Say It Isn't So

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Chapter 18

C A I N

I woke to the smell of bacon, my stomach screaming at me to get up. My eyes slowly focus on the room around me, the pale blue of the walls greeting me exactly as they had every day until I was eighteen.

My bedroom at my parents was South facing, meaning I was rudely awakened by the sun cutting through my window every morning at six am, and no amount of black out curtains held it back. Weekends were nonexistent, so it was a welcome relief when I moved to join the force.

I find myself grinning at the memory of moving into my first apartment, a dingy little room above a bar. It was all I could afford at the time, even with a bit of help from my folks. To me, it was perfect. No sunlight until at least eleven am, if then.

I drag myself out of bed, skipping down the stairs as I hear my parents bantering with one another back and forth.

"I told you that I was right," Mum was saying. "You never listen to me, twenty five years later and you're still a fool!"

"It's being around you, my love. You still make me dizzy."

My mum scoffs, before catching sight of me standing in the doorway.

"Here he is! My favourite creation!' she sings, reaching out to kiss both of my cheeks. Her perfume transports me back to being six years old again, clinging to her at the school gates.

"I'm your only creation," I remind her, nodding at the pan filled with bacon and mushrooms. "Please say that's all for me."

My dad snorts then, and our grey blue eyes meet. He almost looks like my much older brother, his hair still dark and thick, peppered with hints of grey so faint you had to look hard to see them.

"It's for us, dear boy. Sit down and tell me what's on your mind."

My mum tries unsuccessfully to hide her smile, turning her attention to the pan of bacon. I frown, shrugging as I sit beside my father. I yawn, dragging my hand over my stubble, making a mental note to shave.

"I'm all good, Dad. Just thought I'd come and visit."

"Uh huh, sure you did."

"Is it a girl?" Mum asks hopefully, spatula in hand.

"Kind of," I mutter, knowing I've just signed my own death warrant. "But work is hard-"

"Work is called that because it is just that- work," Mum says excitedly, pushing a bacon and mushroom sandwich in front of me which I fixed into immediately. "What girl?"

"Ah, Cain, you're better off-" Dad started, as Mum glared at him, pointing at him with the bread knife.

"Finish that sentence if you dare."

Dad falls silent, and I can't help but chuckle.

"Nothing is happening," I say between mouthfuls. "But she is...interesting."

"I bet she is beautiful," Mum sighs dreamily. "You've always had an eye for those blessed with insane genes. Remember Rebecca Wilfred?"

My dad and I exchange a look, before Mum goes into detail about my first ever girlfriend when I was around eight years old. I tune out for a bit, but then my phone beeps in my pocket.

Max: Morning. X

Whoa, had she just instigated the communication between us? I polished off my sandwich whilst Mum made me another, typing back quickly.

Cain: Maxie. You ok? What are you doing? X

"Is that her?" Mum gushes, craning her neck to look at my phone. "He's grinning like the Cheshire Cat, Lee."

My dad glances at me, rolling his eyes.

"Soon it will be weddings, babies-" Dad drawled, prompting a squeal of excitement from Mum.

"Oh, don't, Lee!"

"What's her name?" Dad asks finally, turning his attention to me.

"Max," I answer quietly, waiting for my phone to flash up with a reply.

"Is she blonde? Or a brunette? Or-"

"Brunette, Mum. Calm down, I've not even been on a date with her yet."

Mum blinks, gazing at me with surprise before she speaks.

"Not even a date and you're this hooked? Wow, son. This could be it."

"Well, you know, she could be. Except she thinks I'm incapable of romance."

I'd always had an honest relationship with my parents, something I valued highly. Mum smiles then, nodding at my Dad.

"Casanova here can give you some hints. When we were dating, he sent me a book of Casanova's memoirs, just because he was the greatest lover in history."

"Dad was?" I teased, making my Mum flush furiously.

"No, Casanova," she scolds, as me and my Dad snicker. "Oh, Cain, you need to woo her. If she is a romantic-"

"I know," I sigh, stretching my arms up. "I'm planning it."

I can tell my Mum wants details, but I have to head back home. I only had one day authorised off work, and a job like mine was never done. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching football with my Dad, as Mum scurried around feeding us. No matter how many times I assured her I ate well, she insisted on sending me home with some homemade meals she had frozen.

"I hope you get the girl," Mum whispers in my ear as she hugs me goodbye. "She would be mad to not want you, Cain."

Ah, a mothers love.

On the drive home I stopped off at a florists, surprising the florist by buying the largest bouquet of roses she had. I didn't care that it was cliche; I wanted to let Max know she had been on my mind. I drove to her apartment, catching the door as it opened to let out some guy.

I recognised the guy.

Andy.

Seriously?

The flowers covered my face as he held the door open for me, and I muttered a thanks as I made my way in.

What was he doing here?

M A X

Andy turned up unexpectedly at nine am.

"Hey," he beamed. "I hope you don't mind, but I've brought you breakfast."

He held out a paper bag, and two steaming cups of coffee.

"Of course, wow. Thank you!" I mumble, wishing I had slept in better clothes. I had on a silky vest and shorts, which was a tad too revealing in my opinion. Andy begins to pull out all kinds of treats from the bag, and I grab us some plates for the croissants.

"You even look beautiful first thing in the morning," Andy pushes a coffee towards me, gazing at me. My heart skips a beat when he catches my eye, and I busy myself buttering my croissant.

"Hardly, but thank you. What are you doing today?"

I perch on the stool, taking a bite out of my food. It was delicious.

"Well, I stopped by Betties to pick you up breakfast, then I was going to ask if you wanted to come over to mine tonight for dinner."

"Oh," I smile, feeling my cheeks flush. "I don’t have any plans, so that works for me."

I was surprised, because we had arranged a date for next week. Now here Andy was, serving me breakfast and offering to cook me dinner.

He reached out to move a crumb from my lip, and I shivered slightly beneath his touch.

"I'm sorry if I'm coming on too strong," he murmured, his eyes falling to my lips. His scent filled my nostrils as he walked towards me, and I hastily swallowed my food. "I just...like you. Alot."

I suck the jam from my finger and his breath hitches, his fingers lacing with mine.

Oh my God, he was going to kiss me.

"Excuse me a second," I jump up, moving around him as I head towards the bathroom. I lock the door behind me, brushing my teeth with gusto.

I hadn't prepared for this, at all.

I rinse my mouth with mouthwash, gargling fully before checking my reflection. My cheeks were rosy, my eyes wide and shiny.

I looked like a teenager about to have her first kiss with the school hunk.

I walk back out to see Andy leaning against the counter, his sky blue shirt open slightly at the chest. He cocks an eyebrow at me, holding his hands up apologetically.

"Sorry, was this too much? I can go-" he mumbles, as I walk up to him slowly.

"I needed to clean my teeth. Nothing else," I whisper, as we position ourselves awkwardly against one another. Andy places his hands on my hips, and dips his head towards mine, allowing our lips to connect.

At first, we are all teeth and nose, but then we find our groove. Andy kisses me so softly I feel like I'm the one devouring him, and he even laughs against my mouth.

"As if you kiss like that," he groans, his hands cupping my face as he kisses me deeply. He is so soft and tender, his fingers caressing my jawline throughout. He tastes of strawberry jam, and when his fingers slide up my vest I'm aware this could move too quickly.

"Okay, enough kissing," I say breathlessly. "For now."

He kisses me again, the sort of kiss that promises there was so much more to come.

"Okay, okay. Breakfast," Andy declares, and we both laugh easily.

He moves his chair to sit closer to me, and we exchange a heated look.

"So, tonight. I'll come and pick you up. That way you can have a drink if you want, and I can drive you home?" Andy suggests, taking a slug of his coffee. I nod, still unable to believe he had kissed me. I may be twenty seven, but I still swooned over a good kiss.

Half an hour later, Andy goes to leave. He turns to me at the door, and strokes the side of my cheek with his index finger.

"How do you like your steak?" he asks, his gaze following his finger as it reaches my mouth.

The last thing I can do is talk about steak, so I shrug.

"I don't mind."

"Okay," Andy says, his voice faint. I lean up to kiss him, and he slides his arm around my waist. This time we knew what to expect, and the kiss was even better. When we finally break apart, I'm biting my lip and he is shaking his head.

"I'll pick you up at six. Benny will wear a tie."

I laugh then, holding open the door for him to leave.

"See you at six," I say, aware I'm grinning like an idiot. The door closes and I lean against it, wondering if this is it. Andy was sweet, funny, kind- all of the things I wanted in a man. I'd not even logged on to the dating site since we'd met, and he hadn't mentioned anyone else.

The knock at the door made me giggle, and I had visions of Andy coming back for another kiss.

What I wasn't prepared for, was the largest bouquet of roses I'd ever seen, every colour imaginable in the hands of the man that had the ability to make me weak with one sweep of his gaze.

Cain.

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