Who I Am With You(59)

By: M. Lynne Cunning



He clenched his jaw together. “No, Katie...”

“I have to try... for Mason’s sake.” Her eyes wouldn’t meet his as she tried to justify the only thing Chad deemed unjustifiable in this whole mess.

“For Mason,” Chad repeated, unable to believe what he was hearing. “You can’t be serious, Katie. Please, don’t do this.”

She nodded. “I’ve made up my mind, Chad.”

“He abandoned you, Katie.”

“And you lied to me.” Her eyes hardened as she met his stare. “As you said, we’ve all made mistakes.”

“You haven’t, Katie.”

“I’m not innocent, Chad. I’ve made plenty of mistakes.”

Chad shook his head vehemently. “No, you haven’t. Not until right now.”

Katie’s eyes drifted shut, and Chad watched her inhale and exhale slowly in the struggle to maintain some remnant of calmness. “Then this is my mistake to make.”

“Don’t do this, Katie. Not like this.”

Katie released her hold on his arms, but didn’t step away. Instead, she stretched her body upward, standing on her tip-toes, and brushed her lips against Chad’s. Warmth radiated from the kiss, and heat spread through his body to his fingertips as his hand came up to cover the one she placed tenderly on the back of his neck to pull him closer to her. She pulled away a moment later, her eyes once again wide and full of uncertainty.

“Katie, I love you. Don’t do this. Please, don’t do this,” he pleaded breathlessly, fortified by the emotions crashing through his mind and heart.

“It’s too late, Chad.” She pushed her forehead against his, and Chad took the moment to breathe in the scent of her he’d become so accustomed to having near him. He couldn’t bring himself to separate himself from her.

“You should go,” Katie’s whisper rang out through the silence and the rain that beat down on the steel roof.

Chad kissed her temple and blinked back the tears threatening to overwhelm him as well. He swallowed hard, shaking his head. He refused to believe this was the last time he would see her, the last time he’d hold her close to him.

“I don’t regret it, you know.” Katie gave him a sad smile, wiping her eyes. “Meeting you. Knowing you. Loving you.”

Chad sighed as she pulled away from him. He wished like hell that he had nothing to regret, and wished just as much that she wasn’t taking steps away from him. When she reached the screen door, his mind screamed at him to do something, anything. Instead, he repeated the only thing he knew without hesitation.

“I mean it, Katie. I love you.”

She smiled as she opened the door and stepped inside. “I love you, too, Chad Kirkwood.” Then, she closed the door so gently, he didn’t even hear the latch click into place.





Acknowledgements




Writing Who I Am With You may have been a relatively solitary process in the beginning stages, but actually polishing it up and producing something that other people would want to read couldn’t have been done without a select group of like-minded friends and fellow authors who all share one passion—to write stories and enjoy doing it.

To Hally, Kari, Erica, and D. Nichole: Thank you for letting me drive you crazy with thousands of questions and thoughts regarding storylines, the synopsis, and other details that I overanalyzed and freaked out about. You’re all so ridiculously talented.

To my amazing publisher, Fifth Ink Publishing: I can never truly show my full appreciation for the fact that you took a chance on me. The future is bright, my friends. Let’s show this world what we’re made of!

To Jo-Anna at Just Write Creations: You’ve created the most beautifully perfect cover for this story, and I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work! The countdown is on for the IYS event!

To CP: Thank you for being you. Your generosity knows no bounds, and I believe the world needs more people like you.

To Mom and Dad: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for encouraging me and believing in me while I chase this dream.

To Dennis: Thank you for being my rock. You’re my husband, but you’re also my best friend. I love you.

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