I Love My Hope (Nicole's Erotic Romance)

BOOK: I Love My Hope (Nicole's Erotic Romance)
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I Love My…



(Nicole’s Story - Part 2)


By Sabrina Lacey


Cover Image of “Mark” ©

Image of New York ©

Licensed through Shutterstock.com

© Sabrina Lacey

Lacey Publications

All Right Reserved

is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and
incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual
events is purely coincidental.


No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written
permission of the publisher.




I escaped obsession, ran away from Michael only to find him chasing me,
now. There’s a new man Amber's introduced me to...and he's incredible.
Too good to be true, maybe.
It's been so long since I opened
my heart up to
... to something
real. His name is Mark and he's visiting from San Francisco... here alone after
being rejected by some girl he met, his last trip to New York. Little do I know
that I know her...
very, very well.




Twenty-Eight Minutes After I Left


I dial
Amber’s number. As soon as she says hello, I blurt out, my teeth chattering, “Amber.
I need help. Can I come over? Is Josh there?”

wrong? He’s here, but I’ll send him away. Josh! It’s Nico on the phone. She
doesn’t sound good. Can we move this to another night?”

doesn’t know it, but I’m right outside her apartment building holding my jacket
around me, standing in these damn heels and this stupid black dress, shivering
partly from the cold, partly from overwhelming sorrow. “Thank you,” I whisper
as she listens to him get his things together.

course! He’s leaving now. Please come over. I’m so glad you called.” That’s why
I came here. Amber has your back in a storm. She’s such a rock that sometimes
it’s annoying how solid and
-headed she can
be, but those are the exact qualities that beckon you, when you can’t stand on
your own.

Josh is
going to see me out here when he comes out. Can I hide? I don’t see anywhere I
could. So, I confess, “I’m downstairs,
,” covering
my face against the wind with my hand.

Get up here! It’s freezing out there! I’ll
buzz you in. Why didn’t she tell me…

That last part was
mumbled as she hung up the phone. When the security door buzzes loudly, I jump
at the noise. I reach out and grab the door before it locks again and hurry in,
rubbing my arms and stamping my feet to warm up. Josh runs down the stairs,
pulling on his jacket as he approaches.

“Hey!” He
looks concerned. I nod to him. I don’t even try to pull up the corners of my

I look at
the ground as I push the elevator button a couple times. “Hey.”

clear he understands I don’t want to talk. “She’s upstairs. Hope you’re okay.”

I watch
him retreating as I walk into the elevator. He’s acting like a good guy,
respectfully turning away and leaving, but right now I don’t believe in good
guys. When I get to Amber’s floor, I walk off the elevator to find her waiting
for me in front of her door. She looks worried. I shake my head. She nods like
she knows.

I hug her
as she asks, quietly, “Hi. You want tea, or something stronger?”

“What do
you think?” I answer, bending for the hug, nuzzled in friendship and support.
I’m a giant to her in these heels, but she still feels bigger than me.

“You got
it.” We pull apart and she walks in, with me following after I shut and lock
the door. “Have a seat on the couch. There’s a blanket on it to cover your legs

you, Amber.” I expected her to scold me for wearing next to nothing, on a night
like this.

I slide
onto the couch, wiggle out of my shoes and tuck my chilled feet underneath me
for warmth. Pulling the squishy-soft blanket over me feels like I’m at
; like she’s alive and making hot chocolate in the
kitchen, and we’re going to watch
Sound of Music
for the millionth time. I can see Amber in the kitchen
through the window that separates both rooms. She’s deep in concentration and
working fast to return to me. The sight makes me feel not so cold anymore.

She walks
in and says, “
It’s Jameson Irish
. Josh drinks it. This’ll warm you up. Did you know
people used to give whiskey to their children for colds? Or for teething?”

“Or to
shut them up.” I sniff the thick aroma. “Woo! That’s something else right

grimaces, watching me, sitting on the couch, too, and facing me with her back
against the arm. “Yeah. I can’t drink it. You want something else?”

I’m not
joking as I say, “I’m something else tonight, too, so it’s perfect.” She pulls
up her knees to her chest, her teacup held in both her delicate hands as she patiently
waits for me to talk. The warm zing makes it hard to drink and surprises my
throat on the first sip. I may have just found my new drink. I’m staring at the
coffee table, my attention held by a fairy figurine. She’s dressed in purple,
her face wistful and sweet. It’s as though she’s looking at me… like she gets

“I’m in

stops breathing. Then she exhales and says slowly, “I thought that’s what it
had to be.”

I look to
her. “It’s Michael. The painter who lets me use his studio.”

“You pay
for it, though.”

“Oh I pay
for it, alright.”

She says
softly, “I meant the studio, Nico.”

My voice
wavers and I shake my head. “I pay a fraction of the price he pays for it, only
because I needed to pay him… something. He wanted to let me use it for free,
but my pride wouldn’t have that. But
, how am I
going to get my own space? I could never pay
of what he pays. Not monthly! It adds up, you know. What am I
going to do?”

Well, let’s not talk about the studio. What about him? Does he know how you feel?
And…” She stops herself, takes a sip of tea to slow down.

“I can
take it, Amber…hearing your questions. You don’t have to tiptoe. Frankly,
they’re helping me pull out the pieces, see them one at a time.” I sip the
whiskey again and this time it’s not as strong.
Funny how we
get used to hard things.

Good. Sometimes I can be a little…” she trails off. We both know what she

I look
back to the fairy. “He feels the same way I do. I saw it tonight.”

not a good thing?”


Her hand
flies to her mouth and she moans, “Oh no. You didn’t know?”


“Oh God.”

I nod and
we stare at each other, understanding all of the pain of what that means.
The impossibility of it.
The heartbreak.
woman on the other end.
The lie. The time spent. The bond formed. The
tearing apart of that bond, because there is no other option that I could live
with. I can’t see him again. That’s how it has to be.

“I met
his wife.”

gasps. “Is that how you found out?”

I nod.
“She came by the studio. I told her we’ve never slept together.”

afraid to ask.”

I know
exactly what she’s thinking.

“No! I
swear to you I wasn’t lying. We’ve never done anything. Not that I haven’t
tried. He never would. I practically begged him to, some nights. That was
before I knew he was married, of course. Oh God. Why is this so painful?” The
tears come now. I cover my face with the glass as I sob, holding it with both
hands to hide behind it, my back bent with grief. Amber puts her cup down and
comes to me, takes the glass from my hands and sets it on the table. She pulls
me into her arms. I roll into the fetal position, my head on her lap, staring
at the little figurine through my tears as she strokes my hair, one arm wrapped
around me.

okay,” she whispers. “Let it all out.”

I do. My
body aches with sadness until finally something shuts off in me and the tears
stop, like someone switched the channel, saying
you’ve had enough. Rest

“I have
to go to the bathroom,” I whisper.

it’s a good thing I have one,” she says lightly, and I hear the tender smile in
her voice.

I lift
myself up and drag myself in that direction. “Thank you, Amber.”

She stands
and says, “I’m going to make you some tea and we’ll fix this whole thing.”

Fix it.
She loves to fix things. Is it possible to fix a beaten heart? I see hardened
eyes looking back from my reflection in the bathroom mirror. This is not who I
want to be. I don’t like this person looking back at me.

I return
to the couch to find ginger tea waiting there. Amber pats the couch and I crawl
under the blanket facing her. We discuss options, and she convinces me that I
can paint in my apartment if I get rid of the couch and coffee table. “Do you
ever really use them anyway? I mean, you told me you don’t have a television.”

true. They’re mostly there to collect dust. Sometimes I read on the couch.”


often. I read more on the subways… on my phone.”

“Like the
rest of the world. So, there you go. You can clear out that space and put it to
use until you can afford your own studio. Which will happen sooner than you

think so, huh. I’m not convinced.”

“Use my
faith until you have your own,” she says, taking a sip of tea.

I nod and
stare off. “I don’t want to see him. That means I can’t pick up the paintings
I’ve left there.”

“I could
get them for you?”

about it, I sip the tea, feel it soothe me as best it can. “I think that would
show that I’m not strong enough to face him on my own.”

“Oh.” She
understands that all too well. No one tries to be as strong as

I look up
and ask the heavens, “Why didn’t he tell me he was married when I met him

shakes her head at the unfairness. “Said a million women everywhere.”

I can’t believe I’m now a statistic. Falling in love with
a married man.” I pick up the Jameson, double-fisting it now. I take turns
drinking from both as Amber smiles at me. I’m sure I do look pretty funny. “I’m
very dehydrated.”

we all?” She chuckles. “I have to admit, I’m bummed I can’t go to the studio
for you. I want to see this guy.”

beautiful. Not your type, though. You like good guys like Josh.”

“I like a good bad boy like the best of
them! Remember Jake Lombardi?”

“Oh yeah!
But that wasn’t love, that was a fuck-fest.”

She gets
wistful, staring off into the memory. “Yeah…”

“Josh is
an actor. Does he know Jake?”

pulls her back to reality, fast. “God, I hope not.”

“I have
to never see him again.
Never, Amber.
Not even one
more time.”

stares at me, bites her lip. “Well, let’s hope New York City doesn’t conspire
to throw you guys back together.”

I shiver
at the thought. “Can I ask a favor of you?”


“Can you
never ask me about him? Never bring him up?” I search her face, looking for a

She nods.
“You just want to put it behind you, huh?”

“Yes. I
need that.”

“I can do
that. I won’t even talk to Jess about it, or Josh, if you don’t want me to.”

I stretch
to her and she meets me halfway, for a hug.

you. Really. Thank you.”

We pull
apart and she says, “Oh you’ve got one of my hairs on you.” She picks it off.
It’s this small action that makes me remember something.

BOOK: I Love My Hope (Nicole's Erotic Romance)
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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