Authors: Ashley Christine
Copyright © 2013 Ashley Christine
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Published by Ashley Christine, July 2013
Cover Image ©
Aarrttuurr - Fotolia
The characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any similarity to real persons, living or dead,
is coincidental and not intended by the author.
All written material is the intellectual property of the author, except for any song/movie titles, lyrics or mentions of music/movies are property of their particular writers and copyright holders.
Man's love is of man's life a part; it is a woman's whole existence. In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love.
Scarlett was playing with the braid in my hair when Addison called to check on Seth.
“Hey girl,” I answered the phone and smiled at my little one on my lap. “Yes, he's out like a light. He is an angel.”
let out a sigh of relief and thanked me for babysitting while she and Blaine had an afternoon alone. I know the feeling of needing just a short time alone, even when I use the bathroom I am typically interrupted by someone needing something. Lately, it has been Scarlett teetering in and standing at my feet, staring up at me. Maybe she will take a big interest and be easy to potty train when the time comes.
“Addy, just enjoy yourself. Don't be in a rush to come and pick him up. I expect you to walk in here bow-legged.” I laugh
ed and bounced Scarlett on my knee, who was giggling uncontrollably.
expect to be achy until next week,” Addison said huskily. “I'll see you in a little while! Thanks again.”
ed into the kitchen, and Scarlett immediately let go of my hair and reached for him.
“Daddy!” She squeal
ed and wiggled her chubby little fingers, trying to persuade him to pick her up.
ere, my little lady.” Alex leaned in and took her from my lap. “Hi, babe.”
“What do you want for dinner? I was thinking spaghetti and garlic bread. You know how much Scarlett loves noodles.”
He twirled around the kitchen and Scarlett squealed again. “Sounds good, what do you want me to do?”
“Nothing, I'll make it. You keep her busy.” I grab
bed her hand when they whisked by me and quickly gave it a little peck with my lips.
ed sleeping about another hour, and we were just sitting down to eat dinner when he woke up and started to cry.
ed up from his chair. “Can I get him?”
d. “Sure babe. Just be careful, okay?”
Isaac is an
exceptional child—not that I’m biased or anything. I could not ask for a better kid. He has been a devoted older brother to Scarlett, and a particularly helpful uncle since Seth had come over.
ed extremely slowly out of the living room with Seth carefully snuggled into his arms. His steps were slow and cautious, making sure the baby was safe during the ten foot walk to the kitchen table. He handed Seth to me, then sat back down in his chair, quickly resuming his meal by shovelling spaghetti into his mouth.
“Hello, blue eyes!” I beam
ed at Seth and kissed him softly on the forehead. He still smells new, even though he is seven months old; his skin is soft and warm. “Mommy and daddy will be here soon.”
Scarlett finally fell
asleep just before midnight. She snuggled into the pillow and sweetly curled her lips into a tiny smile.
“Sleep sweet my baby.” I
bent down and nuzzled her black hair with my nose, breathing in her scent and kissing her head softly. “Mama loves you.”
bedroom is in total darkness when I crawled into bed and reached my arm out to feel for Alex. My hand touched nothing but empty sheets.
Where is he?
I quietly called his name but got no answer. I got out of bed and tip-toed down the hallway, past the kids' rooms and looked in each doorway, but he is not around. At the end of the hallway, I peeked into the bathroom, but it was empty too.
“I’m in here,
” Alex's voice softly traveled from down the opposite direction, and I turned on my heel.
When I do f
ind him I stop in my tracks. I’m unable to walk into the room. “Alex, what are you doing?” I asked, softly.
“I don't know. I just like being in here,” he
said, while sitting on an old wooden chair by the window in Jeremiah's bedroom. Staring out the glass and into the darkness. It gives me a chill, and I shiver in my flannel pajamas.
“Come to bed,” I sa
id softly. “Please, babe.”
ed in the chair and looked at me. His blue eyes almost black from the size of his pupils.
Has he been crying?
I tilted my head to the side and looked at him with concern.
d deeply and got up off the chair; he walked over to me, and I reached for him.
“I guess I just...” He shrug
ged his shoulders and leaned into me. “Miss him.”
ped my arms around his shoulders and pulled him as close to my body as I could. “I know, babe. I know.”
has been weird around here without Jeremiah. He left such a monumental void in this house, and I don't know if anything will ever fill it. If anything
fill it at all. He was such a large presence. Truly a wonderful man and I can see why the people who loved him so much are not the same anymore.
Blaine went through
a dark phase that Addison said was very straining. She would find him standing and staring blankly off into the distance when he was in the field, or even just standing on the porch. She said he would dream about Jeremiah and cry out for him in his sleep.
I have heard Alex
mumble his name a few times in his sleep as well, but I couldn't make out anything else he was saying.
was hard living in a house like this. With three members of a family all gone but yet everything around is theirs, and it has remained unchanged. I thought about sprucing up the furniture and changing some things, but I didn’t know how Blaine would take it, or if Alex would even consider the idea. But, I can't live here like this; like it's a mausoleum.
were in bed, I could feel Alex's body calm, and he started to breathe softly. I played with the ends of his dark hair and twisted the strands between my fingers. He turned on his side to face me, his eyes now back to their regal shade of blue. They glistened slightly when he lifted his lips to smile at me.
“I love you, Riley.” He trace
d a line up my arm with his fingertips. “I've always loved you.”
ned and rolled my eyes. “Oh
, I know
d me, and it's tingly and electric. Just like the first time he kissed me, when he was eighteen, and I started noticing how freaking hot of a man he was turning in to. If Addison only knew how badly I wanted to maul her brother. When he walked down the aisle at his high school graduation, I was done for.
He pulled that black gown off himself and accidentally pulled his t-shirt off with it. Revealing a body I had no idea was under there that whole time. Or, maybe I just wasn't paying attention.
I stood in the auditorium of Bangor High with Addison and her parents, and I had to clench my thighs together at the sight of Alex.
ere I was, a twenty-three year old college student with a four year old son, getting all hot and bothered over my best friends younger brother. But damn, he just wasn't that annoying little kid anymore. He blossomed and grew and...
Oh, the thigh clenching.
hat night his parents were throwing a massive party to celebrate his graduation, and after dropping Isaac off at home with my parents, I shoved my sexiest bikini into my purse and headed out the door.
The Cole's house wasn't just huge
. It was
. Complete with the biggest pool I'd ever seen in a back yard and the most romantic little hot tub area surrounded with rocks and flowerbeds. Addison's parents were extremely meticulous about their landscaping and always made sure their property was flourishing.
was sitting at a round glass patio table when I walked through the Cole's house and out on to the giant stone landing. Her parents went all out for Alex's party; they had Chinese lanterns strung everywhere, floating candles in the pool and hot tub, and even a fully stocked Tiki bar.
“Hey, Cole!” I
raised my hand and wave to Addison, she beamed at me and beckoned me over to her.
was sitting there too, looking like a smug asshole, as he always did. Like he was too good for the party, or he just didn’t care about anything at all. He looked up at me, over the rim of his glass, while he took a sip from his drink. I didn’t even acknowledge he was there.
“Addy, this is gorgeous! Your mom
thoroughly spoiled him again, huh?” I gushed.
ed her eyes and shrugged. “Mama C loves her baby.”
d and nodded my head, agreeing with her completely. Alex was spoiled rotten, but Addison was too, even though she probably did not see it the same way.
ed out the chair from beside her and sat, scanning the vast yard for a visual on the now-legal
Riley, can I get you a drink?” Jacob's words startled me, and I looked at him like he had grown two heads. “Cosmo? Martini? What'll it be?”
ed at Addison expectantly, then back to Jacob. “Umm, Cosmo please.”
When Jacob left
the table with a smile to fetch my drink, I turned to Addison and gaped at her. “Did I just hallucinate that? What's up with him?”
ged and pulled her long gorgeous red hair over her shoulder. “Don't know, he's been weird lately. Really nice to me. Almost
nice, ya know?”
“Be careful, Cole. He's always rubbed me the wrong way,” I sa
id, looking at Jacob while he stood at the bar.
s wearing khaki shorts, a golf polo from The Club, and an argyle sweater tied around his shoulders. I snorted at the sight of him; straight up Square. Or, wanna-be Country Club Ken doll.
No, he's not pretty enough for that.
When Jacob returned to the table he handed me my pink cocktail and reached for Addison's hand. “I'm going to go mingle.”
She smiled up at him and pulled her hand from his grasp.
Within seconds, water splashes all three of us and instinctively Addison and I squeal
ed like little girls. Jacob's eyes blazed a scary copper colour, and I turned to see who he was gunning down with his eyes.
“Girls! Get up and get
into the pool. Now!” Alex shouted and quickly whipped his fingers through his hair, sending more spray at us.
stood at his side and then started to circle us like vultures.
still reeling from the gloriously soaking wet man standing behind me. I didn’t even notice Jacob sulk off. Addison laughed and agreed to go swimming.
“Riley, let's go!” She
said and pulled at my hand.
ned to face her, praying I was not blushing fuchsia. “I need to change!”
ed in and put his cold and wet hands on my shoulders, gently sliding my hair away from my ear. “Riley,” he said, in the most sexy low tone. “Get into my pool.
The Cole's ha
d most likely invited everyone Alex knows. The music was playing loudly and people seemed to be having a really good time. The water in the pool was rippling constantly from all the bodies in it, and there were teenage girls
Fortunately, for me, and very unfortunately for them, Alex didn’t seem to be fazed by them at all. He had been playfully touching me since I slid under the cool water in my black Victoria's Secret bikini.
“Alex! Chicken fight!” Some guy yell
ed from the other side of the pool, and almost all the girls in the water screamed with excitement at the same time.
Addison and I look
ed at one another, rolled our eyes in unison and laughed. There's no way we were like that when we were in high school.
Well, okay, maybe a
One of Alex's friends,
Dan, an exchange student, lifted Addison up onto his shoulders with a swift movement and she giggled once she was up and out of the water, gripping her fingers in his hair tightly.
“Let's get 'em, Addison!”
Dan roared in a delicious Australian accent, and she laughed.
felt feather-light touches on the back of my thighs, and by the time I looked down I was being lifted up out of the water too, onto the shoulders of someone. I let out a “whoa!” and quickly fumbled to get any sort of grip on something so I didn’t fall off.
“I got you, babe.” Alex turn
ed his face to look at me, his cheek brushed my leg as he gently squeezed my calves with his hands. “Ready?”
Oh. My. God.
“Umm...” I stammered, like an idiot. “Y-yes.”