Authors: C.A. Harms
Tags: #Always His
Copyright @ 2016 C.A. Harms
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and other elements portrayed herein are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons or events is coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, storied in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the author.
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Table of Contents
To my Charmed Girls, thank you all for your continued support. It means the world to me.
don’t want you to go.” Tears filled my eyes, and my throat felt as if it was on fire.
“Don’t cry, angel. This isn’t good-bye. I’m coming back to you. I promise,” he whispered as he pushed inside me, and tears filled my eyes. “I swear, baby, you’ll always have me. I’m forever yours.”
I wrapped my hands around the back of his neck, pulled him closer, and buried my face against the side of his neck. I let go of the fear of losing him and focused solely on the way our bodies moved as one. Ryker Daniels had been my first of many things, and I felt like my heart was breaking at the thought of him leaving me. Not being able to see him or feel him was a slow form of torture.
“I love you, Nicole. I’ll always love you,” he assured me as he made love to me under the stars by Mitchell Lake.
“I love you,” I whispered with a tremble in my voice. He had been my savior, my knight in shining armor for years, and now he would be thousands of miles away for basic training. After that, who knew where he would end up. I just knew it wouldn’t be here with me. It wouldn’t be where I needed him most.
That was almost five years ago.
My heart left with Ryker the day he boarded that bus. The day he chose to let go of what we had. He had sworn I would have him forever, but I knew differently. I could feel it in my heart. The heart that broke when the bus pulled away from the curb. Everything in my life from that moment on felt forced.
I was a small-town girl living in Arab, Alabama. Never once had I felt the desire to leave. It was my home, where I was surrounded by the people I loved most. The only thing missing was Ryker. After my momma died when I was three, it had always been just me and my daddy. My entire life was full of memories of just me and him, and Lucy’s—my dad’s bar he’d named after my momma, Lucy Russell. I had few memories of my mother, but my daddy said I was just like her. Kind and full of life with a heart of gold.
I didn’t know the man my father was prior to her death, but he too had a heart of gold. He made sure I never suffered being a girl without a mother. He gave me more than I could ever ask for. He was my best friend. Those were the reasons I would never leave Arab. I would never walk away from the man that had run himself ragged trying to build a life for us.
But there was a price to pay for remaining in Alabama. A price I wasn’t sure I would ever recover from.
ey, Nic, when you gonna give a guy a chance?” A deep chuckle followed Jimmy’s attempt at snagging that date he’d been working on for months.
I didn’t even take the time to turn and acknowledge him. The man pulled the same shit every Friday and Saturday night. He was at least five years older than me and had a beer gut the size of a pregnant woman’s in her last trimester. He was harmless, but he loved to fire me up. Guys like him were one of the things that came with working in a small-town bar and grill. Lucy’s was the place to be, and all the hopeless men seemed to flock to it, hoping to get lucky.
“Come on, sweetheart, just a chance is all I’m asking.” I heard a few more chuckles from the men he was sitting with. They too had heard this song and dance, time and time again.
“I’ve given two chances to two different men in my life, and both times I got screwed over. Ain’t gonna happen again, Jimmy.” I continued to clean off tables as the night came closer to an end.
Most people in town knew the details of my story. They knew the heartache I felt when Ryker left and never returned. They watched as I moped around town, missing him with everything inside me. They watched as I slowly began to self-destruct and fall to pieces.
I should have been smart enough to realize when Tyler Murphy started hanging around me that he had an ulterior motive. But I was young and vulnerable, and he saw right through it. He was able to catch me at my weakest, and nine months later I had a sweet little baby girl to show for that one night of drinking. Now, I wouldn’t change the fact I was a mother to a darling three-year-old angel, but I sure would change who her daddy was.
Tyler has only seen his daughter a handful of times in her short life, and he had made every one of those times all about him. He was a worthless piece of shit, and most days I thanked God he kept his distance. I didn’t want Tori to be influenced by her father. He was too drunk to see straight practically every day of the week, and I didn’t want my baby girl to have that type of disappointment in her life.
“Lay off, Jimmy.” Speaking of Tyler, I closed my eyes tightly as his voice grew louder and closer. The moment his hand touched my hip, I spun around and shoved the half-empty beer bottle I’d been holding in his face.
“Touch me again and you’ll be picking glass shards out of your head for weeks.”
Tyler narrowed his eyes and smirked. “Still feisty as hell.” He backed up and held his hands out in surrender. “You know how much that turns me on, babe.”
“I also know we could put a dress on a pig and you’d still sport wood,” I fired back and walked off toward the bar to empty my arms. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with Tyler’s shit. “I think you need to spend less time worrying about getting laid and more time providing for Tori. You know, your daughter.”
“Come on, Nicole, don’t be like that.” He gave me his best charming smile while taking a seat on the barstool on the other side of the bar. “I’ll give you some money next week.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “I’ve been hearing that same shit from you every month. When do you plan on following through? A child is not an occasional responsibility, it’s an every-damn-day-and-night obligation. When are you ever gonna grow the hell up?” I could feel my ears getting hotter with every word I spoke. “You are twenty-five years old, and I swear to God, most twelve-year-olds have more sense than you do.” I slammed the bottles into the garbage can and fought to control my anger.