HOLLY SCALLANGER LOOKED at the email in her hands.
That son of a bitch. How could he do this to me, and only a week prior to our wedding?
She had given him everything. Had stood by him in his time of need, having fulfilled the vows she hadn’t yet made before God. And what had he done? Her fiancé had slept with the woman he’d promised never to speak to ever again; Donna Sinclair.
That little stunt had ripped her heart out and tore it into a million pieces, like a wolf with a fresh kill. He had decimated her without a second thought.
Their relationship was the price demanded of one tramp in a push-up bra and paid with the wink of an eye.
Donna had always been a thorn in her side, the kind that wedged in deep like a tick, burrowing in deeper and deeper the more you tried to remove it.
She should have left him when that bitch first made her appearance in their lives, but she had innocently believed his rotten tongue.
Not only that, but she had also taken into her heart the poison he’d fed her with every “I’m sorry” and “It will never happen again”. She’d believed that he loved her more than anything in existence and that he’d made a mistake.
Tears welled up in her eyes and her stomach knotted.
But if he loved me, why’d he sleep with that skank only a month ago?
A part of her knew that Brandon was aching for Donna. They were the same, both liars—cheaters. They belonged together. She just wished Brandon had had the balls to break up with her. Maybe she could have saved all the money she had poured into their farce of a wedding.
Better now than too late, she thought.
She should have known that Brandon Morgan would never change his ways. There was a saying her mother always used: “A fox may change its fur, but never its color.”
Holly sat in front of her computer and began composing an email to Donna. She pounded away at the keys until the screen before her illuminated a vicious, scolding letter. Pausing, she deleted it, re-typed different cuss words, but eventually deleted that, too.
“You’ve won,” she said out loud, as her fingertips tapped with resigned beats on the letters that spelled the two words on her keyboard and pressed the send button.
Composing herself, she gazed around the polished wooden desk that housed her computer. As her eyes swept over the books and various notes, they rested on the small, black device like a beacon of her misery. Her phone was going to ring in the next couple of minutes and she knew who it would be. Brandon, of course.
Holly wasn’t stupid, knew the two secretly messaged each other, but she’d been too in love and blind to truly see Brandon’s weakness.
As she looked around the small bedroom, her eyes focused on the dark wood of the closet door. Her suitcase was pushed way to the back.
Unable to control herself, she kept running over and over in her head what the hell she was going to tell her mom. God knew, Jane Scallanger didn’t have money but had nevertheless spent—more like wasted—a fortune on a wedding that would never take place.
Pulling her legs up to her chest, she silently made a promise to herself and to whatever god happened to be listening. She would repay every penny, even if it took the rest of her life to do so.
Holly got out of the plush chair and gingerly walked across the soft carpet. Grasping the metal handle, she opened the closet door with a flourish and pulled out the suitcase. Flapping it open, she began arranging all her clothes haphazardly. Lucky for her, it was a big suitcase. When she bought it, she’d known the size would come in handy one day, she’d just never thought that it would be used for the situation she now found herself in.
Pausing in her frantic packing, she fell back onto the white carpet, letting her hair swirl around her, reflecting the tornado of emotions swirling within.
How could he have done this to me?
They’d had so many dreams. They could have been such a great couple if he would have just kept his dick in his pants. Heaven knew she loved Brandon, but she refused to marry Donna, too.
Tears began streaming down her cheeks, leaving a hot path that burned into her very soul. She inhaled deeply, trying not to lose it as she pushed her hair back. She knew that as soon as his Audi pulled into the driveway, he was going to start with his begging again. Especially now, a week before the big day.
She had to stand her ground. She owed it to herself and deserved so much more than that two-timing whore. Yes, Holly was sick of double standards; if women were called whores when they slept around, men should be labeled in the same manner.
Suddenly, her phone began buzzing frantically. She reached out a hand to grab it off the floor, where she’d placed it when she started packing and looked at the polished glass screen. A beautiful picture of him and her smiling greeted her.
Damn… we look so happy.
“Yes?” she answered.
“Hey, Holls. What are we going to eat tonight?” his deep honey voice asked.
Just hearing his voice caused a wave of emotion to roll through her body, which almost sent her phone flying toward the closet’s door. She knew he wasn’t calling about the evening’s menu. Donna had probably called him as a result of the message she’d sent half an hour ago.
“You know what? Eat whatever you want to eat. Hell, eat Donna, for all I care.” Angrily, she punched the red disconnect button on the screen.
Her phone rang again a second later, the same picture flashing on the screen. “What do you want, Brandon?”
“You okay?” he asked.
“Am I okay?” She gave her ‘you’re unbelievable’ snort, wanting to hang up on him yet again.
I’m so sick and tired of playing this game with him.
“No, I am not okay, but I will be Brandon,” she bit his name out with pure venom.
He cussed. “Is it that time of the month again?”
“You know what? Go fuck yourself. I can’t do this anymore… you, you sleazeball, you two-timing piece of shit.” She took a deep breath. “I’m leaving you. And I think it’s better we do this now, rather than waste two years of our lives with each other.”
“Wh-what? Just wait for me, Holls, okay? I’ll be right there. I love you, baby.”
She knew the minute she spelled it out for him that he’d cottoned on to the fact that she knew he’d slept with Donna, and then the lies would start all over again. He would begin by telling her his soppy version, and ultimately manipulate her into staying by telling her that it would never happen again. Except, that this time, she had proof.
The deadline signal beeped in her ear before she could tell him not to bother.
If she wanted to be rid of his sorry ass, she had to move fast. Where he worked was only a twenty-minute drive to her place, and in an emergency, ten.
Holly got up off the floor, grabbed the rest of her stuff, shoved it into her suitcase, and hauled it to her pathetic little Beetle, unceremoniously chucking the suitcase into it. She didn’t own anything else, because he had everything. Another thing he’d manipulated her with throughout the years.
She backed out of the garage of the million-dollar mansion her now-no-longer-to-be-daddy-in-law had bought them as a wedding present three months earlier. She knew she would never find that kind fortune again, but money couldn’t buy happiness, she knew that now.
Her phone was on the passenger seat.
She had no idea where to go, except to Bernice’s, her best friend. They’d had a falling out a month ago, and although Bernie had warned her to not go crying when he hurt her, she knew her friend hadn’t meant it in that way.
They had been friends since they’d been in diapers. Bernie would understand. She’d tried and failed to tell Holly, repeatedly, that Brandon was a dick, but Holly hadn’t listened. At that time, the reality of not being with him had been unbearable.
Now the only thing she saw whenever she closed her eyes, was Donna on top of Brandon in some classy hotel he’d never taken her to.
Holly resolutely dialed her friend’s number; thanking God she hadn’t deleted it when he’d asked her to. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as Holly knew Bernie’s number by heart. The phone rang three times before Bernice answered.
“Never thought I’d hear from you again,” Bernie huffed in an unimpressed tone.
“I did it,” Holly blurted without a greeting, and then promptly began to cry. She’d kept most of her tears back for way too long.
“What?” Bernie sounded surprised. “Where are you now? Shit, I hope you’re not driving.”
“I had to get away. I only have my suitcase and no idea what I’m going to do!” she bawled.
“Calm down, okay? Pullover, or better yet, go to the mall. I’ll meet you at Madley’s. Just don’t drive, please,” Bernie begged.
“Okay,” Holly uttered, so softly it was barely audible. She disconnected the call, dropped her phone onto her lap, and quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and face before she ended up causing an accident. Thankfully, the mall was a five-minute drive from their home. She didn’t think Brandon would go looking for her there. At least, she hoped he wouldn’t.
Holly ordered a regular coffee, since Madley’s was a non-licensed coffee shop, and waited for Bernie. She went over in her head how she was going to beg her for forgiveness and ask to be given another chance, and possibly a room until she was able to save up enough money to afford a place of her own.
The waiting was excruciating. For Bernie, it wasn’t a five-minute drive to Madley’s like it was for Holly. It was more of a half an hour drive.
As she waited, her mind wandered back to the day she’d met Brandon. She remembered how his blue eyes had set her heart on fire in a downtown bar. Neither of them was supposed to have been there that night, but fate had intervened. And as far as Holly was concerned in regards to fate—it didn’t fucking exist.
She should’ve seen the signs. She wasn’t even fond of blond guys, but for Brandon, she had made an exception. His personality had transformed all his flaws right before her eyes and turned him into her dream guy. At the time, she never had a clue he was a living, breathing replica of her father. Just thinking of the comparison upset her.
Charles Scallanger, she whispered, the name leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. She hated men like her father, yet there she’d been, on the verge of marrying his carbon copy.
Growing up, Holly’s mother had worked two jobs, one to put food on the table and pay the bills, the other to pay her father’s ass through university so that he could fulfill his dream of becoming an architect.
These weren’t men. They were boys who never grew up. And what had Charles done when his ship finally sailed in? He’d dumped her mother and married his blond bimbo secretary, Gabriella, who he’d known for less than three months.
No, Holly didn’t want a life that remotely resembled theirs. In the end, her mother hadn’t gotten her father, and to this day still lived alone.
Maybe there was no such thing as a good husband. Maybe they were all cheaters, and there would always be a Donna.
The two men she’d once loved and worshipped had proved that. What was said by many was true; you always ended up marrying your father. She almost did.
Feeling herself being pulled down into a spiral of depression, Holly forced the good things about Brandon to the front of her mind. He had really made her feel like a million dollars at times, but the reality of those emails to Donna quickly made her feel like she had never been worth a dime to him.
How could I have been so stupid?
As much as Holly hated Donna, she had to admit that the bitch was really good. She’d had her sights set on Brandon ever since the day they’d met on that stupid website everyone was making such a big fuss about. Perhaps, stupidly, Holly had thought love would prevail and conquer that devil spawn. Thank heavens she found out sooner rather than later that love didn’t have that kind of power. It didn’t conquer all if there was no respect and trust.
She pulled the printed email out of her purse and read through it again. There wasn’t any forwarding email address with her name attached to it. And it wasn’t from Donna either, but somehow it had managed to get to her, a week before their wedding. There were even entries that went way back, even after he’d promised he would never speak to Donna again. She’d read through those a million times.
The fire burned inside her again as she took in every inked word. She had never felt this kind of betrayal or humiliation in her life, not even when her father left.
Brandon had written to Donna about how beautiful she was, and the words ‘miss you’ popped up a couple of times. What hurts the most was the emails where he told Donna how he felt trapped in his relationship with Holly. Now that she thought about it, she’d never actually had Brandon all to herself. Guys like Brandon would never know what they had until it was too late.
Bernie suddenly dropped her skinny ass into the chair across from hers. “Sorry, I’m late.” She had cut her long, summer blond hair to shoulder length and it looked really good.
Holly didn’t say anything but slid the twenty-four-page email in front of Bernie.
Grabbing the pages up from the table quickly, her piercing blue eyes scanned through them, as if earth’s existence depended on the information she held in her hands. “That fucking asshole,” she whispered and continued to read. She gasped now and then and gave her ‘I don’t believe it’ snort here and there. “What did he say?” Bernie asked, halfway through.
“He didn’t say a thing. I just told him I’m leaving and that was that.”
“He didn’t even put up a fight?” She looked at Holly with raised eyebrows.
“I didn’t give him the chance. You know what he’s like, Bernie. He’ll manipulate me and tell me that it’s not him, and you know how naive I can be.”
Bernie looked at her, eyes huge and round. “Holly, after this, no way he’d be able to bullshit you again,” she huffed. Shaking her head gently, she closed her eyes for a beat. “And, you can’t be that stupid.”
Holly inhaled deeply, knowing that Bernie was right. But her ex-fiancé would have found a way of talking her into making the biggest mistake of her life. Brandon was that good. “You know what he’s like, Bernie,” she repeated, fresh tears forming in her eyes.
Looking across the wide table at her friend, Bernie knew how tormented Holly was. She had a weakness when it came to Brandon Morgan. “Just think about these emails, Holly. No one in his or her right mind would take someone like that back. If you like, you can stay with Leonard and me. You’ll just have to purchase a pair of earplugs for the nights’ Sam keeps me up. He’s teething and it’s driving me insane.”
Holly hugged her friend awkwardly across the table. “Thank you, Bernie.”
“You’re doing the right thing, Holls. He doesn’t deserve you. Be happy that this happened now, instead of two years down the line when there’d likely be little feet running around the house.”
Holly nodded. Bernie always thought about others, especially children.
They decided to have lunch while Bernie wandered off to place a call to Leonard, updating him on the change of plans involving Holly. Sam stayed with Leonard’s mom in the mornings, so Bernie had a chance to catch up on all the chores around the house. Luckily for Holly, it was a Saturday and Brandon had to work, or so she’d presumed. For all she knew, he could’ve been at Donna’s. Thinking about that made her blood boil, leaving her no choice but to agree with her BFF that Brandon didn’t deserve her.
When Bernie returned, they both ordered a hamburger and chips—traditional comfort food. In the end, Bernie paid the bill, which Holly hated but her friend had been adamant.
Out in the parking lot, they split up to collect their cars respectively. Bernie had parked on the opposite side of where Holly’s car was, so she waited patiently in her Beetle.
Removing her phone from her handbag, she noticed that it had somehow switched to silent while they had been talking and eating.
She had wondered why it hadn’t rung, although she couldn’t remember making the switch. Twenty-four missed calls were brightly displayed on her phone. Three of the messages were from Brandon wanting to know where she was, why she wasn’t answering her phone, and begging her not to do this to him a week before their wedding.
She sighed, forgetting all the steps involved in canceling a wedding. All the people she had to phone. Aunt Suzie, as well as Lorinda, would give their condolences and say that they’d always known Brandon wasn’t the right one for her. She had gotten so sick and tired of that saying of theirs: Beautiful men belong to multiple women. This task would require a bottle of vodka.
She read the last message again.
Don’t do this to me, please!
Blah, blah, blah.
Holly chucked the phone onto her back seat. Do this to him, indeed! She couldn’t help but giggle. She’d almost felt bad thinking that she was doing that to him a week before their wedding, but then he should have thought about what he was doing a month ago when he’d rolled into bed with that slut.
She had to find another job since the five-star restaurant where she currently worked as a full-time personal assistant didn’t pay enough to support herself. Thinking of her job made her heart sink. She loved working in the food industry and needed the people who always looked out and cared for her.
Holly’s boss and her husband were darlings, and they’d offered to help her financially ever since she’d started working for them. However, Brandon had always had more than enough to support them both.
Just then, Bernie’s SUV pulled up and Holly quickly started her Beetle. But when she turned the key in the ignition, a loud whining noise emitted from under the hood. The car backfired and she couldn’t help thinking that if he had really loved her the way he’d always said he did, he would’ve bought her a safer car—one that didn’t die at every stoplight.
Tears filled her eyes again. No matter how hard she tried to push him off the pedestal she had placed him on so many years ago, he was still on it, standing just as tall as he always had.
“Please, God, give me the strength to let him go,” she whispered. Her faith had always held strong, but lately, it was beginning to wane, probably because she hadn’t gone to church in months. However, Holly still prayed at night, which didn’t detract from the fact that she still felt bad in knowing how she had chucked God away, like a discarded toy. He was the only constant in her life, and she was banking on that constant to pull her butt through the torturous week that awaited her.
4 years later
THE SUITCASE SAT open on the bed. The past four years hadn’t been easy for twenty-eight-year-old, Holly Scallanger. She’d lost one child and raised another on whatever she had.
If it hadn’t been for Jane, her mother, she wouldn’t have known how life would turn out. Her decision to become a doctor hadn’t made life any easier, either. It was with thanks to the Lord that he’d created her with a good head on her shoulders, and placed people in her path who saw talent when it stood in front of them, hence being awarded a scholarship.
If it hadn’t been for all the good that had ventured her way, well, she wouldn’t have had the very suitcase that sat open on the bed that day.
“How many sleepies, Mommy?” the curly black head asked.
Her ice-green eyes made Holly’s heart skip a beat every time she looked into them. Jamie truly looked so much like her dad, but as hard as it was, Holly thanked the Lord every night for having Jamie in her life. The almost four-year-old had been nothing but a blessing, and Holly couldn’t imagine life without her.
“Did you find the calendar?”
Jamie hopped off the bed.
She really should get a haircut, Holly thought. The girl’s black curls almost reached her bottom. Just a trim though.
If there was one thing Holly loved, it was Jamie’s curls. She had them, too, but because of all the pulling and tugging caused by Jamie as a baby, Holly had cut it all off, so short she could barely put it into a ponytail.
Jamie returned with the calendar, one almost as big as she was. She flopped with it onto the bed, out of breath. “Here you go, Mommy. That thing is heavy.”
Holly laughed as she went to the drawer next to her bed, retrieving a black marker, and went back to the calendar. She paged through the first five months until she got to June.
“That’s your birth date, and I promise I will be here, okay?”
Jamie’s eyes continued to stare at the round circle her mother had drawn, her tiny lips pulled down in a frown.
“What is it, peanut?”
“That is a lot of sleepies.” Jamie looked into Holly’s eyes, her bottom lip now trembling a little.
“I know,” Holly said, picking Jamie up and setting her on her lap. She gave her daughter a big hug. “Remember what we spoke about?”
“I need you to be a brave little girl, and also be good for Nana.”
“You won’t go into the rainbow, too?” Jamie asked with a squeak in her voice.
“I promise. I’m staying as far away as I can from any rainbows, except when I’m chasing one. But I would still keep my distance as nothing, and I mean nothing, would ever take me away from you.” Holly’s heart turned into a knot as she thought about the rainbow.
Jamie was smart, too smart for a three-year-old, but it was to be expected. Her father was a genius, and Holly thought she had a pretty good head on her shoulders, too. She’d gotten it from both sides.
Ever since she was two, she’d asked the daddy question. Holly couldn’t bring herself to tell a two-year-old the truth; Jamie wouldn’t have understood, anyway.
So instead of telling Jamie that her daddy hadn’t wanted her, she did the opposite. She told Jamie that he loved her, but he was stuck in a rainbow. The story evolved as she got a little older and Amelia, Robyn, Grandpa Gus, and all the others made their way into the rainbow, too. Every single one of them lived in a rainbow.
She was grateful that Peters’ was easy to google, so she ended up printing their photos. She’d stuck them in a book with their names above each respective picture. It was the only thing Holly had been able to do as Jamie’s questions kept on coming. She wanted to know everything.
In the beginning, it had been extremely hard. Holly would end up crying every night before she went to bed. Angry tears would eventually turn into sad ones. Sad where Jake was concerned, because he was missing out on the most beautiful little girl, both on the inside and out.
At the time, she hadn’t thought too much about her story or even contemplated introducing her to Jake and the Peters’. But Jamie had wanted to know where her father was and what he looked like, and Holly had relented. Now, it seemed to be biting her in the ass.
She had been going to do her internship at Seattle Memorial, but a couple of months ago they had been told that there would be no internship program anymore because they’d lost their status as a teaching hospital.
Holly and Rodney, her best friend who was gay but one would never say so, had to take whatever was available. She’d almost told Rodney the one day who Jamie’s father was, but was thankful she hadn’t.
As for the rainbow stories, she managed to keep those from him as well; the meaning of them that was, although he knew about them in a whole different way.
Rodney wanted to be a neurologist, and the best one around was Jake. It came as no surprise that he’d fast made a name for himself and became known as the doctor who’d take risks with tumors nobody else would. It all began with that first operation her mother had told her about. The one where he’d scrubbed in with a doctor from China; Dr. Huyo, who’d sort of becoming Jake’s mentor. He’d even spent a year in China, which made Holly silently wish he’d never returned, but he had. Since then, he’d taken on patients who were close to death and added another twenty-five years to their future.
It was by no means easy to study to become a doctor with the Peters’ receiving awards for practically everything, as well as attending lectures where their names popped up constantly. And it wasn’t just Jake. They were all masters in their chosen fields.
Robyn had reached a huge goal, too. She’d become an oncologist and invented some kind of synthetic colon. She’d also found a cure for pancreatic cancer, and had won the Gillepsy Award.
If Rodney ever found out that the Peters’ were the ones who’d left her in her time of need, and that Jake was Jamie’s father, he would not want anything to do with him. He would only be second best, and Rodney needed to become the best. He deserved to be trained by the best, and he’d been wanting to meet Jake for a long time.
So, Rodney went to P&E and Holly to Downsend. The distance between both hospitals was only about fifteen minutes, but she would find a way to steer as clear away from P&E as she could. That had been one of the reasons why she hadn’t taken Jamie with her. She now knew what her father looked like, what all of them looked like, and Holly was scared that Jamie would accidentally run into one of them.
Holly breathed deeply just thinking about it all. Jake would be livid with her for having kept Jamie, but had he to meet her he’d also fall deeply in love with the little girl who had the tendency to crawl into one’s heart, dirty feet and all. He would surely take her away.
One thing Holly didn’t have was the money to fight Jake in court, and she doubted very much that grandpa Charles would hand it over in order to fight him, even though her father hated Jake’s guts.
Charles had found out that Jamie’s father was a doctor, the minute she’d told him about her great plan to become one herself.
Everything had stopped.
Charles had gone on to tell Holly that she needed to start paying him back. It was something Charles Scallanger just didn’t understand. He didn’t want that for her, and the only way he could keep her from her goal was to overpower her with the bills. Bills she’d somehow found a way to repay by working nights as a cleaning lady at an up-market hotel. She’d almost paid a tenth off but was convinced that once she became a doctor, it would be easier to pay her father in full. And then, she could finally tell him to stuff it.
Jake would definitely win should she ever come to that crossroad. Even if his case was weak, Jake would always find a way to win.
Though Holly had made up the rainbow story, she would eventually tell Jamie the truth. But for now, her little girl lived in a dream world where her father was some sort of hero, saving lives in a rainbow world.
Jamie’s arms released Holly’s neck, bringing Holly back to the present. The two looked at one another, their noses touching softly.
Don’t cry, Holly, she begged herself.
“Where are my kisses?”
Jamie giggled and started kissing Holly all over her face. She gave her one long kiss on the mouth. “That one counts for ten sleepies.”
Holly laughed. “Okay, but I think you should give me about ten of those and you’ll be that much closer.”
By the seventh kiss, Holly could tell Jamie was really getting bored.
“Two more long kisses and they count for twenty.”
“Okay,” Jamie said, giving Holly the requested quota.
A knock on the bedroom door made both of them lookup.
“And where are my kisses?” Rodney asked, walking into the room.
“Uncle Rodey!” Jamie yelled, jumping off of Holly’s lap and into his arms.
Jamie could never pronounce the ‘n’ in his name, which made Holly laugh every time she called him Rodey. He was the father she’d never had.
To Holly, he was the brother she’d never had and one of her best friends. He loved kids, and she was sure that had he not been gay, she would have married him. His mom was African American, and his dad Caucasian, which left Rodney with soft brown skin and beautiful blue eyes. He was handsome, but he didn’t come close to Jake. Still, the guy that one day captured Rodney’s heart would be the luckiest man ever.
Jamie began to get bored all over again, squirmed out of Rodney’s hands, and half skipped and half ran to her room.
“How are we holding up today?”
Holly looked at him, tears glistening in her eyes.
“Come here, sweetheart.”
When she complied, he wrapped his arms around her. “You are leaving her for a good reason. To give her the best future any child could have.”
“I know, but it’s so hard.”
“Of course it is. But think of the end result. It’s only for a year, and the following year we’ll be back, somewhere close to Seattle. Hopefully, the pay will be better and we can finally get a house where she can have a damn puppy.”
Holly giggled through tears.
“It is going to be fucking hard, though,” he admitted.
Holly slapped him. “Watch your language.”
“Ow! Sorry.” He rubbed his chest. “Okay, it’s going to be fudging hard, but she’s going to love you tons when you get back.”
Holly couldn’t help but burst out laughing while wiping a stray tear from her cheek. “News flash, she already loves me.”
“She loves me more.” He winked.
Only because you don’t say no to her.”
His face scrounged up. “You’re the only one who can tell her no.”
Holly laughed again.
Just then, Jamie ran back into her room. “Look what I made you.”
Rodney crouched in front of her and looked at the picture. “It’s you and mommy, saving lives,” she said in explanation.
“And what is that?”
“That is a kidney, and a heart and those are brains.”
“Okay…” Rodney gave her a playful, raised eyebrow look, then gave Holly an insane look, which made her giggle. He looked back at the picture. “And that?”
Rodney laughed. “You are watching way too much Grey’s Anatomy with your mother.”
“Are you insane? She’s not watching Grey’s Anatomy until the day she’s twenty-one! There is way too much… coloring in there.”
Jamie’s body bent over as she crouched simultaneously, laughing uncontrollably at what Holly said, but having no idea what it was really about.
“Well, maybe mommy should color in again.”
“Oh, shut up. My coloring days are so over.”
“Are not, you colored in with me last night,” Jamie spoke up, still having no clue what they’d been talking about.
“Cheater,” Rodney teased.
Holly chuckled at his antics. “Fine, I cheated, so what?”
Jane entered the room. “It’s time you guys hit the road, otherwise you are not going to make your first day. You still need to hunt for an apartment.”
Rodney dangled a set of keys on the end of his finger. “I’m way too organized for you Scallangers.” He shook his head in a taunting motion, earning him a slap on the chest from Jane.
“What is it with you women and slapping?” He rubbed his chest.
“Those thanks to daddy?” Holly snorted.
“Whatever. You are going to live like a queen because of my daddy.” Rodney wiggled his eyebrows.
Jane laughed. “At least your daddy pays for things like that.”
Holly rolled her eyes.
“I don’t get your father. He still wants you to pay him back?” Rodney queried.
Both women laughed.
“Grandpa Charles doesn’t suck.”
“Okay, missy, he doesn’t suck that much,” Rodney teased again.
Jamie loved her grandfather, but then she got away with murder every other weekend when she visited him.
Holly blew out a breath and her lips quivered as she tried to push back tears.
Rodney grabbed her suitcase, and Jamie helped by taking hold of the smaller bag.
Holly picked up her handbag and slung it over her shoulder, and then tucked a pillow under her armpit for the long trip.
Both Jane and Jamie walked down to the ground floor where Rodney had parked his Toyota. It was a typical ‘doctor starting out’ type of car; it huffed and puffed when starting it, but it got you where you needed to go.
He placed Holly’s suitcase on the back seat with the rest of her stuff.
She snorted when she thought back to when she’d left Boston. The situation was practically identical, and now she was going back in a similar fashion.
Holly turned to Jamie and crouched down to her level. Her baby had tears in her eyes, so she pulled her in for a tighter than tight hug. To keep her voice from breaking, she cleared her throat. “Remember what mommy told you?”
Jamie nodded, while still in Holly’s arms.
“I’m going to miss you so much, but I promise to speak to you every day over the phone and to chase down every rainbow I can find, okay?”
Jamie smiled and every time she did so, Holly smiled back. How she was going to break the truth to her one day was a conundrum she’d have to figure out. She just hoped that when the time came, Jamie would understand why she’d lied.
“Love you, Mommy. Be good.”
Holly snorted. “You be good, and no ice cream after eight.”
“What we are going to do is none of your business,” Jane butted in.
Jamie giggled. “Yes, it’s our little secret, Nana.”
Jane covered Jamie’s mouth playfully, making everyone laugh.
“I’ll know,” Holly said, closing the door, and then rolling the window down.
“Love you, Mommy.”
“Love you more.”
“Love you more than more,” Rodney said, picking Jamie up. “I’ll see you on your birthday, okay?”
“Promise?” she asked.
“I’ll try my damn best.”
“Rodney!” both Holly and Jane yelled.
“Oops! Sorry.” He glared at Holly. “I’ll try my damn best,” he whispered in Jamie’s ear, but Holly knew exactly what he’d repeated.
She merely shook her head.
“Big kiss, and a biiiiig hug.” He made a grunting sound and Jamie flung her arms around his neck, squeezing tightly.
Jane winked at Holly.
Holly winked back. “Love you,” she mouthed.
“Love you more,” Jane answered softly.
Rodney put Jamie down and climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Drive safe and call me the second you get there.”
“Will do,” Holly promised.
“Last touch.” Jamie snapped her hand out, grazing Holly’s elbow just before the car pulled slowly away.
Holly tried to touch her back, but Jamie had squirmed away, giggling loudly.
“I love you, Jamie!” Holly shouted, halfway down the road.
“Love you more, Mommy.”
Holly watched her little girl until Rodney turned a corner. When the coast was clear, she finally broke down and bawled her eyes out.
She blinked back tears as she scrolled through the photos of Jamie, her daughter, on her phone. Three weeks had passed since she had moved to Zürich, leaving Jamie with Jake. The only consolation she received from the terrible, heart-wrenching loneliness was that she got to Skype with them every night. She missed her little girl so much her heart ached.
Jamie lived with Jake now. The transition had gone smoother than she had expected it to, but he had an amazing support system. Amelia, Gus, and Robin all jumped at the opportunity to help him out with Jamie.
At first, both she and her mother had been hesitant about how quickly and smoothly everything had fallen into place with Jamie and Jake. But when they’d actually thought it through, they realized that for Jamie, Jake had always been in her life, just stuck in a rainbow.
For Jamie, Jake had come home now, so it was natural for her to settle in as easily as she had. And she had to admit that from what she’d seen, Jake was a great father.
Rodney, one of her best friends and the only male influence Jamie had had in her life for the past almost six years, also checked in on Jamie from time to time. Not that it was necessary, but he was a part of their family.
As for the Peterses, they were giving Jamie whatever her heart desired.
She loved that her little girl would finally be able to go to ballet classes and take part in other activities, but she didn’t want her to become spoiled, and that was a big possibility. Jake couldn’t say no to Jamie. None of them could.
For once, things in her life seemed to be going well.
Even her mother was happy. Jake had offered Jane a position at Downsend, but she’d gone back to Seattle. Holly had a feeling she was going to try to make it work with Frank again—in her opinion, her mother couldn’t have asked for a better man.
Jane had had it rough with her father, and her faith in men had died out after him. But Frank was different. He was a fantastic guy, and he deserved another chance.
Even though everything seemed to be working out well, there were two things she worried about.
The first was Mara. Jake was making it difficult to forgive her.
What Mara had done was wrong on all levels, but Holly had learned the hard way that you had to forgive someone for yourself. The human soul wouldn’t survive and truly be happy if bitterness and anger roamed in the heart.
She desperately wanted Jake to forgive his mother, but he was stubborn. He had his reasons, and she couldn’t argue with them, but she worried about the animosity he had toward Mara.
The other thing she worried about was Kate. She still felt shitty that Jake had left Kate to be with her. They’d hurt Kate badly, and she couldn’t seem to let go.
Jake hadn’t been joking when he’d said Kate was like Mara. She didn’t give up easily. She’d phoned him incessantly in the days before Holly came to Zürich, begging, crying, fighting, more begging.
Without her there, anything could happen. He’d been on the verge of marrying Kate; his feelings for the woman couldn’t have vanished overnight.
What if he decided to go ahead and marry her, anyway? Jake had shown Holly what he was capable of when he’d cheated on Kate with her, and he loved Michael as if that boy were his own.
But Jake had promised her that nothing would come between them, not this time. Holly could do nothing but trust and hope that she was enough for him.
She smiled at the memory of Jake telling her over and over that she was everything to him, and that he would keep on telling her that until it sank in.
But she couldn’t help it. She was still afraid.
She figured her fears were rooted in the married woman from his past. He never talked about her, and she was too scared to bring it up. Scared that she would hear things she didn’t want to hear.
Amelia had told her that he’d been devastated over the fact that the woman was married. But then he met Holly and all that seemed to disappear.
What had happened? Had the woman’s husband found out about their affair? Had she broken it off because of that? Or, was it something else entirely?
None of his family members knew the woman, had never met her, and Holly was scared that a part of him still secretly lusted after her.
It was one of the reasons why she still felt marginally insecure with Jake.
What if that woman came back into his life and offered herself on a silver platter while Holly was in Zürich? Would she and Jamie be enough for Jake to say no, and would he truly mean it?
Life was too short to spend it with the wrong person, and deep down inside she knew there was a possibility that she could lose Jake, either to Kate, or the mystery woman.
She shook her head. It was no use dwelling on thoughts like that while she was close to 4000 miles away. It only made her worry more.
Swiping through her album, she smiled at the photo of her and Bernie with Jamie and Layla, Bernie’s little one.
She’d eventually phoned Bernie, who had been short with her answers. She couldn’t blame her friend. She’d completely shut her out and hadn’t bothered to give Bernie a chance to be a part of hers and Jamie’s life.
But the day after Holly had phoned her, Bernie and Leo had rocked up at the cabin. She hadn’t been ready for the ambush, but Bernie being Bernie, hadn’t given a crap about that.
When Bernie saw Jamie, it was an emotional moment, and even more when Holly introduced her and she discovered that Jamie’s middle name was Bernice.
Bernie had glared at Holly, who had desperately been trying to hide her tears.
Sam was almost seven, and he hadn’t recognized Holly at all, but then he’d been a toddler when she’d left them all behind.
She was surprised to learn that Bernie was pregnant again—although barely showing—and that she had a little girl, a year or so younger than Jamie.
Jake and Leo had taken everyone out on a boat trip, so she and Bernice could talk.
Bernice was her best friend and had been since childhood. In the end, she hadn’t left Jake, she’d left Bernie, too.
They’d needed to sort things out.
She remembered that day so well.
“You just left!” Bernie yelled.
Holly looked down and picked at the comforter on the bed. “I know.”
“No, you don’t. Do have any idea what you put Jake through?”
Holly lifted her head to look at her. “He told me.”
Bernie barked out a hollow laugh. “I guess he gave you the subtle version. He was fucked up, Holly. Not even Leo could get him to snap out of it. The punches my husband had to endure…” Bernie closed her eyes and shook her head as she wiped away a tear. “I don’t even want to think about it to paint you the picture, Holly. He looked everywhere for you, and I was no use. I never once thought you would go crawling to your father. You never spoke about him or mentioned his name, so I had no clue where you were. For someone who had claimed to be so in love, you sure as shit ran away as fast as your feet could take you.”
“I heard him saying—”
“It wasn’t him. I told you his mother was a psycho. Didn’t you think to phone Gus when you knew you could die? Or when you discovered you were pregnant with twins? I missed all of it. I was your best friend, and you shut me out of your life!” Tears streamed down Bernie’s cheeks.
She ignored Holly’s apology. “You didn’t even phone me. Did I mean that little to you? Holly, I stayed with you after Jamie’s death, I was there when fuckface broke your heart. Why couldn’t you just have phoned me? Did I mean that little to you?” Bernie broke down and sobbed. She slid down to the floor and covered her face with her hands.
“No.” She climbed off the bed and crawled over to her friend. She touched Bernie’s arm. She needed to repair their friendship, and could only hope that her friend would forgive her for treating her like shit. “I didn’t want Jake to lose his friendship with Leo, so I gave up ours, okay.”
Bernie looked over at Holly, wiping her hands across her cheeks. “He wouldn’t have lost his friendship, because I would’ve fucking asked you where the hell you were. Jake was insane with worry.”
“I know that now, but I didn’t that day. You weren’t there, Bern. You didn’t hear her. I didn’t want to believe it, but then she begged me to phone him, so I did. And he confirmed it. It was enough for me to know that he didn’t want us anymore, so I made a choice. It was a stupid one, I know that now.”
Bernie shook her head, but being her stubborn self, they continued to argue. When everything was out in the open and off their chests, Holly apologized again.
Bernie finally stopped fighting. “Just promise me one thing, Holly. Never, ever do that to me, or Jake again.”
Holly nodded, and they hugged for a long time.
“I missed you,” Bernie said brokenly.
“Ditto. So much, sister.”
Bernie laughed through snot and tears and they broke the hug.
“Tell me about Romy,” Bernie asked, rubbing her hands over her face.
Holly took a deep breath and told her everything about Romy’s short life, her voice thick with emotion.
“That bitch! I didn’t want to believe her, because I knew she was insane when it came to Jake. I was convinced she was behind it, but as you said, Mara finds a way to make you doubt everything you believe in. When you never called me, I believed her, Holly. I fucking believed her, while you were in some fucking hospital fighting for your life and your babies.”
“It’s in the past.”
“No!” Bernie yelled. “Don’t you dare give that woman the easy way out. She deserves every fucking thing that comes her way. She lied. Do you know how Gus felt when she told him that the shake hadn’t worked? He spent years, decades, on that formula, and then she destroyed it all. That lie broke him, made him think he’d wasted all his time, all that effort. Not to mention what she did to Jake and Amelia.”
“Amelia hated you. That walk against abortion, the one in high heels? Do you think she would have done that if it wasn’t a cause dear to her heart? And she spent all these years resenting you for getting an abortion because that’s what Mara made her believe. Not to mention her drinking problem.” Bern sniffed. “She couldn’t handle any of it, so she took to drinking. It was bad. She’s sober now, or so Jake says.”
Bernie let out an exasperated sigh.
“That night, after we discovered you were gone, I told Mara she was insane. And she had the audacity to start crying. That woman never cries. Jake was in turmoil; he didn’t know what to believe. She chased me out of her house, but only because I knew the bitch had something to do with your disappearance. I knew you would never get an abortion. And I told Jake that. He was really disappointed that you just left without speaking to him.
“Never in a million years did I think Mara was tech-savvy enough to make you think you were speaking to Jake. That woman is pure evil. When I managed to convince Jake that you’d never get an abortion, he decided to look for you. He hired a private investigator, who tracked your car to a bus stop in Atlanta. From there, we tried to pinpoint a location.
“Jake was callous and stressed out. He didn’t even care about his residency. He just wanted to find you. We phoned every damn hospital in the country. Gus ran through with us what we needed to say, what your symptoms would be, and then we just waited. But Mara probably had Seattle Memorial on her list of hospitals to phone, and she never made any of the calls.”
“You can’t say that, Bernie.”
Bernie merely looked at her. “She told you he didn’t want the baby, or you, for that matter. She told you to get an abortion. She wanted you out of his life. She didn’t make a single damn phone call. I’m certain of that because Seattle would’ve phoned Gus the moment you were admitted, Holly.”
She tried to imagine what those months after she had left had been like for them all. Between what Jake, Amelia, and now Bernie had told her, she had a pretty good picture.
“The leads went dry after the bus stop. The cameras only recorded three days’ worth of footage. Jake was livid and threatened to sue them. Of course, he didn’t sue them, but he did leave. He picked a direction and went with it. For two months, he was radio silent—at least with me and Leo. And then he rocked up at our house out of the blue.” Bernie shuddered visibly.
“Mara dragged him back. He was obviously upset with me and Leo, and that was when I really started to think that maybe, just maybe, you had gone through with the abortion.”
She nodded, completely understanding why Bernie had believed that. She hadn’t phoned her, just upped and vanished.
She wiped her tears with the back of her hand.
“Do you understand why I’m so upset, Holly? You gave Jamie my name, but you couldn’t find it in you to even phone me.”
“I know. How many times do I have to apologize?”
“Yeah, it’s in the past now. I’m just…it’s going to take time to get to where we used to be.”
Holly bit down on her lip. “You really still want to be my friend?”
She cupped Holly’s face, then tucked a curl behind her ear as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“You’re stuck with me, whether you want it or not.” Bernie threw her arms around Holly and rested her head on her shoulder. “I knew you wouldn’t do it,” she mumbled, pulling back to look at Holly.
“No.” She sniffed. “In the end, I believed her, because you couldn’t fucking pick up a phone to tell me where the hell you were, or if you were okay. It hurts, Holly, knowing that we could’ve done something to help you during that horrible time.”
“I’m sorry, I just didn’t want Leo—”
“Fuck other people, Holly. For once in your life, think about yourself. You deserve so much more out of this fucked-up life, but you don’t think you do. I love you so fucking much, but I am still so fucking livid with you. What if he married Kate? What then?”
“No, you don’t. She’s a bitch, I hate that fucking cow.”
“Oh, c’mon, she’s not that bad.”
Bernie looked at her. “You know the woman?”
She looked down at the floor. Bernie didn’t know she’d been back in Boston all this time. She sighed.
“How do you know her?”
“I was a resident at Downsend.”
Bernie glared at her. “You were in Boston all this fucking time and didn’t call me? You became a nurse?”
Smiling, she shook her head. “I wasn’t in Boston all the time. Just this past year. And I’m not a nurse.”
Bernie gasped. “A doctor?”
“Yep. Still working hard toward my goal of becoming a brilliant one.” She laughed. “Seattle lost its teaching status and now that I think of it, I wasn’t really safe there, either. Our paths, mine and Jake’s, would’ve crossed eventually because my mom kinda had a thing going with his godfather.”
“What?” Bernie chuckled.
“Talk about a small world, right? When the status was gone, we immediately got the only options that still had openings in their programs. P&E was one, and Downsend the other. So I went to Downsend, and one of my friends went to P&E. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. For five months, I managed not to bump into Jake—serendipitous, in my case—but as fate would have it, it brought us an impossible case that only he would be able to take on. I was so careful, but in the end, I bumped into him.”
“You bumped into him?” Bernie’s eyes were huge at this revelation.
“Why didn’t he tell us?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“I couldn’t. I was afraid he’d take Jamie away. I didn’t want to lose her. You don’t want to know what my bank account looks like, so I kept my mouth shut.”
“How did he find out?”
“I tried, Bernie. I really did.” She shoved her hands under her butt as guilt spread across her face.
“To hate him, to stay away. I knew he was engaged, but he was still my weakness.”
Bernie closed her eyes. “Tell me you didn’t.”
“Can’t do that. Sorry, but I’m a slut when it comes to Jake Peters.”
Against her better judgment, Bernie chuckled. “How long did this ‘affair’ go on for?”
“About three months, then Rodney found out.”
“My friend, the one who took the spot at P&E? He sort of became Jake’s intern, assisting him in all of his cases. He discovered Jake was Jamie’s father during one of our phone conversations.” She chuckled at the memory. “He’d always said that Jake could’ve been Jamie’s father, they looked so alike, but I lied and told him her father’s name was Steve. Stupid lie, I know.”
“Yeah, I noticed the resemblance, too. You’re gonna need to buy a gun or something.”
Holly laughed. “I know. She’s so beautiful. Anyway, it all went wrong from there. I couldn’t tell Jake, but Rodney made it unbearable. He told me Jake was only messing with me, and that he was still going to marry Kate. So, I asked Jake to choose—I wasn’t the one he chose.”
Bernie huffed. “Because he couldn’t put his family through that again. It was the only reason he couldn’t choose you. You should’ve told him about Jamie. How did he even find out about her?”
“Destiny…call it what you will. We did this all wrong. Nothing good can come from doing bad things, Bernie.”
“No, I don’t believe that anything bad will happen with the two of you. Destiny…it was meant to be. You came back just as he was about to make the biggest mistake of his life.”
“Yeah, but that didn’t mean I had to screw his brains out.”
“I really wanted him to choose me, but he didn’t and my life was a mess for two months. I thought he didn’t want me. Listening to the wedding arrangements, him moving it to Hawaii…it clawed at my heart. That was why I let my mother bring Jamie. I missed her so much, and he was going to Hawaii. He was supposed to be on a flight when my mother arrived at the hospital. I didn’t know he’d gotten called in for an emergency.”
“I’m glad you’ve made peace with your mom. I need to apologize to her for being so rude when I saw her earlier.”
Holly touched her knee. “She understands, Bernie. She wasn’t there for me when my sister died, but I get it now. And I don’t blame her at all. It’s not easy. Every day is a struggle, especially having to look at your surviving daughter and only being able to see the daughter you lost. Without my mother…” She inhaled deeply. “She’s my rock, Bern. Yes, she flew off the handle all those years ago, but from the moment my daughters were born, she’s been there. She’s helped me through the toughest of times. There were days where I couldn’t bear look at Jamie, couldn’t stand being around her, and my mother was there. Not only to help me out of the dark hole I’d fallen into but also to take care of Jamie when my heartache was just too much to handle.”
“I’m happy for you. I’m glad you had someone with you. You would have had me if you hadn’t been so damn stubborn.”
“I know. But these years with my mother…they have been crucial to our relationship. My dad is still an ass—some people will never change. Anyway, Jake must have seen her when I came out of surgery. I was assisting one of his cousins, and Jamie announced her happiness to the entire hospital when she saw me. I guess he put two and two together when he saw she looked nothing like me. I was terrified when he cornered me, wanting to know who she was. So we fought and he backed off. I didn’t see confusion in him, just guilt. I wanted to get away from everything, as far as I could, but my mother refused to let me leave. She told me we needed to sort it out, and now here we are.”
“Just like that?”
She knew what Bernie was really asking.
“No, I asked him to stay…and he did. He broke it off with Kate, and the horrible truth finally came out.”
“Holly.” One of the residents tapped her on the shoulder, snapping her out of her journey down memory lane. “The heart transplant is starting.”
She smiled up at him. “Thank you, Lukas.”
She got up from the table and mulled over her memories as she walked. She was so glad she and Bernie had managed to patch things up and were friends again because if truth be told, she hadn’t thought Bernie would ever forgive her.
They’d made a pact that if Jake fucked up, then Leo could go screw himself because Bernie didn’t want to lose Holly’s friendship again. Not like that. And Holly promised she’d phone her, no matter what.
She took a seat in the gallery to watch the heart transplant, but her mind was still far away.
Bernie’s daughter’s name was Layla, and she was a little spitfire. She looked like Leo, but everything else about her was all Bernie.
Jamie and Layla became friends almost instantly, just like her sister and Bernice had become friends so long ago. She’d always felt like the outsider like she was going to lose her sister to Bernie, but then she got pulled in and the three of them had become inseparable.
Bernie just had that way about her with people. She’d immediately hit it off with Rod, too, and that had put a smile on Holly’s face. It made her happy that her two best friends liked each other.
Rod still worked at P&E, but Jake was transferring him to Downsend. He wanted him back under his wing. Jake thought Rodney had what it took to follow in his footsteps. And the world needed more surgeons who were willing to take chances.
Rod had been so ecstatic about the praise Jake had bestowed on him, he’d accepted the transfer without hesitation. She was glad because Rod really had the potential to be the best.
She blinked back tears, trying to concentrate on the heart transplant taking place, but for some reason, her thoughts refused to stay in the present.
She missed everyone too much. They’d had such a fantastic couple of days at the cabin before she left for Zürich. She had been truly happy during that time. It had made coming to Zürich even harder than she’d thought it would be.
The goodbye at the airport had been the hardest. She’d been unable to hold her tears back in front of Jamie, but Jake had promised her she would see them soon.
When she realized there was no way her attention would be on the surgery—the surgeon’s droning voice bored her; nothing like the way Jake taught while he was operating—she put her earphones in.
Perhaps she’d be able to concentrate on the German she was trying to learn. It wasn’t easy living in a country where you didn’t understand the language. Sure, they spoke English here, but it wasn’t the same.
Of course, Jake spoke the language fluently. She hated that he could do almost everything with such ease. She was a little jealous because she had to work her ass off at everything.
And now, she was thousands of miles away from him.
She really missed him, ached for him. They hadn’t been able to keep their hands off each other in the days before she left, sneaking off for quickies whenever someone kept Jamie entertained, and spending their nights after Jamie had gone to bed entangled in each other’s arms, their skin slick with sweat, their breath mingling together.
He was insatiable.
She missed everything about him.
But for now, they sated themselves with phone sex and sexy Skype dates, but she wanted him here.
Three more weeks.
She was sure she could hold on until then.
Jake was struggling to get Jamie’s passport, what with her out of the country, it was close to impossible to get it since Jamie wasn’t registered in Jake’s surname. But he’d said everything would be sorted out in time for their visit, and she couldn’t wait to see them both.
She was counting off the days.
The things she was going to do to him when he got here… Her stomach dipped as she thought about their sexting the previous day. She squeezed her thighs together as the video he’d sent her replayed in her mind. He’d started off talking dirty to her, then he’d jerked off, grunting and groaning her name. It had made her want him so badly, and she needed to show him what torture he was putting her through.
So, she sent him a video back, teasing him with the Ben Wa balls she’d bought to experiment with during their phone sex.
A voice note awaited her when she’d woken up this morning.
I can’t believe you just did that. The things I’m going to do to you…be warned, you won’t be able to sit for days.
It had made her laugh and blush at the same time.
The images his voice ignited in her mind of what he would do to her, did nothing to dampen the lust swirling in her core. But as she went about her day, that lust had morphed into something more; sad desperation.
She needed Jake more than what he needed her.
He had everything back home—his family, his daughter, friends. She had nobody.
She never should have taken this year abroad.
She was miserable without them. Just ten more months and she would go home. Ten more months.
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Kate, please.”
“I told you before. I’m not going to keep you from seeing Michael, Jake, but she can’t be there.”
“She’s my daughter, Kate.”
“He wouldn’t understand it.”
“He’s fucking two years old. Jamie won’t understand it, either, but I’m willing to let her meet him and accept him as part of my life. You’re being unreasonable.”
“I’m unreasonable?” Hollow laugher reached his ears through the phone. “You cheating on me was unreasonable, Jake. If she thinks that you are—”
“Damn it, Kate. I told you I was sorry, but I couldn’t lie anymore. I couldn’t live that lie anymore. I cheated on you because of who she is, not because of the fact that she’s a fucking strawberry blond. I’ve given you all my reasons, one of them being that I can’t live without her. I felt like a dog, but I’m no longer going to feel like one. My daughter stays. If you can’t find it in your heart to give her a chance, I’m sorry. But she’s not going anywhere just to soothe your insecurities. Can I please pick up Michael tonight?”
The line went dead, and Jake swore under his breath.
He wanted to scream.
Michael was only two, and Jake was the only father he knew. He’d changed his diapers, sat with him while he was sick, loved him like he was his own. Kate was being a total bitch. And the more he dealt with her, the less shitty he felt about the affair he’d had with Holly while they were still together.
A message popped up and he swiped across the screen, hoping it was Holly.
To his delight, it was a video from her. He had a sneaky feeling what it would be and decided to wait until he was alone. If the video was anything like the kinky photos she’d sent him—her breasts, covered in lace, bare; her stomach, with her hands splayed out on her abdomen; her ass, clad in briefs or a thong—he was in for something explicitly sexy.
And he was almost certain she was reciprocating after the video he’d sent her of him jacking off. He couldn’t help it—her sexy photos had made him hard as a rock.
She’d cussed at him and told him that he shouldn’t mess with her like that. That had led to full-blown sobbing, and he had struggled to get a handle on the situation.
She missed all of them so much, which made the thought that she was utterly miserable unbearable for him.
So, he did the only thing he could think of. He booked a flight to Zürich and was basically just counting off the hours now. He’d hoped to see Michael before he left, but Kate was impossible.
Exhaling, he went to his office and took out his phone. Making sure he wouldn’t be disturbed, he hit play on the video Holly sent him, and a goofy grin played on his lips. She was in a naughty mood.
Fuck, she looked hot. Her shoulder-length curls bounced as she moved her head, and for that added touch, she’d applied sultry smoky makeup. With the barely-there red dress, she looked every inch the seductress.
He took in a shaky breath. Even from thousands of miles away, she managed to knock the breath out of him.
“If you think I forgot about that sexy and oh-so-hot movie you sent me, you’re in for a rude awakening, Dr. Peters.” Then she winked at him, her hands running up and then down her body, sensual and excruciatingly slow.
His breath caught in his throat as his eyes followed her hand, locking on her fingers as they slipped deftly under her skimpy dress to slip her panties down her legs.
What are you doing, woman?
With a come-hither look, she crawled on hands and knees across the bed and lied down, grinning slyly at the camera. Then slowly, teasingly, slid her legs open.
Jake’s breath hitched, nearly making him choke on his spit when Holly’s bare pussy graced his vision with all its gloriousness.
With a shaking hand, he stopped the video—it wasn’t the time or place to watch it—and put his phone back in his pocket.
Taking a couple of deep breaths, he willed the images from his mind. As he had other consultations to get to, it wouldn’t be very professional of him if all he could think of were dirty thoughts while dealing with patients.
He willed the hours away, desperate to reach for the phone that felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket. All he wanted to do was watch the rest of that video.
Finally, the end of the day had arrived. He dropped Jamie and her myriad of belongings off at Amelia’s house—she’d be staying there while he was in Zürich, and he had to catch an early flight to New York in the morning—and gave her a million kisses, before heading back home.
Settling himself on his bed, he eagerly took out his phone, scrolled to the video, and hit play, continuing where he’d paused it. He watched with lust as Holly’s open glory taunted him.
His eyes locked on her fingers once more, watching them slide through her slick folds as she moaned his name.
He felt himself growing hard and chuckled as Holly’s moans grew louder, her breaths coming out in pants
Fuck, he wanted to be there right now, wanted to feast on her. The hours until he saw her needed to go by faster.
You little minx.
“Jake, I’m going to come,” she moaned.
“Holly…” he groaned, gripping his erection in his sweaty hand. Her moaning and breathy sighs were tearing him apart.
He’d never wanted anyone as much as he wanted her. The weeks without her were even harder than the five years they’d spent apart.
His eyes widened as she pulled at a string he hadn’t noticed before; a Ben Wa ball popped out as she cried her orgasm.
The pace of his strokes increased as he gripped his cock like a vice when she pulled out the next Ben Wa ball, a scream of pleasure tearing through her body.
Quickly, he replayed the scene, and when Holly reached yet another orgasm, Jake was right there with her.
When his breathing had evened out, he sent her a voice note. “I can’t believe you just did that. But, be warned, because what I plan to do to you will most definitely prevent you from sitting for days.”
Laughing, he hit send.