Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 49

Her foot tapped to the rhythm of the heavy bass blasting through the jukebox in the corner, with her chin resting in her hand, a smile tugged at her lips. Mouthing the words to the song, she grinned at her still chocolate covered best friend with a shrug that was anything but apologetic. Alison Barrington felt her smile widen as she shook her head, she’d honestly never felt this happy before that she could remember.

They had a plan. Not a great plan mind you, but a plan none the less. And with any luck the man she was madly in love with just might cooperate.

She just might get to live out one or two of her fantasies.

Her grin was bordering on goofy, and she knew it, but couldn’t force herself to care. Lucy was smiling as well, to her left, munching on fries and, to her credit, trying not to look too incredibly smug. Valerie was sitting with them, sipping hot chocolate and still apologizing for spilling Livvie’s milkshake down the front of her brand new, sparkling white tank top. Come to think of it, that was pretty funny too.

Alison fought the urge to giggle for no reason other than the fact that she was high on the bliss of waking up in the arms of her angel this morning and unimaginably thrilled that the whispered echoes of the feeling of his fingertips sliding across her skin still remained. A shiver ran down her spine, and one thought kept entering her mind. Life was good.

It really couldn’t get better than this.

Unless of course Rafe was here. A tiny hint of her smile faded as she glanced at the clock, then back at her friends. He was late. But with another shrug, she let it slide, he’d be here.

He’d promised to be here, and she had no doubt in her mind that that’s exactly what he’d do. He was just being… delayed. And what could possibly be delaying him caused the first minuscule drop of worry to settle into her stomach. Of course, in her gleeful state, that drop barely registered even as it fell with all the might of an anvil on those old cartoons she used to curl up as watch as a little girl.

Ah, the contradictions that came with loving the unreachable.

But he wasn’t unreachable. He was hers. He’d held her while she cried half the night, he’d dried her off in front of the blazing fire with that same tenderness of his that shook her very core. He’d taken her to bed, holding her still because she asked him to, he’d woken up with her this morning, or rather, this afternoon, and admitted that he was in no rush to leave that bed where she had curled up into him part of the night and most of the day.

And they’d made plans for tonight. She was going to stay with him again. Holding him, touching him, being near him and being able to breathe in the scent of him. Again her giddiness hit her full force, as she pulled his jacket back on absently. The sleeves hung way past her fingertips, but she pulled them up enough to hold the cuffs in her half fisted hands. Cupping her chin again, she hid her grin behind the brown leather and inhaled the wonderful scent of him. She still wondered if maybe someone else couldn’t smell him on her as well, if someone didn’t just assume that it was because she was his.

She really, really wanted to be his. She wanted to be his everything. His love, his wife, the mother of his children… And knowing she couldn’t be all those things sent a shard of glass into her heart. But if nothing else, then she was his love, and she knew that. And the thought let her giggles slip past her guard as the pain slid away once more to the back of her head to be dealt with at a later time. The sound earned her the curious looks of her companions, but they seemed to see the way her eyes sparkled and know.

Shifting in her chair to get more comfortable, she stole another fry off of Livvie’s plate and tried to gain something that at least resembled composure. “Just one thing, Lucy? What in the world am I going to wear?” she asked, half surprising all of them.

Lucy smiled, and Alison would have almost sworn a flash of wickedness when through her eyes. “Don’t worry, Alison. I’ll take care of it. I know just the thing, I’ll send Don tomorrow to buy it, then take it to you. It’ll be perfect! It will knock his socks off.”

“Well,” she couldn’t help but giggle. “That is the point…”

“Just his socks, though?” Val asked, covering her mouth in an effort to hide her amusement at the face made by the normally seemingly innocent blonde. It was possessive, hungry and downright sinister.

“He will be mine,” she grinned. “Oh, yes, he will be mine…”

“I think he already is,” Livvie laughed. “I think he has been since the day you were born. It’s just that neither of you knew it until Lucy, Val and I stepped in and learned ya.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Alison conceded, with a shrug. “Maybe destiny is just funny that way.”

Lucy bumped elbows with her playfully. “Destiny is funny in a lot of ways.”

A sudden spark of guilt went off inside of her, but was pushed aside quickly. “Lucy, he’s not going to stay… No matter what I do, he’s still going to leave on Christmas Eve.”

“Is that what you meant by unavailable?” Val asked somewhat absently, shooting a look over her shoulder to a whining patron at the table behind them.

Alison just nodded, in reply to the question, and tried not to notice Lucy literally biting her tongue because it might chip away at the big block of happiness that refused to let the smile slide from her face. “Hey, when do I work again?”

“I took the liberty of taking you off the schedule,” Livvie answered, a half apologetic smile on her face. “I thought you should get to spend all the time you can with Rafe.”

Her eyes wandered around the busy restaurant, and her brows furrowed as a miniature war battled inside of her. It really wasn’t fair to leave them in a lurch, but then, Livvie did have a point, she wanted to soak up all the time possible before he left.

“I need the money anyway, Alison,” Val answered before she could think much more about it. “So I’m covering a few shifts, and Livvie is taking a few so you’re covered. Don’t worry about it at all. Everyone completely understands, even Jamal!”

“You know,” Livvie jumped in quickly. “I didn’t realize just how much work the house Jack and I bought needed. But it brought us together… It’s just going to cost some big bucks to fix, so a little extra cash would be great for us.”

Alison nodded, still unsure about whether it was right, but taking them up on it before they could change their minds. “Alright… But I promise I’ll pick back up… If you need me, you’ll call me right? I mean, I know this is like one of the busiest times of the year.”

“We won’t need you,” Val answered with a grin. Livvie nodded in agreement.

So Alison shrugged. Another shot of happiness forcing her into silence against the barely whispered, very weak arguments inside her head. She got even more time with Rafe. This was too good to be true. “Oh,” she said, suddenly remembering something. “You can stay back at the apartment, it’ll be all yours for a while if I have anything to say about it.”

Laughter rang around the table, bringing the four of them closer together. And Alison found herself not nearly as shocked as she would have thought to be ready to label Valerie as a friend. And Lucy… Her smile dropped just a bit as she thought of how she should be able to eventually label her as family.

But before the thought could completely process and bring her good mood crashing down around her like last night’s storm, she felt the tiniest flicker of something in her stomach. Her eyes went to the door, knowing he was there before she spotted him, and once again giddy just because of that knowledge. She knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that her already wide grin grew into something that would lead most people to believe she was drunk. And she was drunk, drunk on happiness like never before.

Giggling quietly, she knew without looking that the other three sets of eyes flew to Rafe as well, but it struck her, just how his grin seemed to falter just slightly. He was still smiling, still thrilled to see her, and she could see that as plainly as the large chocolate stain on her best friend’s white shirt. But there was something in his eyes, that made it seem like he’d just been kicked in the stomach and was trying to catch is breath again.

Her chair clattered to the floor as she stood just a little too quickly, but she paid it no mind. Her entire being was focused on one thing and one thing only. The man she loved with all her soul, and holding him until whatever little pain was hurting him went away.

He met her in the middle of the room, bending just slightly as she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly. Her boots added a few extra inches to her height, but still he towered above her, and with his arms snugly around her waist, he straightened and literally swept her off her feet.

She could feel his smile grow against her cheek, and that caused hers to do the same. Pressing her lips on his right dimple, Alison couldn’t hold back from giggling again. “Hello, Rafe Kovich. Long time no see.”

“Hello, Alison Barrington,” he replied, still grinning as he sat her gently back on the ground and dropped a kiss onto her forehead. “And yes, it has been far, far too long.”

And all at once, she couldn’t help it, she just slid her hands up into his hair, stood on her tiptoes, and brought his mouth crashing down to hers. His hands found their way under his jacket that looked so much better on her, to wrap around her waist more snuggly, to pull her to him just a little more. To pull her closer, but still not close enough.

A passing comment from Chris Ramsey was what broke them apart. “Get a room,” he’d muttered while walking by, reminding them that they were indeed surrounded by people.

It was just so easy to forget that sometimes, Alison thought, adding to her out of control grin. Looking up at her angel, she saw the look reflected in his eyes, on his lips, but still a touch of sadness remained, and she was becoming more and more anxious by the second.

“Rafe?” she asked, her dread evident in her voice.

“It’s nothing,” he replied with a more confident smile, dropping another kiss onto her slightly swollen lips. “Don’t worry about it.”

“But…” A panic hit her with all the force of a sledgehammer. “You don’t have to…”

“No, no, no. Not yet anyway.”


Lucy stepped up to them and cleared her throat, alerting them to her presence. “You know, you two are talking in code already. That’s gotta mean something.”

A blush crept up into Alison’s cheeks, but Rafe simply chuckled. “It means a lot of things, Cuz. But none of them we’re gonna share with you.”

Pouting playfully, Lucy tried to hide her smirk. “Fine then, just be that way. I’m on my way out. I’m going to stop by Scott’s and see Serena before I head home. So… I guess I’ll see you both there later on.”

He rolled his eyes, but still smiled, and tightened the arm that had somehow found it’s way around Alison’s waist. “Yeah, yeah, we’ll see you later.”

“Ta!” Lucy shouted, rushing off before they could reply.

“Suspicious,” Rafe mumbled, a twinkle of laughter settling in his eyes. “Sorry I’m late.”

“It’s alright.”

“You’re order is almost ready,” Val told them as she rushed to fill the coffee cup of the grumbling man from before. “Thanks again for letting me stay in the apartment. I’ll see you later too, I guess? Have fun tomorrow!”

Alison shook her head, suddenly agreeing with Rafe that they were acting suspicious. Darn it. “Ok, let’s grab our order and run.”

Rafe chuckled, pulling his arm from around her to rest his hand on the small of her back, he guided her over to the table she’d been sitting at before and pulled out her chair for her. “Hello, Livvie,” he grinned, before pushing Alison’s chair in and taking the place Lucy had occupied only moments ago. “How are you doing?”

“I… I’m good.”

“Glad to hear it.”

Alison laced her fingers with his under the table, unable to maintain their lack of contact when he was so close to her. The fingertips of her other hand happily drummed the rhythm of the song before on the table top.

Rafe and Livvie exchanged idle chitchat, just everyday small talk that Alison felt no need to listen to. So she watched him instead. The way he paid complete attention to what anyone was saying, the smile on his face, the laughter in his eyes… All of it caught her attention and clung, and she found herself hoping it would remain to cling. Because the memory of him was soon to be all she had, and she didn’t want to have to lose that too.

“So, what’s tomorrow?” Rafe asked, breaking her from her thoughts of how surprisingly soft his hair was. He half smirked at her as she blinked herself back into reality and the conversation. It seemed both he had Livvie knew she’d been a million miles away for a while now, and he looked fairly prepared to tease her for it.

But she really didn’t mind that at all. “We’re having dinner at the Grille with Lucy, Kevin, Livvie and Jack tomorrow night,” Alison replied a minute or so later.

Rafe made a face that caused her to giggle as he asked dreadfully, “Do I have to wear a tie?”

“No,” Alison laughed, leaning over to kiss him. “But you do have to wear a tux for Lucy’s Christmas party.”

He sighed, both from relief and unhappiness. “The things I do for my family…” He brought his smiling lips back down to hers, mentally cursing his inability to keep any sort of a distance from her, especially when they were already so close.

Livvie cleared her throat, causing the love birds to break away from each other unhappily. “Bob just said your order is up. Why don’t you two go get your food them head home so maybe you can cut back on the PDA’s.”

Laughing guiltily, Alison stood when Rafe tugged on her hand, refusing to release their hold on each other. “Thanks. I’ll talk to you later?”

Standing as well, her best friend nodded. “Yeah, tomorrow.”

Giving Livvie a hug, she turned to walk to the counter with her angel. “Hey, remember to call me if you need me, alright?”

“We won’t need you,” Val answered for the other girl, handing them their bag. “Wait just a second and I’ll get you some hot chocolate to go.”

“Ok, thanks again!” Alison called as her onetime rival rushed to the back without waiting for a reply. Looking to her side, she grinned again as she noticed Chris Ramsey slouched over on his barstool. “Hello, Chris. How are you?”

“Horrible,” he sighed. Cringing as he found himself replying honestly. “I kissed your grandmother a few days ago and she fired me.”

“You… kissed my grandmother? Amanda Barrington?” Disbelief was etched into her face as she fought to control her laughter. “You seriously kissed my grandmother?”

“Yes,” Chris groaned, burying his head in his hands. “And then the old bag fired me!”

Rafe chuckled as Alison finally let her laughter win. Both earning glares from the man now holding a martini glass. “Sorry to hear that,” the angel replied, trying to put a cap on his humor at the situation. “Maybe if you just give her time to… cool off it’ll be better.”

“Right,” Alison said, nodding as she too tried to control her giggles. “And, you know, if not then I’ll talk to her after Christmas for you.”


“Because I’m in such a good mood a feel like sharing my joy!”

Groaning once more, Chris drowned the last of his martini before replying. “You know, you’re so chipper it’s difficult to be depressed. Get your hot chocolate and go home and be happy someplace else! I want to sulk.”

Grabbing their cups as Valerie handed them, Rafe and Alison both nodded a thanks, then said their goodbyes. Quickly, they left, getting out into the cold air just as their laughter once again took over.

A fleeting thought went through Alison’s mind as she held her aching sides and glanced over at the man she was madly in love with. She never wanted the high of their joy to end.

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