The need to express my feelings for him is so overwhelming, I’m afraid I might burst. I don’t want to say it first. He may have written it in a note, but he’s never, ever said those words out loud to me. I want him to say them.
I need him to say the words first.
Squeezing my eyes shut, I inhale deep, trying to calm my racing heart. Drew drops a lingering kiss to my forehead before he pulls away and climbs out of bed. I assume he’s throwing away the condom I never even realized he slipped on and I roll over on my side, hugging myself as I curl up into a ball.
My emotions are a jumbled mess. What the hell just happened? We’ve had plenty of sex the last few days but this time I feel like I was hit by a semi truck.
“Hey.” He rests his hand on my bare shoulder. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah.” I keep my back to him as he slides into bed with me. He wraps an arm around my middle and hauls me in close, so my back is nestled to his front. He’s still breathing hard too and I snuggle deeper into the pillow, close my eyes on a soft sigh when he starts raking his fingers through my hair.
I really love it when he does that. And he knows it too.
“Does it bother you? What, uh, happened to me?”
The question is so out of nowhere, I turn in his embrace so I can see his face, look into his eyes. “What are you talking about?”
“What you found out. When you were with me at my dad’s house. Does it bother you?”
“Of course, it bothers me, but not in the way you think.” I touch his cheek, forcing him to meet my gaze. “I hate what you’ve endured. I hate what she did to you and how it makes you feel guilty. More than anything, I hurt for you. Your pain is still so fresh and I wish I could somehow take it away.”
“You do take it away. You make me feel like a real person. That it’s okay to be so free like this. Together. Sexually.” He closes his eyes, breathing deep. “You make me feel normal.”
Here I am being selfish and wishing he would just tell me he loves me and he’s still going through all of these turbulent emotions. Worrying that I’ll think less of him because he’s been abused. Yes, abused. He can call it an affair or whatever the hell else he says about Adele but she molested him.
I wish he could really see that.
“Drew.” I brush my fingers through his too-long hair. “No matter what, we’re in this together. I’m not going to run. Whatever we discover, whatever happens, I’m going to stand by your side and support you.”
He opens his eyes. “I have no more secrets with you. At least none that I know of. I’ve bared my soul to you. I’ve got nothing to hide.”
“Neither do I,” I confess softly. “Yet here we still are. Together.”
“Together.” He smiles faintly. “Can I tell you something? It’s been bothering me, that you don’t know this. I have to get it off my chest.”
Wariness creeps over me and I try to shove it away. “What is it?”
“I know…” He huffs out a breath. “The day Vanessa died, I know you think I was inside with Adele…but it wasn’t like that. We were having an argument.”
“Oh?” I try my best to remain neutral but anger grows inside me, like a slow, simmering pot threatening to boil over at any minute.
“I was telling her she had to leave me alone. She tried her best to convince me to uh, you know, but I refused.” He closes his eyes again, pain etched all over his handsome face. “I just didn’t want you thinking less of me. That I was off fooling around with my stepmom while Vanessa drowned. It wasn’t like that. Not at all.”
My heart hurts so much. His pain is like a living, breathing thing and I wish I could take it all away. Curling my arms around him, I crush my body to his, scooting up on the mattress so his head can rest on my chest. I press my lips to his forehead and kiss him, the tears flowing freely down my cheeks. “I’m sorry she did this to you. I hate her.”
He clings to me much like I cling to him, his face pressed against my bare br**sts, and I swear I feel dampness on my skin. Like he’s crying. Which only makes me cry more. “I love you,” he murmurs against me. “I love you so much, Fable.”
My heart cracks in two, both at his pain and at his beautiful, much-needed declaration. “I love you too.”
I’ve never felt more complete.
“I told her I loved her.” I blurt out of nowhere.
Dr. Harris nods, no emotion on her face whatsoever. As usual. “What did Fable say?”
“She said she loved me too.” I look at my hands, remembering earlier this morning. When I woke Fable up by kissing her softly all over her nak*d body, the rising sunlight casting her skin a golden hue. Our bodies came together lazily, our whispered I-love-yous fueling me completely.
Our two days pretending the outside world didn’t exist ended on a perfect note. Now we’re both back to reality.
“Do you believe her?”
Doc’s question surprises me. “I think I do.”
Shit. “It’s hard to believe someone loves you for who you are when they’ve seen all your faults and know all your secrets.”
“But doesn’t that make it even more believable? Fable’s seen everything. She knows everything. Yet she still wants to be with you?”
“I guess so.” I shrug and change the subject. “Adele called me a few days ago.”
“And what did she have to say?”
“She accused me of poisoning my dad’s mind with reasons why he should divorce her.”
“Is she right?”
“No. I told him he had to make that choice for himself. I’m not about to give him advice on how to handle her,” I say vehemently. My emotions turn into chaos every time I think of the woman. It’s exhausting.
“And are they still reconciling?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to my dad since he told me he might change his mind about the divorce.” I don’t bother telling Dr. Harris how Fable and I ignored everyone else and pretended we were normal. She’d probably say we were just avoiding the inevitable and accuse me of trying to have an unhealthy relationship with unrealistic expectations.
Yep, I’ve been to more than my fair share of shrinks. I know the drill. Luckily enough, I really connect with this one. She gets me. She doesn’t push and she doesn’t judge.
“It’s hard, isn’t it, being in a relationship? With all of your extra baggage, do you think you can be there for Fable when she needs you?”
Ouch. One of those tough questions the doc is famous for. “I want to believe I can be there for her. She’s strong. Sometimes I think she’s stronger than me, emotionally.”
“But doesn’t she have her own set of problems? We all do, you know. And I remember you mentioning she doesn’t have the best home life.”
I lean back against my chair, sprawl my legs out in front of me. “Her mom is selfish and never around. She has a little brother who’s fourteen and she worries about him a lot.” I go on and tell Dr. Harris how Owen punched me when he realized I was the one who supposedly broke his sister’s heart. I’d forgotten to mention it the last time we saw each other, I’d been so wrapped up in my father’s non-divorce announcement.
“I’m starting to see why the two of you are drawn to each other,” Dr. Harris says.
Glancing up, I catch her smiling at me and I frown. “What do you mean by that?”
“Your experiences are somewhat similar. You both come from a broken home, you both carry heavy responsibilities and unnecessary guilt. You have money and she doesn’t, so there’s one difference. You run from your problems and it seems that she confronts them, from what you’ve told me.”
“She’s the strongest person I know.” I wish I had even half of her strength.
“Don’t you think she ever feels weak? Powerless?”
I’ve never seen Fable anything less than mighty and strong. “I don’t know.”
“I’m sure she does. You need her, right? So don’t you believe she needs you just as much? Her life can’t be easy. She has responsibilities, a job, a brother to take care of, and a mother to take care of as well. Who do you take care of, Drew?”
I swallow hard. “Myself.” There’s no one else I have to worry about. I’m not good at taking care of other people.
Look at what happened to Vanessa. She died on my watch.
“Do you work?”
Why is she asking me this? She already knows the answer. “School is my job. And football.”
“But you’re taking a lighter load this semester. And the football season is over,” Dr. Harris points out gently.
“Are you trying to make me feel guilty for not having as much responsibility as Fable does?” It’s like she’s purposely trying to make me angry.
“No,” she says slowly. “I’m trying to make you see that she’s probably going to need you. Do you think you have the capability to be there for her?”
“I don’t…” My voice trails off when I see the pointed look Dr. Harris is giving me. “Yes. I can be there for her. I have to be. I love her. That’s what people who are in love do. They support each other.”
“You’re right. Relationships aren’t easy, especially for people who still feel somewhat…broken.”
“Are you saying you think I’m broken?” I’m immediately on the defensive.
“Not at all. I said people who feel they are broken. Don’t you feel that way still?”
I’m quiet. That’s answer enough, I’m sure.
“Just because you feel like you’re broken doesn’t mean she views you the same way. Fable sees all of your potential. All of your strengths and weaknesses yet she believes in you completely. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be with you. Right?”
“I hope so.”
Dr. Harris sets down her iPad that she uses to take notes and smiles at me. “Just remember that your relationship with Fable is still in that fresh, euphoric honeymoon stage. Cherish her. Enjoy her. But never forget you need to be there for her through the good times and the bad. And I’m saying this in a rather subjective way, Drew. I believe that girl is good for you. She’ll help you heal.”
I can hardly contain my smile. “Are you saying Fable has your approval?”
Doc laughs. “I shouldn’t be talking to you like this, you know. I’m losing sight of my objectivity. But from everything I hear you say about her, that would be a resounding yes.”
If I want her, I need to fight for her. – Drew Callahan
I cruise into the restaurant late in the afternoon humming under my breath, offering a hello at the bitchy chick who works the hostess’s desk. Her jaw about drops to the floor and I smile blithely at her, thrilled I threw her off her catty game.
Nothing can get me down today. I’m on a complete Drew high.