Maybe we shouldn’t have fallen so fast and so willingly.
Maybe we shouldn’t have moved in together before we went on our first date.
Maybe we should have given our wounds time to heal before we tore each other to shreds.
Maybe we should have never been together.
Houston has kept a devastating secret from Rory since the day he took her into his home. But the tragic circumstances that brought them together left wounds too deep to heal.
Five years after the breakup, Houston and Rory are thrust together by forces beyond their control. And all the resentments and passion return with more intensity than ever.
Once again, Houston is left with a choice between the truth and the only girl he’s ever loved.
THE WAY WE FALL – EXCERPT
By the time Houston pulls his truck into the lot of the sports bar, I’m ready to tell him to turn around and take me home, but I hold my tongue. It’s been four nights since our blowout fight over Hallie and I’ve been trying to keep the peace. I kept my cool when he got drunk last night and asked me, in front of all his friends, if I wanted to fuck him in the bathroom. And I kept quiet when we slid into bed a couple of hours later and he accused me of flirting with his best friend, Troy. I’ll just promise to give him a really long blow job if he agrees to be the designated driver tonight.
God, sometimes I hate the person I’ve become.
“What’s tonight’s forecast?” Houston asks as he kills the engine.
“Rainy with a ninety percent chance of beer,” Troy replies from the backseat.
“Just another night of grueling research,” Houston replies and all I can do is roll my eyes.
As soon as we’re seated at a table in the bar, I lay my hand on top of Houston’s thigh and lean in to whisper my proposition in his ear. He grins broadly and Troy just shakes his head.
“Is that a yes?” I say, taking a sip from my glass of water.
He turns to me and his smile is gone. “If you don’t want to watch me drink, you can take the truck home. I’ll call a taxi.”
He slides his car key across the table and bile rises in my throat as I stare at it. He’s lost all perspective.
I know Houston took the brunt of the impact from Hallie’s death. He was her older brother. He was supposed to protect her. He wasn’t supposed to find her dead body in our dorm. He’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but he refuses to see a therapist. He thinks this obsession with creating and consuming craft beer is a healthy alternative to therapy.
I don’t know how much longer I can pretend everything’s okay.
I take the key from the table and smile as I tuck it into my pocket. “I’ll drive us both home… later.”
“How about me?” Troy asks, leaning back in his chair so he can check out the waitress serving beers at the table next to us.
Troy is Houston’s oldest and best friend. They met in ninth grade around the same time Hallie and I met in sixth grade. Hallie had a crush on Troy for about two minutes when she was fourteen, before she decided he was too young for her. Hallie always had a thing for older men.
“Maybe you can get her to drive you home,” I remark, and the waitress turns around.
Her glossy lips curl into a seductive smile as she catches Troy staring at her ass. Troy nods at her and she shakes her head as she walks off with her empty tray. His eyes are locked on her as she leans over the bar, flirting with the bartender while stealing the occasional glance in Troy’s direction.
He stands up and pushes up the sleeves of his hoodie to expose his muscular arms. “I’ll be back.”
“You’d better come back with a pint,” Houston calls out as Troy walks away.
He turns to me and the corner of his mouth turns up in that signature crooked smile. He leans forward and kisses my cheekbone. His lips hover over mine and suddenly I’m grinning like an idiot.
“You look beautiful tonight.” He plants a tender kiss on my lips and I wish we were home so I could make out with him for hours. “I’ll drive us home. You can be my beer taster and I’ll be your designated driver.”
He kisses me again and there’s no way I can resist him when he’s laying on the charm like this.
Another waitress arrives with the two pints we ordered earlier and Houston pushes the one she placed in front of him over to me. The waitress smiles and apologizes for mixing up the order.
“No worries,” he says, waving off the apology. “My wife is planning on pounding about a dozen of these tonight, so keep ’em comin’.”
I shove Houston and the waitress just smiles as she walks away. “Way to make me look like a lush.”
“You’re not even going to mention the fact that I called you my wife?”
I don’t know how to respond to this. I didn’t mention it because I assumed it was just part of the joke; it’s funnier if you say wife than girlfriend. But now that he’s calling attention to it, I don’t know what to think.
I shrug as I lean in to take a sip of the farmhouse ale. “It was part of the joke.”
He waits for me to swallow my ale, then he grabs my hand. “One day, we’re going to get married. You know that, right?”
I chuckle and roll my eyes. “Yeah, of course.”
“Did you just roll your eyes?”
“I just think it’s a bit early to be making those kinds of proclamations. It’s probably best not to make any promises we can’t keep.”
His gaze falls to the table and he nods. “You’re right.” For a moment, I think this is it. The topic has been closed to further discussion. Then he sits up a little straighter and looks me in the eye. “No, you and I are going to be together forever. Even if we break up, we’ll always make it back to each other; mark my words.”
I nod as I reach for the beer again. “Do you want to know what I think of this beer?”
He smiles at my attempt to change the subject. “Shoot.”
“It’s too citrusy. You can taste a hint of honey, maybe even caramel, but the top notes are definitely orange and bitter lemon. The hops deliver a bite and they’re lingering.”
“IBU?” he asks.
IBU is an acronym for International Bittering Units, a measurement of the amount of bitterness or “hoppy-ness” in a beer.
“Probably thirty to forty.”
He shakes his head. “I’m in love with a beer snob.”
“Does that turn you on?”
“Put your hand under the table and you’ll feel my beer-ection.”
I almost spit out my ale, but I manage to swallow it down. Houston laughs as I grab the cocktail napkin to wipe the dribble from my chin. Then he rubs my back as I cough out the small bit of farmhouse ale I inhaled.
“That’s what you get for killing Mufasa,” he says.
I shake my head as I take another long sip of ale to cool my throat, then an idea comes to me. “Did you decide what you’re doing next week?”
“For Spring Break?”
“No, for Christmas,” I reply sarcastically. “Of course for Spring Break.”
He looks uncomfortable with this question. “Troy and I made plans.”
“What kind of plans?” I regret the question as soon as it comes out. I don’t want to be the nosy, clingy girlfriend. That’s not me.
“Troy and I are gonna try out some new formulas.”
“But… you guys do that every weekend.”
The muscle in his jaw twitches and that’s my signal to let it go. I want to say, So that whole thing about us being together forever is only true if we never get too close? but I hold my tongue… again. Then I down four more beers and give my detailed analysis of each one. Houston drives us home and fucks me over the bathroom sink. And when we wake the next morning, with the rain tapping on our bedroom window, Houston’s head is lying on my abdomen, facing the foot of the bed.
I can’t see his face so I reach down and run my fingers through his hair to wake him gently. At first, I think he’s still sleeping. Then I hear a small sniff and I feel the wetness on my skin. This is the second time I’ve seen Houston cry and, somehow, this time is worse than the day Hallie died. Because today I don’t know why, and I don’t know if I ever will.
Alright, so I don't know that I'm fully on Team Houston here. There's something about how he's handled things with Rory that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't blame her for being completely skeptical of him and his intentions now that he's happened to step back into her life. I think, also, because I tend to have the belief that sometimes you just have to cut the toxic people out of your life. One needs to do that sometimes for the greater good of the quality of your own life--in Rory's case, I feel like there's so much negativity coming from that aspect of her life, she needs to just cut it out and move on...
Liam, on the otherhand, I just warmed right up to. Maybe I'm a sucker for the hipster with a beard lol but there's just something positive and kind to him that makes me want to vouch for him. No, he doesn't have the same history with Rory as Houston does but sometimes you need a fresh change in life.
The story jumped back and forth a little too much for my liking. I get that it was needed to get the history of Houston and Rory across but I didn't love that it kept backtracking dates. It made a it a bit hard to keep track of the past and the present. That being said, there was enough chemistry between the characters that make me want to read the next installment of this series to see where/who Rory ends up with!
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time watching old reruns ofFriends and Sex and the City. When she’s not watching reruns, she’s usually enjoying the California sunshine or reading – sometimes both.
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