Finding Perseverance(96)

By: T. E. Black


I take a seat at the bar, looking around at my usually filled establishment, which is currently empty. These times are my favorite. That’s probably why I always volunteer to open the place. You’d think I do it because I’m the owner, but the reality is, I love the few hours of silence before things get crazy.

It’s my time to unwind—to sit and normally have a beer. Today there’s no booze involved—not after last night’s escapades.

After seeing Trent come close to taking a drink from my bottle, I highly doubt I’ll be touching any form of alcohol for a long time. I won’t be able to take a sip without thinking about what he almost did.

I knew in my mind he wasn’t going to take a swig, but my heart saw him about to ruin everything he’s worked for, and the bitch panicked. She ached so hard, I had no choice but to get off my drunk ass and stop him. I wouldn’t let him fall back down the rabbit hole—pissed off or not. He means too much to me.

As much as I bitch and complain about feeling under appreciated, it doesn’t change who I am. I’m the one who looks out for my friends, and so be it. I can’t imagine what would happen to my friends if they didn’t have me to set them straight every now and then and vice versa apparently.

My cell rings, and a small twinge of hope sparks that it’s Rook calling, but when I see the same unknown number I’ve been seeing for weeks, I get irritated.

“Hello?”

The silence on the other end drives me insane. I want to know who keeps calling and not saying anything.

“Who is this?” The sound of a throat being cleared definitely belongs to a man.

“Ryleigh?”

The voice slipping into my ears forces my frown into a grin.

“Gunner?” I ask in disbelief, my frown slipping into a giant grin. I haven’t heard from him since he took off after Shay chose Trent over him. I have never seen anyone so torn up over a girl. The poor guy did nothing but be a friend to Shay every time Trent fucked up, and after she chose Trent over him one too many times, he skipped town. I knew he would land on his feet and call me eventually, just not six months later. I don’t know if I want to yell at him for all the radio silence or laugh with joy that he finally decided to freaking call me.

“It’s me,” he replies casually.

“Where are you? What are you doing? Why haven’t you answered your phone? Why did you keep hanging up on me?” The questions tumble from my lips one after the other.

“I’m in Burlington, and I’m sorry for hanging up. I was nervous.”

“Burlington, Vermont?” I confirm.

“Yeah.”

Gunner sounds different from the last time I talked to him. He almost sounds happy. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“What one?”

“Why were you hanging up on me?”

With a sigh, he answers. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I left without so much of a good-bye to anyone. I figured you guys only wanted to convince me to come back to Boston.”

“You know I’d never tell you to come back after what they did to you. I love Trent and Shay, but what they did to you was wrong. Nothing will change the past. Your part of our family, Gunner. I always have your back.”

“I know. I’m sorry for all the hang-up calls.”

“It’s all right. Next time, at least say something. I was thinking it was Susan being a nutcase again. You could have gotten her ass beat.”

“Fair enough,” he agrees.

“So, let’s hear it. How are you? What have you been doing with your life?”

He chuckles lightly. “I’m all right. I actually met someone.”

The moment the words leave his lips, I’m ready to scream in excitement. I’m so happy Gunner found someone. He deserves it.

“That’s great!” I squeal. “Who is she? Can I meet her? Does this mean you’re coming back?”

“Honestly, I don’t think I can come back. It’s not because I don’t miss you guys, but I don’t think I’m ready to see them.”

I know who he’s talking about. He can’t even say Trent and Shay’s names. Poor guy.

“Can I come see you instead? I’d love to meet this new woman. You know, make sure she’s good enough for you,” I joke.