody Potts. You inspired this part of Grant and Harlow’s journey with a love story from your past. I’ve never forgotten it, and now I know why it stuck with me all these years.





“That moment when you realize you’ve completely fucked up your life . . . yeah, I know that moment. All too well.”

—GRANT CARTER






Grant


“It’s me, but then you know that. This is the forty-eighth message . . . which means I haven’t seen your face in forty-eight days. I haven’t held you. I haven’t seen your smile. I don’t know where you are, Harlow. I’ve looked, baby. God, I’ve done everything I could. Where are you? Are you even listening to these messages? Your voice-mail box is all I have left of you. I fucked up. I fucked up so bad. Just call me or answer my calls or send me a text. No, call me. Don’t just text me. I need to hear your voice. I just . . . I need to see you, Harlow. I can’t make this right if I can’t hold you—”

BEEP

Another message cut off. Damn voice mail never let me finish. But then I wasn’t sure she was even listening to her voice mail. I’d been calling every damn night since the moment she walked out my door, and still nothing. I had gone to her dad’s house in Los Angeles, and no one had been there, though I hadn’t been able to see for myself—I wasn’t even allowed past the gate. Security threatened to call the police.

Rush assured me she wasn’t in Beverly Hills. But he knew where she was. She had told him where she was going the day she left my house for the last time, but he wouldn’t tell me. He said she needed time, and I had to give it to her. The night he told me he couldn’t tell me where she was, I had planted my fist in his face for the first time since we’d known each other. He’d taken the hit and shaken it off like the badass he was. Then he’d warned me that was my only shot. He understood, but the next time, he would be fighting back.

I had felt like a shithead for hitting him. He was protecting Harlow, and she needed someone to protect her. I just couldn’t stand not being able to hold her. Not explaining why I had acted like a jackass.

Blaire had just started talking to me again. She’d been so mad at me when she’d seen the bruise on Rush’s face and his bloody nose. She’d refused to speak to me for almost a month.

I couldn’t talk to anyone but Harlow’s voice mail.

I would wake up in the morning and go to work doing manual labor for one of my construction jobs. I needed the physical abuse in order to sleep at night. Once the sun set and I couldn’t work anymore, I would come home, eat, take a bath, call Harlow’s voice mail, and go to bed. Then I would do it all over again the next day.

Nannette had stopped trying to contact me. After I kept refusing to answer her calls or the door when she came over, she got the hint and left me alone. Seeing her only brought back all the pain I’d caused Harlow, and I hated seeing Nan’s face. I didn’t need any more reminders of all I had done to hurt Harlow.

Was it possible to hate yourself? Because I was pretty damn sure I did. Why hadn’t I controlled the shit pouring out of my mouth the last time I’d seen Harlow? I’d ruined it. I’d hurt her. Remembering her face as I’d ranted about her not telling me about her illness made it impossible for me to look in the mirror. She had been scared, and I had been worried about me and my fucking fears. How had I become so selfish? I had been terrified of losing her, but all I’d done was send her running.

I was a bastard, a heartless bastard. I didn’t deserve her, but I wanted her more than I wanted to breathe.

I was losing precious time with her. I wanted to make sure she was safe and protected. I wanted to be there to take care of her and make sure she was healthy. Make sure her heart was OK. I didn’t trust anyone else to keep her alive. Fuck! The idea of her being anything other than alive ripped open my chest, and I had to double over to breathe.

“You gotta call me, baby. I can’t live like this. I have to be with you,” I cried out into the empty room.





Harlow


Sitting on a hay bale with my knees pulled up under my chin and my arms wrapped around my legs, I watched my half brother, Mase, work with a young thoroughbred that was giving him fits. Having something to focus on other than my inner thoughts was easier. I found myself more worried about Mase breaking his neck than my own problems.

Tonight would come soon enough. My phone would ring, and then my voice mail would ding, alerting me that he had left another message. I would spend the next few hours staring at the wall while mixed emotions ran through me. I wanted to listen to Grant’s voice mails. I missed him. I missed hearing his voice. I missed his dimpled smile. But I couldn’t, even if he was sorry, and I had no doubt, after all the phone calls and his attempt to fight past the security at Dad’s house, that he was sorry.

He was terrified of losing someone he cared about again. If I told him I was carrying our child inside me and that there was a possibility I wouldn’t make it through the delivery, I was afraid he would want me to do what Mase wanted me to do. What the doctors suggested I do.

I loved Grant Carter. I loved him so much. But I loved someone else just as fiercely. I loosened my hold on my legs and placed my hand on my stomach. It was still flat, but I had seen the small life inside during the ultrasound. How could any of them expect me to abort this child? I loved this child already. I loved the child’s father. I had never expected ever to feel this way. It was a dream I had let go of long ago.

I wanted this baby. I wanted this child to have a life. A wonderful, full life. A life with nothing but love and security. My grandmother had been very firm in her belief that abortion was wrong. I had always wondered if she would feel that way if it was me who had accidentally gotten pregnant. But it had never crossed my mind that I might conceive a child with a man I loved. A man who made me want things I shouldn’t want.

The fear was there that maybe they were right . . . maybe I wouldn’t make it. But I believed I would. I wanted this baby. I wanted to love and hold my baby and show that I would do anything for it. I wanted a child of my own. I wanted it enough to live. I was determined that I could do this. I would do this.

I wished Mase understood. I hated seeing the fear flash in his eyes every time he glanced down at my stomach. He was terrified because he loved me. I didn’t want to scare him, but he had to trust me. I could do this. From sheer willpower alone, I could have this baby and live. As if Mase could hear my thoughts, he jumped down off the horse and leveled his gaze on me. Always the concern. I watched as he led the horse back into the barn. We had been out here all morning, and now it was lunchtime.

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