Only the good die young. But I’ve never been good.
I’ve lived a life most people only dream about. Famous men, expensive booze, and the finest drugs money could buy. But every vice has its price and living a life of excess has finally dragged me down, forcing me back to the one place I swore I’d never return.
We met in high school, but we were far from sweethearts. I ruined his life and then walked away. Losing everything is bad enough, but crawling back to people who wish you were dead is a nightmare.
Some say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Not always. You either forgive and forget or fracture and finish.
Seven years ago, Shiloh West was my world. I gave up my future for her. Then, I spent every waking moment hating her for it. I’ve followed her train wreck of a career in the tabloids since she drove out of town with her nose in the air. The woman is toxic.
The fact that a judge has court ordered her back to town means nothing to me—except maybe the payback I’ve waited a lifetime to collect. I’m going to build her up and tear her down.
A better man would walk away. I’m not a better man. She thinks she has the upper hand. Think again, Starshine.
Beauty is only skin deep, but revenge goes straight to the bone.
“I don’t scare you?”
“No.” She lifts her heavy lashes, tears pooling in her eyes. “You’ve seen me at my worst, and you could’ve ended me right then. Anyone else would’ve, but you didn’t. You don’t scare me, Cary. You’ve seen the ugly, yet you’re still here.” Raising the back of her hand, she swipes it along her forehead and chuckles. “I’m not sure if that makes you a saint or really stupid.”
“I’m no saint, Shiloh. I’m not the boy you kicked around in high school. That boy died when you…” My voice trails off, and I shake my head, refusing to rehash the past right now. “Anyway, I’m just a guy trying to make the best of a bad situation. You have to be here, and I have to deal with you being here. Being dicks to each other isn’t going to make the next three years pleasant for either of us.”
“Agreed, but I still don’t understand why you did all of this.” She motions around the empty arena. “You say you’re no saint, but, I’m no angel either. So, where does that leave us?”
I’ve asked myself the same question at least a dozen times since bringing her here. I can’t forgive her for what she did to me. The hate I’ve carried with me is too deeply imprinted to forgive and forget. However, the twisted need I have to play with her emotions makes me no better than her.
So, if we’re both demented as hell, then her question is valid. Where does that leave us?
But why does it have to leave us anywhere? We are who we are and not a damn thing is going to change that. Both of us have done some fucked up shit that’s caused pain and suffering. Maybe for one day we can block out the world and pretend we don’t hate each other.
“Even sinners and fallen angels take a break from anarchy, Shiloh. All work and no play makes us very dull criminals.”
I skate a step, or maybe it’s four or five. Hell, I don’t know. I’m too enthralled with the fiery look on her face to notice that she’s pressed right up against me, chest to chest, and stomach to stomach. The frigid air in the arena heats, and the minute I tip her head back, I know I should stop this, but I won’t. I can’t.
“Ask me again,” I whisper, the cold air clouding around my breath.
Her chin trembles in my hand. “Why did you go to all this trouble for me?”
“I went through seven years of detox, Shiloh. But one goddamn hit of you in a bathroom and I’m a junkie again. You make me crave more. It’s never enough.”
A true Southern girl from Eastern North Carolina, Cora grew up on sweet tea and front porches, and knows the real meaning of “bless your heart.” She’s the mother of three hyperactive and occasionally adorable children and the wife to a husband who she’s conned into believing Hot Pockets are a perfectly acceptable family dinner.
Cora can usually be found taking notes during true crime shows, effectively freaking out everyone in the room. She proudly admits to being a domestic rebel and plans to pen future self-help books including “Microwave Dinners For Dummies,” “Allergic To Laundry and Other Common Household Dangers,” and “When Hot Glue Guns Attack: A Mother’s Nightmare.”
Oh, and she and autocorrect are mortal enemies.