Today sharing where his heart belongs is Oliver Black.
You can meet Oliver soon in The Guestbook by Holly Martin.
Holly Martin’s first two novels Changing Casanova and The Chainsaw Masquerade were both shortlisted for the New Talent award at the Festival of Romance. She won the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition and her story One Hundred Proposals was published in the Sunlounger anthology earlier this year. Sunlounger 2 will be out next summer and this time Holly will be one of the featured writers. Her debut novel The Sentinel, a YA fantasy action adventure was published October 16th.
You can follow Holly on Twitter @hollymartin00 and find out more about The Sentinel at http://thesentinelseries.wordpress.com/ and her new novel The Guestbook is available for pre order now!
My heart belongs to Annie Butterworth.
It has always belonged to her. I think I was eight when I knew I loved her. She climbed to the top of the tallest oak tree in the field behind my house, completely without fear. When she stood at the top waving and laughing, that was it, there was no going back for me. Unfortunately my brother, Nick, chose that moment to fall in love with her as well. We just looked at each other and we knew that we both felt the same.
As we all grew up together, that love never went away. In fact it just got stronger. We played in the fields and on the beach every day. We went everywhere together, we were completely inseparable, the three musketeers, everyone used to call us.
When my mum died Annie was there every day. All the other children avoided me like the plague, they didn’t know what to say to me. But Annie, she would just sit and hold my hand, she’d listen. I’ll never forget that. Even when my grief turned to anger she never left my side. She never left our side. As much as I would like to say that she loved me more than Nick, that simply wasn’t true, she loved us both, equally.
She was the first girl I kissed and I think I was her first kiss too. It was raining and we took shelter in one of the broken beach huts. As lightning lit up the sky, I kissed her. Still to this day I can remember how she tasted, so sweet. Her kiss was gentle, innocent. I was thirteen, she was eleven. I wanted to marry her even then.
My teenage years were… eventful. With my mum gone and my dad always working on the farm I was left to my own devices. Teenage hormones and an impatient, reckless streak meant I was in trouble a lot. But Annie never judged me, never wavered in her love for me. I got drunk one night and threw up practically all over her. She took me home, cleaned me up and put me to bed. I started smoking and drinking a lot. When she was with me she would smoke and drink too. I hated that. One night she got so drunk that she decided going for a swim in the sea was a brilliant idea. I laughed and encouraged her to do it. The wind was up and the waves were battering the beach. She nearly drowned and I was too drunk to even notice. If it wasn’t for Nick she would have been killed that night. I was bad for her, any idiot could see that.
Nick, on the other hand, was perfect for her, he was sweet, safe, reliable. When she was with him they would work hard on their homework and revising for exams. He absolutely worshipped the ground she walked on. He brought out the best in her while I brought out the worst.
I had to leave. Chalk Hill and its small village mentality was driving me mad with the looks of pity and disapproval. What I was doing to Annie made me riddled with guilt. The night before I left I was in the hay loft in the barn, staring at the stars through the broken roof. It was one of my favourite places and Annie knew she’d find me there. We had spent many hours chatting there as we’d grown up. She asked me not to leave. I told her there was nothing left for me in Chalk Hill anymore, which was a hurtful and completely untrue thing to say. She was my world. Still is. But I wanted to sever all ties when I left. She’d be better off without me, I knew that. She told me she loved me and I got up and walked away, though it broke my heart to do so.
I left, disappearing into the American way of life for three years. I rang Dad occasionally just to let him know I was alive, but I never spoke to Annie. I thought it was for the best but there was never a day that went by that I didn’t think about her or miss her. She married Nick, just as she should have done. I came back for the wedding and she sobbed in my arms for nearly an hour when she saw me. I had let her down by vanishing and that hurt more than the act of leaving. I vowed then I would never let her down again, though I have done so many times since then. She looked beautiful walking down the aisle, dressed in a silvery gown. For a moment I imagined she was walking towards me rather than my brother.
We stayed in touch this time when I left, we were friends again, though it broke my heart every time I came home to see them together, how happy they were and how envious it made me.
Then the unthinkable happened. I killed my brother. There was a car accident. I was driving when the other car skidded on the ice and slammed into us. Nick was killed instantly. I should have done something to avoid it, I should have been more alert. Returning home and telling Annie Nick was dead was the worst moment of my life. She cried constantly for four months. This time I was there for her. I stayed with her. I held her in my arms every night as she cried herself to sleep and I wished every day that it could have been me that died instead of Nick, because then she wouldn’t be in so much pain.
Slowly, slowly she started to come back to life. She still cried every day but it was less, a lot less. Occasionally she would even smile or crack a joke.
Then one night we got drunk. She was telling me that she loved me, that she couldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for me. The next thing I know we were kissing. I’m not sure whether I kissed her or she kissed me but no one was stopping it. Things progressed and soon I was making love to my best friend. I had dreamt, fantasized, craved that moment for ten years or more and it was so much more than I ever imagined. There was not one moment that I thought it was wrong, not one single part of me that didn’t want her like a starving man being offered steak. It was perfect.
Until the next day. That’s when the guilt set in. Guilt for taking advantage of Annie when she was drunk and still grieving her husband, but mostly guilt for betraying my brother in the worst possible way.
I ran away again and I know from Sophia that Annie was almost as bad after I left as she was when Nick died. I had let her down again.
We speak now, things are slowly getting back to normal again though neither of us have ever mentioned that fateful night.
I love her, I always will. But I will not be the man that kills his brother and then screws his wife. She still loves him, I see it in her eyes. Me and Annie can never be together, I know that now. As my heart belongs to Annie, her heart belongs to Nick.
I fangirled when i read this, so a really big thank you to Holly,