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Forgive me callaway book.., p.2

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2), page 2

 

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2)
 


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"Well, it's still standing, at least. I just can't afford all the renovations it needs right now, but I'll get around to it eventually." she told him honestly.

  "I'd be happy to take a look at it for you. I'm sure we can figure it out together. I don't want you living somewhere unsafe." She knew he would do it if she asked him, but she didn't want to impose, or risk Drew showing up with his brother.

  She tucked a stray hair behind her ear and nibbled her bottom lip nervously. "I appreciate that, Cole, but it's not necessary. It's not that bad."

  As if he were reading her mind, Cole grabbed her hand. "I'll make sure Drew isn't around, Amanda, if that's what you want. Just let me look around and make sure it's not dangerous. I don't like you living alone in that house when we don't even know if it's safe. The roof could fall on your head any time."

  "Okay then, that's fine. Thank you." What else was she going to say? She knew she needed the help and if Cole promised to keep Drew away, she believed him.

  "No problem. You know, you can't avoid him forever. This is a small town, so you're bound to run into him at some point," Cole told her, and she knew he was right. She'd been locking herself in her house when she had time off, desperately avoiding coming into town, all to avoid Drew.

  "I know, but for now, avoidance works for me. It works for us. Now, what will it be this morning?" she asked them, taking her order pad out of her apron, desperate for a change of subject.

  "Waffles for me with bacon, and orange juice, please." Jamie smiled as she ordered. Amanda couldn't quite put her finger on what she was missing when she took in Janie's grin, but it was obvious she was missing something.

  "All right, Cole, what about you?" she asked, trying her best to not let him see how unsettled the conversation had left her.

  "The usual for me." He looked like he wanted to say something more, but she was thankful when he didn't press.

  "Coming right up, guys." She grabbed the pot of coffee she had put down on the table and turned around so fast, she didn't notice the body standing beside her.

  As she spun, she collided with the massive body and spilled coffee all over a white T-shirt. "Oh, shit! I'm so sorry." She lifted her head to see who she was apologizing to and in that moment, her whole word stopped turning: Drew.

  Drew smiled as he listened to Amanda's conversation with his brother. She obviously hadn't noticed him come in, which he was happy about because it gave him time to look at her. After having his epiphany the night before, Drew had decided it was time to stop avoiding the diner, and her. After the conversation he had with John, he was determined to see if there was still something worth fighting for between him and Amanda. The minute his eyes landed on her, he had his answer. He would always have something to fight for when it came to Amanda.

  She looked even better than she did back in high school. Her blonde hair was longer, and even in a ponytail, he could tell it flowed down the middle of her back. The image of her lying on his bed with all that hair falling down on his pillow invaded his mind. She had always had beautiful curves, but she had the curves of a girl back then. The woman standing in front of him was all woman, and damn if she wasn't even more beautiful than he remembered.

  He saw the scene play in slow motion as she picked up the coffee pot from the table and turned around, but before he could take a step back, she crashed into him, spilling the coffee all over his shirt and his jeans. The burn from the hot liquid hurt, but not nearly as much as the look in her eyes when she lifted her head and saw him.

  "Oh, shit, I'm so sorry. I wasn't paying attention." The instant their eyes met, he saw all of her emotions flash across her eyes. It was the one thing about her he could never get out of his mind. Everything she felt was written on her face; she couldn't hide anything, not from him.

  She was scared and nervous. But shit, when he saw a flash of desire appear, he thought he might lose control, haul her ass on the table and kiss her like he'd been dreaming about for five years. He couldn't do that, though; it would only make things worse. "As clumsy as ever, I see."

  She smiled at him like she didn't know what to do or say. Well, at least he wasn't the only one a little shell-shocked. "Drew."

  He loved the way his name sounded out of her mouth. Clenching his fist, he managed to stop himself from reaching for her.

  "Mandy."

  He saw the flash of something he couldn't quite decipher at the use of his nickname for her. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you. Oh, God, did I burn you?" she asked him as she grabbed napkins from the table and started sponging away the liquid. When she got dangerously close to his crotch area, he wrapped his fingers around her wrist, stopping her movements.

  "I'm fine but if you go any lower, we're going to have a problem, darling." He'd waited years to feel her hands on him again, but this wasn't the time nor the place.

  He watched as her eyes traveled down his body, stopping at her hand inches away from his building erection. Her whole face heated, and she took a few steps back. "Oh, oh…God, I'm sorry."

  "Don't worry about it, sweetheart. But I'd prefer not to have a hard-on in the middle of the town diner," he told her, his voice filled with humor.

  "I have to go…place orders. I mean…oh, God! I'm really sorry." He was enamored by the way she blushed. Damn, he'd missed how easy it was to make her skin turn pink.

  "Mandy…." He tried to keep her from running, but she was already gone.

  "Let her go, Drew." He turned around as his brother spoke. He nodded in acknowledgement. One thing for sure was he'd let her walk away, for now, but he wasn't letting her go, not this time. Sitting down next to his sister-in-law, he noticed she looked beautiful as ever. It was so strange to think that soon his brother would be a husband and a father.

  "She's struggling." He turned around as Jamie spoke the words that shattered something inside of him. He knew there was something going on with Amanda, but whether or not he had a right to interfere was another conversation altogether. She had always needed her independence—it was one of the things he loved most about her—and whatever troubles she might be having, he knew offering assistance, at least directly, would not help his situation.

  "I know," was all he could say. He smiled and shook his head when Abby appeared with his brother's order and offered him an apologetic smile. Amanda was definitely avoiding him, and he was going to have to change that. She'd been evading him for seven long months, and he was done waiting for her to come to him. She was his, and it was up to him to show her they still belonged together.

  Chapter Two

  Drew wasn't the kind of man to mind getting his hands dirty, but with the sun shining on his back and sweat dripping down his face and chest, he wished he hadn't volunteered to fix the fence that had been storm damaged. Ever since the incident at the diner with Amanda three days before, he'd been volunteering to do practically every manual job on the ranch, desperate to keep busy. He grabbed one of the bottles of water from the bed of his truck and took off his shirt to wipe the sweat dripping from his face.

  He was just about to get back to work when he noticed Amanda's pickup truck coming his way. What the hell is she doing here? He had been furious that his brother had excluded him from checking out Amanda's house for the renovation needs. Out of them all, Drew was the one with the best construction skills. He understood why Amanda might feel more comfortable without him around, but he still hated that he wasn't the one assisting her. From what Cole had told him, the work needed on the house would require his skills, but if Amanda wanted his help, she was going to have to come to him.

  He watched as she parked the truck a few feet away from his, and when she stepped out, he forgot to breathe. She wore cut-off shorts that hugged every curve, with a white top that clung to her sweat-covered skin. Her hair was in one of those bun-type things on top of her head, and God, he didn't think she'd ever looked more beautiful.

  He sensed her eyes on his body as she walked toward him, and he had to admit having her check him out made him feel pretty da
mn good. He'd always been in good shape, but five years of manual labor had transformed his body into a solid wall of muscle.

  "Hot enough for you?"

  He smiled at her as she tried to make small talk, something she had never been really good at. Even back in high school, she'd attempted it when she was getting ready to ask him for something. He used to smile at how cute she was back then, and it seemed that part of her personality hadn't changed in the last five years.

  He chugged some more water and leaned back against his truck, his blood boiling when he caught her staring at his body like he was a work of art. "That's a Montana summer for you. What brings you over, Mandy?"

  He already knew why she was there, but he needed her to say it. If she were going to ask him for help, the house must be in worse shape than he thought. After the incident at the diner, Cole had filled him in on the state of the property, and he knew it was only a matter of time before she came by. "I'm sure you know, but Cole came by to check the house yesterday."

  He nodded "I heard. What's the diagnosis?" he asked, despite knowing the answer.

  She laughed but looked like she was about to cry; he knew it was bad. "Well, it basically needs to be completely remodeled. The foundation is leaking, the roof needs to be redone, and the electricity is not in regulation. I also need a new water tank, some new windows, oh, and some walls need to be torn down."

  He watched her closely as she sat down on his tailgate, reminding him of so many days and nights in high school. They would be just like they were in that moment, parked in the middle of nowhere, just the two of them.

  He walked toward her, stood to the side of his truck, and gave her a bottle of water. "Shit, Mandy, I didn't know your dad had let the place go so much. If I did, I would have done something." He should have checked in on the man more, but after Amanda left him, he'd shut everyone out.

  She kept her eyes locked on the land in front of her, and all he wanted to do was pull her into his arms and tell her everything would be okay. "It's not your fault. I should have come back sooner. I knew my dad wasn't at his best, but I let my pride keep me away for too long. This is on me." Her voice shook. He hated seeing her like this.

  "What are you going to do?" he asked as he sat down on the tailgate of his truck.

  She turned her body around, leaving one leg on the tailgate and dropping the other on the ground "Well, Cole told me he could fix the foundation and the roof. He says he can't do electricity and water stuff, but you could." She bit her bottom lip as she spoke, her nervous tell. The one good thing about his relationship with Amanda was that he knew her, knew her ticks. He knew her body better than he knew his own.

  He kept his eyes locked on her as he spoke, forcing himself to hide the smile crawling on his face when he noticed she couldn't take her eyes away from his body. She was definitely still attracted to him. At least that was something he could work with, something he could use to break down her defenses. "I can."

  "Are you going to make me say it?" He laughed at the annoyance in her tone but if they were going to do this, he needed to hear her say it aloud.

  When his laughter died down, Drew grinned at her. He smiled at her. "Yes, Mandy, I am." He chortled.

  She laughed, and it was the sound he remembered, the one he would give his life to hear her make all the time. There was just something about her, no matter how many years had flown by, that made him want to do everything he could to make her smile and laugh every day. "Would you please consider helping me fix my house before it caves in and kills me in the middle of the night?"

  "Was that so hard?" He loved teasing her; she was always so easy to bait. Even back in high school, he would spend hours goading her, except back then, she would give as good as she got. But that was the girl; the woman sitting in front of him looked almost sad, like she was at the end of her rope. He just couldn't have that. It killed him to see her like this, to see her struggling. All he ever wanted was for her to be happy.

  "Yes, as a matter of fact, it was. Listen, I'm really tight on money right now, Drew. I don't know how much all of this is going to cost, but I don't think I can do it all. I know I won't be able to afford all the work right away. I'm out of my league here," she told him honestly.

  "How about I come over and take a look? I can tell you what's most urgent, and we can go from there, okay?" He didn't tell her that he wouldn't let her pay a dime for anything. Whether or not she knew it, she was his, and he took care of what was his. It's how he was built, not just how his dad raised him.

  "I know you're really busy with the ranch. I don't want to take time away from your work. You guys work so hard." That was one of the reasons why he loved her so much—she cared about everyone.

  "It's fine, Mandy." She continued to bite her lower lip, and it felt strangely good to know he still got to her on some level. But she had enough on her plate. He didn't want her to worry about him; he wanted the right to worry about her.

  "Okay, well, when do you want come over?" she asked, twirling a piece of her hair around her finger.

  He grabbed another bottle of water as she climbed off the tailgate. "I can be there tonight, if that works for you," he told her as he watched her take in his half-naked body. Her eyes roamed over him.

  Drew coughed, and when Mandy looked up, she blushed at being caught ogling him. "Oh, hmmm, sure. That's fine."

  He tried to think about what he had to get done that day and what could wait until the following one, because there was no chance he was letting this opportunity pass him by. "I'll drop by around eight. Is that too late?"

  She looked at the ground, and he knew she was avoiding eye contact. She used to do the same thing when they were younger. He wouldn't force her to acknowledge there was still something between the two of them, not right then anyway, but one day soon, they were going to talk. "That's fine. Well, I'll see you tonight then."

  "I'll be there." He watched Amanda walk away and his eyes went straight to her ass. It had always been one of his favorite things about her; it fit perfectly in his hands, even more at the present than back in the day.

  "Drew?" He looked up when he heard her call his name, and the vulnerability he saw broke his heart.

  "Yeah?" he managed to say through a cloud of lust that told him to lay her back down on his tailgate, explore every inch of her body and make sweet love to her.

  "Thank you." Two little words were all it took for him to fall in love with her all over again.

  It was past 6 o'clock by the time Drew pulled his truck up to the main house. He had just enough time to shower, grab a quick bite to eat, and head out to Amanda's. If he was lucky, maybe she would cook for him. He missed her cooking, not that he would ever admit that to his mother. Climbing out of his truck, he stormed through the house, hoping none of his brothers would stop him. He was still feeling the high from seeing Amanda. Something about having her that close to him, sitting on the bed of his truck, made a part of him ache for what they once had, even if he knew deep down they'd both changed in the last five years. Maybe those changes meant they weren't compatible anymore. He sure as hell hoped they were, though, because she still touched him on a level he didn't even know existed.

  "Drew, get in here." He swore under his breath as Jamie called his name. If it were one of his brothers, he would just tell them to fuck off, but this was Jamie and he could never hurt her like that.

  He walked back into the kitchen and smiled at how Jamie and his brother made the perfect picture of domestic bliss. She sat on his lap, his hand on her belly, and they looked so happy; it made his heart ache for the same. He sat down beside them. "Hey, beautiful, what's up?"

  "We wanted to ask you something, but you have to promise to think about it before you say anything." Over the last couple of months, he'd become familiar with some of Jamie's expressions and tones. From what he was picking up, this was about to either make him really happy or make him regret not going straight to Amanda's.

  He had a feeling it was the la
tter when she gave him puppy eyes that most likely made his brother melt on the spot. "Do I need to get my check book for this?"

  She waved him off. "No. We've been having a hard time finding the right caterer for the wedding and, well, when Cole went to check out Amanda's house and saw how bad it was, he thought maybe we could hire Amanda to do the wedding in exchange for working on the house."

  "I'm not fucking charging her anything to fix her house," he said, probably angrier than he should've been that his family would even consider charging Amanda for anything.

  His brother helped Jamie out of his lap and when he spoke, Drew knew this wasn't going to end well. He felt like his entire family was against him; he hated that his actions had put him in this situation. He was the only person to blame, and he loathed himself for it. "Relax, man, we weren't planning on charging her for shit. But you know how she is, and there is no way she's going to accept free help. I just thought this might be a good way to get her to agree."

  "You need to cover the cost of all the food. She's struggling right now, and you know she's too damn proud to say anything on her own," Drew told him sternly so there would be no misunderstandings between them.

  "What the hell do you take me for, man? I've known her for as long as you have. You think I would ever do anything like that to her?" They stood inches away from each other, tension radiating around them.

  "Don't fucking start with me, Cole. I'll ask her about the wedding tonight." He pushed his chair back and started walking out of the kitchen before he did anything stupid, like punch the hell out of the man he respected more than life himself.

  "You're seeing her tonight?" He wasn't sure he liked the tone in his brother's voice as he spoke.

  "Yeah, I am. She came by today, asking me for help with the house. I told her I would stop by tonight and check what was needed to be done immediately, since she can't afford it all right now."

  Before he knew it, Cole had him backed against the wall. "Do you know what you're doing? This isn't one of your one-night stands, Drew."

 
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