An unlikely relationship…
“I love her more than anything.
Going to rehab is torturous, but I would do it every single day of my life if it meant I could keep her.”
Warmth spread around me, coating me like a second skin as I drifted back from slumber. Francesca lay curled beside me, her body pressed close to mine, her blond locks spread over my chest. Deep, even breathing let me know she was still asleep, her chin slightly upturned as her head relaxed on my shoulder. God, she is beautiful and she’s mine. Long, dark lashes sat on her cheeks, pink, full lips puckered where she mumbled incoherently every so often. She was adorable.
Last night, I’d proposed…and she’d said yes. She’d held my heart since the day I saw her sitting on the bus bench reading her romance novel, and I’d finally gotten the balls to do something about it. My alcohol problem was always an issue, but wanting her, needing her, was enough to make me want to change. So, after acquiring her services for my lawsuit, I’d decided it was time for me, Cade Kelling, to be an adult. Be a man. Do something about my demons and get the woman I love. I left for rehab right after the trial, spending three months away from my heart’s desire. Pops, my jackass father, was kind enough to ensure I couldn’t see or speak to Francesca the whole time. Luckily, he couldn’t cut out the mail, so we’d been old school and wrote letters to each other.
Three months wasn’t enough to cure me, not by a long shot, but I was on the road to recovery. Reid, my sponsor, was more than willing to volunteer to be my 24/7 babysitter so I could get out early. The next year would be busy with me going to outpatient therapy and AA meetings every single day. I’d do it all again to see the look on my gorgeous woman’s face when she saw me last night. Francesca was a lawyer, but after quitting the firm she worked at when we first reconnected, she opened her own office. I was released from rehab right before her grand opening party, only she had no idea. I showed up, surprising her with my arrival and a proposal.
The party was a success. Business men and women came from all around the area, filling her small office to the max. Her assistant, Zander, called every connection he had, helping her reach the maximum amount of people. Her best friend, Daphne, had planned the whole thing, making the event fun, professional, and engaging. Speaking of engaging….
Her soft fingers curled around my arm, the sparkler shining as the sun hit from the window. She moaned softly, arching her back like a cat, instantly taking my mind from my memories to her soft body against me. Stretching beside me, her long legs untangled from mine. Her hands released my chest. I watched with fascination, my desire for her growing by the second. Her lids gently opened, revealing her bright, love-filled, brown peepers. I still couldn’t believe she was mine, she wanted me.
“Hi,” she said groggily, causing me to stir with need.
“Hey,” I replied, gazing over every part of her body. “I like this.”
She pulled the sheet to her shoulders, her insecurity getting the best of her. “Like what?”
I looped my finger over the edge, jerking the sheet away and completely off the bed. “Me. You. Naked.” Leaning over, I grasped her fingers, locking them and placing our hands beside her head, lowering mine to capture her luscious lips for a kiss. Tongues collided and a rush of heat flowed through my body. Our night had been miraculous, even better than the first time we’d made love, but all I wanted to do was have her over and over again. I moved my lips to her neck, teasing her with my tongue. Silky skin contracted under my touch, her involuntary shudder visible. Her mouth parted as she sucked in a deep breath.
A soft moan caught in her throat as she released one of my hands, trailing up and down my body. Tingles and shivers ran the length of me as I pushed my knee between her legs, making room for me. She bit her lip as I pressed myself into her warm cocoon. Her eyes rolled back and she gasped with delight when I fully entered her. Her moans vibrated through my ear, pushing me deeper into her warmth. Wrapping her legs around my waist, she pulled me as close as she could, snaking her lips over my neck and shoulders as I moved within her. Her fingers kneaded and scratched at my back, her breathing intensified the faster we went. We rocked in rhythm, our hearts beating as one, our bodies moving as one. I brought her to ecstasy long before I felt the release spurring out of me. She cried out for the second time as I, too, was overwhelmed with pleasure.
I buried my head in her neck, kissing her lightly as we caught our breaths. Her fingers found my hair, lightly threading through it as she massaged my scalp. Lifting my face to see her, I locked our eyes, placing a small kiss on her nose. She giggled into me, pressing her mouth to mine and kissing me hard. I was still deep inside her, and she wasn’t making things any easier for me to get up and get ready for the day.
“Francesca,” I murmured, thrusting into her one last time. “I have a therapy session in less than an hour. We’ll continue this later.”
She growled, grabbing my ass and slithering her body against mine. She felt so damned good. “Are you sure?” she asked seductively. Her dark brown eyes were full of lust, her desire evident with each move her body made.
I groaned, giving her a kiss full of promise and slid out of her. “I’m sorry, I wish I could just stay here with you.”
Laying back on the pillow, she nodded slightly as she watched me walk away from her backwards. “New rule, Cade.”
“What’s that?” I questioned, just as I reached her bathroom door.
“You have to stay naked any time we’re here alone,” she laughed, giving a sexy grin.
“Anything for you, Francesca,” I replied with a wink.
Reid was seated in Francesca’s living room by the time I was showered and dressed. The guy was punctual and high on life…almost to the point of annoying the hell out of me. He did in the beginning, but once I got through all the detoxing and anger that came with the shock to my system, I realized he really only wanted to help me. He was over joyous with his three year sobriety status and flaunted his happy all over. I hoped I got to the point he was at, even if I was slightly scared I’d run everyone in my life off.
Francesca came in the room, her long legs peeking out of the pink fluffy robe she tied around her. Golden hair shone with each move she made, her delicate hands placing a cup of coffee in front of Reid as she granted him one of her heart stopping smiles.
“Hey, Reid,” I said as I stepped behind her, pulling her to lean against my body. She felt so good, fitting perfectly into me. It took all I had to not kick Reid out and take her back to the bedroom.
“Cade.” Reid nodded. “You ready to go?”
Giving a longing glance at the beauty in my arms, I reluctantly nodded. “Yep.”
“It was nice seeing you, Francesca. I’ll bring him back here before we head in for the evening,” he directed to her.
She nodded, her hair brushing against my arms as she did so.
Kissing the top of her head, I squeezed her torso close, “I’ll miss you,” I murmured in her ear, nibbling the lobe before I stepped away.
The smile she gave was breathtaking, her gleaming eyes giving me a look of desire and adoration. She lifted her hand, giving a small wave, before I turned to go.
Reid waited for me on the other side of the door, leaning against the stair rail. He appeared casual and collected, but when it came to being a sponsor, he was all business. He looked me over and gave me a hard glare. “You holding up ok?”
Agreeing, I said, “For now,” I paused, nodding my head back to the house, “she’s pretty amazing, so it distracted me from being out in the real world again.”
He started down the steps and I followed reluctantly. I knew deep down the therapy, the meetings, and all the talking was what I needed. Leaving Francesca hurt, but she was the whole reason I went for help in the first place. Without her love and devotion pouring back into my life, I wouldn’t have checked myself into rehab.
We settled in his car, as my keys were still locked away in Reid’s apartment lock box. After turning the ignition, he turned to me, motioning for me to buckle up. “I’m going over the schedule one more time,” he started, pulling the car carefully on the street. He wasn’t just Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, he was also the most cautious driver in the world. He drove slower than my grandpa, and he was eighty-nine years old.
“We already went over it three times,” I groaned, slumping back in the seat. I knew he’d go over it again no matter what I said.
“Ok, first you have a meeting with the therapist. Then a circle meeting with the other outpatients, followed by group therapy, then you and I will head back to your place, after I let you see Francesca, to get the rest of your things.”
I nodded along with each statement, waving my hand along with the words I’d heard already. “When can I get my job back?”
“You can’t even think about working for another three months, when you qualify for night meetings. Cade, this was a very special case, you have to understand that. I pulled some major strings for this to happen, and I wouldn’t have done it for just anyone,” he explained, his eyes not leaving the road. I didn’t even see him blink.
“I know, and I thank you for it. Last night was really special for me and Francesca. We owe that to you,” I stressed, “but I need to pay for my apartment. My bills. I want to give you some money, I mean, I’m going to be living with you.”
He held up a finger, “Ok, one, I get paid from the treatment center, so don’t worry about paying me,” he said, then held up another finger. “Two, your dad wanted me to tell you that he’s paying for the six months of rent. He stressed he would stop if you fell off the wagon,” he concluded.
I was shocked. Pops had already told me he wouldn’t bail me out, give me money, or help me in any way. He’d been mostly absent through my rehab days, though Francesca told me he contacted her. Pops and my relationship had always been strained, more so recently than in years past, but that wasn’t saying much. He’d always been hard on me, not believing in anything I did. I often thought Francesca’s belief in me was what I craved from my father, though I’d never admit that to anyone besides my therapist.
“You ok? You didn’t have a heart attack or something because of what I told you, did you?” Reid joked.
I glanced his way, shaking my head and saying, “No. I’m surprised is all. Doesn’t seem like Pops to wash his hands of me then come back for another round.”
Stopping at the red light, he finally turned to look my way. “Cade…I really think it was your girl. She talked to him and he called the same day, but made me promise to not tell you until after the first night was through.”
Gritting my teeth, I said, “Because he thought I’d fail that quickly.”
“You proved him wrong,” he pointed out, turning his attention back to the road. Gently pushing the gas pedal, we crawled along in the traffic until we were finally closer to our destination.
I sat back, pondering everything. My relationship with Pops was shifting. Unsure of how to feel about it, I let the feeling settle in around me while I soaked it all in. Francesca was changing everything and everyone around me. Her brightness, her kindness, and her energy were penetrating even Pops’ hard exterior. Since the very first time I laid eyes on her, I knew she was special; one of a kind, but this…this was more than I expected. She’d re-staked her claim on my heart, tearing down all my barriers, leaving me exposed and vulnerable. She was slowly healing my wounded soul, and it appeared she would repair other areas of my life as well.
“Cade?” Reid’s voice pulled me from my thoughts.
Turning, I asked, “Yeah?”
“We’re here, Buddy. You ready?” he questioned, a smile playing on his lips.
I nodded. I was more than ready. No one believed in me but Francesca and Reid. I would prove them all wrong. I had no other option.
The meeting with my therapist was for an hour, where I talked about my feelings, my cravings, and the events of the night before. He wasn’t happy I’d proposed, stressing over and over that I shouldn’t start something so serious straight out of rehab. No matter what he said, he couldn’t sway me. I explained time and again that anything with Francesca wasn’t new, that she’d held my heart for years now, but he simply sighed and wrote more notes about me on his legal pad.
I needed to ask Reid what the big deal was later. It was my life, my choice, so why did this guy care so much?
“She’s what led me here. I don’t know why you would want me to wait to tell her how I feel. It’s not like we’re getting married tomorrow, I just wanted…no needed her to know how deeply I care. I would do anything for this woman. She deserves to know that,” I explained, resting my elbows on my knees. My time was almost up, and I didn’t know why, but it was necessary for this guy to understand.
“I get it, but you’ve only been sober for three months. What if you only wanted her because of the alcohol?” he said.
His statement shocked me. Angered me. I stared in disbelief. “I wanted her more when drunk, yes, but that was sexually. I was never good enough for her because of my drinking. She deserved better, and I didn’t hold enough desire to do better at that point. But…she’s back in my life. I know it’s for a reason, and I know that me growing up and getting control of my bullshit ways is what needs to be done. I can be the type of man that deserves her. That’s why I proposed. She makes me want to be better, to be sober, to do everything I can to see her smile, happy. She’s the only one that believed in me from the beginning. And I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I know what I feel for her isn’t the side effects of alcohol.”
He nodded, not saying anything but that our time was up. I finished up the day quickly, not getting upset with anyone else. Most people congratulated me on the engagement, others said nothing. Dr. Lyons was the only one that questioned my decision. He could question it every day, but my answer would always be the same. I knew it was the right decision. The perfect choice for us.