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Page 64 of Third Time's a Charm (Holland Springs 3)

Hell, knowing Rose, she wouldn’t have asked for help.

“Gabriel Edwards dropped it off,” Haven said.

Sasha dropped a rather nice-looking pair of pumps. “Who is he—Superman?”

Haven lifted her brows. “It came from the clothes closet at Grace Church. Most likely, his momma and sister picked them out before sending it over.”

“I’ll take all this up to her.” He started to heft the box in his arms, but a quick shake of Haven’s head made him stop.

“I want to hang it all up, iron anything that needs it and generally make everything look nice for Rose. I have some luggage she can borrow, too.” Haven began taking out the clothes, laying them across the sofa and lining up shoes along the bottom. “There’s more coming, Gabriel said, and Jemma Leigh’s organizing a drive for Rose or something like that.”

He could only imagine the ‘something like that’ Jemma Leigh would have in mind, but it would be from the heart. It seemed like there was nothing for him to do now.

Standing, he dusted off his trousers. “Why are you doing this?”

“Rose sends her couples to me.”

“Her couples?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

Haven glanced up at him “The ones that take her advice to look for the spring. Almost always, there’s an engagement. And almost always, they have their wedding here. Or a reception if they want to do the church thing.” Haven bent back over the box, pink hair with purple tips sliding to the side. “She sent me my first customer two years ago, when I first opened for business. This is the least I can do for her.”

“You believe in the legend of the spring?”

Haven snorted. “’Course not. But I believe in Rose and so do a lot of other people.” Haven gathered some clothes and handed them to Sasha. She selected a pair of flats and the heavy winter coat from the bottom of the box, adding them to his pile. “Take these to her.”

Sasha dashed off to his room, throwing open the door. “Wake up, sleepyhead.”

Rose sat up. “Morning.”

He dropped the clothes on the bed. “Guess what I’ve got for you. Well, not me exactly. There’s loads more…Rose?”

Rose didn’t answer him. She sat with the covers pulled to her chest and her gaze on the comforter.

“Haven sent these to you. They’re from Edwards’ church.” He hated even mentioning the man’s name, but credit had to be given where it was due. “Apparently, that’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like some help putting outfits together, I’ll volunteer—as long as you promise to model the lingerie for me.”

She lifted the flats and turned them over, then dropped them on the floor. “Are those supposed to make up for my house burning down?”

This was so not his Rose, but allowances had to be made. She’d just lost everything. Running a palm over his jaw, he took a shaky breath. “I know it’s not cheesecake, but new clothes always worked for me. Sex, too. I am a man, after all.” When she didn’t look up from the bed, he sat down beside her. “Help me out here.”

“I’ll thank Haven and Gabriel when I see them.” She pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them.

He stroked her hair, watching as the curls came loose from her braid. “Come away with me. We’ll go any place you want—although I do have some recommendations. There’s this little island off of Spain you’d like.” This he could do for her. He could make her forget for a while. Hell, if he could convince her, he would keep her with him. Until he was free and then they’d really be free—together. Go anywhere, do anything without anyone giving a damn.

“And do what?” she finally asked.

Sasha lifted a curl from her shoulder and rubbed it between his fingers. “Sleep, eat, shop…make love.”

“You want me to leave, to run away from my problems and responsibilities?”

“You deserve more than this kind of life.” He dropped the curl between his fingers and grabbed the cross at his neck.

“Is that all?” she asked, her voice monotone. Emotionless.

Was that all? He looked around the room, struggling to keep his temper in check. “I want to spend every day…every minute with you, Rosebud.”

Pretty blue eyes met his. In their depths was so much pain that it made him want to reach for her. To kiss and hold her until the world fell away and no one could hurt her again. “Until your uncle has other plans for you.”

He sucked in a breath, “I’ve no choice.”

“So you say.” Her gaze was unwavering.

Blood rushed to his head. “What kind of sick f**k makes something like that up?”

“The kind that preys on an innocent woman and her family. The kind that makes her think that she matters, that makes her think you care about her when all you really wanted to do was have a little fun while you bided your time,” Rose said, shoving away the covers and reaching for the clothes he’d brought to her. “The kind who suggests a vacation after her home is destroyed, after her family leaves her all alone. After her baby is taken away.”

“Ivy went home with her mother,” he pointed out and she flinched.

Rose tugged a pale orange sweater over her head. “Am I supposed to wait around while you screw up someone else’s life?” She yanked on a pair of panties, then jeans. “And when you’re done, I should welcome you back into my bed, never knowing if you’ve been with someone else.”

He stood up, then began pacing the room. “I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Not even to save your mother?”

Her parting shot almost made him march out of the room right then and there. But she’d been through so much in the past twenty-four hours that he couldn’t bring himself to leave her. “What do you want from me, Rose?” he asked as their eyes met. “I want you with me. I’m begging you to go. Please, you have to go.”

Rose’s heart pounded in her chest. There were lots of things she wanted to from him, but he couldn’t give her any of it. She was tempted to take him up on his offer. How easy it would be to leave this place. To start over like her sisters had chosen to do, but she couldn’t. She belonged here.

“Why?”

“I bloody f**king owe you, that’s why,” he shouted and her heart quit pounding. It sank in her chest, heavy with despair. He thought he owed her. It was his only reason for even suggesting she leave Holland Springs.

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