Finding Perseverance

By: T. E. Black

Book #3 in The Unexpected Series




Playlist





“Please Don’t Go”—Joel Adams “Never Forget You”—Zara Larsson “Lips Of An Angel”—Hinder “I Told You I Was Mean”—Elle King “This Time Around”— Tove Lo “Mansion”—NF

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”—Blue Oyster Cult “Silhouette”—Aquilo

“Don’t You Find”—Jamie T

“Silhouettes”—Of Monsters and Men “Moments”—Tove Lo

“You Don’t Know Love”—Olly Murs “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”—Wet “The Funeral”—Band of Horses “Four Walls”—Broods

“Closer”—Chainsmokers

“Say It”—Flume

“Easy To Love You (Acoustic)”—Theory of a Deadman “Everything You Are”—Ed Sheeran “tust”—Christina Perri “Please Don’t Leave Me”—P!nk “Start Again”—Conrad Sewell “Bed Of Lies”—Nicki Minaj “Witness (Stripped)”—Daughtry “Save Me”—Nicki Minaj

“Fools”—Lauren Aquilina “Nervous”—Gavin James

“Mine”—Third Eye Blind “She Sets The City On Fire”—Gavin DeGraw



Listen on Spotify





Dedication





For My Family …





Prologue





Ryleigh





Ten Years Earlier …



“Do you have everything packed?” I ask, leaning against the doorframe.

“Yeah. Come here.”

Rook gazes at me from his spot on our bed. He stares through me, touching my soul in a place that hasn't felt vulnerable in a long time. He has always had a way of doing that—making me feel.

“Leigh?” he questions, probably wondering why I was still standing in the doorway.

“Sorry.”

Forcing myself to move, I walk to him. My breathing increases, and my palms sweat profusely at the thought of never being in his personal space again. I don’t want him to leave. Why did he have to get an offer from a trainer? It’s not fair.

They are going to whisk him away to a big city and mold him into something he’s not. They’ll turn him into the poster child for violence—a fighter. That isn’t who he is. Rook is a good man, not a beast.

When I stop in front of him, his fingertips dance over the skin on the back of my thighs, sliding up and under my shorts. The sensual feeling of his touch is enough to pull a moan from my lips.

“Babe, you know we could make this work, right? It doesn’t have to be this way,” he pleads, nuzzling his face into my stomach.

I love him.

My fingers wind into the back of his hair, as a single tear rolls down my cheek. “Yeah, it does. You’re going to be in California, and I’ll be in Boston. The distance is too much.”

Admitting my and Rook’s harsh reality causes an ache in my heart. He can try convincing me this could work, but I know better. I won’t do it to myself … or him.

It wouldn’t be right for me to take on the responsibility of a long-distance relationship. I know we would never cheat on each other. Rook has always been loyal to a fault, as have I. The problem is the emotional turmoil of us being thousands of miles away from each other.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, Leigh. You can come with me.”

I back away from him as if he smacked me in the face. “Are you kidding? You want me to drop my life and follow you?” I snap. “I don’t know where you got that impression of me, but it’s not who I am.”

My harsh tone causes him to wince, but he collects himself. “I know it’s not who you are. I get it. But it doesn’t change the fact that I want you with me. I won’t ask you to give up your dreams, the same way you’ve never asked me to give up mine. That’s not fair, but I can tell you that I’d be invincible with you by my side. I can tell you I need you more than you think I do. I can tell you I won’t be able to sleep at night without you, and that the love I feel for you is more than any I feel for a career as a fighter.”

My eyes lock with his while he digs his fingertips into the backs of my thighs. The gesture ignites a need in me I’ve been suppressing since I found out the offer he got.