Say I'm Yours (Page 1)

Chapter 1

“Don’t walk away from me!” Trent calls out as I move forward. “Grace!”

My stride falters. We’ve done this dance a hundred times. I know the steps—two steps forward, ten steps back. We circle the floor and can never quite find our rhythm.

“I’m done,” I say with my back turned. “I’m done only being good enough when it’s convenient for you. I’m done being the girl who’s waitin’ around, hoping you’ll finally admit that you love her. I can’t do it anymore. You’re killing me.”

The sound of his approach causes my heart to race. If there’s one thing I can’t resist in my life, it’s him. He knows what he’s doing, and always has. Trent is the one thing I can’t quit. My heart has always belonged to him. Each time I walk away, I find myself running right back.

Stupid, I know.

It’s hard loving a man who will never love me back, though, and I’ve spent almost twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to give me his heart. I’ve learned now that it’s never going to happen. I’m finally done trying to force a square peg in a round hole.

“Please.” His voice cracks on the single word. “Just don’t walk away. Not this time. I’m trying, darlin’. I’m workin’ so hard to get my shit straight.”

His words cause my stomach to clench. The only difference between this time and when we ended things three months ago is that, unlike last time, I won’t be going back. His hands grip my shoulders as he pulls me against him and drops his lips to my hair. His breath is warm, and I close my eyes. This right here, the feeling of longing and desire, is why I always go back. The way he touches me and makes my body want to melt into his and wakes every nerve in my body gives me hope. But I know that hope is a fable, fiction written to replace the reality I wasn’t ready to face.

I have to walk away.

I need to let him go. Not because I don’t love him, but because this won’t ever change.

I need change.

“When you finally do, I hope you’ll be happy.” I turn to face him, making sure he hears the sincerity in my words. “I hope you find the girl that’s worth all of your heart, but I’m not her. I’ve tried to be.” A tear falls, and I let it. “Lord knows I have. I’ve given you everything I could while you haven’t given me anything but scraps. It’s wrecked me, and I can’t let you break me again. I love you. I’ve always loved you. You’re the only man I’ve ever pictured a life with.” I was done with going hungry, and now I wanted the whole darn feast.

“Grace,” Trent says as he takes a step forward.

“No.” I mirror him, moving a step backward, and put my hand up, reiterating, “I refuse to be that girl anymore. It hurts too much. I told you last week it was over, but then you show up last night, and I find myself right back here again. Where you’re all sweet and loving and then you pull the rug out from under me. You can’t do this to me anymore. If you ever loved me, even a little bit, you’ll let me go.”

Trent Hennington will obliterate me if I stay any longer.

“You are that girl! You’ve always been that girl!” He comes closer. “You’re who I want, Gracie.”

“No, I’m not.” I rush out of the small room he cornered me in.

“I need you,” Trent calls out. “I want you.”

I halt and say the words from over my shoulder. “Please, I’m beggin’ you not to do this.”

I don’t wait for his response, I move quickly.

Once I enter the wedding reception of my best friend, Presley, I stop.

The music plays loudly, but all I hear is the echo of his words. My feet won’t move forward as I stare at my friends enjoying the party. Presley and her husband, Zachary Hennington, are holding each other and you can see the joy radiating off them. This moment should’ve happened for them a long time ago, but here they are now. They’ve fought for their happiness, never taking it for granted. Of course, Presley was married before and has almost teenage boys, but they found their way. Then there’s Trent’s youngest brother Wyatt with his new wife, Angie. All of them are happy, while I feel like I’m shattering.

Lucky for me, my heart found the one Hennington that won’t ever wise up—not.

“Don’t give up, Gracie. Don’t walk away from me.” I hear Trent’s deep voice in my ear and let out a shallow breath through my nose.

“I want that,” I say, looking out at the scene before me. “I want the wedding and happily ever after. I want a love like your brothers have. I want you to love me, but you don’t. You won’t give me your heart.”

I feel his heat against my back, and I can only imagine how close he actually is to me when he says, “You’re wrong.”

No. I’m not. I’ve given him a million chances to let me in. I’ve given him years that I won’t ever get back. Rage fills me at his words because, once again, he’s trying to hold me back. “I’m thirty-six years old, and I’m tired of waiting.”

“You don’t have to wait, Grace. I’m standing right in front of you.”

Presley’s eyes find mine, and she frowns. She starts to walk toward me, but I shake my head. It’s her wedding, and the last thing she needs to do is come save me. It’s high time I start saving myself.

I shift so Trent can see in my eyes that I’m not playing around. “Loving me shouldn’t be this hard. I’m not some love-struck teenager anymore. We’re done. We were done years ago. We were done last month when I broke it off, and we’re done today. Nothing you can say will change that.”

The skin around his blue eyes tightens as he grips my arms. His lips press against mine. Without my telling them to, my arms fly around his neck, and I hold on to him. Our mouths move together, but my heart is pulling away.

This is goodbye for me.

It’s the very last time my lips will touch his.

I was serious when I said I was done.

The desperation in this kiss is crushing. I feel him fighting for me to hold on, but I’ve already let go.

He breaks away first, and leans back enough so he can search my eyes for something. “I’m going to fix this,” he promises. “I’m going to show you how much we belong together. I know I’ve messed up. I’ve given you every reason to walk away. But I can’t lose you.”

“Why?” I ask. This is what has me baffled. Why fight for me now when, a week ago, he was so willing to throw me away? “Why now?”

Trent’s hand brushes my cheek. “Because you’re mine. You’re my girl.”

I shake my head. “That’s where you’re wrong.” I grip his hand and remove it before gathering all the strength I have. It’s time to put “the end” on the end of our story. “I’m not yours, Trent.”

My legs feel weak, but I find a way to turn and walk away. Tears fill my vision as my heart plummets. I ache with each step I take, but I keep going and let a single bead of pain slide down my cheek as I leave my past behind me.

“Here’s to the bride and groom!” I raise my glass to my best friend and her new husband. Everyone repeats what I say as we drink to Presley and Zach.

When I scan the room, I fake a smile, which falls the second I meet Trent’s gaze. The pain I feel inside is reflected back at me. The air in the room is gone, and I swear that time stands still. He stares at me as he runs his hands through his sandy-blond hair, shifting slightly in his seat but refusing to break eye contact. He exudes confidence and masculinity all wrapped in a whole lot of heartache.

I should look away. I should stand, walk out, and stop this right now, but I can’t tear my eyes from him. I’m the definition of insanity, constantly doing the same thing and expecting a different result. There will never be a different result. I’m tired of being tired. More than anything, I’m tired of being rejected. I may be done, but old habits die hard, and he’s the oldest habit I have.

“Hey,” Angie, Wyatt’s wife, nudges me, “stop looking at him. He’s not worth another second of your time, right?”

“I know. I wish things could be different. I wish he was different.” The admission hurts.

“He’s never going to change,” Angie reminds me.

Even though Angie and I haven’t been friends very long, she knows more about what’s been going on with Trent than anyone. We bumped into each other a few months ago and ended up going to lunch, which was where I told her everything. How hurt I was and how I’d considered dating someone else, which was—and still is—unbelievably dumb, considering that someone else happens to be my best friend’s brother.

In my defense, it’s not as if there are many choices. Growing up in Bell Buckle has its challenges, like the lack of any sort of privacy, a very small dating pool, and the inability to avoid people. Angie gets it and is probably the only soul I know who would let me say all I needed to say without judgment.

It’s insane.

It’s frustrating.

It’s small-town living.

“I hate him,” I tell Angie with tears in my eyes.