Ryan's Love (Sawyer Brothers #1)

By: C.A. Harms

Book One of the Sawyer Brothers Series


One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was bury my wife.

The second-hardest thing would be watching my twelve-year-old daughter fall to her knees as the preacher uttered his final words of comfort before her mother’s casket was slowly lowered into the grave. It finalized the fact that the woman we loved dearly was no longer within our reach. We would no longer be blessed by her smile or warmed by her words.

It was the most heart-wrenching sight, one that will forever be etched in my mind and which left a void in me I was positive would never be filled. It changed the man I thought I was and made me realize that loving someone with your entire heart didn’t ensure they would always be with you. There was no way to predict your fate.

Claire was my best friend; she had been since we were barely old enough to talk. I always knew I would one day marry her. I may have even told her so a few times while we were growing up. Even my brother, Noah, who is nearly a year younger than me, thought he would marry her. She was the perfect girl and had every man in Livingston, Montana, mesmerized by her looks and her personality. But she and I were meant to be.

I never thought I would lose her so suddenly. Now I was left struggling to find the strength I needed to push forward without her in my life. I couldn’t remember a day she wasn’t by my side, and now she was gone forever.

I sat in the chair looking at the deep, freshly dug grave before me, consumed by a feeling of emptiness. The air felt thick as it filtered into my lungs, making me feel like I was being suffocated. The anxiety of my loss was slowly overtaking me as I tried hard to fight the urge to break down and just give up.


Olivia’s sweet whisper pulled me from my daze, and I looked deep into her red, swollen eyes. I felt as if I had just been punched in the gut. There stood my little girl, looking broken and lost.

“I miss her already,” she said, her soft voice cracking.

Tears filled my eyes, and I could barely see her through them. God, her words weren’t strong enough for what I was feeling. I felt like I was trying to survive without air to breathe.

I reached out and pulled Olivia in tightly, then cradled her protectively. “It’s just so unfair,” she cried into my shoulder, her body shaking against mine.

“I know baby, I know.” Life wasn’t fair.

Losing Claire was never a possibility in our minds. She had gone in for what should have been a simple procedure to remove her gallbladder. She should have been sent home that day to begin the healing process, well on her way to being the happy and active Claire we all knew. But within days she became deathly ill, and there was nothing I could do to help her. I stood by helplessly while the woman I loved with all my heart and soul suffered.

I can still remember our last real conversation. I had called home to check on her during lunch, and she sounded so tired and weak. She insisted, even after I questioned her for ten minutes, that she was fine and only had a headache.

“You’re buying me dinner tonight. No way am I cooking,” she said with a gentle laugh.

“I’ll cook you anything you want, babe. You just name it,” I assured her.

“Yeah, sure, Ryan. You can’t even make instant macaroni and cheese without burning it. We’ll just stick to going out for dinner, or better yet, we’ll just order in.”

She was right—I couldn’t cook for the life of me.

I couldn’t stop replaying that conversation over and over in my mind. I wish more than anything I would have said more. I wish I would have told her how much I loved her and how no one has ever given me the joy she has. I should have told her I adored her and how I treasure our every moment together.

Instead I told her to get some rest and that I might have to stop by the ranch and help out my brothers, so getting home late was a possibility.

I was unprepared for the phone call I received only four hours later.

Olivia had arrived home from school to find her mother curled up on the living room floor, lethargic with chills and a fever. She panicked and rushed to call 9-1-1.

The drive to the hospital is still a total blur; I was steered by pure adrenaline and fear. By the time I arrived in the emergency room, everything was spiraling out of my control. I found Olivia seated next to my parents and in-laws as the doctors told us what was happening to Claire.

Her bowel was nicked during surgery, and she was sent home without it being detected. Claire brushed off all the signs that something was wrong, believing the pain would soon go away. But when it had reached the point of agonizing, it was too late to do anything. Her organs were beginning to shut down.

As we sat in the waiting area, I felt as if my heart was breaking. I heard everyone talking around me, but my numb mind couldn’t take in a word. My entire world was behind those big double doors with the woman I chose to spend my life with. She was everything to me, and I couldn’t help her. I would have given anything to take her place.