Carter by Brie Paisley
The Harlow Brothers
Photograph by Christopher Correia from CJC Photography
Cover model: BT Urruela
Cover model: Jessie Reis
Cover designer: Rebecca Pau from The Final Wrap
She was the one for me.
The one that I knew would be mine forever until I made the biggest mistake. I pushed her away and Iâve regretted that decision ever since. Iâve tried to move on, tried to put the memory of her behind me, but sheâs always consuming my thoughts. Now, sheâs back in our hometown, trying to rebuild a new life. I know sheâs keeping secrets. She tries to hide them from me, and I will do whatever it takes to prove that Iâm the one she needs. Because Shelby Ross is the other part of me that I canât live without and I refuse to let her go again.
He broke my heart.
I never thought I would be able to pick of the pieces he left behind. When he let me go, I ran away from it all, thinking it was the easiest thing to do. But, running has a price and Iâve paid it in full for years. Now, Iâm back where it all began, back to putting my life together and starting over. It shouldâve been easy, but Carter Harlow is reawakening long buried emotions that I thought were gone. He wants to make me his again. I canât let that happen. He ruined me, broke me, and Iâm afraid Iâll never survive it a second time around.
âI canât believe you kept it after all this time.â He grins, shakes his head, and his eyes light up. âDo you remember what I said when I gave it to you?â
Of course I remember. Itâs committed to my memory, and itâs one that I used to think of often. âI do. Instead of me giving you a graduation present, you gave me this.â I glance down at my necklace, thinking back to that day. It was a happy day, and I was so proud of Carter for graduating, and getting accepted into Harvard Law. I wasnât expecting a gift from him, but I remember being excited when he showed me what he bought. I blink, coming back to the present as I say, âAs you put the necklace on me, you said it was to remind me how much you loved me. That no matter how far apart we were, it wouldnât matter because our love for each other was strong.â I glance away from him, as I repeat his sweet words from a lifetime ago. âI remember you saying, that my necklace was your way of giving me your heart and that weâd always be able to find one another.â
I look back at Carter, noticing heâs rubbing his chest. I want to ask him if heâs alright. But I donât. I know that day meant so much to the both of us. I could see and feel how much he cared about me back then. Which made when he broke my heart that much more painful. He clears his throat before saying, âIâm glad you kept it, and itâs brought you good memories when you needed them.â
I suddenly feel shy, and a bit out of place. The emotions running through me scare the shit out of me, and the room feels as though itâs closing in. Reliving the past then the emotions running through me now â¦ itâs too intense. I look away from him and place my necklace back in my shirt. I get off the stool and say, âI think I should head back to Annie and Williamâs. Iâm sure theyâre worried where I am.â I donât look at Carter. I donât want to see the hurt in his eyes because heâll know what Iâm doing. I hate that I canât seem to stay around him, but the wave of all the past emotions and the present ones colliding is overwhelming. I have to get away from it.
âYeah, okay. I can drive you there since itâs on my way.â I nod and head back to his room to grab my shoes. I remind myself to breathe and stop over thinking everything. Itâs stupid of me to act this way, but going for so long without feeling any of this â¦ itâs frightening.
Brie Paisley is a small town gal from Mississippi. She always wanted to write at a young age and was always filling journals with her thoughts and short stories. Brie started with the idea of Worshipped a year ago and with the encouragement of her husband and sister in law, she was able to write her first book. When she is not writing, you can find her reading a good book, painting, scrapbooking, or watching a good movie with her husband and her boxer.