Embrace: Evolve Series, Book Two

By: S.E. Hall

CHAPTER 1



Dear Laney



***Evan***





My phone is burning a hole in my pocket. Ninety percent of me wants to respond to the text Laney had sent about an hour ago, but the other ten percent, the shred that still has some dignity, is winning. As much as I want an exact explanation, I simply can’t bear to hear it right now.

Sawyer’s a godsend, shoving beers in my hand and attracting every girl in the bar over to our table. He’s doing a better job than anyone else could at distracting me, including the brunette currently perched on my right leg… Manda? Mandy? She’s hot with long dark hair, full lips and huge tits that she’s not afraid to let play peek-a-boo. She even smells decent and her hands know no boundaries, but all I can think about is the one who got away; a beautiful blonde with a quick wit, smart mouth and devastating smile.

“Dude, you need another one?” Sawyer’s question drags me from my mental misery, and I’m almost sure he’s asking about another beer, not another girl.

“Sure,” I respond with no feeling whatsoever. It’s sadly the correct answer no matter what he was asking.

“Want me to get it, sugar?” Man—whatever asks with a syrup to her voice that I just noticed and don’t particularly like.

“Two, Amy,” Sawyer directs her and hands her some money.

Amy? Shit, I wasn’t even close. Good thing I hadn’t spoken to her even once.

“She’s hot, bro.” Sawyer raises his brows and motions to Amy with his head, to which I shrug noncommittally. “What is it, you need a blonde? I figured that’d be too much, but I can—”

My hand shoots up, cutting him off. “I appreciate it, man, I do,” I stop and take a swig of beer, “but a parade of girls isn’t gonna help me tonight. I just need to crash; wake up to a new day. You think you can take me to my truck?”

“Nah, but you can bunk with me.” He throws some bills on the table and stands. “Let’s go.”

We leave the bar, not collecting the beers he’d already shelled out money for and not saying goodbye to Amy. I appreciate the hasty retreat.

“Why are you going out of your way for me?” I ask him as we drive back to his dorm—her dorm.

“Real talk?”

“Please.”

“I’m not just helping you. I mean, I feel for you; damn, do I feel for ya.” He chuckles and reaches over to punch me in the arm, offering a grin covertly lined with sympathy. “It’s more than that though, Laney’s my girl, and I know she’s probably worried as shit about you right now, so I’m partly looking out for ya ‘cause she’d want me to. She’d feel better knowing you’re not off crying in your beer alone.” He laughs again. “But mostly, Dane’s my boy. Not only is he my employer, but he’s one of my best friends. And he loves Laney, so I’d be lying if I pretended this wasn’t a little about distracting his competition.” He parks his car and turns to me, waiting for my reaction to his honesty.

“She texted me.” I have no idea why this is what I’d chosen to respond with.

“Oh yeah?”

Yeah.” I rub my eyes with the heels of my hands, fighting off the beginnings of a headache. “I didn’t answer her. I have no idea what to say.”

“Don’t ask me,” he says as he gets out of the car. “I’m terrible with women. Well… I’m terrible at talking to women about important shit.” He opens the door to the dorm, letting me walk in first. “Never saw the need.”

I crash on Sawyer’s couch, resting another beer nightcap on my bare chest, thoughts of how differently I saw things panning out swirling in my head. She had warned me. I knew this Dane kid was creeping in; I’d gotten here as soon as I could. Just not soon enough.

How naïve I’d been, thinking Laney and I were forever, that distance wouldn’t affect our closeness. The thought of Laney coming out of the box she keeps herself in long enough to meet someone, to actually fall for them, shutting me out—I’d have bet you all the money in the world it would never happen. Well, there goes that safety net. You know what they say—take care of your woman or another man will.

I don’t even know how to proceed with this—I certainly don’t know how (or if) to respond to her messages. I’m definitely not qualified to write the manual on Plan B, since Plan A, plunge head over ass into a year of ineligibility for the girl who is now with another guy, blew up in my face.

Delirious with grief, jealousy, and a million other things, I rudely dig around Sawyer’s living area until I find a pen and paper. Who writes letters anymore? This guy, apparently. It just feels more personal than a text, and if Laney and I are even one single thing anymore, we’re personal. No matter what Dane has with her now, he can’t undo ten years of us.

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