Authors: Kelly Walker
Tags: #Best friends to lovers romance, #family saga drama romance, #billionaire millionaire rich alpha romance, #Steamy new adult romance, #alternate pov romance
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
FOREVER MY ANGEL
First edition. October 12, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Kelly Walker.
Written by Kelly Walker.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For those who need a Haven, know that it does get better. You are worth a better life.
ess stands before the mirror, her head tilted gently to the side, scrutinizing her reflection. Her dark hair spills down her back like a velvet waterfall, gleaming against the black dress that ends just above her knees.
The black dress she apparently isn’t satisfied with.
She grabs the hem and twists, lifting the fabric over her head to join the heap of other rejected outfits on the bed beside me. I’m forced to stop admiring the bare curve of her waist when she steps into the walk-in closet, out of view. Chelsea left the closet well-stocked when she traded living arrangements with us, and I think Angel is determined to try on every piece my sister left behind. Though the townhouse is modest in size, the closet is huge. At first, Angel was hesitant to borrow any of it, but I told her to go for it. After all, nearly every item in there was bought with my credit card. Not that I mind, I just like to give Chelsea shit about it. I’d do just about anything to see Chelsea smile, the same as I would for Angel.
Angel is definitely not smiling when she emerges from the closet, a navy blue skirt and white blouse pressed to her chest. She gives me a look that could chill a corpse when she sees my amused smile. “What?” she demands. Ready. Aim. Fire. Her tone warns me to be silent if I value my life.
I slowly rise from the corner of the bed, keeping my eyes locked on hers. Her glare falters as I move closer. “What?” she asks again, but her tone has lost its bite.
My hands rest lightly on her bare arms, feeling the goosebumps spreading over her flesh. “Nothing,” I say, still smiling. “Just wondering how long I can reasonably sit and watch you strip over and over just to enjoy the view, before I have to step in and tell you that you could wear a sheet and still be beautiful. Just pick something.”
Angel rolls her eyes. “I can’t,” she whines, her lip puckering into an adorable pout. “Nothing looks right.”
I think she’s crazy, but I know better than to say it. Everything looks great on her, and in the end it isn’t going to matter what she wears. She and I both know what she’s really worried about. “Quit stressing over Vanessa and what she thinks.”
“But she hates me!” Angel huffs.
I tilt her chin up to face me, using just one finger. “Look at me.”
She does, letting me see the nervousness lingering behind her eyes.
“Screw her. Vanessa hates everyone. But me? I love you. And that’s all that matters.”
Angel melts against me, the fight going out of her, and I struggle to ignore her firm, warm breasts pressed against my chest. The goal is to get her dressed and ready to go, not naked and back under the covers. Sex with Angel sounds far more entertaining than Thanksgiving dinner at my father’s house with my bitch of a stepmother, but I promised Dad we’d be there. I have to take a step back, or I’m going to pick her up and slide her legs around me. I quickly rummage through the discarded clothes on the bed, pulling out a soft peach sweater and a pair of jeans. “Here. Wear this.”
Angel lifts a questioning eyebrow.
“The peach sweater looks amazing against your dark hair. Plus, it’s warm.” I nearly froze my balls off when I took Molly out for a walk earlier. “The jeans hug your ass just right. All I’m going to be able to think about is taking them off of you, which means it’s a good bet I’m going to want to leave early. In other words, less time you have to suffer through Vanessa.”
Angel’s eyes light up. “Ding, ding, ding. I believe we have a winner!”
I try to curb my disappointment as she steps easily into the jeans, which do exactly what I just said. I love her for a million reasons, not just for the way her ass makes my heart race, or because she’s willing to brave my family while being so far away from her own. She wanted to go to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with her mom, and I told her to go, but I couldn’t come with her. My father and I are working on closing a deal to open a second location for Tuck’s Tap, expanding one of our two family businesses. Getting away just wasn’t going to be an option. Angel didn’t want us to spend our first major holiday apart, so she decided not to go.
I won’t lie and say I’m not grateful. She’s definitely what I’m thankful for today. I’ve done my best to relax and trust that she’s not going anywhere. She and I are forever. But even a day away from her makes it hard for me to breathe.
I’m struck by a brilliant idea.
“Hey, why don’t you hang here for a bit, call your mom and chat. I’m sure she’s anxious to hear from you." It's Angel's first Thanksgiving away from home. And while I didn't hear from my mom the first time I didn't come home for a holiday, seeing as she walked away when I was five without looking back, I imagine most parents struggle at least a little with the empty nest thing. "See if maybe she’d like to come visit over Christmas. Her school should be on break, right?” Angel’s mom works at a school. High school level, I think.
“No, I’m serious. Dad and I need to talk business anyway, and I don’t want you to be bored, or worse, left to deal with Vanessa alone. Besides, someone’s got to make sure Chelsea actually gets out of bed on time and makes it there. I can go on ahead, and then you girls can come when you’re ready. You won’t have to spend any more time at the farm than necessary.” I talked to Jordan briefly last night, and he said it got a bit crazy at the bar. Chelsea was up late cleaning up after a brawl that never should have happened, so she’s probably going to be sluggish this morning.
Angel frowns. “It isn’t the farm I don’t like.” I get the sense that something is really weighing on her, but truly, going to the farm isn't that big of a deal. I hate that something that should be such a little thing is causing her so much stress. Or maybe it isn't actually today's meal with my family that's bothering her. Last night was the second night in a row Angel woke sweaty and screaming from a nightmare. Nick is out of our lives, but I've come to accept he's never going to completely vacate her mind. All I can do is be there for her and make sure she knows I love her no matter what, no strings attached. At least that's what her therapist says. Usually Angel goes alone, but we've also done a few joint sessions. Anything I can do to support her, I want to do it.
“I know, baby.” I step close, my hands sliding around her waist, pressing her close to me. Just feeling her in my arms, knowing she's mine, already makes it the best Thanksgiving ever. She sucks her lower lip in between her teeth, staring up at me with a molten expression. Her body is liquid against me.
Christ, I want to take her back to bed. It won't take much to nudge her in the direction I want her to go, and while crawling between the sheets would be more fun, hanging out with my sister and avoiding Vanessa until the last possible minute will make her happier. I'm willing to take one for the team. “It would really help Chelsea out. You know she hates driving. Tell your mom hi for me, okay? And if she wants to come visit, just let me know what date I should buy her plane tickets for.” I’m talking as if it is already decided, because it is. Angel will go along with it, and it will work out best for all of us. In the game of life, it's important to know how to move the pieces.
Angel sighs, sounding wistful when she says, “There was actually something I wanted to talk to you about while we were on the way out there.” Which explains why she hasn't already agreed to hang behind, even though she's tempted.
The hour-long drive definitely provides a good opportunity for conversation. Something about the way she says it worries me, though. I force myself to shove that worry aside. Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together. “We can talk tonight when we get home. Unless it’s urgent?” I’m assuming it isn’t, since she’s waited this long, but if she says otherwise, I'm willing to listen right now.
“Sure, of course.” She smiles nervously, weaving her fingers through mine.
Wait, wait, wait. Alarm bells clang inside my head. Her obvious nerves are a huge red flag waving in the air, screaming
look at me!
“Angel? What’s wrong?”
Bullshit. That 'nothing' is definitely 'something.' “Baby, whatever it is–"
She laughs, pressing a kiss to my knuckles before letting go of my hand. “Stop. It’s no big deal. Just a silly surprise that I planned, but now I’m not sure if you’re going to like it or not, so...” Her words trail off, and I immediately feel like I can breathe again. I brush my lips against hers in a soft kiss, keeping it light, knowing we're still in danger of ending up back in bed.
“I’m sure I’ll love it. I can’t wait.” Once I've gathered my coat, hat and gloves, I shove my wallet into my back pocket and palm my keys. I’m about to walk out the door when Molly whines urgently from near the kitchen counter, and I realize I’ve forgotten the most important thing. Usually, when Angel and I are both going to be gone for a while, we leave Molly with one of the neighbors, an elderly lady who needs the company. But today Mrs. Peters is going to her son’s for Thanksgiving, so she won’t be here to watch Molly. “I know, I know,” I apologize to the tiny dog. “I can’t believe I nearly forgot. Good catch.”
Angel is still in the bedroom getting ready. The small box I need is on the counter, the velvet on its edges becoming soft and worn from being opened daily. Anytime I’m going to be gone for more than a few hours, I leave Angel a little note in the box as a reminder of how I feel about her, and the future I’m still planning for. Sometimes Angel leaves me tiny notes in return.
My heart beats faster when I open the box and see immediately that this is one of those times. There are only two tiny words written on the small scrap of paper, but they mean everything.
Could that mean... I look up and find Angel watching me quietly from the doorway. Her eyes are bright with excitement, and I desperately want to reach in my pocket and pull out the ring I’ve been carrying for months and go jam it on her finger with Super Glue to make sure it never comes off.
I think maybe that’s what she expects me to do–after all, she knows me pretty damn well–but I’m not going to rush this. I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer, even though it might kill me. This has to be perfect. If I'm going to knock her socks off, I need to plan.
I blow her a kiss, our gazes lingering on each other. “I’ve got to go, but...but...” I sigh. “I love you, Tess.”
She nods. “Bye, A.” I think I hear a hitch in her throat.