The New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author returns with a sizzling novel of love, loss, guilt, and forgiveness.
Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.
It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?
Grey May 10, 2012
“Then over there is where the girls and I will be waiting before the ceremony starts,” I said, pointing to the all-seasons tent just off to the side. “I think the coordinator said she’d get us in there when the photographer is taking pictures of Ben and the boys on the other side house, so he won’t see me.”
I glanced to my mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law talking about the gazebo behind me, and what it would look like with the greenery and flowers, and I smiled to myself. They’d been going back and forth on whether we should keep the gazebo as it was or decorate it ever since Ben and I had decided on The Lake House as our wedding and reception site. And from the few words I was hearing now, they were still undecided. I honestly didn’t care how it was decorated. I wanted to be married to Ben, and in three days, I would be.
“Grey, this place is freaking gorgeous. I can’t believe you were able to get it on such short notice,” my maid-of-honor and best friend, Janie, said in awe.
“I know, but it’s perfect, right?”
I grabbed her hand and rested my head on her shoulder as I stared at the part of the property where the reception would be. Ben and I had promised our families that we wouldn’t get married until we’d graduated from college, but that had been a much harder promise to keep than we’d thought it would be. School let out for summer a few days ago, and we wanted to move off campus for our junior year … together. That hadn’t exactly gone over well with my parents. They didn’t want us living together until we were married. I think in my dad’s mind it helped him continue to believe I was his innocent little girl.
I’d been dating Ben since I was thirteen years old; the innocent part flew out the window over three years ago. Not that he needed to know that. After a long talk with both our parents, they agreed to let us get married now instead of two years from now.
That was seven weeks ago. Even though Ben had asked me to marry him last Christmas, we’d officially gotten engaged once we’d received the okay from our parents, and had started planning our wedding immediately. Seven weeks of being engaged. Seven years of being together. And in three days I would finally be Mrs. Benjamin Craft.
With how the last few weeks had dragged by, it felt like our day would never get here.
My phone rang and I pulled it out of my pocket. My lips tilted up when I saw Jagger’s name and face on the screen, but I ignored the call. Putting my phone back in my pocket, I kept my other hand firmly wrapped around Janie’s and walked over to where the rest of the bridesmaids were. My aunts and grandma had gathered around the gazebo-debating duo, and were helping them with the pros and cons.
“So what are we going to do tonight?” I asked, hoping to get some kind of information about the bachelorette party.
“Nice try.” Janie snorted. She started saying something else, but my phone rang again.
Glancing down and seeing Jagger again, I thought about answering it for a few seconds before huffing out a soft laugh and ignoring the call a second time. I knew why he was calling. He was bored out of his mind and wanted me to save him from the golf day Ben and all the guys were having before the bachelor party. Normally I would have saved him from the torture of golfing, but today was about Ben. If he wanted to go golfing with all his guys, then Jagger just had to suck it up for his best friend.
Almost immediately after ignoring the call, I got a text from him.
Jagger: Answer the goddamn phone Grey!
My head jerked back when the phone in my hand began ringing just as soon as I’d read the message, and all I could do was stare at it for a few seconds. A feeling of dread and unease formed in my chest, quickly unfurling and spreading through my arms and stomach.
Some part of my mind registered two other ringtones, but I couldn’t focus on them, or make myself look away from Jagger’s lopsided smile on my screen. With a shaky finger, I pressed on the green button, and brought the phone up to my ear.
Before I could say anything, his panicked voice filled the phone.
“Grey? Grey! Are you there? Fuck, Grey, say something so I know you’re there!”
There was a siren and yelling in the background, and the feeling that had spread through my body now felt like it was choking me. I didn’t know what was happening, but somehow … somehow I knew my entire world was about to change. My legs started shaking and my breaths came out in hard rushes.
“I—what’s happ—” I cut off quickly and turned to look at my mom and Ben’s. Both had phones to their ears. Ben’s mom was screaming with tears falling down her cheeks; my mom looked like the ground had just been ripped out from underneath her.
Jagger was talking, I knew his voice was loud and frantic, but I was having trouble focusing on the words. It sounded like he was yelling at me from miles away.
“What?” I whispered.
Everyone around me was freaking out, trying to figure out what was going on. One of my friends was asking who I was talking to, but I couldn’t even turn to look at her, or be sure who it was that had asked. I couldn’t take my eyes off the only other women currently talking on a phone.
“Grey! Tell me where you are, I’m coming to get you!”
I blinked a few times and looked down at my lap. I was sitting on the ground. When had I sat down?
Janie squatted in front of me and grabbed my shoulders to shake me before grabbing my cheeks so I would look at her instead of where my mom and Ben’s were clinging to each other.
“What?” I repeated, my voice barely audible.
Just before Janie took the phone from me, I heard a noise that sounded weighted and pained. A choking sound I’d never heard from Jagger in the eleven years we’d been friends. The grief in it was enough to force a sharp cry from my own chest, and I didn’t even struggle against Janie when she took the phone from me.
I didn’t understand anything that was happening around me, but somehow I knew everything. A part of me had heard Jagger’s words. A part of me understood what the horrified cries meant that quickly spread throughout every one of my friends. My family. Ben’s family. A part of me acknowledged the sense of loss that had added to the dread, unease, and grief—and knew why it was there.
A part of me knew the wedding I’d just been envisioning would never happen.
Molly McAdams grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband and furry daughter. Her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling and long walks on the beach, which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. When she's not at work, she can be found hiding out in her bedroom surrounded by her laptop, cell, Kindle and fighting over the TV remote. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies, fried pickles and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm...or under one in a bathtub if there are tornados. That way she can pretend they aren't really happening.
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