Let Me Remind You (A Love Permit Novel #3) - Gianni Holmes

Prologue - Clay

“Jeremy, please. Open the door.”

“I’m tired, Clay. Just go home. We can talk in the morning.”

His voice, after knocking for almost fifteen minutes, filled me with relief. He was home, then. Not that I’d truly expected him to go off with anyone else, but the parties he liked to attend always had opportunistic men. He could’ve easily turned to any one of them after I didn’t show up at his store opening as I had promised him I would.

Damn family obligations.

Damn my stupid cowardice.

“I can’t go home without talking to you. Please, just let me see you. Let me explain.”

I hated standing outside the door of his house, where anyone driving by could recognize me, but I did it for him. Only him. I’d rather make an ass out of myself than not to explain to him why I’d let him down.

Again.

And again.

Surely, he would understand. He had to. We’d been doing this for more than ten years, and he understood that my life was complicated. I wasn’t my own person to live as freely as he did.

“Please, baby,” I said softly, not sure if he heard me this time, but grateful when the locks turned. I hated this shitty ass neighborhood where he lived, but he wouldn’t allow me to move him somewhere safer.

The door opened, and Jeremy appeared, his face void of any of the makeup he would’ve been wearing earlier at his party. His beautiful pixie-like face wasn’t as unblemished as when he had on his makeup, but I loved every blotch and pimple he allowed me to see, but not show to many others.

My apology stuck in my throat as I took him in, and a wave of possessiveness washed over me. He wore a long purple silk robe that pooled to the floor. The deep V-neck at the front showed off just a hint of lace beneath.

Oh man, I couldn’t afford to get distracted when he was mad at me. I raised my eyes to his face again. Was he mad at me? He seemed so devoid of emotion. I was used to him yelling, pouting, tears filling his eyes when I messed up. He was a passionate little thing, and this other side of him scared me.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“I’m sorry I missed your opening.”

He didn’t even blink. “Was that all?”

“That cocktail party my father organized took longer than I’d thought it would. Some friends stayed behind, and I couldn’t get away.”

He inhaled deeply, then slowly let out the breath. I waited for the explosion, but he merely gave me a tight smile.

“I get it, Clay. After all these years, I finally get it. I will never come first for you. What you do is more important than what I do, and you’ll never be able to support me the way I do you.”

“That’s not fair. J-baby, you know I support you.”

He shook his head and closed his eyes briefly. “Please don’t. I want you to leave. For good.”

I stared at him; my mouth dropped open. “I don’t want you to go to bed angry at me.”

“You don’t get it, Clay. I’m asking you to leave and never come back.” He pulled back the door and then thrust something into my chest—a paper bag overflowing with odds and ends I’d left in his apartment.

I looked from the paper bag to him. My stomach roiled, and my heart beat faster. No. I couldn’t lose him. He was the best goddamn thing that ever happened to me, the only reason I stuck out this miserable life for so long. How could he not know just how much he meant to me?

“Jeremy, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have missed your big night. I swear I’ll make it up to you.”

“It’s just a little too late, Clay!” he cried, chest heaving. “I don’t want to be with someone who can’t treat me as an equal. I want to be somebody’s first, and I’ll never be that with you.”

“That’s bullshit, babe. You’re—”

“Don’t!” He blinked rapidly at the tears gathering in his eyes. My heart wasn’t the only one breaking. “I waited for you. These past few months have shown us that this isn’t working. We have different lives.”

“No!” I refused to believe that. The bag crashed to the floor. I winced but ignored it. My stuff wasn’t important; he was. I reached for him before he could close the door on me and took him by the arms. “I’ll do it for you. I swear I will.