All I Ever Need Is You(Sullivans,book 14)(54) by Bella Andre
“It’s not just Mom,” Kerry said. How could she just leap and not worry about the fall? How could anyone? “I mean, you were so upset these past months, too.”
“I know my relationship with Payton isn’t perfect,” Colleen admitted, “but I still love him, so of course I want to take him back and try again. And, honestly, I’ve never felt so happy in all my life. Don’t you want to feel this good? Like you could fly? Like anything is possible? Like nothing could ever bring you down again?”
“Of course I do,” Kerry told her sister. And the truth was that she felt all of those things every time she was with Adam.
But the part of the equation that her sister was conveniently leaving off was—what if you were happy for a little while, and then later, it turned out to be only a fleeting happiness when the crash came and your heart was crushed into a million little pieces? Wouldn’t that mean you’d been foolish to have placed all of your faith in that happiness?
Especially when Kerry not only knew enough about Adam’s past to know what a huge risk it would be to give her heart to him, but she also knew precisely what he didn’t want from his future. “You’re looking for forever with someone and I’m not,” was what he’d flat-out said to her that day they’d agreed to meet at hotels for sexy fun. And then later, when she’d started to freak out about getting too close to him, he’d reminded her, “We’re both adults. It’s not going to get messy.”
He was clearly a master at arrangements like theirs. Whereas she was the one in danger of making the mistake of letting her emotions tangle up with all the sex so that it started to look like love.
Colleen’s face lit up again, brighter than ever, as she leapt out of her seat. Kerry turned to see Payton walk through the door, smug as always in the knowledge that he had all the power.
He looked in no way regretful or apologetic. On the contrary, Kerry thought he looked more cocky than ever—now that he knew for sure he could screw around on her sister as much as he wanted and Colleen would wait for him whenever he decided to come back to her for a little while.
Kerry’s fists curled beneath the tablecloth, and she had to work to shove down the fierce urge to punch him as he said, “Kerry, it’s good to see you again.”
Even though she knew how badly her sister wanted her to accept Payton back into their lives, Kerry simply couldn’t lie and tell him anything about this situation was good. She wanted to drag him outside and tell him what a mess her sister’s life had been for the past several months. She wanted to show him all the nasty bars Colleen had gotten drunk in. She wanted to introduce him to all of the creeps who could have hurt her sister. She wished she could show him just how deep the destruction he’d wrought had been.
Kerry was glad for her heels so that she was eye to eye with the jerk, and he wouldn’t get to feel that he was towering over her. She had to forcefully unclench her teeth as she said, “Payton.”
Thankfully, he was smart enough not to try to hug her, or even to shake her hand. But Colleen was so high up in the clouds that she didn’t seem to notice any of the tension between her boyfriend—oh God, he was her fiancé now—and her sister.
“I was just telling Kerry how incredibly happy we are,” Colleen told him. “So happy that we’ve decided to head to Vegas to make it official.”
Payton smiled at Colleen. “You ready to go now, baby? I can’t wait another second to make you mine.”
“I’m more than ready.” Colleen kissed him passionately in full view of everyone at the café.
“I’ll pick us up a couple of coffees for the road while you say good-bye to your sister.”
Kerry tried to smile back at her beaming sister. “I hope he’s good to you, Colleen. I hope you’ll be happy. That’s all I want for you, too.”
“I know.” Her sister’s smile suddenly fell away as her expression grew serious. In a soft voice that only Kerry could hear, Colleen said, “Thanks for all those nights you came to get me. Without you, I might have gotten into some really bad scrapes.”
More than anything in the world, Kerry wanted to save her sister from another bad scrape. Quite possibly one of the worst of all—marrying someone who would never treat her right. Only, Kerry knew she couldn’t save her sister this time. Just as Adam had said, Colleen would have to decide to save herself.
Which meant that there was nothing left for Kerry to say, except for the one thing that would never change no matter how much friction there was between her and her sister. “I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you, too, little sis.”
And as they hugged, Kerry hoped her sister could hear everything she was forcing herself not to say aloud: No matter what, no matter when, anytime you need me, all you have to do is call, and I’ll be there.
* * *
Kerry paid the bill for the coffee and cake, then went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face. It didn’t help, unfortunately, and she still looked pale and shell-shocked by everything that had just happened. But she would have to find a way to put it all out of her head for a few hours, because she had some really important afternoon meetings.
A part of her wanted nothing more than to go to Adam’s office and ask him to get in the car with her and speed to Las Vegas after her sister, to see if together they could figure out a way to stop the wedding.
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