Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here is chapter 14 of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
Did a friend send you here? Make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter so you’ll get future chapters right to your inbox! If you’re already signed up, then go enjoy the book!
K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
Despite her conversation with Dylan about making her own choices, Savannah couldn’t bring herself to talk to Lucas. Nor to message Easton. She knew that she should do both. But the more she thought about it, the more questions she had. And the swirling uncertainty made it all the more difficult.
Luckily, she would have part of it handled for her over the Fourth of July weekend. Every summer since she was a baby, her family traveled to Hilton Head with the Atwoods. It would be the opportunity that she’d been waiting for to finally have it out with Lucas.
Of course, it was also the site of their first time together…and second and third. So, it had a lot of memories attached to it. Probably not the best place to bring up her recent single status to him if she didn’t want to find herself laid out in a sand dune, but she was going to do it anyway.
Her parents, as well as Brady and Liz, had flown back to Chapel Hill for the annual holiday appearances that they made for the Fourth. She’d had to work the day before and the day of. Thankfully, Clay and Andrea had waited until the last minute too, and so, they were all on the last flight out of town together.
A car picked them up at the airport and drove them through the darkened night to the beach house.
“Here you go, Savi,” Clay said. He hoisted her suitcase out of the trunk and passed it to her.
“Thanks,” she whispered.
“Are you all right? You look pale.”
“It’s dark out. How would you even know?” she asked.
Clay shot her his best shit-eating grin. “Because I’m me.”
“Clay, are you bothering your sister again? Don’t you know that she just went through that hideous break up? She’s some poor helpless creature right now.”
Savannah rolled her eyes at Andrea. Leave it to Andrea to just lay it out there.
“Where you lack in tact, you make up with…” Clay said, trailing off.
“Taste? Class? Poise?” she asked, patting his cheek twice.
“Whatever you have to tell yourself, love.”
Andrea winked. “We all know that I am the one that brings the class to this relationship.”
“Anyway, are you actually okay?” Clay asked.
Savannah shrugged. “As good as can be expected.”
“Well, I never liked him.”
“What? You never liked Easton?”
“Really, Clay?” Andrea shoved him out of the way. “That’s just something brothers say after their sister is hurt. Easton is an upstanding sort. He’s just failed you in this regard. Try not to think on it too much.”
Savannah nodded, surprised by Andrea’s affection. She wasn’t actually the affectionate type. And though Savannah and Andrea had butted heads for ages, she had really grown on her in the last couple years. Maybe they’d all grown up some.
But as Savannah turned to face the beach house again, her stomach knotted. She hadn’t really been thinking about Easton at all. Not at this house with all her memories of Lucas in it. Lucas who she had been preparing herself all week to tell what had happened.
As she wheeled her suitcase inside, nerves hit her fresh. She felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. Or she might be sick.
Her eyes slid over all the people who were standing in the living room at that moment. Her mother and father, still dressed to impress from their Fourth of July celebrations, were talking to the Atwoods. Brady and Liz stood together, laughing at a joke that Chris had just made. Gigi, Clay’s partner at their law firm, stood just a step away from Chris, not concealing her affection. Even little Alice was there. Not so little anymore actually. The youngest Atwood sat on her phone with her long legs crossed, looking bored out of her mind.
She glanced backward, wondering if he’d gone outside or was putting his things upstairs.
Liz approached me still standing in the doorway and pulled me in for a hug. “How are you holding up?”
“All right, I guess,” I muttered. “Is Lucas in already?”
Liz frowned. “Oh, I thought someone had already told you. He’s not coming this trip.”
Savannah froze in surprise. “He’s…not?”
She’d been so prepared to tell him everything…that she hadn’t actually planned for him not being here.
“Apparently, he was called up to play in some NBA Summer League in Las Vegas for the next two weeks. So, he couldn’t make it. Chris was telling us about it.”
“Oh,” I said softly.
“I didn’t think you’d want to see him. I thought it’d be a relief.”
“Yeah, a relief,” I agreed. “I just had planned to tell him finally. Figured he should hear it from me and this would be the first time we’d be together since it happened.”
“I didn’t think that you’d actually come around to telling him.”
“I have to tell him at some point or else he’ll find out from someone else.”
“I just wanted to do it in person.” Savannah sighed. She’d also wanted to get it over with. Figure out what to do about him after she saw his reaction. “I guess I’ll have to wait until he gets back.”
“Does that mean you two are going to finally have your shot together?”
Savannah shrugged helplessly. “I really don’t know.”
“Well, you don’t have to decide tonight, do you? Let’s just enjoy the weekend. Forget about all the drama with boys.”
“That sounds like a plan to me.”
“I really wish that I could have a drink,” Liz said, cupping her belly. “It’ll be worth it. But damn, I want one.”
Savannah laughed. “I’ll put my stuff away and then I’ll make you a Shirley Temple. Extra cherry. My treat.”
“Woo hoo,” Liz said, lacking enthusiasm.
Savannah carried her suitcase up the stairs and into the bedroom she always shared with Alice. Or, at least, since the age that she was too old to share a room with Lucas. She changed out of her travel clothes and into her bathing suit and cover up then met Liz down at the pool.
Clay was making drinks, which ensured they were strong as fuck. After two Savannah was pretty sure that she shouldn’t even be in the pool or hot tub. As it was, her head was spinning from the alcohol. She stepped out of the pool and reached for a towel to dry off.
“Another drink?” Clay asked.
She shook her head. “No way. That was all vodka in the last one.”
Clay just shrugged. “That’s the way to make them.”
“We don’t all have livers of steel.”
“You’re right. We can’t all be as perfect as me.”
She snorted and tossed the towel in his face. “Ass.”
Her phone started buzzing on top of her pile of clothes and she reached for it. Shock hit her in the face when she saw the name on the phone—Easton.
She picked up the phone and wandered away from the rest of her family. Her feet carried her down the steps and onto the deserted beach before she answered with her heart in her throat, “Hey.”
“Hey,” he said softly into the phone. “Is this…an okay time?”
“To talk?” she asked.
“I guess. I’m surprised you called.”
“Well, I missed you.”
Her heart contracted at the words. He missed her. God, she had ached to hear those words.
“I miss you too,” she whispered.
“I told myself that I wouldn’t call. That I’d give you more time, but I hate it, Savannah.”
“I know.” She hated it too. Hated not being able to talk to him on the phone or text him about her day or see him when she got home. “I’m glad that you did.”
“Have you been drinking?” he asked. “Your words sound a little slurred.”
“I’m at Hilton Head with my family. Clay is playing bartender.”
“Ah, right. Fourth of July weekend. Should have guessed.”
Savannah paced toward the water, kicking up sand as she went. “Yep. Same time, same place. Every year.”
“Right,” she said softly. Because of course Easton had come with her in the past.
Easton cleared his throat as if he was debating how to proceed then decided to go through with it anyway. “And Lucas is there?”
Savannah froze in place a foot from the waterline. Was that why he had called? Had he known all along that she’d be here and wanted to…check on her? It wasn’t just because he missed her. It was because he was worried that she and Lucas were back together.
“Does it matter?” she asked unable to hide the anger in her voice.
“I was just curious.”
“Were you? Because it sounds like you were checking up on me.”
“I wasn’t,” he said quickly. “I just…fuck, I couldn’t not ask. I’m going crazy wondering if you’re with him now.”
Savannah’s fingers curled in around the phone. “You are never going to forgive me for what happened, are you?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“You know all this time I’ve been beating myself up because I kissed Lucas when I was drunk. You were right that we needed the space to figure it out. We do need the space. Because you’ve never let me move on from what happened with us a couple years ago.”
“No, you haven’t. Even now we’re broken up and you’re checking to make sure we’re not fucking,” she hissed. “Lucas and I have a long history. We have to be together a lot because of our parents. But we made a stupid mistake, and you’ve made me pay for it ever since. So, are you going to ever forgive me for that? Because I don’t think that we could have a chance to get back together if you don’t.”
Easton was speechless for a minute on the other line. “You’re right,” he said finally. “I haven’t gotten over it. And all the time you spend together doesn’t help. I guess I have to figure out if I can do that.”
“I guess you do,” she said stiffly.
“I do miss you so much, Savannah. I wish it wasn’t like this.”
She closed her eyes and tilted her head up to the stars. “Me too. But maybe you were right when you said that we needed this break up to figure all this out.”
“Yeah. I guess we both needed it.” He sighed into the phone. “I think I’m going to move back into the apartment. Gary’s place is small, and his girlfriend just moved in. I didn’t know if you were staying there.”
“No,” she said softly. “I’m at Liz and Brady’s place. You can have it.”
“Okay. You’re sure? I can find somewhere else if need be.”
“It’s fine,” she told him with a sigh. “Someone should be staying there, and if you don’t have a place, it should be you.”
“I really want you to come back.”
Her heart soared at the words. The words she’d wanted to hear for the last two weeks. But she couldn’t go back yet. He’d left her to find herself and she hadn’t found it.
“I know, but…not yet.”
“Fuck, this sucks.”
She nodded her head. He wasn’t wrong. “Tell me about it.”
“I guess…I’ll let you get back to your party. Have a good weekend, Savannah.”
“Thanks,” she muttered half-heartedly. “And Easton?”
“Lucas isn’t here.”
His breath of relief was tangible. “Thank you.”
“But that’s the last time. We need to figure out how to move on from this.”
“We’ll figure it out, Savi.”
She sure hoped so. Because right now it all felt unpredictable and painful and like a ragged piece of glass through her heart. And for the first time, she wondered if she and Easton could even make it.
The weekend passed in a blur of drunkenness. Clay kept pouring. She kept drinking. And by the time she was back to work on Monday morning, she was either still partially drunk or had the hangover of a century. After that call with Easton, there had been nothing else she wanted to do but forget everything that had happened on it for as long as possible.
The only good thing that had come out of the weekend was that she had gotten confirmation from Chris that he wouldn’t tell Lucas that she and Easton weren’t together anymore. And he’d texted over Lucas’s new address in the D.C. area, so that she could finally tell him about it all once he got home from Vegas.
“Are you sure that you don’t want to go out for drinks?” Dylan asked at work almost every single day. “We could get you a hot hook up. Help you forget this whole disaster.”
Savannah shook her head. “I’m definitely not ready for that.
“Ugh! You’ll never be ready for it if you don’t get out there.”
She didn’t want to be out there. That would involve talking to new people. And so far, she had no interest in going through that. Not for a long time at least.
Not when she hadn’t spoken to Lucas and she still didn’t really know where things stood with Easton.
But luckily two weeks later, Lucas had finally returned from Las Vegas. She’d prepared herself the best she could for this upcoming confrontation. But she had no idea what was going to come of it.
All she knew was that they couldn’t sleep together. That wouldn’t be productive. It would just be them falling back into old habits. And though a good nice marathon session sounded pretty wonderful after a month alone, she wasn’t going to allow it. Not when everything was so up in the air with Easton. If she was going to have a rebound, it wouldn’t be Lucas Atwood. They’d known each other too long for that.
Saturday morning, she got up extra early. She put on her favorite black dress and heels, applied a fresh coat of make-up, and ran the straightener through her dark brown hair. Then she drove over to Lucas’s new apartment, which was pretty close to Brady and Liz’s place.
It was a fancy, new, state-of-the-art complex that used a code to enter, which thankfully Chris had provided. Lucas was probably going to kill his brother for this. But she went through the gate anyway and found his place. She hopped out of the car and knocked on the front door, but no one answered.
Chris had said that he had some crazy routine for the offseason to prepare for the NBA September start date. She just hadn’t thought he’d be gone already at 8:30 in the morning. That was crazy early for someone who didn’t normally like to rise before noon.
Savannah found her way to the connected gym and keyed in the code again to gain access. The place was deserted. Not a single person inside the entire weight room, which was good since she looked totally out of place. She followed the signs for the indoor basketball court and peaked in through the window.
Her gaze snapped to attention on the lone figure shooting hoops on the basketball court. Lucas. He was shirtless in nothing but basketball shorts and tennis shoes. His body was well-muscled with those broad shoulders and thick biceps and every naked inch of abdominal. A light sheen of sweat covered him, and Savannah’s mouth watered at the sight. He looked fucking hot. So fucking hot.
This was going to be…interesting.
Still, she pushed through the door and stepped onto the court. Her heels clicked on the floor, revealing her presence. He took his last basket, hitting the three-pointer, and then turned to see who had entered the gym at this early hour.
They locked eyes. Him, half-naked and chest heaving, and her, prim and proper and somehow completely out of her depth. This was his element. She had just entered his domain. And she was shocked at how off balance it made her feel around him even though she had seen him play hundreds of times. Maybe thousands of times.
“Savi,” he said in surprise.
“Hey, Lucas. Chris gave me your address so I could come see you.”
He arched an eyebrow. “You couldn’t just text me for it?”
She shook her head. “I kind of wanted this to be the first time we spoke.”
He picked up the basketball and set it down next to his bag. Then he pulled out a towel and wiped his face down. “Didn’t think you’d want to talk to me at all. I was giving you space so you didn’t have to.”
“I was surprised that you weren’t at Hilton Head. It’s kind of tradition.”
“It is. I assumed that you wouldn’t want me there anyway. Plus, I had the summer league.”
“How was that?” With her stomach was in her throat, she stepped across the court to where he was standing. She had no idea how this encounter was going to go. What he was going to think. What he was going to say. What he was going to do.
“Are you asking me because you care?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Why wouldn’t I? You know I love basketball. It runs in our blood. You’re the only traitor who went to Vandy instead of Chapel Hill.”
“Ah,” he said with a half-smile. “We’re back to me being a traitor.”
“In our families, not going to UNC is the equivalent of being a traitor.”
“Oh, trust me, I heard it enough the last four years.”
“Five,” she corrected. “You committed to Vandy right after our junior year.”
“How could I forget? You went ballistic on me,” he said with a laugh. As if the memory of her anger brought a smile to his lips.
“Well, I had all these plans for us. We’d always gone to the same school.”
“You could have come to Vanderbilt too, you know?”
Her eyes rounded, and she stared at him aghast. “Are you out of your mind? Do you know what my family would have done to me? I’m pretty sure I would have been disowned. It’s Tar Heel or bust.”
“Tell me about these plans for us. I didn’t know you had plans for us.”
“Oh, shut up. Yes, you did. You were my best friend.”
“True,” he said softly, glancing away. “I was.”
“Am,” she corrected. Her voice was pitched low. “You still are.”
“Nah, it’s probably Liz now.”
“I’ve known you my whole life, Lucas. I don’t think anyone else knows me like you do.”
He coughed and straightened, picking up the ball and dribbling it a few times. It seemed to settle him. So he didn’t have to think about what she’d said. Something to distract him.
“Well, yeah. I guess we all made choices we had to live with after high school. It changes people. Not many people stay close with the people they grew up with.”
“True,” she muttered. How had this gone so far askew? She had just meant to tell him. Not have a lecture on whether or not they were still best friends.
“Anyway, you asked how the summer league was. It was great.” His eyes lit up at the mention of it. “I got to play basketball for ten days straight with some of the best people in the league. It was a great start to my professional career before the season kicks off in September. Plus, Vegas.”
“That sounds amazing.”
She needed to say something. Get the words out. Not have them stuck to the roof of her mouth like glue. How hard could it be to let him know that Easton had left her. That he’d walked out, and she didn’t know where they stood. That she was single. At least…she thought she was single.
She just needed to say it.
“Speaking of Vegas,” Lucas said, glancing back up at her, “you remember Mariah Glover, right?”
Savannah blinked a few times. She cleared her mind of the thoughts of telling him about Easton. Because…why the hell was he asking about Mariah?
“Yeah. The girl I dated freshman and some of sophomore year.”
“I remember making out with you on the beach at Hilton Head for two hours while you dated her,” Savannah said crisply.
“Right. Yeah. That was her.”
Savannah had met Mariah exactly once freshman year of college. She was a gorgeous busty redhead who Lucas had met at Vanderbilt. Mariah had been on the basketball dance team at the time. One weekend when UNC basketball had been away, Savannah had flown in to Nashville to see Lucas play. The encounter had gone about as well as expected. Which basically meant horrible. Mariah had not been pleased that Savannah was there, and she probably had every reason to dislike her. It had been a mutual feeling.
“Okay. Why?” Savannah asked carefully.
“Well, she’s a sideline reporter now for the NBA.”
Savannah’s stomach flipped. That couldn’t be good. “Really?”
“Yeah. I mean she has a degree in sports broadcast, but I didn’t expect to see her covering the games for the summer league.”
“She was in Vegas?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I guess she lives in D.C. too.”
“What a…coincidence,” Savannah muttered.
“It was. I had no idea she was doing sidelines or that she lived here now.”
“And you two…what?”
Lucas finally looked back up at her. And she knew. She knew before he even said it.
“Well, we kind of started talking again. We spent the last two weeks together in Vegas and are going to try to pick things up again here.”
Savannah felt like she was going to throw up. She’d pushed him right into someone else’s arms. And how could she even blame him? Considering she’d been with Easton for the last three years and he’d just seen Easton propose. And she hadn’t told him what had come next. She’d wanted to wait it out. Not to rush it. She didn’t want him to think that he was some kind of rebound. And she’d been just as confused about her feelings. Now she was standing here feeling like the rug had just been pulled out from under her.
“That’s…great,” she managed to get out.
He laughed and shook his head. “You don’t have to lie to me. I know you two didn’t get along. But I figured it was better to just try to move on, right?”
“Right,” she agreed softly.
Just better to move on.
It was the smart thing for him to do.
It made perfect sense.
And yet, it felt horrid. She hadn’t even come here to win him back. She’d just wanted it out in the open. So she could figure it all out from there. But now…now, she couldn’t possibly tell him.
It’d be like a slap in the face. He just told her that he was seeing someone else. She’d look ridiculous telling him about Easton now. He couldn’t find out like this. Not as a response to him seeing Mariah again. The last thing she’d want was for him to think that she was only telling him because he was with someone else. It’d be even worse than a rebound. She’d look like she was trying to break them up. When she didn’t even know what she wanted.
And maybe it was time to figure that out.
That was the point of this break up, wasn’t it?
“Well, I’m happy for you,” she forced herself to say. “It seems that everything has lined up.”
He blew out a breath. “I guess it has.”
“I guess I’m just going to…” She pointed at the exit.
“Wait, why did you come here anyway? I didn’t think you’d want to talk.”
“Oh,” she breathed, trying to think of a response to that. “I just wanted us to be in a better place. I didn’t want us to end where we had.”
“I see,” he said softly. “Then consider us in a better place.”
She took a step backward. What she’d said hadn’t been a lie. She did want them to be in a good place. After the way things had been left at the party, she couldn’t imagine a life with Lucas not in it. But that hadn’t been the reason for her visit. She’d have to find another time for that.
Another lifetime perhaps.
Continue on to chapter 16 HERE!
Keep your eyes open for next month’s chapter coming exclusively in my newsletter!
What did you think? Leave a comment or join my spoiler group to discuss: