For Jake, it’s always been Gillian. It’s been her since that day she unknowingly stole a piece of his heart…when he watched her fall for one of his best friends. Resolved to the fate that she couldn’t be his, he locked up the deeper emotions he felt for her and loved her as a friend.
As friends, they went through it all together. Marriages, births, divorces and even death. But when a shameful secret Gillian has kept from her friends is revealed, Jake realizes she needs him more than ever. He knew what it was like to go through heartbreak and he wasn’t about to stand back and watch her endure it alone.
He also knew she would turn to him for support. What he wasn’t prepared for was the return of the emotions he had long ago locked away. Could he control those emotions again and did he even want to? Could he make her realize his love for her was real, or would she slip through his fingers again?
There she was standing amongst her party guests, blushing and smiling like a fool when she had things to be doing. Attempting to focus on her role of hostess, she turned toward the house when a voice rumbled in her ear.
“What’s that smile for, sexy?” Her smile got even bigger. Now the day was perfect; Jake was here. Always falling into the playful banter with one of her oldest and dearest friends was second nature for Gillian. Jake Michaels was always a flirt with her; it stretched all the way back to high school, and it was just part of their relationship. Of course, it was also easy to do since he was as sweet and sexy as they come.
Tall, dark, and handsome was certainly a phrase that could easily be used to describe Jake, with his chocolate brown hair and light brown eyes that resembled topaz. And let’s not forget the broad shoulders and chest that sported the perfect proportions for his six-foot two-inch frame. Seriously, she had no idea how she ended up with all these good-looking men in her life? Hell, when they all were indulging in pool time, it looked like freaking spring break, with real adult males instead of those still trying to grow chest hair.
Jake leaned in to kiss her on the cheek, which she offered up gladly because he was easily one of her favorite people. “Just relishing in the joy of all these handsome men in my life,” she said with a wink.
“Well then it’s a good thing I got here, so you really have something to smile about.” Both of them laughed as Jake winked back. Gillian loved that she still had Jake in her life, even after all these years; they always had a good time together.
“Hey, I found some party guests at the front door, and I brought them in for you since they said they rang the doorbell. Hope that’s okay; he says he works with you.”
“Oh, thanks, I didn’t even think about people who aren’t used to just walking into my house like the rest of you guys do,” she said as she nudged him with her hip.
“Well if I announced myself, then you may not let me come over, and then how will I get to have dinner with one of the hottest moms I know.”
Gillian couldn’t contain her giggle. “Damn Jake, you sure know how to make a girl’s day. Now go check in with the birthday boy, he was looking for his “favorite uncle” earlier. Of course, that always gets under my brother’s skin when he hears Dylan say that.”
Jake laughed out loud at that. “Which is exactly why I have trained Dylan to call me that, just to get under Sean’s skin … it’s so much fun. How about Ryan, has he been good?”
“He is always good for his favorite aunt. Both boys have been in the pool for hours … the two of them should be sprouting gills any minute now.”
Ryan was Jake’s son, from a brief marriage to a woman who couldn’t be bothered with settling down with just one man. They divorced when Ryan was only one, after Jake walked in on her with another man. She then followed this man to Florida and didn’t have any problems with granting Jake full custody of Ryan. Jake loved his son and didn’t want him to be subjected to a woman who couldn’t seem to focus on anyone but herself.
“Hey, we have matching titles: you, the favorite aunt, and me, the favorite uncle. It’s a wonder the rest of these yahoos ever get paid any attention at all.” Jake smacked her on the ass and walked away to search for Dylan and Ryan while yelling toward the pool, “Has anyone seen the birthday boy? His favorite uncle is here!” Gillian just laughed as she turned around to look where her brother, Sean, was sitting with his wife, knowing that Jake only did that to rile him up. Boys will be boys, regardless of their age.
When she completed her little tirade, the emotions she was feeling, combined with the half bottle of wine she managed to consume in less than ten minutes started to overtake her. She dropped her head into her hands and let those damn sobs take over as she once again felt shame and embarrassment over her failed marriage. Once they fully took over, she dropped herself to her knees and sobbed some more. Jake bent down to the ground, too. He placed himself in front of her, with his knees spread open, surrounding hers as he pulled her to him, engulfing her in his embrace and just holding her against his body. He was so warm, and it was so comforting.
“Get it out, Gilly. Just get it out, so you can let it all go,” he whispered to her in a soothing tone as he rubbed her back in a soft, circular motion. Sigh …
When the sobbing ceased a bit, she whispered against his chest, “How could I be such a fool, Jake? How could I let him do that to me?” She pulled her head back to look him in the eye and asked, “How come I wasn’t enough for him?”
Jake then shook his head at her. He looked as if he was searching for the words to say as he lifted one of his hands and brushed the hair out of her face—the hair that just so happened to be stuck to her tear streaked cheekbones. Or at least she hoped it was only tears. There is no way I have snot up by eye.
Once he seemed to figure out what he wanted to say, he placed both of his hands on either side of her face, again reminding her of his warmth and comfort. He used the pads of his thumbs to swipe the tear streaks that ran down her face as she stared into his eyes and he softly said, “I’ve told you this before, and I will tell you again, Gillian. You are so wrong.” Still shaking his head at her, he repeated himself putting emphasis on each word, “You. Are. So. Wrong.” He mesmerized her, and when he swiped his thumbs across her cheeks again, she realized that the tears had slowed down as she just stared into his beautiful face.
“There is only one Gillian in my world. There is no person who fits the description you just gave me. There is only one Gillian and she is one of the strongest women I know, and I admire everything about her. She is vibrant, determined, and full of love. She is in no way pathetic, and she is definitely not a chump,” he said that as if the words alone put a sour taste in his mouth just repeating them. He then leaned in and pressed his lips to her forehead. She just closed her eyes and absorbed his touch, his warmth; it was so consoling and felt so good. So right. It felt so right, in fact, that when he pulled back, she immediately felt the loss and almost leaned toward him, seeking the warmth again.
Melanie is an amazing mother of four, an awesome and tolerant wife to one, and nurse to many. If you don’t believe her, just ask anyone in her family, they know what to say. She is also a devoted chauffeur, the keeper of missing socks, a genius according to a six year old, the coolest soccer uniform coordinator according to a twelve year old, and the best damn ‘mac-n-cheese-with-cut-up-hot-dog maker in the whole world. Well that last title isn’t really official, but it’s still pretty cool to be called it.
When not being ordered around by any of the kids, you can find her with her nose in a book or on the sideline of a soccer game cheering on one team or another. But that’s mostly because she has a thing for the coach. When she is not doing all of the above, you can find her obsessed with a group of fictional characters all vying for a spot on the page of whatever she’s working on. It’s a fun and crazy life to lead, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelanieCodina @MelanieCodina
Barnes and Noble:
The author is giving away an ecopy of her book to one lucky commenter at each of the blog stops. To enter to win an ecopy of her book, leave a comment below between now and Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 11:59pm EDT. On June 27, 2013, I will use Random.org to select the winner and I will announce the winner later that day.
Good luck everyone!