“She killed a part of me – the part which trusts when someone tells you they love you, and allows you to trust that person with your heart.” Ness and Evan return to Leeds from Europe, and begin their new life together. But the past Evan has buried for years resurfaces and threatens their future.
After fifteen years, Evan doesn’t want any contact with the woman who abandoned him, but is unwillingly pulled into his mother’s life by Lucy.
Feeling pushed aside by Ness’s focus on her studies and new friends, Evan can’t confide in Ness about what’s happening. This return to his old behavior adds more distance to their relationship. When Ness’s new friend Ollie picks up the pieces because Evan is away, Evan’s insecurities threaten their relationship further.
Ness becomes aware of Evan’s situation, and she questions whether he will ever be able to break his ties to those dragging him down. If he can’t put himself first, and live the life he wants, she is unable to see how their relationship could work. In return, Evan struggles with Ness’s inability to get close to people, and her distance pushes him further away.
The decision about the future of the relationship is taken out of their hands – by something that could end things between Ness and Evan forever…
I side step the sink and turn. A guy leans against the doorframe, trying to appear nonchalant but his slackened stance indicates he’s attempting to keep himself upright. His brown hair is longer at the front and spills into his face, and unfocused brown eyes appear to be looking in my direction. He’s one of the regulars. I don’t pay a lot of attention, but he’s a good-looking guy and they never go unnoticed.“Yes?” I snap. I’m so not in the mood.His eyes sweep my figure. Unbelievable… I straighten my sleeves and look at him with an eyebrow raised.“Are you Abby’s housemate?”“Who are you?”“Evan.” He rubs his nose. “You’re not a student?”“Correct, I am the one not lying in a drunken haze on the floor contemplating my navel.”Evan takes a step forward, steadying himself with one hand as my witty repartee sails over his head. “Why?”“Why am I not on the floor drunk?”“Why aren’t you a student?”“Because I work instead.”“Hmm.” He pauses and grasps onto the sink, searching for a glass. I pass him the spare one.“Did you fail?”“Fail what?”Evan fills the glass. “Or are you just not smart enough for uni? What is it you do?” He gulps the water in three mouthfuls then wipes his mouth with his hand.Arrogant wanker.“That’s right, I’m not smart enough. I’m living with Abby until I can find a nice man to marry then I can have 2.4 kids and a house in the suburbs. Because, as I’m not a student, I have no future.”Evan leans against the sink. “Fair enough.”Oh my god he believes me. How pissed is he exactly? “So, you think anyone who doesn’t go to university is inferior to you?” I demand.I’ve seen her friends looking down their noses at me. Inverted snobbery. On top of that, the locals hate students and the students hate locals. I’m neither. I can’t win.We’re close now and he stinks of alcohol and pot, a faint hint of deodorant lingering on his clothes. Evan’s T-shirt has come untucked and rides up as he leans against the sink. He’s toned, evidently works out. I can’t help myself, I check him out. Beneath his curls he has deep brown eyes. Incoherent eyes. I hate to admit, but something about him is seriously sexy. Even if he is a dick.“Well, if you’ll excuse me,” I say.He sniggers.“What’s funny?”“You sound like the Queen.”Not this again. I get enough crap at work. I move from Cheltenham to Yorkshire and suddenly I’m ‘stuck up home counties girl’. I don’t dignify his comment with an answer and turn away from him, and walk out of the kitchen.“Want me to get the guy out of your bed?” he calls after me.I stop and look round. “You know him?”“I could replace him.”My mouth drops open at his arrogance. An attempt at a flirtatious smile plays around his lips but the unfocused eyes kill the effect he’s trying to achieve. He’s serious. I imagine he has a ready supply of eager girls. No surprise with a body and looks like his, such a shame he needs a personality transplant.I step towards him. “Evan. I am not pissed. Nor are you getting into my bed. Good night.” Feeling happy with my retort, I saunter towards the stairs. Behind me, Evan impersonates my sentence with an exaggerated posh accent.It’s a good thing that I’m sober otherwise I’d go back there and punch him.
With the full picnic container in my messenger bag, I wait outside the gym for Evan to finish his shift. When Evan appears, he’s jacketless despite the cool day. I shiver; just looking at him in his thin T-shirt makes me cold. And warm inside. I can’t help but feel a little smug when I take in the sight of my hot-as-hell boyfriend. He has the whole damp-chested, mussed hair, post-workout thing going on, fuelling the less than clean thoughts I have about him as I watch. Watching him from a distance as if I’m a random onlooker turns me on? I must have some kind of weird stalker gene.Evan doesn’t notice me at first; he’s on the phone and his eyebrows are pulled together in consternation. I recognise his hunched stance as frustration, and suspect he’s talking to his sister. Evan rests against the pillar outside as he continues his conversation, oblivious to those around.A slender girl with long blonde hair passes me with her equally blonde friend. I watch them and wonder if they share the same box of hair dye to go with their identical straightened hair and designer gym gear.“Book me in with him!” one of them says and giggles.I jump to alert. There’s only one ‘him’ in the vicinity.“Nope, all mine. Twice a week.” The giggling intensifies, and an unfamiliar feeling creeps across my scalp when it’s apparent they’re talking about Evan. Jealousy.“He can get me hot and sweaty anytime!”I gag at their immature sizing up of my boyfriend. Then I find myself doing something I didn’t intend. I stalk across the path towards him and dump my bag on the floor.Evan’s eyes widen in surprise and he finishes the call. “Ness!”Without a word, I slowly moisten my lips, and his eyes darken as I move in to kiss him. Evan grabs my rear and pulls me against his soaked chest, crushing his mouth against mine. He smells of workout sweat and deodorant, a mingled scent I associate with Evan. And sex. Tongue darting into my mouth, Evan holds me tighter, and through his sweats I’m aware of his arousal.Yeah, girls. See if you can do that to him with just a kiss. I’m lost in time for a moment, until Evan peels me off him.“Well, that was an unexpected surprise.” He regards me with shiny-eyed curiosity. “Not like you.”I smile up at him, loving his reaction. “I brought you lunch.”“Suddenly, I’m not very hungry.” The intent in his eyes is unmistakable.“I am. I brought a picnic.” I rummage in my bag, and from the corner of my eye, I spot the girls staring at us. An immature sense of triumph fills me. God, I might as well just stamp my name and phone number on his head.