Between the Lines (Paradise Bay Sweet Romance Book 1)(72)

By: Ella Linden

“Jack said they finally pried Andrew out of his house last night for their get together at Daniels Brothers,” Lauren said. Olivia nodded. She’d heard the same thing. “I guess he finished another book.”

Olivia stared at her. “He did?”

“Uh huh,” Lauren said with a shrug. “He released it as an ebook, self-published. It’s selling stupidly well, too.”

Olivia shot a glare at Holly. “Why didn’t you say anything about that?”

“I thought you knew.”

“Why would I know?”

Lauren and Holly exchanged a glance, then looked away.

“Guys?” Olivia pressed.

“Maybe you should just buy it and see,” Lauren said.

“I seriously thought you knew already,” Holly said apologetically.

“We should go,” Lauren said, standing up. She carried her glass to the sink, and then they quickly washed their wine glasses, gathered their gear, and hugged Olivia, kissing her cheek as they walked out.

“Call me if you want to talk,” Lauren said, hugging her tightly. “Doesn’t matter what time. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks,” Olivia said. She watched until her friends drove off, and then she grabbed her phone and searched for Andrew Silva on her ebook app. She saw the book immediately and recognized the title. Her stomach twisted, and she smiled. It was the book he’d let her read the beginning of, that day at his house. The project he’d kept putting on the back burner.

She swallowed, blinking hard. He’d done it.

She bought it, turned off the TV, and carried her phone up to her room. She crawled into bed and opened the book. There was an about the author page, the usual photo of Andrew, which she stared at for far too long, a list of his books. And then the dedication page.

For Liv,

Who taught me how to do just that.

It was more than she could take. She let the tears come. She hadn’t really cried since the night she’d finished his project. That had been a goodbye. This… this was an aching, empty feeling, like part of her was missing.

Eventually, her tears slowed and her sobs turned to annoying hiccups. She gripped a tissue in her hand and started reading. And there it was again, that sense of being wrapped up in his words. This book was so different from his horror stuff. It was full of magic and adventure and humor. It was like the best parts of Andrew, the parts he didn’t even fully realize were there. She let herself fall into his words, and her stupid, foolish heart struggled against the cage she’d shoved it into.

And the cage began to crumble, because some things just can’t be contained forever.

Andrew paced. He’d run until his legs threatened to quit on him, he’d showered, he’d stared out the windows. His gut was in knots.

Tonight. He was going to see her tonight.

It had taken everything in him to stay away from her. She deserved time, and he needed to work on himself. He’d spent more time talking to people in the last few weeks than he ever would have imagined. Mostly people who had good relationships. He’d read books, not just about relationships, but about self-improvement, PTSD, and communication.

And, yeah, he’d read a few romance novels. Lauren had shoved one into his hands one day when she’d run into him at the post office, telling him maybe he could learn a thing or two.

The old Andrew, the one who existed before Liv Marquis had walked into his life, would have blown it off as Lauren’s typical sarcasm. But, the way he’d messed up with Liv had made it abundantly clear that he had a lot to learn.

And he had. Of course, romance novels are fantasy, but there was truth there, too. And the thing he learned, the thing he knew but was too stupid to recognize before Liv, was that when you love someone, there’s no holding back. There’s no keeping part of yourself back, there’s no waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s the ultimate trust game, and he’d broken that with Liv. He’d broken her trust, and, to make it worse, he’d failed to let her completely in, to let his stupid guard down and give her the kind of care she deserved.

He stared out at the bay, not really seeing it. He knew he should try to at least take a nap, but he knew sleep was a lost cause. She was all he could think about. He'd talked to Jack more in the last few weeks than he ever had, asking how Liv was, until Jack had finally snarled at him that maybe he should talk to her himself.