Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here is the second chapter of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
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K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
Two days later, Savannah stood outside of the little brownstone apartment she was renting with Easton in the city. It had completely unreasonable monthly payments for only one bedroom and bathroom. But it was D.C. Nothing was inexpensive.
She knew it would be an adjustment, but she didn’t want to rely on her parents or dip into her trust fund. Her parents thought it was silly. ‘You can’t be anything but what you are’ was practically their mantra. But she’d insisted and they’d relented. She was sure that they had some fancy place in the city picked out for her when this inevitably fell apart. Or maybe that was just her cynicism talking.
She and Easton had both driven the five hours from Chapel Hill, and by some miracle, the moving truck was awaiting them when they arrived. Along with her mother.
“Mom,” Savannah said in surprise after parking her car. “What are you doing here?”
Most of the time Marilyn Maxwell lived in Chapel Hill where she was a professor at the university. But anytime she had time off, and that was frequently now that she was a full professor, she came up to D.C. to be with Savannah’s father, Senator Jeff Maxwell.
“I wanted to see you into your first real apartment.” She hugged Savannah and kissed her cheek. “You’re the baby after all.”
“Uh huh,” Savannah said with a sigh.
She was the baby of three. It didn’t help anything that Brady was a congressman and Clay had clerked for the Supreme Court and now ran his own law firm.
“Hello Mrs. Maxwell,” Easton said as he jogged toward them. “You look lovely.”
Marilyn smiled. “Why thank you. Why don’t you two show me around.”
“Of course,” Easton said. He shot Savannah a raised eyebrow and she just shrugged her shoulders. What could she say? Her mother was a force.
Savannah followed them up the stairs to the third floor with the movers close behind. She adjusted her long dark ponytail and wished she’d had a moment to herself. After the long car ride, she really wanted to shower or at least change out of her shorts and tank top.
Easton unlocked the door and gestured for Marilyn to enter before him. Then he waited at the top for Savannah. Her gaze traveled over his tall muscular physique. Hair slightly rumpled from too many hours in the car. Eyes shining bright and lips upturned at the corners.
He stared down at her as if she were a dream come true. Her heart stuttered and now she really wished she had that moment alone. That smile had done her in the first time she’d met him. And it still did today.
Liz had actually been the one to set them up. He’d been Liz’s tennis instructor and when she had met Savannah for lunch one day, Easton had tagged along. He hadn’t known then that she was a Maxwell. Or all the other bullshit that came with being the daughter of a politician. Just that they’d hit it off right away and the rest was history.
It was still that charming smile, easy confidence, and God yes, that tennis player’s body that made her float up to him with a grin. He wrapped a tight arm around her waist and planted a kiss on her lips.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“It’ll be fine.”
“Not what I asked.”
“I’m okay. This is our new adventure, right?”
His smile broadened. “Right.”
She reached down and squeezed his ass before walking into the apartment. She could hear him laughing behind her.
“So, what do you think?” Savannah asked her mom.
“It’ll be better once we have all the furniture.”
“Of course, it will. Show me the bedroom?”
Savannah wandered into the only room in the back of the apartment while Easton directed the moving people around. She held her hands out to the side. “Here is it. One bedroom.”
“Are you really going to stay here, Savannah?” her mother asked tightly.
“Yes. I already had this conversation with you.”
Marilyn sighed. “I know. I just want you to be safe.”
“I’m safe. The area of town is really nice. We did a lot of research and Easton’s friends recommended it. It’s trendy.”
“I know. I know. I just worry. I’m your mother. It’s allowed.”
“You knew I wasn’t going to change my mind.”
“I know, dear. You are so like your father at times.”
“I take that as a compliment,” she said with a laugh, trying to ease the tension. Her father was a Senator for a reason. She and Brady had always been most like him even though she had no interest in politics.
“As you should,” her mother said, touching my arm affectionately. When she smiled, Savannah sometimes forgot how annoying her mother could be. “I’m glad to see that the place isn’t as dodgy as I thought it would be. Perhaps once you’re settled in, you can have us over for dinner.”
“I’d like that.”
“Also, I have this for you.” She held out a dark blue envelope.
Savannah frowned and took it from her. Inside was roundtrip airfare to Nashville for this upcoming weekend.
“Uh…what is this?”
“I know we haven’t talked about it in a while, but this weekend is Lucas’s graduation.”
“He came to yours.”
“No, mom. No.” She tried to hand it back.
“I know things have been tense with Lucas. I don’t know the details. I don’t need to know them. Brady and Clay made it seem something dire.” Her mother raised her eyebrows in question.
Savannah blew out heavily. “Lucas and I are complicated. Brady and Clay weren’t wrong when they said it’s was something dire. It is. We are.”
“You have known Lucas since you were both in diapers. It’s reasonable to expect some complications.”
Savannah snorted. Her mother didn’t know the half of it. Not what had happened that summer after graduation. After years and years of being just friends and that one moment that changed everything. Or the four years after when he’d been at Vanderbilt and only interested in her when she was home for the summer. Or last fucking summer when he’d gotten drunk and high and told her he loved her on Hilton Head island. When he’d tried to kiss her as if all the other shit she’d had to deal would just evaporate with those words and a kiss.
No. She and Lucas were far past complicated.
“The Atwoods are family. And even when you don’t like family, you still stand by and support them.”
“You don’t get to make that decision for me. I told Lucas I didn’t want him in my life anymore last weekend. Why would I then fly to his graduation?”
“Because it’s the right thing to do, Savannah, and you know it. He knew there were problems between you two and he still showed up, didn’t he?”
Savannah grumbled something nonsensical under her breath and turned away from her mother. It wasn’t even completely about going to graduation now. She could suffer through that. It was that her mother insisted on her going and purchased her ticket for her without even asking!
“You showed up in person to give this to me because you knew otherwise I wouldn’t go.”
“Perhaps.” Her mother smiled. “Friendships like Lucas Atwood don’t come around all that often, dear. Is it really worth throwing it all away?”
“Going to graduation won’t change my relationship with Lucas.”
“Then you have no real objection to going.” Her mother arched an eyebrow.
One of the movers entered the bedroom at that time. “Where did you want the bed?”
Savannah glared at her mother and then showed the man where to set up the bed. Marilyn kissed her cheek again, promised to come back to see the finished product, and then left with a slight wave of her hand.
She loved her mother to death, but sometimes she got under her last nerve. It was as if because she was the only girl and the baby she had to be constantly coddled. Clay was the total fuck up. Yet they didn’t treat him like they were stepping on glass. It had been one of her favorite things about moving away for college even if it was just down the street. She could let her hair down. She’d even dated a tattooed, muscled, motorcycle-driving guy named Forrest when she’d first gotten to UNC. She’d resented people saying it was a rebellious phase…even if she now knew they were right.
“What’s that?” Easton asked, entering the bedroom.
Savannah groaned and held it out to him. He was not going to like this.
He took the envelope and peered inside. His eyebrows rose high up his forehead. “You’re going to Nashville this weekend?”
“My mother bought the tickets for me and is insisting that I go with my family.”
“Ah…what’s in Nashville?” He glanced back up at her. She saw the minute it dawned on him. His brows furrowed, a line formed between his eyes, and his lips pursed. “Lucas?”
“It’s his graduation. The Atwoods invited us.”
He clenched his jaw and then released it. He held the paper out for her. She watched him take a deep breath. “Have fun.”
“I don’t want to go.” She sighed. “But I probably should.”
“I know. It’ll be fine.” He kissed her temple.
“It’s not fine. You don’t mean that.”
“Honestly, I do. Am I happy that you’re going to Nashville to see Lucas? No. But I trust you and understand where this is coming from. I’d have to be a pretty big dick to tell you not to go.”
“I could get you a ticket?”
“No offense, but I have no desire to go to his graduation. I’d go if you really wanted me to though.”
“No,” she said with a frown. “You don’t have to go. I’m sorry I have to put you through this. There’s no win here.”
The whole thing was complicated. Sure, she could skip, but that would hurt her parents and the Atwoods who had been nothing but kind to her her entire life. They were her second family. It would be rude. Plus, she had already cut ties with Lucas. No audition packet—however kind and heartfelt—could change that.
“It’s not a win or lose situation. Look, why are we worrying about this right now? We just moved into our own place finally. Let’s enjoy it. Noah said there’s a ice cream place down the street that’s great. We could go check it out when the movers are gone.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want this to bottle up between us.”
“No bottling,” he assured her. “I’m not some controlling boyfriend demanding of your time, okay?”
“Okay. I do wish that I didn’t have to go.”
“I know,” he said, pulling her into his arms. He held her tight to him, running his hand up and down her back. “I wish that you didn’t have to go either. But I’m realizing that’s not the life we’re going to live together.”
She wanted to say that at least in a month’s time he’d likely be drafted and move far far away from them. But she knew that didn’t matter. He’d been eight hours away from them in Nashville for four years and still fucked with her mind. Her mother was right. She’d never be able to escape the Atwoods. They were family, and it was something she and Easton were always going to have to deal with.
“Ice cream sounds great.”
“Yeah?” he asked with another heart melting smile.
“Definitely. And maybe a shower?” she asked with a laugh.
“That I can manage.”
She kissed him again and watched as he started to unpack the boxes. Her heart was still heavy when she watched him. No matter what he said, she knew that he wasn’t a hundred percent comfortable with this.
“Hey.” He glanced up from the box he’d been unpacking. “You really don’t have to worry about Lucas.”
Easton didn’t say a word. She could read it in his face though. He didn’t believe that for a damn second.
And…she didn’t blame him one bit.
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