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Choosing Goodbye

Choosing Goodbye

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Choosing Goodbye

389 página
7 horas
Jan 26, 2018


When Harlee met Jake, she knew life would be different. She had someone who loved her even with the crazy schedule and the tour stops. She'd been left with one of the biggest decisions she'd ever have to make. When she finally made it, it meant she might just lose him altogether. Schedules were always going to conflict, but she thought it would've been easier.

Jake knew being with someone who was constantly on the road meant a lot of time alone, and he expected it. What he never expected was missing her so much the minute she had left. Would he be able to stand being alone for months while she toured the country? He thought diving into a new job would help but he only missed her more.

Grace thought she had it all. She married the perfect guy and ended up having to make the hardest decision she'd ever made. Watching Jake and Harlee was enough to make her see what she wanted, but would the choice she made ruin any chance at being happy?

Mistakes are made, lessons learned and heartache suffered, but would the choice they made get them through it all? A story of love on the road to happiness.

Jan 26, 2018

Sobre el autor

Sue Langford started out with a dream. She'd been writing since she was young and always dreamed of seeing her books in a book store. When she finally gave in and got her first novel published, it hit the racks and was snatched up by everyone. When she made her first trip to Nashville, she was completely hooked. From that point on, her books were inspired by country music and the artists she loved.When she took on the topic of Anti-Bullying in her newest series - The Revenge Series - she found even more exposure than she could have imagined. The first of it's kind, she proved that everyone no matter their size, shape, opinions or even career deserves to be bullied. If you think she's stopping there, you will be happily surprised. She takes on a current topic with every book and every series. An author to watch and a bestselling one at that, Sue is a one of a kind author that all of us should check out.

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Choosing Goodbye - Sue Langford

Choosing Goodbye


Copyright © 2016 Sue Langford

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1530563305

ISBN-13: 978-1530563302


To the friends who helped me put life together again

To Nadine and Leanne

More books by Sue Langford

"Falling in love is easy.

It’s picking up the pieces, putting your heart back together and trying to move on that’s hard."

- Rashida Rowe

Chapter 1

Why now? Why would you do all of this now? All I wanted was a life with her without the drama and the bull and the stress. Why are you doing this? You couldn’t just walk away and leave us alone. You couldn’t just go on with your life. You have to come back and destroy what happiness I have left, Jake said. Because I know you still want me Jake. I know because the night that you kissed me at the bonfire, we almost slept together. The only thing that stopped me….

* * *

Jake was staring Tara down in the driveway like he was trying to have the upper hand intentionally. He knew if he didn’t walk inside, Harlee was going to have his head. Fact being, whether he went in or not Harlee was way beyond mad. What do you want, Jake asked. You, Tara said. She’s inside waiting. Why couldn’t you just stay away and leave us alone, Jake asked. You’re the one workin for my dad Jake. I can’t just pretend that I’m not related, Tara said. You don’t get it. She just about kicked my butt when she saw you. You have to stay away from Harlee. Just leave us alone, Jake said. I want you back, Tara said. Look at my hand Tara. I have a wedding band. One that you didn’t have anything to do with. I’m lucky she even showed up at the damn wedding. Leave her alone, Jake said. Then come with me, Tara replied. I can’t. My wife is sittin in there pissed off. Christmas is in a few days Tara. You start this then I might as well find a divorce lawyer, Jake said. Then go look for one. I’m not goin away, Tara said. Jake saw her car on the road. He walked her out there and closed the gate. Leave us alone or she’s gonna snap on you. I’m not gonna be responsible for it, Jake said. He went to walk back inside and he saw Grace standing on the front porch of the house. Go with your girlfriend Jake, Grace said. She walked inside and locked the door behind her.

Grace looked into the TV room and thankfully, Harlee was upstairs. Tara looked again and saw the walls. Holy shit, Tara said. She walked upstairs and Harlee was asleep in the master bedroom. Even the walls in there were different. She walked into her room and saw the walls, the new bedspread and the note on the bed:

Hope you like it. Just thought you needed to make it more you. – H

Grace smirked and turned around. You like it, Harlee asked as she yawned in the hallway. Holy crap. Harlee, when did you do all of this, Grace asked. They did it this week while I was having world war three with him, Harlee asked. Grace hadn’t heard Jake come in and it was starting to worry her. So what did you do downstairs, Grace asked. I’ll show you in the morning, Harlee replied. Grace nodded. Was Jake with you, Harlee asked.

Jake fussed with his keys while he stood on the front porch. The keys weren’t working right. Calling Harlee wasn’t an option. He called Grace. What, Grace asked. Can you unlock the door at least, Jake asked. Grace hung up. She walked downstairs and opened the door for Jake. You piss her off, I’m kickin your butt pregnant or not, Grace said. He grabbed the bags, walked upstairs, put Grace’s in her room and walked into the master. He did a double-take walking in. What, Harlee asked. What did you do in here, Jake asked. Something I meant to do a long time ago. Since I’m here longer than the 3 or 4 months, I wanted it to be more me, Harlee said. Meaning, Jake asked. If you drove with Grace, what took you so long, Harlee asked. I was on a call to work, Jake said. Grace shook her head. What Grace, Harlee asked. He’s full of crap, Grace replied. You wanna tell me the truth or did you wanna spend Christmas with your mom at her place alone, Harlee asked. Do you mind Grace, Jake said. Yeah I do, Grace said. Harlee looked at her and Grace shook her head. This is between us Harlee, Jake said. Not when you’re gonna lie, Grace said. Harlee shook her head. Grace went into her room and sat by the door in the glider.

So talk, Harlee said. Sit down first, Jake said. I swear Jake, you start this crap you know where the door is, Harlee said. We left Nashville and came down here. When we pulled in, Tara was sitting in the driveway, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. If you even suggest what I think you are I will seriously… She was sittin there waiting for me to come back. I literally spent the last half hour trying to get her to leave, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. Sure you did, Harlee said. Babe, Jake said. Harlee went to walk off and he grabbed her hand. She left, Jake said. What’d you have to promise her, Harlee asked. Don’t start this Harlee. It’s midnight. I’m exhausted. Please, Jake said. Guestroom, Harlee said. Babe, I don’t want this stupid crap tonight. I just want to go to bed with my woman, Jake said. Then you should find one, Harlee said. She went and sat down on the bed. Harlee, Jake said. Don’t Jake. Don’t try to kiss my butt because you messed up for the millionth time, Harlee said. She left, Jake said. I thought that’s what you would want, Jake said. Don’t Jake. Don’t kiss my butt because you know you royally messed up, Harlee said. Jake sat down beside her. I am not havin this fight anymore, Jake said. You know where the door is, Harlee said. Jake looked at her. What, Harlee asked. He walked over and closed the door. What are you doin, Harlee asked. He walked back over to the bed, pulled her to her feet and kissed her. What, Harlee asked. I want my dang wife. Stop with the crap, Jake said. There’s the door Jake, Harlee said. She left. I made her leave. I told her not to bother comin back. To leave me and you alone. What else was I supposed to do, Jake asked. Harlee shook her head. Woman, stop with this stupidness already. I don’t want her. I want you. Only you. Why can’t you just get that through your head, Jake asked.

Because she was on my driveway. You sat out there talkin to her instead of comin in. You could’ve come in and told me. There are a million things you could’ve done Jake, Harlee said. He kissed her. I got rid of her. End of discussion, Jake said. It’s not end of discussion. It’s never gonna be where she’s concerned, Harlee said. We seriously gonna have this fight all dang night, Jake asked. Harlee shook her head. She went and washed up and slid into bed. Jake got changed and went to slide into bed with her and Harlee glared at him. What, Jake asked. Harlee shook her head. Don’t do this, Jake said. Do what? Be pissed? You’re the one who… He got up, walked around the bed and kissed her. When are you gonna get it? The ring on my hand means somethin. I’m not fightin you about her. Honestly, she’s not in my life and she never will be again. You have to hear that, Jake said. When she stops comin to the house and stops trying to get near me and you, I’ll stop. When I can stop watchin over my shoulder for her to try and break us up. She wants you for herself Jake. You keep givin in, she’ll get her way, Harlee said. Jake went around to his side of the bed shaking his head. Harlee turned the light off and Jake slid his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. Jake…quit it, Harlee said. He kissed her neck. The woman I want is you and not anyone else, Jake said. Harlee tried to move back to her side of the bed and Jake pulled her back to him.

Jake, Harlee said. He kissed her. I don’t want our first dang Christmas to be a fight. I love you Harlee. Please, Jake said. She shook her head. No matter how many times Jake, Harlee said. He held on that much tighter knowing that there was a dang big chance that she was gonna get up and leave. I love you, Jake said. Harlee barely said anything. Jake fell asleep curled up with her, even when she didn’t want him near her. Harlee tried over and over to break away from him but he wasn’t about to let go. Harlee gave up around 1:30 and just slept.

The next morning, Jake woke up to an empty bed. He figured she’d just left for a run. He walked downstairs and Harlee was having her coffee on the new sofa. How was your run, Jake asked. Not long enough, Harlee said. Meaning, Jake asked as he walked into the kitchen. Holy crap. What, Harlee asked. You overhauled the entire dang house, Jake said. Just made it how I wanted it. That’s all, Harlee said. It looks amazing, Jake said. Thanks, Harlee said. What was all of this for, Jake asked. Early Christmas gift, Harlee said. It looks amazing especially in here, Jake said as he came and sat down with her. Harlee got up and sat in her big comfy leather chair. Seriously, Jake asked. Harlee got up and went into the kitchen and cleaned up and put breakfast on. Jake got up and followed her. You’re seriously doin this, Jake asked. You started it all by yourself, Harlee said. Harlee, I just….I was tryin to do the right thing and make sure that she left us alone. You can’t keep faulting me for it, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. You sat out there with her Jake. You didn’t even tell me you were back, Harlee said. Jake shook his head. He took a deep breath, took over making breakfast and Harlee grabbed an orange juice. Jake put breakfast together, put a plate in the microwave for Grace and handed one to Harlee and sat down with her.

What are you doin today, Jake asked. Getting things prepped for dinner and wrapping the last little things. Why, Harlee asked. We have plans, Jake said. No we don’t Jake, Harlee said. Yeah we do. Go get dressed, he said. Harlee shook her head. They finished eating, Harlee walked upstairs and had a hot shower. Just as she was about to rinse out her conditioner, Jake slid in behind her and kissed her. Jake, Harlee said. He kissed her and slid his arms around her. Harlee rinsed her conditioner out and Jake devoured her lips. She broke away from him and stepped out of the shower. She wrapped herself in a hot towel and went and started getting changed. When Jake came out of the bathroom, Harlee went in and did her hair and makeup and freshened up. She stepped out and Jake was sitting on the bed in his beat up blue jeans. Is this how it’s gonna go, Jake asked. Depends. You spendin Christmas with me or would you rather be with her, Harlee asked. Jake shook his head. When are you gonna stop? I want you, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. He got up and pulled on his t-shirt and hoodie, pulled on his socks and his boots and grabbed her hand. What, Harlee asked. He pulled her to him and kissed her. Jake, just quit it already, Harlee said. He linked their fingers and walked her downstairs.

You gonna tell me where you’re draggin me, Harlee asked as she grabbed her purse, phone and keys. Not tellin you anything, Jake said. Where are we goin Jake, Harlee asked. To find a way to get passed all of this. To find our way back to each other, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. Not long later, they pulled into the church. Harlee shook her head. What, Jake asked. Someone else gonna solve all of this for you, Harlee asked. Harlee, we have to find a way… She got out, shook her head and started walking. Harlee, Jake said. He walked over to her, picked her up and carried her back to the church and walked her in the door. What, Harlee asked. Sit down with me, he said. Jake sat her on the pew. What Jake, Harlee asked. Please, he asked. This isn’t gonna fix things Jake. Not even a little, Harlee said. She got up and he grabbed her hand. Don’t, Jake said. Harlee shook her head, walked out the door and walked back to the street and headed home.

Harlee got back and Grace was sitting on the front porch in the porch swing. I thought you and Jake were having a date or something, Grace asked. His idea of fixing things is dragging me to church so that the minister can fix it. It’s up to him to do that not me Grace, Harlee said. You two need to talk. At least try to, Grace said. Why can’t everyone just let us deal with all of this on our own? Jake keeps thinking that I’m mad for no reason and he’s trying to push me into forgetting it. How can I forget it when he sat on my driveway and was talkin to her for hours, Harlee asked. Half hour and more like tellin her off. Harlee, he just wants to be with you. At least he’s trying, Grace said. Grace, you can’t just do that and pretend that nothing’s wrong, Harlee said. You’re not really gonna hold it over his head, Grace asked. Grace, I can’t just forget what happened. On top of it all, he doesn’t even think it’s a problem, Harlee said. Then you need to talk to him. I don’t care if y’all start screamin. You have to let it go, Grace said. Harlee shook her head. You don’t get it Grace. Talking doesn’t fix anything, Harlee said. Says who, Grace replied. He sat in the driveway talkin to her, Harlee said. And I stood on the porch and heard the entire discussion, Grace replied. And, Harlee asked. He told her she needed to leave. She wouldn’t listen and kept trying to push. Harlee, she taunted him and he walked inside and kissed you. He didn’t do it to get you upset. He told her she was messing with y’all’s Christmas. She backed off Harlee. Just talk to him, Grace said.

Jake came back an hour or two later with ice cream cones. Harlee was sitting on the sofa working on lyrics and he came around the corner and handed her the ice cream cone. Where in the world did you find ice cream, Harlee asked. Jake kissed her, slid the notebook from her hands and tried to sit and talk to her. I’m sorry I tried to drag you out there, Jake said. Goin and talking to him is fine Jake. I already talked to him more than once about all of this, Harlee said. He sorta told me how upset you really were. I had no idea, Jake said. I kept tryin to tell you Jake. When all of that happened I cracked into a million pieces. I sat there in full makeup with my hair done and everything and I just stared at the dress. I couldn’t even move when Grace came in, Harlee said. Babe, I know I didn’t make things any easier. If I’d just walked away from the bonfire altogether like I originally planned we’d be fine, Jake said. All I need to know is that there’s nothin there between y’all. I could tell a mile off that there was, Harlee replied.

It’s not what you think, Jake said. Jake, y’all have history that hasn’t been dealt with. I know that. You have to find a way to accept it, Harlee said. She stood me up at the altar. That’s all, Jake said. Then why were you so stressed and worried, Harlee asked. What do you want me to say, Jake asked. Y’all had a history and neither one of you moved on and settled the feelings. You know how many idiot boyfriends I’ve had Jake? If one of them stood me up at that altar I don’t know if I could’ve just forgotten it, Harlee said. Jake kissed her. If I go talk to her you’ll flip out. The only thing I’m thinkin about is you talkin to me. Every time we get close, you push me away. You walk away from me and leave me behind. If you want me to talk to her, I just don’t want to come home and end up havin a wife who is so mad she won’t even sleep with me, Jake said. I have to trust you Jake. When you’re doin stuff behind my back without a word it drives me insane. I can’t just pretend it doesn’t Jake. When I’m mad, I’m pissed and angry. You get that right, Harlee said. Jake kissed her. I love you. I get that you have a temper when it comes to things like that. I’m not lettin go of you. I married you for better or worse, angry or happy, Jake said. Then you have to find a way to get the closure Jake, Harlee said. He kissed her, devouring her lips. They finished the last of the ice cream and Jake smirked. What, Harlee asked. He turned the TV off, grabbed her hand, locked up and walked her upstairs.

What are you doin, Harlee asked. He kissed her and sat her on the bed then he locked the door behind him. Promise me that we talk stuff out from now on, Jake asked. When I’m mad… I know, but world war three the minute you saw her wasn’t a good thing. Harlee, I told you a long time ago that I can’t sleep when we’re fighting. When you’re mad and walk out it’s even worse, Jake said. If I didn’t love you I wouldn’t be so dang hurt, Harlee said. Jake kissed her, devouring her lips. Promise me, he asked. Once I cool off, fine, Harlee said. He hugged her and it was the first time in days that he wasn’t scared he was gonna lose her altogether. This is kinda the best Christmas present, Jake said. So I should take everything else back, Harlee teased. He kissed her, they got changed for bed and he smirked. What, Harlee asked. Taunting me with my jersey, he asked. Harlee nodded. She slid into bed and plugged their cell phones in. He slid in with her and snuggled her close. If I had my way there would be no more fighting at all. You know that right, Jake said. Jake, sometimes we have to. We have to fight for what we want. Intentionally hurting each other isn’t fair. We know that much. I just know that when I’m on the road I can deal with things differently. There’s no stress before a show, no fighting and no drama. After is when I have time to figure it out. When I’m home, I need to be able to cool off so I don’t say something that’s really gonna hurt. That’s all, Harlee said. Jake kissed her.

They snuggled under the covers and he smirked. What Jake, Harlee asked. If I give you something tomorrow, you have to open it okay, Jake asked. Harlee smirked. We have to finish doing the decorations Jake. We have church tomorrow night then… Jake devoured her lips. You’re openin it tomorrow mornin. That’s the deal, Jake said. He kissed her again then kissed the tip of her nose. You’re ridiculous. You know that right, Harlee said. He smirked. You kinda have to anyway, Jake said. Why, Harlee asked. He shook his head. I’m not tellin, he said. So what do you really think of everything, Harlee asked. We talked about all of this stuff a long time ago. I still can’t believe you really did all of it and so dang fast, Jake said. They started Monday morning and finished the day I got back. Believe it or not, your mom helped, Harlee said. Jake shook his head. So what’s with the lock on the other room, Jake asked. A surprise for Grace, Harlee said. He smirked. You showin her tomorrow or Christmas Day, Jake asked. Christmas mornin, Harlee said. Jake kissed her. She’s gonna bawl like a baby, Jake said. Harlee nodded. So what you got for me, Jake asked. Harlee smirked. Guess you’ll see on Christmas Day, Harlee said. He devoured her lips. Want part of your present, he teased. Depends, Harlee said. He devoured her lips, pulled her legs around his waist and Harlee smirked. Think I’ve seen that present, Harlee teased. He kissed her and slid his jersey off of her and kicked his boxers off. He made love to her and for once she wasn’t fighting him and she wasn’t getting up to walk away.

Harlee woke up at 7 the next morning, did her run and came back and got things organized for the day. She made breakfast, coffee and got fresh juice and an hour or so later, Grace was downstairs. Mornin, Grace said. Harlee smirked and handed her some juice and breakfast. What’s all this, Grace asked. ‘Grapefruit or orange tomorrow mornin, Harlee asked. Orange. So I wanted to ask. Would you be pissed if Kevin came over just for while we’re here tomorrow doin gifts and stuff, Grace asked. Up to you. How are things goin, Harlee asked. Talking but still not great. He’s never gonna really be able to accept that I love my job, Grace said. He will eventually Grace. Jake isn’t havin the easiest time of it either, Harlee said. Grace nodded. Eventually, we’ll figure out what to do, Harlee said. What happens when everything backfires, Grace asked. We figure things out together. Y’all are married and Jake and I are. It’s called workin things out together. That’s how it has to be Grace. It’s never easy, Harlee said. Am I allowed to say I’m glad y’all finally had a sit down and talked, Grace asked. I can’t forget what happened, but I can try to work on it, Harlee said. Jake came downstairs and snuck up behind her, wrapping his arms around her and nuzzling her neck. Mornin sexy wife," Jake said.

You are in way too good of a mood this mornin, Grace teased. So what’s goin on, Jake asked. Grace is gonna help me with the ornaments, Harlee said. We’re doin it as a team right, Jake asked. Harlee laughed. We are but it has to be done before dinner, Harlee said. Jake kissed her neck and grabbed himself breakfast and coffee and sat down at the counter with Grace and Harlee. So here’s the question. Are we doin the late service at church or the early one, Harlee asked. Late, Jake said. Harlee smirked. Sorta had a feelin you’d say that. My folks are checked into their hotel in town. What would you think about dinner here just something easy and we can have them over, Harlee asked. I can do lasagna or something, Grace said. We can grab stuff for a salad, Jake said. Then that’s all you, Harlee said. Grace nodded with a smirk. So where are we startin with the ornaments, Jake asked.

Harlee shook her head, kissed him and got the ornaments out and went to head upstairs. Where you goin, Jake asked. Shower and getting dressed, Harlee replied. Jake smirked. She walked upstairs and slid into the shower and within a matter of minutes Jake was sliding in behind her. You know I can have a shower alone, Harlee teased. He devoured her lips. We have… He kissed her again and washed her hair for her then leaned her against the wall of the shower, linking their fingers. Jake, Harlee said. Just makin good use of this shower, Jake said. They had sex in the shower then she washed his hair for him then stepped out and got dressed. Jake smirked. What, Harlee asked. He slid up behind her. You never know. We could end up havin two babies in that room, Jake said. Harlee shook her head and finished getting dressed then they went downstairs and got goin on the decorating. By lunchtime, they were finished and started on the stairs and the table. Harlee got lunch for everyone and they hung out in the TV room and watched the lights twinkle on the tree. We did good, Jake teased. Harlee nodded. So, one other thing I needed to put on the tree, Jake said. Harlee handed him the angel. He kissed her, got the angel onto the tree and went upstairs.

What are you doin, Harlee asked. He smirked and came back in a couple minutes later. He handed Harlee the blue box with a white bow. Jake, Harlee said. Open it, Jake said. Harlee opened it and saw the pear shaped diamond pendant that she loved. Jake, this is too much, Harlee said. You loved it. I saw you starin at it in that magazine, Jake said. Jake, Harlee said. He put it on for her and she shook her head. Goes with the one I got you for the wedding gift, Jake said. Harlee shook her head and kissed him. So since we’re doin all of this, Grace follow me, Harlee said. Grace looked at Harlee. She walked upstairs and saw a bow on the door of the locked room. What’s this, Grace asked. Undo the lock at the top of the door, Harlee said. Grace undid it and walked in to see all the baby furniture that she’d dreamt of getting for the baby along with the quilt and the mobile. The glider was hand carved, the furniture was stained perfectly and made out of refurbished wood. It’s beautiful, Grace said. And it’s the color you said you wanted. The silver and the pale purple, Harlee said. It’s beautiful, Grace said. The blinds are in the window and heavy enough for dark out if need be, Harlee said. Grace hugged her. When did you do all of this, Grace asked. They had people workin on this, our bedroom, repainting and tweaking yours, the kitchen and the TV room in 4 days, Harlee said. It’s amazing, Grace said. This is sorta our way of telling you that we want you here if that’s what you decide. You can be here with the baby as much as you want. There’s a video monitor in your bedside table for when the baby comes and there’s a few little cameras in the crib, Harlee said. She showed Grace where they were and showed her the monitor.

Jake had a grin ear to ear seeing how excited Grace was. And there’s a few things in the top drawer of the dresser, Harlee said. Grace looked and saw white onesies and blankets and one that was so soft it felt like fur. And we can find a car seat closer to and a stroller that will grow with the baby, Harlee said. Grace hugged her and was in tears. Merry Christmas, Harlee said. Grace hugged her and went back into the nursery. She saw the bed on the other side of the nursery. For you for when you’re exhausted. If baby keeps you up, you can curl up on the bed, Harlee said. You sure y’all want a baby screamin and wakin y’all up, Grace asked. You’ll be fine Grace. I promise, Harlee said.

They headed downstairs and Harlee and Grace got dinner on. Jake snuck up behind Harlee. Do you want me to grab your mom and dad, Jake asked. Harlee kissed him. Be back in a little bit, Jake said. He kissed her and headed off to pick them up. Harlee brought the gifts down and put them under the tree, Grace did the same with hers and Harlee’s folks came in a half hour later. About time y’all got here, Harlee joked. Jake came over and kissed Harlee and after hugs hello and her dad putting the gifts under the tree, they all sat down to dinner. We kinda figured y’all were busy with getting the house ready, but wow, her dad said as he gave Jake a hug. It’s all Harlee. Looks pretty amazing right, Jake said. Her mom smirked. How on earth did you two get all of this done so fast, Harlee’s mom asked. A couple great construction guys. They were pretty amazing, Harlee said. They all sat down to dinner and Jake had a smirk ear to ear the entire way through it. Once they finished, Harlee’s folks headed back to their hotel and Harlee and Grace got changed for church. Just as they were about to come downstairs, Kevin walked in. So you wanna tell me what you’re doin here, Jake asked.

Grace told me it was okay to come with y’all to church, Kevin said. She did, Jake asked. Kevin nodded. I don’t want another fight Jake. I just wanna try and have a good Christmas with her. That’s it, Kevin said. Within a matter of minutes, Grace was coming downstairs. You came, Grace said. Kevin got up and hugged Grace. I brought the presents and stuff over for tomorrow, Kevin said. Jake put them under the tree and went with Grace down to the church. Harlee came down a little while later, Jake kissed her and they locked up and went to pick his mom up. They got to church and her folks were already there. Harlee smirked and they went and sat down together. Jake kissed Harlee’s cheek and linked their fingers. To be honest, Jake wouldn’t have let go of her hand for anything in the entire world. Even when they were saying prayers his hand was linked with hers. Either it was that he wanted to kick Kevin’s butt or he wanted to take Harlee home because Tara was there. When the service finished, they headed out and Jake held her hand a little tighter. Seriously, Harlee asked. He nodded. She shook her head and walked back to the truck with Jake’s mom. She hugged her folks goodbye, helped his mom into the truck and got in. When Jake didn’t come back to the truck, Harlee shook her head. Harlee, what’s wrong, his mom asked. Do you want to wait for him, Harlee asked. Harlee, don’t do whatever you’re thinkin, she said. I’m goin. You can stay and wait for him, Harlee said.

She left and started walking home. Mad was an understatement. Harlee got back and Kevin and Grace were sitting on the front steps. I thought Jake was drivin you back, Kevin said. Harlee walked into the house and didn’t say a word. She walked upstairs, got changed and put her sweats on. She washed her makeup off and came downstairs. She put everything together for breakfast the next morning so all they needed to do was turn it on. When Jake didn’t come back by 1am, Harlee about snapped. She curled up in bed, locking the door behind her. Jake showed up at 3am. He brought down his gifts and went upstairs to turn in and the door was locked. Harlee, Jake said. When she didn’t answer, Jake went to hunt down the key. He finally found it, unlocked the door and went in. He got undressed, curled up in bed with Harlee and went to wrap his arm around her. When she brushed him off, he knew she had to be awake. If you’re awake, at least talk to me, Jake said. Harlee went back to sleep, completely ignoring him.

The next morning, Jake woke up at 9am and she wasn’t in bed, her phone was gone and she’d already showered. He shook his head, got up and got changed and went downstairs. Harlee was putting the turkey in and Grace, Kevin and Harlee were finishing breakfast. Jake came in and Harlee walked out of the room. Great, Jake said. He ate and cleaned up and walked into the living room. Harlee was putting the Christmas lights on and he came up behind her. Harlee, Jake said. No Jake. No, Harlee said. Grace saw her and shook her head. And stupid me, I thought we could make it through Christmas without world war four, Grace said. The entire day, Harlee would barely say two words to Jake. Even the presents he gave her went unopened. Every time he tried to kiss her and say thank you, she glared at him. By dinner, everything was done and Harlee still wouldn’t talk to him. Dinner was amazing. Everyone loved it. The turkey looked like it came out of a magazine, the dinner was perfect and they all enjoyed every mouthful. After, Harlee started cleaning up and Jake came in to help her. You realize you have to talk to me at some point, Jake said. Harlee walked off and went upstairs.

Jake finished the dishes and washed the counters down and walked upstairs. He stopped part way, grabbed the important presents that he had for Harlee and walked upstairs. You gonna talk to me, Jake asked walking into the master bedroom. Depends. What took you 2 hours, Harlee asked. You told me to go and talk to her so she wouldn’t come back, Jake said. Right, Harlee said. So you ruin Christmas, Jake asked. You did that all by yourself, Harlee said. Open it, Jake said handing her one of the gifts. Jake, I don’t want anything from you, Harlee said. Open it, Jake said. Harlee opened it and saw diamond stud earrings. What, Harlee asked. Look under the earrings, Jake said. Harlee shook her head. He pulled them out and handed her what was under it. There was a paper that said they were going to the Caribbean. Harlee handed them back to him and went downstairs to the kitchen.

Jake followed her and came up behind her. When are you gonna stop? I told you that we talked and that’s it, Jake said. Did talking involve making out again, Harlee asked. He looked at her. You ever gonna let me live it down, Jake asked. Looks like no, Harlee said. She organized the last of the dishes and emptied the dishwasher. Harlee, Jake said. Leave me alone Jake, Harlee said. He picked her up and walked back upstairs and sat her on the bed.

What, Harlee asked. We’re not having this stupid discussion again, Jake said. Screw off, Harlee said. She left and went downstairs and saw snow. She shook her head. Harlee sat down on the sofa and went to sleep alone. Within an hour or so, Jake came downstairs, got her and brought her back upstairs to the master bedroom. Jake, just leave me alone, Harlee said. All I wanted was for us to have a nice Christmas without the stress and the fighting, Jake said. Christmas Eve you walk off with her with your mom and I waiting in the truck and I started it, Harlee asked. He shook his head. I love you. Why do you keep assuming that I want her, Jake asked. Because Jake. How’d you explain to your mom what you were doing, Harlee asked. I brought her home and went and talked to her. I didn’t want a 5 hour fight with you, Jake said. You already caused one Jake. Enjoy, Harlee said.

Chapter 2

Jake tried to get her to talk to him

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