I've just decided that whenever I feel like sharing an excerpt or perhaps even a short story, I'm going to post it on a Sunday. It'll be totally random and on a whim (much like the decision to start this gig in the first place) so you'll just have to be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out. (Did I mention I can post things only my "members" can see? Nifty little feature, if you ask me...)
Anyway, with Tethered's release coming this Thursday, I thought it appropriate to share a little section on this--the first of my sporadic, snippet Sundays. Enjoy!
Tethered (Savior Series, #2)
R.C. Martin © 2018
I toss my duffle into the backseat of the Wrangler and shut the door. Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I note the time. This early in morning, it shouldn’t take me much longer than forty minutes to make it to Ashley’s property, but I know I need to hit the road soon. Jill and I were up late, and I hate to wake her, but she’d have my ass if I left without saying goodbye.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After I pull the Jeep around to the driveway, parking just outside the front door, I close the garage and head back inside. Jill’s exactly where I left her—curled up on her side, the sheets bunched up against her chest, and her hair everywhere. I sit on the edge of the bed, gently tucking a few strands behind her ear before curling my fingers around the back of her neck.
“Jill—baby, I’ve got to go,” I murmur, giving her a light squeeze.
She hums, her brow furrowing in confusion as she starts to come out of sleep. She looks fucking adorable, and I shake my head as a small smile plays at my lips.
“Jill, wake up. Walk me out.”
Drawing in a deep breath, her eyes fly open, instantly connecting with mine. “Out. Shit,” she grumbles, sitting up abruptly. “You’re leaving.”
I don’t respond to her realization. Instead, I press a quick, hard kiss against her lips and stand to my feet. “Cover up. Walk me out,” I repeat.
She nods, slipping out from between the sheets as she rakes her fingers through her hair. Bringing the long strands to one shoulder, she doesn’t bother heading to the closet or the dresser for clothes. Rather, she searches the floor for the shirt I had on yesterday. When she finds it, she pulls it over her head, snaking her arms through but leaving her hair underneath the collar. Satisfied with what she’s got on, she closes the distance between us and laces her fingers with mine. I can feel her new rings against my skin, and I squeeze my hand reflexively, pleased with the sensation. Jill looks up at me, waiting for me to lead the way out, but I pause a moment, not liking the sad look in her eyes.
“What?” I ask, holding her hand tighter.
“I shouldn’t have decided to stay home. It’s like I’ve been spoiled for the last month, and I’m not ready to be apart from you for so long.”
Leaning down to press my lips to her forehead, I remind her, “We’ve been separated longer.”
“I know. I’m just feeling…emotional or something. I’m tired. It’ll pass. And you’ll call me.” Propping her head against my arm, she goes on to clarify, “Every day. Twice a day. At least.”
I can hear the smile in her voice, and I know she thinks she’s laying down the law.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We walk hand in hand down the hallway and through the living room to the front door. As we step out onto the porch, I turn and gather her in my arms, dipping my head to kiss her goodbye. She’s quick to wrap her arms around my neck, pressing up on her tiptoes as she leans into me. She tangles her tongue with mine as though she’s trying to account for every kiss we won’t share while I’m away. Having another minute to spare, I indulge her.
When I know I can’t stay any longer, I slow us down, tugging her bottom lip between my teeth for a bite before I pull away. “I’ve got to go.”
“I know,” she sighs, taking a step back and out of my grasp. Gasping suddenly, her eyes open wide before she exclaims, “Wait! I totally forgot.”
I don’t get a chance to ask her what she’s going on about before she’s racing back into the house. I scowl after her, confused as to whether or not she expects me to follow. I don’t, folding my arms across my chest as I wait for her to return. It’s not long before I hear the sound of her bare feet against the wood floors as she hurries toward the porch. Her hair is now up in a messy bun on top of her head, and she’s got her cellphone in her hand.
“I promised Corie, so you can’t say no,” she tells me, fidgeting with the device.
“You promised her what?”
“Remember when she and Ashely first got engaged? That picture she sent me showing off her engagement ring? The one that went viral in a matter of hours?”
I quirk an eyebrow at her, wondering how she thinks I could possibly forget. The media frenzy that followed the announcement was outrageous.
“Anyway, I owe Corie one. You have to take it.” She holds up her phone expectantly; the camera app is already open, with the lens turned toward us. “Your arms are longer.”
I take hold of the phone and she smiles at me before pressing her chest against my side. Reflexively, my arm drapes around her back, my hand resting against her hip. She props her left hand against my chest, and without further instruction, I extend my opposite arm and snap the picture.
“Lee!” she laughs, looking up at me. “You cut yourself out of it completely.”
“I thought the point was to show off your ring,” I challenge.
Pressing herself against me tighter, she murmurs, “The ring means nothing without the man. Now, smile for the camera, husband—you’re going to be late.”
I roll my eyes, but hold the phone out again; this time, angling the device so that we’re both in the frame. My gaze drops down to look at the mirrored image of her gorgeous smile, and the smirk that pulls at one side of my mouth appears naturally. I snap another picture, and she kisses my chest before pulling away from me, taking her phone from my grasp.
“That’s perfect. Corie will love it.”
“All right, I’m out,” I mumble, leaning down to touch my lips to her forehead.
She nods as I pull away. “Text me when you get to the airport? And again when you land at LAX?”
“Yeah,” I reply, jogging down the porch steps.
“I love you.”
“You too, baby.” Before getting into the Wrangler, I pause and call out, “Send me one, too.”
She grins, and my chest swells.
Fuck—she still does that to me.
Much like every time I’m forced to leave my woman behind, I buckle myself in the driver’s seat and then look out at her once more. She waves, and I take off—that familiar strain pulling at my chest, reminding me that no matter how near or far she is, I’m tethered to that woman. I won’t rest easy until I’m back where I belong.