Cash Collins has a life most guys would envy: a successful career, money in the bank, and a high-rise apartment with a glamorous view of New York City. His good looks, quick wit, and smooth tongue attract women like bees to honey-until a one-night stand prompts him to reevaluate everything and realize how empty his life is.
With the goal of finding a woman to love, Cash vows to change his ways. Just as he bids a final farewell to his playboy lifestyle, Cash encounters Marie Daniels, a stunning brunette from Texas-who also happens to be married. But despite his promise to himself and her commitment to her husband, Cash and Marie are immediately drawn to each other. As both of them fight their feelings and attempt to move on with their lives, neither has any idea that Cash is about to receive devastating news that will change everything.
In this moving tale of romance and hope, the possibility of love hangs in the air as two lost souls grasp for answers in a desperate race against time.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.45(d)|
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By Clint Ray
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Clint Ray
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEverything about her was screaming yes. The way she was leaning into me, laughing at everything I said. Touching my hand slightly allowing it to linger on mine just long enough to let me know she was interested. Every part of her was dying to go back to my room and have wild passionate sex. Well, almost every part of her. She was still laughing off my advances. Finally, she pointed to her ring and gave some excuse that even though I was the funniest guy in the room, and not to mention the best looking, she was married and she had never done anything like that. I had been with married woman before and it really didn't bother me. It was what it was. However, at this moment the object of my soon to be affection was turning to walk away.
"That is a lovely ring. It's just a shame though," I said.
"You mean a shame that I'm married. I think it's a wonderful thing," she said as she turned and looked at me with her hands on her hips.
It's important to note here that she turned around. I locked eyes with her took one last confident swig of my old fashioned and set the glass on the bar.
"Listen, honey, I'm not here to debate the virtues of marriage. I simply meant it was a shame that such a gorgeous ring is dulled only by the beauty of the woman wearing it."
Our eyes were in a dead lock. I knew the next few minutes would determine if things were going to go my way and I would get what I so desperately wanted or if I would be going home alone tonight, a rarity for me. Suddenly, it was happening. It started in the corner of her eyes and worked its way down to her mouth. A smile followed by a hand to the heart and a sigh
"Awww, you think I'm beautiful?"
"Oh, I'm sure he tells you that all the time." I spun my body around to face the bar giving her a sideways glance.
"No. Actually, I never hear that anymore." She slid into the bar stool next to me and slammed her purse on the bar. "All I ever get now is 'Hey, Sarah, the kids are asleep. Let's do it before Sports Center comes on.'"
I motioned to the bar tender for another drink.
"Hi, Sarah. My name is Cash and I hate sports."
"Cash, really?" She laughed
"Yeah. My parents were stock brokers that hated me."
She laughed and laid her head on my shoulder.
The next morning, long after Sarah was gone, I woke up alone, in my bed. I sat up and planted my feet on the cold hardwood floors of my bedroom. The sunlight was shining through glass windows that made up one side of my bedroom wall. Normally I would've put the darkening blinds down before I went to sleep. However, to say I was in a bit of hurry to jump in the sack last night would be an understatement. As thoughts of the night before started replaying themselves in my mind I began to massage my temples with my index finger in hopes to ease the tension and ward off yet another headache. I glanced longingly at the empty side of the bed as if I needed to make sure Sarah was indeed gone. She was, and as had been the case of late, a bit of loneliness and guilt crept into my soul. While I never wanted to be that guy that was married with 2.2 children, a house in the 'burbs, and a family dog that chased his tail in the backyard, I knew there had to be something more to life than this.
I got up and headed to the shower hoping the hot water would do the trick on my now throbbing cranium. I wondered if I would always be this shallow, this lonely, and this cynical regarding affairs of the heart or if I would one day find the woman that I was willing to love and trust, a healthy relationship, something I could believe in. Maybe not marry, but settle down with, come home to at night, and wake up with in the morning. Maybe this was just my lot in life. But having a normal relationship did sound nice. But would it ever happen for me? I doubted it.
Shower done, my head still aching, I wiped the fog off the mirror to brush and floss. As I stood there with only a towel wrapped around my waist, the reflection I saw wasn't too bad. At six feet tall with sandy blonde hair and blue and gray speckled eyes, I knew that I was blessed. Although the edges of my eyes were beginning to show signs of my age, the shape I keep my lean body in was more than enough to divert the attention away from the imperfection around my lids.
"Cash Collins," I said aloud, "Maybe there is someone that can put up with your crazy ass."
Chapter Two"Cash, man, how do you do this every night? I mean, sure it seems like fun, but really, bro, I have to be honest. It seems more like work." Reeves Davis, my best friend since high school, leaned with his back against the bar scanning the premises.
"Work? Ha! Going home to the same woman every night, that's work. Seriously, Re, look around, man. This is heaven on earth. This is the life." I leaned next to him folding my arms across my chest and trying to act like that this was indeed the life. I realized it was myself I was trying to convince and not Reeves.
"I mean, you come here and-don't lie to me-there is that voice inside your head saying 'man, if I wasn't married I would be hitting that.' Granted, it may be a quiet voice but you can hear it and what's more when you go home tonight and make love to Jai, the same woman you have made love to for the fourth time this week, you will be thinking about one of these beautiful dames."
"That's ludicrous." Reeves said with a slight grin. "We haven't made love four times in one week in years."
"Touché, my friend. Touché," I laughed. "Now follow me."
We walked toward a bevy of beauties I had spotted earlier. There were three of them all tanned, toned, and drop-dead gorgeous. However, my quest was the tall brunette. As we walked, I switched my drink from my right hand to my left so that when we shook hands she would clearly see my GMT Yacht Master Rolex. I knew this was shallow of me, but ask any good football coach and they will tell you the way to win the game is to study your opponent's offense and plan your defense accordingly. Well, I had been studying her and from her Balenciaga dress to her Michael Kors clutch she held pressed to her side to her Christian Louboutin pumps, this girl's whole offense was screaming 'look at me, look at the things I have.' Hell, even the way she stood while her friends sat was saying 'I'm here with them, but it's really all about me.' So, yeah, she had to see that I could compete in her world of luxury and self indulging. This was a must if I had the slightest chance. If it had to be about her, fine, I could make her feel it was indeed all about her, when in fact it was really all about me. This is where I excelled and I was suited up in my Armani suit and ready to dance in my Mezlan shoes.
"Hi! I'm Cash," I said as I held out my hand. "Let me buy you a drink."
"Lillian." She stuck out her hand and sighed as if she would rather be anywhere else but here. "And, no thanks, I have a drink." She raised the glass head high to show me it was full.
"Awww, come on now, Lillian. One can see your glass is full, but what one could not possibly know is that by now that drink is utterly tasteless from the ice melting and totally diluting the sensual taste of the Belvedere Vodka into the now watered down cranberry juice."
"Well, Casanova, if no one would could've possibly known that, then tell me, how did you come by this information?"
I leaned into her and set my drink down on the table behind her. I was amused by the way her body suddenly stiffened with either concern or excitement-that had been yet to be determined. I took a moment to scan the room before I answered her question.
"It's simple really. I haven't been able to take my eyes off of you since you walked in here. I've watched you take maybe three sips tops in the last hour. Oh, you can pretend you didn't notice me watching you, but you did. In fact, in your mind, this conversation was always going to happen. You knew the moment you noticed me watching you it was just a matter of time."
"You're an egotistical asshole, Cash."
"Not really. Let's review, shall we?"
She nodded, as if to say by all means please do.
"In that hour, three guys approached you and you waved each one off without as much as a smile. And, every time you rejected them you took a sip and glanced at me. Therefore, three sips, three rejections, and three glances at me to let me know you were interested."
"Well, Inspector Clouseau, your observation could have some merit, but two questions. If, as you say, I was so interested in you and was ogling you for the past hour, then what took you so long and how could you possibly have known Belvedere was my Vodka of choice?"
"I said three glances, not ogling, and, as to my very extensive knowledge of vodka, Belvedere is the only one that comes in a Teddy Bear bottle."
She smiled as she leaned and whispered in my ear, "You're wrong. I wasn't glancing at you. I was mind-fucking you."
Walking out of there that night with that goddess on my arm and the passionate night that ensued should have been the end of it. In what every guy thinks to be the dream life, and I had lived that dream many times, he meets a beautiful woman at a bar, takes her home and the next morning she kisses him on the cheek, hails a cab, and he never hears from her again.
Chapter Three"Bro, get in here, it's almost kick off!" Reeves shouted at me.
"I'm here! I'm here! Just finished my famous Shrimp Brochette. That, my friend," I said pointing to the shrimp as I sat down with my beer, "is the stuff Super bowl parties were made for. Now the game can begin."
And it was at that moment by the simple ring of my cell phone that my dream turned into a nightmare.
"What the hell, man?" Reeves screamed as I muted the game. "Can't you wait to take the call?"
"I don't know this number. Could be some gorgeous babe trying to get her hands on some Cash."
I laughed and answered with my eyes glued to the TV, "It's Cash. Talk to me."
"Hey, asshole," I heard an unfamiliar female voice say.
"This may be for you, Reeves," I said holding my hand over the receiver.
"OH MY GOD!! No, this is definitely for you," the voice said. "Do you know who this is?"
"A very angry woman?"
"You're damn right! I am a very angry woman and I know you and you know me."
"Ok, ok. Calm down, honey. Talk to me. Let's start off by you telling me who this is."
"Lillian! Ring a bell?"
Strangely that name did sound familiar but at that exact second Eli chose to throw the first interception of the game.
"No! No! No!" I shouted. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Excuse me?" She screamed in the phone.
"Sorry, gorgeous! Not you. Damn! Anyway, so Lillian?" I drew it out while trying to place her.
"Yes. The girl from Geitonas. You remember. You couldn't take your eyes off of me ... blah, blah, blah."
"Oh yes! Balenciaga!" It finally came to me.
"No. Pretty sure my name is Lillian!!"
"Of course! I meant Balenciaga was the brand of dress you were wearing."
"You mean you can remember the brand of dress I was wearing but not my name?" she said in disbelief.
And, sadly, that was true. It was the way I worked. I always picked something easy for me to remember them by like their dress or the town they were from. It just seemed easier that way and a lot less committal.
"You know what? Just forget it! Do you have a clue why I'm calling?"
"Well, I would like to think it was because that was the best night of sex in your life and you just can't get that night off your mind so you had to track me down for one more night of passion. But your tone is telling me that's not exactly it."
"You're right about one thing. I can't get that night off my mind because I think I'm pregnant."
I think my heart literally stopped beating. I'm not ready for kids. I mean I don't know if I am allowed to have kids. There has got to be a law against that, seriously.
"What do you mean 'you think'?" It's the only thing I could think to say.
"What I mean, Einstein, is that I'm two weeks late."
"How? I mean, we used protection. I always use protection," I pleaded my case.
"Of course we did. The first two times. But, remember I was just so beautiful laying there in the early morning light, you just couldn't resist me. Yeah, well, that time we didn't and now we have this to thank for it."
The blood drained from my face. How could I have been so stupid?
"Ok, so what now? I mean, you go to the doctor or what?" I asked.
"That's usually how it works. I go to my OBGYN in three weeks to be sure."
"Three weeks? You can't get an earlier appointment? I mean, you have any idea how stressful that's going to be?"
"What are you worried about, asshole. It's not your body."
"Well, I know, but I feel kinda obligated and . . ."
"'Kinda?' You kinda feel obligated? Look, don't worry about it, ok! Just thought you should know."
"I'm sorry! I just don't know what to say! I'll pay for everything, but I'm just not a kid person. Trust me, I'm doing you a favor. You don't want a kid being around a guy like me."
"I don't need your money and I don't need you!" She was crying now.
"No. No, don't do that. Don't cry. Look, let me know when and where and I'll go with you to the appointment."
"No, thanks. I can manage. But trust me I will let you know." She hung up.
I walked back into the room just in time to see the Steelers go up by 14. Damn, this just wasn't my night.
"What's up, bro?" asked Reeves.
"It's good man. It's good."
I sat down and stared at the TV suddenly not caring who won or lost. I had to figure this out. This couldn't be happening, could it? I always knew there was a chance this could happen, but I was always careful. Damn, why didn't I follow my one rule: always, no matter what, use protection. The thought of me fathering children was just not comprehensible. I couldn't even go to McDonald's without getting nervous. I have nothing against them-I was a kid once-but, they just scare me. I mean, I love Reeves' and Jai's baby girl. She's cool. But most are so small and fragile and that's the boys. What if it was a girl? I just can't do this. I mean, surely she wouldn't leave me alone with a baby, would she? She couldn't be that crazy. No one could be that crazy.
I had no idea how my life was going to change over the next few months. And, as fate would have it, possibly becoming a father-while it would have a profound effect on my life-would be the least of my worries.
Chapter FourI will admit, at first, the thought of becoming a father was devastating. I just couldn't believe that this was ever going to be something I could do. It's funny the way things change. The way, when forced to, one can grow up. Over the next few days after Lillian's call, I found myself in the most unusual places. Hell, I even caught myself daydreaming of being a dad.
I was sitting on a bench at the park. Just watching the kids play and smiling at the way their faces light up while sliding down the slide. It was funny how the smaller ones struggled to get up the ladder to slide for a ride that only lasted a half of a second but the minute their feet hit the ground they were back struggling with the ladder to do it all over again.
"So, which one is yours?" I heard a voice say.
I was so engrossed in watching the kids have a good time I never noticed a pretty blond had sat down next to me.
"Oh, no, I don't have any kids. I just like to watch them play," I said, never taking my eyes off the kids climbing the ladder and sliding, climbing the ladder and sliding, over and over again. It was like the circle of life of the playground.
"Wow, that's kinda creepy," Blondie was saying.
"What? No, not like that," I laughed. "See, I have a niece that lives overseas, and when I get to missing her, I come out here and it helps. Just a little, but it helps."
Yes, I know it was a horrible lie, but I couldn't have her thinking I was a psycho, or, worse, call the police.
"Awww. That's so sweet. By the way, my name is Sam."
"Cash. My name is Cash," I said. "Which one is yours? Wait, let me guess," I stopped her as she was about to point out her pride and joy. "That one over there, doing the 'I gotta potty' dance. That li'l cutie has got to be yours cause she looks ..." I noticed her shaking her head no. "Nothing, like you. Ok, I give."
"That one over there." She pointed to the cutest little brown haired boy with the biggest brown eyes I had ever seen.
"He's a doll, Sam," I said and I meant it.
"So, you ever think about having children? I mean, a good looking guy like you must have a beautiful wife that is just dying to have kids."
I knew it was more of a question then a statement.
"Sam," I said, leaning forward and resting my elbows on my knees looking out over the playground, "only one thing scares me more than kids, and that's being married."
She threw her head backed and laughed. "I see. Well, Cash, you should really think about it."
"Sam, I am. I am." I flashed her a smile and stuck out my hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Sam." I stood up to walk away.
"Wow. So all that bullshit about having a niece was true? It wasn't just a line?"
Excerpted from Love, Finally by Clint Ray Copyright © 2012 by Clint Ray. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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