Aidan (Lucian & Lia #5) - Sydney Landon
I look around the outdoor beach bar as I ponder the latest email from my father. I know he’s not telling me something. Of course, I can’t really blame him, considering I left town almost a year ago and haven’t been back since. You don’t do that kind of shit when you’re an only child. But I couldn’t stay. When the woman you thought was the love of your life since childhood dies and you do nothing to save her, it tends to fuck you up in the head a bit. So yeah, as soon as my best friend, Lucian Quinn, married Lia and promptly popped out a kid on their wedding night, I’d taken off.
I didn’t have a particular destination in mind when I left Asheville, North Carolina, but when I stopped for gas in Charleston, South Carolina, I decided to stay the night. And I never left. I rented a house right on the ocean, spending my days wandering around in the tide and my nights drinking far too much. I also fucked my way through most of the women vacationing in the area. I know what you’re thinking: How could I sleep with someone else so soon after losing the woman I professed to love? First off, no sleeping was involved. It was straight fucking—hard—and then I’d show them the door. No strings, no feelings, no flowers. Instead of considering me a lousy bastard, look at it as me simply trying to avoid dealing with the shitshow I call my life.
Unfortunately, as it often happens, life has intruded on my frat-boy existence. My mother is sick, and my father is being as evasive as a dirty politician up for re-election. I know she hasn’t been feeling well for the last month, and she’s had some tests run, but that’s about as much as anyone’s told me. Since I’ve cut off most contact with my friends, I can’t really blame anyone other than myself for the fact that I’m three hundred miles from home and have no fucking idea what’s going on. Wasn’t that the way I wanted it? Hell, I laid down that law when I left. I gave Lucian and my father my new email address, instructing them both it was for emergencies only, and I hadn’t looked back.
Truthfully, I didn’t miss anyone for months. I’d been too mired in my own misery to wonder about the outside world. I received regular messages from both Luc and my father, and sometimes I replied, but more often, I didn’t. Lucian and I had been friends since grade school. We’d been quite a pair. He was the brains of the outfit, and I was the comic relief. Then Cassie Wyatt came along, and there were three of us.
I was crazy in love with Cassie from the first, but Luc had always been it for her, and that never changed. As in all famous love stories, theirs was eventually mired in tragedy and death. Cassie struggled with mental illness, and when she got pregnant during college with Luc’s baby, things took a turn for the worse. We were sharing an apartment, and despite my infatuation with her, even I’d noticed her increasingly erratic behavior. I was afraid being off her bipolar medication would send her into a tailspin, and my fears were justified.
I was in the habit of staying out late most nights just to avoid the almost daily fights between Luc and Cassie. On the night our lives changed forever, I’d gone home early. I’d been restless that evening and not really in the mood for the endless partying that had become so much a way of life. I figured I’d make some excuse about not feeling well and go straight to my room. With that plan in mind, it had been rather anti-climactic to find a quiet apartment when I arrived home. I had grabbed a glass of water and was walking down the hallway when I heard a muffled shout, followed by laughter that seemed eerily sinister.
I hesitated in front of their closed door for a moment. The last thing I wanted was to walk in on them having sex. I had almost decided to move on when something stopped me. The air was so heavy around me that I was having difficulty taking a full breath. I felt on the edge of a panic attack, and I had no idea why. All I knew was that every internal alarm was blaring, and almost in slow motion,