Second Chance Boyfriend

By: Monica Murphy

Chapter Eight

I’d do anything to be your everything. – Drew…or Fable?FableI think I have finally stepped into that fairy tale I always wanted to live in, ever since I was a little girl. I’m living it, right at this very moment, getting dressed and ready for a lazy Sunday with Drew.

He gently wakes me up by kissing me all over my face. Soft little kisses that make me giggle since his lips tickle my skin. When he slips his hands between us and starts tickling my stomach I laugh harder, our legs tangling up together, our naked bodies brushing against each other. Which in turn leads to us having slow, delicious morning sex.

But before the slow, delicious morning sex, I searched his body as promised. Mapping it with my lips and my tongue and my hands and my fingers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a tattoo on his ribcage, written in elegant script. It’s a paragraph, more like a string of words in a poem. I trace each word with my finger, trying to decipher their meaning.For a passion that’s

Able to shine like ours

Blessed are we to

Love

Each otherI’m in shock that clean-cut All-American Boy Drew Callahan has a tattoo. And that he got it after we were together.

“What does it mean?” I ask him, slowing skimming the words, each individual letter with my index finger.

He seems surprised by my question. “Read it again,” he says quietly. “Slowly.”

I do so, realizing that the first letter of every sentence spells my name. Reminding me of the marshmallow note he left for me. I’m shocked. Overwhelmed. Touched so deep, tears form in my eyes, and he kisses them away as they fall onto my cheeks. “I wrote those words for you,” he murmurs against my mouth before he kisses my lips. “You’ve turned me into a poet, Fable.”

God, he’s so sweetly romantic I want to lose myself in him forever.

We take a shower together and that eventually leads to more delicious sex, leaving me so spent afterward, my legs are like wobbly noodles when we finally climb out of the shower. He towel dries me, his fingers sliding between my still-wet legs, and he brings me to another earth-shattering orgasm.

Together, we’re absolutely ridiculous. We can’t keep our hands off of each other. And I love it.

I love him.

I put back on my shorts from last night but it’s too cold to wear the stupid lacy top so Drew lets me borrow an old sweatshirt. I pull it on, laughing when it stops just above my knees. I know I look stupid but he says I look cute and then he sweeps me up into his arms and kisses me. Again. Thoroughly.

So thoroughly I finally have to smack his chest and tell him I need to get home so I can check on my brother before we get carried away again.

The disappointment on his face is clear but he respects my wishes and we take off to my crappy apartment. The closer we get, the more nervous I become. What if my mom is home? No way do I want her to meet Drew. Not yet, anyway, because if this is going to continue between us, then eventually they’ll have to meet. It’s just a reality I don’t want to face.

My mom is so incredibly embarrassing, with her drunken, trashy ways, how she flat-out doesn’t care about anything or anyone but herself. He thinks his family’s all fucked up—well, they are, let’s not fake ourselves out here—but my mom is no prize either.

What’s scary is that I’m constantly afraid I could turn into her. It would be so easy. We’re a lot alike, as much as I hate to admit it.

When we pull into my apartment complex parking lot, I notice my mom’s car isn’t there, thank goodness. The relief that floods me is palpable and I immediately feel lighter. Drew comes with me to my apartment, even though I tell him he can go ahead and leave since I have to work late. But he insists on walking me to my door like some sort of gentlemen.

I think he’s afraid to let me go, truthfully. And I feel the same way.

Pulling my key ring out of my purse, I go to unlock the door, when it swings open, startling me so much I drop my keys. Owen’s standing there, clad in sweatpants and an old T-shirt, his hair an absolute mess. He throws himself at me, his arms so tight around my middle, I can hardly breathe.

“Where have you been?” he asks, giving me a shake when he withdraws from me. “I’ve been worried sick!”

“I thought you were at your friend’s house.” His outburst surprises me. Talk about a role reversal. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him so worked up.

“I’ve been home alone all night. Mom’s over at Larry’s house. She thought you were coming home. So did I. I tried to text you and call you but you never answered.”

Crap. “My phone must’ve died.” I bend to grab my keys. The excuse sounds weak but it’s the truth.

Owen glances over my shoulder, his gaze alighting on Drew. “Who the hell is this?”

Jeez, why does he sound so hostile? The look he’s sending Drew could kill, it’s so intense.

“Um…” I don’t know how to answer. This is awkward. I didn’t expect my brother to be here to greet us.

“Wait a minute.” Owen steps around me so he can stand directly in front of Drew, who towers over him. “You’re Drew Callahan, aren’t you?”

Oh, shit. I didn’t expect my brother to recognize him, but Drew is one of the star players on the college team. They have some minor celebrity status here in town.

“I am.” Drew’s smile is easygoing and full of warmth. “You must be Owen.”

“Yep. And you’re the asshole who broke my sister’s heart.” Without warning, Owen rears back his arm and punches Drew right in the chin.

And sends him sprawling to the ground.

“Oh my God!” I grab at Drew’s shoulders but he’s already picking himself back up, his expression full of disbelief. Thank God, he doesn’t appear angry. More like stunned.

I’m stunned too.

“What the hell was that for?” I ask Owen, who’s rubbing his knuckles as if they hurt.

Little shit. They probably do. He deserves the pain for pulling a stunt like that.

“He’s the reason you’ve been so miserable these last few months. I can’t freaking believe it. You went out with Drew Callahan?” Owen points a finger at Drew. “When the hell did this happen?”

“Watch your language!” It’s the only thing I can think of to say. I don’t know how to answer him. I certainly don’t want to confess exactly how Drew and I came together in the first place. It sounds so sleazy.

“If you snuck around and saw him, I don’t know why. He’s a big deal, Fable. Huge.” Owen shakes his head. “I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I didn’t put it together, what with his initials on your foot.”

“What does he mean, my initials on your foot?” Drew’s gaze drops to my feet. I’m wearing my black heels from last night, and the tattoo is obvious in the daylight. Hell, it was obvious last night and earlier this morning, but I don’t think he was paying much attention to me past my thighs.

The simple little outline of a heart sits high on the top of my left foot, the letters D and C are stacked on top of each other in the middle. My homage to Drew and the week we spent together. The love I have for him. I got the tattoo in a fit of irrationality. I wanted to prove to him that I loved him enough to have him permanently etched into my skin.

And he never showed back up. A foolish wish for my foolish heart, I guess.

This was so not the way I wanted him to find out about the tattoo. Besides, compared to the beautiful poem he wrote for me, my tattoo seems sort of trite. Meaningless.

“She got it right after Thanksgiving,” Owen explains, glaring daggers at Drew. “She wouldn’t explain what the DC stood for either. Claimed it was for her favorite city but I knew she was full of absolute shit. I mean, come on. She’s never even left California. Sorry, Fabes,” he adds when he notices I’m ready to chew him out for the curse.

“You got a tattoo. With my initials on your foot.” Drew shakes his head, his expression incredulous. “Why didn’t you tell me? Show me?”

I shrug, not willing to have this conversation in front of my brother. “It’s silly.”

“It’s definitely not silly.” He rushes toward me and takes my hands, his gaze dropping to my feet. I notice his jaw is red, it looks a little swollen, and I can’t believe my brother hit him so hard. The element of surprise had definitely been in Owen’s favor. “I love it.”

“Your tattoo has so much more meaning,” I whisper as he draws me into his arms right in front of my brother. I can feel Owen’s glare boring into our backs but I ignore it. “You wrote a poem for me, Drew.”

“And you put my initials forever on your foot, Fable. I think we’re both on the same wavelength here or something.”

I hug him close and laugh, because I don’t know how else to react. Owen clears his throat, reminding me he’s why I’m here in the first place, and I pull away from Drew, offering him a reassuring smile. “Maybe we should talk later tonight? After I get off work?”

“Yeah.” Drew smiles, his blue eyes glowing. “That sounds good. Want me to pick you up?”

“Yes, that sounds perfect.” He leans in and kisses me again as if he can’t help it. “I’m off at eight.”

“You have a ride to work?”

“I can figure something out.” I smile and he walks away, glancing at me over his shoulder one last time before he heads down the stairs and toward his truck.

“What in the hell was that?” Owen asks when I drag him into our apartment and shut the door.

“What are you talking about?” I stick my hands in the front pocket of the sweatshirt and breathe deep, inhaling Drew’s scent. God, he smells good. I might never want to give this sweatshirt back again. Might never want to wash it again either.

Gross but true.

“You’re seeing Drew Callahan? He’s your boyfriend?” Owen’s eyes are wide. “This is crazy shit, Fabes. He’s a total superstar. Like, a college legend. And you’re with him?”

I shrug. “I’m not quite sure how to define what’s going on between us, but yeah. I’m with him. I guess.”

“Holy hell.” Owen starts to laugh. “I need to tell my friends. Wade is going to shit a brick! Does Mom know?”

“No, no one knows. I don’t want anyone to know yet.” I want to hold Drew close and keep him my little secret for a few more days. Once people start to figure out we’re actually a couple, things might get a little weird.

“Why the hell not? He’s awesome!” Owen scowls, as if remembering my misery. “Well, not really considering how he must’ve hurt you pretty bad to make you so mopey. I’ve never seen you like that. What happened between you two?”

“It’s too hard to explain.” I wave a hand, dismissing my past with Drew. Like I’m going to tell my brother any details. “Besides, let’s talk about the fact that you punched him. What the hell where you thinking?”

“That was amazing. My hand still fucking hurts. Sorry.” I smack him on the head before he ducks out of my reach. “I can’t believe I actually threw a punch at Drew freaking Callahan and he didn’t knock me out for it.”

“I think he was too startled by the fact a little kid tried to kick his ass,” I said wryly.

Owen shakes his head. “I’m not a little kid anymore, Fabes. When are you going to realize that?”

I roll my eyes but refrain from making a remark. Let him think fourteen is all grown up. He’ll know the truth someday. “I’m starved. Still want to go to breakfast?”

“Yeah, sure. But how are we going to get there? We don’t have wheels. Should’ve kept your boyfriend around and made him drive us there.”

“We can walk to that little diner down the street. It’s not too far,” I suggest. I need to talk to my brother alone, not with Drew as a witness. I’m eager to have him back in my life but I need to ease him into the chaos that is my immediate family.DrewEver been on a complete and total high, only to have it come crashing down within a matter of minutes?

Yeah. Me too.

All morning I’ve felt amazing. Like I’m walking ten feet off the ground. Even getting punched by Fable’s brother doesn’t faze me, though my jaw still aches. The kid is packing some strength, I’ll give him that.

I head back to my apartment and crash out, my face buried in the pillow Fable used last night. I can smell her, her scent fills my head and I want her. Bad.

She has a life, though. A job she needs to go to, a brother she needs to take care of. I understand, I get it. I’m just damn thankful she’s allowed me back into her life and is giving me the opportunity to make up for all the stupid shit I did to hurt her.

I drift off to sleep with her scent surrounding me, her face in my thoughts. I wake up to my cell phone ringing and I’m hopeful it’s her but it’s not.

It’s my dad.

Great.

“What’s up?” I try to infuse some cheeriness into my voice but I’m afraid it sounds false. I saw him only yesterday morning. What happened that he needs to call me within twenty-four hours of leaving me?

“I had a long talk with Adele last night,” he says, his voice grim.

My stomach lurches. Just hearing her name makes me sick. “Yeah?” God, what could she have said? What did she tell him?

“I’m reconsidering the divorce proceedings.”

Damn. Just when I thought we could have her out of our lives for good. “Why?”

“She swears she’s never been unfaithful to me. It’s all a bunch of vicious rumors spread by some women at the country club who hate her.” Dad pauses, takes a deep breath. “Should I believe her?”

“That’s not for me to tell you,” I automatically say because hell, no. I’m not playing any part in his decision.

Besides, I know she hasn’t been faithful to him—from personal experience.

God, I feel like I’m going to throw up.

“She’s messing with my head. She called me when I was driving back from seeing you and when I told her where I’d been, she freaked out. Demanded that I come and see her right away. So I went home and she…attacked me.”

I close my eyes, wishing he would shut up.

“She was crazed. Like she couldn’t get enough of me. I know you don’t want to hear it, but it was the best sex we’ve had in…years. I don’t get it. I don’t get her.”

“She’s using sex to keep you with her, Dad.” My voice is tight and I feel completely strung out. I hate hearing all of these details. Worse? I hate hearing that she attacked him after she knew he’d spent time with me.

What did that mean? I can only assume that maybe she thought of me when…

Fuck. I can’t finish the thought.

“She probably is,” Dad readily agrees. “But if she keeps it up, I might not be ready to let her go yet.”

He’s an idiot. I want to tell him that, but I keep my mouth shut. Their problems are none of my business. “I guess that’s up to you,” is all I say in response.

“Listen. We talked a lot last night, Adele and I. She wants you to come home for the summer. She says she misses you and wishes you were around more. And I agree. Could you consider it? For us?”

That would be a mighty hell no, but I’m not going to be a dick to my dad now. He’s still too fragile over this whole should-I-divorce-or-not deal with Adele. And look at her, trying to worm her way back into my life. Trying to get me to go back there. Does she think I’m an idiot? “I gotta go, Dad. Call me if you need to talk again.”

“Tell me you’ll at least consider it, son. Adele misses you and loves you so much. Ever since we lost Vanessa, she hasn’t been the same. You know this. You could bring some happiness back into her life.”

“See ya, Dad.” I hang up before he can say anything else. I don’t think I could stand it.

My appetite gone, my nerves shot, I pace around my apartment, completely on edge. I throw on some shoes and try and go for a run but all I can think about is my dad staying with Adele. Of her trying to convince me to go back home and spend the summer with them. I can’t go back there. Thanksgiving had been bad enough. I still haven’t fully accepted what she told me. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around her revelation.

Could my little sister really have been my…daughter?

Panic fills me and I stop running, glancing around as I stand in the middle of the sidewalk. Wishing like hell I had someone to talk to. Anyone.

Fable.

But she’s at work. It’s late afternoon and her shift started at three or four. Hell, I can’t remember. I can’t waltz back into her life and lay the heavy shit on her anyway. I wish like hell it wasn’t a Sunday or I’d call Dr. Harris…

Deciding to hell with it, I yank my phone out of my sweats pocket and dial her number. She answers on the third ring.

“I’m surprised to hear from you on a Sunday,” is how she greets me. “Are you all right?”

“Not really,” I admit, thankful she doesn’t berate me for contacting her on her day off. “My dad called.”

“Hmm. That doesn’t sound good. Lucky you, I’m in the mood for a coffee. Want to meet for one in, say, twenty minutes?”

Relief floods me. How did I get so lucky to find Dr. Harris in the first place? Maybe this isn’t commonplace, her meeting a patient for coffee on a Sunday afternoon, but I need to get all this bullshit off my chest. Not just the bad stuff that happened with my dad, but also my night and morning with Fable. “I’ll be there,” I tell her after she rattles off an address of a nearby Starbucks.* * * *“So how do you feel about what your dad said?”

I take a drink of my iced coffee. “I’d rather he divorce her. I want her out of my life for good.”

“I thought Adele was already out of your life.” Doc looks at me in that certain way she has. The one that reminds me I’m an adult and I’m the one in charge of what happens to me.

“She is. But I want her out of my dad’s life too. As long as she’s still married to him, she’s a barrier between us. One I don’t want to cross,” I say with a finality I desperately want to believe in.

“That’s you’re decision to make and one you’re allowed to have. You know it will hurt your father if you cut him off completely without an explanation.” She sips from her straw, her expression one of utter contentment, but I know what she’s trying to do.

“No way am I telling him what happened between Adele and me. He’ll hate me for it.” I shake my head.

“He shouldn’t. You’re his son. You were a child when it started. You were a child when you put a stop to it. She was in the wrong. Don’t you think he’ll see that?” she asked, her voice soft.

I have no idea. I’m too scared to take that chance. “He’ll see what he wants to see. He’ll believe what he wants.”

“Do you really have that little of faith in your dad?”

Ouch. I never thought of it like that before. “It’s not that I don’t have faith in him. It’s just…she knows how to twist everything up. She’s a master manipulator and she’s been playing the both of us for years.”

“You give her too much power. She knows it and she revels in it,” Dr. Harris points out.

I shrug. “Maybe I do. It’s easier to avoid her rather than face the truth.”

“You know how I feel about you constantly running away from your problems. It’s not healthy. And they always catch up to you sooner or later.” She takes another sip of her drink and then pushes the cup aside so she can rest her arms on the edge of the table. “Enough focusing on the bad. Let’s talk about the good. Let’s talk about Fable.”

Just like that, I’m smiling as I study my cup, running my finger through the condensation that’s formed there. “I already told you I was with her last night.”

“Have you two talked much?”

“I said I was sorry.”

“For what?”

“Ditching her.” I meet Doc’s gaze from across the tiny table. The Starbucks is emptying out, it’s already near six. Most people are home fixing dinner or whatever. “We need to talk more.”

“Wouldn’t you want to make sure that you do? Are you going to explain to her why you ran away? It seems that she’s good for you,” Dr. Harris says with a slight smile. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so happy.”

My smile grows. “She is good for me. I’m in love with her.” Saying the words out loud makes them that much more real. And scary.

“Have you told her that?”

“Not yet.”

“Why?”

“What if she doesn’t love me back?” My absolute biggest fear is I lay it all out on the line for Fable and she doesn’t feel the same. Or worse, she laughs at me.

Though I know deep down inside she would never do that. I also know, deep down inside, that she probably feels the same way about me that I feel about her.

It’s easy to write the words I love you, to compose poems about her, declaring my undying love for her with a bunch of flowery sentences. It’s another thing entirely making that declaration to her face. Scary enough just saying the words out loud to my shrink.

“Loving someone is taking a constant risk with your emotions. When you find the right person, the one you know you want to be with, that person becomes worth the risk.” Dr. Harris pauses, studying me carefully. “Do you believe Fable is worth the risk to you?”

“Yes,” I say without hesitation.

She smiles. “If that’s what you believe, then she’ll want to hear those words, Drew. I bet she thinks you’re worth the risk as well.”

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