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Forgive me callaway book.., p.6

Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2), page 6


Forgive Me (Callaway Book 2)

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  She put the truck in park and slid out of the cab as Nick opened her door. "Hey, Amanda."

  She was surprised when he hugged her, and it took her a few seconds before she hugged him back. In that moment, with one little gesture, Nick reminded her how much she loved this family. "Hey, Nick, how are you?" she asked after kissing his cheek.

  "You know me, always well. What brings you over? Drew went into town." Her whole face blushed as Nick mentioned Drew. When she looked at him, he was grinning ear to ear. She shook her head, laughing nervously.

  "I'm actually here to see your mom. Drew told me about the greenhouse and I've been looking to buy locally, so he thought I should talk to her." Amanda knew she was rambling, but she couldn't seem to stop. Her hands were damp, and she was starting to feel lightheaded from worrying about Kathy's reaction.

  Nick must have sensed her unease because he steadied her with his hands on her waist. "She's going to love that. You look like you're about to pass out, are you okay?"

  Before she could stop them, the words slipped past her lips. "What if she hates me, Nick? I haven't seen her in five years, and I broke her son's heart. Oh, God, what if she hates me?" She dropped her forehead on Nick's chest as he ran his hand up and down her back, trying his best to calm her down.

  "Breathe, Amanda. She doesn't hate you. No one hates you for leaving. You did what you needed to do, and Drew did the same thing. You were both kids, Amanda."

  She pulled away from him and wiped the tears that had fallen down her cheeks, "I never meant to hurt him, Nick." Thinking about the way she left him made her stomach twist. Looking back, if she could do things differently, she would.

  "Darling, we know and Drew knows, too." The raw honesty in his voice told her he spoke the truth. Could they really have forgiven her for hurting Drew the way she had?

  She wasn't ready to have this conversation with anyone, especially when she hadn't even had it with Drew yet. "I should go talk to your mom." As much as the thought of facing Kathy scared her, she knew she couldn't avoid it forever. She needed to do this; it was a part of the healing process for everyone, including herself.

  Nick nodded, and she knew he understood exactly the dilemma she was in. "She's in the kitchen." The memories of all the times she had spent in the kitchen with Kathy learning how to cook flooded her mind.

  She was on the verge of tears before she tried to get a hold of herself. This was neither the time nor the place to lose it. "All right. Thanks, Nick." She kissed his cheek again and started walking towards the front door.

  "Amanda?" She stopped walking when Nick called out her name then turned around to face him.

  "Yeah?" she responded, her voice a little unsteady.

  "He still loves you and I think you still love him, so give him a chance." She couldn't find the words to speak, so she just nodded and focused on walking up the front steps without falling down on her ass.

  She pushed the front door open softly. The second she stepped inside the house, she was overwhelmed with memories: of all the times she'd been there with Drew, all the dinners she had eaten there, and every holiday Kathy had welcomed her into her home. This house had been her second home and as she looked around, she smiled at how little it had changed. They'd made some improvements, but it still felt the same.

  She walked down the hallway that led into the kitchen, and the smell of fresh-baked cookies stopped her dead in her tracks. The first time Drew had taken her out for a date, his mom had packed them a picnic with some of the best chocolate chip cookies she'd ever tasted. God, everything reminded her of Drew, and what they'd once had. She really needed to get it together.

  She walked into the kitchen and the second Kathy saw her, she smiled and all but ran toward her. "Amanda! Oh, good God, girl, come here and give me a hug."

  "Hi, Kathy." She didn't know how she managed to speak with the web of emotions going through her body.

  She smiled when Kathy took her by the hands and gave her a squeeze. "Oh, baby, you have grown into such a beautiful woman. Just look at you!"

  "Thank you." She didn't know what else to say. This was not the welcome she had prepped herself for, and she honestly had no idea how to act since her worse fear hadn't come true.

  "Are you here to see Drew? He went into town to grab some supplies the boys need to start working on the house tomorrow."

  Of course, Drew hadn't told her she would be dropping by.

  "I actually came to see you." She took a seat on one of the stools facing the kitchen window.

  "Is everything all right?" Kathy asked, concern written all over her face. In that moment, whatever worry she had about Kathy hating her vanished for good, which led her to ask herself if she was the one who couldn't forgive herself for hurting Drew. It was obvious everyone else had.

  "Oh, yes, everything is fine. Actually, when Drew and Cole came over yesterday, they told me you've been growing berries and vegetables and supply some restaurants in the city."

  She watched as Kathy's smile widened at the mention of the greenhouse. "My boys built me a greenhouse a few years back, and I cannot get enough of it!"

  "Well, I was wondering if you'd consider sourcing to the diner. I've been trying to buy locally, but I haven't had the best of luck finding the right provider." It was one of her pet peeves as a chef. Every chance she had to source locally, she felt the responsibility to take it. Growing up in a place where people depended on revenues generated from their farms, she knew too well the struggles local producers came across.

  Kathy looked a little shocked by her proposal, but it quickly turned into enthusiasm. "Darling, I would love to. You just tell me what you need and I'll get that going for you."

  She stood up, grabbed the folded piece of paper in her front pocket and handed it to Kathy. "I have a list of things I would need to start with. This is pretty basic, and we can see what changes we can make to the menu as we go along."

  Kathy looked at the list and smiled back at her. "I can do this list. Oh, this is so exciting. I'm so happy you came to me. With the boys working so much on the ranch, I've been feeling a little useless lately, so this is exactly what I needed."

  Amanda highly doubted Kathy Callaway had even spent a day of her life being useless. Between running a ranch and raising five kids, the woman was like a superhero. "I can pick up the products every three days or so, if that works for you," she told her.

  "I can have one of the boys drive into town for you, if that's easier. I know how busy you are," she suggested.

  No way would she be able to handle seeing Drew that many times. And she knew deep down that if she agreed to it, Drew would somehow find a way to make every single delivery. "Oh, no, that's all right. Between the ranch and my house, I think they have enough on their plates already."

  Kathy didn't speak for a few moments, just looked at her as if she was trying to read a part of her mind. When she finally spoke, Amanda fought back the emotions threatening to erupt. "My boy would do anything for you."

  "He's a good man," was all she managed to say.

  "Yes, he is. He's a lot like his father, tied to this land but ruled by his heart." She knew Kathy was referring to Drew deciding to stay in Montana. Looking back, she knew Drew had made the best choice for himself. She couldn't hate him for not coming with her; he would have ended up resenting her for making him leave.

  "I never meant to hurt him," she told her, tears flowing down her face as the emotions she'd kept buried for years finally erupted.

  Kathy grabbed both of her hands, forcing Amanda to look her in the eye. "Oh, baby girl, I know, and he knows that, too. My boy, he's a stubborn one. He gets that from his father, but he loves deeply. When I met their father, I fell in love on the spot, and he did, too. There's a saying that when the Callaway men fall in love, they fall in love hard and fast. Once they give their hearts, it's forever. Drew has always been in love with you, Amanda, and he always will be. The teenage boy survived you leaving once, but the man…well, I'm not sure he c
an survive that again. What I'm saying, darling, is that I see the love you have for him in your eyes, but if you can't see it for yourself, then be careful with Drew."

  Tears trickled down her cheeks, and she knew she had to leave before having a complete meltdown. "He's the only man I've ever loved, Kathy. The only man I've ever…I should go."

  "Amanda, I didn't mean to upset you," Kathy told her. She knew she was trying to comfort her, but all she wanted was to be alone.

  She hugged Kathy, doing her best to reassure her. "I'm okay. I'll be back in three days to pick up the first order. Thank you, Kathy."

  "You're family, Amanda. It's my pleasure." Amanda hurried out of the house and completely ignored Nick as he called her name, asking her if she was all right. She got in her truck and headed for the one place where she could forget everything: Owen's Bar.

  The parking lot was relatively empty when she pulled up to the bar, reminding her that she was about to get drunk before 6 p.m. She walked inside and ignored the looks from strangers and the inquiries from acquaintances. She took a seat at the bar when she saw Owen was working.

  "Amanda, what can I get for you?" She looked up at Owen Thompson and smiled at how much he still looked like the heartbreaker he had been back in high school. All the girls wanted one of the Callaways or Thompsons back in the day, and from the looks of the women giving her the death stare that evening, things hadn't changed much. Owen, Jake, Chase and Josh had been like her brothers growing up, but she and Owen had always been the closest, since they were the same age. Almost every memory she had of high school included Drew and Owen.

  "Whiskey straight, and keep them coming, Owen." She watched his expression change and recognized coming to drink her worries away probably hadn't been the best idea.

  He looked at her like he was trying to decide what he should do, but before she could say anything, he handed her a glass and filled it with Jack Daniels. "What's got you drinking the hard stuff, darling?"

  She laughed, but she was pretty sure it sounded more like a sob. "Well, let's see. I'm going broke trying to pay off my dad's debts, my house is falling apart, and apparently the saying that your first love never dies is dead-on."

  "We'll fix your house, Amanda." She downed the whiskey and watched as he filled it back up without any questions.

  She threw her drink back once more. "Why did you guys even agree to this?" she asked him, satisfying the curious part of herself. Sure, they had all grown up together, but she hadn't been a part of their lives for years. It just didn't make sense to her.

  "Because you're like family, Amanda." She watched him as he spoke and knew he was being honest, but no matter how many times people told her she was like family, she couldn't get herself to feel like they were right.

  "I don't have a family, not anymore." She was alone. Even in a bar full of people, she felt alone, and she hated it.

  "You have us, and you have Drew." Everyone kept telling her she had Drew, but the truth was she didn't. He hadn't made a move.

  He flirted but nothing more. She knew how intense Drew could be, and she hadn't seen that side of him. Maybe he wasn't in love with her anymore. She wasn't the same girl he once had feelings for, after all; hell, even her body wasn't the same anymore. "Everyone keeps saying that, but you know what? I don't have Drew."

  "You'll always have Drew, and you'll always have us, Amanda. Just because you left to find yourself doesn't mean you don't matter to us anymore. You'll always be family to us," Owen told her from behind the bar.

  She desperately wanted to change the subject, so she gave him her best smile. "How is it y'all got better-looking with time?" That was the truth, too. Owen was 6'4 with wide shoulders and arms as big as her thighs, with dark brown hair that almost looked black, and the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. He had tattoos peeking from under his T-shirt, and he was the definition of dangerously hot. He was such a contrast to Drew, who had light brown hair that had grown longer and green eyes she could always get lost in. It was hard to believe these two guys could be best friends.

  "Flattering my ego will get you free drinks, Mandy, but that's about it. Putting the moves on you would piss off Drew to the point of murderous rage, and I like my life, darling." She laughed at his words because Drew had shown no real signs that he still cared. Or had he?

  "I don't even think he likes me that way anymore." She wasn't trying to feel sorry for herself, but the truth of the matter was she didn't know how Drew felt about her anymore. It didn't matter how much she still loved him because if he didn't feel the same, if he didn't care about her anymore, at least beyond the realm of friendship, nothing she felt mattered.

  "Oh, trust me, he does," Owen replied with a smirk that would have made most women swoon at the man's feet.

  "I mean, I know I'm not as thin as I was back then, and I hear he slept his way around three towns." Listening to women talk in the diner about Drew's sex life and what having sex with him had been like had been one of the hardest adjustments she'd had to make. She hated that other women knew what it was like to sleep with Drew and she didn't. She hated knowing he was the only man she'd ever let inside of her heart, the only man she'd ever thought about giving that part of herself to, and that he'd slept with more women than she cared to think about.

  "I won't lie to you and tell you he was a monk, but you're the only he's ever loved. Deep down, you know that, and you're hot as hell, so don't go thinking Drew doesn't want to fuck you sideways, 'cause I can promise you, he does." He filled her drink back up before leaving her alone with her thoughts as he tended to other customers.

  One of the things Drew adored most about the ranch was sitting out on the porch and watching the stars. He knew it made him sound like a girl, but there was something calming about sitting outside, with the wind blowing and the stars shining. He grabbed his ringing phone from the side table and looked at the caller ID. "Owen, what's up?"

  "You need to get your ass down here, now." Drew wasn't sure if that was annoyance or laughter he was hearing in his best friend's voice. However, he knew whatever was going on was important or else he wouldn't be calling at one in the morning.

  He grabbed his keys and headed to his truck. "What's going on?"

  "Your girl showed up early this evening and got real acquainted with Jack Daniels." He didn't know if he wanted to be mad at her or smile his ass off, because he knew damn well that for her to be drinking meant she had to be feeling out of control.

  "I'm on my way." Driving down to the bar, the only thing he cared about was finding out what the hell Amanda was doing drinking by herself. The idea of her drunk in a bar full of men, looking at her like she was their next meal, made him want to kill someone. He knew Owen would never let anything happen to her, but that didn't mean he had to like it.

  When he pulled up to the bar, he saw Owen outside with Amanda, who was singing and dancing while looking sexy as hell. He glanced at Owen who had his hands up in surrender, and he took a deep breath before walking toward them. When she saw him, she ran toward him; he opened his arms and braced himself for the impact.

  The one thing he knew about Amanda drunk was that she loved physical contact, so when she jumped on him, he was ready. She wrapped her legs around his waist and he grabbed her denim-covered ass, groaning at the feel of her. "Drew, you're here. You're so hot." She was definitely drunk, but damn if she wasn't adorable.

  She pressed her face into the crook of his neck and it felt so damn good holding her, he didn't want to let her go. "All right, let's get you home, baby."

  "Hmmmm, are you going to kiss me if I go home with you? Because I really want you to kiss me." She licked his neck and started grinding her hips over his erection, moaning at the friction.

  When she licked his ear and started whispering all the things she wanted him to do to her, he pushed her against the back of his truck and pinned her in place with his body. If he felt her grind on his hip for one more second, he wouldn't be able to stop, and there was no way he was doing
this with her drunk. "Jesus Christ, Amanda."

  She looked at him and he saw a flash of sadness pass across her eyes. He hated that look, but he couldn't take advantage of her, not like this. "You don't want me?" The disappointment and embarrassment he heard in her voice was something new coming from her. She had always been so confident, and he didn't like seeing this new vulnerability from her.

  "Fuck, Amanda, I want you more than I want my next breath right now, but you're drunk and we are not those people. Let's get you home." He forced himself to stay in control. Fucking her in that moment would've been so easy, but it wouldn't mean anything, and that wasn't going to work for him.

  He carried her to the other side of his truck, still holding her up, and dropped her down on the seat before buckling her in. When she kissed the side of his neck as he fixed her seatbelt, he felt his control slip. "You put those lips on me again, Amanda, and I won't care that you're drunk. I'll take you right here in the cab of my truck. I'm hanging on by a thread here. Help me out." She didn't say anything, just nodded, and he thanked God for making her cooperate.

  When she was settled in the truck, he walked back to where Owen stood, watching him with a huge grin on his face. "Thanks for calling me, man."

  Owen shrugged it off like it wasn't a big deal, but they both knew it was. "No problem. Figured if she was drinking to forget you, I wasn't about to let her leave with another man."

  The mention of her leaving with another man made him clench his fists, but he quickly shook the image out of his head. "I owe you."

  "You would have done the same if she would have been mine. Now, get your girl home." His girl. Damn, that sounded right. Yeah, she was his, and he was going to make her see that sooner rather than later.

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