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Second Chance Vow
Author: M. Robinson

 

Prologue

 

 

Christian

 

 

Now

 

 

“I fucking love you, Kinley, and you know it.”

“It’s not about loving me, Christian. I love you with everything I am, but sometimes … it’s just not enough. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s not fair to either of us.”

“I don’t give up on anything, Kins. Especially you.”

She sighed, bowing her head.

I couldn’t believe we were having this argument at my little sister’s wedding. She was marrying my best friend, and this was supposed to be their day. I thought … fuck, I didn’t know what I thought anymore.

How could we let life just get in the way of our love for each other?

We’d been together on and off since we were fifteen. When we got back together the last time, we were twenty-four, and I knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I wasn’t going to risk losing her again for anything, so I asked her to marry me a few weeks later and never looked back.

Ten years ago, we were so in love.

So devoted.

So fucking consumed with each other.

Where did we go wrong?

With the most sincere, pained expression on her face, she coaxed, “I don’t want to be just another challenge or obstacle, something you don’t give up on, Christian.”

“You’re taking my words out of context, Kinley.”

“Am I? I haven’t been your priority in who knows how long.”

“That’s bullshit! I’m inside you making you come on my cock—”

“This isn’t about sex, Christian! This has nothing to do with that!”

“What the fuck? I give you everything! What more do you want from me?”

“You give me everything? You can’t be serious. You think I don’t realize how detached you are from me because I can’t—”

“We are not talking about this here,” I snarled in a low rumble. Gripping onto her arm, I dragged her ass to the back of the farmhouse on my sister’s property where the ceremony and reception were being held.

During the exchange of their vows, we watched my sister and my best friend’s new beginning while my world was crashing to a devastating end. And all I could do was sit there and stare at Kinley’s face, desperately trying to hold onto the good times, memories of our life together.

I could see in her bright green eyes that I’d loved for as long as I could remember, her thoughts reflected my own—remembering a time when we were the ones standing in front of our friends and family, vowing to be together for better or for worse. She still loved me.

I still loved her.

Yet none of it mattered anymore.

Life had passed us by in the blink of an eye. We were no longer those two crazy kids who thought we could take the world on together. Our love had been replaced with anger, our devotion began to crumble, and our lives started drifting apart.

But anything worth having is worth fighting for, right?

She was the only woman who had ever touched my heart, my soul, and every fiber of my being belonged to her.

I was hers.

Inside and out.

However, now her love felt like a double-edged sword speared directly into my heart.

Her eyes weren’t a bright, shiny shade of green. They looked sad and hollow, although I could still see the love she had for me hidden behind the depths of her uncertainty.

She turned around to leave, and I grabbed her arm, turning her to face me. “I love you, Kinley.”

She immediately shut her eyes as if it pained her to look at me. I reached up instead, holding onto the sides of her face, willing her to open them for me.

“Sweetness,” I tenderly coaxed.

I only called her that when I really needed her to look at me, to talk to me, to listen to me…

To feel me.

“I love you,” I breathed out close to her lips. “I love you so fucking much, and you know that, baby. I saw your face during their vows. You can’t hide from me. I know you were remembering our wedding day. How I looked at you when you were walking down the aisle. From the moment you walked into that church you took my breath away, and ten years later you’re still taking it away. Don’t you remember how I used to make you feel, Kins? Please, babe, tell me you remember how we used to be?”

She sucked in a breath as I wiped away her tears with my thumbs. “What happened to us? We used to be so fucking happy, so in love. You remember, don’t you?”

 

—Kinley—

 

 

I cried, “Of course I remember.” I’d never be able to forget. He was in my veins, in my blood, imprinted so deep in my bones I didn’t know where I began and he ended. “You protected me. You’re always protecting me, Christian, but you can’t protect me from this—from what we’ve become.”

“I loved you then. I love you now.” He kissed the tip of my nose. “I’ll love you always.”

“You love what we used to be, not what we are now. It’s over. You know it’s over.”

We had to be. I couldn’t continue to allow him to sacrifice more than he already had for me. It wasn’t fair what I was doing to him and had been putting him through every month for the last couple of years. I had to stop being selfish and put his needs and wants first.

I loved him enough to let him go, knowing I could never give him what he truly yearned for. I tried…

But I was broken.

He shook his head. “I don’t want this for us, and I know you don’t want it either. We’re still here, sweetness. Deep inside, it’s still us.”

“Christian, please… I’m not trying to hurt you. It’s the opposite—I’m trying to set you free. I’m just so fucking exhausted from disappointing you all the time. I can’t live like this anymore.”

“Well, I can’t live without you.”

I opened my eyes, revealing our life together in my devastated expression. It was the least I could do. This was killing me too. I didn’t want this, but I didn’t have another choice. I’d made the wrong one over ten years ago, and it had cost me the love of my life.

“How do I look at the woman I love and just walk away from her? Huh? Please tell me, Kins, because I have not a fucking clue.”

I swallowed hard while more tears slid down my cheeks. “I know you blame me.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes, it is. I can see right through you. I always have, and I always will. I wish I could change things. If I could go back… Fuck, I just can’t do this anymore. I’ve spent years regretting what I can’t change, and now I see it in the way you look at me, in the way you talk to me. You blame me, Christian, so stop pretending like you don’t.”

“I don’t care anymore. We’ll work through it.”

“All you’d be doing is settling for me, and I can’t do that to you. We’ve been trying to make it work for years. Enough is enough. You have to let me go.”

“The fuck I do.”

I shoved him. “Stop! Just stop! We agreed!”

“What other choice did you give me?”

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