Releasing Me (Holding You #2)


by Jewel E. Ann

Prologue

“Addy, I know this isn’t how we imagined the start of our future together. But I love you, and I believe years from now it won’t matter how or why we ended up together. All that will matter is that we ended up together. I’ll live anywhere you want to live, I’ll look for a job that gets me home by five, and I’ll be yours on the weekends. You are my best friend, my love, and I want you to be my forever. Addy, will you marry me?”

“Yes … yes, I’ll marry you, Malcolm.”

CHAPTER ONE

Quinn

“He could wake up at any time, but he’s going to feel groggy and possibly disoriented. Even when the anesthesia wears off, he may have trouble staying awake. We’re giving him some strong medication for pain management and he’ll want to sleep.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Then, I heard her. Addy? What happened? Where am I? God, I feel like shit. Why can’t I open my eyes? Is this a dream? I felt blind. I couldn’t see my beautiful girl, all I could do was hear her voice. That voice, the one that feels like home, is so clear, like she’s right here with me, but I can’t open my eyes. Why can’t I see my beautiful girl?

“Addy, dear, you should go back to my hotel room and get some rest.”

Mother? What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Where am I and why can’t I open my eyes?

“I appreciate your concern, Elena, but I can’t leave him, not until he wakes up.”

“I wish you’d reconsider, but I understand. I’m going to have Chase get you something to eat, then.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“You need to eat, my dear, so if you’re not going to go get some rest at the hotel, then you need to at least eat something. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Fine, but just a salad or some fruit.”

Then I felt her hand on mine. I couldn’t see her face, but I knew her touch: warm, delicate fingers tracing familiar patterns over my knuckles, palm, and wrist. It was intimate, kind, and healing. I knew everything about her, at least everything I needed to know. I knew it that fateful day we met.

*

I was in Milwaukee visiting my latest investment, an eco-friendly hotel that had recently opened. Driving through the lakefront business district, I turned my head to take in the great view of the lake. Thankfully, I returned my eyes to the road just in time to honk my horn and slam on my brakes. That was when I saw her—long blonde hair parted into pig tails. The first thing I thought was, “Seriously? A grown woman in pigtails!” She reminded me of Pippi Longstocking.

This insane woman stood in the middle of the street with her arms stretched out, twirling in circles, and I jumped out of my Range Rover. My next thought: Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music. No one, outside of my immediate family, knew I’d seen just about every musical ever made, but not by choice. My mom insisted I watch musicals; it was her way of feeling less guilty about planting me in front of the television while she took care of my younger siblings.

Was Pippi Longstocking suicidal, drunk, high, or just flat-out crazy? Then she looked at me. The most beautiful ocean blue eyes I had ever seen almost knocked me off my feet. We exchanged a few unpleasantries laced with sexual tension, but those eyes … they were the warm sun, a gentle breeze, a glimpse of forever.

*

My eyelids felt like lead, I was so tired. The bright light stung my eyes when I managed to force them open.

“Quinn?” That’s all she said, but it was like an angel beckoning me to heaven.

I tried to speak but my throat felt dry and sore.

“Here, drink a little water.”

She held up a cup and I took a small sip.

“Addy, what happened?” The words scratched my throat as I tried to speak.

“I’m going to get the doctor.” She kissed my cheek and hurried out the door.

A few moments later she returned with a doctor, nurse, my mother, and Chase.

“Quinn, I’m Dr. Muñez. You had a climbing accident and were airlifted to the hospital. You had a ruptured spleen that was causing internal bleeding. We successfully removed the spleen, but you still have a fractured rib and pelvis. We’re going to monitor you over the next couple of days. Then you will need another surgery to repair your pelvis. Depending on the outcome of the surgery and your progress, I’m estimating two to three weeks before you can go home. In the meantime, we will have you on pain medication which will make you drowsy. You need to rest and keep visitors to a minimum. Do you have any questions?”

I didn’t remember falling. I remembered Addy climbing, but not me. Internal bleeding, ruptured spleen, fractured bones? This must be a nightmare. I needed to wake up! Broken and speechless. That was what I felt when reality set in.

Euphoria. I remembered that feeling. Her huge grin. Greedy eyes raking over my bare chest. Warm sun on my back. My fingers gripping onto the sharp edges of the rock. Tears falling from her eyes. Muffled voices. Fuzziness—the pieces don’t fit. How could this have happened? Addy wouldn’t have dropped me, and I knew how to take a fall.

The nurse took my blood pressure, checked my IV fluids, and asked about my pain level. She handed me a button to self-administer more pain medication as needed. Then she proceeded to tell me that I had a catheter inserted as she checked that bag as well. Fucking great! The woman who referred to me as her Latin sex god gets to watch my piss bag fill up.

“Quinn, sweetie?” My mother kissed my cheek then caressed her hand over it. “I’m glad to see you’re awake. We were so worried when the hospital called and said you were in surgery.”

“Wh—why—call—Ad—dy—okay—” The damn narcotics! Jumbled thoughts. Sluggish speech. A complete idiot. That was what I felt like. I wanted to ask why the hospital called. Had Addy been injured too?

I looked at my beautiful girl, she was standing a few feet behind my mother. She looked nervous as she chewed the inside of her lip. Surrendering to tired eyes and heavy lids, I let memories of the first time I saw her do that carry me away.

After my first encounter with Addy, I spent the afternoon at my hotel in Milwaukee. A business acquaintance of mine was speaking at a luncheon in one of the meeting rooms. I decided to listen in for a while after lunch had been served. Addy made her unforgettable entrance while I stood at the back of the room. Offering my hand to her, she paused for a moment and chewed on the inside of her lip. Her nervousness was rivaled only by her embarrassment. She gathered her senses and found her feet without my help.

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