RYAN O’Connor Brothers #2
I’ve gone back: back to the place where it all started, where somebody else had the final say.
I did it out of love for my family.
I’m trying to rebuild my life, to stay standing, even though my legs hurt like hell. I’m concentrating on myself, on my career.
I’m ready to tear everything apart to try and keep it all together. To hate without feeling guilty for it, because hating others is the only way I know how to keep myself – the person I am – going; and I was doing it. I was strong. I was untouchable. I was invincible. Actually, I was deluded.
I didn’t consider everything. I didn’t consider her: the only woman I really want to hate, but who gives me hope. A woman who turns your world upside-down, who entwines herself into your life even if she can only stay until tomorrow.
I’m not looking for tomorrow: I want a future. But I don’t believe in that anymore. And I can’t turn back, not even for her.
My name is Ryan O’Connor, and I’m about to make a huge mistake. I’m about to let her believe in me, to take a chance. But she’d be betting on the wrong man. I’ve never been the right one. And she’ll be left accepting her bitter defeat.
EXCERPT ~ PROLOGUE
Two years earlier
“You can’t actually do it.”
“I already am,” I reply to Ian, haphazardly packing up my duffel.
“Ryan, please, be reasonable. Let’s talk about it, I’m sure we can find a solution.”
“A solution?” I laugh in his face. “We had a solution, but you never let me go through with it.”
“Did you really want to, though? How was it going to help you?”
“Help me?” I ask him, staring hard. “It would’ve helped me. But you had to butt in, as usual.”
“So killing your brother would have solved all your problems?”
“It would’ve made me feel better.”
Ian shakes his head and sinks onto the bed. “You don’t really think it was his fault, you know that.”
“No, of course not. It’s never his fault. He never does anything wrong, right?” I zip up my duffel and throw it on the floor, sitting myself down next to him, letting my head fall into my hands.
“Okay, he made things worse, but everything was going to shit even without him getting involved.”
I close my eyes and screw my hands into fists, trying to calm the fit of rage shaking through my body. I can’t think of him, of what he’s done.
Of what I was about to do.
“Shut up!” I shout at him.
No one should ever mention either of their names in front of me.
“Have you seen this?” Ian touches my chin gently, but I jerk away. “You need stitches here.”
“Why the fuck would you even care?”
Ian sighs, frustrated. “You’re never going to change your mind, are you?”
“I’ve made my decision now. I’ve signed the contract.”
“It’s not too late – we can talk to the lawyer, retract the…”
I stand up. “They’re waiting for me.”
“Don’t just throw everything away. It took years of effort…I can’t let you do it. It’s your career. Your fucking life!” He gets up too and grabs me by the shoulders. “Don’t be a baby, Ryan. You’re a man!”
I shake off his hands. “My life, Ian!” I scream at him. “You have no idea what…”
“You have your family, you have rugby, you have…”
“That’s not enough,” I tell him, on the verge of breaking down.
It’s not enough anymore.
“It will be enough,” he says, calmly.
“So what, I should just do what you do?”
Ian gives me a sad smile. “It’s still a way of living.”
“You don’t get it,” I tell him, calmer now. “It’s not my way. Maybe it works for you, but not me. I always wanted this, I’m not like you, or like…” I grind my teeth. “I’m different. I want different things…or at least, I did want them!”
“And you can still have them. Maybe later in the future…”
“No,” I shake my head. “I can’t, not after…It’s not for me. It can never be for me. Do you have any idea how it feels, Ian? Ripping your heart from your chest and watching someone trample it into the ground. Watching the blood spurt out, watching it slowly stop beating. Seeing your life, your dreams, your future fade before your eyes…” I pause, trying not to let my emotions get the better of me. “There’s nothing left for me here.”
“I’m here,” Ian tries again.
I shake my head. “I have to get away, far away from here. From everything. Please, just let me go.”
Ian takes a deep breath. “You’re my brother, Ryan. I’m worried about you. I don’t want you to just go like this, without thinking it through, without waiting for it all to blow over.”
“For what to blow over, exactly? It won’t just disappear, Ian. And Jesus, it hurts. I can’t stand it.”
Ian stays silent for a while, then runs a hand through his hair and starts to speak, resigned. “If this is what you really need, then I’m not going to be the one to stop you. Just…don’t shut us out. Don’t shut me out.”
I smile, sadly. “Do you really think that could happen?”
He gives me a half-smile back. “Of course not.”
I lean down to grab my duffel.
“Are you sure you’ve got everything?” he asks, nodding towards my bag. “I can help you with the rest of your stuff, if you just let me get myself sorted…”
“I don’t want any reminders of this life,” I interrupt him. “I don’t want to bring any of it with me. I’m not that person anymore.”
I start to head towards the door of my apartment, with Ian behind me; but when I open it, the very last person I want to see is standing right in front of me.
I launch myself at him, throwing him to the floor. I sit on his chest and lock my hands tightly around his neck, as he grabs my wrists in an attempt to break free. But I’m stronger, angrier. I’m in pieces.
“Fuck, Ryan!” Ian tries to grab my shoulders, but even he can’t fight my strength.
My hate is stronger than all of their muscles combined.
“Ryan! You’ll end up killing him if you don’t stop!” Ian keeps shouting and pulling at me, trying to get me away from the guy, but I have no intention of letting go.
I want him dead. Now. And I want to do it myself.
His face starts to go white, and his hands lose their strength against my wrists. I can feel the life slowly leaking out of him under my fingers, a life which will never give me back my own: one that will never repay me for all the pain I feel inside.
Just when he is about to lose all feeling, a mountain of muscles wraps around me, hurling me aside onto the ground. He sits on top of me, trying to pin down my arms.
I try to wriggle free, but Ian’s grip is too strong. “I can’t let you do it. Fuck, he’s your brother!”
I look hard at him, with resentment on my tongue and pain shooting across my heart. I tell him what I really think.
“From now on, you’re my only brother.”