Find out how it all went down in a sneak peek of Brooke O'Brien's newest release Lost Before You.
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As soon as I hit the bottom step, the dam breaks and I can’t control the surge of tears. Searching through the hordes of people, I seek out Lissa in hopes I can find her, but it’s no use. Darting across the kitchen toward the door leading to the patio, I keep my head lowered and make my way through the crowd.
For a moment, I consider heading toward the front door and running to my car. The urge to drown my sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is strong at that moment.
Swiping a bottle of whiskey from the counter, I open the sliding glass door and step onto the wrap-around wooden porch. With tears streaming down my face, all I want is to be alone.
Keeping my head trained on the ground, I race across the deck and down the stairs, headed for the walking trail that lines the property. Knowing my only path is through the crowd of people who also take the trail, I jog my way down the graveled path.
Once the people and music are far enough away, I slow to a steady walk. Sliding my phone from my pocket, I open the camera app to do a quick once-over of my face. I’m relieved to find while the tears left my face looking red and puffy, my waterproof mascara has done its job.
Letting out a slow breath, I stare into the night sky. The darkness has fallen, leaving the dimly lit path hard to navigate beneath the stars. The only light guiding me are the small solar lights lining the walkway.
The quietness surrounding me allows the swirl of my thoughts to invade my mind. I feel disgusting and embarrassed over what I just witnessed, as the fear of whether this is something he’s done before fills my stomach. Taking a swig of the whiskey, I squeeze my eyes shut, focusing on the burn as I swallow the alcohol.
How can someone you’ve spent the past seven months of your life with, whom you’ve opened yourself up to about your goals, dreams, and fears only turn around and throw all those things in your face?
The one thing Kaleb knew he could do to hurt me was make me feel like I was living a lie. After what my father did to my mom, and what I just witnessed, the reality it has happened to me weighs heavily.
A small wooden pergola holding a table and chairs sits off to the side of the trail. The sound of gravel crunching beneath my feet fills the silence. I take another drink, this one much smoother. I already feel the warmth of the alcohol rushing through my bloodstream.
I take a seat at the patio table, letting out a huff as I fall back into the chair. The chair is surprisingly comfortable, and I think about hanging out here by myself until Lissa is ready to leave. At some point, I’m going to have to break it to her that it’s up to her to drive us home.
Opening my text messages, I decide to tell Lissa I’m ready to go home when I hear Mason’s laugh filter through the air. It’s the kind of throaty laugh I could spot anywhere.
I can tell he’s close, but I’m unable to pinpoint where it’s coming from, causing me to look around for the location of the sound.
“Brea.” My name sounds more like a question, as if he’s wondering what I’m doing here by myself. I can’t help but wonder the same thing.
“Hey, what are you doing back here?” I ask.
His feet kick the loose gravel. By the looks of the beer bottle in his hand, he’s likely a few beers past tipsy, although he looks like his usual self.
“The guys and I were out in the shed over there,” he says, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder. “They wanted to set off some fireworks.”
“Sounds like an accident waiting to happen,” I joke.
Walking closer, he moves to take a seat on the bench next to me. The closer he gets, I see the question written on his face.
“Why are you here all by yourself? Everything okay?”
“I guess I just needed a little bit of time to myself. I’ll be fine eventually.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’m just learning not everyone is who they say they are, at least not to your face. If we were all honest with our feelings, to ourselves, and each other, maybe we’d save all the heartbreak. What’s the point of going through life living a lie?”
He doesn’t say anything right away, but I feel his eyes track my movement as I take another drink. Maybe he’s not sure what to say. Instead, he only nods his head.
“Is this about something specific?”
The words come out hoarser than the last question. Mason picks up on the change in his tone of voice as he lets out a hoarse cough, as if clearing his throat before taking a drink of his beer.
“Kaleb was cheating on me,” I spit, choosing a poor time to make the announcement. Mason works to swallow back his beer, but instead it sends him off in a string of coughs, choking on his drink.
What’s the point of easing right into it? Honesty and all of that.
“Wait, what?” Mason asks. I feel the heat of his gaze as he turns to look at me, but I don’t turn to face him.
“Yep,” I say, enunciating the ‘p’ with a pop. “So much for thinking you know someone.”
“What a fucking prick,” Mason sneers, turning his head away and facing forward into the night sky.
“This is the universe’s way of reminding me relationships are a joke. You’ve been doing it right all along, Mase,” I sigh. “I’ve never been one to sleep around or have a night of meaningless sex, but why not? There’s no need for trust or commitment when you’re in it for the sole purpose of having someone fuck your brains out. Right?”
“You can’t be serious right now,” Mason says, wrapping his hand around my forearm. “Look at me, Brea.”
I feel the hot tears welling up in my eyes, all my emotions rising to the surface. Breathing in through my nose, I force down the feelings raging through me. Maybe it’s the alcohol, or maybe this is how I feel, but I don’t want to see the look of pity on his face.
“This is not who you are,” he commands, moving to take the bottle from my hand. “Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t deserve you, all because some piece of shit doesn’t know what he had.”
I roll my eyes. Shrugging my arm from Mason's hold, I let him take the bottle. He sets it down on the table as I stand, planning to head into the party.
“That’s sweet of you and all, Mason. Still, it doesn’t change how I feel about relationships. Maybe if I let myself get lost in someone else for a night, I will be able to ignore the disgusting feeling I have in the pit of my stomach.”
By the sound of the gravel crunching behind me, I know he’s not too far behind.
“Wait, Brea. Will you just stop and talk to me?”
“What more is there to talk about? I’m going to find someone to spend the rest of my night with,” I say, turning to face him. “Unless, of course, you want to be that person? I know how skilled you are in the pleasuring women department. Maybe you can show me what it is about you that has all the women falling over themselves for a night with the illustrious Mason Reid.” I laugh. “Maybe you can be the one to make me forget.”
His arm wraps around my waist and pulls me into him. It happens so fast, I don’t even realize what happened until his arm is pressed against my lower back. Using his hand beneath my chin, he tilts my head until my eyes find his.
“Is this really what you want?” he asks, his voice low. There’s an edge to it I’ve never heard before.
“What?” I ask, looking at him beneath the soft glow of the lights lining the path. It’s hard to read the expression on his face.
“You want to know what it’s like to have one night with me?”
I nod my head. “I want to know what it feels like for one night to forget everything else and get lost in someone. You don’t have to worry, Mason, I know what one night with you means. I promise it won’t change our friendship, and I won’t even make you cuddle with me when you’re done.” I laugh.
I see the curve of his lip tilt up in a smirk.
“C’mere,” he says, tangling his hand in mine, leading me back to the pergola. He takes a seat in the middle of the bench. Peering up at me, I can see the cocky grin on his face.
He’s so confident and sure of himself as he drags me into his lap. He runs his hand along the side of my face, pushing the strands of hair away. Tracing his thumb along the edge of my cheek, I watch with bated breath as his eyes consider my lips.
I silently beg for him to make the first move because as much as I said I wanted this, I can’t be the one to initiate it. Pulling me closer still, I feel the air sucked out of me when his lips connect with mine.
Clutching onto his shoulders, I let out a quiet whimper and feel my body relax into his touch. I don’t let myself over think it. Instead, I focus on the way my body feels under his touch.
I wish someone would’ve warned me about the dangers of falling in love with your best friend.
I was no stranger to covering up my problems with meaningless sex and alcohol.
When Brea asked me for one night to help her forget, I craved being the man she needed.
Then she begged me to promise her nothing would change between us. I couldn’t bring myself to lie to her.
One broken promise.
I will never forget the night I fell in love with my best friend, and now nothing will ever be the same.
*Lost Before You is an interconnected stand-alone novel.
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Brooke lives in the Midwest with her high school sweetheart and their three children (both human and furry). Growing up Brooke always had a love of writing; she started out writing poetry when she was young and began journaling her thoughts as she grew older. Diving headfirst into a good book has always been therapeutic for her. Now her two passions have collided.
She believes you can cure any bad day with chocolate. Brooke enjoys going on long drives with no destination in mind. She's found that's when her characters talk to her the most! If she's not reading or writing, you'll probably find her spending time with her family, watching NBA basketball, going to the movies, or collecting signed paperbacks.