Second Chance Boyfriend

By: Monica Murphy

Chapter Five

None of your scars can make me love you less. – UnknownDrewShe’s gone. One minute she’s in the same fucking room as me, breathing the same air, and then Ty Webster has to act like a disgusting pig and insult her. The girl I love. The girl who I haven’t been with in so long, just seeing her steals my breath and hurts my heart.

So I did what any guy would’ve done to defend his girl. I went after Ty. Was ready to beat the shit out of him too, until all my teammates came at us to break us up. And Fable. Staring at me, grabbing me and trying to pull me off of him. I let her. I looked her right in the eyes and listened to her soft pleas. I left Ty alone all for her.

I would’ve also kicked his ass for her. Even though she’s not really my girl anymore.

And whose fault is that?

“Dude, you need to go apologize to Ty.” Logan is in my face, looking a little more sober. I think the argument sobered up a lot of us. “I can’t have my friends fighting on my birthday.”

“Tell him to apologize to Fable and then we’ll talk.” I shake my head, my earlier buzz gone, gone, gone. Which sucks, because it helped me forget, even for a little while.

But then she had to walk into the room. Beautiful and sexy, and everything I’ve ever wanted. Something was a little off about her appearance, though. She looked like my Fable yet…she didn’t.

“Who the hell is Fable?” Logan frowns.

“The waitress he called a whore.” I can barely get the word out I’m so pissed.

Logan sighed. “You know how he is. Chicks don’t mean shit to him.”

“Yeah, well, he needs to learn some respect.” Before I’m tempted to go back and finish what I started with Ty, I leave the room, head down the narrow hall, where I spot a door that leads outside to the back of the restaurant. I need to cool off. Get my head back together. Maybe just flat-out bail.

I’m sure no one wants me around anymore. I tried to start a fight with one of my teammates over a girl they all consider a whore, and that kills me. Bros before hos and all that other bullshit.

No matter that we’re not really together anymore, Fable will always come first.

I push open the door and find myself in a narrow alley. The unmistakable scent of cigarette smoke lingers in the air and I glance to my right to find her. Fable. Sitting on the edge of an overturned giant plastic crate, puffing away on a cancer stick like it’s her last salvation.

“Smoking kills, you know.” I said that to her the night of the country club dinner. The night I first kissed her, first learned her taste, how she felt beneath my hands, the breathy little sounds she makes when she’s becoming aroused.

She sends me a withering stare, accompanied by an exhale of smoke in my direction. “Then leave so you don’t have to breathe my cancerous air.”

I’m rooted to the spot. Afraid to approach her for fear she’ll tell me to fuck off, which I deserve. “I’m glad I found you. I wanted to talk to you.”

“Really?” She arches a brow, her cigarette dangling from her fingers. “What more could you have to say? I mean, I got your message pretty loud and clear after I didn’t hear from you.”

“You’re right. It was a dick move. I totally deserve your anger.” I take a deep breath. “Listen, I know what I did was wrong. I shouldn’t have walked away from you.”

“You didn’t just walk away. You stayed away for over two months. Probably would’ve been longer too, if you hadn’t seen me tonight, right? Were you just going to avoid me forever?” She bends over and stubs the cigarette out in the tray that’s sitting at her feet.

I stare at Fable, overcome with having her in front of me after not being near her for so long. She’s beautiful, pissed at me and so… God. I don’t even know what to think. Seeing her again is like having a million electric shocks bolting through my veins, both paralyzing me and goading me into action. I’m…overcome.

All I know is I need her. Now more than ever. “I don’t know what I was going to do,” I finally say.

“Typical. I feel like a doll. Like a stupid, pretty doll no one cares about, forgotten on a shelf. Every once in a while, you or whoever else wants to take me down from the shelf and play with me for a bit. Just enough to get my hopes up and make me believe someone really cares about me. Then I’m forgotten again. Like I don’t even exist.” She tosses her head back and gazes up at the dark sky. “My mom was pretty dead on when she named me Fable, wasn’t she? I don’t feel real to anyone.”

“You’re real to me,” I whisper. So damn real, it hurts not to touch her.

I want her in my arms so bad it’s killing me.

She stands and crosses her arms in front of her chest, plumping up her breasts in the sexy-as-hell black bra that I can see through the thin white lace shirt she has on. The outfit kills me. I want to both tear it off of her and throw a coat over her shoulders so no other guy can see her like this. “I can’t do this, Drew. I can’t pretend like seeing you after so long is no big deal when really my heart is cracking in two.” A laugh escapes her, though it lacks humor. “I think it’s best if we stay away from each other. Having you in front of me hurts too much.”

My heart bottoms out. Completely. I can’t even believe she’s saying this. Fighting the panic that threatens to sweep me under, I step closer to her. “Fable…”

She steps back, looking scared, as if she has nowhere to go, and that makes me feel like shit. “You should go.”

I take another step toward her, and she takes another one back, bumping against the wall behind her. She’s trapped, she knows it, and all I can think is thank God she can’t run away from me. “You don’t want me to leave.”

“Yes, I do.” She nods, her expression firm, but her voice is weak.

I move in so close I invade her personal space. Her warmth, her scent wraps around me, intoxicating me, and I brace my hands on the wall above her head, my arms bracketing her. I’ve got her completely caged in, and as I gaze down at her pretty, angry upturned face, all I can think is how much I want to kiss her and smudge that bright red lipstick all to hell. “How late do you work?” I ask, my voice low, my thoughts…dirty. I want to get her home. Naked. In my bed. Impossible considering how I’ve ruined this fragile thing between us, but I have hopes I can turn everything around.

The trembling in her body is a clue she’s not over me. The way she’s looking at me with all that pent-up longing in her gaze tells me I still have a chance too.

“Too late to meet with you after.” Reaching out, she pushes at my chest, her slender hands resting on my front, and I hiss in a breath as if she’s burned me.

But shit. It feels like she has. Having her hands on me again after so long, it’s like she’s branding me. Making her claim with just a touch.

She has no idea I’ve belonged to only her for months.

Without thought I lean in, my lips going for hers, but she turns her head at the last second and I end up kissing her cheek instead. She’s quivering, little shuddering breaths escape from her parted lips, and I close my eyes, desperate to calm the pounding of my heart as I nuzzle the side of her face. “I really fucked up, didn’t I?” I whisper against her skin.

Fable nods, draws in a deep breath as her hands drop away from my chest. “You did.”

“Tell me what I can do to make it up to you.” I need to know. I can’t let her think this is over between us.

She still keeps her face averted, as if she’s afraid to look me in the eyes. “It’s too late. There’s nothing you can do. It’s o—over between us.”

I remove my hand from the wall to cup her cheek, forcing her to look at me. Those big, scared eyes meet mine and for a moment I’m lost. Like we’re back in time and at my parents’ guesthouse when we were about to embark on something big. Something serious. I had this girl in the palm of my hand and she had me. But I was such a chickenshit, I let her slip right out of my grip and now look at her.

She’s…different. Her entire life has changed in a matter of weeks. And I had nothing to do with it. She’s moved on while I’m still stuck.

The realization is staggering.

“I need to get back to work,” she whispers. “You should go back to your friends.”

I stroke her face, let my fingers trace the delicate line of her jaw. She closes her eyes, I notice the subtle movement of her throat as she swallows and I dip my head, this time making that connection I so desperately want. My mouth on hers, breathing her breath, tasting her lips, the sweet, mysterious depths within. She parts her lips immediately and I take advantage, slipping my tongue inside, tangling it with hers.

A groan escapes me and she breaks the kiss first, our eyes opening at the same time, and we stare at each other without saying a word, her gaze dropping to my mouth again. I know what she wants.

I want it too.

We can’t resist each other. This one moment is proof. I need to do something, say something to continue this connection.

I need her. And she needs me. I know it.

“Fable. Everything okay?”

We both turn our heads to see some guy standing a few feet away, big and intimidating, dressed all in black, his gaze sharp as it lingers on me. He looks like he wants to kick my ass.

Great. After his interruption, the feeling’s mutual.

“I’m fine. Just getting back to work.” She shoves at me and I step back, letting her escape. Just like that.

Fable doesn’t look at me as she heads into the restaurant. Doesn’t say a word to me or the guy and we’re left outside alone, glaring at each other, sizing each other up. He’s older, at least in his late twenties, and big.

But I’m taller. And broader. I could take him if I had to.

That I’m thinking like this is totally ridiculous.

“Who the hell are you?” he asks, his voice quiet but edged with steel.

“I could ask you the same question,” I toss back.

He crosses his arms in front of him. “I’m her boss.”

Shit. I don’t want to screw up anything at her job. This place is nice, way nicer than La Salles, and I bet she likes working here a lot more. Bet she makes more money too. “I’m her boyfriend.”

He lifts his brows, a little chuckle escaping him. “Really? Funny, she didn’t mention you when we were together last night.”

I’m so fucking shocked by what the asshole says that by the time I find my voice, he’s gone.FableI hurry back to the private party room, thankful Drew doesn’t follow me. Even more thankful Colin doesn’t follow me either. I wish I could sneak off to the bathroom to gather my thoughts, take a deep breath, something, anything, but I need to get back and help Jen. It’s not fair, leaving T in there helping out when she should be supervising the restaurant.

But I can’t stop shaking. Breathing deep, I can smell him. Drew’s familiar clean scent clings to my skin and my clothes. I press my lips together, run my tongue over them.

God, I can still taste him. He’s all over me and I don’t know if I can stand it. The words he said, how my body reacted when he touched me, when he kissed me…

I want him. But I don’t. He’s put me through hell and back and with one glimpse of him and a few whispered words, I’m lost.

Drew Callahan is my absolute weakness. Like a drug I can’t get enough of. He’s my addiction and if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not looking to kick that particular habit anytime soon.

Slipping inside the room, I see Jen standing in the corner closest to the door by herself. T must’ve left and I feel like immediate crap.

“Are you okay?” she asks me as I approach.

Jen’s low-spoken question pulls me out of my Drew-addled head and I offer her a reassuring smile. “I’m fine. Just…tired.”

“The guys are leaving.” She studies me, her dark gaze careful. “I heard about what they said. They’re assholes, Fable. Don’t let them bother you.”

Great. So they were still talking about how much of a slut I am. In front of my new coworker and potential friend. “Maybe what they said is true.” I square my shoulders and stiffen my spine. Trying for defiant and probably failing miserably.

“I don’t care.” Jen shrugs. “Who am I to judge?”

I think I could like this girl. Could possibly consider her a friend, and I don’t remember the last time I had a close female friend.

We watch as the guys stroll out of the room, the majority of them offering us leering stares as they pass. The birthday boy is the only one who shoots us a semi-apologetic look when he approaches, then slaps a one-hundred-dollar bill into my palm and another one in Jen’s simultaneously.

Well. That made the insufferable evening a little more worth it. Just barely.

“We’re continuing the party elsewhere. This place has turned into a drag.” Ty stops directly in front of me, blowing his beer breath in my face. I wrinkle my nose in disgust. “Wanna come with us? Bring your friend? We’ll show you both a good time, I promise.”

“Screw off, jackass,” Jen mutters, startling Ty.

And me.

Grinning, I tilted my head toward her. “You heard the lady. See ya later.”

He glares at us for a long, quiet moment, his nostrils flaring before he flees the room, leaving us completely alone.

“What a jerk,” Jen says, shaking her head. “I can’t believe he’s so….”

“Blatant? Rude?”

“All that, wrapped up in disgusting slimeball. What a waste.”

“What do you mean?” I start cleaning up the room, as does Jen.

“He’s not bad looking. A complete waste of a handsome face.” She shrugs. “The bigger assholes are usually the really good-looking ones, I’ve noticed.”

She has a valid point.

Colin strides into the room, his gaze alighting on me as if he’s been searching for me for days. “Who’s the guy you were talking to?”

I’m taken aback by his question, the tone of his voice. “What does it matter?” I ask warily.

Jen’s watching us, I can see her out of the corner of my eye. I really don’t want to be having this conversation with her as a witness.

“Jen, could you give us a few minutes of privacy? Why don’t you help out in the bar for a bit?” Colin suggests, his gaze never leaving mine.

She leaves without a word, and we’re alone. The noise from the restaurant dims and I shift on my feet, waiting for the axe to fall. He’s going to fire me, I can sense it. And on the very day I finally felt comfortable enough and gave notice at La Salle’s.

I bet I could beg for my old job back if I had to.

“I don’t like having old boyfriends sniffing around my restaurant staff in a proprietary manner,” Colin says.

His words startle the crap out of me. “Old boyfriends? Who are you talking about?”

“The guy I caught you with outside. He told me he’s your boyfriend.”

My lips part but nothing comes out. I’m still so disgusted by what Ty said to me and Jen, I thought at first Colin was talking about him. But he was referring to finding Drew and me together outside. Drew’s arms around me, holding me close, kissing me. “Not anymore,” I finally say because as far as I’m concerned, we’re not together. We never really were.

But Drew said he was my boyfriend? This…baffles me.

“Well, maybe you should explain that to him. Last I saw, he was still hanging around outside. Almost like he’s waiting for you.” The disgust on Colin’s face is clear. He doesn’t want to deal with my personal problems lingering around his business. Not that I can blame him.

I feel like an absolute screwup.

“I’m sorry. Do you mind if I go see if he’s still around? I can tell him to leave.” Such a weak excuse. I just want to catch a glimpse of him again.

“By all means, get rid of him.” Colin waves a hand toward the door.

I start to go but he stops me, grabbing hold of my arm before I exit the room. “If this becomes a problem, you become a problem. You do realize this, right?”

I nod, embarrassment making me want to run. But I face him head-on, my gaze meeting his. I want him to know I’m not about to risk my job over a guy. They’re so not worth it. “I understand. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Better not.” His voice gentles, as does his touch, and he slowly releases his hold on my arm. “I like you, Fable. I don’t want to have to lose you because of your personal problems.”

Ouch. His honesty hurts but I need to face up to the fact that I caused some trouble tonight. The fight happened because of me. Yeah, the guys had been drunk but the arguing all stemmed from me. My slutty—and not so slutty—past is catching up to me and messing with my future.

I hurry down the narrow hall that leads to the back door and push it open, coming out into the alley to find myself alone.

Drew’s gone.

Glancing toward the parking lot, I see him with the rest of the jerks. For whatever stupid reason I feel betrayed. He doesn’t really like those guys. Never felt as if he fit in, he admitted that to me during our one week together.

So what’s he doing? Why’s he with them? I watch in disbelief as he climbs into the car of one of the other guys, leaving his truck in the parking lot. He’s actually…going with them. I’m stunned.

Irritated.

Without thought I stalk back into the restaurant, seeking out Colin. I find him in the front, at the hostess station, and I go to him, tapping him on the shoulder so he turns around to face me.

“The problem’s been taken care of,” I say with more finality than I actually feel. I’m lying to Colin since I didn’t talk to Drew but I’m not too far off base. No way is Drew coming back here to bug me.

I won’t let him.

“You talked to him.” He raises a skeptical brow.

I nod. “Sure did. Told him not to bother coming back. That we don’t want any trouble.”

Colin is contemplating me. Looking at me like I’m completely full of shit. Which I am. “He comes back here, I’m going to be mad. At you and him.”

“I know.” I swallow hard.

“I don’t like trouble at my restaurant. I don’t like my employees dating each other, I don’t like jealous boyfriends and girlfriends lingering around, waiting to catch their significant others in a bad position. I’m sick of that crap. You need to walk the straight and narrow, Fable, if you’re going to work here. I know I can’t tell you what to do on your personal time but your business time? My time? I expect you to adhere to my rules.”

What a drill sergeant. His words, his attitude surprises me. He usually seems so much more laid back. “I get it. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Colin nods and without another word leaves me where I’m standing. I can almost guarantee it’s never going to happen again because I’m so pissed at Drew, I don’t want to see him ever again.

He left with those guys. He’s off fucking around and doing whatever crazy, stupid thing a bunch of oversexed, drunken jocks do on a Saturday night. And he’s right there with them. Probably going to drink and flirt and mess around just like all the rest.

Tears sting my eyes and I blink them away. I don’t own him. I rejected him outright only moments before. Gave him a free pass to do whatever the hell he wants.

So why am I so upset? Why do I feel like he somehow still belongs to me?

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