Series: Back to Me #2
Cover Design: Alora Kate
Release Date: October 22, 2020
Our plan was working until we found that small slip of paper inside our apartment. A promised message that I would never truly be free. Now, the life I thought I’d have with Logan was quickly becoming no life at all. Cutting ties with everyone I know; Logan and I decided to start a new life, hoping to leave the past behind us, along with that piece of paper.
Three thousand miles and one year later, Logan and I were still struggling with the choices we’d made. The guilt I had for leaving my best friend, Abby remained, devouring me from the inside out. But then, in a twist of fate, Abby came back into my life, offering a chance to mend our broken friendship.
But just like Abby’s unexpected return, the demons from my past quickly began to resurface. Pieces of my past continued to haunt me, forcing me to question whether the life Logan and I had built was real or whether everything wasn’t as it seemed.
My past had returned, determined to prove my life wasn’t truly mine.
It never was.
The crunching beneath my foot feels like a million bones snapping all at once.
“Well, shit.” I groan, bending down to pick up the remnants of what was once my phone. The shattered screen and half-broken backing bend across the palm of my hand like a sad, spineless mess. Wiping large clumps of mud and rain from the screen, I foolishly try to turn it back on knowing there’s no possible way it could still work.
When it doesn’t come back to life, I snap my head up at the sound of a car door closing. Logan’s footsteps pound into the soaking wet asphalt as he steps up onto the curb, stopping in front of me.
Concerned, he eyes the shattered remains of my phone. “Again, Lena?”, he sighs, cradling my hands in his. Heavy drops of water cover the skin of our joined hands. I look up at him between rain-soaked eyelashes.
“I know.” A piece of me deflates, knowing I’ve only had this phone for two months. However, the last phone was replaced simply out of necessity and survival than it was pure clumsiness. “I can’t help it,” I say. “I tripped getting out of the car.” I glance over my shoulder, narrowing my eyes at the exact spot I tripped.
Logan swipes his thumb along my cheek, pulling my gaze back to him. “Always so clumsy.”
I laugh. “No. I think it’s just a case of bad luck.”
We’re standing on the sidewalk outside Logan’s apartment in the center of Providence. Thick, heavy drops of rain continue to pour down on us, soaking us from head to toe. The sound of passing cars, their tires barreling through puddles, echoes behind us. Logan’s touch stirs me, bringing back those all too familiar warm feelings at the bottom of my stomach. His thumb grazing my skin matches the warm water saturating our skin.
I’m still holding my broken phone in my hand when I raise my other one to his head. I brush my fingers against the freshly cut strands. His chestnut-colored hair now looks black thanks to the thunderstorm brewing above us. The ends are pressed against his forehead, weighed down by the cool water. His hair is cut short and a piece of me deflates, missing the way it used to look, long and unruly. But just like my first replacement phone, Logan cut his hair out of necessity.
I run my hand down the side of his face then slide it across his waist, wrapping my arm around his sculpted frame. His muscles instinctively retract at my touch and I can’t deny how my stomach flutters knowing I still elicit this kind of reaction out of him. It’s only been a few months since Logan and I have really been together and not a day has passed where I don’t remember how much I love him. I scan his face, my heart fluttering as his mouth turns up into a smile. His jaw is covered in the beginnings of a beard, the scruff hiding the leftover evidence of what his face had endured several months ago. Scars are buried underneath, a constant reminder of how I had nearly lost him.
Logan wraps his hands around my waist, gripping onto my hips. He pulls me close and the familiar scent of orange tic-tacs fills the moisture-filled air between us. Ever since I met him, he’s been absolutely obsessed with orange tic-tacs. Claims they’re the only ones worth eating. I always thought it more had to do with the fact that he quit smoking just after I met him, and he knew it was the only thing that kept him from picking up the habit again. That and the fact that they were significantly cheaper.
His eyes search my face. “We should probably get inside. We’re getting soaked.”
“I don’t care.” I laugh. Thunder rumbles the sky above us and my heart skips a beat, the feeling shooting straight through me.
“Come on.” Logan laughs, tucking a few loose strands of hair back behind my ears. His fingers stop short when he reaches the ends. As Logan had done, I cut my hair as well. Not too short, but enough for me to be able to feel the absence of the weight it once held. He grabs the shattered remains of my phone and drops them into the grocery bag he’s holding. He wraps his arm around me, urging me to follow him inside to his apartment. “We’ll get you a new phone tomorrow.”
Logan’s apartment building is tall. It’s one of those apartment buildings that require a security code to get in the front door. One large door remains as the only entrance into the building, its brick exterior acting as a blanket of security. When Logan had recovered enough to be released from the hospital, both of us had decided it would be best for us to stay together, to live together. His recovery was going to be a long process, one that would take up the majority of my time. Neither of us felt safe anymore and as far as we knew, Julian didn’t know where Logan lived. In the time that Logan was recovering in the hospital, I would stay with him as much as I possibly could, or I would stay with my best friend, Abby. I didn’t feel safe returning my apartment, knowing my ex-boyfriend knew where I lived.
“So, what will it be tonight?” Logan enters the code into the small silver box beside the front door to the building. I follow him as he steps inside. He begins walking backward toward the elevator, lifting the now soggy brown paper bag of groceries. His mouth curls back into that playful smirk. His golden eyes spark and I can feel them consuming me. “Spaghetti or tacos?”
I twist my face in disgust. Laughing, I step into the elevator, pressing the button for the nineteenth floor. “Spaghetti? Are you really asking me to choose between spaghetti and tacos? Hands down you know I’m choosing tacos.” I reach up, squeezing the excess rainwater from my hair then lean against the wall, eyeing Logan from across the small space between us.
“I knew it wasn’t a contest. I’m just a sucker for when you twist your face the way you just did. The way your smooth lips twist at the perfect angle. The way your eyebrows slant into those gorgeous light brown eyes of yours.” His eyes gleam despite the dim lights overhead as he slowly says each word. He leans back against the opposite wall, tipping his head back, mimicking my stance and watching me with hooded eyes. He’s happy. I’m happy.
Pushing off the elevator wall, I walk across the small space, tipping my chin up to meet Logan’s gaze. I press my hips into him, melting into his body. I grasp onto the wet fabric of his shirt with my fingers and run my tongue across my lip, pulling him impossibly closer. “And I’m a sucker for you, Logan Moore.”
Logan reaches up, wrapping his hand on the back of my head. His movements are quick as if he knows exactly what he’s doing. His fingers thread through my wet hair. He pulls me close, pressing my lips to his. His mouth is warm and wet from the rain. I sigh against his body. His hand slides away from my hair and along my cheek, holding me back just enough for me to see his face. “I want it to be like this forever, Lena.”
Then, as the elevator dings, reaching the nineteenth floor, I will Logan’s words to be true. I wish I could freeze this moment in time. One where my heart feels like it might burst out of my chest and Logan’s staring at me like he wouldn’t want to ever be looking at another person for the rest of his life.
I playfully bump my shoulder into his solid, sculpted arm as we step out into the hallway. It’s quiet as it usually is, and I’m thrilled about the prospect of removing my rain-soaked clothes. My cheeks grow sore from grinning as Logan walks ahead of me. My smile immediately fades when I stumble and nearly trip into his, the right side of my body slamming into his. His body is stiff, frozen solid and every part of my body turns cold when I follow his gaze.
The door to Logan’s apartment is propped open, six inches of black empty space between it and the doorframe. We both don’t immediately walk toward the door. Instead, he reaches his arm out, blocking me from walking further than where he is standing. He’s protecting me, unsure what kind of situation we’re in.
“Wait here.” Logan whispers.
“No.” I whisper back. “I’m going with you.” I wrap my hands around his arm, pressing my fingers into his tensed muscle.
He narrows his gaze toward me for a moment, knowing how stubborn I can be.
A chill prickles down the back of my neck and a familiar feeling washes over me. Fear pierces its way into my chest. Logan’s heavy boots carefully step onto the carpet as we inch forward, carefully examining what type of situation we’re walking into.
We’ve been here before. Months ago, I walked into my apartment to find Logan’s Boston Bruins t-shirt shredded to pieces on my bedroom floor and my ex-boyfriend’s tie knotted to the metal post of my bed frame.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, willing myself to believe this isn’t the same. This can’t be Julian. It can’t.
When we make it to the front door, Logan leans forward and carefully peeks through the opening, before gently nudging the door open with the tip of his boot. The hallway leading to the living room is pitch black and after my eyes have taken a moment to adjust, it doesn’t appear as if anything has been disturbed. But the sight doesn’t bring any sense of relief. It’s Julian’s way. He has a way of letting you know he’s there without making it obvious.
Neither of us steps into the apartment and I could swear I could hear Logan’s heart pounding alongside mine, echoing through the empty hallway. I suddenly remember just how alone we are. I hold my breath, the oxygen swelling in my neck as I turn my head, glancing down each side of the hallway. There’s no one that I can see. Again, there’s no relief, worried the person could still be inside.
“I’m going to check inside the apartment and make sure there isn’t anyone still in there. I need you to stay here.”
“No.” I shake my head. “I’m going in there with you.” I remove his hands from my face, holding them between us. “I’m safer with you than I am standing out here alone.”
He presses his lips into a thin line, nodding in acknowledgment. I can see the war in Logan’s eyes. He’s afraid. He’s not afraid of what is inside the apartment. Instead, he’s more afraid of how what’s inside will affect me. He’s worried for me.