“My heart lurches, and the agony throbbing in my side is soon masked by the feeling of uncertainty this moment has brought.” ~ Madison Stone
Life has a way of always keeping you tethered to someone or something in your past. It grabs you, threatening to never let go, and when you eventually attempt to release it completely, you are forced to face it, instead. For Madison and Nate, that is certainly true.
Finishing their senior year, life couldn’t have been better for them. They were young, reckless, spontaneous, and most importantly, they were best friends. However, for Madison, when the future’s path was presented to her, she only understood one notion—escape.
Ten years later, Madison believed she had all she ever wanted. She was convinced she had done everything right by pursuing a life on her own. Then it all began to rapidly fall apart. Nothing was certain anymore. In her mind, everything was lost, leading her back to the very place she had abandoned a decade ago.
For Nate, since the night Madison ran off, life had been the opposite slowly and painfully continuing to unravel around him. Over those ten years, he lost everything he held dear. As he had done time and time before, Nate found himself at the very spot where his pain had all begun, teetering on the edge of moving on or fading away.
Now, as they see all they tried to escape lying before them, Nate and Madison are forced to face the past and finally understand what it is about the other that keeps this unrelenting Hold on You.
“AHHHH!” The scream is horrific. The boiling, hot blood pumping through my body instantly turns to ice as I witness the tragedy I am responsible for.
She was standing in front of me and then, a moment later, fell over the edge, disappearing from my sight.
“No!” I immediately fall to the ground, coming face-to-face with my self-inflicted hell.
I surge my frame forward, landing on my stomach, half my body leaning over the edge. In that moment, I am unexpectedly able to clasp on to her hand. The wind is furious, and the jagged cliff rocks are barely visible under the crashing waves.
She is dangling from the edge, holding on like hell to my outstretched hand. Any thought of my future plans vanishes the second I see her disappear. The moment my hand feels hers, I thaw in a mere second. I can feel the blood raging as it floods my veins with unyielding determination to help this woman.
“Nate! Oh, God, please don’t drop me!” she screams as she tries to pull herself up, using my arm as a fleshy rope.
My hand is sweaty from the adrenaline skyrocketing through my body, making my grip wet and slick. As she swings her body back and forth, she has no idea that, the more she struggles, the easier it will be to drop her.
“Stop moving!” I demand as firmly and loudly as I can.
“You have to help me, please! I don’t want to die, not like this. Please!” Her pleading gives me that much more strength to pull up.
I came up here for selfish reasons of my own, but soon discovered I was not alone. She wouldn’t stand for me to leave her behind, and now I am forced to stare into her blue eyes encased in terror. She only wanted to help, and look where that got her—a front row seat to her imminent death. I cannot allow it to happen. If anyone should die, it needs to be me, not her, never her.
“You’re not going to die, but you need to stay calm. Please…” I release a breath as I struggle to keep her attached to my hand. “I’m not going to drop you. I promise I will not allow that to happen, but you need to be calm. Do you hear me? Just keep your body as still as you can!” I shout back, digging deep and finding the strength inside myself.
The wind is whipping, getting stronger by the second. I have to get her up, and it has to be now, or the both of us will be falling over the edge.
“AWWWWWW!” I release a loud, gut-wrenching roar as I pull with all my power. I swear to God, if she goes over, I will go after her. I will not survive this life knowing this woman died because of me, because I was an asshole who couldn’t get past the pain of ten years ago.
I keep my eyes on hers, seeing the panic oozing from them. She is pleading with me to save her life, a life I almost destroyed. If I don’t save her now, it will be destroyed.
“I’m slipping! Please, don’t let me go!”
Just as the words leave her mouth, a forceful gust of wind bounces off the walls of the cliffs and sends her body into the rocky side. Small fragments of rock fall from the edge and disappear into the rolling waves below. She could fall hundreds of feet down, and nothing but tragedy would follow. It would be my fault.
It’s solely up to me to save her, but the wind is becoming too much, and my grip is weakening. She is frantically trying to climb up my arm, but with each movement, she is inching her way out of my grasp. Then she slides down farther until we are only holding on with our fingers, desperately trying to thread them together, but she is slipping.
I close my eyes because I can’t watch.
I simply can’t watch.
M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.