Me Monday is here again! Today I'm talking about Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary. The Right Choice is live!
Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary series.
Andrea Cooper, a stay at home mom, was out of a job when her sons went off to college. She turned to her husband Christian for companionship, but he had his hands full with an expanding company. Andrea is alone for the first time in years with nothing to do and no one to care for. In search of a new life she ran into her first love, Raymond Reyes. Christian spends more time away from home as she renews her friendship with Ray. After a while Andrea can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice in marrying Christian after all.
Andrea laughed between bites of chicken. She and Ray slipped into an easy conversation reminding her how easy it was to talk to him.
“Oh, by the way, I talked to LaTonya and she said it was okay. I can be in your book club,” he said pushing his empty plate to the side.
“That’s good. It should be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I agree, and I get to spend more time with you.”
Andrea looked up from her dessert. “This is not about me and you, Ray. I’m married.”
“I know that.” He paused for a moment to sip his drink. “I heard you married right after I left.”
“It wasn’t right after. A while had passed.”
“Did you miss me while I was gone?”
“Miss you? You’re not serious, right?”
“Yes, I’m serious. I heard that I wasn’t even gone a year before you and that guy from the track team got together.”
Andrea shook her head. “It wasn’t like that.”
Ray put his drink down. “Well, what was it like?”
She heard the change in his voice and knew he would continue to push the conversation. Her anger rose.
“You want to talk about this now? Twenty-five years later?”
He shrugged. “We’ve always been able to talk about anything that was on our minds. I think that conversation is unfinished business between us.”
She wiped her mouth and threw the napkin into her unfinished bowl of ice cream. “Okay, fine. Let’s get it out in the open.”
Ray sat back and gestured for her to continue.
“When you left you broke my heart, Ray. You dropped me like a hot potato without a word. I cried for over a year wondering what I did that was so wrong that you would just leave me and never come back.”
Ray’s eyes gaped and his jaw dropped. “Andrea, I—”
“No, you want me to talk about it so hush up and listen,” she told him in angry hushed tones. Her heart raced as she attempted to control her breathing.
Ray nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry, please continue.”
She took a slow deep breath. “Ray, when you left I was devastated. I was young and in love and you flat out broke my heart. You were my first real boyfriend. We dated all high school, my first year in college and you were my first lover. You knew that, but you left with so much as a goodbye anyway. How could you think you leaving wouldn’t affect me? That it wouldn’t hurt me to my core?” she asked palming her chest. “Of course I missed you.”
Ray lowered his head. “Andrea I swear none of that was my intention,” he said with a soft voice.
Andrea folded her hands on the table. “You told me you loved me and then you went to the Army and I never saw you again,” she told him staring at her thumbs.
“I wrote, Andrea. Didn’t you get my letter?”
She shifted her gaze to him. “The letter that said you wanted to see the world so you could grow?”
“Well yes, but it also said that I loved you. Not coming back to you was the biggest mistake I ever made.”
Andrea scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Well, apparently it was a mistake you had no intention on rectifying either.”
“It wasn’t like that, Annie.”
The sound of the nickname he gave her so long ago made her gasp and her pulse race. His voice filled with emotion sent shivers down her spine. He took her hand and she looked up at him.
“I had every intention on coming back to you, I swear, but I couldn’t come back a boy. You deserved more than that. I wanted to give you the world and so much more.”
“So why didn’t you?”
Ray’s shoulders slumped as he dropped her hand and leaned against the booth. With a heavy sigh his head falls back.
“The years went by so fast, Annie. Just as I thought I was ready something else held me back. I tried to write you again, but I felt like a failure and I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the pen. Believe me, I have been kicking myself ever since.”
Andrea wrapped her arms around her chest. “I gave Christian all the grief and anger you left behind in me, Ray. He didn’t deserve it, but you know what? Christian stayed with me. He comforted me and waited for the pain to pass while showing me every day how much he wanted to be with me,” she told him leaning on the table. “I often wondered about you, even after a married. If you met someone and just forgot about me. If you were okay or even alive. How my life could have been different if I had been with you rather than him. I even wondered if I still loved you.”
Andrea look at him. There was a hopeful tone in his question and undeniable love shining in his eyes. She couldn’t help but smile.
“You seem like the same guy I loved back then, but I sense something has changed in you, too. I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore, but it would seem that even after all these years my emotions still go haywire when you’re near.”
Ray beamed at her.
“But, not having answers left a lot of pain in me, Ray. I need of some type of closure.”
His smile faded as he leaned on the table resting his arms beside hers. “I thought joining the Army would help me see the world and grow up and it did. I saw the most wonderful things, but I also saw some stuff that I still have nightmares over.” He let out a sad laugh. “Even the world’s most beautiful sights can’t erase some horrible things that lock themselves into your mind.”
Ray fell silent for a moment. Andrea saw the pain he tried to hide from her in those beautiful brown eyes of his and fought the urge to comfort him.
“All those years went by and no matter what I saw, or what I did, it never filled the void in my heart of not having you in my life,” he continued. “I tried to fill it with adventure, food, drink, even other women, but nothing could hold a candle to the way you made me feel.”
“If you felt like that why didn’t you come back to me?”
He paused to sip from his glass and continued staring at the table as he spoke. “I don’t know what to say. Time flew by. When I did think I was ready and could do all the things I wanted to do for you it was too late. You were married and had children.”
“You knew about me and Christian?”
“Years ago. Your boys were just youngsters. My parents still see your mother from time to time. I didn’t want to mess with that. So I stayed where I was.”
“You never married or had children?”
Ray shook his head. “There was no one I never wanted to have children with except you.”
She sighed. “It was so hard not knowing what happened to you.”
“I know. Please accept the apology I should have given you so many years ago.” He took her hand. “Can you forgive the man for the biggest mistake he ever made as a boy?” he asked, giving her fingers a squeeze.
Andrea gave him a small smile. “Yes, you are forgiven. I probably forgave you a long time ago, Ray. I just needed to know.”
“Excellent, so where do we go from here?”
“Well, how about we just leave the past in the past. We started as friends and we can be friends now.”~~~~~~~~~~
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