RYDER (Slater Brothers 4) - L.A. Casey

My readers – this is for you.

Don’t cry.

I repeated the thought over and over as I sat in my best friend’s apartment. Aideen Collins was wrapped up in the arms of her fiancé—Kane Slater—and they both focused their attention on their beautiful baby boy, Jax.

Those I loved surrounded me, and what should have been a happy time, wasn’t. Not for me anyway. I watched my little sister, Bronagh, interact with her fiancé, Dominic Slater, who, like Kane, was my fiancé’s brother, and I fought back tears as his hand absentmindedly stroked her abdomen where their baby girl was growing.

I gnawed on my inner cheek as I looked away from the happy couple and focused on the plasma screen TV on the wall facing me. My eyes watched the programme that was showing, but my brain had no clue what was happening because it was elsewhere. I straightened up and hoped I didn’t appear to be so out of sorts, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I did, because I felt dreadful.

I was jealous.

I was green with envy every time I looked at Kane and Aideen with their sweet Jax, but my heart broke when I watched how Dominic interacted with Bronagh. She was my little sister. I was a whole decade older than her and she had surpassed me on the journey to motherhood. I had no doubt she would marry before me, too.

I hated that I felt so bitter towards my own blood. I was beyond happy for them, but I hated them a little at the same time. She and Dominic were solid. They suited each other so well, and their love, though sometimes extremely intense, was true and forever binding. The more I let myself think about them, the more depressed I felt when I looked at my own relationship.

I didn’t think it could even be classed as a relationship anymore. Ryder and I, we both changed. Somewhere along the line, we stopped being nice to one another. To a point, we stopped being loving towards one another. It started out as normal bickering that grew into full blown screaming contests. We weren’t even at that angry stage anymore; we were at the silent one.

We ignored one another, and when we did interact, it wasn’t pleasant.

I didn’t know where we went wrong, but Ryder and I, we fell out of love. It pained me to admit that, but it was the truth. I loved him dearly, but I wasn’t in love with him anymore. Not with the version of Ryder I was living with. I was deeply in love with the man he used to be, the man who would give me the world if I asked. It broke my heart because I had no idea how we had gotten to the point we were at. I had no idea what I did wrong.

It was sorrowful.

I glanced to my left to where he was sitting on Aideen’s sofa. He was, as usual, tapping away on the screen of his phone and paying me no mind. I almost snickered when I remembered, many months ago, that I used to feel hurt when he gave his phone more attention than me, but now I relished that the stupid device held his gaze, because I never wanted him to look at me and really see me like he used to, because he would see how weak I had become.

I didn’t want him to see that I was broken.

I looked away from him and picked up the bottle of water I got from Aideen’s fridge when I came over. I uncapped