Carry You Home (Carry Your Heart #2)

BOOK: Carry You Home (Carry Your Heart #2)
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CONTENTS

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Part One

Chapter One - Positive

Chapter Two - Timing Is Everything

Chapter Three - Sit Down, Part One

Chapter Four - Sit Down, Part Two

Chapter Five - Baby Momma Drama

Chapter Six - Haunted

Chapter Seven - Invasion

Chapter Eight - Outlaw Justice

Chapter Nine - Worth The Wait

Chapter Ten - Sit Down, Part Three

Chapter Eleven - Recon

Chapter Twelve - Clean-Up

Chapter Thirteen - On Call

Chapter Fourteen - Commitment

Chapter Fifteen - Coup de Grâce

Chapter Sixteen - Blowback

Chapter Seventeen - Cancelled

Chapter Eighteen - Interstice

Chapter Nineteen - Fickle Fortune

Part Two

Chapter Twenty - No Direction Home

Chapter Twenty-One - Ghosts

Chapter Twenty-Two - Familiar Territory

Chapter Twenty-Three - Word Vomit

Chapter Twenty-Four - Lighting Fires

Chapter Twenty-Five - The Point of No Return

Chapter Twenty-Six - A Better Day

Chapter Twenty-Seven - Cosmic Love

Chapter Twenty-Eight - I Got You

Chapter Twenty-Nine - Push-Back

Chapter Thirty - Okay

Chapter Thirty-One - Finally

Chapter Thirty-Two - i fear no fate

Chapter Thirty-Three - Best Laid Plans

Chapter Thirty-Four - Death Rattle

Chapter Thirty-Five - Carry You Home

Epilogue

About the Author

Acknowledgements

Playlist

Copyright © 2016 K. Ryan

All rights reserved.

Cover Design by Paper and Sage

   
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, places, and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.

   
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, including Internet usage, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
 

   
Any trademarks, product names, or named features are only used in reference and are assumed to be property of their respective owners.

For my first readers. You know who you are. Thank you so much.

PROLOGUE

   
Hey Iz,

   
I honestly have no idea if you've been getting my letters. I think I just want to believe you're reading them, so I just keeping writing. It's weird being in here, where time pretty much stands still, and knowing that life just keeps going on without you. Honestly, writing these letters to you is the only thing that keeps me sane. The only thing that makes me feel normal. The only thing that makes me feel close to you.

   
If you're not reading this, I guess I can't blame you. If I were you, I don't know if I'd be reading this either. I'm such an idiot, Iz. I know I'll never be able to say that enough. I don't deserve you and I deserve to be exactly where I am. Hell, I'm not even worth this piece of paper I'm writing on right now. I'm kinda surprised they even gave me a pencil.

   
I miss you, Iz. I miss your smile. I miss your laugh. I miss the way you always bite down on your bottom lip when you get nervous. I miss how soft your hair is when I touch it. I miss your lips. I miss your eyes. I miss the way you used to look at me. I miss everything, Iz.

   
I wish you would visit, but I get why you won't. I wouldn't want to visit me either. I think if we could see each other face to face, maybe we'd be able to talk this through, and I'd be able to explain better than I've been able to in my letters.  You know I'm shit with words, but this is all I've got right now. I wish there was another way I could reach out to you, to talk to you, but since you won't take my calls and you won't visit, you're just going to have to get used to me sending you these letters.

   
I know what I did. I know how much I hurt you, but I'm not going to give up.

   
Love you always,

   
Caleb

Part One

"Wisely and slow,/They stumble that run fast."


Romeo and Juliet
, II iii

CHAPTER ONE
Positive

Isabelle

Swirl. Tap. Pull. Twirl. Repeat.

Why was that so hard?

It wasn't.

Not really, at least. The process was simple. The technique was something I'd practiced a thousand times, but the longer I sat here on this stool and stared at the blank canvas in front of me, the less I found myself actually able to concentrate.

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd drank a whole bottle of vodka and swallowed eight fistfuls of sand. All the symptoms of the worst hangover ever were currently conspiring against my body: brutal headache, churning stomach, aching muscles.

Resigning myself to the most unproductive studio practice hour ever, I tossed my paintbrush into the little water-filled mason jar at my side and stretched my arms over my head. Part of me was a little worried that if I moved too fast, I'd be running for the closest garbage faster than you can say morning sickness.

This routine of nausea, puke, and repeat had been going on for a little over a week now and here I was, sitting on my hands and trying to pretend this wasn't actually happening. It wasn't just because Caleb had been in Pittsburgh on a run for the last week, although admittedly, that was sort of why I'd held off on making that fateful journey to my nearest pharmacy.

If this was real, life as I knew it would be over. Life as
we
knew it would be over.

Everything had a time and a place. A house, a wedding, a family, a happily ever after—all that would come when the time was right and we just weren't quite there yet. What was wrong with enjoying the moment and just savoring how good things were now?

What I really wanted to focus on was starting the empty project in front of me and getting my ass back to my apartment so I could prep dinner for tonight when we got back from the clubhouse. Even though, to be fair, my dinners needed to come with an
eat at your own risk
disclaimer.

The last time I made chicken, right before Caleb left for Pittsburgh, the thigh was so rock-hard, he could barely cut through it with a steak knife. It wasn't burned or anything. It was...just the thought of it, the smell of it, and my body suddenly jerked like I'd just been slapped and my throat felt watery and dry at the same time, like something terrible was trying to force its way out of my body. I squeezed my eyes shut as my stomach quivered and groaned and churned and my body swayed backward on the tiny stool. Before I knew it, I shot off the stool, flung open the door of my studio space, and sprinted down the hall.

I didn't make it to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, my head was currently ducked into the first garbage can I could find as I heaved up the little bit of egg sandwich I'd managed to choke down this morning. Everything was a little hazy and I had to crouch down just to keep myself from tumbling right over the garbage can. It felt like someone shoved burning coals down my throat. Everything burned. Everything was shaky. My hands. My stomach. My knees.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Deep breaths
. That's all I could focus on right now and I somehow shifted my weight just enough to lean back against the cold wall behind me.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Deep breaths. Breathe—

"Isabelle?"

My eyes squeezed shut at the sound of that all-too-familiar voice, the same one that haunted my dreams, and then, with a wince, I opened one eye and then the other to find my academic adviser staring back at me like I'd just told her Monet was trash.

"Oh hey, Dr. Jacobs," I threw back weakly. "How's it going?"

Dr. Jacobs arched a critical eyebrow my way, but it was nothing I'd never seen before. That woman had a way of twisting my insides around and pulling them out through my nostrils. Every time she entered my university-issued studio space, I had trouble swallowing the vomit that threatened to spew all over my latest project.

Despite her willowy stature, Dr. Jacobs never failed to intimidate me with her eerily silent, detached, and cold appraisal of each stroke. Given the fact that I'd only really tried painting seriously at the start of the semester and with no real professional training, I lived in fear every day that Dr. Jacobs would tell me I wasn't cutting it. Somehow, I'd also let her to talk me into summer classes and studio work to hurry along through the program, as Dr. Jacobs said and right about now, with the semester showcase breathing down my neck in about two months, I really wished I'd opted for the time off instead.

Dr. Jacobs tucked a long strand of salt and pepper hair behind her ear and now, both eyebrows lifted high into her forehead as she appraised me.

"Oh, I don't know, Isabelle," she told me, that faint French lilt floating out with each syllable. "It's not very often that I find one of my students hunched over a garbage can. Care to explain?"

I had no idea what to say. And in between wringing my hands anxiously in front of me and groping for some words, my stomach took charge of the situation and I flung my head, once again, right into the center of the garbage can and puked what was left of my guts out.

A hand gently rubbed my back and swept some hair away from my face. Even in this shitty state, I still couldn't reconcile that this woman, who intimidated me just as much as Skyler initially had, was
comforting
me. Did the whole world decide to go crazy and forget to tell me?

"Come on," Dr. Jacobs murmured to me now. "Let's get out of the hallway, shall we?"

I nodded mutely, allowing her to lead me into the bathroom where I rinsed my mouth out and splashed some water on my face, acutely aware that Dr. Jacobs was watching me underneath furrowed eyebrows even as she handed me some paper towels.

"Are you feeling better, Isabelle?"

I swallowed hard and winced before the words even left my mouth, "No. I'm not. I think I might be..."

Oh God, the words just wouldn't come. Whether it was lucky or not, Dr. Jacobs was already nodding like she'd known what I wanted to say, but just couldn't muster the strength to actually follow through with it.

"Why don't you head on home?" Dr. Jacobs suggested as she handed me another paper towel. "Get some rest. Take care of your business," she paused to give me a pointed look from her reflection in the mirror, "and then email me as soon as you know when you'll be back."

"But I have—"

"I'm aware of your schedule, Isabelle. I made it, remember?" she pointed out, rare amusement playing on her lips and I almost fell over from shock. "If you're unable to come in for your studio hours tomorrow, you'll just have to make them up some other time. You're allowed to be, uh, under the weather from time to time, especially since you're not the type of student to shirk your responsibilities. Go on then," she waved me out the door.

I blinked back at her.

"You heard me," Dr. Jacobs shooed me out the door again, her lips curving up and paralyzing me right into the bathroom's tiled flooring.

Finally, my brain caught up with the rest of my body and took the out she was giving me, speed-walking back to my studio space to grab my bag so I could get the hell out of there.

.
     
.
     
.

Reality caught up to me about two hours later.

I'd been in a staring match with that little purple box perched on my bathroom counter for about a half hour now. Against my better judgment, I hadn't been able to stop myself from taking a detour to a pharmacy on my way home from campus, even though I'd spent the whole 45-minute drive trying to talk myself out of it.

On impulse, I snatched the box off the counter and tore the thing open. I could sit here and drive myself crazy or I could get my answer.

My eyes skimmed over the instructions. Nothing too complicated. One line meant I was in the clear. Two lines meant I was in the shit. No time like the present to find out if life as I knew it was basically over. And with that, I got down to the business of peeing on that stick, set a timer on my phone, and waited.

BOOK: Carry You Home (Carry Your Heart #2)
9.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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