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Authors: Jewel E. Ann

Releasing Me

BOOK: Releasing Me
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RELEASING ME

by Jewel E. Ann

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales are purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 by Jewel E. Ann

ISBN:978-0-9913106-1-6

All rights reserved.

For everyone who took a chance on me.

Prologue


Addy, I know this isn’t how we imagined the start of our future together. But I love you, and I believe years from now it won’t matter how or why we ended up together. All that will matter is that we ended up together. I’ll live anywhere you want to live, I’ll look for a job that gets me home by five, and I’ll be yours on the weekends. You are my best friend, my love, and I want you to be my forever. Addy, will you marry me?


Yes

yes, I’ll marry you, Malcolm.

CHAPTER ONE

Q
uinn


He could wake
up at any time, but he’s going to feel groggy and possibly disoriented. Even when the anesthesia wears off, he may have trouble staying awake. We’re giving him some strong medication for pain management and he’ll want to sleep.


Thank you, Doctor.

Then, I heard her.
Addy? What happened? Where am I? God, I feel like shit. Why can’t I open my eyes? Is this a dream?
I felt blind. I couldn’t see my beautiful girl, all I could do was hear her voice.
That voice, the one that feels like home, is so clear, like she

s right here with me, but I can’t open my eyes. Why can’t I see my beautiful girl?


Addy, dear, you should go back to my hotel room and get some rest.

Mother? What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Where am I and why can’t I open my eyes?


I appreciate your concern, Elena, but I can’t leave him, not until he wakes up.


I wish you’d reconsider, but I understand. I’m going to have Chase get you something to eat, then.


I’m not hungry.


You need to eat, my dear, so if you’re not going to go get some rest at the hotel, then you need to at least eat something. I won’t take no for an answer.


Fine, but just a salad or some fruit.

Then I felt her hand on mine. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew her touch: warm, delicate fingers tracing familiar patterns over my knuckles, palm, and wrist. It was intimate, kind, and healing. I knew everything about her, at least everything I needed to know. I knew it that fateful day we met.

*

I
was in Milwaukee visiting my latest investment, an eco-friendly hotel that had recently opened. Driving through the lakefront business district, I turned my head to take in the great view of the lake. Thankfully, I returned my eyes to the road just in time to honk my horn and slam on my brakes. That was when I saw her—long blonde hair parted into pig tails. The first thing I thought was,

Seriously? A grown woman in pigtails!

She reminded me of Pippi Longstocking.

This insane woman stood in the middle of the street with her arms stretched out, twirling in circles, and I jumped out of my Range Rover. My next thought: Julie Andrews as Maria in
The
Sound of Music
. No one, outside of my immediate family, knew I’d seen just about every musical ever made, but not by choice. My mom insisted I watch musicals; it was her way of feeling less guilty about planting me in front of the television while she took care of my younger siblings.

Was Pippi Longstocking suicidal, drunk, high, or just flat-out crazy? Then she looked at me. The most beautiful ocean blue eyes I had ever seen almost knocked me off my feet. We exchanged a few unpleasantries laced with sexual tension, but those eyes … they were the warm sun, a gentle breeze, a glimpse of forever.

*

My ey
elids felt like lead, I was so tired. The bright light stung my eyes when I managed to force them open.


Quinn?

That’s all she said, but it was like an angel beckoning me to heaven.

I tried to speak but my throat felt dry and sore.


Here, drink a little water.

She held up a cup and I took a small sip.


Addy, what happened?

The words scratched my throat as I tried to speak.


I’m going to get the doctor.

She kissed my cheek and hurried out the door.

A few moments later she returned with a doctor, nurse, my mother, and Chase.


Quinn, I’m Dr. Muñez. You had a climbing accident and were airlifted to the hospital. You had a ruptured spleen that was causing internal bleeding. We successfully removed the spleen, but you still have a fractured rib and pelvis. We’re going to monitor you over the next couple of days. Then you will need another surgery to repair your pelvis. Depending on the outcome of the surgery and your progress, I’m estimating two to three weeks before you can go home. In the meantime, we will have you on pain medication which will make you drowsy. You need to rest and keep visitors to a minimum. Do you have any questions?

I didn’t remember falling. I remembered Addy climbing, but not me.
Internal bleeding, ruptured spleen, fractured bones?
This must be a nightmare.
I needed to wake up! Broken and speechless. That was what I felt when reality set in.

Euphoria. I remembered that feeling. Her huge grin. Greedy eyes raking over my bare chest. Warm sun on my back. My fingers gripping onto the sharp edges of the rock. Tears falling from her eyes. Muffled voices.
Fuzziness

the pieces don’t fit. How could this have happened?
Addy wouldn’t have dropped me, and I knew how to take a fall.

The nurse took my blood pressure, checked my IV fluids, and asked about my pain level. She handed me a button to self-administer more pain medication as needed. Then she proceeded to tell me that I had a catheter inserted as she checked that bag as well.
Fucking great! The woman who referred to me as her Latin sex god gets to watch my piss bag fill up.


Quinn, sweetie?

My mother kissed my cheek then caressed her hand over it.

I’m glad to see you’re awake. We were so worried when the hospital called and said you were in surgery.


Wh—why—call—Ad—dy—okay—

The damn narcotics!
Jumbled thoughts. Sluggish speech. A complete idiot. That was what I felt like. I wanted to ask why the hospital called.
Had Addy been injured too?

I looked at my beautiful girl, she was standing a few feet behind my mother. She looked nervous as she chewed the inside of her lip. Surrendering to tired eyes and heavy lids, I let memories of the first time I saw her do that carry me away.

After my first
encounter with Addy, I spent the afternoon at my hotel in Milwaukee. A business acquaintance of mine was speaking at a luncheon in one of the meeting rooms. I decided to listen in for a while after lunch had been served. Addy made her unforgettable entrance while I stood at the back of the room. Offering my hand to her, she paused for a moment and chewed on the inside of her lip. Her nervousness was rivaled only by her embarrassment. She gathered her senses and found her feet without my help.

As she walked to the front of the room, I drank in her subtle but sexy confidence: shoulders back, chin up, hips swaying. I had been to countless fashion shows with half-naked women parading up and down the catwalk in front of me. They were sexy and desirable, and more often than not, one of them ended up in my bed by the end of the night. Addy was different. She was unquestionably sexy and hot as Hell, but there was something about her that was a mix of magnetism, intrigue, and sadness. The dick in me, and the one on me, wanted to find the closest bathroom and fuck her over the vanity until the image of her in those naughty schoolgirl pigtails was erased. But another part of me, one that I wasn’t as familiar with, wanted to fold her in my arms and squeeze the sadness out of her until all that was left was a beautiful woman.

*


I’m gl—ad you
—you’re here,

I told my mother.

Talk to— Addy— a—lone?


Sure, sweetie, we’ll be right outside.

Chase patted me on my arm.

I knew your wild streak would come to an end. I bet you were showing off too much for your girl.

He laughed because the Cohen boys were too manly to show genuine emotion toward each other. Our father had set that example early on in our lives.

I forced a smile.

Probably.

After they exited the room, Addy sat on the edge of the bed and held my hand. Eyes wet and dull, I could see her fighting back tears.


Baby, I’ll be f—fine.

Those four words broke her open, and the biggest tears fell down her face. Her body was still as she held her breath to keep from sobbing. I wanted to reach up and wipe away her tears, but I was too weak. Moving any part of my body was a challenge and any attempt caused pain.


Come here,

I whispered.

She hesitated at first then leaned into me until our foreheads were touching. It was an intimate gesture that we had between us. It acknowledged our unspoken emotions, even if we weren’t ready to share them. Addy had a lot she wasn’t ready to share.

*

The first time I rest
ed my forehead on hers was the moment I realized I wanted to take the pain away from her past. It was the moment I knew she was more than sad; she was broken.

It didn’t take much for me to find out that
The Sage
belonged to her. The first few people I talked to were reluctant to share information, but eventually I found a young guy who worked at the marina and was willing to share all he knew for a few extra bucks. It may have been deceitful toward Addy, and I should have been direct with her about the boat, but I wanted her to open up to me in her own time. Mentioning
The Sage
was my way of giving her the perfect opportunity, but she didn’t take the bait. Instead, she distracted me with sex, not difficult to do. She was nervous, which made her anxious. She wanted me to take her fast and forget about everything else. I told her how beautiful I thought she was, but I don’t know if she knew I wasn’t talking about anything I could see on the outside.

The next morning I left her, not because I wanted to, I just couldn’t stay. She was broken and hiding her feelings about her past from me and everyone else. Sex was a physical outlet for her emotions. When I realized that my own emotions were in uncharted territory, I knew I needed to leave. It felt like we were on a course headed for destruction. I worried that I could break her even more, in an effort to save myself.

*

Her tears fell to my
face. As if I wasn’t already in enough pain, hers was breaking my fucking heart. I tilted my head up just enough to kiss her cheeks. The salty taste of her tears familiar as I’d kissed them away so many times before. They came in waves from her ocean blue eyes. Every time they surfaced I gave her another piece of my heart like a bandage to her soul.


I love you, Addy. Just tell me.

I feared the worst. Maybe she was going to tell me that she dropped me, that she was responsible for my accident. I didn’t have to think twice about it; I knew I would forgive her. She wouldn’t even have to ask, but my fear was she would never forgive herself. Just another thing to add to everything else she carried around from her past, and I didn’t want her to have that on her conscience or on her heart.


I’m so sorry, Quinn.

Her words were barely audible.


There’s no reason for you to be sorry.

She sat up and my bed started to move. The pain that shot through my body was excruciating.


Ah … ah … fuck!

I yelled.


Oh my God, oh my God!

Addy screamed as she scrambled.

The nurse rushed in the room to assess the situation. Addy had accidentally pushed the button that controlled my bed. The nurse lowered me back down as I yelled again. Then she administered another dose of my pain medication for me.

Unsure of whether it was from the pain or the medicine, I passed out. My mind wandered back to similar situations with Addy. She had been responsible for some of my most painful and embarrassing experiences of the previous year.

*

Addy had the brains of
a mad scientist, but fate worked in everyone’s favor when she ended up in a kitchen. There was little doubt in my mind that she surely would have blown up or destroyed any sort of laboratory.

My first sampling of her chef’s special was a hurricane of a green smoothie all over both of us. She laughed and so did I, eventually. She was running a two for one

torment Quinn

special that day. I never did find out if the
RAW girls taste better
T-shirt was intentional or an accident. After I arrived back in Chicago, I picked up some bottled water from the market, went by the bank to sign some papers, and then met some buddies from college at a local sports bar. I could only imagine what people at the bank thought of the millionaire businessman from New York showing up wearing that shirt. Of course no one said anything, but I wished they would have. It might have saved me from the ultimate embarrassment of having it brought to my attention by guys who knew me before I wore tailored Armani suits. I came close to indulging in a beer just to make it through all the crap I received. Admittedly, I was ten percent pissed and ninety percent turned on. All I could think about was finding out if the RAW girl from Milwaukee tasted better.

Addy won her Oscar when she played the role of Quinn’s dirty little secret on Christmas with my family. She was anything
but
that to me. However, that was how she felt that day. I took the award for biggest prick when I let it go on for as long as I did. Addy’s heart was already broken by that point, but I could hear the sound of my mother’s heart shattering when Addy said I was opening an escort business. I suspected revenge as her motive until she stood to leave. I saw in her beautiful blue eyes that it wasn’t revenge, it was self-preservation. I would have chosen death over letting her leave without my family knowing the truth.

BOOK: Releasing Me
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