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Forgive me callaway book.., p.15

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2), page 15

 

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2)
 


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  Their talk earlier in the day had been something she'd been waiting on for a few weeks. She knew something was keeping Drew from jumping into their relationship with both feet, and she hated that he wouldn't talk to her about it. Watching the emotion on his face that morning as he had laid everything on the table, she had come to the conclusion that she couldn't imagine her life without him. When she told him no offer could compete with being there with him, she had meant every word of it. Looking around at that moment, the last shred of doubt she might have had vanished into thin air.

  "Amanda, honey, this food is delicious." She smiled as Kathy sat down beside her, radiating joy and contentment.

  Amanda squeezed Kathy's hand as she spoke to the woman who had been a mother to her for as long as she could remember, certainly since her own mom had died. "Thank you, Kathy. It means a lot to me that Cole gave me this chance."

  "Honey, you are the best cook in the state." Kathy smiled at her.

  "Only because of you," she said honestly. She remembered the first time Kathy had asked her if she wanted to help getting dinner ready. Amanda easily recalled how much fun it had been to be in the kitchen with Kathy. That first night cooking with her had changed her life.

  Kathy tsk'd her, and Amanda knew she would never take the thanks she deserved for making a teenage girl fall in love with food. "Don't go giving me more credit than I deserve, Amanda. I gave you an introduction, but you transformed it into an art."

  "Thank you, Kathy." Amanda leaned over and kissed the woman's cheek.

  "You're welcome, honey. Now, I better go get more of that chocolate mousse before my boys eat it all." Kathy's laughter stayed with her as she watched the mother responsible for raising the man she cared for more than life itself.

  Just as she was about to head back in the kitchen to see if everything was okay, Drew appeared in front of her. He had taken off his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his dress shirt. With a few buttons open, he was breathtaking. He simply smiled at her like he knew how he affected her, and in some ways, he did. They were connected on a level so much deeper than two people who had just met. The history they shared, the bumps in the road, the hasty decisions and the wrong turns all led them to this moment.

  A lot of people were asked if they were given the chance to go back in time and change something, would they do it. Looking into Drew's eyes as he offered her his hand for a dance, she knew she wouldn't change a thing. The hurt they both had suffered, the separation they had both endured, she knew it had been necessary. It had allowed them to grow up and become the two people who knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were meant to be together.

  She took the hand he offered. When he pulled her to him, she laughed as he crushed her body against his, bringing his lips to hers, kissing her in front of their friends and family. "You look so damn beautiful." She shivered as he whispered the words in her ear.

  She dropped her hands to his shoulders, admiring how strong he was. "You look pretty handsome yourself," she whispered, lowering her hands to the buttons of his dress shirt. She played around with them, desperate to touch more skin, to feel his body on hers.

  When she slipped her hand under his shirt, over his heart, he groaned and pressed her closer to his hardening erection. "Baby, you're killing me here."

  She giggled when he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. She found the strength to stop touching him and kissed him softly before saying, "I should go check on Jamie."

  She was walking away when she heard him scream over the music, "I love you!" She turned around and mouthed 'me too' as people started cheering and whistling around them, making her blush.

  Amanda sat down beside Jamie, who had taken off her shoes and was rubbing her growing belly. There was just something so radiant about a pregnant woman in love. "I am so happy for you, Jamie."

  "I can't believe I'm Mrs. Cole Callaway," Jamie said, laughing while looking down at her wedding ring. There was no doubt that the blushing bride was floating around on cloud nine.

  Amanda smiled at her. "It suits you well." And that was the truth.

  Jamie looked at her husband who stood near the bar with his brothers, his eyes glued to his new wife, and Amanda couldn't help but feel envious at what the newlyweds were sharing. "I never thought this would happen to me. Look at me: I'm pregnant, and huge as a whale, and I just married the man of my dreams. I still can't believe it's real."

  At that, it was Amanda's turn to laugh. She still remembered how shy and uncomfortable Jamie had been the first time she and Cole had come to the diner. It was one of the first times she had seen one of Drew's brothers since moving back. She had been so nervous about talking to Cole, but the man only had eyes for Jamie back then, same as he had ever since. "It feels like it was yesterday when you and Cole came into the diner that first time. He was already heads over heels in love with you then. Anybody could see it."

  "It's just happened so fast. It's hard for people to understand." If anyone understood what Jamie meant, it was Amanda.

  She still remembered how fast her feelings for Drew had changed and how instantaneous everything had been. The Callaway men were intense in everything they did, but when they were in love, that intensity tripled. "I get it. It's like a 'slap across the face' type of moment," Amanda said softly, remembering all the times her heart had started beating faster at the sight of Drew.

  "Exactly. Is that how it was the first time you saw Drew?" Jamie asked, and Amanda realized Jamie didn't know the story of how she and Drew had met. She only knew about her leaving and coming back.

  Their history was a huge chunk of their story, so she took a sip of water and let it flow from the beginning. "Not exactly, I've known Drew since we were kids. When we were young, after my mom passed away, he would come to my house in the morning and we would walk to school. Then he would bring me here after school, and that's when Kathy taught me how to cook."

  "Oh, God, that is so sweet. I didn't know you guys went back like that." Jamie was tearing up, which Amanda attributed to pregnancy hormones.

  She smiled and laughed at how big her crush had been on Drew as a teenager. "Oh, yeah. When we turned fourteen, things started being weird for me 'cause he was so hot. I mean, all of the brothers were, including your husband, but Drew was just something else. Becca and I were the only girls, and throw in the Thompsons, and it was like a teenage girl's heaven. At fifteen, Drew asked me out on a date. It was so romantic—well, at least we thought so. He had his mom do this whole fancy picnic basket. He took me out to the river and well, the rest you know."

  "So, Kathy is the one we should thank for teaching you to cook?"

  Amanda didn't know why that question was making her tear up, but it was. "Yeah, she gave me the passion. Plus, with the boys around, it was easy to test stuff. They were teenagers, so they ate anything."

  "Well, the food was more than amazing tonight. Thank you so much for doing this for us."

  "It was my pleasure, really. I love to cook for people."

  "Maybe the next time you'll cook, it'll be at your own wedding. Although, that doesn't sound like too much fun."

  Amanda choked on her water because all night as she watched people congratulating Cole and Jamie, she couldn't help but think that maybe one day people would do the same for her and Drew. They hadn't talked about marriage or about the future, but she had dreamed of marrying Drew all of her life. Since their relationship was stronger than ever, she hoped marriage was where they were heading. She didn't want to say anything out of place, though, so she opted for the truth. "Oh, God, we haven't talked about marriage yet, and I honestly don't think I would be up for the chaos of catering my own wedding."

  "Honey, the way he looks at you, marriage is the only place this is headed." They both couldn't tear their eyes away from Cole and Drew as the two men walked in their direction.

  "I used to write 'Mrs. Andrew Callaway' in my notebooks in school. Marrying Drew would be…a dream come true." Her thoughts changed direct
ion the minute Drew looked at her, a promise of the night to come in his eyes.

  "Sorry to interrupt, ladies, but I would like to dance with my beautiful girlfriend." How could she say no to that? Taking his hand, he led them to the dance floor, keeping her body close to his as they walked. She really liked being so close to him, inhaling his scent, surrounded by his warmth.

  She could spend the rest of her life glued to his side and be happy. "Charming, as always," she said before he spun her around. He pulled her body close to his as the music changed to a slow song.

  "Everyone is talking about the food. You're a hit." His lips were beside her ear, sending shivers up and down her spine as he spoke. And with his hands just above her ass, she could barely think about anything other than getting them both naked.

  "I'm so happy people liked it. I was nervous," she managed to say as she tilted her head back to find him looking at her.

  He kissed the top of her hair. Her heart swelled when he did that, and she had a feeling he knew it. "I think you'll be getting a lot more catering orders after this."

  "I'll take it." As much as she enjoyed the diner, having more catering orders would mean she would have the chance to make food she wouldn't normally serve. It would give her the challenge she needed, to feel like she was helping people make memories with flavors.

  They stayed silent for a little while, just enjoying the feel of each other in the moment. Then he wrapped his hand around the back of her neck and tilted her head so they could look into each other's eyes. "I need to tell you that I heard the last of your conversation with Jamie."

  Her heart skipped a beat as he spoke. She had no idea where his head was and the thought that she had scared him with the mention of marriage frightened her. "Oh."

  Her worries disappeared with his words. "I just want to make one thing clear. I have dreamed of marrying you since I was fifteen years old, so yeah, that's where this is heading."

  She whimpered when he lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her breathless. When he pulled away, she was ready to climb him like a tree.

  "What do you say we get out of here?" he asked, as if he was reading her mind.

  "Sounds perfect to me. I can come back tomorrow to clean up. Right now, I just want to be alone with you." He grabbed her hand and walked them towards the house to say bye to his mom. When they reached the house and saw Kathy sitting at the kitchen table, looking like she'd just seen a ghost, Amanda had a feeling their lives were all about to change.

  When Drew saw his mom at the table, his mind went into overdrive. "Mom, what's wrong?" He stared at his mom then at Amanda, who looked just as worried as he was. Whatever was going on, he didn't have a good feeling about it.

  "Honey, you might want to sit down. You, too, sweetheart." Drew pulled out a chair for Amanda and sat next to her, holding her hand in one of his and his mother's hand in the other.

  "Mom, what's going on? Are you okay?" The ball of anxiety building inside of him was threatening to come out; he hated seeing his mom so upset.

  His mom shook her head as if she was trying to make sense of what she wanted to say, and that was not easing his worry. "I'm fine, baby, but I need to tell you guys something. It's probably the last thing you want to hear, or at least the last thing you thought you would hear."

  "Kathy, you're worrying me. What's going on?" Amanda asked, and his mom gave her an apologetic and sympathizing look that told him something major was about to be said, something that was going to change everything. She the same look on her face the day she had told them their dad had died.

  He watched as his mom took a deep breath before speaking, and Amanda squeezed his hand silently, telling him she was right there no matter what his mom was about to say. "About an hour ago, a young woman pulled up to the main house asking for you. I told her you weren't available, but she didn't look good, not at all. She insisted on talking with you and when I wouldn't let her in the house, she walked to her car and opened the back door. She had a four-year-old little girl with her. She walked up to me, told me the girl was your daughter, and that she couldn't do it anymore. She handed me the child and then she just left."

  It had to be a sick joke. It couldn't be true. No way did he have a daughter he knew nothing about. It had to be a mistake. He leaned back in his chair, desperate to get some air in his lungs "What? Mom, you believed her? This is bullshit."

  His mom looked at him with understanding, and he knew she would have never let a child come into their house if she didn't have a good reason to believe the little girl was his. "Honey, one look at that little girl and there's no denying she's yours. She looks just like you. Her name is Lucy. She's fragile. I don't think I have ever seen a child look that broken."

  His head started spinning. This couldn't be happening to him, not when he and Amanda had everything worked out. "I am not a father. I would have known. Why would someone keep my child away from me?" He dropped his head between his legs and covered his face with his hands, trying to get a handle on the emotions swimming through his body at the moment. Could he really have a daughter he knew nothing about? And what kind of mother would just leave their child like that?

  The next words out of his mother's mouth reminded him of the past he was so desperately trying to forget. "You and I both know you weren't really in a state of mind to keep score four years ago. Now, I'm not saying you did something stupid, and I am not saying this woman did the right thing not reaching out to you when she found out she was pregnant, but I am telling you that the little four-year-old girl who is sleeping in your bed is your daughter."

  "This has to be a mistake. How could she just leave her child like that?" he yelled, feeling himself growing more out of control with every passing second.

  "Drew, baby, look at me," Amanda soothed. You need to pull it together because if that little girl is yours, you're all she has left. You need to be strong for her. This might not be how you wanted to become a father, but this is the hand you've been dealt." Amanda's voice calmed him as her fingers ran circles on his back. He listened to her words, not understanding how she could be so damn calm about the situation when he was ready to punch a hole in the wall. She should've been screaming or walking out on him, but she wasn't doing either. She was right there with him, like she said she would be.

  "I don't know anything about how to be a dad, Amanda. This is not something I'm ready for." He dropped his head on her lap and buried his face in her smell. He needed to feel anchored to something, and in that moment, he realized just how strong their bond was. The room fell silent for a few seconds until she forced his head up. When he looked at her, he didn't see resentment, but he saw anger, and it was directed at him.

  "You had an amazing father growing up. Yes, he was taken away from you way too soon, but you had Cole, and that man was the best example of a father any man could ever have. Drew, look at me. You are not alone in this. You have your mom and your family, and you have me. I'm not going anywhere. We are going to handle this together. We are a team, and we will work this out together." Her voice was calm and steady as she spoke to him.

  He didn't understand how she could be so okay with the fact that some random woman he had sex with had just dropped off his kid. "You're telling me that my having a daughter with someone else is okay with you? Amanda, this is not okay."

  He watched her closely as she took a deep breath, looking at his mom before focusing her attention back on him. "It is what it is, Drew, but that mother abandoned her child. She's our responsibility now. We don't know what kind of shape that child is in, or what her home environment was like. We need to be a unit if we're going to get through this."

  "You said our responsibility." His head was spinning, trying to make sense of everything. How could his life change so fast in the blink of an eye? One minute, he was ready to take Amanda home and fuck her senseless, but the next, he was sitting at his mother's kitchen table, finding out he had a daughter he knew nothing about.

  She took both of his hands and
looked him right in the eye. "I'm in this with you." She kissed him, and in that little gesture laid the promise that she wasn't going anywhere.

  I'm a dad. Shit, this changes everything.

  "Let's allow her to sleep tonight, and we can all deal with this together in the morning. You guys can take Cole's old room for the night, and I'll talk to your brothers," his mother told them.

  "You're right. Thank you, Mom." Drew was barely aware of walking up the stairs and climbing into bed with Amanda. When she tucked her body against his, he held her so tight she would probably have marks in the morning, but he couldn't let her go.

  "What do you think she's like?" he asked Amanda as he held her as tightly as possible.

  "If she's anything like you, she's incredible." God, what had he done to deserve this woman? He pressed a soft kiss to her hair before drifting off to sleep.

  Chapter Eleven

  Drew stood at Cole's bedroom window and watched the sun rise. His head still spun from what had happened the night before. He couldn't get a handle on the fact that the little girl sleeping in the room next to his was his own flesh and blood. Even worse, how could a mother just leave her child with strangers like that? Throughout the night, all he could think about was that he knew nothing about four-year-old girls. The only experience he had with babies was when Becca was born, and even then that was a close interaction limited to rocking or feeding her while his mom was present. This was much different. This was a tiny person who needed support and guidance. She needed a father, and he didn't even know if he could be that. Sure, he had thought about having kids with Amanda, but that was in his future plans; he hadn't expected to be thrown this curveball.

 
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