A year ago, she begged me to stay.
A year later, it’s my turn to beg her not to go.
My obsession. My downfall.
I tried to resist, to keep her at a distance.
I tried to save myself.
But no one will be saved here, not even a selfish bastard like me.
My life has always been about sport and family, including my stupid brothers. Until that night, the night I made the worst decision of my life. And I’m still paying the price for it.
We both are.
But the time has come to take back control of the situation, to risk it all, to convince her to let me in, because she can’t be anything other than mine.
I am Ian O’Connor, and I’m about to accept this challenge: to try and hold on to the only woman I’ll ever be able to love.
And even if I already know how this badly written romance is going to end, I won’t back away. This time, I’m going all the way. Because I only want her.
And I have no intention of losing her.
I’m an O’Connor, and the O’Connors never lose.
“Tell me that everything’s okay,” he says seriously. “Tell me that this time no one’s going to run away or regret this or lose their mind over it.”
I look at him and smile. “None of those things are going to happen.”
He exhales and caresses my face with his hand.
“Riley Murray, you’re breathtaking, you know that?”
My heart swells in my chest.
“You’re not so bad yourself.”
He laughs, rolling onto his back and bringing me with him. I lie down and stretch out alongside him, resting my head on his chest. I caress his pecs, his shoulders and his arms. I hear him sigh every time I change the movement.
“Do you want to know what I really like?”
He turns his head to look at me better. I raise my gaze and let myself be taken in by the warmth in his eyes.
“This. You and me.”
He exhales deeply as if he had been holding his breath this whole time.
“I’m begging you, please don’t leave me in the middle of the night.”
And in this moment, with his eyes as sweet and melancholy as I’ve ever seen, Ian O’Connor takes my heart and I know he’ll never give it back.
~ ~ ~
“One time you made a comment that maybe, for the right player, you might change your mind about rugby. I think I could be your player.” He comes dangerously close to me. “I want to be your player.”
I swallow nervously. “I can’t believe you remember that stupid conversation.”
“It was the first time you came to visit the training centre a few nights after that infamous party. I remember a lot of things, Riley.” His voice drops a tone. “Maybe too many,” he goes on suggestively.
“That almost sounds like a challenge.”
“It is. I’m very competitive.”
“You might lose,” I provoke him.
“I have no intention of losing,” he says confidently. “I’m an O’Connor and the O’Connors never lose.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“I’ll risk it,” his voice lowers again and I feel my legs trembling.
“So…S-Sunday,” I say, trying to pull it together.
“Aviva Stadium at three.”
“I could drop by.”
“Seriously?” he asks, suddenly excited.
“I’d like to.”
He tries to mask a smile by touching his nose with his hand and I try to mask my embarrassment attempting to bury myself four feet under the ground.
“I hope Jamie won’t be upset, he’s been asking me to come for years, but he’s never convinced me.”
“I’m not Jamie,” he says, so certain.
No, nothing like him.
“So, see you there?”
“You’ll see me there, even if you’ll never even notice me with all those adoring fans,” I joke, but he doesn’t smile.
His face becomes serious and his eyes darken slightly. He closes the distance between us and slowly his hand drops to mine, brushing it slightly, giving me goosebumps.
His fingers intertwine with mine, perfectly, even though his hand is double the size of mine. His is hot and strong and mine is cold and weak. His is covered in calluses and mine is smooth and delicate. His squeezes mine from need and mine is squeezed in necessity.
There is no more perfect union, and my heart starts to regain its faith.
I’ve gone back: back to the place where it all started, where somebody else had the final say.
I did it out of love for my family.
I’m trying to rebuild my life, to stay standing, even though my legs hurt like hell. I’m concentrating on myself, on my career.
I’m ready to tear everything apart to try and keep it all together. To hate without feeling guilty for it, because hating others is the only way I know how to keep myself – the person I am – going; and I was doing it.
I was strong. I was untouchable. I was invincible.
Actually, I was deluded.
I didn’t consider everything. I didn’t consider her: the only woman I really want to hate, but who gives me hope. A woman who turns your world upside-down, who entwines herself into your life even if she can only stay until tomorrow.
I’m not looking for tomorrow: I want a future. But I don’t believe in that anymore.
And I can’t turn back, not even for her.
My name is Ryan O’Connor, and I’m about to make a huge mistake. I’m about to let her believe in me, to take a chance. But she’d be betting on the wrong man. I’ve never been the right one. And she’ll be left accepting her bitter defeat.
His leg brushes against mine, and I jump as if he’s burned me. His eyes scrutinise me, serious and penetrating, and his thigh stays glued to mine, sending everything around us up in flames – myself included. I hold my breath, trying to suppress my instinct to just jump on him, sit on his muscular legs and run my hands through his hair, pulling him towards me. To taste those seductive lips, to touch him and slide my hands down the body I’ve had the pleasure of admiring, but never really touched. I want to trace his abs with my finger, following their shadows down to his waistband and…
“Christine…” his voice is low, seductive.
Our breathing deepens, each melding in time to the rhythm of the other’s, as everything around us disappears. The pasta, the sofa, the room, the house.
Ryan O’Connor swallows up everything.
He swallows me down, whole.
~ ~ ~
I slide my hand slowly to the back of her neck and pull her in to me. Her body is against mine, the heat of her desire and of something else – something absurd, something irrational – which is pulsing through every heartbeat. It’s something I’ve denied myself for so long. Something I’ve denied her.
Christine parts her lips, and I let her taste take over me. It drugs me. I’m addicted.
My mind, my whole body gives in to her.
My heart gives in to her.
I give in to her hands, her mouth, her breathing. Her taste, her scent, her sweetness.
I simply give in to her.
Her hands slide down my face, caressing me timidly. Excitement hammers through my chest, almost making me lose my senses.
It’s like I’m drowning, unable to resurface, shipwrecked by the storm of emotion in my chest. But, for some strange reason, I’m not scared.
I feel fucking safe.
I feel like me.
A.S. Kelly was born in Italy but lives in Ireland with her husband, their two children and a cat named Oscar.
Bookworm, English Literature lover, music passionate, coffee drinker, she lives in a small village in the North of Dublin, where she looks for inspiration for her new stories.