Authors: Alisa Mullen
Book #4 of
The Chosen Series
By Alisa Mullen
This book is dedicated to Valerie Page, Davin William Page,
and Shandi Marie Tergesen. Sean is only yours - forever.
“I come to you with only karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor; should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, karate, my empty hands.” – Ed Parker
DEDS AND CREDS
To cover model,
and fitness and cover photographer,
for helping to catch the vision of Sean and Aoife. You did it!
To my dear friend and editor,
for copy editing on a last minute deadline.
I love my assistant,
Marina Jenn Acosta
and my team lead assistant,
Margreet Asselbergs, Rachael Berkebile, Sarah Ratliff, Keisha Schmidt, Dana Hook,
and, of course, the
. (Find the words!)
To the ladies at One Click Addict Support Group, B.Y.O.B Club, and Evocative Book Reviews for showing us your love. Many thanks to Kylie at Give Me Books Blog.
real life Aoife Flanagan
. You are an amazing and strong woman. Your story hit me hard and I am so blessed to call you a dear friend.
To Nessa, Alex, Mailliw, Lluvs, and all my friends and loved ones that have supported me.
This fictional story is based on real live events of one Irish woman’s life. This story in no way is a generalization of Ireland’s poor or the women that live in the Council Estates in the Dublin area.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher– Mullen Self Publishin
This book both printed and in electronic format, is a work of fiction and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, other than what is described above, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Alisa Mullen
All rights reserved.
Aoife is a Gaelic name. Her name is pronounced Efa, like Eva with an F. The girls named Aoife may not like you much if you call them Eva. :)
Please know that keeping Aoife in her guarded character was #1 very important to the story and #2 it is very common for the Irish. It is not common to speak openly about their woes. Family is not just tradition but priority for some of the Irish. I tried to stay in line with that mentality only for Aoife’s story. In addition, the name “Da” is used as a endearment for “Dad” or “Daddy”.
There will be another book about Sean and Aoife - a standalone from Aoife’s POV. It will help to explain her private nature. The title of that novella is “Uncovered” and will release in 2015.
The screeching of the brakes is what I heard before I saw the illumination of the red, lit up back lights on Conner’s car. He was driving his mother and Lizzie to the hospital after she had decided, for the tenth time in a two week period that she truly was in labor. Lizzie O’Malley. Pain the ass. I live a solid ninety minutes away from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and yet, I was there all other nine times. One time, I had just finished parking, and was walking up to the receptionist desk on the maternity ward when Lizzie came bouncing out of the room, hugged me in the middle of the hallway, and announced to everyone that she had gas.
“Why is your shirt inside out?” she had asked looking up at me with that adorable scrunched up face after her announcement. I wanted to throttle her right there and then, but by the look on the faces of her brother, Conner, and her mother, I didn’t have to tell Lizzie that this false alarm shit was getting old.
This time, however, it was the real deal. Lizzie had called over an hour ago and said that her water had broken. Seeing as she had literally read me every book, article, and manual on what toll a baby has on a woman’s body, I knew that it was really the time for this baby to enter into the world.
I jumped out of my car and ran toward Conner’s vehicle. “What the hell, man? Are you trying to kill your nephew before he is even born?” I yelled at Conner, pretty loud for three in the morning. Through the open window, Conner just looked at me with the blankest face I had ever seen on a person.
That is when I heard her.
I could comprehend only the word “fuck” among the moans and cries emitting from the back of the car. Lizzie was a disaster in pain. I took in a couple deep breaths to try and compose myself, as I knew they were all freaking out, and went to open her door.
“Hi, Lizzie,” I said with the biggest grin I could muster up. If possible, for one God damn minute, I would erase that pained look she had on her face. In that moment, staring into her pain filled eyes, she was everything to me.
“Sean, please, God, Sean… Please help me,” Lizzie cried and another wave of moaning and agony riddled rasps took up the acoustics of the entire emergency room valet area.
I picked her up and immediately felt that her bottom was wet from sitting in the car after her water broke. Conner and her mother were saying something to me about a wheelchair but all I could do was nod at my truck.
“Get that thing parked for me, Conner,” I said.
The automatic doors hardly opened before a larger woman in butterfly scrubs approached us with a wheelchair. Lizzie’s hold onto my neck was so fierce that I shook my head at the nurse, who also protested, and we went straight to the elevators. This wasn’t our first rodeo. We knew exactly where to go and what to do now.
Within an hour, Lizzie was hooked up to an epidural, her mother was on the phone calling everyone, and Conner was back tracking to his house to wait on their Dad. Lizzie had only asked for me and her mom to be in the room. I hadn’t known the magnitude of that honor until I was sitting by her side, feeding her ice chips, and telling her she was the biggest badass if she could make it through the next contraction.
It seemed that every time she finished one she would look at me for approval. Tears pooled in my eyes and I kissed her forehead.
That was the night that I knew I truly loved Lizzie O’Malley and her son, Niall, who was born screaming and full of red, peach fuzz hair – just like his mother. I stood in as the “father” since the real douche face was in Ireland and didn’t ever want the baby in the first place. The strongest emotion I had was a protective love for both Lizzie and Niall.
I wish I could freeze time and live in an endless loop of the same scenario. I wouldn’t change a thing about
night. Fuck every night afterwards because that was also the last night she would ever really need me.
Those memories of that night haunted me and lead me to understand who we really are to one another. Both of us. I suppose anyone can answer the “whom” and the “what” and the “when”. However, most importantly to me, was “how” I was none of the answers in the sentence of Lizzie O’Malley’s life.
Is it possible to have a girl be your best friend? Is it possible to not think of her naked and wonder what it would feel like to have her under you?
No. Hell no is the answer to all those questions. Don’t ever be fooled. I have been in excruciating love with Lizzie for years now. Shit, Niall was almost twelve years old. Sure, I have had girlfriends and even one woman I would have married after a few years of calling her my girl. But in the end, I thought, “What if Lizzie finally realizes?”
What if I do this and Lizzie needs me again? Like she needed me that one night? I would give anything to feel something that powerful and bonding with her again.
I groaned as I reached and hit the alarm clock’s maddening siren. Four o’clock in the afternoon. I had been up all night at The Ink Shop slanging tats and loving every fucking minute of it. I knew I had to double up the clients because tonight was going to be
Lizzie O’Malley and her husband, Nick Sawyer, were having an anniversary party of sorts. The record company was crazy successful – no doubt due to the fact that Nick was a multi fuckonnaire. He and Lizzie had ties to Los Angeles’ most elite producers and when they couldn’t push the bands in – the producers sent the bands to Nick in Boston. To boot, it was the anniversary of their wedding. I had no idea how many years it had been now, but Niall, the son that would never be mine, and their daughter, Sammy, were old enough for me to know that it had to have been nearing a decade.
Lizzie O’Malley. Where did I start to describe her? She has a way of making the world look like it is an adventure – even when she got herself in a shit ton of messed up situations. She is a little, crunchy, red headed, freckled faced woman with serious curves. She isn’t perfect and that is why she is. She has a habit of making the worst of situations into funny idiosyncrasies. She has challenged me as a man and intellectually. You can’t sit with Lizzie and talk about the weather. She needs to know what is going on, way deep down inside. That has been our problem this entire time. My body is covered in tattoos and I am hard looking – not a façade. I do not dress up. I have loved skin art, crazy but good times, and metal music for as long as I can remember. So, if you put little red headed tree hugger next to me? Yeah, we don’t look like we fit. Not one little bit.
Looks have always been deceiving.
Good friends throughout high school and beyond, we lost touch when she checked out and moved to Oregon. I didn’t see her again until a friend’s wedding before Niall was born. She was just as beautiful – no, she had grown into a fucking sexy woman. I wanted to punch her date that day. I should have because the fucker knocked her up and then took off – leaving her homeless and scared.
That’s when our story really began. She came to me. I would like to say that again. Lizzie. Came. To. Me. She and I picked up right where we left off as friends and I wouldn’t fuck it up with the weird pangs I had when I sat up and watched her sleep in my bed. We were never physical but damn if I didn’t want it - her. All the time.
. I watched Lizzie take care of her son, showing up to help her when I just needed my Lizzie fix. When I heard from her brother that she had started seeing some guy from Boston I backed off. I don’t think she ever noticed that I dropped out of her life for a few months. I swear it was like two minutes later and Conner had died and she had gotten married and I was left with the memories of what was and what I should have done to make her mine. I never check mated Lizzie. I let her win. I felt like the chemistry between Lizzie and I was not the same as with other women before her or after her. I didn’t think I would ever feel that way for another woman and that thought was fucking depressing. I didn’t want to be alone. Alone was fucking lame.
So going to Lizzie’s place to celebrate her amazing life that didn’t include me? Yeah, that was not on the top of my priority list.
, I thought. What did I get the woman of my dreams for her wedding anniversary to another man? I decided to stop at the CVS on the way and pick up a simple Hallmark card that said “Good Job” or “I miss you.” It would only be addressed to her. Only Lizzie. No fucking way would I ever congratulate the ass hat that stole my girl from me.
My momma always told me I was an incredible actor. My biggest role to date? Best friend to Lizzie O’Malley. The fine line of showing I cared, but not too much.
Don’t follow her around the room with my eyes. Don’t hold on to her too long in an embrace. Don’t scowl at the perfectly nice man that had her heart.
That last one was tough. I knew Nick caught on the first time we met. He wasn’t dumb but instead of pitching a fit, he overlooked my obvious attraction to appreciate that Lizzie had a friend to talk to.
I was trying to offer a reprieve from the black sadness she was in because her brother, Conner, had died unexpectedly. Lizzie and I had been laughing – like old times – sprawled across her couch, holding hands. She needed to know Conner loved her—and for years he knew I loved her too. I was the one who helped her breathe during childbirth with Niall. The fucker, Teagan, left and just when I thought my “in” was inevitable, Conner shot me down.
“Dude, I know you have feelings for my sister,” he had said with a weird tone and the “Conner smug” look that we had all grown to despise.
“How?” I asked, startled and confused.
“What guy would watch a woman push a baby out of her body, wipe away her tears, and stroke her hair if he wasn’t in over his head?” His cheeky grin was all I needed to see. Bastard.
“Bastard,” I scowled at him.
“She is too broken, Sean. She doesn’t see you in that way. She depends on you to be her friend. Her Seany Boy.”
A few moments passed in silence as the raging pain built up in my chest. Conner left the waiting room to go see Lizzie. Before he walked out the door, he reiterated.
“Be her friend, Sean. She doesn’t have any.” His grin had disappeared and his sad look told me I had to give up my feelings for her so she could have me – need me – call on me. That was a cringed breath holding moment I would never live down or never forget.
I nodded as if I were still in that waiting room, telling Conner that I would continue to do what he had advised me to. I dismissed the memory of our conversation and threw the covers off myself.
The phone started to ring. Lizzie’s smiling face graced the screen.
“Hi, Lizzie,” I answered. It wasn’t monotone but it certainly wasn’t enthusiastic. Her calls had been few and far between since motherhood, touring with Desired Pitch, and being the dutiful wife to one of the most influential men in Boston.
“Sean? Why in the fuck aren’t you here already?” she snapped.
“Lizzie, your party isn’t for hours. Why in God’s name would I be there now?” I asked as I rubbed the side of my neck. A recent tattoo sported that area on my neck. It still itched like a bitch in its attempt to heal. I would never grow fond of the last few days of the healed, black specks of skin that fell on to every piece of clothing I wore. This tattoo had been well worth it despite that. I had a long Celtic knot spanning from my right shoulder up to almost where my neck met my ear. It was definitely one of my favorites, but I said that every time I got a new piece.
“Niall is begging, I mean – he is
for you. Nick is about out of his mind and has been giving me the pointed stare to call you for over an hour. You have to come for me,” she whined a little and then laughed at something Nick had obviously said in the background. Does anyone use the mute button anymore?
I inwardly groaned. Her last statement – before her ass hat husband took over our conversation – repeated itself over and over in my mind.
“You have to come for me,”
she had probed in a husky, beautiful voice. That was how I heard it anyways.
Oh, Lizzie, if you only knew I “come” for you at least three times a week.
“Okay, I am back. Sean,” she laughed. “Will you please come now?”
Silence. She said it again and I grunted. It was all I could do.
“Jesus Christ, Sean – get your ass to Boston.” And with that enticing invitation, she clicked off. I looked at the screen on my phone and grinned to myself. She was on fire. I often wondered if she wanted to take me for a test drive, like she had with Freddie. That fucker got her under him multiple times but I don’t think it ever meant anything to her. It was her
and I wasn’t interested in that. I wouldn’t have settled for being just a booty call. As much as I would like to say I would have, I knew it wouldn’t be for keeps on her side of the friendship. However, I would like to think that I would have brought out the big guns and fought much harder than Freddie did. Unfortunately, when Nick came around and claimed her for his own – there wasn’t any contest. He won. Whether or not people think they are a match made in heaven, she and I had much deeper history. We were the match made from the
I lit up a smoke and put the metal station on XM. Of course, Black Sabbath came on first. Sure, they were considered metal back in the day but Ozzy had a pretty singing voice whether he ate bats or drained the blood of kittens. He was a softie no matter what his looks said about him. That was bad ass. I could relate to the deception of looks since I was the tattooed leader of the freaks in our small and elite community of Newburyport. I had been pining for the same woman for years therefore; love songs, flowers, and chocolate were not beneath me.
Shrugging to myself, I let that thought go too, and headed to the kitchen where my roommate, Todd, had just finished making a pot of coffee. Todd was an interesting person, a major player with the ladies but held a job at a construction company. He had been at his job almost as long as I was at The Ink Shop, my tattoo and piercing business. He also had fucked up hours – depending on the job he was working on at the time. The guy fucking loved his sleep and managed to fit it into his schedule every chance he got between work, beer, and vagina.
“‘Sup?” I mumbled, taking another drag off my smoke and flicking it in the sink – piled full of dishes. I leaned against the counter and crossed my legs as I flicked some left over ink off my thumbnail.
“Some big titted, blonde chick showed up this morning at like nine or something. It was way too fucking early,” Todd scowled as he gave me a look of censure. “I told her you were in bed.”
I figured it was probably Amanda, a fucking hot MILF that had been a fine distraction for about a year now. She gave the best head and some nights – that was all I needed to take the edge off and to stop from feeling so damn lonely. She was able to accommodate my schedule since she and her kids lived with her parents.
“And?” I flicked the ash again and breathed out a long plume of smoke.
I needed to quit. My dad had died of lung cancer and although life wasn’t a bunch of green meadows and fairies tickling my happiness, I didn’t want to go out like that. It was hard watching him cough up actual pieces of lung and beg for mercy. I cringed at the memory and stared at the cigarette. One tiny stick was also one big, fat, awful memory. Again, I pushed the memory to the edge of my mind and put my attention back on Todd. I was pushing everything out of my mind this morning because my mind was stuck on negativity and I was sick to death of it.
Todd shrugged. “I said, ‘No visitors before noon’ and slammed the door in her face.” His quirked up lip told me he enjoyed telling her that as much as he enjoyed recounting the memory.
I started coughing and laughing at the same time, doubling over. I wish I could have seen the look on Amanda’s face. Todd was the man of the moment. He certainly loved the ladies but he wasn’t always tactful or overtly gracious to them. Sometimes his quick witted and sassy demeanor caught me off guard and that made me appreciate him more. There was more to Todd but he kept his life tight to the vest. He certainly didn’t play and say about the women he banged. He was just a cool shit to hang with over a PlayStation game and a beer.
I didn’t introduce him to friends and Lizzie only knew of him as “the latest roommate.” I suppose I had been through a few roommates since she came back in my life all those years ago.
He finished pouring two cups from the fresh pot of coffee, handed one to me, and quirked his pierced lip up again. The guy
considered hot to the women. If I was otherwise engaged in my room, they probably begged him for a little play instead. He and I never talked about such things.
“Sorry to cock block you, dude. I was in no fucking mood for people at that hour this morning,” he said as he walked out of the kitchen. I smiled at his retreating back and flicked the rest of my cigarette in the pan of water in the sink, took my coffee to my room, and started to mentally prepare myself for Lizzie.
I wasn’t in any fucking mood for people today either.
This party was going to blow chunks. I did not want to play nice with people. These people that Nick and Lizzie invited were cool. I did consider most of them friends because I toured with their respective bands, Love Sick Ponies and Desired Pitch. They weren’t the type of close friends who really knew Sean Ford and all he did in his daily life. I was beginning to think that I was “a given” on Lizzie and Nick’s invite list which left me feeling uneasy about their parties. I was obviously going out of obligation, too – so I guess I couldn’t say much about it. I would have cut off my left testicle that moment to cancel. So I did the next best thing. I called all my old school boys in Boston and made plans for beers later in the evening. It would be the great escape plan.
A few hours later, I was standing in the elevator heading up to the famous Sawyer penthouse with my CVS greeting card in hand. Lizzie’s wide, gorgeous smile and that blazing red hair greeted me as I stepped into the elevator foyer.
“Seany Boy Ford, you are a sight for sore eyes,” she laughed as she pulled me into her arms.
I smelled her hair and hugged her back. I don’t know how long it had been since I had seen her last. Maybe a month? Yet, when I held her in my arms, I felt like I was hanging onto home. No one in this room, including Lizzie herself, understood what this hug meant to me and to my sad, deflated ego. I could never tell a soul. I could never explain my deep love for this woman to anyone.