Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition (9 page)

BOOK: Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition
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“Hey, let me help you with that,” I take the Tupperware filled with cookies and the gallon of milk she brought.  Nice touch.  “Did you call to see if there is a package for you?”

She bends over to dig something out of the car; I can’t help but wish for a nice breeze to catch the hem of her dress.  She stands up and smoothes her dress down.  “You were looking weren’t you?”

“A guy can be curious can’t he?”

“What are you curious about Caide Palmer?” 

Gah!  I love the way she says my name.

I watch her perfectly pouty lips and without thinking, I set the cookies and milk down on the roof of her car.  I step in closer to her, and put both hands on her face.  I look into her pleading eyes, and I know she feels the same way I do.  Three seconds and I’m in for the kiss.  Her lips are soft and delicate as I press mine to hers.  River’s lips part and our tongues danced a slow seductive tango.  The feeling in the pit of my stomach is both relieved and nervous.  She’s safe and in my arms from Lance, but is she safe from me?  I pull back and search her face for distaste or anger, it has neither.  Her eyes are locked onto mine, and my heart pounds in my chest.  I’ve never had these feelings before, nothing even close. 

“River….I’ve wanted to do that for a while now.  I’m sorry,” I say nothing more, afraid my words will deceive me.

She sucks in her bottom lip before she replies to me.  “I have too…you have no idea.” She sighs softly.

“Let’s go in and get this set up, everyone will start pulling in any time.
  I’m so glad you’re safe, I’ve been worried about you.” 

As we set out the chairs and cookies I tell her about the note and the police.  Her eyes are panicked but her voice is steady as she talks to me. 

“Why do you think this asshat is harassing us?”  Her words seem so harsh coming from that beautiful mouth, but I like how confident she is with her convictions.

“The police are baffled about that too.  It’s pretty stupid of this guy, especially when we can identify him.

The room starts filling up with people here for the meeting.
River rushes over to get her papers set out. 

Ten minutes later, everyone is ready to start.

“Good evening everyone!  I’m so glad you are continuing to come to group. I’m honored to be your leader and a part of your recovery.  This is a difficult position to be in, on one hand you love the person, and the other you despise their disease.  Tonight, I want you to think about a time the addict embarrassed you, and how did you handle it.  I also want you to think about how you would handle the situations each of us will be talking about tonight. If everyone is ready, I’ll start.”  She looks around the room to a bunch of nodding heads.  “Most of my moments happened when I was younger, so the way I handled it was from a kid’s perspective.  I was thirteen and my mom was in charge of the Valentine’s Day bake sale at my school.  Everything was going great until someone started asking her about the recipe she used and it rubbed my mom the wrong way.  The next thing you know, my mom took one of the cakes and threw it at the woman!  When you’re thirteen, kids can be cruel, the next thing I know kids are yelling at me.  My mom is freaking out and the principal is rushing over and throws my mom out, but mom wouldn’t leave without me.  The principal smelled alcohol on my mom’s breath and called the police.  That was my first ride in a squad car.  From that point forward, everything spiraled out of control, and I was suddenly scrambling to find a way to deal with the backlash.  I started smoking; it was like a cigarette gave me instant courage.  Kids quit making fun of me and I showed them, I became addicted to nicotine because my mother was an alcoholic.  I’ve been trying to quit smoking and I surround myself with positive people.  Coming to Al Anon has made me realize that I don’t walk alone in this crazy world.  Each of you has had experiences and I’m honored to share in your recovery.”  River looked around the room nervously, her heart and soul on display for all of us to see.

 

____________________________________________

 

Chapter Eight

Young Love’s first lesson is -- the heart;

For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,

When, from our little cares apart,

And laughing at her girlish wiles,

I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,

And pour my spirit out in tears --

Edgar Allan Poe

RIVER

One incredible kiss has sent every nerve ending on high alert.  How many times have I wished he’d kissed me Sunday night
?  Tonight was better in so many ways, the way he touched my face, the way the sky was painted a beautiful pink and purple as the sun was setting.  The way we were keenly aware of the time and risk to be out in the open, yet it didn’t matter.  Caide Palmer might not be a douche after all.  He plays a serious game of aloof, but he’s really just a scared guy who’s been through hell and back.

Standing up in front of everyone and telling them about my mom and one of her drunken follies was harder than I expected.  I had all day to figure out what I was going to tell everyone and only gave the group moments to
figure out theirs.  If I had to be honest with the world, the embarrassing moments outweighed the normal ones by a long shot. 

John finished his letter and placed it in his pocket with care.  I quit daydreaming in time to see Caide stand up and walk over to the podium. 

“Hey everyone,” Caide hesitates as he looks around the room.  “It amazes me when I hear you talk about your lives.  The events I’ve had happen seem so small and trivial compared to the pain you’ve all been through.  So many of you have suffered for years and years, it really puts life into perspective for me.  I’ve never talked to anyone about this event even though it played out in the tabloids and local news.  It was one of my regular filming days for the network, it was the day they had me have one hundred people in the audience.  The studio is laid back, and it isn’t like lunatics are fighting to get tickets to the show.  My daughter was ten months old and was with her mom.  H - my ex, showed up high as a kite.  She had lost so much weight and her skin was almost gray in color.  H and our daughter barge onto the set and H started freaking out.  She was throwing the ingredients around, banging the pots and pans; all the while she was screaming profanities at me.  Thankfully, my assistant was able to grab my daughter from where H set her on the ground and took her to the back.  The networks big wigs were there to witness the whole thing first hand.  One of the camera men was able to pull Heather off the set and the police were called.  Unfortunately, someone snuck in their phone and videoed the drama and gave it to the tabloids.  TMZ was all over it, and Twitter blew up with the video trending.” Caide looks up and around the room.  “Look, I haven’t handled things in the best ways.  I’ve been reckless and absent of emotions for a while, you guys made me realize that.”

John raised his hand.  “Caide, what happened
, how did you handle it?”


In retrospect, not well.  I went to the beach that night and got shitfaced drunk and took home some girl and…pardon the language, I screwed her.  It was for nothing more than to be desired and not judged.  I wasn’t raised in a family with a lot of drama, so I never learned how to deal with shit like drug addicts flipping out.  Those impulses to have the companionship of a girl are the way I’ve dealt with things.  I’m not proud of it, nor do I wear it like a badge.  Damn,” Caide says and looks over at me with a look of fear across his face.  Suddenly, he darts through the room and out the doors.

My heart wants to run to him and tell him
its okay.  What have I got myself into?

____________________________________________

 

Caide’s car is in the driveway as I pull up to his house.  I’m not sure what I’ll find when I go inside.  Maybe he’ll tell me to leave.  Group was intense for him tonight, it’s obvious he hasn’t ever faced those problems before and now they’re coming to the surface.

I open the door and suddenly I’m overwhelmed with aromas of chocolate and something citrus.  Caide is baking away his feelings.

As I cross the room to the kitchen, it’s as though it will take a million steps before I make it to him.  He’s broken, I see it on his face.  He hasn’t even looked up as I approach, he’s lost in chocolate.

“Caide?”  I say timidly.

He
raises his head and smiles at me, which almost makes my heart explode.  “I’m sorry about abandoning you.  Those officers should be here soon, so if you want to yell and be mad, now’s your chance.”

“First, I’d never
yell and be mad at you for anything in group.  That’s our safe zone.  However, I might not forgive you for causing me to gain ten pounds eating all the yummy food you make.  What are you making? I’m happy to learn from the master.”

“Master, hmmmmm,” he grins mischievously at me.  “You can call me master any time you want.
” 

“I bet
you’d make a fun master to have,” I flirt back.  “What are you making?”

“I’ve made a lemon cake, it’s in the oven.  Right here,” he points to the bowl of chocolate he’s mixing by hand, “I’m making chocolate truffles. 
Becky, my assistant, has been under some stress recently, and she loves these.”  He wipes his hands off with a paper towel. 

The doorbell rings and
Rusty, my dog, darts across the house like a bat out of hell.  Caide and I look at each other and die laughing.

“I don’t think a burglar will get past Rusty,” Caide says as he heads to the stairs.

“Me either!”

Caide brings the guys upstairs to sit around the table and talk. 

Jed, is the smallest of the three guys, he stands close to six feet tall. I’m sure he’s nearly forty, it’s hard to tell since he’s bald, yet he’s dressed trendy with his black designer t-shirt that’s tight across his broad chest.  He tells us he’s a master at Combato Defendo, which he insists is more effective than his black belt in Karate.  He talks with a sexy deep Berry White voice (I could listen to him talk all night long).  All of the guys have been trained in SPEAR (Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response), a way to disarm an assailant in dangerous situations.  Jed is a single black man, probably a ladies’ man with his movie star looks.  He’s being assigned to me and will be staying in Caide’s house with us.  He’ll be working around the clock; he tells us he’s taken a leave of absence from the police force to protect me.   He slides his contract over to me; I pick it up to inspect the conditions.  The very first paragraph has the fee, $10,000.00 for a month and an extra $1500.00 a day for holiday pay.  The holidays are the normal ones, which includes Labor Day, which is coming up. He gets paid for an entire month, regardless if he works one day or all thirty. No wonder he can afford the designer belt and shoes.  I know a few cops, and they can’t afford to dress like Jed.  Caide reaches in a pouch he has on the table and hands Jed a stack of money.

“Caide, can I talk to you for a minute?”  I can’t let him fork over that kind of money for me.  Who is he,
Bruce Wayne? 

Caide turns and tells the guys we’ll be back in a few.

A few what?  Hours?  Minutes?  Days?

I follow him to his bedroom. 

“What’s up?”  Caide asks as he sits down on one of the two powder blue chairs. 

I take the other chair,
I don’t know how he slept in it the other night; it’s oddly shaped and uncomfortably stiff.

“Ten thousand dollars!  Are you kidding me?  I’m not letting you give someone that kind of money.  There’s no way I’m paying that kind of money either.  I have to put a new roof on my house.  Think about it Caide, for that kind of money, I’m paying for a roof!  It will last thirty years, this guy will last thirty days.”
  I sigh with frustration.  My heart is pounding, from either being alone with Caide in his bedroom, or from the thought of paying ten grand to someone.

Caide looks at me dumbfounded. 
I imagine his wheels of reason are spinning in his head. 

He is in the
chair to the left of me.  I turn sideways and tuck my left leg under my right.  He reaches across and takes my hand into his.

“Are you finished ranting and raving?” His voice is low and gentle, like a father talking to their small child.

I roll my eyes at him.  “Ranting and raving?  Seriously?”

“Seriously
, River.  I don’t typically talk about money, but you need to trust me when I say it won’t put a dent in what I have saved.  I like you…a lot.  I’m not going to allow you to get hurt by Lance.  He’s a low-life who has shown he has skills at threatening you.  No, I don’t know what or how this situation with us, you and me, will end…but it won’t be because of him.  Don’t make this into something it isn’t.”

He referred to our status as
us,
crap.  Caide stands up and takes my hand to pull me up.  I wrap my arms around him and we hug until I look up at him.

“River, you’re a beautiful soul, with light all around you.  I have this urge to protect you….don’t even try to tell me it’s because of Heather.  It isn’t.  Please let me pay Jed, it will make me sleep better.”

Beautiful soul!

Falling.

“Okay, for one month, nothing more,” I demand.

He kisses the top of my head and pulls away,
he takes my hand and we head back to the living room.

This is a dream, I tell myself.   Keep your foot on the brake pedal, this could get complicated really fast. 
Could!
I think it already has.

After the contract is signed with Jed, and he gets his wad of money, he said he’s going to go get his things out of the car. 

The next two cops are Garrett and Curt, two fairly fit brothers who are at least twenty-five but not more than thirty.  They come from a long line of police officers and wear the badge with honor.  They work opposite shifts with the police department and will trade off patrolling between my house and the businesses.  They’ll both be crashing at my place and their grand total is $1800 a week…
each. 

Garret
t owns a security business and Caide hired his company to be security at my store and Caide’s during the hours we are closed.  I didn’t see that contract, but I’m sure Caide’s wishing he’d stayed home Saturday night.

____________________________________________

We walked the guys to the door together, as though we’ve been doing it for years.  My reasoning was to see what cars everyone is in.  That way if one of my neighbors calls about a mysterious car in my driveway I’d be able to ease their mind.  It isn’t as though they noticed anything out of the ordinary the day Lance left a note in my house.

“River, I’m going to take a swim, would you like to join me?”
  Caide asks with that grin on his face, the one I’ve come to secretly adore.  I bet that damn grin has got him into plenty of girl’s panties. 

Swimming with a t
attooed torso, muscle-bound chef is not a hard decision to make.  “Yeah, I would.  I’ll meet you in the back.”

I
stand in front of the mirror and double check that my butt cheeks are covered.  We started carrying these boy-short bikinis last summer and they sell out almost immediately every time I get them in the store.  I picked black shorts and a top with a blue floral print.   I tie the top behind my neck and make sure everything is secure.

The thought of
swimming with Caide sends me into a giddy girl bouncing up and down while clapping my hands together…quietly.

Deep breath, compose yourself…now go knock his socks off….or his swim trunks! 

I haven’t let my desires for him cloud my mind until today.  Being with Ryan all afternoon and his commentary about how Caide and I were going to rule Emerald Isle before we’re thirty sent my imagination on fire.   I don’t want to rule the town, but I won’t mind being ruled by Caide just once….or twice if he’s good.

____________________________________________

The colored pool lights are fading into one color and out another.  Caide is underwater as I step out onto the deck.  He’s swimming the length of the pool and back, totally oblivious to his fan club of one.  He finally surfaces directly under the diving board.  Both of his hands reach up over his head and suspend himself with his hands.  I see the strength of his shoulders and the definition of his biceps as he holds on. 

“Hey
, River, don’t you look delicious in that extraordinarily hot bikini.  Did you come out here to seduce me?” 

Agh!  Oh
crap, I should have brought a one piece.  He thinks I’m easy.  The sound of him chuckling in the water catches my attention.

“I’m teasing you
, River….not about being hot in the bikini, because grown men don’t make jokes like that.  Are you coming in?”

“Uh-huh,” I reply as I walk along the edge of the pool until I get to the diving board.  Caide has moved over to the side of the pool and watches me intently.  I step onto the board and say a silent prayer I don’t break my neck or
that my top doesn’t fall off.  I take the steps to the edge of the board and bounce to feel the give…. The final moment I decide to dive instead of flip, just because I wanted to look sexy and not like a frat boy.  My 34 C cups could have caused a wardrobe malfunction during a flip without a problem. 

BOOK: Cry Me a River PG-13 Edition
7.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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