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On The Fence

On The Fence

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I was absolutely terrified to lose the love of my life.

So instead of losing her, I pushed her away and made the biggest mistake of my life.

Now, her cousin tells me she’s having trouble with her horse, and I’m the man who can help her fix it.

  

Main Tropes

  • Second Chance
  • "It's always been you"
  • Forced Proximity

Synopsis

I was absolutely terrified to lose the love of my life.

So instead of losing her, I pushed her away and made the biggest mistake of my life.

Now, her cousin tells me she’s having trouble with her horse, and I’m the man who can help her fix it.

She doesn’t want my help, but she’s smart and knows that I’m the only option within fifty miles. Maybe I’m not her first choice, but in my favor, I’m her only one.

I’m given a second chance to make her see that I’m the man she loves and the one who loves her with everything he has. And even though I’m still horrified at the thought of losing her, I can’t throw away my chance to make her mine again.

Intro Into Chapter One

PROLOGUE

BEFORE

Everyone knew something big was coming, but for Dani, something heartbreaking was barreling toward her at a speed she’d never be able to stop.

The hospital itself was full of life. Nurses and doctors and admin running around, doing their rounds, or checking patients. Most had these permanent smiles on their faces that no one in their group could understand.

Didn’t these people know why they were there?

Didn’t they know they were preparing their hearts to let someone they loved go?

A heavy sigh, followed by a choking sob, pulls Dani’s attention to her left, where she sees Cal Trevors, her family’s longtime friend, breaking down in her mother’s arms. Her father rubs a hand against his shoulder, his own eyes unable to hold back the tears that streak down his face. That was a sight Dani had never seen before.

Dani felt her heart crack at the scene in front of her.

It wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that Donna Trevors, one of the most amazing women she’d ever met, was being taken so abruptly from this world, from this family.

The man sitting to Dani’s right stared blankly ahead of him.

He had hardly said a word in days.

It was killing him to watch his mother depart from this world.

It hurt her to watch Cade slip into despair the way he was, but what could she do? She didn’t know how to help, didn’t know what she could say to take away this pain. He needed her support, needed her to just be there when he was ready to talk, ready to keep pushing forward. So that’s what she would do. She would do whatever was needed to make his pain go away.

She picked at the peeling pink nail polish on her left hand nervously. Every moment that ticked by, she wondered when that final moment would come when the nurses or doctors would come out and tell them that she was gone, that there was no longer a need for them to sit there and wait in agonized torture.

Dani Isn’t sure she will ever be ready for that moment and discreetly wipes at a tear that slips down her cheek.

Cal and Dani’s parents make their way back into the room where the woman they all love fades with each breath and Cade, Dani’s longtime boyfriend, stands abruptly, surprising her.

She glanced up and watched him swipe a hand over his cheek. “Cade?”

“Let’s go walk,” he said, nodding toward the elevator that led down to the main lobby.

Standing, she put one foot in front of the other, her worn sneakers scuffing against the linoleum floor. The contrast of the loud squeaks in the quiet corridor made her cringe.

Normally, Cade would reach for her, grasp her fingers with his and intertwine their hands until they practically became one.

This time, he kept his distance.

It’s nothing, she told herself. He was hurting. She couldn’t imagine losing a parent. He must be completely heartbroken.

All she could do was be the pillar he could lean on and hope it was enough.

Cade didn’t know how to feel.

Inside, it was chaos. He was completely shattered that the woman who had loved and cared for him, who had put aside everything to raise him and his brother, was now breathing her last few breaths in this world.

Life was cruel, unfair.

His heart was fighting with his head, telling him that after this, he would never be the same again. Would never work with horses or clients again, would never have a family he could lose, would never get married, never settle down and risk… he shook his head. He couldn’t do it.

The woman whom he’d fallen in love with at the ripe age of fifteen was standing beside him, her hands wrung together as she waited to see what he would have to say.

He knew what he needed to say, but he wasn’t sure if he could get the words out through the lump lodged in his throat.

The words he knew by heart that he’d gone over time and time again, trying to find some way to soften this blow he was about to give her.

They entered the cooling air outside, a freeze on the cusp of overwhelming this town. The plow trucks and emergency vehicles were getting ready on the road for a big storm that was coming.

It was fitting for the moment.

Cade spotted a bench and moved toward it, but when he reached it, he didn’t sit. Pacing the space for the moment, he kicked a rock and turned to face her.

Dani West.

Man, how he had fallen so in love with her the first time he saw her again after summer break.

They were just entering high school then.

Her long hair was golden blonde, and her eyes were a vibrant blue he couldn’t look away from. She was the girl next door everyone wanted, but she never gave another second look to anyone else.

He can picture it so clearly in his mind. They had been walking toward each other in the school hallway, she was glancing down at something in her hands, and he had gotten one glimpse of her and headed right for her. Without her paying attention, she ran right into him.

When she looked up, she smiled brightly and said, “Oh, hey.”

It was that easy for him. He’d grinned back at her and realized that this was Dani West, the girl who used to always have tangled hair, scuffed knees, and teeth too big for her mouth and she was here and no longer the girl he wanted to tease and make fun of but the one he wanted to protect, to hold his hand, to go out with.

She was his girl; nothing was going to stop that from becoming true.

Until reality struck.

Now… he couldn’t give her what he wanted. Couldn’t love her like she needed, couldn’t be her emotional support like he once was.

He knew she had sacrificed her spot in the equine therapy program she had been in to be there with him. He couldn’t let her do that. Couldn’t let her ruin her future when he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to give her the life they’d dreamed of.

Her bright eyes looked up at him then and he pushed the words out. “You should go.”

The confusion in her expression intensified, and she took a shuffling step forward. “Go?”

He nodded, forcing his hands to his sides. His eyes burned at the thought of her leaving and the thought of ruining what she could have without him.

He had to do this.

“You—” He cleared his throat when it threatened to give away the emotion he desperately tried to hide. “I think it’s best if you go, Dani.”

“Cade—”

“Dani,” he interrupted, knowing that whatever she said would break him, would have him crumbling to the ground and begging her to stay, no matter how unfair he felt that would be. “I’ll always care about you, but it’s for the best if you go now. I need to focus on my family.”

That was a low blow, and Cade knew it. Her family and his own had practically been one for the better part of eight years now.

Fuck, you’re a prick, CT. He knew that to be true, knew that he was breaking the only heart he ever loved, but he couldn’t risk their end looking anything like what he had to witness in that hospital. This end was better than that… right?

“Cade.” Her tears rolled freely down her face and her hands came up to her chest. She could feel her heart breaking as she stared at the only boy she’d ever loved. “Please.”

“It’s for the best, Dani.” He clears his breaking voice. “I can’t give you what you need.”

“I don’t need anything,” she assured quickly through clenched teeth, a poor attempt at keeping her emotions at bay. “Only you. Only to be there for you.”

“Well, I can’t be there for you!” he snapped, his hand lifting to his head, the hair that’s been ignored for weeks falling in his face. “I can’t fucking take this.”

“Cade, please, I don’t think you mean this.”

“I’ve been thinking about this for months.” The words changed the look on Dani’s face completely. She crumbled right there in front of him, the confusion morphing to anger and true heartbreak.

“Months?” she whispered the word like she was scared to say it aloud.

“Dani.” He shook his head, the tears he’d been trying to hold back spilling down his cheeks as he stared at her.

But there was an image in his head that wouldn’t leave him. He placed himself in his father’s shoes, where the love of his life was battling for hers in a hospital bed and no matter what he did, he couldn’t fix it.

There was one thing that his father was always able to do, and it was finding a way to fix the problem… but he couldn’t fix this one.

No one could.

Fuck, he wished things were different. Wished his brother were here, wished he could still let love into his heart like he had done so freely before, wished he could unbreak Dani’s heart, wished he could fix his mom’s cancer…

But he couldn’t.

He couldn’t do a fucking thing.

Except this, he nodded to himself. He could let her go, even if it hurt them both now. All he needed was for her to have a shot at the life she dreamed of.

Just… not with him.

Dani choked out a sob and took a step back, then another, until the space between them felt as deep and vast as the ocean. She would do this, would leave him if it was what he needed for now.

But he would come for her… she was sure of it.

He looked at her, and she looked at him, her eyes bleak and broken and making more tears escape his own.

He’d never cried so much in his life as he had in these last few months.

Finally, she turned and as the first few snowflakes of winter fell from the sky, he watched the only woman he’s ever loved walk out of his life.

When the funeral came and they hadn’t spoken, Dani realized that he wasn’t lying, wasn’t just protecting himself in the moment.

It had been real.

They were over.

Book continues in dual first person POV.

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