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Authors: Hilary Wynne

Hold On

BOOK: Hold On
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Hold On

Hilary Wynne

(#2 in the Alexa Reed Series)

Copyright © 2014 by Hilary Wynne.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or
transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other
electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher,
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other
noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the
publisher using the contact form below.

http://www.hilarywynne.com/contact/

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents
are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes
used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or
to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

Ordering Information:

Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations,
associations, and others. For details, contact the “Sales Department” using the contact
form above.

Formatting by
http://www.standoutbooks.com

Cover Design by Daliborka Mijailovic

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Shutterstock are models, and such
images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Shutterstock.

Hold On/ Hilary Wynne. -- 1st ed.

ISBN 978-0-9960294-0-7

PRAISE FOR STAY

“This book really has gotten under my skin. At some point in your life you will read
a book and it will connect with you in ways that you never thought possible. For me,
this book is ‘the one’.”

Sarah - Behind on Books

----

“So, this book completely kicked ass! This is like a 400+ page book that has you riveted
from the very beginning.”

Sherry - Recommended Romance

----

“5 Blushing Stars!!!!!

What a great story! I fell for the characters right away! Loved their chemistry together!
Couldn’t put it down, and wanted more. I love a story that can make me laugh! I can’t
wait to find out what is next from Hilary Wynne! Loved her writing style!”

Blushing Divas Book Reviews

----

Hold On is the second book in the Alexa Reed Series. You can find the first book,
Stay, at:

http://www.hilarywynne.com

Is anybody out there?
Is anybody listening?
Does anybody really know
If it’s the end of the beginning?
A cry
A rush
From one breath
Is all we’re waiting for
Sometimes the one we’re taking
Changes every one before.
It’s everything you wanted, it’s everything you don’t
It’s one door swinging open and one door swinging closed
Some prayers find an answer
Some prayers never know
We’re holding on and letting go
Sometimes we’re holding angels
And we never even know
Don’t know if we’ll make it,
But we know,
We just can’t let it show
It’s everything you wanted, it’s everything you don’t
It’s one door swinging open and one door swinging closed
Some prayers find an answer
Some prayers never know
We’re holding on and letting go
Yeah, we’re letting go
Holding On and Letting Go – Ross Copperman

Chapter One

It’s been five days since I told Julian what happened with Brady. Five days of him
doing everything he can to help me through this; five long days of me not really feeling
anything. I’m holding on because Julian asked me to, but I’m not sure what I’m holding
on to. I feel like letting go of it all: Brady, Luke, and even Julian. It may just
be easier. It’s so hard to explain something I don’t understand myself. One minute
I can be relatively fine and the next minute I feel like disappearing. My life is
truly like a rollercoaster ride, and the idea that I don’t know what dip or turn or
track is coming up next is absolutely terrifying.

For the first time in a year I cancelled my weekly appointment with Ellen. I left
a message telling her I was sick. I feel a little guilty I lied but I really don’t
want to talk about this anymore. There’s still so much to talk about but nobody is
making me and that works for me. My roommates are tiptoeing around me and haven’t
asked many questions. They can see Julian and I are still together but I know they
suspect something is just not right. I haven’t heard from Luke either. It surprises
me and it doesn’t surprise me. I guess I’m really still having a hard time believing
we’re no longer in each other’s lives. He’s been a constant for almost seven years
and although I’m incredibly mad at him and hurt by what he did, I can’t help but miss
him. Julian told me Luke quit working at the hotel the night he told Julian to confront
me about Brady. I feel guilty about that too. Guilt. It’s the one emotion that won’t
disappear.

It’s Sunday night and True Blood is on. I don’t even want to watch it because I know
it’ll only remind me of Luke. Julian is coming over in about an hour and I feel so
indifferent about it. I never imagined I’d be indifferent about anything that had
to do with Julian. Since day one, everything about him has mattered so much to me.
Now I just feel, well, indifferent. We haven’t had much physical contact since before
he learned about the rape. He hasn’t asked me any questions about it either, but I
can only imagine he thinks his touch will traumatize me in some way. It really is
ironic seeing as our entire relationship has largely been defined by our physical
connection. I am scared of him touching me though. I’m scared I won’t feel anything.
I think, deep down, he might be scared too because he hasn’t even tried to kiss me.

Julian shows up at seven with dinner from Ursa’s. I can always count on him to feed
me. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately, but I make an effort because he has.
He sets the food on the counter in the kitchen and lets my roommates, Marissa and
Shannon, know there’s enough for them too.

“Thank you for bringing dinner.”

He leans in and gives me a soft peck on the cheek. “You’re welcome. Dario sent all
your favorites.” Dario is the chef at Ursa’s and his food is incredible.

We make our plates in silence and Julian frowns when he sees how little I have on
my plate. He doesn’t say anything about it though as we sit down at the kitchen table.
I’m glad he realizes a lecture on my eating habits won’t go over well.

“So, are you excited about tomorrow?”

I’m starting my new job at The Promenade in South Beach tomorrow. I recently got a
promotion and although we won’t be open for sales for another few weeks, my bosses,
Andrea Lewis and Mark Sullivan, believe it’s beneficial for me to make the move now.
I’m grateful for my job. It’s the one thing that’s kept me from sliding into a deep
depression.

I nod softly. “Yes, excited and nervous. I’m so familiar and so comfortable with everything
at The Towers. Plus it only takes ten minutes to get to work. This is going to be
a big change for me.”

“You’re going to do great. I still wish you were coming to work for us though.” Julian
says it jokingly but I’m pretty sure his family’s company, Bywater Properties, would
hire me if I was in the market. “You’re welcome to stay at my place anytime you want
if you’re worried about the commute.” Julian lives blocks from where I’ll be working
and if I was willing to consider it as an option, it would be a good one. We haven’t
spent the night together since I told him everything. He’s indicated he wants to but
I haven’t let it happen. I wonder how long he will allow this to continue. We’re together,
but we really aren’t.

“Thank you for the offer. It’s easier for me to sleep here though.” Easier in so many
ways.

Julian looks disappointed and I hate seeing it. I don’t want to disappoint him. A
twinge of guilt sparks through me. He doesn’t deserve this. It’s only a matter of
time before he leaves and I think we both know it. He tries to change the subject
but unwittingly picks a worse topic. “We need to talk about your birthday. It’s the
week after next right? June 17th?”

“Uh huh.” I don’t want to talk about my birthday. “I don’t think I’ve ever asked when
yours is. That’s pretty lame.”

Julian flashes me his big beautiful smile. “March 21st. You just missed it this year.
It was the big Three-O. You can make up for it next year.”

I can’t help but laugh. “I missed it because I didn’t know you. I’m not sure I should
be held accountable.”

“You’re getting off on a technicality, but okay. I’ll try not to expect big things
from you next year but no promises.”

Next year? I’m trying to get through the next hour. I just smile at him. He’s not
finished with this topic yet though. “So, what do you want to do for your birthday?
Assuming you don’t already have plans.”

“I do have plans. My plans are not to have any plans. I’m not much into birthdays.”
I want him to figure this out and do the math. I want him to back off without me having
to tell him why I don’t want to celebrate.

“Well, I am into birthdays and I’m also into you, so this year we’re going to do something.
It can be mellow but it’s our first birthday together so we should do something. Let
me take you away somewhere for the weekend. That would be good for you, for us.”

He looks like a little boy. He’s smiling and excited and eager. Ugh. He’s not getting
it so I just say it. “I appreciate you wanting to do something nice, but it’s not
going to happen.”

He tilts his head; his brow furrowed. He hears the conviction in my voice. “Porque?”

I take a deep breath and exhale. “Because Brady killed himself three days before my
birthday last year and every single memory about the days surrounding my birthday
is filled with pain. I can’t imagine ever wanting to celebrate again.” When I glance
at Julian I see he’s completely tensed up. “And you being mad that I don’t want to
celebrate doesn’t help at all.”

Julian shakes his head. “Lexie, don’t you know me at all? I’m not mad at you. I’m
mad for you. I’m so fucking pissed all of the good things you have in your life are
tainted by this. You don’t deserve it. You should be able to celebrate your birthday.”

I don’t even want to talk about what it is I think I deserve. “It is what it is, Julian.
I’m doing the best I can here. I’ve been dreading telling you about this. I knew it
was going to come up and I was hoping, until five minutes ago, you would just figure
it out. I didn’t want to tell you. It’s just another thing for you to pity me for.”

“It’s not pity. It’s called compassion. And love. I hurt for you.”

“Well, I don’t want you to hurt for me, Julian. Don’t you know me at all?” I get up
and walk toward my room. Julian follows me and shuts the door behind me.

“We’re so past me not caring. I’m in this all the way with you so deal with it!”

My pulse starts to race. It’s the first emotional reaction I’ve had to anything in
a week. “Deal with it? I don’t want to deal with anything. Don’t you fucking see that?
Deal with it. That’s funny, Julian. I told you I didn’t tell anybody about what happened
with Brady for a year. That’s how I deal with shit!”

He’s sitting at my desk, staring at me. He’s challenging me with his eyes and it’s
pissing me off. “What? You started this. You better say something or you can just
leave!”

His voice is calm and steady. “What would you like me to say? What are the right things
to say? If I knew, I’d make sure to say them. I need your help here because I have
no idea what’s okay.”

“If I had any idea how to fix this, how to fix me, don’t you think I would’ve done
it already. I’ve been trying everything. I’ve been in therapy for a year for God’s
sake!”

Julian doesn’t buy in. “I’m sorry, but I’m calling bullshit. You’ve been in therapy
for a year and you failed to mention to your therapist you were raped. You haven’t
told your family or your friends. Nobody knows about the note. Nobody except me. I’m
glad you told me, but until five days ago you were carrying all of this around inside
of you. How could you have thought that was the best way to deal with this?”

I’m mad now. Mad he just threw that all out there. “Did you use up all of your compassion
earlier? Because that was fucking rude! Do you think this is easy for me?”

He shakes his head. “No, baby, I don’t think it’s easy. For whatever reason, you decided
to tell me, only me, all of this, and because I love you I’m going to do whatever
I can to support you. You want me to keep pretending you didn’t tell me anything and
that everything is the same? Well, I can’t and neither can you. It’s the proverbial
elephant in the room and we need to deal with it, Corazón.”

I sit on my bed and look at Julian through squinty eyes and become the victim again.
He’s always pushing me. He made me tell him; he forced me. “Like I had any choice
but to tell you. It’s not like you would just leave it alone. Or me alone.”

He looks down for a minute and when he looks up I see the hurt in his eyes. “Yes,
I forced the issue and I stayed. Maybe one day you’ll be happy about that instead
of resentful.”

Oh fuck! I’m such a bitch. He’s telling me how much he cares about me and I act like
it’s a bad thing. “I don’t resent you. And I do appreciate your willingness to try
to help me. I’m just not comfortable with being your project. I still don’t get why
you even want to do this. I know I’m not giving you what you want.”

“Appreciate my willingness to help? Now who’s being rude?” The sarcasm is dripping
from his voice. “You may not feel the same way about me that I do about you, but don’t
you dare brush it off like I’m just doing you a favor.” He shakes his head and looks
totally disgusted. “Project? This isn’t a fucking joke. You obviously have no clue
what I want!”

“Then why don’t you tell me, Julian. What is it you want? Because like you, I can’t
seem to do anything right.”

His voice softens and he shrugs his shoulders. “You, Lexie. I want you. All of you.”

“Me? You want me? I’m calling bullshit on that.” I’m pretty much yelling now. “I’m
here. Right in front of you and you haven’t even touched me for five days. You act
like you want things to be normal between us, whatever that is, but you can’t even
touch me. The most normal thing about us is gone and you’re so turned off by what
I told you happened with Brady, you can’t even touch me.”

My voice cracks at the end of my sentence as the emotions that have been dormant bubble
up. As the words tumble from my mouth, I’m forced to acknowledge a new truth. I didn’t
want Julian to know about the rape because I was scared to death of what impact it
would have on our physical relationship; the one normal thing about us, about me.
I was scared he wouldn’t want me anymore. It has nothing to do with me worrying I
won’t feel anything when he touches me. It has everything to do with how I think he
will feel, or not feel, when he’s touching me.

I’m not the only one blown away by what I just said. Julian practically jumps off
the chair, pulls me up, and takes me in his arms. He threads his hand through my hair
and gently forces me to look up at him. I can feel his heart beating and I’m sure
he can feel mine as well. His voice is quiet but strong. “Dios Mio. How could you
have this so wrong? I’m dying to touch you. It’s taken every single ounce of will
power I have to give you the space I thought you needed; thought you wanted.”

He’s telling me the truth. His eyes can’t lie to me. I can see his desire and I can
feel it in the way his body has responded to me being in his arms. His erection is
pressing into me and I can feel him trembling. My body is responding in kind and I
feel the warmth radiating off of him begin to melt the chill that has been gripping
my heart. I didn’t know when I’d be ready to be with Julian like this; when being
intimate would feel right. In this moment, I can’t imagine not being with him. I’m
once again reminded I have so little control over my feelings where Julian is concerned.
I wrap my arms around his waist and pull him as close as I can. “Then show me. Please.
I need to know at least that part of us is okay.”

He tightens his grip on me and I see the uncertainty that still lingers. “Please,
Julian.” My words are a desperate plea. I’ve never needed Julian as much as I do at
this moment. I’ve wanted him. I’ve craved him. But I’ve never needed him like this.
I need him to show me things are okay.

His mouth finds mine and with his lips and tongue he erases any real or imagined physical
distance between us. We don’t take our eyes off of each other and when I feel wetness
on my cheek, I’m not sure if it’s from his tears or mine. The depth of what he feels
for me comes through his kiss and reverberates through my entire body.

We stand there kissing and clinging to each other for a long while. I begin to suspect
Julian is scared to take the next step and is waiting for my cue. I give it to him
by pulling the red Henley t-shirt he’s wearing over his head. His eyes widen and he
responds by pulling the purple tank top I’m wearing over mine. He reaches around,
unhooks my bra, and slowly slides the straps off my shoulders. He pulls me close again;
the heat of his bare skin against mine feels amazing. I feel as though I’m coming
back to life beneath his touch. We fumble to remove our shorts and in minutes our
naked bodies are pressed against each other from top to bottom.

BOOK: Hold On
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