It’s almost here peeps. DREW + FABLE FOREVER will be out tomorrow and I’m so excited that I just can’t hide it (name that tune). Seriously, I can’t wait for readers to see what’s happened in Drew + Fable’s lives. I hope you like how everything turned out. I hope I make you smile and laugh and sigh and maybe even cry. That’s what I did when I wrote it so fair is fair right?
Since we’re all awaiting anxiously for Tuesday, I thought I’d share with you Chapter One from DREW + FABLE FOREVER. You can add the novella (sorry, won’t be out in print) to your Goodreads shelf HERE. You can find all the preorder information HERE. And you can read the first chapter now…
“Let’s get married.”
I glance up from my phone to find Drew standing in front of me, his gaze locked on my face. Exhaustion lines his beautiful blue eyes and his dark hair is in complete disarray, the way it usually is after hours of football practice. There’s a light sheen of sweat on his forehead, and is that . . . blood at the corner of his mouth?
I’m sitting on the couch, texting Owen and asking where he’s at, but the little jerk is giving me wishy-washy answers. Not that he’s so little anymore, what with the way he towers over me. He’ll be a junior in high school this upcoming school year and he’s spending most of his summer either working, at football practice, or with Wade.
Causing all sorts of trouble, I’m sure.
I didn’t even hear the front door open or close. I’d left it unlocked. We’re staying at a rental in a gated community that’s part of an ultra-swank neighborhood not too far from the stadium, but still. So not good. If Drew realized I hadn’t heard him enter the house, he’d probably be mad. He’s so overprotective of me it’s ridiculous.
And sexy. Definitely sexy.
In fact, he’s pretty damn sexy right now, glowering at me, waiting for an answer. He must’ve just finished practice—he’s all dirty and sweaty, a combination of adrenaline and frustration pouring off him. It vibrates through me, fueling my constant hunger for him to an even higher level, stealing my breath as I continue staring at him. As he continues to stare at me.
“Why are you bleeding?” I ask, because I gotta know. I hate how he’s brutalized out on the football field sometimes. As the quarterback, he doesn’t take extreme hits like other players. But at this moment he’s got blood on his beautiful face and I don’t like it.
He waves a hand, dismissing my question. Something’s wrong and I wish I knew what. But as usual, he’s not blurting everything out. Not telling me his secrets. His worries. His desires. He likes to hold these things close to his chest. Still.
But I don’t mind prying them out of him. I’m patient. I’m in love.
Soon, I will be Fable Callahan. I’ve earned the freaking privilege to call myself that, too. It’s not easy being with Drew. Yet I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.
I try a different tactic since he’s not answering my question. “We are getting married,” I say slowly, trying to calm my riotous heart. When Drew’s all worked up like this, it . . . arouses me, more often than not. And I don’t think he’s in the mood for anything like that at the moment. “I even have the engagement ring to prove it.” I raise my trembling hand and hold it out to him.
He shakes his head, frustration making his mouth tight. “I don’t want to wait any longer, Fable. We’re running out of time.”
“Running out of time?” I repeat with a frown. “What are you talking about?”
Drew goes down on his knees, his chest brushing against my legs, his upper body obliterating my vision until all I can see and hear and smell is him. The scent of fresh-cut grass and sunshine clings to him, as well as the familiar scent of his soap and sweat. His nose looks sunburned. There are new lines around his eyes from crinkling them against the sun and at this very moment, I find him so unbearably handsome, even with blood at the corner of his mouth, I know without a doubt I’ll agree to whatever he’s trying to convince me to do. It’s just that easy.
And I’m just that simple.
“Training’s almost finished and preseason is going to start soon. After that, the regular season kicks off and I’ll be busy. Beyond busy. Practice, home games, going out of town, all that bullshit for months. Months, Fable, when you’re going to end up staying back at home with Owen and making sure he’s going to school, you know? And I’m not against that; we already agreed to the plan.” He pauses, his mouth settling in a hard, firm line for a brief moment before he continues. “So when are we going to fit in getting married between all that?”
I part my lips, ready to come up with an answer, but . . . I don’t have one. I don’t know where we could fit in our wedding what with his crazy schedule. Me, I’m free as a bird. I go where he goes.
Well. That’s not quite true. As Drew just mentioned, I have Owen to take care of. He’s in high school and I need to stay home with him. Drew needs to be in San Francisco since he’s playing professional football for the 49ers.
Yes. My boyfriend—whoops, sorry, fiancé—is a professional football player. I can still hardly wrap my brain around it.
I’m with him now in Santa Clara while he’s in training camp. He was a first draft pick and the Niners snapped him up, just like that. Lots of media attention has already been put on him. He tries his best to avoid it all, but it’s hard. He’s always been such a private person and I know he’s overwhelmed. He talks to me about it a lot and I’ve spent a lot of time lately reassuring him that everything’s going to be all right.
I believe that. I believe in us, and we’re both beyond ready to get married. And I do see what he’s saying. If the reporters are eager to talk to him now, wait until he actually starts playing in front of a crowd. Whether he does well or not, the speculation will be there, focused solely on him. He wants to avoid the spotlight.
There’s no chance that’s happening, though. He’s already in it. We both are.
“I don’t know when we can get married,” I finally answer, my voice small. “It sounds like you really don’t have the time.”
He reaches out and settles those big, warm hands of his on my knees and gives them a squeeze. “Actually, I do, but we gotta make it quick. So . . . how about now?”
I meet his gaze, see all the love and worry and anxiousness swirling within the blue depths of his eyes. God, I love him so much. I want to make him happy. I plan on making him happy for the rest of our lives. I can only hope I’m enough.
“Now?” I whisper, my throat aching with the one, simple word. We’re deciding our future right now. This is a moment I will never, ever forget.
He nods, his thumb caressing the inside of my knee. Tingles scatter all over my skin at his touch, sending electricity zipping through my veins. The slightest smile curves his lips, the intimate one that’s just for me, that no one else ever sees.
I love that smile. I love knowing that what we share isn’t for anyone else. But lately in Drew’s world I’ve been feeling . . . less than. It’s a feeling I used to struggle with constantly, especially when we were first together. His life overwhelmed me completely. I was simple. Some might’ve called me trash. Okay, fine—lots of people called me trash. Just like Mom. Worthless. Whore. I’d heard those words so many times they meant nothing to me.
Until I met Drew and I wanted to become someone different, someone worthy of him.
Drew was far from simple. Complex and rich and gorgeous, everything seemed to come easy to him. But it didn’t. His world was shit. His father was oblivious to what was going on. His stepmother was an evil witch who molested him. He let me into his life, and I changed it for the better.
But what if he finds someone else? What if there really is someone else out there for him, someone better than me? He’ll be traveling. On the road with the team, playing games all over the country, and I’ll be stuck at home, making sure Owen’s getting good grades. I can’t pull my brother out of his high school. He’s lived his entire life here, has friends, is on the football team. He works at The District, just like I used to. His life is good there.
Drew and I are in love and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. Yet here I sit full of insecurities while this beautiful man is trying to convince me to run away with him and get married.
I mean, really. What the hell is wrong with me?
“Okay.” I blow out a harsh breath, trying to gather my wayward thoughts. They’re scattered everywhere, trying to figure out what’s the best next step when deep down, I already know what that step is. “Where do you want to get married? Vegas?” A quickie marriage had always been the plan. We don’t have enough family to warrant throwing a big wedding and we didn’t want the hassle anyway.
He grimaces and shakes his head, then moves so he’s sitting right next to me on the couch, slinging an arm around my shoulders. Leaning in, he nuzzles my hair with his nose, breathing deep, and I close my eyes when I feel his lips on my forehead. “I was thinking Hawaii,” he murmurs.
Fable pulls away so she can gape at me, her hand resting on my chest. I wonder if she can feel the vibration trembling just beneath my skin, my wildly beating heart. I’m fucking nervous she’s going to say no. Why, I’m not sure, because my girl said yes to me a year ago. We just haven’t done anything about it yet. “Are you serious?” she asks.
I nod, keeping my expression solemn though everything inside me feels like it’s spiraling out of control. What if she says no? What if I’m ruining her dream of having a giant wedding? I don’t think I am. She’s never mentioned she wanted a huge ceremony. It’s not her style. And we’ve already discussed most of the details, so we’re pretty much on the same page. “As a heart attack.”
“How long can you get away for?” Her fingers curl into my shirt and I’m having a sense of déjà vu. How many times has she pushed at my chest, like she wants to shove me away when really she’s always tugging me back. Pulling me in, absorbing me.
And I always want to absorb her. Take her in and make her mine. Again and again and again.
Yeah. I’ve got it bad right now. It’s all the change happening in our lives. I secretly long to return to a simpler time. To the happiest time of my life, only a year ago, when we were falling deeper and deeper in love as every day passed. When I was still in college and she worked at the restaurant full time. When we would go over to Jen and Colin’s house and hang out, sometimes bringing Owen with us, along with his friend Wade. Like a happy little family. My heart had been full. Fuller than it had ever felt in my entire life.
I long for that feeling again. I want to fill my heart with nothing but Fable. I need to focus on this girl, this woman who’s about to become my wife.
My fucking wife. People say we’re too young, but I don’t care. When it’s right, you know.
And I definitely know.
She’s watching me now, those big green eyes shimmering as she waits. She looks ready to cry, and it better not be from sadness.
“How long do you want to take a Hawaiian vacation?” I ask.
A giant grin breaks out across her face. She looks beyond happy. “Can we sit on the beach and sip mai tais?”
“We can do whatever you want.” I squeeze her close, press my face against the top of her head. I can smell her shampoo. I close my eyes as the silky, soft strands of her hair tickle my skin.
She tucks her face against my neck, her lips moving against my skin as she speaks. “Romantic sunset ceremony?”
“That sounds perfect,” I murmur, because it does. Holding her hands as the sun melts into the ocean, her face dappled with shades of orange and pink and red. She’ll have a flower in her hair, the dress she wears will be gauzy and white, and we’ll both cry. I know it. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either.
Pulling away slightly, Fable studies me, a little smile curling her lips. I love those lips. I love that smile. She reaches out, smudges her thumb against the corner of my mouth, and I wince, the twinge of pain reminding me that I cut myself earlier when someone tackled me during practice, causing my helmet to somehow hit the corner of my mouth just right.
“What happened?” she murmurs, her thumb lingering on my lips, wiping away at the blood I can’t see.
“Got tackled. Knocked my mouth on the helmet when I hit the ground.” I grimace when she presses harder. I can’t worry about the cut now. I have more important things to focus on. Like our future. “Let’s leave next week, Fable. Call up a travel agent or whatever and book the flight.”
“I can book the flight for us and find a hotel,” she says, her sweet voice soft, her hand dropping away from my mouth. “It’s going to be expensive, though, since it’s so last minute.”
I shake my head. “Money’s not an issue.” I’m making a shit ton. It’s ridiculous. Dad’s thrilled. He’s so freaking proud his son is going to start in the NFL. I went back to Carmel a few weeks ago. Without Fable, all alone, facing my demons, facing my father. Not one and the same anymore, thank God.
It went well. He took me to the country club where Fable and I had gone with him, and . . . yeah. It’s hard for me to think about that woman, what she did to me, the guilt I carried for so many years. Fable can hardly say her name out loud. Hell, I bet Dad feels the same way too.
My stepmom. Adele. The woman who seduced me, who tricked me and my father and everyone else in her life. She killed herself in front of me and Fable. I’m glad she’s gone. I don’t miss her.
She doesn’t deserve to be missed.
While I was in Carmel, I had lunch with Dad and his friends, let him brag all over me. It’s the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time, and sitting there at the table, listening to him go on and on, a mixture of regret and love and pride fills me.
I’m sorry our relationship became so strained. I’m not sorry that his wife died. And I’m thankful he didn’t hold her death against me.
After the country club, I told him I was heading straight home, but I didn’t. I went to the cemetery instead. I visited Vanessa’s grave, setting flowers on it, staring at her name etched in stone until my vision blurred and I blinked the past away. Is she mine? I still don’t know. I say no. I pray no.
But none of us will ever know the truth so in my heart, I believe Vanessa is my sister.
That’s the way it has to be. Otherwise, I might slowly lose my mind. And I can’t have that happen again.
“What about your dad?” Fable asks, and I wonder if she’s a mind reader. We’re so in tune with each other I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. “And Owen? I want them both there, but . . .”
“No.” I grab her hand and bring it to my mouth, kissing her knuckles softly. “Hawaii is just for us. Our wedding is just for us. When we come back home, we can have a small reception, or a big one, whatever you want. We’ll celebrate with our friends.” And family, I want to add, but we don’t have much family. Only Dad and Owen. Dad mentioned wanting to put something together for us, some sort of party, and I know she might protest so it’s better not to mention it.
Better not to mention Fable’s mother, either. She doesn’t want her mom around and neither do I. She’s pulled too many tricks throughout Fable’s life, especially lately.
I don’t like that woman. Hell, I’ve never even met her. But Fable hates her and that’s enough reason to feel this way.
“Okay.” She blows out a harsh breath, her lips turning into a tremulous smile. “I’ll look into flights. Ask Jen to take care of Owen, or maybe Wade’s mom.”
“Fable.” Her gaze catches mine when I say her name and I lean in, settling my mouth on hers in a lingering kiss. I taste her, salty sweet. I smell her. I inhale her. The cut in the corner of my mouth hurts but I don’t care. “I love you.” The words are more like breath, exhaled against her lips, and she closes her eyes on a sigh, little tears like shiny diamonds clinging to her lashes.
“I love you too.” I kiss her again after she says those words, dabbing at the tears with my thumb, catching them on my skin, feeling them sink into me. I’ve caught her tears more times than I can count. I’ve kissed her for what feels like forever. I’ve lost myself deep inside her body over and over.
It never grows old. Ever. My stomach still flips upon that first touch of her lips on mine. The sound of her laughter bleeds through me, suffusing my soul. The sight of her smile, the sound of pleasure that escapes her every single time I enter her . . .
This woman is just fucking it for me. She’s no longer a girl anymore. The jaded, angry, and defiant girl who was so determined to fight the world is gone, though shades of her still shine through.
I loved that girl. Fiercely. And I love the woman she is now, just as fiercely. She’s my fiancée, my future wife, the future mother of my children. Fable is the woman who will always stand by my side.