This Time Around

By: Chantal Fernando

Dedication



For Akeirah.

In our arms for a little while, in our hearts forever.

Love you always, angel.





Acknowledgements

As always, I’d like to thank Ari from Cover It Designs for her amazing work, her advice and her friendship. Thank you for putting up with me! You are the best. No, really.

Thank you to my beta readers- Kara Brown, Stephanie Knowles, Aileen Day and Claudia Juarez. I am so grateful for your help.

Thank you to Pepper Winters, who is an amazing friend and always there when I need to chat or vent

Thank you to Becky at Hot Tree Editing!

Thank you to all the blogs that promote me, I appreciate everything you do!

And of course to my readers… I can’t explain how it makes me feel when I get messages from you all, telling me how much you loved my books.

There are no words.

I love each and every one of you.

Thank you so much and I hope you love Ryan as much as I do!





Prologue

Taiya

After all he’s put me through…

I stomp my foot and grit my teeth. I didn’t think returning to Perth would be like this. I didn’t think I’d run into Ryan only a few days after my return, but I did. Lucky me.

I push off my car where I’ve been standing for the last ten minutes, parked in front of Ryan’s bar. Knox Tavern. The place looks different since the last time I saw it. I walk in and my eyes immediately zoom in on him. I don’t see anyone else in that room except him. I ignore the way my heart races at just the sight of him, the way my body responds. I storm towards him, needing to give him a piece of my mind. How dare he see me for the first time in a year, and ignore me.

He took one look at me, surprise etched all over his face. I saw a myriad of emotions flash before he concealed them and noticed someone standing next to me. Scott is just a friend of mine, and Ryan had no right to lay a hand on him. Ryan has no right to me at all anymore. He lost that privilege.

If only someone would tell my heart that…

But sorry, heart, my head is winning this one.





Chapter One

Ryan

When she walks in, I’m surprised. No, I’m shocked. I never thought I’d see the day that she walked back into this bar, but here she is. Her curly brown hair frames her round face, and her blazing green eyes are narrowed in anger. Even angry, she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever been in the presence of. My gaze can’t help but wander down her shapely body. She’s stacked in all the right places, and I should know, I’ve tasted every inch of her body many times over. She steps in front of me and purses her lips.

“You had no right, Ryan,” she seethes, her voice low and shaking.

“I had every right,” I reply calmly, trying to pretend this woman has no effect on me. When in truth, she owns me, body and soul.

Only she doesn’t know it.

“I’m not yours anymore,” she says, her voice losing its edge. She sounds resigned, tired. I don’t like it one bit. I prefer her anger.

“You will always be mine,” I say with a shrug.

“Ryan, I’m serious. You can’t do this to me,” she says with a shake of her head.

I lean in a little closer so I can smell her familiar scent. “Tell him to leave you alone then, Taiya.”

“So you get to fuck anything with a skirt, but a good man can’t even look my way?” she asks, gritting her teeth.

“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.”

I wasn’t expecting the slap. But I should have. Taiya always did have a fiery temper on her.

“Fuck you, Ryan. Stay out of my life,” she spits out before storming off.

I watch her walk away from me.

My wife.

I should be used to it by now, but it still hurts.

It always hurts.

*****

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

And this is why I’m moving out.

A moan pierces the air, and I cringe, not wanting to hear Summer’s cries of pleasure. Summer is like a sister to me, and to hear her making sounds like that… with my twin brother, let’s just say there are a million places I’d rather be right now. I put my iPod on, blocking out their sex sounds. Summer and Reid didn’t want me to move out, but I know for a fact that they need their privacy. So we compromised. I’m moving to another apartment. It’s on the floor below, but on the opposite side of the building. That way, I can still see them every day, but we each get our own space and privacy. As unlikely as it is, I got the apartment with Taiya in mind. The image of her brings up mixed emotions.

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