A teaser scene with Jen and Bryce. Can’t Let You Go is a standalone new adult romance and book three of the Wheeler Brothers.
“Hey.” I move over, sitting beside her feet.
“What?” she says, staring at the TV.
“Get over here.” I pull her blanket back.
“Because you’re freezing and I always warm you up.”
She pulls the blanket back over her. “I thought you were leaving.”
“I’m watching TV with you. Now get over here.” I tug on her arm until she sits up.
“It’s after eleven and you have to be up early tomorrow,” she says shifting her legs to the other side.
“Yeah? So? I’m not tired. I’m not ready to sleep.” I lean back on the couch and put my arm out for her. “Come on.” I motion to my chest. “It’s toasty warm.”
She half-smiles as she snuggles up beside me and lays her head on my chest. “I don’t know how you stay so warm all the time, even in winter.”
It’s true that I tend to run warmer than most people, but that’s not the only reason I’m burning up right now. It’s also because I’m with Jen. The attraction between us is so freaking strong that keeping it under control is a damn workout. Like right now, having her this close to me is torture. I want to kiss her and touch her in a way that goes far beyond friendship. But I force myself to hold back and just be her friend. Because that’s what she needs right now after being manipulated once again by her mom.
I take the remote from her and she swats at me. “Hey, I was using that!”
“You haven’t changed the channel since you picked it up. And we’re not watching a documentary on turtles.”
She laughs. “Is that what this is? I wasn’t even paying attention.”
Because her mind was on her mom. And probably also on me, trying to figure out what I’m doing here. I shouldn’t be here, with her lying in my arms. I told myself I wouldn’t do this again, but shit, Jen’s like an addiction I can’t break. When I’m apart from her, all I can think about is when I’ll see her again. And when I’m with her, I go back to old habits, like having her lay on me on the couch.
I’ll try again tomorrow. That’s what I tell myself every time I break my rule to stay away from her. But then tomorrow comes and I’m back to wanting to see her again. It’s a cycle I just can’t seem to get out of.
“Here,” I say. “We’ll watch this.”
“Monster Truck racing? No way. Give me the remote.” She sits up, reaching for it.
I hold it away from her, smiling. “Fine. We’ll watch something else.” I flip to ultimate fighting. “How about this?”
“Bryce.” She holds her hand out for the remote.
“You know I’m just kidding.” I flip through the channels, stopping when I see one of her favorite movies.
“Oh!” She smiles. “I love this one!”
“I know you do.” I set the remote on the side table and scoot down a little, getting comfortable. Jen situates herself on my chest and adjusts the blanket over her legs.
The movie is a sappy romance, but Jen loves it. She loves all those romance movies, I think because they’re so opposite of what she saw in real life growing up. Her mom has never been in love. She just has sex with guys, using it to trick them into giving her what she wants. If that’s all Jen had seen growing up, she probably wouldn’t even believe love exists. But she does, because she grew up around my parents, who loved each other more than anything.
A half hour into the movie, I feel Jen’s head drop down and notice she’s asleep.
“Jen,” I whisper. She doesn’t move. “Jen, you should get to bed.”
She’s sound asleep and doesn’t hear me. I gently pick her up and carry her into her room and set her on the bed, tucking the blanket around her.
I lean down and kiss her forehead. “I love you,” I say in a whisper so faint I could barely hear myself say it. I’m not sure why I did. Maybe because I want to tell her that so fucking bad. But I can’t, at least not when she can hear me.
I quietly walk back to the living room, turn off the TV and leave, locking the door behind me with the key she gave me. We have keys to each other’s apartment, as if we’re boyfriend and girlfriend.
Our relationship is so screwed up. We’re childhood friends, and yet sometimes we act like we’re more than that, even when we’re dating other people. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to actually date Jen, without worrying about all the shit I constantly worry about when it comes to her and me.
What would it be like to actually tell her how I feel? To take her out and be able to kiss her goodnight? Or invite her up to my place to finally relieve the sexual tension between us? I can’t let my head even go there because it’s not going to happen.
Here’s a scene from Can’t Let You Go, a standalone new adult romance and book three of The Wheeler Brothers.
“Ready to eat?” I ask as I unload the food from the sacks.
Bryce comes up behind me and opens the cupboard above my head and takes out two plates. He’s over here enough to know where everything is. He grabs some glasses and sets them on the counter beside me. I yank open the drawer in front of me to grab some forks and back right into Bryce. I didn’t know he was still behind me. I freeze because my ass is now right up against him.
“You okay?” he asks, his arm going around my waist, keeping me held against his body.
“Yeah. Sorry,” I say sounding breathless. “I didn’t realize you were still there.”
Instead of moving, he reaches around me and takes two forks from the drawer. “Anything else we need?”
“Um, no. Just the drinks.” I shut the drawer and turn around to face him.
He still hasn’t moved, and now he’s staring at me with those gorgeous blue eyes of his.
“Did you need something?” I ask.
“I just wanted to say thanks. For letting me come over.”
“What are you talking about?” I let out a laugh. “You know you can come over here anytime.”
“But I shouldn’t.” He looks down. “I shouldn’t just drop in like this.”
Why is he acting this way? It’s like he’s pulling even farther away from me. We always drop in to see each other. We call first, but it’s not like we give each other much notice. We don’t have to. We’re friends, and friends drop in to see each other. So why is he acting like we shouldn’t be doing that anymore?
Does he have a girlfriend he didn’t tell me about? Is she banning him from seeing me? Or is it something else? Is he trying to end this? End our friendship? God, I hope not.
Jen’s hurt, and confused. I can see it in her face. She doesn’t understand why I said that just now. But she should. She should know it’s time to move on. I shouldn’t be stopping over like this or calling late at night. We shouldn’t even be friends anymore. Our friendship should’ve ended after high school. If it had, she wouldn’t have gone to college here and been stuck dealing with her mom the past four years. I screwed up her life but I’m not going to keep doing it.
And yet I haven’t stepped away from her. She’s still backed against the counter, my body blocking her in. I want to move closer, press myself against her, and lower my mouth over her slighted parted lips. And then kiss her. Kiss her like I’ve wanted to for four freakin’ years.
“We should eat,” I say, forcing myself to snap out of it. She’s not mine. She never will be.
High School Graduation Night
“We’re finally free,” I say, laying back on the bed of my truck. Jen is next to me, lying on the sleeping bags I laid out for us.
She laughs. “Not me. In a few months I’ll be back to studying. Doing homework. It’ll be like high school but more work. And I’ll be working two jobs, maybe three.”
I turn on my side, facing her. “Let me help you. I don’t have a lot of money saved but I have a little and I’ll make more this summer.”
“Bryce, no.” She turns to face me and my eyes get caught on her beautiful face, her delicate features highlighted by the bright moon just above us. “You’re not giving me money.”
“I don’t want you working so much. College is tough, and then you’re going to work two jobs? It’s too much.”
“I can handle it. I promise.” She runs her hand along the side of my face. “I won’t disappoint you.”
“You’d never disappoint me.” I take her hand from my cheek and kiss her palm. “I’m so damn proud of you.”
“I’m only going to college because of you. Because you helped me. Supported me. Believed in me.”
“I’ll always do those things. You’re my best friend. You always will be.”
She looks down. “Please say we won’t grow apart when I start college.”
I don’t think Chad’s the guy for you.” Bryce says ‘Chad’ like it’s the dumbest name he’s ever heard.
“Oh, really?” I say, crossing my arms. “Then who’s the right guy for me?”
There it is. Another chance for Bryce to say how he feels about me. Another chance for him to ask me out. But does he do it? Of course not.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know who the right guy is, but I know it’s not Chad.”
I sigh in frustration. “I have to go.” I get in my car. “I’ll see you later.” I pull on the door until he moves enough for me to close it.
“Hey.” He taps on the window as I start the engine.
I roll the window down. “What?”
“Are you going to dinner with him or not?”
Now I’m angry. Bryce always makes me like this. Loving him one minute, hating him the next. Well, it’s not hate, but it’s complete and utter annoyance and frustration.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” I say, “but yes, I am going to dinner with him. Goodbye, Bryce.” I roll my window up and pull out of my parking space and drive off. When I glance in the rearview mirror, I see Bryce still standing there, his head hung down, his hands wrapped around the back of his neck. He does that when he’s mad or frustrated. So he feels the same way as me. Good. We can both be miserable.
But why is that good? Why can’t we just be happy? Why can’t we be together like we want to be? And if we’re not going to be together, why aren’t we able to move on and be happy with other people?
Because we’re Jen and Bryce. That’s why. We’re best friends and we love each other and we’re meant to be together. But for some stupid reason we can’t.
And that stupid reason is Bryce.
Can’t Let You Go comes out late Spring 2016.
I never should’ve kissed her. It happened almost four years ago, the night of our high school graduation. I’ve always wanted to be more than friends with Jen, and after we kissed, I wanted her more than anything. But I can’t have her. I won’t let myself. She needs to get out of here. She needs to start a new life, far away from her old one. So I’ll keep pushing her away, even though it kills me to do so. When she finally leaves, it’ll destroy me, but at least she’ll be happy. And that’s all I care about.
Bryce is my best friend, and has been for as long as I can remember. If it weren’t for him, I’d probably be living on the streets, but instead I’m in college and about to graduate. I’ve been applying for jobs and might end up leaving Chicago, but I don’t want to leave Bryce. I love him, and I know he loves me too. I could tell when he kissed me four years ago. But after that night, he refused to be anything more than my friend. Now time is running out. I might be moving away, ending any chance of Bryce and me ever being together. I know he wants to be with me, so why won’t he ask me to stay?