To Have and to Hold (The Hold Series Book 3)(117)

By: Arell Rivers


Her eyes brighten. We call Lynn, who’s excited to be a part of it. This feels so right. “Who knew one random act of kindness for that kid Josh all those years ago would turn into this? If not for you, this Foundation wouldn’t be real.”

“It’s all you, Cole. I just coaxed out an idea you already had in here.” She taps my forehead.

We sit quietly, wrapped up in each other. No words necessary. Life truly is better with someone to hold.

My mind wanders to our upcoming wedding. The silence of the moment is interrupted by a new soundtrack playing only inside my head. I disentangle myself from my fiancée and head over to the piano. The moment I start plucking the black and whites, the soaring melody escapes.

Rose joins me on the piano bench. I lift my fingers.

“Why did you stop?”

“I don’t know what comes next,” I admit.

She worries her lower lip. “Am I distracting you? I could go upstairs and let the creative genius have his space.”

“Creative genius, huh? I like the sound of that.”

“Uh, oh. Don’t let it go to your head, Tarzan.”

Grinning, I reply, “You’re welcome to stay. It’s just that I’ve never composed a song around anyone else before. It kinda happens like this usually. A piano melody. A lyric fragment.”

“That’s why ‘Taboo’ was so different.”

“Yeah.”

“What are you writing now?”

“I’m not sure.” I suck in my breath. “I think it’s our wedding song.”

Tears well up behind her eyes. “Oh, wow.”

“I want you to stay.” She nods and I replay what I have so far.

After about fifteen minutes, she says, “I’ll be right down.” She leaves the room for a moment and returns with blank sheet music and the notebook her mother gave me for Christmas, which she hands to me with a pencil and pen.

“I packed this, just in case. And I wasn’t sure which you prefer to use.”

Smiling, I take both writing implements from her delicate hands and, using the pencil, transcribe the notes I’ve just created. While I’m putting pencil to paper, she takes the pen and scribbles in my notebook. No one has ever written in any of my lyric notebooks but me. Hell, no one else has even opened one of my lyrics notebooks, not even Dan. But this is Rose. She belongs here, and it feels right to have her help me.

I continue playing around with the music for a while, making changes. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Rose’s shoulders have started droop. I’m on too much of an endorphin high to sleep. I kiss her shoulder. “Why don’t you go up to bed? I’ll join you soon.”

Sleepy eyes find mine. After a long blink, she gives me her answer with a yawn and offers me a sweet kiss. My gaze follows her as she disappears up the stairs, leaving me to the piano, my papers and the music filling my soul.

I open the notebook to see what Rose wrote. Five words are underlined at the top of an otherwise blank page. She titled our song, “To Have and To Hold.” Grinning, I continue letting my heart sing.

I’m wiping erasures off sheet music when Rose’s blood-curdling scream assaults my ears.





I NOD AT MY cousin Paul, dressed head to toe in black. He was always easily manipulated. Give him some porn and a bottle of expensive whiskey, and he’ll do anything.


I adjust my wig and the duffel bag strapped across my body. No reason to advertise it’s me. Not yet, anyway.

“Give me a leg up.”

Paul helps me over the eight-foot stone wall and I drop down onto the other side, landing silently on my sneaker-clad feet. He scrambles over the next minute. My surveillance showed where the cameras are located and this is the perfect dead zone.

Together, we make our way to the main house. I point to the newest flunkie Cole has working for him. Paul nods and disappears around the side of the building.

Following at a distance, I see Paul jump the burly guard from behind, putting him in a chokehold. The two struggle, but we have the element of surprise. C’mon, Paul, you can do it. The big guy slumps and Paul deposits him on the ground, pulling up sharply on his neck. At least Paul’s quiet.

I walk over and lift the guard’s arm, checking for a pulse. Nothing. When I release his wrist, it falls back to the ground with a thump. My hands rummage through his pockets until I secure a set of keys.