Sometimes It Lasts, Page 2Abbi Glines
“Yeah, we got it,” I informed him, then set my beer down and stood up. I had to talk to Eva. This was going to drive me nuts.
“Where you going?” Preston called out. I didn’t reply. I heard Marcus say something, but I ignored them both and headed for the kitchen.
As I pushed the door open, my eyes scanned the room until I found Eva standing at the sink, washing her hands, while Amanda bubbled on happily about something she was telling them.
Eva smiled, but I could see that her smile wasn’t real. Her mind was somewhere else.
“Hey, Cage.” Amanda beamed at me, and Eva’s head snapped up and her eyes locked with mine.
“Could I steal Eva for a minute?” I asked without taking my eyes off her.
Eva dried her hands on the towel beside the sink and glanced back at Low and Amanda. “I’ll be back to check on the biscuits in a minute,” she told them then walked over to me. I held out my hand until she slipped hers into mine, and I led her out the back door of the kitchen. I didn’t want to walk back through the living room. Preston asked too many damn questions.
“Are you okay?” Eva asked as I closed the door behind us. I turned to look at her.
“You tell me, because I don’t feel like you’re okay. Something’s wrong, baby, and I need to know what it is,” I said without letting go of her hand.
Eva started to say something then stopped. She closed her eyes tightly and let out a frustrated sigh. I was right something was wrong with her. I moved closer to her, ready to protect her from whatever it was that was bothering her. I hated not knowing when she needed something.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart? Let me know so I can fix this shit,” I whispered, letting go of her hand and grabbing her waist and pulling her even closer to me.
She opened her eyes and gazed up at me sadly. “I didn’t want to worry you. I wasn’t going to say anything to you about this. But you read me too well or I suck at keeping my feelings to myself.”
I didn’t like what I was hearing.
“I’m going to talk to Daddy on Thursday about paying for my tuition next year. I’m not positive what he’s going to say. Tennessee is a long way from here, and I’m not sure he’s going to trust you enough to let me go that far away from him willingly. I know I can just go without his blessing and I will. . . but I need the money. I need him to pay for it.” A small sob escaped her mouth, and she closed it, mumbling a curse. It was so cute, I would have smiled if I wasn’t so upset about her being worried.
“If he doesn’t pay for it, then I’ll fucking make it happen. Don’t worry about it. I can sell the apartment and use that money for your tuition. It’s okay. I don’t want you worrying about this. I won’t leave you behind, Eva.”
Big tears welled up in her eyes. “That’s just it, Cage. You have to go. This is your future. It is your dream. I also refuse to let you sell your inheritance to pay for my college tuition. That apartment is your security. I won’t do it. I just won’t.”
I cupped her face in my hands and brushed the tears away with my thumbs. “I won’t sell the apartment then if you don’t want me to, and I’m going because it’s our future. My dream is a life with you, Eva. This scholarship just secures that future. Nothing more. We will both go with or without your daddy’s money. I promise you that. Now, stop worrying. I’ll make it happen.”
“Okay,” she whispered.
“Trust me,” I begged. I needed her to let this worry go.
“I do. With my life,” she replied.
It was moments like this that I was left in awe that this woman loved me this much. I never imagined someone like her in my life. The fact that she was there and she loved me and I didn’t have to fear her leaving me made everything in my life okay. She fixed it all.
I lowered my mouth to hers and nibbled on her soft bottom lip before sliding my tongue into her mouth to taste her. My world was always centered when I was holding her in my arms.
Eva pulled back as soon as my hands slipped under her shirt. The grin on her face was a real one. “Cage, we’re supposed to be inside with our friends. Not out here making out,” she said.
“Why the hell not? Making out is a helluva lot more fun than talking to those jokers,” I replied before kissing the corner of her mouth and cupping one of her breasts in my hand.
“Cage, stop,” she said in a husky voice that told me I was turning her on. Damn, now I wanted to leave. “We need to go eat with them. I think Low wants to tell us something. She’s very excited.”
Low and Marcus had been acting weird too. I remembered that now. I reluctantly let my hand slid back out of Eva’s shirt, and I reached down and laced my fingers through hers. “Okay, we’ll go back in there, but I’m gonna be thinking about that tight little pussy of yours all through dinner,” I replied with a wink.
I was having a hard time eating. Cage kept slipping his hand between my thighs, and I was beginning to think this that skirt was a bad idea. Every time I pushed his hand away, he would flash me this wicked grin that was so ridiculously sexy, it was a miracle I could tell him no.
“You know you wanna open up for me,” Cage whispered in my ear, making me shiver. Damn him.
A lone finger trailed up my leg and slipped under my skirt. He was really a bad boy. I didn’t think that part of him would ever change. “Let me inside those wet panties.” His low whisper was indeed making my panties wet. I was going to end up letting him have me in the bathroom before this dinner was over.
“What are you doing to her, man? Damn, she’s all kinds of red,” Preston said from across the table. Cage’s head snapped in Preston’s direction, and I was torn between humiliation at the fact that everyone knew what was going on now and fear that Cage was going to hurt him.
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but I know you’re not embarrassing my girl. Because if you are, I’m gonna kick your ass.”
Preston only chuckled, but I could see the panicked look in Amanda’s eyes.
“Okay, you two. That’s enough. Preston, shut up, and Cage, calm down. Damn psychos,” Marcus said from the head of the table.
At least I wasn’t ready to grab Cage and go screw him in the bathroom anymore.
“Before Cage and Preston come to blows over the dinner table, I want to say something,” Low said, smiling over at Marcus. That look of adoration gave away what she was going to say before she could say it. I knew what this was about now. I reached over and squeezed Cage’s hand.
“I went to the doctor yesterday. We’re going to have a baby,” Willow said with the biggest smile on her face I’d ever seen.
Preston let out a whoop. “Hot damn, you two. That’s awesome.”
Amanda jumped out of her seat and ran to hug Low, then she threw herself into her brother’s arms. I watched as Marcus smiled down at his sister, chuckling at her tears of happiness. When he had found out that she was dating his best friend, he had been furious. They all got along now. It helped that Preston worshiped the ground she walked on. Marcus liked that.
Low looked over at Cage for the first time. I wondered how he would take this. I knew he loved me, but he loved her too. Just as much but differently. He squeezed my hand then let it go before he stood up and walked around the table to pull Low into his arms and hug her. I saw him whisper something in her ear, and she laughed. I hadn’t understood their relationship at first. It was hard to grasp. Over time I realized that even though they weren’t related, their hearts were. That was something I could understand. I felt the same about Jeremy. I’d grown up with Jeremy and Josh Beasley. Although my heart had always belonged to Josh, I had loved Jeremy as if he were my family. When Josh died, I had grieved with Jeremy. We had that bond. So Willow and Cage made complete sense. They hadn’t loved the same person and lost them, but they had fought to live and survive together. The neglect from their families as they grew up was easier because they had each other. Losing Josh had broken me, but it had broken Jeremy, too. Josh had been
his twin brother. His other half. We’d held on to each other to survive.
My heart was full. Cage had such wonderful friends. Every one of them had accepted me as part of their group with open arms.
Watching them be so happy for Low and Marcus made my heart swell.
I stood up and walked over to congratulate Marcus, then I turned to Low as Cage let her go.
“Congratulations,” I told her, and hugged her. “You’ll make a wonderful mother.” She was already a wonderful aunt. I’d seen her with Larissa, her niece.
“Thank you. I’m just so glad Cage has you now,” she whispered.
This was why she was worried about us. She knew her life was about to drastically change, and she couldn’t be Cage’s shoulder to lean on anymore. He needed me.
Cage’s arms slipped around my waist, and he pulled me against his side. I snuggled against him as Preston slapped Marcus on the back and called him Papa. Amanda was already asking Low about names for the baby, and I enjoyed watching it all. This was happiness. Being a part of it was an amazing experience.
“Are you happy?” I asked Cage as I gazed up at his face.
He looked down at me. “Completely. When we were kids, I always thought all we’d ever have was each other. But we got lucky. Low found Marcus, and I found you.”
I pressed a kiss to his chest and looked back at the others in the room. Even if my dad wouldn’t help me get to Tennessee, we would find a way. Marcus and Low had overcome something so much more difficult than money and location, and look at them now.
I stood on the porch of my daddy’s house, looking out over the familiar land I’d grown up loving. So many memories danced through my head. Once those memories had only been for Josh, my childhood sweetheart, fiancée, and now a fallen soldier. He had been my world even after his death—until Cage York came walking into my life with a swagger and a naughty mouth.
He was nothing like Josh, but I’d fallen in love with him anyway. Smiling, I picked up my glass of sweet tea and took a sip. I was waiting on Daddy to get back from his trip to the stockyard. We had been going to have lunch together today, but his new farmhand had called in sick this morning. I had been almost here when Daddy had called to cancel, so I decided to come and just enjoy the peace and quiet for a while.
I wanted to stay and see Daddy today. It had been hard leaving him at first. When my mother passed away, I had still been so young. Through the grief and pain, Daddy and I had grown stronger together. Leaving him had made me feel guilty, but it had been time. I couldn’t stay with him forever.
“Thought I recognized that Jeep parked out front,” Jeremy’s voice called out from the front yard. I turned my head to see Josh’s twin brother standing underneath the maple tree with his hands in his front pockets, smiling at me. I hadn’t seen him since his winter break from college.
I set my glass on the wooden ledge of the porch railing and ran down the steps. Jeremy opened his arms for me to throw myself into. He had been just as much a part of my life growing up as Josh had. The three of us had been inseparable. When Josh had died, Jeremy and I had clung together. We’d made it through by staying close. I just hadn’t realized that Jeremy was ready to move on with his life until Cage came barreling into mine. In a way, Cage had saved both of us.
Jeremy’s arms wrapped around me and picked me up off the ground. “You’re home! I didn’t know you were coming home this week! I thought you had another week before you came back,” I said, squeezing him hard. I’d missed him. Seeing his face was always bittersweet. He looked so much like Josh.
“Semester’s over. Time to enjoy my summer break. What’re you doing here?” He asked, setting me down on the ground in front of him.
“I came to have lunch with Daddy. He’s gone to the stockyard though. His help called in sick this morning.”
Jeremy waggled his eyebrows teasingly. “Why don’t you have lunch with me instead?”
“I’d love to. I have some chicken salad in the fridge, corn on the cob and black-eyed peas, and biscuits on the stove, keeping them warm. More than enough for just me and Daddy. Come on in and we’ll eat, and you can tell me about all the girls’ hearts you’ve broken this year.”
There was a flicker of unease in Jeremy’s eyes that most people wouldn’t have noticed, but then most people hadn’t grown up spending everyday of their life with him. I knew him too well. Because I knew him so well, I decided to let it go for now. He was protecting something and I was going to let him.
“Your homemade chicken salad?” he asked with a pleased look on his face.
“Hell, yeah,” he replied, and bounded up the stairs without waiting for me.
This was nice. Lately I’d been missing home. . . Daddy. . . Jeremy. . . the past. Not because I wasn’t happy with Cage—because I was, deliriously so. It was just that I didn’t feel like I could talk to him about home. Cage and Daddy still didn’t speak to each other. When they were together, it was awkward. Even though Cage didn’t mention it, I knew he still worried that he would never measure up to Josh. If I ever mentioned Josh, the look on Cage’s face said it all. I just couldn’t be open with him about everything.
I fixed both of us a plate and sat down at the table across from Jeremy. We’d been eating together at this table since I was a little girl. It felt good to still have moments like this. “Tell me about college. You madly in love yet?”
Jeremy glanced up at me then back down at his plate, then he shoveled a forkful of peas into his mouth. Guess that wasn’t something he wanted to talk about. Which meant we needed to talk about it. It had always been Josh’s job to get Jeremy to talk when he had a problem. I had watched their dynamic for years. I knew Jeremy as well as I had known Josh.
“Talk Jer,” I said, setting my own fork down and staring at him.
He let out a sigh and shook his head. “Nothing to talk about.”
“Yeah, and I know better than that. Can’t lie to me,” I replied.
Jeremy leaned back in his seat and leveled me with his eyes. “Fine. I don’t think college life is for me. I thought it was what I wanted. I couldn’t wait to get out of here.. . . You know, away from this small town. But I miss it. A helluva lot. I miss waking up early and going outside before the dew has dried. I miss the smell of the land and working with the sun on my back while I accomplish something. For so damn long I wanted out of this life and now I know it’s my home. It’s who I am.”
I understood some of that. I missed the land too. Maybe not as much as he did, but it was a part of both of us. “Then move home. If this is the life you want, come home.”
I could see the torn expression in his eyes. “I want to. . . but Momma is so damn proud of me. For the first time in my life, she acts as proud of me as she was of Josh. I loved my brother, you know that, Eva, but I never was as good as Josh in Momma’s eyes. She adored him. He was the one who everyone loved.” He paused and his eyes flicked down, away from me. “I understand why. I loved him too. But it’s nice to feel like for once I’m doing something that she’s proud of even if she hadn’t wanted me to go in the beginning. She’s glad I did now.”
I leaned across the table and glared at Jeremy hard until he had to lift his gaze back up to meet mine. “Jeremy Beasley, you listen to me, and I mean listen to me good. Your momma thinks you walk on water. She adores you just as much as she adored Josh. How could she not? After everything, you were the reason everyone—me, your momma, your daddy, everyone—grieved for Josh, and you stood there in the gap. When you should have ben grieving and falling apart, you kept us all together. You, Jeremy. You. If you decide you want to come home and live here and have this life, your momma will be thrilled. She wants you close, Jer. But more than anything, she wants you to be happy. Can’t you see that? She wants you to have a chance at life. She wants you to get to live the life your brother didn’t.”
A small smile tugged on the corner of Jeremy’s lips
. It was a crooked smile that reminded me so much of Josh’s. “I’m glad you were here today. I needed you to set me straight. Always were good for that,” Jeremy teased.
“We all have our talents,” I replied, and winked at him before picking up my biscuit.
“How are things with you and Cage?” Jeremy asked before taking another bite of his food.
“Good—no, great. He got a full-ride scholarship to Hill State in Tennessee for baseball. I’m so proud of him.”
Jeremy frowned. “How’s that gonna work? I can’t imagine York running off and leaving you behind. Last time I was around, he was pretty damn attached to you.”
The fear eating away at me was back. I wanted to believe the best, but the truth was, there was a chance Daddy could say no. What if he said no? “I’m going with him,” I replied, deciding that speaking it might make it true.
“Wow, really? I didn’t think your dad would be real keen on you running off with Cage.”
Not what I needed to hear right then. I managed to shrug indifferently. “Maybe not, but I love him.”
“And when Eva loves someone, she loves them hard and with all her heart. I know that. I’ve seen it in action,” Jeremy said with a sad smile that I didn’t understand and didn’t want to dig to deep and figure out. It was odd
I glanced down at my phone again for the third time in ten minutes. It was getting late. Eva had texted that she was headed back from her dad’s over an hour ago. I didn’t want to text her and check on her while she was driving, for fear she’d glance down at her phone and take her eyes off the road. If she wasn’t here in the next ten minutes, I was going after her.
“Loosen up. Damn, I finally get you alone for more than ten fucking minutes, and all you do is sit around sulking and checking your phone. I love Manda like mad crazy, but even we have to take breaks from each other. You need to learn to breathe without her under your arm all the time.” Preston was frowning at me from across the table at Live Bay where I’d met up with him and Dewayne to hear Jackdown play. Eva knew where I was and was coming straight here.