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Struggle (Beautiful #1)
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“Are you dating him?”
David is always single. But, he’s never wanting.
Girls throw themselves at his feet like he’s some kind of rockstar. But not me. No. I’m just his friend; a fact he likes to remind me of at every opportunity.
And I’m OK with that—I think—because he’s right. Our friendship is too important. And honestly, I don’t want to be one of David’s girls. I see the way he uses them to meet his needs then casts them aside when his interest wanes. I’m not about that life. I want something more.
Something I don’t think David is capable of giving me.
That’s not to say I’m immune to his charms. I’ve never been immune.
I delight in the way his eyes twinkle when he smiles at me.
I relish in the way his voice ripples beneath my skin when we share a secret moment.
And I love the way his fingers feel against my skin when we touch…
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“Pay attention.” I giggle, pushing David on the side of the head for fake snoring.
“Why are you making me sit through this girly movie?” He gestures towards the TV screen as Keira Knightley and James McAvoy struggle with their forbidden attraction. “Just fuck and get it over with already.”
“Because it was my turn to pick. You made me sit through that horrible action movie that didn’t even have a plot last week. Consider us even.” Atonement is one of my favourite movies. So heartbreaking and beautiful. David could do with a little angst in his life. Especially since he’s the reason for most of the angst in mine—long story.
“Fine,” he grumbled, tapping my legs where they lay across his lap. “But I’ll need more beer to get through this. You want one?”
Shaking my head, I shift my position, my eyes glued to the screen as the library scene is about to happen. I’m dying here. I’ve seen this movie five times, and I still get caught up in it.
Over my shoulder, I hear David at the fridge, twisting the cap off a beer. I know he hates these kinds of movies, but my boyfriend, Christopher hates them even more. Since David has been my best friend since primary school, he gets to be my romantic movie buddy. I don’t really have girlfriends, so…
“Shit,” David mutters, as a key turns in the door.
My heart gallops inside my chest. Shit is the understatement of the year. Fuck might be more appropriate because my aforementioned boyfriend—the boyfriend who hates David and forbade me to see him—is home.
I lock eyes with David, my stomach souring. I know it was wrong to lie to Christopher about seeing David. Just like I know it was wrong to lie to David about Christopher being OK with our friendship. But I feel caught in the middle, forced to choose between my boyfriend and my best friend. When I love them both, how am I supposed to do that? I lied because I hoped that with enough time, they’d figure out their differences and come together for the sake of me. Christopher would accept that David isn’t trying to steal me away, and David would accept that Christopher loves and wants me. But, now isn’t the time. Emotions are still too raw.
Christopher will lose his shit.
“Stay,” I whisper, jumping to my feet to meet Christopher at the door and try to explain before he sees David. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
“You’re e-early,” I stutter, wincing when my nerves betray me. Without meaning to, I glance at David for support. It’s the worst thing I could do.
Christopher’s face darkens as he follows my line of sight, spotting David. I swear I see steam hiss out of his ears as mottled anger climbs up his neck, reddening his skin.
“G’day, mate,” David says, flashing a smile that’s anything but pleased.
They lock eyes in silent challenge.
This is not OK. This is not OK.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Christopher bellows, launching himself at warp speed in David’s direction. He doesn’t even hesitate, he simply cocks his arm back and lands his fist with explosive force into the side of David’s jaw. I hear his teeth clack as the beer slips from his hand and smashes all over the floor.
“No,” I scream, covering my mouth in horror. David’s eyes roll back and he drops to the floor. “What are you doing, Christopher? Get away from him!”
Furious, Christopher ignores my plea, grabbing David by the front of the shirt and shaking him. “Think you can come into my house and drink my beer,” he spits, David’s head rocking back and forth.
He pulls David close and growls in his unconscious ear. “Did you fuck my woman too?” He releases his shirt, dropping him with a thud.
The impact jolts him conscious, confusion registering moments before he scrambles to get up, impaired by Christopher’s unyielding grip. Protesting, fighting and kicking, David fails to break free as Christopher opens the front door and throws him into the hall.
“Stay the fuck away for good this time,” he booms, slamming the door and flicking the lock.
“Fuck you!” David yells, banging at the door in frustration.
“What is wrong with you?” I screech, tears streaming down my face.
When Christopher turns, fear claws its way up my throat. Gone are the soulful brown eyes I spent hours falling into. In their place, sharp angry beads of untamed fury. He’s going to kill me. “You lying bitch.”
Propelling himself across the room, he grabs my hair and yanks my head back, snarling in my face. “How long have you been fucking him behind my back?”
“No. I didn’t. Nothing happened,” I scream, eyes closed tight as I wish for this to be over. Like a little girl in trouble, I wish like wishes exist. Please make this stop. Please don’t let this be real.