Love Me Or Lose Me by Rita Sawyer
Series: The Blackridges
steamy contemporary romance novella (approx. 20,000 words)
cover art by Winterheart Design
Darcy and Thomas had a good thing going or so she’d thought, heck they’d even moved in together. But lately Thomas was so focused on being the king on the courtroom he barely paid attention to her. No matter what she did he seemed to not notice or not care. So Darcy decides to leave and see if he noticed that. The break will give her some time to reevaluate their relationship and figure out where she wants to go from here. She leaves him a cryptic message telling him she’s going away for a while, but leaves out where she’s going.
Thomas follows Darcy to her sister’s house. He is ready to do whatever he has to win her back. He even enlists the help of her three brothers. He knows he has a lot to explain and make up for, he only hopes Darcy gives him the chance.
Even though a stray tear rolled down her cheek, Darcy smiled as she drove down the exit ramp. Soon she’d be home surrounded by people who really loved her. It had been way too long since she’d come home for visit, but Thomas had been too busy and she hadn’t wanted to go without him. At the time she hated the idea of leaving him all alone, but now she doubted he would even notice she was gone. She swiped the tear from her cheek and sniffed back the ones that were threatening to escape. Her plan to spend the next week and a half not thinking about the way things stood between her and Thomas was off to a dismal start. She hoped that would change once she got home.
It took her few minutes to reach the outer limits of town, but she felt lighter the second she saw the Welcome to Greenville sign. She slowed down to the thirty-five mile per hour speed limit knowing the Greenville police department was very strict about drivers obeying it. The town proper was so small it only took her about fifteen minutes to drive from one end to the other. She went down Center Street where she got a glimpse of her old high school. There weren’t enough ways to express how glad she was that she’d never have to see the inside of that place again. When she drove past her mother’s house on the outskirts of town noting her little blue compact car was sitting in the driveway, she let out a sigh of relief. At least she wouldn’t have to explain her sudden appearance to her just yet. Ann Marie Blackridge never let a chance to dig into her children’s lives slip past, and Darcy wasn’t ready to deal with her mother’s never ending questions. Once she got some sleep and freshened up, she’d hopefully be able to put on a good front.
Darcy planned on crashing on her sister Scarlett’s couch and sleeping for as long as she could. The drive normally would have taken about twelve hours, but this time it had taken her almost three days. It had all been part of her plan that hadn’t worked out the way she’d hoped. She had figured the time alone would’ve let her clear her mind. Instead, all it did was give her more time to dwell on her problems. It wasn’t all bad, though. The road trip gave her the chance to stop and check out some sights along the way, but without someone to share them with she almost regretted stopping. Each night she’d stopped at a nice hotel or a quaint B&B to catch some sleep, but sleeping alone in strange beds made her wish even more that Thomas was there to cuddle with. That seemed to be the only part of their relationship that hadn’t changed in the past few months. Every night when Thomas had come to bed—usually hours after she’d turned in— he would pull her into his arms and hold her tight against him. Of course, once their bodies touched, she lost all the resentment that had built up from his ignoring her. Being held in his embrace ignited something deep inside her. Unable to resist it, she’d let it burn until she couldn’t hold back. Most nights they would make love. Sometimes passionately, sometimes so slowly it seemed like it might last all night. Then the sun would come up and he would be all business again. As annoyed with him as she was, she wished he was there ignoring her right now. She wondered if he was missing her as much as she did him. Hell, she’d settle for half as much.
Pushing the thought away, Darcy turned off the pavement and onto a dirt road that wound its way up the mountainside where her sister lived. She never really understood why her sister had decided to move up into the hills. Sure the views were spectacular, but it was so isolated. Darcy could never live like that. No sir. She craved the lights and noise of the city. Her brothers hadn’t liked the idea of Scarlett living up there all alone either so the three of them had gotten together and bought the land surrounding her place. It didn’t take them long to build themselves houses close enough to keep an eye on her, yet far enough away to give her some privacy if they wanted too. Scarlett was too easy going to tell them to back off, so Darcy didn’t think she’d be getting out from under their brother’s over-protective watchful gazes too often.
It was one of the reasons Darcy had encouraged Scarlett to go off to college, but she hadn’t wanted to leave home. Darcy couldn’t have been more different. She had jumped at the chance to get out of their small town and experience the world. She’d found a freedom she absolutely refused to give up. Luckily, Thomas hadn’t asked her to. That didn’t mean he wasn’t looking out for her. He just wasn’t a forceful about it as her brothers were. She actually kind of like it when Thomas went all cave man. It made him even sexier. The urge to call him struck again and she was glad she’d packed her cell phone in the trunk with her laptop.
She came to a fork in the road and veered right. In less than a minute, she found herself sitting in front of a stunning little stone cottage nestled in the tall trees. The pictures Scarlett had sent her didn’t do the place justice at all. Everywhere she looked there were bright colored flowers ready to bloom. They lined the walkway that led to the cottage and crowded the window boxes to the point of overflowing. Now Darcy knew why Scarlett had fallen in love with the place. It suited her and she belonged there. It was as if someone had built it with her in mind.
Before she even got her door open, Scarlett came flying out of the house her long blond spiral curls bounced with each step she took. She was followed quickly by all three of their brothers. Darcy stepped out of the car and braced herself for the impact, but Scarlett’s charge sent her backwards anyway. Luckily the car was there to keep them from tumbling to the ground.
Her brothers stood shoulder to shoulder staring at them. Darcy noticed Cale had gained an inch or two on Rhett and Jarrett bringing him to about six feet. Rhett’s dirty blond hair, which was just a shade darker than Jarrett and Cale’s, was still cut military short. Jarrett wore his a touch longer, while Cale’s almost reached his collar. What surprised her was the way it almost curled. Maybe that was why the other two kept it so short.
“Don’t say a word. I’ll handle everything.” Scarlett whispered against her ear.