“I know he went to see you this weekend. The question I have is why? It’s not like you two are close anymore. What did you promise to tell him? Did you talk about me? What did you say?” She sounds panicked—and completely self-absorbed.
“We hardly talked about you at all, not beyond him explaining briefly that the two of you were having trouble and he’s ready to file for divorce.” I can’t believe I’m explaining myself to her but as sick as it sounds, we’re in this secret together. Both of us have plenty to lose if it’s revealed.
“You’re lying. You’re trying to convince him to leave me and I won’t allow it, Andrew. You’re just as guilty in this situation between us as I am. I refuse to take the fall for it.” Her voice is low, full of icy-cold venom.
“His reasoning for leaving you has nothing to do with…us.” I choke the last word out. There was never any us with me and Adele. More like her dragging me under and me helpless to fight it. “It has to do with you screwing around with some golf pro.”
She sucks in a harsh breath. Guilty. “Is that what he told you?”
“I shouldn’t be having this conversation with you.” Damn it, why am I still talking to this bitch? “I’m hanging up now. Don’t bother calling me again.”
Before she can get another word out, I end the call, throwing the phone across the room so it hits the wall and bounces on the carpet with a satisfying thud.
But I’m still not satisfied. I’m mad. At myself for answering the damn call and listening to what she had to say. At Adele for contacting me when I explicitly told her I refused to talk to her ever again.
I broke my own rule, though, didn’t I? So how can I blame her when I’m just as guilty?
My phone dings from where it sits on the floor and I go pick it up, dreading to see if it’s a text from Adele.
But it’s not.
Are you out of class yet?
Despite my anger, I smile and answer Fable.
Yeah. What’s up?
Can you come get me?
I’m typing my answer when another text from her comes through.
I understand if you’re busy. I just…need to see you.
Worry crashes through me and I tell her give me ten minutes.
* * * *
She’s waiting for me at the foot of the stairwell that leads to her front door and I pull up beside her. She climbs into the truck and slams the door, staring straight ahead as if she can hardly look at me, and I’m quietly freaking out.
“Are you okay?” I slip the truck into park, my nerves doing somersaults in my stomach. She’s not acting right.
A sigh escapes her and she slowly shakes her head. “I got into a fight with my mom.”
“A few hours ago.” She hangs her head, staring at her lap. “I said terrible things to her. What’s worse is I don’t regret it.”
“Hours ago? Fable, why didn’t you call me sooner?”
She shrugs. “I didn’t want to bother you.”
Holy shit. Does she not get it? I’d go to the ends of the earth for her. After everything she’s done for me. How selfless she is, how she always, always comes to my rescue…
Reaching out, I settle my hand on her slender shoulder and give it a gentle squeeze. “I can’t help you if you don’t let me in.”
Fable releases a shuddering breath and finally looks at me. Her skin is pale, her expression emotionless. “I’m used to doing things on my own, you know? I’ve never had anyone on my side. Not really.”
“He doesn’t count since he’s just a kid.”
“Well, he definitely came rushing to your defense when he punched me yesterday,” I point out.
A little smile appears and she rolls her eyes. “He was sorta amazing when he did that, huh?”
“My jaw still hurts.” I run my hand over the spot where his fist connected with my face.
“I’m sorry.” She doesn’t sound sorry at all and I let it go. If she was my sister and some jackass had broken her heart, I would’ve done the same thing.
“Fable.” Her gaze jerks to mine once more. “I want to be there for you. Always. I know I’ve not proven myself to you yet but I will. I swear. I want to make a promise to you.”
She clears her throat, looking nervous. “What sort of promise?”
Reaching across the center console, I grab her hand and lace our fingers together. “No matter what, from this day forward, I’m here for you. You need me and I’ll come running.”
Her lips part, like she’s going to say something, but then she presses them together with a wince. “I want to believe you, I do. But I’m afraid you’ll leave me again. And I don’t know if I could take that.”
I squeeze her hand tight. “What can I do to prove to you I won’t leave. Tell me. I’ll do it.”
“You’ll do anything?”
“Anything.” I nod furiously, my heart aching. If she rejects me, I’ll lose it. But I’ve also asked for it. She’s fragile right now. Me walking back into her life, the fight with her mom, her worry over her brother… She takes on so much. There’s only so much a person can handle before they reach their breaking point.
She releases a harsh breath. “I want to pretend we have a normal, fun relationship. No worries, no stress. I want to forget about my mom, how I’m going to pay the bills, where I’m going to find a new place to live—”
“Wait a minute.” I cut her off. “You’re looking for a new place to live?”
“I’ve thought about it,” she admits. “The rent’s a lot here since it’s a three-bedroom and my mom’s never there. She uses our place for storage more than anything. I want to find a cheaper place for just Owen and me.”
My mind is spinning with ideas, all of them involving Fable and her brother moving in with me.
She’d laugh in my face. We’ve been back together—if you could call it that—what? A couple of days? No way would she move in with me.
“But I don’t want to worry about any of that right now,” she says firmly as she pulls her hand from mine. She waves it in the air, as if dismissing all of her problems with a flick of her fingers. “I’m sick of worrying and being stressed out over money, what Owen’s doing, if he’s getting good grades, if he’s lying to me. Worrying about my mom and what she’s doing and why she hates us so much.”
“She doesn’t hate—”
“She hates us,” Fable repeats, interrupting me. “She hates me especially. We’re a burden to her. If she could make us disappear, she probably would.”
Damn. We always focus on my problems but she’s just as much of a mess as me. Her mom sounds like a world-class bitch.
“Forget about her. I am.” She smiles but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “Let me pretend for just a little while we’re normal. That we don’t have issues and secrets and problems, that our lives are easy and we’re just two people who are falling for each other.”
I’ve already completely fallen for her. I thought she felt the same way. “If that’s what you want, I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you whatever you want.”
The smile grows, lights up her eyes. There’s my girl. “Thank you,” she whispers.
Unable to take it anymore, I touch her. Thread my fingers through her hair so I can cup the side of her head and bring her lips to mine. “Why are you thanking me?”
“Thank you for getting me. And for wanting to make me happy.” She closes her eyes when I kiss her and I study her face, her thick eyelashes, her tiny nose. “We’re probably avoiding the inevitable, but I’m tired of dealing with the heavy stuff. I’m jealous of people without problems.”
“Everyone has problems,” I point out.
She opens her eyes. “As heavy as mine? As heavy as yours?”
I’ll never forget the things you said to me. Not because they mattered, but because they made me feel like I did. – Unknown
Drew made good on his promise. From the moment we agreed we’d pretend for a little while that we’re just two normal people in a new relationship, that’s exactly how he’s treated me. No mention of my mom, his dad, Adele, our problems, our past. Nothing.
We’ve spent the last twenty-four hours together doing nothing but talking. Kiss. Lots and lots of dreamy, long and delicious kissing. Which of course leads to touching and then that leads to sex.
Lots and lots of sex.
We haven’t left his apartment since he came to pick me up. I checked on Owen and made sure he was okay. Again, he was at Wade’s. He asked if I was with Drew and I told him yes.
He proceeded to both cheer me on and warn me. Owen loves the idea of me being with a football player. He hates the idea of me being with a guy who broke my heart.
Conflicted—we all feel that way, I think.
But I pushed the conflict aside and focused on the positive. Drew with me. Over me. Inside me. Whispering hot words in my ear when he pulls me in close. How he touches me so reverently, the way he holds me when we sleep. Not that there’s been much sleep going on…
I was able to trade out my shift today so I could spend one more full day with Drew but tomorrow, reality waits. He has to go to class. I have to spend time with Owen before I go to work. Drew has to meet with his shrink.
Sometimes, I really hate reality.
Being with him constantly like this, I can’t concentrate. Since he’s walked so completely back into my life, I’ve been in a constant state of arousal I can’t control. I have never been so…needy. I look at him and he’s all I can think about. Funny how I believed for a fleeting moment I was interested in Colin.
The way I feel for Drew can’t compare to any glimmer of attraction I’d had for Colin.
We’re at a restaurant now, Drew and I. He ran out of food in his apartment and we were starving, so we finally made our escape. Plus, I thought it might be good to be out in public like real people versus nak*d and rolling around in his bed all day and night.
Staring at him from across the table, I realize pretty quickly being out in public like real people is totally overrated.
“What do you want to order?” His head is bent, his dark hair tumbling over his forehead as he reads over the menu. I wonder when he last got a haircut. I like it longer. It’s easier for me to run my fingers through and grip when I kiss him.
“I don’t know.” I sound breathless, I feel breathless, but he doesn’t notice. He props his elbow on the table, absently scratches his temple with his index finger, and I remember exactly what that index finger did to me earlier. How he circled my n**ples with that finger, how he slipped it between my legs, drenched it with my wetness and then brought it up to his mouth, licking it, tasting me, his gaze never leaving mine…
I’m squirming in my seat like some sort of horny freak. And the man is clueless.