Second chance, p.1

Second Chance, page 1

 

Second Chance
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Second Chance


  table of contents

  acknowledgements

  chapter one

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

  CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

  chapter FORTY

  chapter FORTY-ONE

  chapter FORTY-TWO

  chapter FORTY-THREE

  chapter FORTY-FOUR

  chapter FORTY-FIVE

  chapter FORTY-SIX

  chapter FORTY-SEVEN

  chapter FORTY-EIGHT

  chapter forty-nine

  EPILOGUE

  Acknowledgements

  There are five girls that I could not have done this without. They helped shape the story and, well, their 'yes there should be more smut, Tasha' made this book so much better and utterly inappropriate for my grandad to read! So thank you Kirsty, Whairigail, Emma, Adelaine and Hilda.

  The gorgeous cover, that's made me squeal a few times, was made by Mollie Wilson from MJWilson Design.

  And last but not least, thank you to my fabulous editors, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and Eileen Proksch.

  Dedication

  For Kerry

  CHAPTER ONE

  Chloe

  "Lift your leg higher," Logan said in full, annoying trainer mode. It was alright for him, he was a sodding fitness instructor. I hadn't exercised properly in years. Narrowing my eyes at him, I pushed myself a little more, laying my leg on his shoulder. Should muscles burn this bloody much? He grinned. "Better, Chlo."

  I hadn't stretched like this for ages and I was already dreading the aching and stiffness that was going to kill me tomorrow. I'd just started my crazy exercise regime again two weeks ago, and I was so out of shape, it was embarrassing. I used to be able to keep up with Logan, but now I was like a little old lady.

  "I hate you," I huffed, gritting my teeth, brushing my dark brown hair out of my face. Even if I tied it up, after working out for a while it started to fall out of the ponytail. Annoyingly, Logan's hair never looked any different. The sides were cut just a tiny bit shorter than the top, which was styled and flopped over his forehead a little.

  He arched his eyebrow, the corner of his mouth pulled into a smirk, and I knew he had more in store for me. "We've barely started, sweetheart." I couldn't help smiling. Not many young men could make sweetheart work. Logan definitely could and it made plenty of women turn into mush.

  "Barely started my arse!" Logan's idea of having barely started was so far away from mine it wasn't even funny. We'd already stretched, skipped, lifted light weights and done half an hour of yoga. That wasn't barely starting, that was sodding barely breathing!

  "A couple more and we'll go for a run." He pushed my leg back a few times, stretching out the muscle, again.

  "Okay, okay," I said, shoving his chest and dropping my leg to the floor, "let's just get this damn run over with."

  Logan sighed. "Chloe, if you don't want to do this..."

  "I do." It was time to get my life fully back on track. I couldn't have it on hold a second longer. Fitness was important to me and I wanted to be back in my old routine. Gulping down almost a whole bottle of water, I wiped my forehead. "Come on." I sprinted off, knowing it would only be seconds before he caught up.

  And as I thought, Logan overtook me less than five seconds later. I hated that I let myself get so unfit. "You okay?" he asked, turning left at the Post Office instead of right. We had two main routes we would run and both involved turning right.

  "Yeah," I replied breathlessly. "Where are we going?"

  "Scenic route, lots of trees, more shade for you so you don't die a slow and painful death, burning in the blistering heat of the ridiculous sun." He laughed as he repeated my words from a few days ago. The midday sun had been incredibly hot that day, shining right down on us.

  I laughed, too, and pushed his shoulder, making him stumble to the side. Logan was probably the only person who could have made me do normal things again, although I was beginning to regret asking him to train me again.

  We ran, Logan gracefully, and me less so. My lungs started to burn long before they used to, another sign of how unfit I'd become over the last few years. Getting my fitness back was another step towards getting the old Chloe back.

  I turned left and heard Logan stop and then follow my new direction. He'd intended to go straight ahead but I was pulled through the gates.

  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as his head stone came into view.

  It had been three years and six days since he died, and I still missed him every day. We had been together for two and a half years before he was taken from me. Jace was my first and only love. We were close - annoyingly close if you asked my best friend, Nell - even though we had absolutely nothing in common.

  Logan smacked straight into my back, his arms shooting out to stop me from being thrown to the floor. I gasped as the air was knocked out of my lungs. "Don't just stop!" he cried, chuckling in amusement. Then he stopped laughing, and I knew he'd seen it, too, his younger brother's grave. "Sorry, Chlo, I should've taken one of our usual routes."

  I rolled my eyes at him and swatted his arm. It had been a while since I'd broke down over his death. I felt both relief and guilt for that. "I'm fine coming here, you know I am."

  "Yeah, I know," he muttered under his breath, looking over to Jace. I'd always got along well with Logan, at twenty-two he was just two years older than me and Jace.

  Logan and I liked a lot of the same things, like keeping fit, which was why we started exercising together. Logan was a personal trainer at a small but posh and expensive gym so he'd also helped me plan an exercise regime to stay in shape.

  "Do you want to go over?" I asked. Logan didn't come often. He always said he hated the thought of Jace being stuck underground, cold and motionless. I used to come all the time but now it was only a couple times a month. I loved Jace but he was gone, and I had a chance at a new life. It wasn't the one I thought I would have but that didn't mean it couldn't be great.

  A shallow crease formed between his eyebrows as he frowned slightly, thinking about it. The few times he'd been here I was with him. "Alright," he responded. It took him a minute to move. I stood still, knowing he should be the one to make the first move if he really wanted to. He walked slowly.

  "Logan, if you really don't want to..."

  "No, it's fine," he replied, stopping about three feet from the grave.

  "Hi, Jace," I said, sitting down and pulling a stray weed from the ground above him.

  It had been just over three years since he went on a trip with his college class to London to look at architecture. It was just over three years that the bomb went off and killed h
im, his whole class and fifty-four other people.

  The whole thing was senseless. A hate group of two, brothers Richard and Alexander Gregson, that didn't like a Mosque being built so they bombed it. They killed more British people than anyone else. No one won in terrorism. There was only ever loss.

  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Logan frowning. "Do you want to leave?" I asked. I didn't want him to be here if he was uncomfortable. Just because Jace was here didn't mean this was the only place to be close to him.

  Logan shook his head and lowered himself to the floor. He grabbed my hand and held it in a death grip. "I hate this. He should be upstairs continuing to waste his life on his Xbox."

  I laughed and nodded. "Yeah, he loved that stupid thing." Jace was a gamer. He could play for hours, easily all day if I wasn't over. I never understood how anyone could do that. It was so flat and dull. I preferred to be outside with the natural smells, sounds and all things three-dimensional.

  "He loved you more."

  "You think? I mean, he did buy it more accessories than me," I joked, bumping my shoulder against his.

  Logan chuckled and shook his head. His deep topaz eyes lit up when he laughed. "He pissed so much money away on it. I think he had a delivery every week of some new part or game." He shook his head. "I miss the fucking idiot."

  "Me too."

  "You're okay, though?" he asked.

  "I really am now. Does that make me a bad person?"

  "No, it makes you human. It happens, right?"

  "Death?"

  He nodded. "Can't escape it and if you're the one left behind you have to carry on."

  "Yeah." It was true. The world didn't stop. I wanted it to for so long and with every new day I wanted to scream, but now I looked forward to it. I wanted to get up and achieve something, and I wanted to be happy again. "Wow, this is depressing."

  "It is. Wanna carry on?" he asked, tapping his fingers against his knee, impatient and eager to get away.

  I stood up and it came as no surprise when he jumped to his feet. "Come on, I'll give you a head start so you have a chance this time," I teased.

  "Oh you think I need a head start, Miss I need to rest for a minute," he said in what was supposed to be my voice.

  "Firstly, I don't sound like that. Secondly, I needed to stop once. One time, Logan, and that was ages ago."

  "It was four years ago," he said and shrugged.

  I stared at him. "That you remember, but your mum's birthday..."

  "Okay," he shouted loudly, holding his hands up. "I get that enough from her. In my defence, I knew the date it was just the month I got mixed up. They both begin with a J."

  "Good argument," I said sarcastically.

  "You wanna stay here and argue some more or can we move it along?"

  "We can move it along."

  "Good, move your tiny arse then!"

  Whoa. "Tiny?"

  "No, it's not tiny, tiny. Not big either. I'm not saying it's big at all, I swear," he rambled, looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I knew exactly what he meant but I really enjoyed making him squirm. He swung his arm around my neck as I started laughing. "Wasn't funny, loser," he whispered in my ear, trying not to laugh himself.

  "Yes, it was. Admit it." I pushed him away, still laughing, blew Jace a kiss and ran off towards his house. I didn't look back.

  ***

  "Have I ever told you that I hate you?" I said, breathing heavily, bending over and leaning against my knees as we got back to his house. Why didn't I just go shopping with Nell? It was a Saturday and I was torturing myself by letting Logan train me.

  Exercise always made me feel good after but before and during it was my enemy. I honestly didn't know how Logan could do it all day and train other people too.

  "Frequently," he muttered dryly. "In fact, the last time before today was a week ago, you know, when I threw water on you?"

  I narrowed my eyes at him. "That was not funny." When his mum had asked him to wake me up I doubt that was what she had meant.

  Jace and I spent most nights together at his house, and I couldn't bring myself to stop that little routine. Since I got out of my hermit state, I'd slept in Jace's room more than my own and his family had no issue with it at all. It was all I had left of him, but I knew I would have to give it up eventually, and I wanted to.

  Logan grinned wide, the shallow scar just below his bottom lip from when he flew over his bike's handlebars disappeared, the way it always did when the skin was stretched. "It was."

  "I need water, to drink."

  Logan waved his water bottle out in front of me, eyebrow raised and mouth curved, smug. "I keep telling you that you should take water with you when we run." He did tell me that, all the time. Logan did everything properly when it came to exercise, even when he wasn't at the gym and even though I wasn't a paying client.

  "Shut up and give me that." I grabbed it out of his hand and drained the remainder of the bottle.

  "Right, the usual stretches to cool down and then you're done." I groaned and followed him to the back garden to die again.

  "Do you think I should take it slower since I've been out of action a while?" We worked out together three times a week when Jace was alive but I stopped doing it when he died.

  "Nice try but you're doing fine now. I don't think you should slow down on anything."

  "Why do I get the feeling there's a double meaning there?"

  He looked away. "There is. I've spoken to Cassie."

  Siblings were supposed to fight, not talk! "You think I should move on?"

  "It's been three years, Chlo, you deserve to. You want to, don't you?"

  "Yeah. I'm ready."

  He smiled. "Good. Now, smoothie?"

  "Oh, definitely," I replied, my mouth watering at the thought. Logan always made his famous strawberry and banana smoothies after a workout. That was my favourite part of our routine and made it worth the pain.

  Chapter Two

  Chloe

  "How was the run, crazies?" Cassie asked. Like with the rest of the family, I got along really well with her, too, she was like a sister. She didn't like exercise though, the same as Jace, so they always let us get on with it and would make faces when we returned.

  I groaned. "Good-ish." She shook her head, looking at me as if I were actually crazy. I think the last time she had done anything sporty was when she was at school, nine years ago.

  Cassie looked very much like Logan with the same colour blue eyes and dark blonde hair. Hers was dead straight and just below her shoulders but she often shoved mousse in it to make it do something. She was just a little taller than me but then most of the people in my circle were.

  "You two want Chinese?" she asked, glancing at the Golden King Chinese menu in front of her.

  Logan raised his eyebrows at her. "Cass, it's half past four in the afternoon." Usually, his mum would serve dinner at half past six every night but it was the anniversary of their first date so Daryl was taking Julia to some posh hotel in the city. They deserved to celebrate after being together for thirty years.

  "Yeah?" she questioned, staring at her younger brother blankly, waiting for a good explanation as to why she couldn't have Chinese so early. "And?"

  "Nothing. Never mind."

  "If you think I'm playing mum just because they're away, you are seriously mistaken. Now, what do you two want? Chlo, you're staying, right?"

  "Yes, thanks. My usual?" Cassie nodded and scribbled down my order on a scrap piece of paper.

  My house was too quiet. Since my parents set up a car rental place four years ago they had spent most of their time at work, leaving me at home. I was plenty old enough to take care of myself but I now found the silence suffocating.

  Logan reeled off a list of what he wanted and went off to have a shower.

  I sat down opposite Cassie on the kitchen stool and waited for the inevitable Jace conversation. "So, how's everything going?" I asked, trying to steer things into her life rather than
mine.

  Cassie thought that hanging on to Jace was unhealthy. The problem I had was I didn't quite know how to live my new life without him. We'd spent years practically glued to each other's side. It was hard to fully let go of my old life.

  She sighed and it was then that I noticed how tired she looked. She'd been having a shit time too. "Okay, I guess. Hopefully the divorce will be sorted soon and the house will sell. Then I can move on."

  Cassie and her bastard husband, Rick, had recently separated so she was living back with her parents. Arsehole-Rick's new slut girlfriend keeps contacting her to whine about how long the divorce papers were taking, like it was Cassie's fault.

  "I just want it over now. It's hard moving back in with your parents, you know? Especially living with Logan again!"

  "Yeah, he can be a pain."

  "It's good to see you so much again, though."

  I frowned. So much? "Do I stay here too much?"

  Cassie laughed and shook her head. "No. Not enough, actually. We love having you here. You're part of the family, you know that."

  I let out a sigh of relief. I did still hang at theirs a lot but I didn't want to if they thought it was too much. Part of me felt like, because I was moving on I shouldn't be here, but they were family to me, and I didn't ever want to give that up. Cassie said I was part of the family, and I felt like it, too, but technically, I wasn't anymore. I just hoped that when I eventually found someone else they wouldn't think any differently of me.

  "Thanks, Cassie."

  "What's new with you anyway?"

  "Hmm, not a lot. Some guy at work asked me out, but I'm not going." He was nice and very good-looking but it didn't feel right, I think.

  "Why not?" I shrugged. "Chloe, it's been ages and you said yourself you want to move forward. You can date whenever you like, there's no set time you have to wait before you can be happy again."

  I squirmed on the seat. "Yeah, I know. I do feel ready to date again but..."

  "But," she prompted.

  "I'm not sure."

  "Well, there's no rush but why not just go for a drink? Something casual. You don't have to marry the guy." I smiled, chewing on my lip. Maybe she was right. It was only a date; I wasn't committing myself to anything.

  "Doesn't have to marry who?" Logan questioned, suddenly appearing back in the kitchen. He rubbed a hand towel over his short, dark blonde hair.

  "Chloe's got a date."

  My heart stopped as I waited for Logan's reaction. I had spoken to Cassie and Julia in depth about new guys, but not Logan. I could talk to Logan about absolutely everything else but he was close to Jace - they were more like twins - so it felt weird.

 
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