Title: Echoes in the Storm
Author: Max Henry
Genre: Military Themed Contemporary
Release Date: September 12, 2017
âBehind those eyes, a battle rages. One thatâs not fought overseas with guns and tanks, but one that wreaks havoc in the homeland with harshly spoken words and misguided beliefs.â
One week is all we were supposed to share. One week as strangers. Yet you became so much more.
You were the echo in my storm.
All the little things you did differently irked me. I thought it meant we couldnât get along, that there was no chance weâd work out. But when it came time for me to leave, you know what I figured out?
They were the faint call of home, lost on the wind and the roar of thunder. It was you calling me, hoping Iâd hear you and find my way out of the dark that I had lost myself in when I shut off to survive.
You were my echo. My call back.
And fuck it all if I didnât find home in the end.
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Eleven hours in the office, and this is what I have to come home to. I close my eyes and focus on my breathing, trapped in the naÃ¯ve thought that maybe, just maybe, if I wish him away hard enough, it could truly happen.
Nope. Still there.
Blondie belts a tune out on my car radio, the beat going some way toward helping me find my zen. Three years on, and the sheer sight of him still pisses me off the same as it did when he told me âI donât think I could ever love you again.â
Yeah. Because loving me meant accepting the fact it wasnât my fault, and he refuses to believe that.
I refuse to believe that.
Drawing a deep breath, I reach for the door handle and promptly cut Blondie off mid-sentence as the crisp evening air rushes into my safe haven. With my leather tote snatched in my other hand, I rise and plaster on as natural of a smile as I can manage when my back aches and my feet throb from overuse.
âEight months, Jared.â
My ex leans a shoulder against the side of the house, tucked under the veranda as though he had hoped to blend into the shadows and catch me by surprise.
âAnd yet, it hasnât dulled your attitude any.â
âWhat do you want?â I shut and lock the car, pining for that first dip in a hot bath.
âYou ignored my calls.â He frowns as I walk right by him. âDid you think Iâd be that easy to brush off?â
âHardly.â There was a reason he used to be saved in my phone under âCockroachâ. âIâve been busy.â
âYouâre not the only one,â he bites, inviting himself into the house behind me. âBut then again, you never did understand that concept, did you?â
âCarry on, Jared,â I snap louder than intended. âSee how long this wee conversation lasts if thatâs the way youâre going to steer it.â
He pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. âIâll make it quick.â For a fleeting second, I see the vulnerable man I fell in love with ten years ago. âI want you to sell the house.â
âWhat?â I throw my tote on the side table with more zest than necessary.
We were married for barely two years, not enough time for the property to have increased substantially in value. So it was decided when we split that Iâd stay in it, paying the mortgage on my own, and the little that he had put in over the course of our relationship would be repaid when I sold.
When I sold.
âIf you need the cashââ
âI need an end to this.â He waves a hand between us as I slump against the hallway wall. âI need to cut ties from you, Cam.â
âI thought we were doing that just fine,â I whisper as I run my eye over his carefully put together outfit.
Fuck, he unfriended me on Facebook the minute he split. I donât even know where he lives now, just that itâs in the city, and judging by the threads heâs got on heâs doing well for himself.
Of course, he doesnât need the money. Heâs never needed anything from me. Makes sense then, that he wants me to sell to ensure he has no reason ever to see me, let alone talk to me, again.
âIf you want closure, Jared, I can get my lawyer to send yours the settlement amount when and if I sell in the future. You donât have to deal with me.â
He shrugs. âExcept I would. Youâd still be there in the back of my mind every time I have to list assets, Cam. Or if Kell and I want to apply for another mortgageâitâs still in my name, too.â
âSo we change it.â I push aside the reference he made to the whore who stole him away. âMake a time at the bank, and Iâll meet you there.â
Silence hangs thick, choking the air in the houseâthe very reason for this conversation. I push off the wall with the flat of my hand and take a couple of steps toward the lounge room.
He hangs in the entrance hall. âAs soon as we can agree on a realtor.â
âNo.â I drop to the edge of the armchair, bracing myself with both hands on the cushion. âYouâve got to give me longer.â
âWhy, Cam?â He ventures as far as the open doorway, ever reluctant to get too close to me. âYouâve had three years to get what you need out of being here. Staying in the house wonât change anything.â
âExactly,â I whisper.
I never stayed in the hope it would settle the past, or that the memories the house held could ever ease the pain. I didnât stay to heal. I stayed to keep the wound open and festering, to never forget.
I chose to remain in the home we shared so I would be reminded every day of what I did and why I donât ever deserve to have that kind of love again.
âYou need to move on,â Jared murmurs as he retraces his steps toward the door. âItâs not healthy, Cam.â
He twists the handle and opens the front door a fraction, resting his shoulder against the edge as he drives the nail home a little harder.
âYou need to own up to what you did.â
Born and bred in Canterbury, New Zealand, Max now resides with her family in beautiful and sunny Queensland, Australia.
Life with two young children can be hectic at times, and although she may not write as often as she would like, Max wouldnât change a thing.
In her down time, Max can be found at her local gym, brain-storming through a session with the weights. If not, sheâs probably out drooling over one of many classic cars on show that she wishes she owned.
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