Home > Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink : Fort Collins #2)(4)

Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink : Fort Collins #2)(4)
Author: Carrie Ann Ryan


Not going there.

Damn it.

“I thought you’d never ask.” I took her out to the dance floor, a slow song starting to play over the speakers.

The guy looked at us, shrugged, grabbed his beer, and went over to his friends. I didn’t recognize him. He looked to be an out-of-towner. We were in Fort Collins, so it wasn’t like I recognized everybody in the damn city, but on a weeknight in our small bar? I usually knew people.

“Thanks,” Eliza said, and I squeezed her hip. “You don’t have to save me, Beckett.”

“I don’t mind dancing with you, Eliza.” And I meant it, even if I was tired, and my back had started to ache something fierce. Or that every time I was near her these days, I wanted to lean down and sniff her. I’d developed an addiction to something I shouldn’t have, and I needed to quell that need damn quick.

She sighed. “Well, thanks for saving me—like everyone seems to be doing these days.”

The way she said it made me frown, but then a sliver of memory slammed into me. I pushed it away. “I don’t always save people,” I bit out, my voice cool.

She stared at me, questions in her gaze, but she didn’t ask them. Good, because I didn’t have answers for her. “Okay, Beckett. Okay.”

I didn’t save everybody. And I knew that.

The dance was slow, but I wasn’t paying attention. Didn’t see anything. Didn’t even see him. Didn’t catch that soft scent again. I just swayed as the others gave us odd looks as they danced around us. I ignored it all.

Because I didn’t save everybody. Not even myself.



Chapter 2






I let Beckett lead me to the bar where the others stood, then he made his way out of the place saying a gruff goodbye. I didn’t really feel like he was with us completely. And maybe he hadn’t been for a while. Then again, perhaps I hadn’t either.

I frowned, and the others frowned with me.

“What was that?” Brenna asked, her voice sharp. I cringed inwardly and did my best to school my features. Brenna and Beckett were close—very close. At one point, I’d thought she had feelings for him that went beyond friendship, but now I wasn’t so sure. Brenna was so tightly guarded when it came to her feelings and relationships. I wasn’t even sure if they’d ever slept together, and I was usually pretty good at reading people.

Just not when it came to my friendship with Brenna.

I didn’t want to get in the middle of it, but there I was, randomly dancing with Beckett in my memory. He had saved me from a man I didn’t really want to dance with but who wouldn’t take no for an answer. I hadn’t felt in danger, but I hadn’t wanted to make a scene either. There was a difference. At least, that’s what I told myself. Beckett had taken me out onto the dance floor so it would no longer be an issue. And now I was supposed to deal with this? This feeling of comfort and need that hadn’t been there before? I’d been married. I wasn’t supposed to think about anyone else that way. Let alone Beckett, my best friend’s brother.

Sometimes, it was hard to remember that I was a single woman. That me dancing with others could be construed as something more than just time with a friend or someone who wanted to save me.

We’d had such an odd conversation on that dance floor. Now it was over, and I wasn’t looking at those dark blue eyes anymore, or his brown hair that I noticed was getting a little too long and brushed his collar. Beckett Montgomery was wide like the rest of the Montgomery men, broad-shouldered with a thick chest that tapered down to a slender waist and thick thighs. They all looked as if they worked out to stay healthy rather than to body build—except Benjamin, Beckett’s twin, was a little bit leaner. They were some of the most attractive men I’d ever met, and they weren’t for me. No one was for me. After all, I had already found forever once. I didn’t plan on doing it again.

Even if my gaze sometimes strayed to Beckett and stayed far longer than it should.

“Earth to Eliza,” Brenna said.

I cleared my throat, blushing. I shouldn’t have been thinking about Beckett or the Montgomerys at all like that. I was exhausted. That had to be it. It was hard to sleep when the calendar kept turning, and you felt as if you couldn’t keep up.

I cleared my throat. “Sorry. I think I’m a little tired.”

Everyone gave me a sad look, and I held back a wince. There it was, the beginning of: Oh, I’m sorry. Poor Eliza. She must be so sad. She lost her husband. And she wasn’t even able to say goodbye. Everybody had placed a giant W like a scarlet letter on my shirt. I would be forever labeled a widow. Even by my best friends. Because none of us knew how to deal with this. I didn’t even spend time with the other military wives these days because we lived so far off base. I hadn’t really jelled with them anyway. My friends were all civilians, and they didn’t truly understand what it meant to be a Gold Star widow.

Not that I knew what that meant either, as it was different for each person. It seemed that every gaze that landed on me held pity in it, some deeper than others, some with pain that I wasn’t sure was for me. They wondered what to say to the woman who seemed fine, though they figured she had to be lying about her true feelings. Because she couldn’t be fine so soon after losing her husband. She had to still be in deep pain and mourning and wailing over a coffin barely a year out. She couldn’t be finding her place and ready to move on, or having dreams about a sexy, bearded man.

I gritted my teeth, knowing that wasn’t fair to anyone. They didn’t know what I was feeling or thinking because I didn’t tell them. I put a smile on my face. And if I told them that I was okay, that I was healing, they wouldn’t believe me. Or they would think me callous. Even my best friends would, wouldn’t they? Because I missed my husband with every ounce of my soul, and I loved him, but I was okay. I was breathing, I was healing. And I was okay. I didn’t think the world truly understood that.

I shook off my melancholic thoughts and smiled, doing my best not to look too happy or sad.

Brenna had been asking about Beckett. I needed to get back in the moment and stop dwelling on the past. “Some random stranger hit on me, and Beckett did his normal thing and tried to save me.” I rolled my eyes and smiled, and Brenna’s shoulders relaxed. The others seemed to do the same. There was nothing else I could do. Nothing I could say to change the way people thought about me. I just had to be me—whatever that meant, since I wasn’t really sure.

“That’s Beckett for you. Always saving everybody.”

I held back a frown at that because he had said he hadn’t saved everyone. What had he meant by that? That he wasn’t pushy and tried not to get involved in everyone’s life? Because I really didn’t think that was the case. It had to be something else. I didn’t know. However, it wasn’t my place. I had only been thinking that I didn’t want people looking at me differently and wondering what I was thinking, or to think too hard about me at all. Yet, here I was, doing the same thing about Beckett Montgomery. I needed to be better.

I cleared my throat. “Anyway, I am going home if that’s okay with everybody.”

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