Title: Everything I Need (Nashville Nights, #3)
Author: Stacey Mosteller
Release Date: September 4. 2014
SarahBeth Pearson has made mistakes, and I might just be the biggest one of them all. After spending months keeping secrets and lying to everyone close to us, it’s all fallen apart and we are each left alone to pick up the pieces.
I’ve loved SarahBeth in one form or another her entire life. The steps that brought us closer together weren’t easy for me to take. After letting her dictate our relationship, I’ve found myself practically homeless and estranged from my closest friends.
Now I’m left trying to move on, finding a new place to live and getting everything I need in order, while she’s trying to mend her broken heart. There’s just one problem…SarahBeth’s still keeping secrets - and her secret just might change everything.
It feels like I'm at confession, getting ready to lay out all my sins and ask what I need to do for penance, "You know my relationship with most of my family is shit."
"Yes," she says softly, confusion evident in her voice.
"Luckily, you haven't had much interaction with my mother, but she's always getting into and out of trouble. Usually it's something to do with drugs or alcohol, she's been arrested for prostitution because she had to pay her dealer or she begs people for money because she owes somebody. She gets mixed up with people she shouldn’t be associated with at all. This time, the guy demanded names of people she was close to, she gave him my name of course. Constance and Henry will never give her money, and my grandmother doesn't have much to give. Being in my life put you in danger, and I couldn’t allow that. Unfortunately, my fuck up of a mother gave them your name in an attempt to manipulate me, so they're already aware of you. It also means there’s no reason for me to stay away from you, because they already know who you are.”
I've kept my gaze locked on her face throughout the entire explanation, watching her face grow more pale, knowing this is what I wanted to prevent. The last thing I want is for her to be scared or upset, but being a part of my life makes her ammunition for my mother.
"Did you not think I could handle it?" her voice is resigned, but I can hear the anger just below the surface. "That I'd want to be there for you...with you? We were great together, Jeremy...together we could have handled anything."
Not wanting to explain my actions yet again, actions that were meant to keep her safe, I say, "I just wanted to protect you..." Before I can explain any further, she finally turns to face me, her eyes sparking angrily as she glares at me, her temper snapping.
"Are you seriously telling me that you stayed away from me just because your mom is a crappy person? You've made my life a living hell for six weeks because you wanted to protect me?" She stands, almost vibrating with fury and hurt.
As soon as she stops talking, I cut in, "Yes! It's my job to protect you." Doesn't she get that? All of this was to protect her, from my damn mother's bullshit touching her innocence.
"How do you know I couldn't handle it? I'd do anything for you Jeremy!"
I stand now, struggling to explain further, because this is the last reaction I expected from her, but she cuts me off, her voice thick with tears. "Did it ever occur to you that I wouldn't care? That I would want to be with you regardless? Do you really not realize how much I loved you?"
The fact that she uses the past tense doesn't escape my notice, and my heart clenches painfully at the thought that I've done too much damage for us to come back from this. Before I can think about possible repercussions, I walk over to stand in front of her, my own hand shaking as I cup her cheek and ask, "Baby, what kind of man would I be if I didn't want to protect you? Hurting you hurts me." Bending so I can look straight into her eyes, I say, my voice rough with emotion, "You're the most important thing in my world, Little Bit. The only reason I shut you out is because I love you so fucking much. If something happened to you because of my family, if being with me caused you to be hurt, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. Knowing it was better for you that I stay away was the only thing keeping me from you."
SarahBeth closes her eyes, shutting me out now, not allowing me to see what she's feeling. "Dammit! Do you honestly think I'd push you away if I didn't have a good fucking reason?" My voice rises with my frustration.
Her eyes fly open, pinning me with her angry stare. Jerking away from me, she spins around, and tries to get herself under control in a way that's all too familiar. I can't help but smile as she faces away from me, her hands balled into fists at her side, she’s breathing heavily as she attempts to calm herself down. Finally, she turns back to me, but takes a step back, keeping her distance. She thinks that putting space between us will keep me away from her, but she's wrong. I've lived six weeks without her; I'm not going a minute longer.
"God, you make me so mad," she seethes, looking at me in a way that makes me worry over sensitive body parts and what she might do to them in retaliation. "I can't believe you would do that, that you would just cut me off and take yourself out of my life without even telling me what was going on. I just..." her voice breaks and I watch as she deflates in front of me, no longer the angry little madam, but a sad young girl instead. "If you only knew..."
Unable to take it anymore, the distance, the emotions, the whole damn situation, I take the three steps necessary to take her in my arms, refusing to let her go, even when she struggles. That might make me the worst kind of man, but she only pushes against me for a second before relaxing, clutching my shirt in her fists and burying her head in my chest.
Nashville Nights series
Everything I Need (Nashville Nights, #3)
Never Wanted More (Nashville Nights #0.5) - FREE on Amazon
Save Me From Myself (Nashville Nights #1) - FREE
Everything I Shouldn’t (Nashville Nights #2)
Stacey is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of Second Chances (co-authored with H.M. Ward) and the Nashville Nights series.
She is also a wife, mother, writer and self-professed bookwhore - not necessarily in that order! As the mother of three growing boys, her Kindle has become her temporary escape from the insanity of boys, dogs and her husband. Stacey can usually be found curled up with her iPad when she's supposed to be writing or creating endless playlists on Spotify.