Adult Dating Female Near

Starting Over From Scratch: A Humbling New Beginning

Prologue: Calm Before the Storm

"My life is over, " Abella "Abbie" Wilkins said as she grimaced over her "Walk of Shame" photo published on the front page of The Journal, where she was currently employed. This photo and the subsequent article publicly exposed her phony story scam that she pulled off for a full year.

She was now to be known as a fake reporter for the rest of her life. What was she going to do now? At the time, her motive was to create "stories" until her massive writer's block went away. Abbie developed it when the pressure of being a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist got to be too much to handle. Two Pulitzers in two years was a feat in itself, but continuing the momentum was downright impossible. The idea was to bide time with the fake stories until her stress went away, but it never did. Her secret was revealed at a meeting with all of the big bosses by rival reporter Vera Canter, who had been angling for Abbie to be fired for years. Vera hated everything about Abbie and that day was her chance to expose her, which she gladly took two days ago.

Chapter 1: Confessions and Recriminations

"The more ruthless you are, the better the perks are, " Vera told Abbie her motto just before she literally used a metaphorical sledgehammer to Abbie's career in an effort to give her sagging one a boost.

Abbie grabbed Vera's arm in an effort to prevent her from revealing all, "Please, Vera, don't do this to me. Let me quit instead and you can gladly have my job. No qualms or nothing."

"Bull, Abbie. You never gave me anything, or the time of day. Why should I oblige you at all?" Vera snickered quietly with a hint of sarcastic malice. She flicked her shoulder length crimson bob and looked in her pocket mirror to check her pale pink lipstick.

"Is there anything I could do to stop you?" Abbie quietly pleaded

"Besides murder, that would be a no. Except suffer greatly, " Vera rose from her seat allowing her dcolletage to be revealed to all of the men in the conference room. She had their undivided attention now. Abbie was completely screwed.

"Yes, Vera, do you have a story that you would like to contribute?" Ashland Mundy, their boss, asked

"Yes, Ash, I do."

"By all means, do tell, " Ashland offered, sighing in mild annoyance over being kept waiting.

"I have been working on an expose for the past month about a reporter at a top newspaper who is not writing actual stories. She has been reporting about phony people and events for the past year, " Vera told everyone in the large conference room with a slight smile on her face.

"Who is she? What paper? Does anyone else know?" Ashland demanded

"As of now, you are the first to know. For the what, you can look no further than this paper. For the who, you can ask the culprit yourselves. Isn't that right, Abbie?"

Everyone looked over at Abbie and waited for her to respond with baited breath. They had a hot, juicy story to flaunt on the front pages, but they were also about to destroy a well respected reporter in the process.

"That is correct, Vera. You all have to look no further than me. I've been fudging my stories for about a year now. I no longer had faith in my abilities as a writer and decided generating my work from my imagination would be better, " Abbie confessed with a large pang of regret growing in the pit of her stomach.

"How could you, Abbie?" Ashland began to rub his temples at the PR nightmare looming ahead of him.

"Well, Ashland, I have been asking myself the same thing, and I still have not come up with a valid explanation for my actions, " Abbie rose from her seat feeling woozy and weak in the knees. She did not expect that career suicide would feel this freeing and at the same time so horrifying.

"Where do you think you're going?" Ashland bellowed in Abbie's direction. She jumped at the sound of his high pitched question. She never heard him say anything to her louder than a faint whisper. That moment she realized this was the end of the line for Abbie as a journalist. The next few days were going to be hell.

Ashland continued, "You're not going anywhere. You are going to stay here until we have discussed everything we need to do to rectify the mess you made."

All of a sudden everything seemed to blur together in one big blob. The next two days went by without any compunction, which was the opposite of what she felt. The lights and camera had Abbie in their crosshairs. They were not going to let her go until they milked her pain and suffering for everything it's worth.

"Abbie? Abbie? Wake up!" Ashland instructed her as the press conference was about to start. She snapped out of it to feel the glare of the news media around her. The lights and the cameras were focused on Abbie's every moment, not her work. Everything she did, or planned to do was carefully dissected by the news, television, and internet medias. Her life and career was just thrusted in front of a public firing squad with the full intention of full destruction.

She was told of this as the reporters' questions grew more and more cruel. Her stomach acted as a noose around her internal organs causing them to suffocate themselves. The room grew dark and she could not find solid ground. No one there was on her side.

"Where is everybody that I care about? They should be there for me. I need them more than ever, " Abbie longed for Gibson Gray, her boyfriend of four years, to hug her and kiss away every one of the tears building up inside her ready to explode if she did not allow them to come out. She did not want to allow the news seeking vultures to see her sweat, bleed, or even cry. No emotion was better than showing any sign of weakness.

"How could you live with yourself? A respected reporter like you ruining our profession, " One reporter shouted shoving a microphone in her face as she reached the podium.

Abbie could feel the saltiness of her tears streaming down her face. She was no longer in control anymore. She was at the mercy of the media right now. God help her. They were merciless suckers.

"How did this happen, Abbie? You used to be a good reporter. How could you sell you soul? Why?" One eager reporter asked her. Her had no business asking her any questions. He looked no older than twelve, which was probably a lie but seemed true by his appearance. He had no facial stubble and seemed stuck in puberty. His baby smooth face showcased eyes covered in heavy duty baggage. He looked like he pulled an all-night study session, which shot his credibility straight to hell.

"Ms. Wilkins, answer the question. Just tell us how you destroyed your once promising career?" The junior reporter demanded like a petulant teenager stood up at prom.

"Like any other person would, sweetie. I got too cocky and let the power go to my head. As a result, I'm here getting grilled by everyone like I'm a stuffed pig, " Abbie responded with a hint of cynicism and sarcasm, which only made the reporters eager for more mud to fling at her ego. "Any other questions?"

"Why?"

"Because I could, " Abbie concluded bitterly like she swallowed the biggest horse pill on the planet. She was tired of getting dosed in metaphorical lighter fluid. Any more than she would have exploded.

Abbie finally erupted when the reporter asked her about how she felt about letting her co-workers down, and no one jumped up to defend her. "I've had enough of this crap. I feel terrible about what I did, but I am not going to stand here and be dissected like a science project frog. Now I know how the subjects in my legitimate stories felt. They were big fishes shoved into an obscenely small pond. I'm tired of being one of those fishes. I'm getting out of this fish bowl."

She turned to Ashland, her battle weary boss and a complete milquetoast of a man. He never had a thought of his own in years once he became chief editor. He had been everyone's puppet if they wanted to get ahead at The Journal. People would just put ideas in his head and let them fester until he went along with them. Ashland was a nice man, but he never had the guts to stand up for anything, or anyone he believed in, including Abbie. She was going to make it easy for him by throwing in the towel before he was forced to fire her.

"I quit I no longer want to be a journalist. I have sold my soul so many times, " Abbie got up from her seat in the intense spotlight. She got closer to Vera, her life-long sworn enemy, who sat on the media sidelines waiting for her turn to be a front page reporter. Abbie whispered in her ear, "It's someone else's turn to pay the piper and eventually get stabbed in the back."

"Goodbye, y'all, please forget to write about me, " Abbie concluded and walked with her head held up high until she was out of sight. Once she was alone, her heart shattered completely to the marble floor in the lobby. She just flushed the once prestigious job she sacrificed everything for in a matter of fifteen minutes. Abbie had no idea where to go from here. She was now virtually a journalist pariah because of the scandal. No one would be able to take her seriously anymore.

"What am I going to do?" Abbie began to weep openly as she made it to her grey metallic Honda Accord. "I don't know anything else but being a reporter. I am so screwed. I might as well hang myself now."

She did not know where to drive next. She was stuck. Before she knew it, Abbie was driving to Mercy Hospital where Gibson worked. She needed to see his smile, the kind that warmed her heart and made her forget her problems. She wanted to feel his arms around her. The smell of his Polo cologne, not the one in the green bottle, but the blue. Her biggest turn-on about Gibson was his ability to make her feel special. She could have had the worst possible day, like today, and the only medicine she needed was her loving boyfriend.

As she sat in the hospital parking lot, Abbie began to flashback to how she first met and fell in love with Gibson. She remembered everything about their first encounter four years ago. She was a struggling junior reporter looking for the story that carried her to the big time. Her assignment was to interview a big time doctor involved in a scandalous law suit over the questionable death of a patient. Unfortunately, the disgraced doctor suddenly suffered from a massive case of cold feet. Luckily for Abbie, a helpful medical student learning the ropes at Mercy stepped in to persuade him.

Abbie was drawn to this man right from the beginning. His pale orange hair was clipped close to his scalp as a crew cut to hide his overly curly mane. He wanted to focus more on his impending career than his looks. Due to his one size too small shirt, Abbie detected his muscles from countless hours running around the hospital doing grunt work. His green eyes were a near perfect set of pristine jewels.

"Thank you so much for helping me. I owe you big time, " Abbie grabbed his right hand in an effort to shake it when she only wanted to kiss him. Of course, she thought it was very inappropriate to make a pass at someone when she did not even know his first name. Instead, she decided to make a much subtler move. "My name's Abbie. What's yours?"

"Gibson. So, do you always charm people into getting your way?" Gibson responded without letting go of her hand. In her mind, that was a good sign he was interested in her too.

"Only on Mondays, Tuesdays, and the occasional casual Friday to mix things up, " Abbie let go of his hand when a sudden case of nerves hit her stomach. She never really flirted with a man before and was afraid of where it might lead.

What followed became an intense relationship that had more twists and turns that a David Lynch movie. One minute they were so in love. The Sex was great and constant. Soon three years roared by and the only meaningful conversations they currently had resembled this exchange they had in the park last week.

"What the hell is your problem?" Abbie shouted at Gibson in the park.

"You! You are my problem. You are always on my freaking case. You're the nagging wife I never had, " Gibson screamed at the top of his lungs. "You emasculate me."

"What?" Abbie scowled at her boyfriend as she put her hands on her hips.

"Oh, shut up, don't pretend to deny it. You live to make me feel less of a man, " Gibson howled in laughter. If he had his way, he would have rolled around in the muddy grass to prove his point. "I have busted my hump to become the best doctor I can be and all you can focus on are your needs. God, you are so damn selfish."

"Then, why are you still with me?" Abbie walked closer to Gibson until she was right in his face.

"I have no idea why anymore, " Gibson turned around and walked away from her.

"We could easily remedy that, darling!" Abbie yelled, even though Gibson could no longer hear her.

Abbie opened the door of her car and made her way to the hospital front doors. She made a solemn vow to herself that she was going to repair her broken relationship with Gibson. She had to. She knew she made him feel he was not much of a man, because she was always barking orders at him like a drill sergeant. She had to stop doing that in order to keep him. Unless, it was already too late. The mini-fight they had this morning was a clear indicator that was a possibility.

Since he spent the night, Abbie wanted to make it worth his while. Abbie wanted him to move in with her for at least a year, but he always had some excuse for his reason.

Abbie tried to be affectionate and wanted to have Sex before being crucified. She touched Gibson's arm and planted a hard kiss on his mouth to get his attention. He, of course, pulled away from her.

"Yuck, darling, morning breath. Seriously, brush your teeth if you want to do that, " Gibson said still half asleep.

"Honey, isn't it a little early to be a douche bag. I just wanted to kiss you. It's not like I committed such a harsh offense to want to be affectionate with my boyfriend, " Abbie threw her pillow at Gibson's head when he laid back down and rolled over.

"Isn't it a little late to be rolling out the stops? You've been ignoring me for so long when I want to, and now I'm supposed to jump through hoops like a good little doggy because you're horny, " Gibson angrily laughed. "Oh, please, that ain't ever gonna happen."

"Why not?" Abbie jumped out of the bed and placed her hands on her hips.

"Because I'm not in the mood to be your lapdog, or anyone else's. I let you turn me into a wuss for too long. Now, it's my turn to be in control."

"Ha. We'll see about that, " Abbie rolled her eyes and went to the bathroom to get ready.

Gibson followed her close behind and slammed the door open. "Don't you ever walk away from me again."

"Why? What are you going to do to me? Talk me to death?" Abbie moved closer to him, inches from his face.

"Well, sweetheart, I'm going to do this, " Gibson pulled Abbie into a kiss as she loosened the grip on her terrycloth towel. Her body was fully exposed to him and Gibson took the opportunity for a little foreplay. Abbie responded to his attempt favorably and even gave him something to smile about. After that was done, Gibson pulled her into the shower with him.

Between shampooing and groping, Abbie asked him as she proceeded to stroke his hair, "So, what's with the sudden display of affection?"

"Are you complaining?" Gibson grabbed Abbie and gently pushed her up against the wall directly under the showerhead. With water rushing all around them, she allowed Gibson to control everything from the way he kissed her to the positions they had

When it was all over, Abbie did not feel satisfied, or clean. She felt disconnected from Gibson like they really were two ships passing in the night. She knew that was a totally clich, but it was a perfectly accurate one. The sex was just a front to keep each other at bay. Now that she was unemployed, she needed to repair their relationship badly. He was the only thing she had left.

"I need him now more than ever, " Abbie whispered to herself. Extracting a few stares from people who were close enough to hear what she said.

Chapter 2: Just the Facts, Jack

Gibson had been a resident at Mercy for two years so far. He was working his way to becoming chief resident one day. With his crazy work schedule, that dream was within reasonable reach.

Of course, that was not the only thing within Gibson's grasp. Now that he was a resident, he could have his pick of the litter when it came to sexual trysts with the nurses. The problem with that, obviously, was Abbie. He tried to be faithful to her, but there were times he needed her physically when she was not there, or was unable to fulfill his needs. So, he filled his prescription elsewhere in a matter of speaking.

There was no doubt in his mind that he loved Abbie. Ever since he met her, Gibson knew she was special. Her pale blue eyes resembled that of the boxes from Tiffany's with their light bright innocence. A sense of romance coming from her irises. Her skin, on the other hand, was a different story. Her face showed signs of struggle through sun burn and a few old acne scars from her teen years. Her hands were smooth on one side and slightly calloused on her fingertips from when she helped her father sail his now dry rotted boat, "Abella." His favorite thing about Abbie was her smile, which sounded clich, but it made everything else disappear when she did.

After their first encounter, Gibson was completely hooked on Abbie. He has been with her for four years. She stuck by him since his last year of medical school, being an intern, and the hectic scheduling. Unfortunately, his euphoria over his girlfriend had waned considerably. Their relationship had fallen into too many repetitive patterns and their numerous problems were continually ignored until it was too late. His schedule made it hard to be with Abbie, physically and emotionally. They were both tired all the time and were never in-sync like they used to be.

Sadly, Abbie's schedule was just as bad as Gibson's. She spent all hours of the night and day working on stories that sometimes took her to dangerous parts of town. He tried to be fully

supportive of her needs, but there were times she was too demanding even for him. Abbie was an

occasionally high maintenance person, which made him unintentionally resent her and the demands she put on him. His job was just as important, if not more so, as hers.

Gibson remembered consoling her one night after she had a huge bout of writer's block one year ago. She had a pending deadline and no time to waste. Her face was streaked in watered down foundation and runny mascara. She looked like the walking dead.

"Gibson, what am I going to do? If I don't turn in this story, I am completely screwed. My reputation will be ruined. I might as well flush these two Pulitzers down the toilet., " Abbie wailed on and on.

"You're not screwed, sweetie, you have pulled things out of the toilet during worse times, " Gibson ran his fingers through her smooth strawberry blonde hair trying to relax her to no avail.

"Oh, what the hell do you know? Your job is nothing like mine. Your hands and knowledge are everything to you, while my words are everything to me. If I don't have that, I'll have nothing."

"What are you going to do then? Make up the story or something. I don't think your boss would like that, " Gibson chuckled as he rubbed his temples when he noticed Abbie seriously consider this idea.

"What Ashland won't know won't hurt him or me, " Abbie smiled as she kissed Gibson on the cheek.

"How are you going to cover this up?"

"Easy, as carefully as possible, " Abbie responded by opening up a word document and began typing away until she had a four hundred word story to submit. Once she pressed the submit button, her fate was sealed.

After she pushed submit, Gibson lost all faith in her and their relationship. She even made him cover for her a few times for some of her fake stories. But, instead of ending it, he began to sleep with other nurses. It was only a matter time before Abbie's mistake, and his own, would have blown up in their faces.

He currently was involved with Gracie Tolson, a pediatric nurse. They had "seeing" each other in his on-call room for several months now. She was everything he wanted in a woman: fun, energetic, and willing to do anything he asked of her. He recently learned from Gracie that was pregnant with his child. Gibson was beyond ecstatic with the news, because he realized that he was in love with Gracie, not Abbie. He used to love her, but the relationship had run its course. He was going to break up with Abbie to be with Gracie.

Gracie knocked on the door before opening it, "Hi."

"Hey, there, yourself, " Gibson walked over and kissed her gently before pulling her into an embrace.

"What was that for?" Gracie smiled

"Because I love you, and I love the idea of us becoming parents, " Gibson took her hand and walked her over to the bed.

"You do? Really? I thought you would be freaked out by it. I mean, what would Abbie have to say about it?"

"Not much more. I'm going to break up with her. I should have done it sooner, but I was too chicken to do it. Now I think it's time I bite the bullet and do it, " Gibson began to rub his fingers through Gracie's long flowing raven colored hair.

"Why now?" Gracie relaxed at his touch, and became slowly turned on by how his hands felt on her scalp. She let out a soft moan of pleasure. She never intended to get involved with him, but she was now in it for the long haul.

"I'm in love with you, and I want to marry you."

"Really? Is it a proposal, Dr. Gray?" Gracie laughed as she ran her own fingers through his hair. Gibson suddenly pulled her closer to his chest and began to passionately kiss her on the mouth.

He pulled away for a moment and starred into her eyes, "Yes, it is as a matter of fact. It is an informal proposal of my intentions, but let's not put the cart before the horse just yet. I've got to end my current relationship before launching into this one with you head first."

"Agreed. Now shut up, and kiss me already, " Gracie grabbed a large chunk of his wavy red orange hair. He yelped in welcome pain as his hands and mouth take over for him. Pretty soon their scrubs and undergarments were falling to the floor. Sheets were opened and passion took over completely.

Chapter 3: The Awful Truth

As Abbie walked down the looping hospital corridor, a sense of dread filled her. Her stomach was an endless knot wrapped around her internal organs. There was a large lump in her throat that was not going away on its own. She realized this day was not going to end well for her. Abbie had a funny instinct that the loss of her much beloved job was not the only thing she was going to lose.

Abbie's hunch was indeed correct, because at that very moment Gibson was doing what he did best: satisfying his current nurse lover in his on-call room. Abbie believed him to be still the honorable man he was when she first met him in college. The young naively optimistic boy from rural Ohio who believed in family, and was a total Mama's Boy. When they moved to the city, Gibson's personality changed dramatically. He was no longer optimistic and rarely called his family.

When Abbie reached room 101, she decided against knocking on the door in case he was sleeping. She also wanted to surprise him and even have a possible case of afternoon delight. She turned the knob and heard faint noises of childish pleasure. She assumed Gibson was talking in his sleep, but was ignorant to the obvious until she stepped into the room. Her boyfriend was having sex with another woman. Instead of screaming and running out of the room, she picked up his favorite mug full of ice cold water and poured in on the lovers.

Gibson jumped and pulled away from Gracie. He turned around with a start and saw Abbie starring at him, "Abbie, what are you doing here?"

"I quit my job, " Abbie said with a monotone to her voice. The shock of what she just witnessed had not worn off yet.

"You what?" Gibson asked surprised, unaware of the press conference.

"You were too busy to see the press conference earlier today where I was raked over the coals for the stories."

"You knew that would have happened once Vera exposed you, " Gibson had no more sympathy for Abbie. Her recent trouble was of her own making.

"After I quit, I decided to come here for a little TLC, but I guess you read my mind and picked the first hussy that came in your path. Let me guess, she was more convenient for you to sleep with instead of calling me, " Abbie growled giving Gibson and Gracie the evil eye.

Gracie proceeded to crawl out of the bed shamefully. She tried to make a hasty exit by getting dressed quickly and leaving before getting caught in the crossfire, but Abbie would not allow her to leave by slamming the door shut.

"Where do you think you're going?"

Gracie began to shake timidly when she realized what pain this woman was going to go through because of her. But, instead of focusing on that, she decided to focus on her growing future and belly. This baby needed to be loved and not thrown around as a dramatic device to cause trouble. She was going to give Gibson the time he needed to break away from Abbie before staking her claim on him.

"She has nothing to do with this, Abbie. You're angry with me. You can let me have it, but not her, " Gibson attempted to usher Gracie out the room when Abbie blocked them again.

"Why should I go easy on her? I lost my job and now I find that she's the tart that's sleeping with my boyfriend. I always suspected you were cheating on me, but I did not care enough to do anything about it. Now, that I see it, I'm completely ticked off and I want to grind her face into dust, " Abbie shouted as her voice traveled down the hall. People passing by the room heard the shouting stopped to listen for a second before continuing on.

"Don't, " Gibson pleaded.

"Why should I not?"

"I love her too much to allow you to hurt her."

"What?"

"You heard me. Don't play dumb with me, it's not becoming of you or us."

"You love her?" Abbie weakened her angry stance by the door.

"Yes."

"Do you still love me?"

"No, " Gibson's response coldly put a chill in the room. Abbie's anger quickly turned to a huge block of ice on her chest. It was suffocating her. She could not breathe and the only thing keeping her in control was to continue talking. Asking the questions she was terrified of what the answers were going to be.

"Have you ever loved me?" Abbie quietly demanded

"Yes, I did for a while, but I don't anymore. We've simply grown apart, " Gibson confessed as he allowed Gracie to sneak out the door before Abbie noticed.

Abbie suddenly realized that Gracie, her replacement for Gibson's affections, was longer in the room. "I see that your good time girl could not stand the heat, or should I say lack of? Isn't that why you strayed?"

"Alright, now that she's not around for you to use as a scapegoat. It's time we had a very long overdue talk, " Gibson stated in an almost calm rational tone. His eyes never left Abbie's. He was serious now.

"Okay, I'll leave your girl out of it. I agree. We need to talk, " Abbie said still feeling the block of ice on her chest. "When did you first realize that we were doomed?"

"I guess, I have known for about a year now. I was just scared to admit it to you, and myself, " Gibson revealed as he put his fingers through his hair, a nervous habit he has had since he was a child. "What do you want to know?"

Abbie's eyes darted around the room before she pivoted back to face him. "Was what I did at work the reason you strayed?"

"Not entirely. I was unhappy with our relationship before then. I just took the coward's way out, " Gibson did not break Abbie's gaze.

"Cannot argue with you there, " Abbie laughed awkwardly in an attempt to soften the blow. "So, tell me how did the cheating begin?"

"Jesus, Abbie, I'm not one of your stories, " Gibson shouted in an effort to avoid hurting her further.

"I know that. You wanted to give me full disclosure. Now do what you promised. You never followed through on anything you promised me, " Abbie moved from the door and sat on the edge of the bed.

"That's not true, " Gibson sat at the other end of the bed.

"It is, and you know it. Now spill."

Gibson tossed his hands up in the air. He had enough of her baggage. He was going to give he exactly what she wanted full disclosure right between the eyes. "Alright, you want to know the gory details of my trysts. You better sit back, sweetheart, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

"Now, that's better. Your true colors are coming out, " Abbie snickered.

"What are those?"

"The color scheme of 'le douche bag, '" Abbie sneered as she rose from the bed. Gibson rushed right over and pushed her back down to the bed.

"Screw you."

"I think you already had enough of that earlier. You don't need that from me. At the rate you're going, honey, you going to need a gigantic prescription of Viagra to keep up with your 'girls, '"

Abbie countered in her new favorite sport of making him suffer.

In the rules of relationship disengagement, Gibson decided to volley back all of his extracurricular sex activities. At an alarming rate, Abbie's confidence dwindled. She was beginning to allow her heartbreak set in.

"She is not the first woman I have slept with on the side. That has been many."

"How many?"

"Abbie, do you really want to know any more details? I have given you enough."

"Just tell me how many women you slept with. Get it over with, " Abbie said with a tone of sadness and bitterness.

"75."

Her heart flew rapidly out of her chest. The ground beneath her feet was no longer there. It vanished rapidly before her eyes as she listened to the supposed "love" of her life as he detailed how he cheated on Abbie. Not once, but on a daily basis. Whenever he got the sexual itch, he scratched it instead of ignoring it.

Abbie coughed at the shock of the number of women Gibson slept with, "You cheated on me with seventy five women? Sweet Jesus. You are a walking STD waiting to happen, man."

"I'm sorry, Abbie, I did not mean to hurt you like this intentionally. Once it happened I could not control myself. I had every intention of being the man of your dreams, but instead I--" Gibson trailed off as Abbie proceeded to sit on his lap and slap him hard across his left cheek.

"Don't finish what you're about to say, Gibson. If you do, it will be your last false declaration. There is nothing you can do to fix what you have done. You have literally destroyed all of the faith I had in you. I thought--" Abbie paused when Gibson put his hand on her right shoulder. She quickly brushed it off like it was a flesh eating virus if it stayed on her shoulder a second longer than it did.

"I'm sorry, babe, I did not mean--" Gibson still felt the sting of Abbie's slap on his cheek. It burned as he tried to do the right thing for once in his life, instead of pretending to be like he did for the past year. That's he learned to reel women into his life, and his bed. He realized Abbie was no longer going to be part of either. He had to accept the fact that he messed up the best relationship he ever had for a fling that was going to cost him everything: love and his freedom. He decided to let Abbie have the opportunity for closure before marrying Gracie.

"What is her name?" Abbie asked full of venom and sheer malice. She hated her soon-to-be ex boyfriend with every fiber in her being.

"Why is that important?"

"I want to know who the lucky lady is that stole you away from me. Who is it? That's the least you could do for me."

"Gracie. She's a pediatric nurse."

"Tell Gracie she can keep you now. I don't want anything to do with you, " Abbie disdainfully told him. She turned to leave his on-call room when she heard him call her name.

"What is it, Gibson? I think I have basically said everything I needed to say to you. You abandoned me when I needed you the most. Actually, come to think of it, you have been there for me for over a year now. I just did not see it. What could possibly say to me now?" Abbie inquired with tears dripping down her eyes.

"Gracie's pregnant."

Abbie picked up his favorite mug off of his desk, the gray one with the rooster crowing on it, and threw it against the mahogany door. Abbie began to laugh hysterically as a way to divert from the fact that his statement really twisted the knife deeper into her back.

"Congratulations, I hope Gracie and you live happily ever after with your white picket fence fantasy. Hopefully, she won't have to go through the same stuff I did with you, " Abbie kissed him on his right cheek as she walked out the door, and on Gibson forever.

Chapter 4: Another Broken Puzzle Piece

"Oh my god!" Abbie screamed as she slammed the door to her condo in Queens. She was glad she never moved into Manhattan. She would never be able to scream at the top of her lungs without making someone want to call the cops, or murder her.

"I can not believe this is happening to me! I lost my job and my boyfriend. This is not right, " Abbie started picking all of Gibson's belongings from his favorite shirts, stuffed animals he gave her, and anything else he touched. She gathered them in a box and grabbed a sledgehammer from the nearby toolbox. When she was done, she made sure everything was torn or broken. For an extra dose of revenge, Abbie had the package mailed to Gibson COD. Making him pay for his junk was petty, but felt really good at this moment.

Once that was done, Abbie opened up a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and started drinking right from the bottle. Since she had a lousy day, she had every right to get really drunk. After downing close to half of the bottle, Abbie got really woozy and passed out on the kitchen floor. When she woke up the next day, her face was covered in her vomit and her head was literally encased in cement.

"Oh, this is great. The hits just keep coming, " Abbie moaned as she made her way to the bathroom like a toddler learning to walk for the first time. For every baby step, there was two steps backwards, or sideways into the walls. By the time she made it, Abbie felt as if she stepped into every sub-par Lifetime movie about battered women with addiction problems.

"I'm such a loser. No wonder I'm the town pariah. My ex cannot stomach me anymore, and neither anyone in my former profession as of yesterday, " Abbie winced as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had some dust and moldy bread also stuck in her hair. A wave of nausea suddenly hit her. "Why did I sleep on the floor? When was the last time I cleaned my apartment ever? Gross."

After a really long arctic cold shower, Abbie picked up the phone and dialed the number of Haylee Westford, her best friend since high school. She was a lawyer on Wall Street with a hectic schedule, but she would have made time for Abbie.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for the past year. Abbie and Haylee started to grow estranged. Abbie had too many problems at work and Haylee got busier. She embraced her new circle of friends and began to weed Abbie out of her life in not so subtle ways. The meager times they saw each other Haylee treated Abbie terribly by either yelling at her, blowing off their plans, or insulting her choices. Her latest crusade was against Gibson.

Haylee actually never approved of him. She always sensed something was off with him. In her exact words, Gibson was in Haylee's mind " trouble with a capital t. He's the kind of man you would take home to Mom and he'd bed her in a flash. He's a tried and true player. Pretty soon, he's going to be tickling your ivories in a way you won't enjoy."

That's Haylee for you. She always had a gift for words and making her cynicism sound extra colorful, instead of mean. Sometimes, her cynical habits had hurt Abbie's feelings, but she never knew it was intentional or not. As their problems, the insults became more apparent and worsened. One time when they went shopping for dresses for a wedding, Haylee basically disapproved everything Abbie tried on and ignored the ones she did like. Abbie tried to let it slide, and even allowed Haylee to push her into buying a dress that looked like a glorified Hefty bag.

As Haylee's offenses grew, Abbie continued to ignore the fact she did not want to be seen in public with her. Take for instance, the time Haylee said Abbie was too fat to wear a designer dress she wanted to buy for months so that she could get it instead. What a conniving puppet master. This side of Haylee was what Abbie hated the most.

In recent months, Haylee and Abbie had a difference in opinion about everything from clothes, occupation choices, and Gibson. Haylee thought he was a lowlife, but flirted with him every chance she got. The last time this happened was a month ago at a friend's party. Gibson was off in a corner by himself, because he was too tired to be social. Guess who decided to be his lawn chair companion: Haylee. She walked over to them when she noticed Haylee inappropriately groping Gibson and made no effort to stop her.

"What's Abbie got that I don't?" Haylee breathlessly murmured like a Marilyn Monroe clone as she proceeded to sit on his lap and started to hump his legs like an overeager puppy. They had no idea she was coming.

"Well, for one thing, I have got the decency not to dry hump your best friend's boyfriend at a party in a lawn chair. That's disgusting, Haylee, " Abbie grabbed her by the hair and pulled her off Gibson's lap. Haylee yelped in pain as Abbie continued to berate her. "You made such an effort for me to dump Gibson. Why? So, you could have him?"

"What's so bad with me having a little fun? Is that too much to ask?" Haylee tossed her hair back into Abbie's face and laughed at her anger.

"When it's with my man? Seriously? How long has it been since you've done something honorable?"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Haylee sneered as she tried to flirt with Gibson through eye contact, which Abbie put the kibosh to by stepping in front of her.

"Since you started on Wall Street, you became a different person, Haylee, " Abbie pulled Haylee into a hug in an effort to keep the peace. "The girl I knew would have done what you did."

Haylee pulled away, "How do you know, Abbie? Maybe, I'm this girl, or should I say 'woman' since we are no longer kids, and you were too blind to see it. That's been known to happen. You are so self absorbed and everything has to be about you. Maybe, it's time we started living our own lives."

"Fine by me, " Abbie grabbed Haylee by the arm and whispered in her ear. "Just stay away from Gibson, or this little tiff will be the least of your problems."

"Whatever, " Haylee walked away and completely ignored her ever since.

Today was no different.

Abbie called and left Haylee repeated messages, which she never returned. Sadly, Abbie had copious amounts of free time now and made way of her leaving more messages. She tried this for over a week and had gotten no response. Abbie decided it was time to confront Haylee face to face at work where she had no place to hide.

Abbie walked into Haylee's corner office in jeans and the rattiest pair of white Keds she had to tick her off. She blew her off, and it was her turn to fire back. It was childish, but Abbie knew how to play dirty since they knew each other for half their adult lives.

When Haylee got off the phone, she turned to Abbie and rolled her eyes. "I cannot believe you're here. Can't you see I'm working?"

Haylee rose from her desk and pushed back her chin length chestnut mane behind her ears, which she only did when she was nervous. Like when she stole money from her mother's purse and got caught. She was a terrible liar when it came to Abbie, but she knew every one of her tells better than a polygraph. When her grey eyes circled the room or the floor, she was lying through her teeth and did not care.

"Abbie, for the second time, what do you want?" Haylee demanded as she grabbed a lint brush and began rolling it off her silver pants, which could be also considered as another diversionary tactic.

"Well, Ms. I'm-too-busy-to-talk-to-your-best-friend, I wanted to talk to you, and see why you never called me back?" Abbie paced around the room to make her even more anxious. "I hope it's a very good one. I needed my best friend and you were nowhere to be found. I lost Gibson and my job."

"So?" Haylee asked as she began to text message someone on her new I-phone. Abbie grabbed the phone from her hands and smashed it against the wall. "What was that for?"

"Did you hear a word I just said?" Abbie screamed

"Yes, and I just don't care anymore. I've got my own life, and no time to play nursemaid to your wounded heart and ego. This was your own fault for both accounts. Not my problem, " Haylee started to walk back to her desk and picked up a file heavier than a Webster's dictionary. She stood by her book shelves as she waited for Abbie to respond.

"Wow, I never thought you were this selfish, Haylee, but I guess I just focused on your better qualities. Instead of the ones that made you such a losuy friend, " Abbie said with a tone of bitterness and cyanide flavored almonds.

"Right back at you, babe, " Haylee responded with added fire. "Now, that I'm glad we had this little heart-to-heart, but I have to get back to some real problems."

"You're right. We are too broken to be fixed. Let's raise the white flags and decide never to talk to each other again, " Abbie said she walked over to Haylee and shook her hand. "You just need to do me one small favor."

Haylee sighed irritably as Abbie pulled her closer again, "Okay, let's get it over with."

"Did you ever sleep with Gibson?'

"Well, who hadn't. He has pretty much slept with everyone in a skirt and pant suit. I just figured I'd---"

"enjoy the carnival ride at my expense. Real classy. I hope that you one day regret everything you've done, but when that day comes I won't be there to help you anymore, " Abbie rushed over to the door and slammed it on her best friend forever.

Abbie was sick to her stomach. She lost another important thing in her life. She had no idea what to do. Her parents were traveling through Europe on a second honeymoon and her sister, Rosie, would have tormented her about it all. That was why she avoided her calls since the press conference. She did not want to hear her older sister gloat.

Abbie wanted to escape from her problems, but she did not want to go home to do it. If she went home, she would be forced to think about them. Thinking was the last thing she wanted to do.

She needed a coarse of action, or inaction in her case. She was going to plan her day without a day planner, or rules. Now, she just needed a suggestion to begin her challenge.

Chapter 5: When One Door Closes...

After a good five months of virtual seclusion, Abbie decided to focus on obtaining a career in another field. The only thing she could get was a public speaking position, which pretty much went bust when someone found out about the whole writing scam and reported it to her boss. She wanted to try to write in a field she was an expert in now: fiction. The only problem was that she could not find the words to do it. She had lost her ability to write and did not know how to get it back.

Instead of focusing on her lack of creativity, Abbie decided to take a drive and travel to Cabo, Mexico for a little vacation time away from the chaos of her old life. She packed up all of her belongings that she could fit in her car, her passport, and enough money to live high enough off the splendors of Mexican living. She needed to escape everything and just float away into the abyss of the country. What she did not expect to find was someone from her past opening a window into her future. This person was the reason Abbie needed to get up in the morning. She did not realize that until a significant amount of time passed, which made it too late for her to pull away. She would be totally invested in this person for the long haul. Who was this person? His name was Santos Barnes.

It was an old friend of hers from her reporting days, when she was reporting the news and not fudging it. He was a casual friend that she made a lot of small talk with at newspaper and other business functions Ashland made her attend. He was a publishing czar, in the nicest sense of course. He was a gentleman to her, and a beast to everyone else. He always wanted her to suck up to him so that Ashland could get more money for whatever reason. She obliged to talk to him, but the conversation was never about business. It was her own form of rebellion.

About three months ago, Santos inexplicably disappeared from public and Dating circulation. He told Abbie that it was for business, and not because he wanted to get away from her. The pain of being near her was too much for him. He was a well known ladies man, but he carried a torch for Abbie that went unrequited for so long he turned to other avenues of business to explore globally. This venture led him to Mexico and soon made him the only bright spot in Abbie's life.

They ran into each other on her third night in Cabo. The first one was spent sleeping from her car trip, and the second was hiding out on the beach getting a massive sunburn on her back. It stung like hell and she was feeling sorry for herself when she heard someone call her name. She thought that she was hallucinating. She only told her parents she was coming no one else. Abbie thought if she ignored the calls it would pass. They only got louder and she noticed a man heading in her direction.

From a distance, she could tell everything about him. He was 6'4" and muscular as anything else. Abbie always noticed a man's body before his facial features. He could have a hot body, but have a face that went through a meat grinder. This man seemed familiar to her though, like he was from another time and place. His complexion was natural tan, which made him of somewhat local lineage. His eyes were a shade of rare shade of sage showing a sense of adventurous passion she needed. As he got closer, she noticed a small scar on his right cheek. His hair was a curly mane of jet black matted down after a late day swim. Abbie soon realized who he was when he reached her.

The man kissed her on the hand and gave her a quick hug, "Abbie, darling, didn't you hear me call your name?"

"Santos! Hi!" Abbie shook his right hand quickly and awkwardly not sure how he felt about the scandal she caused his newspaper. "Sorry, I was too lost in thought to hear anything."

"Abbie, what are you doing in Cabo? I don't think Ashland would have sent you down here to cover a story, " Santos smiled as he pulled her into another friendly embrace. Something he was fond of doing with her. The smell of her perfume drove him to distraction. "Why so formal? Aren't we friends?"

"Yes, we are, Santos, but I'm not sure how upset you are with me right now, " Abbie suddenly grew lightheaded. "Since the whole scandal broke out."

"What are you talking about?"

"You don't know? It was all over the papers and the news. I even did a press conference and everything, " Abbie starred at Santos dumbfounded that she had to break the news to someone else. "Haven't you read the paper, or anything?"

"No, I try to avoid everything while I'm down here. I focus on only the particular business of the moment and ignore everything else." Santos opened up his cell phone. "Speaking of business. I got to take this call. I want to talk more about this over dinner and get to know each other more now that you're in my homeland. I'll call you with the when and the where"

"Okay, how will you know which room I'm in?"

"I have my ways, " Santos left with the phone pressed to his ear in deep conversation.

After spending hours stressing over seeing Santos, he picked her up at seven sharp and took her to a romantic beach scene restaurant. They spent a good ten minutes in idle chit chat mode before Santos replayed this afternoon. He asked her what happened that got her "so worked up."

"I quit the paper, because everyone found out I faked my stories for the better part of a year."

"Oh my god, Abbie, what happened?"

"What didn't happen? Everything fell apart: my writing, my relationships with my ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend. I did not notice the writing was on the wall until it was too late, " Abbie basically confessed to Santos like he was a priest and his kindness was going to cure her wounds. Although, it felt good to get everything out in the open.

"I'm sorry that this happened to you. Forgive me for saying this, but maybe this is a blessing in disguise, " Santos sympathetically told her as he ordered his meal.

"How so?" Abbie replied after she ordered a light meal and another drink.

"Most people rarely get a chance to start over, and when they do they usually screw it up."

Abbie spit some of the remainder of her water out of her nose, "Why, Santos Barnes, this is the first time I ever heard you utter a remotely bad word?"

"Believe me, I have said worse things than that. I have said things that would make many people's hair stand on end, and it won't be my last time I do so either. If my mother were here, she'd kill me, " He smiled profusely and started to blush thinking about the beating his mother would give him.

"Tell me more about your mother. She sounds like an interesting woman."

Santos relaxed even more he started to talk about his family with someone who was generally interested in getting to know him. He told Abbie about how his mother, Lupe, immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. before Santos was a figment of her imagination. She met Nicholas Barnes, Santos' father, when she worked for him as his secretary. It was the oldest clich in the book. They worked long hours together and pretty soon those hours transformed into family game nights in ultra rich suburbia. Santos always told her that he had the happiest of childhoods, because his parents were always supportive of him. Despite the faade of being chauffeured around in limos and traveling to exotic lands, Santos' parents made him "work like a beauty pageant contestant to get to the top of the publishing food chain."

Abbie laughed when he said that during their first real conversation, "I find that hard to believe."

"What? That my parents made me work for my money?" Santos pondered the nature of Abbie's sense of humor, but was so fascinated with her beauty and brains to not care too much.

"I assumed that with your huge financial future that your parents would make sure that you're smarter than the "Silicone Valley Population." That would be a shame for them to have wasted their hard earned cash for you to be as dumb as a post and not know where the U.S. is on a map, " Abbie gently brushed his arm and was surprised that he thought her veiled attempt at an insult/come on was amusing. Santos could not stop smiling at Abbie. He had not been this happy with a woman in a long time. She brought something out of him that was totally indescribable.

"Aren't you going to let me in on the secret?"

"What's that?"

"Why are you smiling?"

"Huh?" Santos asked with a mild sense of confusion.

"After all the years I've known you, I never saw you smile this much. Most of the time I thought you were a cold hearted jerk. Pardon me for being so blunt, but since I'm no longer employed, or employable for that matter, I gave me up the need to kiss anyone's butt, " Abbie took a swig of her Blue Hawaiian Martini, a new favorite drink of hers.

"I'm glad that we are being so, as you so delicately put it, blunt with each other. You never kissed up to me, which was why I talked to you first at parties. You were the only person who did not have an ulterior motive, " Santos requested another refill of his Scotch on the rocks, which he only drank when he was nervous. He was petrified to be this close and not make love to her right there in the restaurant. He made a vow to himself that very night he was going to treat her different than his past liaisons by not sleeping with her until they were both ready to be committed to only each other.

"Right back at you, Santos, you made me feel like an equal and not the hired help. I appreciated that more than you'll ever know, " Abbie raised her glass to Santos. "I say we propose a toast."

"To what?" Santos chuckled lightly

"To new beginnings and..." Abbie trailed off trying to find the proper way to phrase what she had to say.

"Developing a more in-depth understanding of each other no matter how surprising the results may be to each other."

Abbie clinked glasses with Santos, "That's some toast and a mouthful."

"An attribute from my father's side. He talks a good game, but my mother always found a way to shut him up, " Santos played with his empty glass briefly as the butterflies in his stomach continued to flutter.

"Tell me more. I may need to get pointers one day, " Abbie said coyly as she eyed the dance floor.

"She made simple gestures like you just did and my father almost always obeyed, " Santos rose from his chair and gently grabbed Abbie's right arm. "Shall we dance, Abbie?"

"I'd love to, " Abbie rose to join him on the floor as they danced the tango and felt the heat move between them on the floor. They both noticed an attraction growing between them and were afraid to explore it. His hand remained in one spot and her body responded to it just as much.

When the dance was over, both of them were pretty shaken up by it. Abbie looked at Santos and knew she wanted to take a risk.

"Santos, " she said breathlessly as she felt sweat fall down the back of her neck.

"Yes, Abbie, " he responded wanting to make love to her on the dance floor.

"What just happened on the dance floor?"

"As the old saying goes, 'sparks flew.' Boy, did they ever?" Santos like the idea of being honest with her. Not sure how honest, so he let her guide the conversation.

"I agree. It was nice to be surprised like this."

"What's the verdict?"

"I would like to try this again. I really enjoyed myself. I've not had this much fun in a while."

"Same here. Want to make plans for tomorrow?" Santos asked hoping she said yes.

"To do what?"

"Whatever the mood strikes us, " he said with a hint of mystery in his voice.

"Ok, it's a date, " Abbie embraced Santos as she decided it was time to go back to her room. She also had the sudden urge to begin writing her attempt at the next great novel and wanted to explore this chance as well. Everything seemed to be changing for her, and she liked it very much. The future was going to be so bright that she would need industrial strength shades to survive it.

Chapter Six: The Halfway Mark

Abbie loved the idea of being with Santos. For close to a year, he became her best friend and her biggest supporter during the construction of her first novel. He gave her pertinent advice about the direction she was taking for her characters, but the only problem was that Abbie never thought it was good enough. Every time she was ready to take it to a publisher, she panicked and decided to rewrite significant passages that took her months to polish off. For every step of the way, Santos was there comforting her fears, wiping away her neurotic tears, and surprisingly still acting like a gentleman. He has not made a move to sleep with her, not even once. Well, technically, they did not begin Dating until three months ago, because Abbie was not ready. After Gibson, Abbie decided it would be best to be single for a while.

Now that enough time has passed, Abbie has been enjoying Santos' company a lot. He has been more than a friend to her. They travel all over the world for his various businesses and he has also helped edit her novel, which has taken so much shape since he came back into her life.

Abbie was lost in thought and playing with her hair by twirling a blue pen in it. Unfortunately, she twisted it too tight that it got tangled up in it. "Ow, I should not have done that."

"What happened?" Santos brought dinner to the dining room table. He set it down briefly to help Abbie with the pen. "What'd you do?"

"I got a pen stuck in my hair, " Abbie winced as she tried to pull it only to get it stuck even further.

"That'll teach you, " Santos laughed as he untwisted the pen with ease. "All done. Let's eat. I've spent hours cooking this delicious Chicken Marsala."

"Back up for a minute. What were you saying before about 'that'll teach you.' What is that supposed to mean, Mr.?" Abbie grabbed one of the dinner plates and began eating.

"What I meant was that you learned a valuable lesson about not playing with your hair at the dinning room table."

"Nice save, darling, " Abbie walked over to him and kissed him firmly on the lips. "That's why I love you."

Santos dropped his fork onto the floor when he heard what Abbie said. He did not expect to hear them for her. He always loved her, but he never thought that she loved him too.

"Please say something, Santos. I know what I said and I think it's time we laid everything out in the open, " Abbie confessed as Santos pulled his chair out for her to sit in his lap.

Santos kissed Abbie on her cheek and whispered in her ear, "You're not playing with me, are you?"

"No, I meant it. I just wished I said it better than that."

"You did fine, Abbie. I could not have done it better myself."

Abbie tapped him on the arm "Liar. You would have done it with a truck load of roses and an island getaway. Me. I'm just a cheap romantic."

"And I could not love you any differently, " Santos kissed her hard on the mouth to stop her from belittling herself to declare his feelings as decisively as possible. "Abella, I love you too."

"Good, now let's eat, " Abbie got up from his lap and went back to her seat. "Since, you spent hours and hours making this."

"Stop patronizing me, " Santos picked up his fork and started eating. He wondered what direction their relationship would head.

"Only up, " He thought as he watched Abbie devour the chicken and his heart.

Chapter Seven: Conclusive Engagement

Santos wanted tonight to go perfectly. For weeks, he had been planning how he was going to propose to Abbie. Actually, he has been planning since they began dating fourteen months ago. The details were set. They flew to Cabo on his private jet. He figured it was fitting since Cabo was the place that started their relationship in the first place.

The night got off to a rocky start due to Santos' nerves and his lack of conversation. He soon recovered and the night improved significantly. Now, it was time to make his move.

"Abbie, I wanted to talk to you about our relationship, " Santos played around with his bread knife nervously.

"It's alright, Santos. You don't need to be nervous about anything. You know how much I love you and what you say or do is not going to change that so relax, " Abbie took a sip from her water glass.

"Thank you, honey. You always have a way of making me feel better. So, in that vein, I'll continue with what I'm going to tell you."

"Okay."

"I love you, Abbie. I always have. Ever since the first moment you entered my office. Okay, more like when you stormed into it, " Santos chuckled lightly as he remembered Abbie as an overeager reporter trying to make sure a story she wrote was not altered to please advertisers. Even then, she was a force to be reckoned with.

"Hey, be nice, honey. At least I made an impression on you, " Abbie smiled as she starred into Santos' eyes.

"You bet you did, " Santos fumbled for a piece of bread to keep his hands busy. "Abbie, you were the gold standard for me then as you are now. No woman I have been with has ever come close to the connection I have with you. You are everything I ever wanted in a woman: a friend, a partner, and now my soul mate."

Abbie's eyes started welling up with tears, "Oh, Santos, that's so sweet. I feel the same way about you."

"You think I'm a woman?"

Abbie threw a piece of bread at him, "No, silly. I never had such a strong connection with a man like I do with you. We are so in sync that it's kind of spooky sometimes, but I like it and want to keep it that way."

"I do too. That's what I wanted to talk to you about, darling."

"Oh God, should I brace myself?"

"No, you can relax. At least I hope so. I know how much you hate talking about commitment."

"No, I don't. I'm just hesitant to get my feet wet due to past experience, " Abbie crossed her legs under the table.

"Haven't I showed you that I'm not like Gibson?"

"In every possible way. That's one of the many reasons why I love you, " Abbie watched Santos rise from his chair and move closer to her.

"I love you too and think that it's time we take the next step---" Santos took his right hand and began to caress her cheek like he would a porcelain doll. He was afraid she would break if he touched her too hard. "When I see my future, I see you by my side and I do not want it any other way."

Abbie's tears started to rapidly drip down her cheeks as Santos got down on one knee and pulled out a blue Tiffany's ring box from his left jacket pocket. He wiped some of her tears away with his free hand and grabbed her right hand.

"Abella, my love, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?" Santos asked letting the words sink in before continuing. "Please, say yes. It would really suck being turned down like this."

As Santos began to sweat, Abbie laughed hysterically, which made him even more nervous that she was going to turn him down. She grabbed his hand and said "Relax, darling, you don't have to worry anymore. I will absolutely be honored to be your wife."

Abbie allowed Santos to slide the silver four karat ring onto her finger. She embraced him tightly and started to passionately kiss him. Abbie pulled Santos off the ground and into the chair with her. At that moment, she had to be with him. For most of their relationship, they avoided the idea of sex because it complicated everything in their previous relationships and wanted to base theirs on something more than physical needs. Abbie started to kiss him even harder when Santos all of a sudden pulled away.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Duh. Now shut up and kiss me."

"Wow, we're not even married yet and you're already bossing me around. Is this a sign of things to come?" Santos wondered as Abbie toyed with her engagement ring.

"Wait a few minutes, and then ask me again."

"Huh?"

"Just kiss me and see what toy surprise you might find, " Abbie responded as Santos pulled her into a steamy embrace before jumping into the swimming pool fully clothed. "You're crazy, Santos Barnes."

"Crazy like a Fox?"

"And I'm the soon-to-be Mrs. Fox, " Abbie jumped into the pool with her fianc and head first into wedding plans. From that moment on, Abbie learned to relinquish any past dreams she had and focused on building some new ones with Santos and for herself.

Chapter Eight: Epilogue Wrap-Up

"I love you, Mrs. Barnes, " Santos whispered in Abbie's ear as he kissed the nape of her neck waiting for the elevator on the way up to their penthouse, which was filled with 30 guests there for a surprise birthday party for Abbie.

"I love you too, Mr. Barnes, " Abbie purred slightly as she nibbled on his left ear lobe, which Santos responded to by pressing the button to stop the elevator. "What are you doing?"

"Having a moment with my extremely sexy wife, who's now a published author."

"Stop, you're making me blush, honey, " she laughed as she pulled her husband of two years into a passionate lip lock that lasted for a few minutes. She pulled away from his mouth and matched his gaze. "I owe you everything, Santos. You helped me through my darkest hour and dusted me off so that I could conquer the world."

"Honey, you are the one who rescued me, " Santos responded as he kissed her neck agai. "You got me away from the life I was leading as a bachelor. Sure, it had its perks, but even though got to be rather boring."

"Glad to hear you say that I spiced things up for you."

"You bet your tuchus you did."

"Good answer, " She answered with a sly grin. "Let's go home."

"Abbie? Is that you?"

Abbie and Santos turned around to face a blast from the past. She smiled lightly when she recognized him and how much his orange hair grayed since they broke up. Gibson was an older version of his former lecherous self, but Abbie was no longer interested in what he thought. She was happy and was going to let him know it.

"Hello, Gibson, " Abbie said curtly as she grabbed her husband's hand.

"How's things with you?" Gibson asked wondering what made Abbie smile so much.

"Good, my first novel was published recently and I'm a happily married woman, " Abbie pointed to Santos. "This is my husband Santos Barnes. Santos, this is Gibson, an old friend from my college days."

"Nice to meet you, " Santos shook his hand.

"Likewise, " Gibson responded looking only at Abbie.

"How's married life for you?" Abbie looked Gibson directly in the eye.

"Not so good. I just got divorced and see my daughter every other weekend, " Gibson said with a twinge of sadness.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Gibson, but Santos and I have to get going now. We have a busy day ahead of us in the morning, " Abbie hugged Gibson and watched him walk away.

"Wow, you handled that wonderfully, " Santos embraced his wife. "You showed him exactly what he's missing."

"A wonderful husband like you."

"You know what I mean."

"Santos, Gibson is accent history and you are my present and my future. That's the way it's going to stay."

"Good to hear, " Santos kissed her gently on the mouth. "Now, let's go home."

"Okay, let's roll, " Abbie and Santos walked towards their brownstone and the rest of their lives knowing the challenges will always be mastered as long as they walk together.

By Heather Dekin - I am a college graduate who has been writing since I was twelve. Over the years, I experimented in different areas of writing. Though each experience, I learned to decide what was right for me as a writer an...  

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