Written with Regret (The Regret Duet #1)

I stood up, rubbing my wrist, and backed toward the door. My chest was heaving, and my heart was in my throat. “You might want to talk to your brother before showing up here to rescue him from the clutches of a woman you know nothing about. I have more than enough money to ever need to scam a single cent off your brother.”

He set his beer on the ground and then stood up, keeping his distance this time. “Now, that I’ll agree with. Which honestly was the most confusing part of all. But while you may have money, you don’t have much else. After losing your sister, you don’t even have a family left. Let me ask you this: Why didn’t the police find your prints in Caven’s apartment?”

I stood up straighter. “I don’t know.”

“I mean, you were there that night, right? Or at least somebody with your DNA was there that night, because Rosalee exists.”

Curling my lip, I shook my head. “We’re done here. I get that you’re trying to be a protective older brother and look out for Caven. But putting your hands on me and making wild allegations is quite honestly sick.” I turned again, starting for the door, but he stopped me in my tracks.

“Your sister, Willow, died in a car accident in upstate New York. At the time, her home of record was Puerto Rico.”

“She was visiting—”

“A friend. I got it. A buddy told me your girl Beth Watts was hysterical when they delivered the news. Apparently, you and your sister had been staying with her for a few days. You two got into an explosive argument where you both flew off the handle and then took off like bats out of Hell. Explain to me how Willow died on the exact route she would have taken to get to the cabin you two shared. Meanwhile, you, Hadley, flew back to Puerto Rico.”

I spun to face him, my whole body trembling. “We were dissolving the business. I went to clear my stuff out of her studio.”

His eyes flashed dark. “Could be. Or the city could have declared the wrong Banks girl dead and you’ve come back to reclaim the only family you have left. It could be that you aren’t Hadley Banks at all. Isn’t that right, Willow?”

Eighteen years earlier…

“Just try to breathe,” the paramedics said as they poked and prodded at my side.

It hurt.

It hurt more watching my hero fall apart.

He was a wreck of sobs and adrenaline, screaming at the paramedics to help someone else. He was determined to stand on his own two feet but unable to remain upright, falling from one wall to the other. The wounds on his stomach and his side had soaked through until his entire shirt was red, which left blood pouring down the legs of his pants.

Nobody could lose that much blood. He was going to die if he didn’t let them help him, and that terrified me all over again.

“Calm down,” I choked out. He couldn’t hear me beneath the oxygen mask the paramedics had placed over my face, so I tugged it down and gathered whatever strength I had left to shout, “Please just calm down!”

His head snapped to mine immediately and I could see the fight and despair turn to panic all over again.

“Let them help you,” I pleaded.

His chin quivered as he stared at me. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Tears I should have long since run out of filled my eyes, and I stretched my hand out toward him. “What’s your name?”

He stared at it for a beat before he lowered himself on flimsy legs to the floor beside me, taking my hand. “Caven.”




His face crumbled, rivers of tears pouring from his eyes as an unlikely half smile snuck out. “Caven. But close enough.”

“Okay, Caven. I’m scared.”

He folded both hands around mine. “No. No. No. Don’t be scared. It’s over. He’s dead. He can’t hurt us anymore.”

“But I’m scared you’re going to die now.”

“I’m fine,” he lied, the pallor of his face growing grayer by the minute. “Really.”

It was such a war zone that the paramedics and police were racing around in and out of the kitchen. They didn’t have the time to fight with a fifteen-year-old boy who claimed he was okay while dozens of other people lay dying only yards away.

“You saved my life. Now, it’s time to save yours.”

“There are other people who—”

My entire body exploded in pain as I shouted, “There’s you!”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated for the millionth time, and even with as much pain and shock as I was in, it pissed me off.

“Fine. If you want me to forgive you, let them help you. You owe me that. Your dad did this to me.” It was the lowest of low blows. But I was desperate.

His eyes got wide, and seeing the shame slash through those crystal blues was more painful than anything else. I just wanted him to be okay, even if it broke my heart.

“That’s not fair.”

“Neither is you dying. Let them help you, Caven, and I’ll forgive you. I promise. I will.”

A pair of black boots entered my peripheral vision, and the paramedic who had been helping me said, “Son, listen to the girl. I need you to lie back now. We need to get you both out of here.”

I gave his hand a squeeze and whispered, “Please.”

He screwed his eyes tight, his resolve crumbling alongside his failing body. “I won’t be able to forgive myself.”

“But I will.”

He broke into another round of sobs, sliding down to the side to rest his forehead on my hand.

He put up no more fight as they rushed in, cut his shirt off him, and went to work on the gaping hole in his abdomen.

He winced and cried.

He held my hand.

And he profusely apologized until his voice could no longer carry the words.

Just as they were moving me to carry me out to an ambulance, his hand slipping from my grip, he opened his eyes and, in a voice so slurred and filled with gravel, called out, “Wait! What’s your name?”

It was the last word I would ever say to Caven Lowe.


To be continued in…

Written with You

coming June 13, 2019