Second Chance Boyfriend

By: Monica Murphy

Chapter Nine

We are afraid to care too much for fear that the other person does not care at all. – Eleanor RooseveltFableThe restaurant is relatively quiet, which I guess is the norm for a Sunday night, according to Jen. My shift drags, the four hours feeling like twelve, especially because I’m not keeping constantly busy, which usually helps pass the time.

I check the clock and see that it’s seven thirty. Finally. Thirty minutes until I see Drew and I can’t wait.

Sucks that Colin is here, though. I don’t want him to see Drew pick me up. I promised him there wouldn’t be any drama and that I would keep Drew far away from here.

How was I supposed to know we’d literally kiss—and plenty of other things—and make up? I seriously thought we were through. Done. Finished.

Plus, I’d been so freaking angry with him. Mad that Drew came back into my life like he never left and tried his best to screw with my head. Kissing me, saying he missed me. All the things I wanted to hear but not like that. A confrontation at my work is not the way to go in reconciling a romance.

Funny, how things change completely in a few hours. I feel like my life has been flipped completely upside down.

In a good way.

“You’re antsy,” Jen says as she passes by me.

I’m bouncing on my heels. Sort of hard to do considering the heels I’m wearing. We’re in the dresses tonight. They’re black, they skim our bodies and end midthigh, though the skirt always rides up. The one where I make sure and wear boy-short-cut panties for fear I’ll show everything I have with one wrong move.

I wonder what Drew will think of my dress. I like the way it makes my boobs look and I’m wearing a special bra just for him.

“Full of nervous energy,” I explain, which sounds plain stupid but hey, I’m not lying.

“Why?” She raises a brow, crosses her arms in front of her. We’re hanging out at the waitress station near the bar, out of sight of the few customers who still linger in the dining area. “Does it have anything to do with the guy last night?”

Well, shit. There are no secrets in this place, are there? “Maybe.”

Jen smiles and shakes her head. “Colin is going to kill you.”

“Oh, give me a break.” I wave a hand but my stomach starts turning. What if Colin gets mad about me being with Drew? Not that he can control my personal life, but I did promise him there would be no boyfriend trouble.

“He’s worried about you. He thinks the guy who was hanging around here last night could become a problem. Who is he, anyway? I thought he looked sort of familiar.”

I’m not telling her. Bad enough Owen is still flipping out over the fact I’m dating Drew. If that’s what I can call it.

“He’s no one that you would know,” I lie, because practically everyone in this small town has heard his name mentioned once or twice.

“Huh, well, if I were you, I’d keep him a secret,” Jen warns.

Okay, now I’m getting irritated. “What’s up with Colin being so nosy about our personal life, anyway? It’s sort of weird, don’t you think? I mean he’s our boss. Isn’t he afraid of crossing a line?”

“Trust me, he always stays far enough over the line to never do anything improper,” Jen says, rushing to his defense, which is no surprise. She lives with the guy, after all. Talk about improper, but who am I to judge? “He doesn’t want any trouble at work. There’s been drama at his restaurants in the past, especially with the people who’ve worked for him. He has a strict no-dating policy for his employees.”

Oh, I bet he does, so why does Jen live with him?

“And I’m sure you’re wondering what’s going on between us, but it’s nothing. Absolutely nothing,” Jen says as if she can read my mind. “He’s merely kind enough to offer me a place to stay while I get my crap together again.”

“That’s very nice of him,” I say and she rolls her eyes.

“I’m sure you think we’re having some sort of secret love affair.”

“If you say you don’t, then you don’t.” I shrug.

“Just…be careful, Fable. I like you. You’re the nicest person in this place because as you realize, we work with a bunch of bitches.” We both laugh over this. The other girls virtually ignore us. Luckily enough, it’s only T who’s working with us tonight and she’s too professional to be catty. “But Colin considers you on probation, so one wrong move and he might fire you.”

“I won’t make any wrong moves,” I reassure her. No way can I afford to. I need this job.

“Good.” Jen smiles and pats me on the arm. “I need to go check on my table.”

I watch her leave, wondering if she harbors some sort of secret crush for Colin. If she does, I can’t really blame her. I may have feelings for Drew and think he’s the most gorgeous man on the planet, but there’s no denying how attractive Colin is. He’s charming too. I can see why girls might fall all over themselves just for a chance to get with him.

For a brief, shining moment, I almost wanted to get with him myself. He has a powerful allure to him that’s hard to deny. But I’m too wrapped up in Drew to want any other guy.

For once, I feel relatively secure over my feelings and relationship with Drew too. Relatively being the key word, since I don’t quite know what to call what’s happening between us.

I need a definition. Tonight, we’re going to talk, Drew and I. I’m going to get to the bottom of this and figure out what’s happening between us. If he so much as tries to bolt the minute I confront him with this, I just might kick his ass.

The last thirty minutes goes by quick and I’m thankful Drew doesn’t come into the restaurant to pick me up, as shallow and silly as that sounds. But Colin is lingering around the hostess desk, his gaze questioning when I tell him good night as I head toward the door. I’m prepared when he asks if I need a ride home and I offer him a breezy no-thanks as I push open the door and head out in the dark, briskly cold night.

I spot Drew’s truck in the lot and I hurry to it, excitement coursing through me when I see him open the driver’s side door and climb out. He’s wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt and he looks amazing.

“Hi,” he says when I approach, offering me a crooked smile. “Nice coat.”

It’s the same stupid puffy coat I wore the night he asked me to be his pretend girlfriend. The one I hate with a mad passion but it’s the warmest coat I own and it’s an extra-cold night. I decided to forget being vain and went with the warmth factor when I slipped it on before I left for work.

“Thanks. I hate it,” I say with a laugh, making him laugh too. “It’s so puffy. It makes me look like a little round ball.”

“It definitely doesn’t make you look like a ball,” he says, his gaze doing a slow perusal of me. “Actually, you look like you have nothing on underneath it, which I know can’t be the case. Unless I’m dreaming and you happen to reveal that you really are naked under there.”

I shiver. Not only from the cold, but from his words, from the heat in his gaze. “Keep dreaming. I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you.”

“Damn.” Chuckling, he grabs my hand and draws me toward him, giving me a quick, warm kiss. “You ready to go?”

I nod slowly. I could so get used to this, my boyfriend coming to pick me up from work, offering me sweet kisses and sexy words. Then we can go back to his place and get naked together.

Yeah, that sounds like a dream come true.

I climb into the truck and we head to his place, though he does ask me if I’d rather go home so I can be with Owen. I find the offer sweet but reassure him Owen’s at his friend’s house for the night. They’re working on a project together that’s due tomorrow and Wade’s mom promised me she would supervise.

I really love that lady. She’s so good to Owen—and to me, too. I think she knows our mom sucks and is rarely around so she tries her best to help us out. I gave her a Christmas gift to show my appreciation and she practically cried when I handed it to her.

“Are you hungry?” Drew glances at me out of the corner of his eye, saving his concentration for the road. “I’m starving.”

“I could eat, I guess,” I say with a shrug. I don’t care about eating. I could live on the high I get just being in Drew’s presence. It’s exhilarating, having him so close, knowing he’s all mine.

“Do you want to go somewhere? Or we could order something in.” He looks at me when he hits a stoplight, his gaze smoldering.

Um, like I want to draw this out any longer? “Let’s order something in,” I suggest. “Maybe pizza?”

“Pizza it is.” He reaches for me, linking our hands together. “There’s some stuff I want to talk to you about.”

Worry gnaws at my gut and I know it’s written all over my face. He squeezes my hand reassuringly when I don’t answer. “Nothing bad about us. It’s about my dad. And…you know. I had to have an emergency meeting with my shrink earlier.”

“I didn’t know shrinks offered emergency meetings.” It must be bad, what he wants to tell me.

“Mine is extra cool. You’d like her. She likes you,” he says, releasing his grip on my hand.

I miss his touch, as lame as it sounds. “She does?”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve told her a lot about you. She’s glad you’re back in my life.” He doesn’t seem too upset, which is promising. I’m glad he has someone to talk to about his personal stuff objectively. If he mentioned that bitch’s name to me, I’d just want to go and kick her ass.

I really, really hate her.

We talk about mindless stuff the rest of the drive to his apartment. I tell him how dead the restaurant was, how long I’ve worked there, how I’ve made a friend. I also tell him about my breakfast with Owen and how bad he felt about punching Drew.

Okay, the last part is a lie. My brother is still thrilled he clocked Drew in the jaw but I can’t tell him that. How rude is this kid, getting all hopped up over the fact that he punched my new boyfriend in the face for making my life miserable?

I secretly sort of love how quick my brother defended me, though. It’s sweet. And it shows that I have reached him. No matter how frustrated I get or think he’s not listening to me, he is. He loves me and wants to make sure I’m okay. Just as much as I love him and always want to make sure he’s okay too.

Well, I’m probably the more protective of the two, but I’m the older one. The responsible one. I have to watch out for him.

“You’re a good sister,” Drew says as he pulls into the parking lot of his complex. “I hope your brother appreciates everything you do for him.”

“I think he does.”

“How about your mom?”

I’m immediately defensive. “What about her?”

He parks the truck and shuts off the engine. “Does she appreciate everything you do?”

“Half the time, I don’t think she realizes we even exist.” My voice is bitter but I can’t help it. I think of her and I’m filled with instant bitterness. It’s like instant coffee, only worse. “She’s never around. She lost her job before Thanksgiving and now she’s always hanging out with her loser boyfriend instead of taking care of Owen or, you know, working.”

“She hasn’t found another job?” He sounds incredulous.

“It’s not that easy when you don’t have a large skill set.”

“So who’s paying the rent at your place?”

“You’re looking at her.” I jab my thumb at my chest.

“And all the bills? The groceries and whatever else that needs to be paid for?”

“That would be me.”

He slowly shakes his head, the respect in his gaze clear. “Why are you so fucking amazing?”

His words send a rush of warmth through me but I bat the sensation down. “I’m just doing what I need to do. Don’t make me out as some sort of hero.”

“Anyone your age would bail. Seriously.”

“I don’t think so,” I start but he cuts me off.

“I do. You’re only twenty, Fable. And you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You take care of your brother and you pay all the bills. You’re always working and trying your best to keep your head above water.” He shakes his head slowly. “I admire you so much. You’re so strong, no matter what life throws at you.”

“I don’t have a choice,” I say with a shrug. “I do what I have to do to get by.”

“I could take lessons from you, you know that?” He leans over the center console and cups my cheek, pulling me in for a lingering kiss. “We always have a choice. And you choose to stay. Don’t ever downplay that. Most people would run like hell from all that responsibility. I would.”

I gaze into his eyes, see all the admiration and passion and…something else in their beautiful blue depths. “You underestimate yourself, Drew. As usual.”

“Fine. I’ve always run away in the past. But you, Fable. You make me want to stay.”DrewThe minute she walks into my apartment, Fable unzips the puffy coat she hates and tosses it on the chair that sits closest to the door. Revealing a short black dress that fits her so tight, I swear I almost swallow my tongue when I first see her in it. Her body is amazing. Her legs, even though she’s short, look endless and I’m tempted to slowly peel the dress off her body and do every wicked thing I’ve imagined doing to her since I left her with her brother this morning.

Instead I ask her what toppings she prefers on her pizza and call in the order.

After I hang up, she tells me she wants to get out of the dress and wear something more comfortable so I offer up a T-shirt of mine. She follows me back to my bedroom, her sweet scent surrounding me as she stands by my side, and we go through my closet together. When I pull the shirt off the hanger, I watch in disbelief as she casually yanks the dress off over her head, letting it fall to the floor.

Standing in front of me in only a black lace bra and black panties that look more like shorts but are still somehow incredibly sexy, she holds her hand out and wiggles her fingers at me, indicating she wants the shirt. I hand it over, my mouth too dry to speak, and she tugs the T-shirt over her head. It’s old, a pale blue with a Hawaiian design on the front. I picked it up when I went on one of those shitty family vacations to the big island and I rarely wear it since it reminds me of a time—and a person—I’d rather forget.

But I love seeing the shirt on Fable. How it swallows her up, the hem hits her at about midthigh. I know exactly what she has going on under that too-big T-shirt, which makes it even sexier. She’s damn hot.

I want her. But I’m waiting, trying my best to be patient. We need to talk like two responsible adults about to embark on a serious relationship. And we need to eat, because I’m starving like a motherfucker since I’ve barely eaten all day.

The pizza arrives less than thirty minutes later and we eat our dinner sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my coffee table, laughing as we watch a dumb comedy movie on TV. It’s a distraction we both need after the serious conversation we had in my truck. I hadn’t meant to take it there, it just sort of happened, not that I regret it.

I hope she believed me when I told her I think she’s amazing. I really do admire the way she handles herself in the face of adversity. She’s so fucking strong and I’ve felt mostly weak my entire life. Feeling sorry for myself and running from my problems has gotten me nowhere.

Being with Fable, even for just that short week, changed me forever. Made me realize I can be strong. I might relapse and fall back into old habits, but being with her again is the reminder I need to keep going.

Keep being strong.

We polish off the pizza and the movie ends, since we came into it more than halfway through. It’s like we both realize the only thing left to do is talk and she’s quiet, chipping off the bright red polish that covers her short nails. Her hair hangs in front of her face and I study it, realizing the shade is different.

“Your hair is darker,” I say out of nowhere.

She glances up at me with a small smile. “You finally noticed.”

“When did you change it?”

“A few days ago.” She focuses her attention on me instead of her chipped-up nails. “Promise you won’t get mad?”

Okay, that’s weird. “Promise.”

“My boss asked that I change it. He said my old color made me look cheap.”

Anger fills me. “He sounds like an asshole.” My impression of him lessens with every thing I learn about the guy.

“He’s really not, because you know what? He was right. I’m a natural blonde but I started highlighting my hair in high school. I kept on bleaching it and damaged the hell out of it too. So Colin took me to a salon, had them cut off a few inches and darken the color. Now I’m like a new version of myself.”

“I liked the old version too,” I say stiffly. “You don’t wear as much makeup either.”

“I gave that up after I came back from Carmel. I was just hiding behind the eyeliner, you know.” She shakes her head. “Do you like the new me?”

“I like everything about you,” I say. “The old you, the new you. All of you.”

She smiles and scoots closer to me. “You say the sweetest things.”

“I mean every word.”

“I know.” She braces her hand on the edge of the coffee table and gets on her knees, coming in so close she brushes her knees against my thigh. “I love that about you. You never, ever hold back what you want to say when it comes to me.”

Turning my head, I meet her gaze. She used the word love so casually and it makes me wonder. Makes me remember what Dr. Harris said. How Fable should be worth the risk if I really am in love with her.

And I know without a doubt I’m in love with her. I can’t deny it.

“Tell me what happened today,” she whispers, her pretty green eyes sparkling in the dim light the lamp is throwing on us. “With your dad.”

I sigh, wishing we didn’t have to go there. Knowing it’s necessary to keep our relationship honest. “My dad came here a few days ago to visit me.”

She looks taken aback. “Really?”

“Yeah. He announced that he was divorcing Adele.”

Her eyes narrow at first mention of Adele’s name and I love that. Her immediate defense of me against the woman who irrevocably damaged me is mind-blowing. “That should be a good thing.”

“It is.” I blow out a harsh breath. “He called me this afternoon and said he was reconsidering his decision.”


“He says when he went home, they sort of…reconciled.” I don’t go into detail like my dad did. I figure Fable didn’t want to know all of that other bullshit I wish I could forget.

“Can I be honest?” she asks.

“Please do.” I need her opinion.

“Your dad is an idiot if he goes back to her.”

I laugh softly. “Trust me, I already know this.”

“Why would he even consider it?” She wrinkles her nose and it’s so cute, I lean in and kiss her there.

“Because she’s a master manipulator and she has my dad’s number.” Which must be sex and lots of promises that will most definitely be broken.

“So your dad got your hopes up in thinking she’ll forever be out of your life and then ruined it all by saying he’s getting back together with her.” Fable leans back on her haunches, resting her clenched hands in her lap. She looks ready to punch someone. “And you panicked and called your psychologist for an emergency session on a Sunday afternoon. She sounds like a miracle shrink if you ask me.”

Sort of like my miracle girlfriend, though I don’t say that. How’d I get so lucky to have not just one but two supportive women in my life? “You nailed it.”

“I’m so sorry, Drew.” Reaching out, she touches my cheek, her fingers gently stroking my skin. “Did it help, talking everything over with her?”

“Yeah.” I close my eyes because her fingers on my face feel so damn good and I want to savor her touch just a little longer. I sense her moving closer, feel the brush of her lips against mine, as light as a feather, and I remain perfectly still, afraid to move for fear of breaking the spell that’s suddenly come over us.

“Would it help talking to me?” She kisses me again, her lips capturing my bottom one only, giving it a little tug before she releases it.

Damn, that felt incredible. Last night and this morning with her had been amazing, but I rushed it in my need to be inside her. She deserves more than that. She deserves to be kissed for hours.

“It always helps, talking to you.” I reach out before she can pull away, my eyes still closed though I know exactly where she is. I curl my hand around her nape and haul her in, our lips perfectly aligned, her breath hot and sweet against my mouth. “Maybe we should talk more later, though. I’m sort of all talked out.”

She braces her hands on my chest, her fingers gripping the fabric of my shirt. “If you’re trying to avoid a serious conversation by using sex as a distraction, I might have to protest.”

I crack my eyes open to find her smiling at me. “Really?”

Slowly she shakes her hand, sneaking her fingers beneath the hem of my T-shirt so she can stroke my stomach. “Not really,” she murmurs before she leans in and captures my lips with hers once more.

We should talk. I know we should. There’s still so much to tell her. But I can hardly think when she’s in front of me, touching me, kissing me. I want to drown in her.

So I do. Just a little while. I touch my tongue to hers and she parts her lips easily, letting me in. My grip tightens in her hair, pulling a little so her head arches back, her pretty neck on display. She moans and I break the kiss, running my mouth down the length of her throat, licking and nibbling the fragrant flesh.

She whispers my name and the sound sends a zing straight to my dick. I’ve waited for this all day. Thought about doing this all damn day to her, with her. I’m a man obsessed.

“Maybe—” Her breath hitches when I bite her earlobe. “Maybe we should talk a little more before we do…this.”

“Do what?” I lift my head so I can study her beautiful face. Her cheeks are pink, her lips swollen, her eyes glazed. I’m teasing her and she knows it.

A little smile tickles the corner of her lips. “You know what.” She tunnels her hands up beneath my T-shirt, her fingernails grazing my skin and I shiver. “You’re being a bad boy, Drew. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“You bring it out of me.” I pull her toward me and she falls into my lap, wrapping her legs around my hips. I think this is our favorite position. I know it’s my favorite position tonight, what with her only wearing those panties and my shirt. I can feel her heat even through my jeans and I groan when she rocks against me.

“Hmm, what else can I bring out?” She’s tugging at my shirt and I hold my arms up, let her tug it off of me. Her gaze runs greedily over my chest as she licks her lips and I stifle the groan that wants to escape.

She’s trying to kill me. I know it.

“I’ve missed you.” Her words surprise me and by the look in her eyes, I think she surprised herself. “Being with you. Seeing you. Touching you. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that we’re sitting here together and it’s not a dream.”

“It’s definitely not a dream.” I touch her face. Gently trace her lips. She’s trembling, I can feel the subtle tremors vibrate beneath my fingers and I bring her lips to mine, connecting them, connecting us for a long, quiet moment.

No tongues, no passionate, out-of-control kissing. Just our mouths touching, we’re inhaling each other’s breaths as we absorb each other. I need this connection. I think she needs it too.

Maybe we need each other too much. But I can’t worry about that now. Not when I have the woman I love in my arms, wrapped all around me.

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