When Asher leaves the stage, Nate stays behind, strumming chords to a song I don’t recognize. He lifts his gaze. For five painful beats of my heart, our eyes lock. There’s so much in his eyes. Pain, anger, frustration. I see it all there before he refocuses on his fingers and starts to croon the lonely lyrics of his song.
I’m nobody’s hero, baby. Try not to fall too deep.
I’m nobody’s angel, love, but you were crying in your sleep.
I’m useless, empty, nothing, sugar. Wait around and then you’ll see.
You thought you’d find your answers, but now you’re lost in me.
The words tap into me, loosening something in my chest until I feel like anyone looking at me can see my confusion and the inexplicable aching of my heart.
And when he lifts his head and watches me as he sings the last verse of his song, I don’t move. I don’t hide from those eyes that know too much. I don’t run from that face that could destroy my whole world. I stand transfixed, the words rolling through my veins like they’re part of my blood.
After he strums the final chords, he puts down his guitar and leaves the stage without explanation or promise to return.
My feet are following him before I’ve decided what to do. He heads up the stairs and out back, through the French doors and onto the patio, where he keeps going until he hits the path in front of the river.
He’s trying to escape me. I should be happy, right? The past can stay in the past, and whatever mistake I made with this rocker can be left behind with it. But I can’t let him walk away without answers.
“Stop!” I rush down to the river, my heels sinking into the rain-softened earth. “Who are you?”
He turns slowly, the confusion back on his face. “Is that supposed to be funny? Pretending there was nothing between us wasn’t enough? You need to pretend you don’t even know who I am?”
“I—” Oh my God. The hurt in his eyes. “I don’t know who you are,” I say carefully. “But maybe I should? I was injured and I have amnesia, so I honestly don’t know you.” And if that doesn’t sound like a line from a Lifetime movie, I’m not sure what does.
“Amnesia? You’re kidding me.”
“I’m not.” He starts toward me, and I hold out a hand to stop him. “I’d prefer you to stay over there. Please.”
He pulls back, watching me. “Amnesia,” he repeats.
“You don’t know who I am.” It’s not a question—more a realization.
“I don’t know who you are or why you would crawl into my bed in the middle of the night. I don’t understand why—” My breath catches and fat, hot tears spill onto my cheeks. Suddenly this is just all too much. “I don’t understand,” I repeat, and leave it at that.
“You don’t remember anything? Do you know who you are?”
“Yeah. I remember everything up until about a year ago, but the last eleven months are just…gone.”
He drags a hand through his hair, and I’m struck again by how gorgeous he is. Dark messy hair, dark intense eyes. His T-shirt clings to his sculpted arms. Tattoos peek out from the sleeves. No matter how hard I look, I can’t remember being with him. So why do I have this feeling in my chest like my heart knows something I don’t?
“Do I know you?” I ask.
He lets out a huff and stares at the starlit sky. “Yeah. You do.” When he drops his gaze back to meet mine, his eyes are moist with unshed tears. “I’m the idiot who’s in love with you.”
In love with me? “But I’m engaged.”
“I saw that,” he whispers, his gaze flicking back to my hand. “Can I ask? Did that happen before or after the amnesia?”
“Fuck.” The word isn’t screamed or thrown like a stone. He breathes it—exhaling the sound like so much disappointment.
To me, Nate’s a stranger, but to him, I’m…what?
We just stare at each other, him looking heartbroken and angry, me trying to piece it all together in my head and make some sense of this. I’m engaged to Max Hallowell. I’m not the kind of girl who would get engaged to one guy when she’s been sleeping with another.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Lexi Ryan’s novels have been described as intense, emotional, and wickedly sexy. A former college professor, she now writes full-time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a neurotic dog. Find her on Facebook or Twitter to chat about books, TV, and her children’s latest antics.