“I will pick up the pieces of your past and steal your heart forever, Ryder.”
She stole his heart in Sharing Harper but will he be able to change his bad boy ways and do everything he can to prevent his ex and his family from destroying their relationship before it even begins?
Ryder Kent, 28, comes from a broken past full of secrets, suffering and a shattered marriage. His daughter, Evelyn, is his entire life until he met Harper, 21, a few months ago and everything changed. Harper is the reason he wakes up in the morning, but no one can seemingly accept this from his past. The pain he suffered years ago comes back to surface and Harper will have to work to save their relationship from ending.
Will Harper & Ryder be able to save their relationship and overcome the challenges they face or will they end up broken in the shadows of the past?
Follow Harper & Ryder on their continued journey in Stealing Ryder.
One month later
The sun crept into the room, and all I did was stare at the curvature of her beautiful back pressed tightly against mine. The slow breaths she took calmed me. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sit up all night, staring at her tanned skin, flowing brown hair, and the curve that etched between her tits and her hips, dipping in and exposin’ her small waist. I was taken back to where her smile spread from ear-to–ear, and the dimples on her cheeks were adorable and sexy in the same way. I needed her to move her little body around mine all day. We’d eat take-out and pizza, and she’d fuck me senseless at night, until her legs buckled beneath her and my cock was in pain.
I didn’t need anything more than what I already had right now.
Durin’ the day, we would deal with work, but nights were consumed with each other. I couldn’t get enough of her. I was desperate, selfish, and always needed more of her. She was mine, only mine. I just wanted to spoil her, as she deserved to be spoiled.
If I ever said out loud what finding Harper meant to me, the guys would mock the soft spot I have for that woman. They didn’t know how it felt to have a woman so attuned to my desires; and I’m not just talking sex. It may sound cheesy, but meetin’ Harper was the second most important day in my life, the first being the day Evelyn was born. I remember it like it was yesterday.
“When is this thing going to be over?” I grumbled under my breath, but still continued waiting patiently, giving her the support she needed to get through the unbearable pain. I kept runnin’ back and forth, grabbin’ her ice cubes to suck on and cold rags for her head, because that’s what those stupid mommy books said to do. I wish I had read more of those damn things…
I sat there, just looking at her and thinkin’ that through the months of torture, today was the day I was going to meet my daughter; she’s the one thing I could finally be proud of in my life.
Today would also be the day I vowed to change everything I had done wrong. To stop being that dumbass college kid and become a damn father. I would never turn out like my own father, and do everything opposite of his asshole unsupportive self.
Hours and hours passed, and once we hit the 24 hour mark, I started to feel faint myself. After forever, and pushes assisted by one doctor and a flurry of nurses, this beautiful child came out, and I was in shock. My heart expanded with love, and an unexplainable feeling shot through my chest.
She flew out screamin’ and kickin’; the moment I got to see her, I spotted her bright blue eyes that were shaped the same as mine, and the full head of dark black hair that matched. From that second on, she was a part of me; she was my reason to wake up in the morning, and my reason to breathe. It was powerful in an unexplainable sort of way.
The rustling of the sheets caught my attention just as the sun shone through the windows. Since Harper and I became involved, I haven’t left her once in the morning without telling her goodbye, ever since the day I left her stranded alone at the hotel. That entailed waking her up early, but I had to. I wanted to fuckin’ punch myself for being a crass idiot and leaving her that morning, but I knew I had to go before the ocean got too crowded with other dudes.
“Hey, beautiful,” I whispered in her ear, while slowly biting down on her lobe and kissing her neck. This woman was so sexy, and I loved making her groan with pleasure, which is exactly what she did.
Her body shifted as she turned around to face me. Her small button nose and lush lips sent me into a tailspin. Her hair was messed around her face, and when she blinked, she greeted me with her large brown eyes. They mesmerized me and invited me in.
“Mhmmm,” she groaned, and her hands came up to touch my chest. She had the smoothest, little fuckin’ hands around. I clenched my abs when she touched me, shivering from her cold little fingers. I imagined them caressing me, makin’ me beg her for more. I pictured the warm wetness of her mouth circling the tip of me, and instantly went hard. Fuck, I was going to have to walk this off before I could get dressed.
“I will never get used to these hot-ass abs,” she murmured through sleepy yawns.
“Go back to sleep, babe. I am goin’ to go surf for a little bit. I will be back in a few hours,” I whispered, hoping she wouldn’t try to move towards me any further. I couldn’t control my sexual appetite around her; but I had to get out on the ocean, and I knew if she were to try anything else, it would be the end of me.
“Okay,” she breathed.
She was exhausted, and needed her sleep now. “I’ll miss you,” she said, and planted her sexy lips against mine, sending my cock into a painful realization that it wasn’t going to taste the inside of her until later.
“I love you, Harper Mae.” I gave her the lightest kiss against her forehead, just as she curled back into the comforter and fell asleep with a smile plastered on her face.
I got up to get dressed, and threw some shit into a bag. I never missed a day of surfing; it was my release from life’s crap. I felt alone yet invigorated when I was ridin’ the waves. It was almost the same feeling I had when I was on the football field…almost. I grabbed my wetsuit from the closet, and threw my board in the back of my Ford pickup.
As I drove down the island and towards the local surfing spot, I watched the sun rise from the east. I was content with the life I had now. Somehow, though, something was missing, and I had a feeling it had to do with family. There was still a part of me that wanted to mend things with my family and Kylee.
I dreaded going to pick up Evelyn every other day because Kylee’s comments towards me were pissin’ me off. She didn’t want to see me happy with Harper or moved on, and she had to find her place. She wanted me for herself, just like she always had. That was never going to happen. She had to back off before I forced her off.
After I finished this surf session, it was going to be hard to go to the house to pick up Evelyn; but I had to remind myself that I was doing this for my daughter. Everything I did now was for Evelyn and Harper. They would be the only girls in my life.
I pulled into the parking spot, slipped on the rest of the wetsuit, and grabbed my board from the truck. I saw a couple guys I knew and joined them as we paddled into the ocean. When we reached our spot, we sat there waiting for the right wave.
The water lapped as we bobbed up and down with each passing bump. The sounds of the crashin’ ocean at the shore and the seagulls above us calmed my nerves, which always peaked when I knew I was about to ride a wave.
“Yo, Ry, did you read about that surf competition coming up in October?” a buddy of mine, Finn, asked.
“Yeah, the big one with ESPN?”
“Yeah! You goin’ to enter?”
I thought about this for a second; I had never actually competed in surfing. A couple guys on the ocean marveled at how fast I was able to pick the sport up.
After my football injury, my body wanted to stay active; so I figured, since I was in San Diego, I might as well try it. I took a couple lessons from Finn, and that’s how we bonded and started hanging out.
“I don’t know, man. Pat keeps tellin’ me I should, but I don’t think I am good enough.” Pat was my old football agent. He said it would be good to enter somethin’ and get my career started again, this time maybe in surfing.
“Do it! You’re totally good enough, man. Plus, you still have a whole month to decide if you want to do it anyways.”
“Are you enterin’?” I asked, my southern accent heavily emphasized.
“For sure, dude!” He beamed. Finn was your very typical “brah.” Blonde hair, tan skin, the total California “hottie” as Skye would say. He didn’t have a full time job; instead, he worked as a bartender at one of the local clubs. Even though he worked until 2am sometimes, he was always out on Coronado at 4 or 5 am. “Let’s hit this wave,” he echoed over the crash of the ocean.
The wave was large enough, and didn’t show any prediction of closing anytime soon. We both paddled forward and braced as the wave came up from behind us. As the wave broke, we split up. Finn went for the right side and I braced left. Just as the wave reached it’s largest point, I stood up, briefly hobblin’ to regain balance. As I grasped my balance, I pulled up and rode the wave out. I allowed it to swallow me as I weaved in and out, riding along the inside of the closing tunnel. I spun twice on the board, moving up and down because the wave closed and I reached the shore. It was a damn good feelin’ to pull into shore in one piece.
I looked over to the right where Finn was, and realize he didn’t ride the wave out. He was waving his hand at me, gesturing to swim towards him.
I grabbed my board out from under me and started paddling towards him.
“Dude! Sick ride,” he exclaimed when I was close enough to hear him.
“It wasn’t that big,” I hesitated. I wasn’t one to boast about my athletic abilities. In fact, many of the guys didn’t even know I used to play for the NFL. Finn only knows because one drunken night I confessed it to him.
“I am totally going to talk to Patrick about putting you in the competition in October. Can’t say no.”
“I’ll think about it.” I laughed knowing I wasn’t prepared at all for the competition. Hell, I was just a beginner; sure, I had the strength, but I didn’t have the experience.
“Whatever you say man,” Finn said, as he began swimming out towards the ocean. “You wanna go to the bar Monday? Bring Harper and her hot, unavailable friend?”
“Yeah, sounds good. I’ll run it by Harper, but I am sure we can meet you there around 10 pm?” I called back.
“You know Skye is engaged right?” I reminded him.
“Yeah dude, but just cause there is a goalie doesn’t mean you can’t score.” He busted up laughing, and I fist pumped him before paddling the other way.
“Hey man, I got to go pick up Evelyn, but I’ll catch ya’ later,” I drawled, as I started paddling back to shore.
“October, bro!” Finn screamed at me as the breaking waves started pushing me out more towards the shore. When I finally reached the shore, I pulled myself off the board and gathered the rest of my stuff on the beach. I threw the board back in the truck and started it up. I drove through Coronado, and onto the bridge that connected the island to the mainland. I drove the same path I always took, down the I-5.
Today’s drive was different. I haven’t said anything to Harper, but Kylee threatened to move back to Texas the other day. She told me she was miserable here, and had trouble making friends. With her bitchy-ass attitude, I was not surprised, but I couldn’t leave Evelyn in Texas. It was not going to happen, ever.
If Kylee took off with Evelyn, then I would have to follow. I couldn’t even imagine the thought of leaving Harper; but I knew she wanted to be here for her best friend, Skye’s wedding, and to finish her last year at school. So I haven’t brought it up with her…yet.
I pulled up to the cottage Kylee rented in the suburbs. Kylee came from old money, but she spent it on Evelyn. She wasn’t a bad mother at all; she just keeps insisting on this bullshit about gettin’ together, which ain’t gonna happen. A relationship we never had and never will have. As much as I would have loved to work something out with her, Harper was, and always will be, my life. I learned how to breathe again with Harper around me. If only Kylee would finally understand. I didn’t love her; my entire heart belonged to Harper.
I pulled up and parked the truck in the driveway. I hope to God this is not be the last time I come around. Hell no, my child will not be sent to Texas away from me. I respected Kylee and all, so I certainly don’t wanna be draggin’ her to court. I just wanted a relationship with my daughter, and I don’t get where Kylee is coming from, wantin’ to take that all away from me. I opened the truck door and prepared myself for hell.
When I saw her come up from inside the house, a devilish grin formed on her face. She slid up next to me before I could even step through the threshold.
“I missed you so much,” she murmured in my ear, while moving her hands along the tops of my arms, which were still wet from the ocean.
“Stop it now, Kylee,” I commanded with force, but not before I looked around to make sure Evelyn hadn’t run out.
“What’s the problem, baby? That stupid girl of yours got you on a tight leash? She’s a fucking bitch,” Kylee spat in my face.
I lowered my voice and stared her straight in the eyes without shifting once. That would be the last time she ever said something like that about Harper. Coming from her, she sounds heartless as fuck. Harper was constantly worried about Kylee hating her, and always making sure I asked Kylee’s permission before she saw Evelyn. While Kylee was always hesitant about Harper, her hatred for her was new.
“I know you’re scared, Kylee, and I know I hurt you, but I swear to you, if you ever call Harper a bitch or anything along those same lines again, I will make your life hell. Hell, do you understand that?” My voice was low, but echoed determination and anger.
“Whatever, Ry. You and I both know she isn’t the right girl for you anyways.”
I pushed past her, not even acknowledging her statement. As I walked into the living room, I saw Evelyn playing with one of her numerous Barbie doll sets. I smiled, remembering the many times I’ve played prince to her princess; because while the guys I used to play football with would laugh at that sight, I treasured the moments I could protect little Evelyn from the evils of the world. She would always be Daddy’s little girl in my eyes.
“Hey princess, you ready to go to Daddy’s house?” I asked the very distracted little girl.
“Daddy!” she exclaimed in the small yet high-pitched voice of hers.
She ran up to where I was standing. When she reached me, I reached down to her and whisked her up to my chest, where she nuzzled into my neck.
“I love you so much, princess,” I whispered in her ear.
Kylee, who was standing behind us, coughed to interrupt.
“Go grab your bag upstairs, Evie,” Kylee said, calling Evelyn by her nickname and gesturing the little girl upstairs.
I knew she wanted to talk to me. The reason I was pissed about coming over here in the first place was because I knew this was going to come to a head. She was miserable here, probably ‘cause she couldn’t get laid. More over, she couldn’t find friends to deal with her crap; and now that I had finally moved on, she was trying to punish me. She was still convinced our parents were right.
Since we were little, our parents had this grand idea that we were goin’ to end up marryin’ each other. I can remember her settin’ up little make-believe weddings. Our relationship didn’t really grow until college though, when we both went to University of Texas.
I had been fooling around in college. I loved women and sex; there was nothing much more to it than that. I liked the way a woman could make me feel as though I was pleasurin’ ‘em. I loved makin’ them scream my name, calling it out as I pushed harder and deeper. I liked pussy.
My parents, on the other hand, were convinced I needed to be with Kylee. She was desperate. She clung to me and did whatever I needed. If I couldn’t find ass that night, she was right there, clothes off, willin’ and waitin’.
My parents had this idea that their prodigy son wouldn’t be playin’ football as a profession. I remember Pops telling me that football was only good for my resume, but that I would take over his precious law firm one day. When I played for University of Texas, my parents were angry and upset because I took football more seriously than school. I was good. I loved hearing the crowd roar and chant my name when I would throw the ball into the end zone. Mom and Pops didn’t come to a single game; and when I started barely sliding by in school, they realized I would surmount to nothing. So they’d cut me off. They left their kid for the dust.
I had to make my own way so, thank Heaven, the Houston Texans drafted me that year. I worked my ass off at practice for them, making them feel as though their 1.5 million dollar contract was useful; but Kylee had other plans. Her parents and my parents got together to create this plan to make me take over Pop’s law firm. They told Kylee to get off birth control and do what she did with me, which implied fuckin’ me.
She had convinced herself that in order to make her parents happy, she had to take drastic means to be with me. So when I was in my first year in the NFL with the Texans, she stopped taking her birth control to get pregnant. One drunken night, when I couldn’t find a chick to take home, I crawled into her small, twin-size bed and fucked her blind. When I found out she was pregnant, a brick came down and crashed onto my shit-hole life I was living in. My buddies convinced me my life was ruined. I didn’t believe her at first. I thought it was some idea she created in her head to get me to stay with her; but sure enough, the DNA test came back and proved I was the father.
So later on, there I was with a football injury, a pregnant fuck-buddy, and no other direction in life. I married her because I thought maybe that would make Mom and Pops happy. Wrong.
They were miserable with me because I told them that even though my football career was over, I wasn’t going back to them. I was never going to work at that godforsaken law firm, and they simply had to accept it. I could remember Pop’s saying things like:
“Son, you have a family now; you have to support them, and football won’t support them forever.” They shunned me from the family when I insisted that I wasn’t going to law school.
When I left Houston, because I couldn’t handle my parent’s disappointment and disapproving glares, Kylee followed me like a lost puppy. I almost felt bad that she had no direction in life. She had no goals, no motivation, absolutely nothin’. I tried making it work with her, but it just couldn’t. We slept in separate rooms, only waking up to feed or change the baby. I started sleepin’ around again, fuckin’ women to get my primal need out. We broke it off, but I vowed to her and to Evelyn that I was a father for life; and just because I wasn’t with Kylee anymore, didn’t mean that I couldn’t be a father to Evelyn.
“Ry,” she said, sliding up towards me. I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at her. She was hot; I couldn’t deny it. And any other time, I would have taken those hands she was moving along my biceps and thrust them behind her, but I didn’t have that need anymore. All I kept thinkin’ about was Harper. It wasn’t until I met Harper that I realized there was so much more to it. Sex with her was different. I want to wrap her little body around me. I craved her scent and took her all in. I wanted to make love to her every time we were together. When Kylee started to contort her thin body around me, all I could think of was Harper, whose gentle curvature of her boobs and ass sent me into a flurry of excitement.
I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard Kylee’s breathing become slow and heavy. I looked up and saw her starin’ at me with her version of seductive eyes. She has these deep, black bags under her eyes. Her vulnerability and stress almost made me feel some resemblance of emotion for her. I didn’t want to torture her with confusion. It was never meant to be like this, us together. Nothing was supposed to happen this way.
Her face went to meet mine, as she breathed heavily a few inches from me. She was rubbing against me, and my bastard of a dick responded. My cock and my heart aren’t always on the same page. I would have taken Kylee right here on the stairs, but Harper isn’t just someone. Harper is whom I’m supposed to be with, and I would never do anything to hurt her. She will always be mine. Forever.
“Kylee,” I said, pushing her away before this went any further.
“Ry, I don’t get it. We are meant to be together. We were married, we have a baby, and our families want us together. I just don’t get it; what could go wrong?” she asked in a quiet voice that reeked of desperation.
“A lot went wrong. You want me to be a lawyer…”
“But that is what you are suppose to be! Football clearly didn’t work out for you, and now you sit on your…”
“That is enough,” I screamed with force.
“I do not want to hear anything else; do you understand, Kylee? I am not with you, and never will be again. I thought you liked Harper? I thought you didn’t mind her around Evelyn?” I asked her with genuine curiosity.
“Ry, she doesn’t pretend like she is a mom with Evelyn does she?” she finally choked out when she was able to speak.
This caught me off guard. I knew where she was coming from. She felt as though I replaced her with Harper, and now Harper was going to replace her as a mom. I would never let that happen. Harper knew she was always going to be someone important in Evelyn’s life, but Kylee would always be her mom.
“I can promise you that will never happen. Evelyn will always see you as Mom. How can she not? You feed her, dress her, and love her more than my own mother even loves me. You are a good mom, Kylee, just not the right person for me.”
“I want to go home.”
“You are home,” I said with force, trying to emphasize that her new base is San Diego, not Houston.
“My parents want me to come home; they want to see Evie. I can go work with my dad as a secretary in his office. My old friends always ask me when I am moving back; I just want to go home.”
“No. What about me?” I demanded, trying to keep my voice as steady as I possibly could.
“Come back to Houston. You can go to law school, work for your dad. Come with me,” she begged.
“Not an option,” I said, knowing I would never leave Harper alone here. And I didn’t want to ever face my parents again. In the four years since I left home, I’ve never once went to face the pieces of shit that birthed me. Why go back when I have everything here?
“I can’t stay here; you know I can’t,” she said in a quiet voice; and without saying much more, Evelyn came bounding down the stairs with her little Barbie princess backpack on.
“Look, Daddy!” she exclaimed, while showing me the front of her backpack with the Barbie’s face plastered on the plastic.
“Just like you, hunny,” I said, lifting her up and bringing the rest of her stuff outside to the truck.
The conversation between Kylee and me was over…for now. I had to talk to her more about it on Sunday. It would be settled then. Evelyn wouldn’t be confronted with two obviously-fighting parents. It was wrong.
Just as I was about to carry her outside and into the car, I heard Kylee shout, “Wait!”
I turned around and saw Kylee running from the inside of the house.
I turned around, with Evelyn still in my arms, and Kylee came up to both of us. She went up on her tiptoes to kiss Evelyn on the forehead, and whispered loud enough in her ears so I could hear.
“I love you, baby,” she said and kissed her forehead. I leaned down so she could kiss Evelyn’s forehead. She snuck in and pecked me on the cheek.
“I love you, too, and always will. Think about Houston.”
I turned around and walked back to my truck, shifting the car seat, making sure it was in right. Kylee would always be a part of my family; and while I loved Harper, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. If Kylee left, I knew my life in San Diego would follow; how hard would Harper be willing to work if I was thousands of miles away?