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Apollo left, and it was the hardest thing he’d ever done.
It was too much: sharing Nora with his friends. Not being her first.Her only.Apollo thought he had to be away to make sense of it all, but he was wrong.Nora loves him, and she needs him more than ever.
But now it’s up to him to finally accept in himself what Nora always saw.
My heart broke a little when Apollo left at the end of the last book. Nora in her way understood he needed time to decide if he could handle this unusual relationship. It didn’t hurt any less though.
The rest of them have traveled to Matisse’s family for Thanksgiving, a true feast and an acceptance of the relationship that involves at the moment five people. There are questions as to Apollo’s whereabouts, since he had spent many holidays there. Those questions weren’t easily answered.
With the acceptance there comes a sort of peace as Nora, Cai, Matisse, Seok and Ryan explore the area. Then the unthinkable happens. An accident, one that could make or break the relationship with Matisse and one that could solidify Apollo’s feelings toward all of it.
This is a favorite scene.
Apollo put his gloved hands on his hips and stared down at the mat. “Yeah,” he said around his mouth guard. It had taken him by surprise, that was all.
He spat the guard onto the mat and ripped the tape off his gloves. “Take a break,” he told the other man. He needed to hydrate and drink a shake or something. For having stayed up all night, he thought he was doing pretty well. But he knew it was nowhere near good enough. His cardio was shit and his muscles twitchy.
Hopefully, he’d have his act together when it was time to fight.
His phone started to ring as he pushed the ropes apart and ducked beneath them. He’d set the alarms this morning before leaving the house, and the first thing that came into his head was that the security company was calling.
But Ryan’s name was on the screen when he picked it up. “Hey.”
“There’s been an accident. We booked you a flight to Mississippi.”
The world shrunk, and his vision tunneled. Those were the four worst words in the world. They held the potential of ripping away everything he cared about and changing his life forever.
Somehow, he ended up sitting on the floor. “What happened?”
“Matisse and Nora. We don’t know yet, we’re on the way to the hospital.”
He didn’t understand. How could they not know? They were supposed to be all together. Taking care of each other. Taking care of Nora.
He couldn’t breathe. He got to his knees and dropped his head low. The phone ended up on the floor, and he stared at it, watching the seconds pass by as the line remained open. “I’m coming,” he said, and from far away, he heard Ryan answer. “There’s a ticket waiting for you.”
Forcing his body to move, he got his feet under him and grabbed his bag and phone. “What airline?” he asked. He sounded like he’d run a race.
Ryan told him. All Apollo could hope was that he remembered when he got to the airport. With his bag under his arm, and his phone still in his hand, he barreled through the gym, out the door, and to his car.
It had started snowing, but he was impervious to the cold. He may have stepped in a puddle or walked through a snowbank, who the hell knew. Forward momentum was what he needed.
The car started, engine revving as he threw it into drive and peeled out of the parking lot. The roads were slick, and if it hadn’t been absolutely imperative that he get to Nora, he’d have gone faster. But he didn’t have time for an accident.
Everyone was going slow. On another day, he’d have appreciated that people weren’t driving like assholes. Not today. Today he wanted everyone to stay off the roads, or if they had to be on them, stay the fuck out of his way.
Apollo dragged his hand down the back of his head before pounding on the steering wheel. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”
He deserved this. If he hadn’t been so selfish and demanding, he’d have been with her. And if he’d been with her, maybe he could have stopped whatever happened.
The airport wasn’t far from the gym, but it seemed to take an hour to get there. Finally, he pulled into the parking garage, shoved it into park, and jumped out.
Phone. Bag. Shit. Wallet. He hurried around to the passenger side of the card. No way could he handle a drive back to the gym and then back again. He’d go insane. Ripping into his bag, he found his wallet tucked beneath a sweatshirt and— where the fuck was his phone?
He searched the car before realizing he’d had it in his hand the entire time. Waste of fucking time.
Had he ever been so aware of the way time passed? Of how it could slow to a crawl or speed up faster than he could track?
The parking garage was freezing, and he shivered. Pulling the strap of the bag onto his shoulder, he realized he was still in his workout clothes. Not that it mattered, but rather than walk through the airport like some kind of douche in a tank, he took out a sweatshirt and got it on.
The airport was busy, which he should have expected since it was Thanksgiving break. The line to the counter was long, snaking between the straps fixed between metal stands. Apollo got in line and tried not to look like a maniac.
What he wanted to do was pace, or bounce, but if he acted weird, then he’d be a target of the cops patrolling the entrance. He needed to blend and get through the line as quickly as possible.
He removed his ID from his wallet and stuck it between his teeth before stowing the wallet in a pouch of his bag. Then he pulled his sweatshirt on and awkwardly stuck his arms and head through it.
He stepped forward, ready. “There’s a ticket for Apollo Morris,” he told the counter agent.
“ID?” the woman asked. He handed it to her, and in a matter of minutes, he had his ticket and was on his way.
Forward momentum. The phrase kept running through his head. He just had to keep moving, checking off boxes that would get him closer to Nora.
Ripley Proserpina. Finding Strength: The Searchers #5 (Kindle Locations 564-604).
I really thought Nora’s problems would be behind her by now, but it seems things just keep escalating in different directions.
Lots of emotion and tears as we learn the whole of Apollo’s secrets. Matisse has to deal with guilt and of course there’s more on Dr. Murray and yet another break-in.
There’s some fun and lots of love and understanding with Matisse’s family and the guys are bonding more with Nora as she recuperates.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. I am hoping that Dr. Murray and his cohorts get everything they deserve.
5 Contented Purrs for Ripley!
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Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, two magnificent cats, and one dog who aspires to cat-hood. She is the author of the Reverse Harem series, The Searchers, Midnight’s Crown, and the young adult/fantasy duet, Wishes and Curses.