I'm Holding On, page 1
I’m Holding On
Copyright © 2014 Scarlet Wolfe Books
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Getting His Morning Fix
A Day for Friends or Lovers?
A Drunk Misunderstanding
Old Friend, New Flame
You’re One Smooth Talker
Brother is a Dirty Word
What’s Behind the Disguise?
Awakening the Heart
Friend to Enemy
And the Dictionary Says …
Now You Tell Me?
May the Best Man Win
Flowers, Poetry and Power
That’s a Lot of Damn Kisses
Let’s Get Acquainted
The Guilt Begins its Feast
This Could Be Your Future
This Man is Driven
I Don’t Know if I Can Share
Don’t Tell Me I Have to Stop
Attempting to Put on the Brakes
We’re Good at Our Jobs
My Heart Knows When …
All is Fair in Love and War
Alphas, Cavemen, and Neanderthals
Sweet and Venomous
I Won’t Let Him Have You
Charming the Ladies
The L Word
Hot and Smooth Eye Candy
A Drewin on My Hands
Planning for the Future
Meet the Parents
A Great Loss
A Sad Realization
A Day for Goodbye’s
My Sweet Girl
Some Sisterly Love
You’re Not Saying it First
Make Me Yours
This novel is written from the point of view of
Brynlee, Drew and Ian.
To Alice, Carlene and Ruby, the three grandmothers I was blessed with. From teaching me how to bake to being a compassionate human being, their life lessons were invaluable. Thank you for making me feel precious.
Getting His Morning Fix
Brynlee. I sit straight up in bed and glance at the clock. It’s four in the morning, and I’ve had another dream about her. My hands slide down my face, taking sweat with them, before I fall backwards, causing my head to hit the headboard instead of the pillow. Ouch.
This cannot keep happening every few nights. I’m exhausted. It’s even worse since she’s always asking me why I’m so damn sleepy. What do I say to my best friend? “I’m tired since I’ve been dreaming regularly about you being underneath me in my bed, moaning from the pleasure I’m giving you.”
Maybe it’s a good thing they’re always interrupted. The dreams finishing could also mean I’m finishing, and that could be embarrassing every few days, even if I’m the only one who knows it. I’m too frustrated to sleep now, so I get up and head to the coffee shop. My parents own it, but it’ll be mine eventually.
Brynlee, a pastry chef, uses the kitchen at the shop daily. In exchange, she supplies us with the baked goods we sell. She started off working the coffee until we discovered her talent.
I’ll never forget the day she came in to apply for a job. I begged my dad to hire her after she left, but it wasn’t necessary since he liked her the second she opened her mouth. Brynlee exudes kindness, and Dad saw that in her immediately.
I saw how hot she was. Her plump, blood filled lips and innocent smile turn heads every day, and her eyes remind me of coffee, dark and rich.
Then I got to know her. She’s the whole package. I’m afraid if I tell her how I feel about her, she’ll leave the shop, and my parents would be pissed at me. Most importantly, I’d be lost if we weren’t friends.
I think she flirts with me, but then I wonder if I’m way off base since we’re close and joke around a lot. I’ve got to stop chickening out and tell her tonight. It’s a risk I have to take. The dreams are haunting me, and so does Brynlee, every damn day.
I drag my butt out of bed at six. I should be to work at the coffee shop by six-thirty, so I’m already running behind. When I get to the bathroom door, I hear the water running. Shit! I did tell Andrea I’d be out of the shower by six.
She’s my roommate and one of my closest friends. We share a tiny apartment. I’m trying to save every penny I make to open a bakery. It’s a far off dream, but one I’m working my butt off to make come true.
Since I’ll be late, I’m sure Drew will wonder if I was mugged or hit by a car. He’s my best friend, and he worries about me way too much.
He’s the sexiest barista I’ve ever seen, and you see a lot of them in Portland, Oregon. Our relationship is … well, complicated. At least it is for me.
I’ve liked him since the first day we met, but we became friends quickly, and I could never get the nerve to tell him I wanted more. Now, he’s protective like a brother, and I feel I’ve lost my window of opportunity.
I fly through the door at seven-thirty and bee-line it straight for the kitchen door in the back. Clark’s Coffee Grind is packed as always. The Clarks say it’s from my sweets they serve, but let’s be realistic; caffeine addicts want their coffee in the morning.
My baked goods come in a close second at best. Their business has increased since I started working here two years ago, but I can’t take the credit. I imagine it’s Drew’s handsome looks that bring in the business. It’s borderline obnoxious how some of the female customers act around him.
He never goes out with any of them, and I don’t know how Drew’s blind to the action he could be getting. I’m glad he has blinders on, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem normal. His behavior definitely doesn’t fit his looks.
Speaking of the hunky man, here he comes.
“Good morning, Drew.”
“Andrea beat you to the shower again?” I ask Brynlee after I follow her into the kitchen. She’s moving around the room, pulling out supplies to start baking.
“You know me so well.” She glances over and gives me that shining smile of hers. “It’s busy today. Don’t you need to be out there? You can’t forget about those love sick people needing coffee to take their significant others on Valentine’s Day.”
“Let’s not forget what they’re really here for, your chocolate croissants.” She rolls her eyes. Modesty is one of Bryn’s endearing qualities. “I do need to get back to work, but I was worried since you were late. I had to be sure you weren’t attacked by stray dogs or something.”
This has become a game between us where I throw out some weird way she could’ve gotten hurt on her trip to work. I used to seriously worry that something bad happened to Brynlee when she wasn’t on time, but then I finally caught on to her schedule.
She’s typically late toward the end of the week due to exhaustion, and she’s also late when she misses her turn in the shower.
“No strays, but I bet you have some out there waiting for you.”
“Stop. The chicks aren’t in here for me. They’re here to get their morning fix.”
“Yeah, their image of Drew they can keep in their pretty heads all day. Are we still on for tonight?” she asks.
“Yep. We’ll talk later.” I’m always trying to balance how I can talk to her without seeming too eager. She’s right. A lot of women flirt with me, but I try to shrug it off when she brings it up. I only want her, so I don’t want her pressing me to go out with anyone.
I can tell she got ready quick this morning. Her long, dark hair is up, and the espresso eyes that I’m blessed to have stare back at me are standing out even more since she’s not wearing makeup. Brynlee doesn’t need any.
After hanging out together last year on Valentine’s Day, we decided to make it a yearly tradition. The sad thing is I was going to express my feelings for her last year on this day and didn’t get the nerve.
Here we are a year later, and I still haven’t done it. Her roommate, Andrea, is having a date over, so Bryn is coming to my place.
A Day for Friends or Lovers?
I’m finishing up my day at work when Drew’s younger sister, Marissa, comes in.
“Hi, Brynlee.” She walks up to the work table, sniffing around for scraps. Marissa is fourteen and beautiful. She has the same dark hair and blue eyes as her brother.
“How was school today? Any guys ask you to be their Valentine?”
“Sort of, but I only have my eyes on one, and if he doesn’t like me soon, then I’m going to have to get over him.”
“Don’t let him string you along. It can get painful,” I say as I hand her a cookie.
She raises a brow, and I realize I’ve said too much.
“Can I tell you something?” she asks.
“Of course.” I begin wiping down my work table as she speaks.
“I think that’s exactly what my brother does to you. He needs to shit or get off the pot.”
“Marissa!” I pause with my rag in hand.
“What? It’s the truth.”
“Your mom would kick your booty if she heard that from you.”
“Just sayin’. I love my brother, but you shouldn’t put up with it. He’s probably holding you back from some hot guys.”
“OK, I think that’s enough insight and girl talk for one day. I have to get out of here.”
“Hmm … to hang out with Drew?”
I roll my eyes. “Yes, but we’re best friends. Remember?”
“Yes, but Valentine’s Day is for lovers.”
“Out, girlfriend.” I shoo her out of the kitchen, following right behind her. She’s too smart for fourteen. I don’t want to hear the truth.
Making it as far as the counter, I hear my name. Cringing, I turn around. Phillip is smiling at me, holding up a coffee. He’s nineteen, and I’m pretty sure he has a crush on me. I’m five years older, so it’s not happening, but he’s one determined guy.
“Brynlee, I made your favorite.”
I approach the busy counter and take the cup from him. “Thanks, Phillip, but that wasn’t necessary.”
“Ah, I don’t mind. Do you have plans tonight?”
“Yes, she does, and you need to wait on that customer,” Drew says.
I watch Phillip scowl, so I hold up the cup.
“Thanks, Phillip. It was sweet of you to make me a coffee.” I give him a smile before he reluctantly walks away.
“Don’t be hard on him. He’s cute,” I say.
“You think he’s cute?” Drew asks.
“Yes, but he’s too young.”
“Exactly, so he needs to leave you alone and focus on work. There are enough teenage girls running around here for him to hit on, anyway.”
“Yes, but they’re all in the ‘I heart Drew’ fan club,” I say, batting my eyes like these girls do that work behind the counter.
“Stop, Bryn. That’s creepy. I’m older than you even.”
“I’ll stop if you quit giving Phillip a hard way to go.” I hold my cup out to him and grin. “I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
He smiles back and shakes his head at me.
After going home to shower, I change into some red skinny jeans and put on a black sweater. I take extra time with my hair, putting some curls in it. Maybe the fact I like Drew will spill out of my mouth tonight.
He opens the door and looks tasty. His dark hair is messy the way I like it, his blue eyes have a glimmer in them, and I can’t neglect mentioning that adorable, dimpled smile of his.
His towering height makes me feel safe, too. Now, I’m acting like one of those annoying teenage girls behind the coffee counter.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he says, giving me a kiss on the cheek. I step in with a white, bakery box from the shop. “You had one job and that was to bring ice cream.”
“I know, but instead, I took a walk on the wild side today and created something new for you.”
“You were back there making me something?” he asks.
“Duh, that’s what friends who bake are good for.” Drew and I make our plates of tacos and sit on the couch to watch television.
“Since you let me watch a shoot-um up movie last year, I thought I’d suffer through a chick flick tonight for you,” he says, putting a DVD in.
“Well, how kind of you. What are we watching?”
“Aww, you remembered my crush on Jake Ryan. I feel extra special this Valentine’s Day.”
He flashes a smile and sits next to me.
“I’m thoughtful like that.”
“You just want to see the big chested girl on here that gets with Long Duk Dong, or no, I know who it is. It’s the girl with the headgear, right? The one who has the little piece of dress hanging off the front of her shirt to wipe her mouth when she dribbles.” I crack up laughing.
Drew swipes my plate and sets it on the coffee table before grabbing my wrists.
“You’re in trouble now,” he says, smiling. I try to break free, but he pushes me over and pins me on the couch. “That’s mean,” he says, staring down at me with a smile.
“Oh, so you have seen this movie.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bullshit. Admit you’ve seen it, or you don’t get your dessert.”
“Well, only because Marissa watches it.”
“Your sister is fourteen. She’s probably never heard of it. I bet you watched it with a girlfriend in high school.”
“Admit it, or you don’t get to try my new sweet creation.”
His expression changes, and he’s looking at me intensely, inches from my face. “OK, I like the movie. Please give me my dessert before we watch it.”
I feel my face warm. I’ll give him dessert alright. He’s looking at me as if any second he’s going to kiss me. Please, do it already. We’re gazing at each other, and I can hear my loud, erratic breathing.
“OK,” I say barely above a whisper.
He blinks quickly a few times like he’s coming back from somewhere, and then he lets me go. I feel exposed sprawled out on his couch, so I jump to my feet and go into the kitchen.
I straighten my hair out and take a deep breath before I find a plate and lay the croissants on it. I want to whine out loud over how much I desire Drew. Why doesn’t he want me back?
I’m such an idiot. I had a perfect opportunity to kiss her, and I blew it. I don’t deserve Bryn if I can’t even tell her how much I care for her. She saunters back into the room with a smile and sticks a plate in front of me.
“These are called ‘Sweet Drews.’”
“You named a dessert after me?”
“Yes. I hope you don’t mind. If you like them, we could sell them at the shop.” This woman is an angel.
“What kind are they?”
“I made a strawberry cream filling with real pieces of strawberry, a hint of lemon zest and mini chocolate ch
She’s enthusiastic when she creates something new. It’s another quality I love. Her eyes are big and round and full of hope.
“Try it, and please be honest with me. If I need to change something, I will.”
I take a bite, and she’s probably the only thing that could taste better. “Mmm … Bryn, these rock.” She gives me a breathtaking grin.
“You really like it? You’re not just saying that to spare my feelings are you?”
“They’re awesome, and I really don’t want to share, but I guess I can let you have one,” I say, smiling with a big bite in my mouth.
“They’re all for you. I had to sample them this morning.”
Reaching out, I squeeze her hand.
“Sit and watch the movie. I can’t believe you named them after me. Seriously, Brynlee, thank you, and I’m glad you’re here.”
The movie ends, and the only light in the room is from the television. I look over and see that Bryn has fallen asleep on the other end of the couch. She’s curled up in a ball, and I feel bad since she’s probably worn out from making those awesome croissants.
I wish I could carry her to my bed. Would she flip if she woke up in my arms? I’m taking my chances and at least holding her here. I grab the remote and shut off the TV before I carefully slide behind her on the couch.
After pulling her back toward me, I wrap my arm around her waist. Mmm, sweet Brynlee. She always smells like sugar. I think the stuff is in her pores, and I love it.
Real brave, Drew. You take advantage of the situation when she’s asleep, but you can’t get the courage to show her when she’s awake. Tomorrow’s a new day. Maybe I’ll do it then.
I wake up pressed against Drew’s chest. My heart starts racing. How did this happen? My face is almost against his neck, and I still smell his clean scent. Did I roll over toward him, and how did he get here in the first place? I realize there is no way I’m getting off this couch without falling unless I wake him.
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