Authors: Sabrina Lacey
I Love My…
By Sabrina Lacey
Cover Image © Anton Oparin
Licensed through Shutterstock.com
© Sabrina Lacey
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 LOVE MY SECRET
Good girls love
bad boys, and bad boys love no one... until it's too late.
"There isn't one person who can tell me that what I'm doing with this man,
is good for me. But some people
move your soul
feeling is so rare. What Can I Do?
Because I love him more than I love myself."
My story begins on the night of Jess and
David’s first date… yes – that David. But this isn’t Jess’s story. It’s
mine. I’m Nicole. And you need to know what I’m about to tell you, before we
can go any further... before we can catch up to where my girls have left me, today.
In order to understand me, you need to go back in time.
On A Night Way Back When, In What Seems Like
“Stop fighting me. Why do you have to make me work
so hard?” Grant whispers heatedly, holding me by both arms, lips close to mine
despite my not moving in to meet them. I can smell his breath – beer
before it goes bad –the heat of short panting whips of air hitting my
skin. If he thinks this is how to woo me, the man must be out of his mind.
“Let go before someone sees us,” I say with less
volume and far more sanity. My head is straight and high, unwavering in my
stare, my power stronger than his. Animal to animal is the only way with guys
like him. I can see from his eyes – a familiar look I’ve seen
before– that’s he’s teetering on the edge of self-control, can barely
listen to reason, so I hit him where I know he can hear me. “Grant…You don’t
want an audience, right? That would be humiliating, right? Imagine how
you’ll look if your friends
find you manhandling your date in the kitchen… right?”
He jolts with the image and lets go of me quickly,
hands falling to his sides. He looks around to nowhere special in an attempt to
make sense of what happened. He’s a money-guy, works on Wall Street. Always
wears a button-up if he’s not wearing a suit. Looks clean, but something in his
eyes is dark. It’s what drew me to him, if I’m honest. But that sexy stare of
his is gone now as he teeters on the brink of sheepish and pissed.
I’m planning my exit strategy, instantly. I have
to get out of here. I reach up instinctively to touch the skin his fingers had
pressed into, just above my elbows. He hadn’t squeezed too tightly, hadn’t hurt
me. He wouldn’t do that. Yet. If he could have just controlled his inner beast,
we’d be in there playing Balderdash for game night like everyone else…having a
“Sorry,” he mumbles, confused.
He follows my glance to look over to the room
where his friends are. Nice group of people, too. How’d they get mixed up with
this jerk? I should be asking myself the same thing.
wasn’t trying to…”
“I know,” I interrupt, because I don’t want to
hear it. I’m lying, though. I don’t really know. I have no idea what he was
trying to do. I just know I came in here and he tried to pounce on me like we
were alone. I’ve never met these people! What did he think? I’d be caught
making out in the kitchen with him, by strangers who seem pretty nice, and who
would judge the fuck out of me?
He’s still got a hungry look in his eyes, and has
the gall to follow up his brutality with, “Let’s get out of here and I’ll take
you for a drink – just the two of us.” This is only our fourth date, and
Grant’s a good lay, but I will not be held hostage by a man who wants to
control me, so much so that he’ll lash out when he finds he can’t.
“No, thank you. I think it’s time for me to go.” I
step past him.
He reaches for my arm. “Nicole!”
I swing my head, yank my arm away quickly, and
give him the look I got from my mother – the one that says,
don’t even think about it, buddy.
his hand back and lays it on his head. “God, what the fuck’s getting into me?”
“Good question. You’ll have a lot of time to think
about that. We won’t be seeing each other again. I don’t mess around with this
shit.” I turn and as I leave the room, I catch a glimpse of fury flash across
his eyes before his mask snaps back into place. That’s what I thought… this was
a recipe for me ending up with a fist in my face when I least expect it,
sometime when my guard is down.
I stride into the living room, adopt a warm smile and
slow down as I walk straight up to the host who’s standing amongst the group of
twelve or so nice strangers I’ve only just met a half hour ago.
The room’s chatter comes to a stop. I take both
his hands in mine and smile into his sea-foam green eyes – normal for a
redhead like him, but still beautifully compelling. “I’m so sorry. I just had a
call from a buyer who wants to look at one of my paintings. I have to go, and
I’m so bummed, because this is such a lovely party.”
Moans of disappointment echo around us… mostly
false. People were still sizing me up as to whether or not to like me, and now
they don’t have to, so mostly they’re relieved. Everyone else is part of the
I could see it in their
faces when I arrived, as I have so many times before: Who’s the pretty girl? Is
she a bitch?
Does my boyfriend want to fuck her?
Danny looks genuinely sad to see me leave. His
smile is real, and I appreciate it. I need a friend in this crowd right now, as
I’m feeling shaky on the inside. He gives my hands a strong squeeze and pulls
me in for a friendly, quick, goodbye hug. “You’re a painter? Well, we can’t
argue with that. Hope you sell it. But it was so nice to meet you, Nicole. I’m
sure we’ll see more of you in the future, with Grant.”
I don’t tell him there will be no more dates with
Grant. “Absolutely. I look forward to it.”
“Do you have a card?”
“Oh? Uh, sure. Of course… Here.” I pull out a card
from inside my wallet/phone case and hand it to him. He smiles and examines it
as I tell everyone in a voice I hope is sweet enough, “You all have a good
They chorus back, “Thanks.” “You too!” “Night.”
Etc. Some of them even mean it.
Danny smiles. “Thanks for coming, Nicole.”
I wave to him and walk to Grant, who’s standing by
the door waiting for me, looking like he wants to leave with me. Grant gets a
hug and a kiss
on the cheek
, for the
benefit of probing eyes. I hear them come back to life behind me, getting back
into the game. Grant barely hides a glare, mumbles, “I’ll give you a call
I say lightly, but my eyes tell him calling me would be a waste of time. His
mask slips off again and fury stares back at me. I pretend like I don’t see,
walk out and close the door smoothly behind me. As soon as I’m in the hallway though,
I start walking fast, lest he decide to chase me down. As I speed down the
stairs, my breath gains on my steps, remembering the one time in my past where
I didn’t know these things – hadn’t learned to run from men like him
until it was too late. Listening for the door opening upstairs… Nothing.
As soon as I leave the building, I break into a
jog. When I’m about a block away, satisfied he got his inner beast to stay at
the party, I turn the first corner and stop to pull out my smokes. Men. Ever
since I decided I need a break from relationships, men have been yanking my
chain to bind me with it. They say they want freedom but when you give it to
them, they’re shocked.
I try to light one, but every time I hold a match
to it, the match goes out. This happens four times! I mumble under my breath to
my persistently annoying guardian angel, “Just one, okay? C’mon. Give a woman a
break.” She must hear me because, like magic, the flame stays lit this time and
licks the stick. I take a deep breath and gaze lovingly at the ashen end as it
glows brighter in the night. Victory. I close my eyes and feel the
nicotine-infused smoke fill my lungs. But after a few drags and a few more
steps down the street – as soon as the drug in my system and the craving
is gone – regret hits me. “I’m sorry,” I say aloud to my angel, if she’s
still listening and hasn’t run off in disgust. I hate the taste in my mouth
after I smoke. And the smell on my fingers; that’s the worst.
I toss the pack in a trashcan, vowing never to buy
another… hoping I’ll keep my promise. I keep the one lit cigarette, though. I
had to work for it. I deserve this one. Fucking addiction.
Reaching up and giving my hair a shake –
straightened tonight and super shiny – I smoke my last stick like I’m
Bette Davis, and stroll off toward Times Square. It’s only three blocks away,
and I’ve not been in a year. We natives don’t spend a lot of time there. If you
don’t have a reason to go, you stay away to steer clear of the tourists and
sales/barkers. But tonight? I don’t know. I feel like the lights, glitz and
noise will dull the throb of discontent fogging my mind.
As I clear the last stretch and turn a corner, the
lights come into view. It’s like a gazillion fireflies exploded and formed
buildings, and the eye-candy draws a much-needed smile out of my soul. I walk
to the center, next to the ticket booth for all the Broadway plays, and spin in
a single slow circle, staring up at the glamour of it all. We can make some
pretty incredible things when we put our minds to it, can’t we?
My phone vibrates, and who knows how long it’s
been ringing; the sound is muffled in my bag. I drop my cigarette on the
pavement, give it a good smash with my boot at the same time I pull out my
phone and see the name that gives me an even bigger buzz than ten cigarettes
could on their finest day…
His deep, tingle-inducing voice is sleepy and
music to my ears as he says, “Hey.”
“Are you in bed? It’s only 9:30 p.m.” I cross the
street quickly to get out of the way of foot traffic.
“Had to take a nap.” His lazy stretch is audible
and I picture his muscles breaking free of hibernation. Mmmmmm.
Standing off to the side, I see there’s a graffiti
sketch of a stick man that someone sketched on the cold cement wall of a
looming skyscraper, a blip on its foundation. I trace the lines of it with my
fingers as we talk, listening to him, like his voice is food and I’m starving.
“Let me guess, you were up all night working, weren’t you?” I say.
“Yeah. I didn’t think I had it in me last night.
Felt like inspiration was gone.” He makes the sound
. “Just like that. Gone. And then I picked up my brush and
let the anger rush out from me, the frustration… the pain. Before I knew it, I
was obsessed. Hours passed. I forgot to eat.”
“Sounds like heaven,” I say quietly as the tip of
my finger runs over the stick man’s round head, over and over.
“It was. But now I need food, Nic.” The way he
pauses next, the intimate shift in his tone sends fire into my veins. “And you…
I need to show
. Wanna meet me at
I lay my hand flat over the picture, covering it
with my palm so I can’t see him anymore. I should say no. I
I should say no, because Michael’s
pull over me is unhealthy. He’s the most amazing painter I’ve ever known
– my work pales in comparison to his; a fact that hurts my
inspiration. I push my forehead
against the wall, but the cool cement fails to extinguish the heat in my skin.
Ashamed at my own weakness, I close my eyes, … first the cigarette, now him.
“I’ll be right there,” I whisper, hanging up without saying goodbye.
Michael, if I could say no to you, I’d have
all the answers of the universe and of everyone in it.
I push off from the wall and make my way to the
nearest subway station to catch a train to The Meatpacking District. My Metro
card slides through and instantly I’m sucked into the wave of people that
Street station. I make my way through them quickly,
eyes glazed over so… I don’t hear her at first – don’t hear my name
called until the third or fourth time.
“Nicole!!” I look around – I know that voice.
Jessica. My girl. A grin washes over me as I look for her in the crowd. She
waves, catching my eye finally, and my arms open up to catch her as she runs
over for a hello-hug. We do the both-cheeks kiss that Jess started ages ago (I
have no idea why. I secretly find it pretentious and weird, but it’s Jess, so I
forgive her). Then I hold her at arm’s length and look at her. “Wow. So good to