You Are My Reason, the first in the epic You Are Mine duet that will evoke all the emotions by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Willow Winters is available now!
It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at a man and wanted something more. Even longer since one has looked at me with a gaze that I couldn’t tear my eyes from.
No one is perfect, but that’s how it felt to be in his arms. I started to think everything was going to be alright. That life had finally put the pieces of my broken heart back together.
Fate may have brought us together, it’s a pretty little thought my poetic mind had. But there’s no doubt that the sins of his past would tear us apart.
This story was previously published as Imperfect in 2017. It has been revised and elevated.
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It figures it would stop downpouring the second I get in here. The bar is jam-packed as it always is, and the melody of guest chatting and glasses clinking welcome me. I can get lost in the crowds of people. I know they see me, but they don’t know me.
This bar in particular is one of my favorites. It’s always full. It’s tufted leather seats are constantly filled, and the warm rich tones of the wooden ceiling and brick walls make it feel like home somehow.
My suit looks like every other suit in this place. Well most of them. I run my fingers through my hair and shake off the rain as I shrug off my Armani jacket and toss it over the bar top at the very end.
It’s been a long day, and the last thing I need is to go home alone. As soon as my eyes lift, the bartender is on me. Patricia’s her name, I think. She’s in here every weekend.
“Whiskey?” she asks me. She never stops moving, shoveling ice into short glasses and pouring liquor like a pro. Unlike the other women in here, she’s not looking for a man with deep pockets. She doesn’t do chitchat either, which is one reason why I like sitting in this section. The other reason is that it’s out of the way where I can simply blend in and watch.
“Double,” I answer her with a nod and slip my cell phone out from my jacket pocket. I’ve only been gone from the office for two hours, but I’ve got a dozen emails waiting for my attention. A huff of a grunt leaves me as another text from Liam pops up.
You coming out tonight?
Already out, I answer him as the glass hits the polished bar top and Patricia slides it over to me.
My phone pings as I lift the glass to my lips and let the cool liquor burn all the way down and warm my chest.
I contemplate telling him. I like Liam. A lot. If I had any friends, he’d be one of them. But I don’t trust anyone and after talking to my father today, I don’t want to be around a damn soul.
A sarcastic laugh makes me grin as I realize I’ve come to a crowded bar to be alone. It’s the truth though. In this city, you’re always surrounded; there’s never a place to hide unless it’s in plain sight.
I down the rest of the liquor and tap the heavy glass against the bartop as I consider what to tell him. And that’s when I hear it. Almost as if daring me to stay alone any longer. It’s the gentle sound of a feminine laugh. It’s genuine and it rings clear in the bar even though it’s soft.
It’s a soothing sound, a calming force in the chaos that surrounds us. As if everything is moving around me but the woman who uttered that sweet sound.
The smooth glass stays still as I look down the bar in search of her.
The rest of the crowd doesn’t seem to notice, they continue with whatever the hell they’re saying and doing, but my eyes are drawn to my left. Through the throng of people, I just barely get a glimpse of her.
Blonde hair that’s pulled back, showing off her pale skin covered in black lace.
A man at the very end leans away from the bar, digging into his back pocket for his wallet and giving me a clear view of her.
Those dark red lips attract my gaze first. She licks her bottom lip before picking up a large glass of deep red wine. The color, from this distance at least, matches her lips perfectly. She smiles at something someone must have said and her shoulders shake, making the dark liquid swirl in her glass and bringing a blush to her high cheek bones.
She tosses her hair to the side, it’s damp from the rain and her fingers tease the ends as she brings her tendrils over her shoulder, wrapping them around her finger while she sips her wine.
It’s when she looks away from whoever she’s been giving her attention to that my heart stops and my curiosity is piqued.
Without their eyes on her, her expression morphs into something else. I finally see her eyes, the lightest of blues with flecks of silver speckled throughout, and that’s when I really see her. Not just the image of what she’s portraying.
Pain is clear as day.
It’s the lie though, how fucking good she was at hiding it, that’s what really gets me. Even I was fooled.
People can hide behind a smile or a laugh, every soul in here can pretend to be something and someone they’re not.
The truth is always there though and I’m damn good at recognizing it. Your eyes can never hide two things: age and emotion. Hers speak to me in a way nothing else can.
But had I never looked just then when she thought no one was watching, she never would have shown me willingly.
She straightens her shoulders and I see her profile, her expression and the corners of my lips turn down. Not only do I know her pain; I know her name. I know everything about her.
My blood chills as she turns back to the table and the smile slips back into place on her face just as the man at the end of the bar takes a step forward, obscuring her from my vision. As if the moment of clarity and recognition was just for me in that moment. Like fate wanted me to know how close I was to her.
I keep my eyes on the bar, doing my best to listen, but her voice is silent or lost in the mix of chatter throughout the crowded place.
“Another?” Patricia’s voice sounds close, closer than she usually is. I lift my head to see her standing right in front of me, both hands on the bar and waiting.
I nod my head with my brows pinched, shaking off the mix of emotions. This city is a small place with worlds always colliding, but I’ve never seen her in person. Only in a photograph. Only that once. I’m sure it’s her though. I’ve never been this sure of anything.
The ice clinks in the glass and I watch as the liquid slips over each cube, cracking them and filling the crevices.
“You okay?” Patricia asks me. It’s odd. In the year or so since I’ve been coming here, she’s never bothered to make small talk. It’s why I don’t mind her.
I give her a tight smile as I reply, “I’m fine.” I reach her eyes and widen my smile, relaxing my posture and leaning back slightly.
She eyes me warily as she mutters, “You don’t look fine.”
It takes me a moment before I shrug it off and say, “I’m alright, just tired.”
She nods once and goes back to minding her own business, sliding me the whiskey and moving back to the other customers.
I tap my pointer finger against the glass, looking casually down the bar.
She’s hidden from view, but I know she’s there.
Meet Willow Winters
Willow Winters is so happy to be a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Contemporary Best Selling Author!
Willow started writing after having her little girl, Evie, December 2015. All during her pregnancy with Evie she continued to read and she only wanted to read romance. She was reading a book a day — sometimes two.
In January 2016 Willow was staying up late with Evie and just thinking of all these stories. They came to her constantly so she finally sat down and just started writing. She always wanted to do it so she figured, why not? Today Willow cannot be happier for making that decision!
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