“Jesus Christ, Quarry! Calm down. You’re making it worse.” Till pointed toward the building where the woman I loved lay dead in a coffin.
My eyes, tunneled by rage, flashed around the mob of reporters before landing on the front steps of the funeral home, where an even bigger crowd of Mia’s friends and family were watching me violently break down—again.
“I need to get out of here,” I mumbled, straightening my shirt.
“Good idea,” he replied, shoving me toward my car. “I’ll drive.”
“No. I want to be alone.”
“You can’t drive right now, Q.”
“You cannot be behind the wheel…” He carried on with some explanation, but I was more than done listening. The silence had never sounded so good.
Looking up at the sky, I sucked in a breath so deep that it caused my lungs to ache. I refused to release it though.
Ignoring Till’s protests, I dug my keys from my pocket and folded into my car. Barely managing to squeeze around the relentless reporters, I started toward the exit.
This is not happening.
My lungs were on fire, but it felt a hell of a lot better than what was going on in my heart, so I bit my lip and let it blaze—praying that it would eventually engulf me.
Glancing in my review mirror, I saw the cops rolling into the parking lot, but that wasn’t what made me stop. My breath left me on a rush as I slammed on the brakes the moment she came into view.
Liv was standing in the middle of the road, staring at my taillights.
Her big, brown eyes were as empty as I felt, and her face was painted with absolute anguish. Without out a single second of hesitation, I leaned over and pushed the passenger’s side door open in invitation. In a pair of heels and a short, black dress, she sprinted forward, not slowing until her ass hit my leather seat. Her door hadn’t even shut before I was off again.
After turning her cell phone off, she tossed it in the glove box. Mine quickly followed. She didn’t ask any questions as I pulled onto the highway in the exact opposite direction of both of our apartments. She didn’t want to go home any more than I did.
Our destination was unknown, and that alone made it infinitely better than the one we’d just left.
Then, when I was sick and tired of aimlessly driving, I drove some more.
With the exception of Liv flipping the radio on when the sun went down, we sat in absolute silence for over four hours.
Alone, yet still together.
Finally, around ten p.m., with an empty tank of gas and sleepy eyes, I slipped into a parking space in front of the apartment Liv and Mia shared. Liv didn’t delay in pushing the door open, but that’s the only effort she put into getting out.
Dropping her head against the headrest, she whispered at the windshield, “Her parents told me she left letters for us. We can pick them up whenever we’re ready.”
“I don’t want a fucking letter. She lied. She’s sorry. I got it. Nothing left to say.”
“Maybe it will explain stuff though. It might help.”
My angry gaze jumped to her, but she was still staring out the window.
“Will it bring her back?” I asked. “No? Then I don’t need a goddamn letter. Fuck that. Fuck her parents too. I don’t want shit from them.”
“They didn’t kill her, Quarry.”
“How can you say that?”
Her eyes finally met mine. “It was what Mia wanted. She signed the Do Not Resuscitate order, not them.”
“What the fuck are you doing here? Please, God, tell me you are not actually siding with them? Because, if I recall correctly, we both begged them not to give up on her. They didn’t give a shit about anyone. Liv, they didn’t even get a second opinion.”
“I’m not siding with anyone but Mia. She made a choice. We have to respect it.” Her expression was emotionless, even though her voice trembled.
“Respect it? Fuck her shitty choice. She should have respected me enough to let me have a say.”
She laughed without humor. “You never would have let her go, Q.”
I slammed the heel of my palm against the steering wheel. “You’re goddamn right I wouldn’t have!”
“She had brain cancer. It was going to happen one way or another. She knew it. And she made a decision. We don’t get to be mad about that.”
“Get the fuck out of my car.”
“No. Listen to me—”
“I’ll start listening the moment you stop spouting the bullshit her parents shoved down your throat tonight.”
She raised her voice for the first time all day. “It’s the truth!”
“It’s bullshit! All of it. How am I supposed to respect the fact that she lied to me for six months? Six fucking months that I could have used to prepare for this.”
“Oh my God, Quarry!” she yelled, exasperated. “Do you seriously think six months could have ever prepared you for this? I could have known since the day I met her and I still wouldn’t have been ready to lose her.”
“I could have tried! I could have spent that time devoted to being with her instead of traveling to fights. Jesus Christ, Liv, last weekend, I went out with the guys from the gym to play pool. The last fucking Saturday night of her life on this Earth and I was shooting pool with a bunch of assholes I can barely stand. Six months she kept the fact that she was dying a secret. Six. Fucking. Months. You’re right. I wouldn’t have been ready to let her go, but at least I could have figured out how to say goodbye. Instead, all I got was to squeeze her hand, say, ‘I love you,’ and then be escorted out of the hospital by security. Fuck!”
“That’s because you were acting like a fool and threatening her family! That was your choice!”
“Get the fuck out of my car. Now!”
“And it’s also the reason you got thrown out of the visitation tonight. Get your shit together or you won’t be allowed at the funeral tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to go to the funeral!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, making her flinch. “I don’t want there to be a funeral at all. Now, I’m serious. Get. The fuck. Out. Of my car.”
Through gritted teeth, she seethed, “You know what I’ll never understand? How you claim to be so in love with her, but in this entire conversation, I haven’t heard you say a single word that wasn’t about you. How this affects you. How this hurt you. Last time I checked, you aren’t the one being buried tomorrow.”
“I wish I were!”
“Fuck you! The world doesn’t revolve around Quarry Page!” With that, she jumped out and slammed the door.
I didn’t even wait for her to make it to the sidewalk before I was peeling out of the parking lot.
Her eyes grew wide. “They scheduled a rematch?” she breathed.
I’d spent the night lusting over her as she’d pranced around the ballroom. Thoughts of taking her on every horizontal surface had filled my mind for the majority of the evening. But right then, as she stared up at me with a mixture of surprise and elation, all because I was going to get something I truly wanted in life, a warmth I hadn’t felt in years washed over me.
“No, Liv. We’re getting a rematch.”
Her eyes flashed between mine as she silently held my gaze. Pride and affirmation filled my chest from her unspoken praise.
God. This woman.
She was so fucking beautiful.
Guiding her injured hand to my chest, I fought the urge to kiss her.
She was close. It wouldn’t have taken much.
I could have gripped her neck and tilted her head back. Leaning down, I could have brushed my lips against hers. She would have gasped, unsure of what to make of it. But, even in her confusion, her nipples would have swelled. Her breathing would have sped in what she would claim was nerves, but we’d both know that it was pure and erotic desire. Her feet would shuffle forward until those round breasts were compressed against my abs. Her hands would immediately snake around my waist for balance just before her eyes fluttered shut in invitation.
I wouldn’t kiss her yet. No. I’d simply watch her face soften and her lips part in anticipation. Sliding my free hand up her side, I’d whisper my breath across her mouth, denying us both the contact we so desperately needed. Goose bumps would pebble her otherwise smooth skin as I made my way up to cup her jaw. Then I’d graze my thumb over her plump bottom lip until her tongue peeked out to dampen it. With a deep breath, I’d fill my lungs with the intoxicating mixture of champagne and Liv James—holding it impossibly long for no other reason than it had once been hers. I’d continue to ghost my lips over hers, torturing us both, until her eyes finally opened, dark with need. She would whisper my name as a question, and then and only then, when I was positive she was drenched, primed, and ablaze, would I crush my mouth over hers for the first time.
“Oh my God!” she yelled, snapping me back to reality. Throwing her arms around my neck, she pulled me in for a tight celebratory hug.
Meanwhile, the warmth in my chest disappeared as I mourned the loss of a moment that had never truly been mine to claim.
I had to get over this bullshit with her.
Or...figure out a way to get her on the same page as me.
Both seemed equally as impossible.
Fighting Solitude is Book Three in the On The Ropes Series by Aly Martinez and is Quarry’s highly anticipated story releasing February 2nd!
Now Available for Pre-order
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1HToXGM
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1OgAs7R
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1NU89lo
**Each book in the series can be read as a standalone**
**Special Pre-order Pricing!**
I was born a fighter. Abandoned by my parents, I spent my life forging my own path—one guided by my fists and paved with pain.
Untouchable in the ring, I destroyed everyone who faced me, but that’s where my victories ended. Outside the ropes, I repeatedly failed the few people who loved me. Including my best friend, Liv James—the one person I’d die to protect.
Even though I didn’t deserve her, Liv never stopped believing in me. Never gave up. Never let go. After all, she understood what I’d lost, because she’d lost it too.
Liv was everything to me, but she was never truly mine.
That was going to change.
I lost my first love, but I refused to lose my soulmate.
Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting to be the man she deserves.
Fighting the solitude of our pasts.
Fighting for her.
Fighting Silence (Book One) On the Ropes
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Lhhn62
Fighting Shadows (Book Two) On The Ropes
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1HE3kt8
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1faAHHy
About the Author
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.