Authors: Kendall Ryan
When I Break #3
2014 Kendall Ryan
Editing and Formatting by Pam Berehulke,
Cover Design by
All Booked Out
by Artem Furman,
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author
’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
In this third and final installment of the much-loved
When I Break
series, Knox and McKenna’s relationship has reached a critical impasse. The mistakes and secrets of their pasts have caught up to them and threaten their future happiness. Can McKenna trust that Knox’s sexual addiction is behind him and make a life with this beautifully troubled man? And when Knox reveals the full truth about his past, will McKenna be able to put her own fears aside and accept him?
When We Fall
is the conclusion to Knox and McKenna’s story.
Contains a stubborn alpha male with addiction issues and loads of sexual tension between two damaged characters.
Read at your own risk.
Due to mature content,
this book is recommended for ages 17+.
I knew I needed to stay calm and assess the situation, but McKenna showing up here tonight had really thrown me off. And not to mention a very pregnant Amanda waddling across my floor, groaning in pain, was putting me a little outside my comfort zone. My head was spinning like a fucking top.
I checked on McKenna again. She was sprawled across my bed where I
’d laid her down, and her body was limp and pale. She was breathing, but she wasn’t responding to my voice or touch. She had passed out cold from the shock of finding me in my bedroom with Amanda. I would have to deal with the repercussions later. My guess was that McKenna had driven back from her extended stay in Indiana, and finding me with Amanda in my bedroom—along with the soundtrack of Amanda’s moans—had McKenna assuming the worst. Next, I tried to get Amanda to sit down and rest, but she pushed me away, insisting that walking was helping.
Knowing I was seriously out of my element, I grabbed my cell phone and dialed my neighbor, Nikki. She had a baby
; surely she’d know if this was false labor or the real thing.
Nik, yeah. Hey, my friend Amanda thinks she’s going into labor, but she’s not due for another several weeks—”
cut me off, saying something about a guy named Braxton Hicks and timing contractions, but before I could hear the rest, Amanda let out a bloodcurdling scream.
I’m peeing, I think I’m peeing! Am I peeing?” She squatted on the floor, her pants growing darker with a wet stain.
What the fuck?
I cursed under my breath and crossed the room to give her a hand.
Nikki, overhearing the entire thing, laughed.
“Her water just broke. Get her to the hospital. This baby’s coming early.”
“McKenna’s here and passed out—I can’t just leave her. And Tucker’s here, too. Can you come over?”
Sorry, I’m out of town at my mom’s,” Nikki said.
All right. Gotta go, Nik.”
I hung up the phone and helped Amanda remove her wet pants and underwear
, then gave her a pair of my sweats. I’d worry about cleaning up the puddle of water on my floor later. In all the commotion, Tucker had come upstairs and was now peeking around the open doorway. “It’s okay, Tuck, you can come in.”
He ventured inside the room slowly, looking around at the two women, his eyes as big as saucers. McKenna was still out cold.
“What happened?” he asked.
Kenna’s all right, I promise. And Amanda’s going to have her baby.”
Amanda let out a low moan and sat down on the bed next to McKenna. Doing the only thing I could, I picked up my phone and dialed 911. The paramedics could make sure McKenna was
all right and give Amanda a lift to the hospital. While I waited for them to arrive, I sent Tucker downstairs to gather up some towels. He didn’t need to be up here seeing Amanda in agonizing pain and worrying about McKenna. It wasn’t healthy for his little mind to try to process all that was happening. I was having a hard enough time keeping my own stress level contained.
A few minutes later I heard sirens and ran downstairs to meet the paramedics. One man and one woman rushed inside and followed me and a wide-eyed Tucker up the stairs to my attic bedroom.
They assessed Amanda and determined that she was in active labor and got her ready for transport. Then they turned their attention to McKenna. I didn’t breathe a full, deep breath until I saw her eyelids flutter and open. Her eyes met mine, and all the fear and anxiety knotting inside me relaxed just slightly.
Hey, angel.” I leaned over her on the bed and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
What happened?” she asked, pushing up on her elbows to sit up.
Tucker edged himself closer, nearly climbing into her lap. It seemed I wasn
’t the only one who’d been worried about her.
Tuck, give her some space.”
McKenna took his hand and squeezed, showing him that she was okay.
“You came in and saw me and Amanda, and you passed out,” I explained.
gaze shot over to where Amanda was sitting on the sofa with the paramedics on either side of her. “Oh my God, is she okay?”
She’s in labor. They’re gonna take her to the hospital. She came here about an hour ago, complaining of a backache and contractions, and said she didn’t have anywhere else to go.”
McKenna chewed on her lip, taking in the chaos across the room.
“Sir?” One of the paramedics called me over and I kissed McKenna’s forehead again, then went to them.
How is she?”
She’s doing great but progressing quickly, so we need to get going.”
Amanda grabbed my hand.
“You’re coming with me, right?”
’t planned on it, but the fear in her eyes pulled at something deep inside me.
I need someone,” Amanda insisted. “I can’t do this alone. Can either you or McKenna come with me?” Her voice was shrill, bordering on hysterical.
Amanda was right. And since McKenna had just driven five hours and then had a fainting spell, I didn’t particularly want to send her off to the hospital for what could very well turn into an all-night process. “Of course I’ll come.”
While the paramedics brought Amanda downstairs and loaded her into the ambulance, I explained to McKenna and Tucker that I was going to the hospital. McKenna
’s crystal-blue eyes turned hazy and she blinked several times, looking away.
Will you be okay here with Tuck?” I asked her. “The guys should be home soon.”
nodded. “I’ll be fine. And you’re right, someone should be with her. We’ll talk when you get back.”
Unable to stop touching
McKenna, I kissed her temple and told Tucker to take good care of her, then dashed down the stairs to grab my keys. I would follow the ambulance in my Jeep.
’d imagined the worst when I heard the feminine moans coming from behind Knox’s closed bedroom door. My heart had shattered and crumbled into a million pieces as I came to the conclusion I’d lost him in the weeks I’d spent away. I’d chosen to go to Indiana and stay there while my friend Brian recovered from his car accident, but the second I heard what I thought was sex happening on the other side of that door, and that I’d lost Knox for good, I wanted to take back every moment I’d spent at Brian’s bedside.
being in his bedroom with a laboring Amanda was the last thing I’d expected. And I knew that said something about the level of trust I had in him. If I wanted to be here, and see where things could go with us, I needed to work on my trust issues. But one thing at a time. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and tested my weight on my shaky legs.
Should we go downstairs?” I asked Tucker. He nodded, taking me by the arm and helping me up from the bed. “I’m okay, buddy. I promise.”
He was so sweet and chivalrous
, and just eight years old. It was an adorable combination. “Do you want to watch the new Spiderman movie? I got it for Christmas.”
Sure, buddy. You get it started, I’ll be right down.” I wanted to throw the wet towels into the washing machine, figuring that the amniotic fluid currently soaking into the hardwood floors should be cleaned up before Knox got home.
After starting the wash, I met Tucker in the living room. He
’d made a big nest of pillows on the couch for us and had the movie all cued up.
Ready?” he asked.
Tucker grabbed the remote control. “I fast-forwarded it to the best part.”
I chuckled at his efforts, not bothering to explain that I
’d prefer to watch the movie from the beginning. His enthusiasm was enough. He hit
and an action scene, complete with good guys and villains, played out before us. I decided it was actually rather thoughtful of him to fast-forward just to the good parts. Plus in the weeks since Christmas, I guessed he’d already watched this at least a dozen times.
I wondered how long Amanda
’s delivery would take and if the baby would be okay. She was delivering really early, but I knew she was well into her third trimester, so I hoped that meant the baby was developed enough to be all right. I was glad I had Tucker cuddled in my lap to distract me. Otherwise I’d probably be pacing the floor, completely stressed out and worried.
Just as the movie was ending, Jax
on and Luke arrived home.
Hey, guys.” I whispered my greeting so as not to wake Tucker, who was softly snoring against my shoulder.
on smiled crookedly. “You’re back.”
“Good. Knox was like a hormonal teenager when you were gone.” Jaxon lifted Tucker from the couch and cradled his dead weight as he carried him up the stairs.
Luke sat down beside me.
“Where’s Knox? Does he know you’re back?”
Yeah. It wasn’t quite the reunion I was expecting, though. When I got here, our friend Amanda from group was here and she’d gone into labor. Knox took her to the hospital.” I left out the embarrassing part where I fell like a sack of stones, dropping to the floor from shock.
I knew it was wrong, but part of me wanted to grill Luke about Knox
’s activities while I’d been away. Had he behaved himself? Knowing he’d hooked up with someone would crush me, and since it wasn’t right to use Luke’s honesty against his own brother, I abstained. “How was winter break?”
shrugged. “It was okay. I worked down at the hardware store with Knox most days, trying to build up a savings account for college. I’m going to keep working there a few days a week after school.”
I loved his determination. It made me realize that I
’d taken my own education for granted. When it was time for me to go to college, all I had to do was apply, and even then I’d complained about the endless essays and applications. My parents had set aside money for years so I didn’t have to worry about anything when it was time to go. As much as I tried to put myself in Luke’s shoes, I knew I’d never really understand the struggles he had to endure. “I heard you guys volunteered on Christmas,” I said.
Yeah. It was really cool. I think we’re gonna start doing that every year, make it our new family tradition. Holidays just aren’t the same without our parents.”
I know what you mean.” I loved the idea that I might have inspired their new holiday tradition.
on returned from putting Tucker to bed, and stood in front of where Luke and I sat on the couch. “I think I’m gonna go out for a while.”
Stay in with us,” I blurted. I didn’t want to worry and wonder where Jaxon was and who he was with; I felt responsible for the boys tonight with Knox away. Maybe it was my nerves, or maybe it was because of what happened to Brian, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable with us all under one roof.
You have to make it worth my while then.” He smirked.
Okay?” I hadn’t meant to phrase it as a question, but I was curious what he meant.
You know how to play poker?” he asked.
A little.” One of my college roommates had a boyfriend who was really into poker. He’d taught us both the basics.
You have any cash on you?”
“Perfect. Come on.”
Luke and I rose from the couch and followed
Jaxon to the dining room table. Luke tugged on my wrist, meeting my eyes with a solemn gaze. “You don’t have to play with him.”
, the distraction of a game of cards sounded better than sitting on the couch moping and waiting for Knox to get home. And I liked the idea of getting to know Luke and Jaxon a little better. I hadn’t spent any quality time with just the three of us before. “Can we play with just three players?” I asked Jaxon, settling into the chair across from him.
Yeah, shorthanded poker. Luke, Knox, and I play this way sometimes.”
Luke rolled his eyes.
“Knox and I don’t play with him anymore. He’s too good. Be careful, McKenna.”
I laughed. I couldn
’t really see Jaxon trying to roll me for my money. I grabbed my wallet from my purse and set it on the table next to me. “I think I can handle myself.”
on smiled at me, a devilish grin that showed off one dimple. “I like the confidence. Game on, babe.”
Luke rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms behind his head.
I watched as Jaxon pulled a roll of bills from his pocket that was several inches thick.
. Where had he gotten that kind of money? There had to be several hundred dollars there, and as far as I knew he didn’t have a job. Unless you counted breaking hearts and getting into fights. I averted my eyes from the stack of money he was shuffling through. It was his business.
Jaxon made quick work of changing my twenty
-dollar bill into singles and passing the cash back to me. “Aren’t you getting in?” I asked Luke.
He shook his head.
“I don’t play Jax for money anymore. Now we trade homework assignments.”
I guess that made sense. Luke was good at school and it seemed to come naturally for him.
“Oh. Well, what do you get if you win?”
A confused look twisted his features.
“I don’t know. I’ve never won.”
I watched in awe as Jax
on shuffled and dealt the cards. The way his fingers glided over the cards with ease told me he’d spent a fair amount of time playing, a little hidden talent I’d known nothing about. It seemed the more I got to know about these boys, the more they surprised me.
So, where is Knox anyway?” Jaxon asked, dealing the last card.
While I arranged the cards in my hand, I explained about Amanda and how her water had broken on his bedroom floor.
Jaxon made a face and shuddered. “Nasty.” Luke’s expression was more one of concern. They couldn’t be more different if they tried.
’d been dealt a decent hand—a pair of tens and a pair of sixes—and I tossed a few dollars into the center of the table. After seeing and raising, then noticing conspicuous looks from Luke, I called Jaxon and he turned over his cards for me. A full house. He took the bills from the center of the table and gave me a mocking look.
Throughout the game I continually glanced down at my phone, wondering what was happening at the hospital and when Knox would be home. I felt a little bad that I hadn
’t been the one to go with Amanda. I was sure she could have used a female friend there, but someone had to stay here with Tucker, and knowing the state I’d been in, it made sense that person was me. Watching Spiderman with a cuddly eight-year-old was much less stressful than being a birth coach, I was sure.
While Jaxon easily won hand after hand, Luke delivered salty snack
s and cold beverages to the table, as if pretzels and chips would make up for me getting my butt kicked by Jaxon.
As it turned out, I wasn
’t as decent a poker player as I’d thought. Or Jaxon was just that good.
When my twenty dollars had dwindled down to two, I folded
, laying my cards down on the table, then yawned. It was already after midnight. “You know there is such a thing as letting a girl win.” I smiled sweetly, handing over more singles.
I respect you too much to treat you like an unequal opponent,” he said, sweet as pie.
Yeah, sure you do.” I winked.
Let’s just not tell Knox about this, okay?” Jaxon grinned, stacking his pile of newly acquired bills in front of him.
I chuckled. No doubt
, Knox wouldn’t be happy about Jaxon swindling me in a game of poker. “I’m beat, guys. I think I’m gonna call it a night.”
One more quick check of my phone and still nothing from Knox.
I considered calling him but decided against it. If he was helping Amanda during her labor, he’d have his hands full. Yet there was something that nagged at me. Her showing up here when she was in labor seemed a little odd to me. Maybe they’d grown closer while I was away. Pushing the thoughts aside, I rose from my seat and stretched. “’Night, guys.”
Luke and Jaxon kissed each of my cheeks and I climbed the stairs feeling happy and complete.
Being near them made me feel like I was getting my second chance at a family.
Crawling into Knox
’s bed alone felt strange. The bed was too big, too cold, and it made me yearn for his warmth. The one bonus was that the pillowcase smelled like him. Curling onto my side, I snuggled in closer, breathing in that delicious scent, and drifted off to sleep.