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“So, that was our last twenty dollars. Since we’re broke, what should we do?” Reed stops us to sit on an empty bench.

This has been our ongoing joke today. Since I wanted to know if we would be happier without money, he left his wallet in the safe at the hotel. We have wandered the streets with only fifty dollars.

“We could go to a museum.” I play along.

“Nope, too expensive.” He puts the last of his hot dog in his mouth and throws the aluminum foil in the trash can across from us.

“Isn’t this fun? I mean who knew how much fun you can have in Manhattan without money.”

Pulling me close, he gifts me a smile so beautiful, my heart skips a beat.

“God, I love you.” He kisses my nose.

I finish chewing and try to swallow the hot dog that is stuck in my throat. Reed takes what’s left of it out of my hand, then pulls me onto his lap. The drizzle has started to pick up and I raise my flushed face to the dark skies. Wetness cools my cheeks and I blink at him as our lips touch. I taste the chili and mustard on his lips and lean into him, allowing him to deepen the kiss. His strong tongue twists with mine. The drops are getting fat and the splatter of wetness makes me moan and seek his warm tongue even more. This moment is perfect.

I feel like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I know this man will either be my savior or my destruction. No matter what, my future is sealed.REED

Present day – twenty-five years oldMy stomach growls, waking me. Looking around, I try to figure out where I am. When I close my eyes, it reluctantly comes flooding back to me. Sitting up, I run my hands over my face. I’m in our private jet on my way home.

Home. Is it even that anymore? Four years doesn’t sound that long. Yet with what I’ve been through, it seems like forever. The shock of Jax’s phone call has gradually worn off. I’m grieving for so many things. My grandfather dying is the tip of the iceberg.

With a sigh, I glance around and note this is one of our newer planes, the luxury abundant, almost reeking excess. Leaning forward, I reach for my phone. The leather chair glides with me, so soft it’s like a downy bed. Dark wooden tables sport vases with red roses. I guess they go with the bright red carpet. I notice the couch is white with red throw pillows. My mind drifts back to the last time I flew commercial, then shuts down. That’s a wound that never needs to be reopened. A low commotion brings my eyes to the large flat screen. Hockey is on and a player has been shoved into the boards. The fans seem to have taken offense, hence the commotion. The player gets up and spits blood on the ice. Even with the volume low, I can sense the anger and excitement coming from the arena. I’ve become immune to that life—a life where you go and drink beer and cheer for a team. A life that has meaning, even if it’s only to be a fan. Somewhere I lost that. My grandfather dying is the first real emotion I’ve had in a while. I want to thank him for that and so much more. Pain rushes over me like waves in the ocean. For one split second, I was distracted enough not to remember. I pride myself on control, which means regret isn’t part of my vocabulary. But today, I allow myself to feel something even if it’s a simple longing for a game. Sadness that my hero is gone. But not regret. He wouldn’t allow it, nor will I.

“Good morning.” The flight attendant smiles. She’s petite and pretty in a nerdy girl way. Black-rimmed glasses sit on her face and small purple lips smile at me.

“Mr. Saddington, can I get you something to drink?” Her tight white silk shirt is ironed and tucked into a black pencil skirt. Dishwater-blond hair is twisted up in a bun.

“Yes, coffee black, please.”

“Of course.” She turns and I watch the blatant swing of her ass.

“How much longer until we land?” I say, stopping her before she goes into the kitchen area.

“About two more hours. I hope you brought a jacket. It’s supposed to be raining.” She smiles, causing me to notice a gap between her front teeth. I nod.

Rain. That’s something I’m used to. As I glance out the window, the morning sun peeks through. The moment I land, I need to make sure Michael, my second in command in London, is apprised of the situation. Somehow this trip seems final.

“Sir, your coffee.” The woman sets it on the table along with some pineapple and mango.