“Dude.” The man tips his head to look past us and immediately looks away. “There’s no need for an ambulance. There’s no saving her.”
I tighten my grip around Drew’s waist. “Has someone called the police?”
“Yeah, they should be on their way,” the man says, his face grim.
As if on cue, I hear the sirens in the near distance, coming closer and closer. They’re going to want to talk to us. I so don’t want to deal. I need to drop off my apartment deposit today. I need to go to work. Normal, everyday stuff.
But my life is far from normal. I could’ve been killed. I could be the one lying on the ground, blood pouring out of my body.
Drew saved me. He stepped in front of me and told Adele to shoot him. I can’t believe he did that. That he would sacrifice himself for me…blows my mind.
Makes me realize just how much he loves me.
He finally relaxes his hold on me and I pull away from him slightly so I can see his face. “Did you see her do it?” I ask. I have to know.
Slowly he shakes his head, his gaze never leaving mine. “I saw her put the gun in her mouth but I turned just as she was pulling the trigger. I couldn’t watch that.” He exhales on a shaky breath. “I hated her, Fable. But I couldn’t stand there and watch her blow her brains out.”
I close my eyes and press my forehead to his firm chest. “Thank you,” I whisper. “You saved me.”
“I’ll always save you. You never have to worry about that.”
I finally, finally believe him.
Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful. – Milan Kundera
Seven months later
Drew and I were never believers in the fairy tale. We both had our own issues, our problems, our f**ked-up home lives that blew all thoughts of happily ever afters right out of the water. Once upon a time, we were cynics facing the world alone. Our story changed into two warrior cynics facing the world together.
Now, we own the happily ever after and we refuse to let that bitch go.
I watch him now, sitting on the sidelines of the football field. It’s hot, even though it’s only nine in the morning, but the summer sun is intense. I have a pretty nice tan already from sitting out here for hours watching Drew practice with his team.
He’s sorta dreamy out there on the field. I love watching him play. He’s so talented, so in command of his teammates and his gameplay. Rumors are already spreading how his chance at a NFL contract is getting closer and closer.
Once upon a time, that would’ve scared the crap out of me. The thought of him leaving me behind. He’d want me to go along with him—and that would’ve scared me too.
Now I take everything day by day. No need for panic. When the time comes for a decision to be made, I know we’ll do the right thing.
I love how sweaty my man gets when he plays too. Does that make me a freak? Oh, I put on a big show when he grabs me and hugs me after practice, complaining loudly how gross he is, all stinky and damp.
But I’m lying. I love it.
He’s coming toward me now, a big grin on his face, and I stand, offering him a big smacking kiss before I hand over a fresh bottle of water. He takes it from me, tears off the cap and chugs every last drop within a few swallows.
Did I mention how sexy he is when he drinks? No? Well. I’m tempted to fan myself every time I watch him.
“Did you put on sunblock?” he asks, crushing the empty plastic bottle in his fist before he hands it back to me.
I clutch the bottle in my hand. “Maybe.”
He taps the tip of my nose with his index finger. “You’re turning pink. You need some.”
His concern for me is slightly over the top. Since what happened with Adele, he’s very overprotective. From always being there to pick me up when my shift is over at work to slathering on enough sunblock to his satisfaction, he wants to make sure I’m safe. I appreciate it more than he’ll ever know. “I’m trying to get a tan,” I tell him.
“You’re pretty tan already, baby.” He draws his finger across my bared shoulder, sending a shiver through me. “You know what my favorite thing in the world right now is?”
I frown. Where is he going with this? “What?”
He leans in close, his mouth hovering just at my ear. “Your tan lines,” he whispers. “And the fact that I’m the only one who gets to see them.”
I’m blushing. That he can still do that with a few words, a mere look, blows my mind. “You’re bad,” I say when he pulls away from me.
A grin flashes. “You like it.” He glances over his shoulder, checking out his teammates, who are all taking a break like he is. “Look, you should go on home. It’s too damn hot out here for you to sit around. I’ll be done in a few hours, okay?”
I nod, sad he’s kicking me out. But he’s right. It’s so hot outside. Owen’s around here somewhere, helping out with carrying the equipment, organizing stuff, handing out water and whatever else is needed. Drew got him the job, though it’s more of a volunteer thing.
Owen doesn’t care. He’s thrilled to be hanging out with a bunch of cool football players. Plus, it’s keeping him busy.
Keeping him out of trouble.
“I’ll see you later?” Drew asks, grabbing my hand so he can pull me in and give me a kiss.
“Of course.” I don’t work today. My job at The District is still going strong. Colin is a pretty great boss. I think he has the serious hots for Jen and she’s either blind or doesn’t want to see it. That place is like a hotbed for juicy sexy scandal anyway. Not that I play a part in any of it.
I’m riding the happily-ever-after wave with Drew, remember?
“I’m taking you out tonight. Don’t forget, okay?” He smiles at me and I smile back. We haven’t had much time to go out lately. Not that we really do. We prefer to stay home and watch movies. Make out a lot on the couch, as Owen likes to complain.
I did end up moving into that apartment with Owen…and Drew. After what happened with Adele in the parking lot, right in front of his old place, he wanted out of there. I was the one who offered for him to move in with me after a long discussion with Owen, making sure he was okay with it. Which he was.
Now we’re like one big happy family.
“Where are you taking me?”
“That’s a surprise.” His eyes darken, his expression turns ultra serious. “I love you. You know that, right?”
I frown. “Yeah, I know. I love you too. Lots.”
“Sounds like a discount store.” He grins and kisses me again as if he can’t help himself.
“Come on, Callahan! Quit smooching on your girl and get over here!” one of his teammates yells, making us both laugh.
I watch him jog back to where they’re all standing in the middle of the field, my gaze never leaving him. He’s so gorgeous. He’s endured so much yet this is truly the happiest I’ve ever seen him.
I’ve gone with him to a few sessions with Dr. Harris and she pulled me aside at the last one, wanting to talk to me privately. She said she believes I heal him. That the reason he’s been able to cope so well with the aftermath of Adele’s suicide and the near mental breakdown of his father is because of the unconditional support I offer him so freely.
It’s only right, considering what he does for me. My mom has mostly fallen off the face of the earth. I can deal for the most part, but her disappearance has been a struggle for Owen. He doesn’t know how to handle it. Considering Drew remembers what it’s like to be an angry, screwed-up teenage boy, he spends a lot of time with my brother. To the point that one night, as we were drifting off to sleep, Drew confessed if this football thing didn’t work out for him, he was considering staying in school so he could become a counselor and help troubled teens.
I threw my arms around him and told him I thought that was a great idea.
He has the kindest, sweetest heart you could ever know. He’s funny, he’s smart, he knows just what to say to make me smile. He gets grumpy when things don’t go his way. Oh, and also when he’s hungry. He’s too much of a neat freak and I’m sort of a slob so that’s caused a few fights. I get hormonal and sort of bitchy during that time, so he tends to stay clear. My job stresses me out and I like to tell him he has no idea what I’m stressing over since he doesn’t work a real job.
Oh, that really pisses him off. I only said it once. I learn from my mistakes.
We argue. We make up—and that means makeup sex, which is awesome. We finally did it doggy-style months ago and I’m a total fan. No nipple rings, though. He won’t let me. Though we did get matching tattoos on the insides of our right wrists a few weeks ago.
Our initials entwined—D+F.
We laugh together a lot. We’ve also cried a few times. He’s trying to heal his relationship with his dad. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my mom is never coming back.
Our relationship is not perfect. Drew Callahan isn’t perfect either.
But I wouldn’t have him any other way.
I’m nervous as f**k about tonight and wonder for about the eight millionth time if I’m doing the right thing. I try to ignore the doubt that lingers in my mind as I pace the living room, waiting for Fable to come out of the bathroom and finally announce she’s ready to go.
Sometimes, she takes too damn long getting herself all primped up or whatever it is girls do. I’ve told her before I love her just the way she is. Makeup, no makeup. Pretty dress, old raggedy shorts and T-shirt, whatever she’s wearing, I’m all for it. She’s gorgeous.
But then she’ll blow my mind walking out of that bathroom after being in there for a solid hour and I forget all about my impatience. She’s pretty good at that trick.
She’s pretty good at a lot of tricks.
“You need to chill.”
I turn to find Owen watching me, amusement lighting his green eyes. “What do you mean?” I ask.
“You’re all anxious and crazy. Stop worrying. She’s going to f**king love it.” He slaps a hand over his mouth. “Don’t tell her I said that.”
“Don’t worry about it.” I shake my head. The kid has a foul mouth but so do Fable and I. How can we give him grief when we can’t lead by example?
“Seriously, dude. She’s going to love your surprise. Love. It. You’ll make her cry.” Owen shakes his head. “You must be pretty far gone over my sister to want to do this already.”
“I can’t live without her.” And that is no lie. “We belong together. Why not make it official?”
I sound confident but I have a major case of nerves. I’m taking her out to dinner at The District because Colin—who I’m friends with now, unbelievable—offered up the private room for us to use. I jumped at it because no way am I going to do this and make a spectacle of myself.
What if she says no?