Courtland spent his childhood watching his mother turn tricks and bow to her abusive pimp. It taught him a lot about relationships and how never to get involved in one. When he meets sweet Adelaide, his life is forever changed. Her gentle personality has his thinking maybe his vow to never commit is misplaced. Until she disappears out of his life.
Adelaide knew the only way to escape the darkness she’s lived her life in, is to go back to the one place that’s haunted her dreams. Home. Reuniting with Courtland is the last thing on her mind until she becomes helpless to his every kiss. Hopeless to his ever touch. And no matter how far she tries to run, her heart is irrevocably bound to him.
A story of tragic pasts colliding, finding a friendship that turns into searing passion, and a love strong enough to last forever.
“Let’s go!” She whispered-yelled at me.
If there was one thing I knew to the depths of my soul, I knew Adelaide was the girl of my dreams. Underneath her glasses, her eyes were still rimmed red from tears she must have shed. As a preacher’s daughter, she had so many boundaries. She had called, begging me to take her somewhere where she could breathe. She got into another argument with her dad. She didn’t tell me what it was about but she called me from a pay-phone, begging me to pick her up. She couldn’t take it anymore.
∞ But first, a little background story…
I got emancipated at seventeen. My mother was a drug addict and a prostitute and my father? Who the fuck knew? Probably her pimp. He paid for everything she had and when she didn’t give him what he wanted, he beat the shit out of me but did she give a fuck? Ha. Only in a dream world. All the pent up bitterness and frustration from my past always made me want to fight and when Joe, my boss, told me to start working it out on a punch bag, I did. I lived in Granville for five years, took about three to get my rage under control. Now, five years later, it’s just a dull blur in the back of my mind.
I met her two years ago when JR, my best friend and coincidently, her cousin, invited me to dinner with his parents and there she was. Pure sunshine and brilliant blue eyes. The first time I made eye contact with her, it was like seeing someone’s heart shattering. There was a pain and desperation in them that only one who understood could see. So I didn’t make eye contact with her any more than necessary. At first, I didn’t give a shit, the girl was fifteen and one-I had no business dealing with little girls, and two-my home life sucked enough ass, that I didn’t want any more stress weighing me down. I was one of those boys parents didn’t want to meet. Rough around the edges and poor as dirt mechanic that had ink covering most of his body. I was tall and built like a brick
Like I stated, JR’s my best friend and she’s five years younger than me. I never hit on her, or flirt with her because I respected the hell out of her. And not just because she was a preachers daughter. She is the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. JR always talked about how big a dick his uncle was even though he was a pastor. How he treated his wife and daughter like property or some shit. Sometimes JR could get Addy to talk about it, but after a while. She just stopped.
Over those two years though, she came over to JR’s parents more often, and sometimes tagged along with us when we went out. She wasn’t like those annoying teenage girls that always talked your ear off or tried flirting with me like some chicks did when they wanted my attention. I am pretty sure most chicks saw me as a challenge. Bad boy who was good in bed, but not good enough to wed. Yeah, that saying was totally reversible ladies.
She wasn’t very talkative, but after a while in our company, her eyes lit up with happiness and I knew I didn’t want to see her any other way. She came alive and became playful, but in an innocent, sweet girl-next-door way.
Even though there was a gap in our ages, we became friends who texted every now and then. She had also stopped at Joe’s whenever she walked home from school and would hang out and she’s the type of girl who gave with her whole heart. She had to have made JR give her my birthdate, because the last two years, she showed up at the back door of the small house I rented (it was basically an efficiency type place in the poor side of Granville). I got a cake (when I never had a birthday cake in my fucking life) and a gift she made. First one was a shell necklace like beach type people wore, but since she made it and put a lot of thought to it, I only took it off when I took a shower. Last year, she came over to my shit-hole and cooked me dinner. I didn’t know what she told her parents but she was at the house for hours. She totally made my house shine like it was brand new and cooked deep fried chicken, cornbread, boiled potatoes and corn on the cob. Never had a meal that tasted so good. Those simple gestures counted a lot to me. We became close and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. She had my complete and utter loyalty. Even got her name on my chest, the opposite of JR’s. My family.
So when Adelaide called me on the prepaid cell phone I had, I dropped everything and went right to her. I told her to stay on the phone and went over to Joe, my boss, and said I needed to leave for a family emergency. He knew the only family I had was JR and Adelaide. This was the first time in five years working in Joe’s garage that I told him I needed to leave right then and there. He looked me square in the eye and saw I was dead serious. He nodded, told me he hoped everything was okay and I bolted. I never called in because I couldn’t afford to. But he took a chance on me when I was a know-nothing poor boy from the wrong side of a big city and I thanked God every day that he did. He became some sort of father figure I didn’t know I needed. He and his wife, Mildred, are good people.
I walked out of the garage and put my ear back to the phone. “Addy, where are you?”
“I am so sorry Courtland. I just didn’t know who else to call. I couldn’t call Uncle Chet. He’s dad’s only brother and twin at that. But I just can’t…I feel like I can’t breathe. I wanna disappear. So bad. Please. I am at the corner-
“Corner? What the fuck are you doing on a corner!?”
“I walked to the front of the neighborhood. I’m at the Stop-N-Go, inside on the pay-phone. Could you come get me? I just need to-I don’t know. I just need-“. She didn’t even finish before quiet sobs started coming through the earpiece.
“I’m in the truck, baby. Stay calm. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Stay in the light and where the owner is. I’ll come in and get you.”
“Thank you.” Her voice tethered with sadness and tears. A rage settled inside. NO one was allowed to make Addy cry like that. Somehow, I knew it was really bad this time. No one knew what they argued about, but Addy just seemed to pale lately. I decided right there and then I hate Geoffrey Hunter.
“Anything for you Adelaide.”
JR and Adelaide are my family. Even though I grew up not knowing a damn thing, I was loyal to the bone when it came to them. I felt protective as hell over the both of them, too. JR was a year younger than me, and although I didn’t feel like an older brother or anything-I knew he had my back like I had his.
I made it to the Stop-N-Go within eight minutes when it’s normally a fifteen minute drive.
I threw my old Chevy pickup that Joe helped me rebuild, into park and when I got out, I looked inside the convenient store, right into her eyes. Her face looked swollen from crying and I was making my way towards her when she disobeyed me and burst through the door and thrust herself into my arms. Her tears were soaking up my shirt, but I didn’t give a damn. Every tear was a promise of retribution. I wasn’t letting her dad take any more of the light from her eyes. It must have been really bad because she didn’t stop and her body evidently couldn’t take it anymore because her knees gave out and I swooped her into my arms.
I opened the driver’s side door and lifted her into the middle part of the truck. She slumped her head back and closed her eyes. I hopped in and took a drive to the only place I knew of that I could think and breathe. The only place I felt at peace.
There was an empty field by a small airport at the edge of town and I parked in front of the ‘No Trespassing’ sign.
“Why are we here?”
“When I first came to this town, I didn’t know what I would do. After working at Joe’s for a few years, I stumbled on this field. So whenever I feel like shit or had a bad day, I would come here. Hearing the air planes take off and land calmed me for some reason. All the shit I grew up with, being in and out of juvie, hoping I’d never go to jail permanently. Anytime I ever thought about the shit-life I had before getting here, I’d come here and just watch the planes take off. The sounds often lulled me to sleep actually.”
Shit. I ain’t ever told anyone that. Not even JR knew about this place.
“Why were you in and out of juvie?”
“My mother. I was the fault for everything ever since I was twelve.” I looked right into her eyes, saw not sympathy but curiosity. “My mother was a prostitute. I was a mistake, yada-yada.”
Adelaide gasped and gripped my arms tightly. “Surely you don’t believe that?” I shrugged because, hell, I didn’t ever think about it. I hated looking back into my past now that I was making a semi-future for myself. “Come on, Courtland! How could you be a mistake? You’re a miracle. My miracle.”
Whoa. I knew my eyes widened and she smiled her beautiful smile and she stepped out of the truck. She walked to the grill of the truck and nodded her head towards the open field.
Even though there was a No Trespassing sign, the gate was never locked. Maybe the people thought since it was really out in the middle of nowhere, no one would pay any mind. People would just see it and drive by. I never went across it though. I usually had real bad luck but looking at Addy, I didn’t care. She needed somewhere she can breathe, and this was the only place I thought of.
I opened the door, slammed it shut and just shook my head at her. “Don’t you see that sign?”
“Let’s go!” She whisper-yelled to me again.
“What? I wanna hear the planes. Please?”
The redness was still around her eyes but they sparkled and glowed with something I couldn’t describe. Mischief? Curiosity? Probably both because there was a spark about her now that wasn’t there before.
Chuckling I said, “Alright. Get back in the truck law breaker.”
She giggled and pumped her hands in the air like she won something. Then ran and jumped back in the cab. Shaking my head and saying a little prayer I took down the sign and pushed the gates wide opened.
I drove us where the grass wasn’t too high and parked the truck. I had a blanket I kept behind the seat when I slept out in my truck when I drove here. I never went passed the sign because I knew I would most likely get caught. Bad guys like me had shit for luck. But I didn’t want to disappoint her.
When I opened the tailgate and laid the blanket down I didn’t see Adelaide next to me. Instead, she was about ten yards away, staring up at the sky. A plane was coming closer overhead and she didn’t take her eyes off it. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
She spread her arms wide and twirled as the plane finally flew passed. It was low so the wind from it whipped her hair all around and Adelaide started laughing like I never heard her laugh before. That glow seemed to wrap all around. It was freeing and innocent. She was so perfect. Beautiful and caring. And dammit, over the last few years, she not only became my best friend, but she was turning into my everything. My very reason for truly breathing each breath I took.
She stopped when she was facing me with the biggest smile she ever wore and ran towards me. I caught her and lifted her high into the air, twirled her in circles just as she did when the plane was above us. I laughed right with her.
Then I brought her body down mine and her eyes changed. My body felt all of a sudden too tight. Adelaide is the most beautiful girl I knew. Her smiling eyes turned into eyes full of longing and I felt at the moment, nothing could ruin this night.
I smiled, and put her on the tailgate before she felt the heat of my desire. I didn’t want to frighten her and I definitely needed to cool down. I looked towards a plane that was taking off. In my peripherals I could see she was looking over my body.
I knew what hers looked like. She was short, curvy and had beautiful hair the color of milk chocolate. She wore square glasses on her face that always seemed to tilt to the side. She was adorable and sexy all rolled up in one sweet package.
I sat my ass on the tailgate, and scooted back to lay down on the blanket and told her to do the same.
Sighing, I didn’t want to pry but we were here for a reason. “Adelaide. What happened?”
She turned to me, body stiff and eyes losing that happy glow from earlier. “Do we really have to talk about that right now?”
I leaned up on my elbow and stared right into her eyes. “No, not right now. But Adelaide.”
“Please, Courtland. Let’s just be happy right now. Be so happy and right in this moment.”
I pulled her into my arms and started asking her those ‘get to know a person’ type questions and then we just stared into the starry sky, listening to the sounds of planes and machines and it was so relaxing. Addy was sleeping soundly on my shoulder and hell if it didn’t fit perfectly. She was made to be in my embrace. I was almost asleep I could feel my eyes drifting.
Then I heard the sirens. No fucking way.
“Man, this is some fucking shit.”
The cops pulled up near the truck and I shook Adelaide awake and told her to just stay quiet and listen to them.
They started asking questions about why we were here and when I tried to speak the officer took a good look at me and saw the tattoos. Yeah, that’s all it took. Any niceties went flying out just like the planes overhead.
They weren’t playing and threw the cuffs on our wrists quick. But did Adelaide listen? Sweet-as-pie she is and she tried charming her sweet little preacher’s daughter charm on the officer, but they didn’t fall for it.
But I sure as hell did. If I survived this night. I sure as hell wouldn’t change a fucking thing.
They put her on the right side and me on the left. “Do you think we could make a run for it? It would make for a really great story.” She smiled bright and beautiful.
What? I stared wildly at her and there was a freedom and fire in her eyes that made me laugh with gusto.
“Be quiet!” The officer hit the top of the patrol car.
I whispered, “I doubt it babe.”
She truly was something else. If we could make a run for it, I would take her away from all this. Go somewhere neither one of us would have to deal with our crap pasts nor some crap in our lives now.
She smiled and winked at me, “Then let’s have a good laugh.” I lifted an eyebrow and shook my head with mirth. She turned to the open door and got the officers attention.
“Yes, young lady.”
She put her hand up to her mouth as if she had an actual cigarette and asked, “Do you have a light?”
Growling, the officer slammed the door in our faces.
She didn’t smoke and I thought it was funny as fuck. I was falling in love with her. Right in the backseat of a cop car. We sat there talking about nothing and everything while the cops were taking their time with our ID’s and I knew with my background it didn’t look great but right here, sitting in the back with Adelaide. I didn’t care. She made me feel more alive than anything in this world.
Right then I knew. I was already gone.
About the Author
Stephanie Nicole Garza is from Southeast Houston, Texas, with her husband and two small children. She is a full-time Chilihead employee at Chili's Bar & Grill. 'Love Came Back' is her debut novel. It's part of an adult romance contemporary series called Pyro-Princess Design and Style. Bound is her second novel, apart of the Bound Hearts duology. She loves reading, crafting, and writing of course. When she's not taking care of her family, working her tail off at her all day job you can find her writing well into the night. Then reading steamy romance novels, attaining another fictional boyfriend.
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