Finn Jacobs ruined my life. The asshole left me when I needed him most, and I’d spent the last six years avoiding the living shit out of him in hopes that I wouldn’t have to face him. Whenever my younger brother Luke told me Finn would be around, I’d dodge the event and wallow in a few glasses of wine and butter pecan ice cream.
However, today all of my hard work would be squandered. I couldn’t avoid him any longer. I knew he’d be at the rink playing in the charity match, but it didn’t make his appearance any less jarring. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be comfortable seeing him and knowing he wasn’t mine. Now that he was just a few feet to my left, I knew it was true. My entire body shook with just one simple glance.
His dark blond hair had grown much longer than I had ever seen it before. At sixteen, he kept it cropped and cut around his head. At eighteen, he let it grow just on the top. But today it flowed in gentle waves around his neck and across his forehead, nearly in his eyes. I didn’t like it. Or maybe I was just stuck with how he used to be.
The hair, though pretty in its own right, distracted from his face. He always had his boyish charm about him that girls couldn’t help but admire. Something about his cut jaw and dark eyes appealed to almost anyone, and now that he was older, his features only matured.
He’d bulked up, too. I knew he had since I saw him on TV, but the television screen didn’t do him justice. I guessed the rigorous training that a professional hockey player for one of the most famous North American teams had to endure was the reason for the new muscles. Minor perk. I almost expected him to look exactly the same as I remembered him. Six years felt more like six days to me.
He hadn’t noticed me yet, so I savored the free moment to watch him anonymously. He moved differently, like he was a big fucking deal with swagger to match. His hips swayed with each step, his shoulders pushed back making his broad chest puff out. He was always confident, but the attitude was new.
I turned away from him and grabbed a glass of wine from the banquet table behind me. I chugged it as fast as possible to take the edge off my nerves. I had to calm down before I burst into tears—or told someone off. Getting drunk was the easy solution, but I had to make a speech for Maggie, my brother’s soon-to-be fiancée, and I didn’t want to fuck up Luke’s proposal on account of me being scared.
I huddled in a corner of the lobby at one of the tall tables near the restaurant and watched as Asher, Maggie’s ten-year-old brother that she adopted, ran up to Finn. Finn crouched down to receive a hug, and his black t-shirt rode over his hips. There was a white strip down his side. Finn leaned forward and grabbed Ash, hugging him hard against his chest. My heart lurched into my throat.
Asher was Finn’s biggest fan, and they hadn’t even met yet. After Maggie and Ash’s parents died, they both went through an adjustment period. Ash used hockey like Finn did, as therapy. Seeing them together here, I knew it would only be a matter of time before Asher fell even deeper in love with him. How could he not? Finn used to be the nicest boy known to mankind. There were even times when we dated that I wondered if he had an angle to his madness. What did he get out of staying after school to help students pass math? He nearly missed hockey practice one time because Jess James couldn’t figure out the Pythagorean theorem. Finn cared about others like their struggles were his own. He always tried to do the right thing.
Or so I thought. That wasn’t the case when he left me at the bottom of my driveway with my luggage in hand and a simple “this is for you, Lindsay. I love you, but you can’t come with me.” Yeah. He was a real class act that morning.
Of course, I doubted he was the guy I knew anymore—whether it was the nice guy or my dumper. He had done so much in his life that he probably grew a big head and became a typical conceited athlete. I couldn’t even tell you a single thing about Finn Jacobs anymore. The thought made me wince.
“What’s wrong, sis?” Lilly, my youngest sister nudged my shoulder from behind. I spun around to face her and glared. She looked gorgeous in a simple black dress with tights and shocking red shoes. The red pumps popped along with her cherry red lips. She was growing up way too fast for my liking, especially as the tops of her breasts jiggled out of the top of her push up bra and were almost spilling from her tight dress. I’d have to keep a closer eye on her.
I nodded toward the hockey god off to the left, still giggling with Ash, and she sighed. I made myself stare at her and not Finn. It hurt too much to see him so openly happy when it felt like my body was being weighed down by bricks constantly.
“You still hate him? What did he even do to you?”
“He didn’t do anything,” I told her. I didn’t want to delve into my sordid past with my baby sister. She was jaded enough from living with our abusive parents; I refused to put love down even more. “I just don’t like the guy.”
“I know you’re lying.” She narrowed her black outlined ice blue eyes on me and frowned. “He was always around when you were in high school, Linds. I know something had to have happened between you two.”
She was too smart for her own good, and that thought scared me. I had to get her out of Daddy’s house before she was brainwashed or punished to the point she didn’t care any longer. About life. She’d taken a few hits a year back when she stated she wouldn’t be going to Harvard. Instead, she wanted to chose her own path. Since then things had been quiet. But if Daddy realized she was getting too smart, he’d try to pull her to the dark side like he did with Lauren. Then who knew what path she’d take. She widened her eyes at me and cocked her head to the side.
“He became a big shot hockey player and left all of us little people behind.” I stopped one of the waitresses and grabbed a new glass of wine. I took a quick sip of the red, letting it settle so I could taste it this time.
Lilly reached over and snatched the glass from my hand. I yelped in protest, but she held it far enough away that I couldn’t reach and then placed it on the table behind us. I was about to tell the little brat off for ruining my mood and stealing my wine when my eyes clashed across the room with his.
His chocolate eyes penetrated me, and I felt myself lean toward him. My breath caught in my throat. Finn’s eyes widened like he couldn’t believe I was here, and then he smiled, flashing his boyish grin. I clutched my chest as waves of memories flooded over me. His face could’ve been in a painting it was so flawlessly beautiful. The stubble on his jaw, when it rubbed against my cheek, was one of the many things I missed about him.
His smile tilted upward as his eyes averted to the ground. His lips moved as he spoke to Luke and Ash. I couldn’t understand what it was he said. I couldn’t force my eyes to look away, and it made me twitch with annoyance. Asher wrapped his arms around Finn’s middle and waved as Finn stood and turned. Luke took Ash’s hand and walked away, leaving Finn alone.
Finn looked up, made eye contact with me again like it was a normal occurrence, and then stepped toward me. Fuck. He was coming toward me. Each step felt like a stomp on my face. I had to get the hell out of here. I ran my hands down my dress to get rid of the pools of sweat that had gathered on my palms. My stomach somersaulted until I felt like I might puke. I glanced behind me, searching for an escape, but there was nothing I could use to hide.
“This is my cue to head out,” I said to Lilly as I shoved by her.
I speed walked, my three-inch heels clomping on the plastic-like flooring of the rink foyer. The sliding doors of the arena were just two feet in front of me and promised freedom. I couldn’t actually leave since I had about an hour before the game even started, but I could hide for a little while if I was lucky. Since Finn was playing in the charity game, he couldn’t leave either which left us both stuck in this tiny tin building.
Oh god, it was his voice. My jaw clenched as I splayed my hands across my stomach, trying to relieve the building tension Finn brought with him. I’d forgotten how smooth the sound was and how much it affected my soul. Just hearing my name roll off his tongue transported me back six years. I lowered my head and kept walking.
“I’m not going away,” he said as his hand grazed the back of my shoulder. My body shook from the subtle touch. Goosebumps sprang up along my arms and down my legs.
“I don’t want to talk,” I said without looking at him.
“Okay. I just wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“How I’m doing?” I snorted to myself and turned to face him. My pulse sped. Was he kidding me? He had no right to ask how I was doing after six years of silence.
I thought I could handle looking at him because I was more livid than anything else, but damn. I didn’t expect him to be so close to me. His breath smelled like spearmint, which mixed with his evergreen deodorant. Instead of noticing his features or the way he smelled, I focused on the hairs on his cheek. I didn’t want to see his dark eyes or crooked nose or scarred jaw.
“Since when do you give a shit about how I’m doing, Finn? Just go inside before I get more upset.” I crossed my arms over my chest and stepped back.
“I haven’t seen you in years, and this is how you act? What did I do to you?” His nose flared just like it used to when he got mad. Sometimes when he was on the ice during practice, he’d get frustrated and skate off. His brows would pinch together, his lips would purse then flatten out after he thought for a second, and then his nostrils flared. I found it beyond amusing. But right now it just aggravated me to the point that I was lightheaded.
“You know what? Never mind. You didn’t do anything to me, Finn. You’re always just so damn perfect. I’ve gotta go.”
I shoved past him, hitting his shoulder with mine as I passed. I stormed straight through the lobby, as multiple eyes watched me, and into the cold rink. Lilly spotted me but didn’t follow. I needed a drink, but I didn’t want to risk running into Finn in the lobby, so I sat on the metal bleachers and stewed alone. The cool air calmed me a bit.
© Taylor Lavati 2017
What Readers Have to Say...
"An absolutely heart wrenching read that shows us that at times no matter how much we hope, darkness will find its way to win. "
-Blogger's From Down Under for A Reliant Love
"So this book is the ultimate love story. I like how two ordinary people who is so different and still so alike in so many ways can overcome everything together."
-Angelica Berglund for For The Love of Hockey
"I never thought I would read a "zombie book", much less love one. The Last Legacy really surprised me. Even with the whole people-eating-people thing, it was a fantastic book"
-Melannie S for The Last Legacy
"I could not wait to start book two. If this book was as good as book one, then I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. It wasn't as good as book one...it was better. "
-Keely Retchloff for Finding Sam
"The powers, the love, the excitement, the drama kept me so enthralled. If you are looking for a GREAT series about true love and mythology, look no further... I wish I could rate 10 stars! Definitely recommend this whole series to all my book loving friends!"
-The Book Blog for A Curse Books Trilogy
"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters."
-Summer's Book Blog for For The Love of Ash
"Wingless isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but thought I'd try it out and I am so glad I did. The characters and "worlds" she creates are done so well that you can actually picture them and feel like you are there right along with the characters."
-JLH for Wingless
For The Love of Hockey | January 2016
The Price of Love | 2017