Sharing You - 1
For R & S, you know who you are.
Your story is beautiful, and your love is something of dreams. I’m so happy y’all are finally able to live out the Happy Ever After you deserve.
For the Readers
THIS IS OUR story. It’s one many won’t understand or accept, and some may even be offended by it . . . but this is the reality of our fight for each other and our struggle to be together.
In a perfect world, you have a soul mate, you’ll search until you finally find each other, and you’ll begin this perfect journey you’ve been planning out for years. As for us . . . well, there was nothing perfect about the way we had to do things.
Our connection was instant, and there was no doubting the pull we had for each other. But with everything in our lives forcing us to stay apart, our relationship was full of secrets, pain, guilt, sorrow, and the most beautiful love either of us has ever known.
And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
September 2, 2014
THE SOUND OF three familiar, masculine laughs stopped my retreat to my room, and I quietly tiptoed back toward the study. What are Charles and his dad doing here? I peeked through the door they had left cracked and was thankful for the darkened hallway. I knew from experience they wouldn’t see me unless they were actively searching, and since all of them were huddled around a far table with drinks in their hands, I figured I was fine.
I pulled my cell out of my pocket and glanced at the time before dimming the screen again. Charles wasn’t supposed to pick me up for another four hours, and we’d just had brunch with his family. Couldn’t he go away for a while?
Charles. Good God, what had he even changed into? He had brown loafers—no socks—khaki shorts, and a dark pink polo on. And yeah, the collar was popped. His dark blond hair had that “I just got out of bed” look, but I’d had the unfortunate pleasure of watching him spend twenty-five minutes to make it look that way that morning, so it had lost its appeal.
I’d been dating Charles York since our junior year of high school, and it was safe to say that over the last six years . . . I’d really come to loathe him. His clothes, his too-perfect bleached smile, his fake tan, his laugh that had to be louder than everyone else’s in the room, the fact that he was the third Charles York, his signature silver BMW he upgraded for the newer version every two years like it was a cell phone or something. And this was probably the worst part of all—he was so close with my dad that he was having drinks with him on his own time.
I’m sure most girls dreamed of a man their parents would absolutely adore, but my parents hadn’t exactly given me a choice when it came to Charles. I had to date him. It was a match made in “Kentucky Derby Heaven,” as my mother liked to say. And no, I’m not joking. Both our families were from the Brighton Country Club neighborhood in Lexington, and every year for the last fifteen years either Charles’s family or my family has had a horse win the Kentucky Derby. Our parents were always talking about combining our stables, and I was beginning to think I’d already been sold off to the York family to make this happen.
Why not just break up with him and tell my parents to shove it? Uh, yeah . . . not so easy in my family. I was a Cunningham; in the racing world, we were pretty much royalty. My parents were Bruce and Charlotte, and as the only daughter of the perfect power couple, I was expected to be perfect as well. Perfect hair, perfect clothes, and a perfectly planned life. That perfectly planned life included marrying Charles someday. And breaking up with Charles didn’t just mean ruining the plans both our families had for us; it would be devastating to the racing world. Mom’s words, not mine—she’s a little dramatic.
It hadn’t always been awful with him. We’d grown up together, I’d crushed on him for as long as I could remember before we actually started dating, and we’d been friends our entire lives. When I say entire, I mean I’m praying I burned all the evidence of our moms bathing us together when we were babies. Charles had always been funny, incredibly smart, and attractive—probably too attractive for his own good, because, unfortunately, he knew how good he looked. It wasn’t until after we began dating that he started turning into the guy I couldn’t stand to be around . . . or maybe it was just that I began realizing how much I hated the world I’d grown up in. That world was full of people with too much money, a place where unfaithful and backstabbing relationships were the norm, where you couldn’t have a conversation unless you were gossiping or slandering someone, and where friends and enemies were one and the same. Yeah . . . now that I think back on it, Charles hadn’t changed at all when we started dating, it was just that it also happened about the same time I decided I needed to get away from Kentucky . . . away from everything I’d ever known.
I started pulling away from him as much as my parents would allow when he went away to college and thankfully I only had to see him about two days out of the month, unless he was on break. Once he graduated and came back home, I’d just had to stomach it. Because doing anything that wasn’t on my parents’ planned-out path wasn’t an option. I’d found that out the hard way one night when my mom overheard me mentioning my desire for a life without Charles . . . I can’t imagine how she would have reacted if she’d known I’d planned to take a very different path from the one she’d made for me.
The only thing I’d ever done for myself was go to culinary and then pastry school, and that had been a huge to-do in our house. The only people who had supported me were our maid, Barbara, and, surprisingly, Charles. I’d been so taken aback and grateful—Charles’s support had gotten my parents to finally agree to it—that it’d been the only time since we started dating that I’d ever called him by his preferred name, Chad. He hated the name Charles, and I think that is why I refused to call him anything else.
Charles said my name, and I leaned closer to the door in time to catch whatever his dad had begun saying.
“You’re sure she’ll say yes? I don’t know what’s going on with that girl of yours, Bruce, but she’s seemed rather . . . hesitant lately.”
Say yes to what?
“I’m sure of it, she knows her place. She knows how important this merger is.”
“I don’t know . . .” Chuck, Charles’s father, began.
“Dad, stop. She’ll marry me. Like Bruce said, she knows her place, and thank God for that. The sooner she gets off this pipe dream of owning a bakery the better.”
Dad’s eyebrows shot up. “That’s surprising, seeing as you’re the only one who encouraged Kamryn to go to those food schools.”
Charles laughed and took a sip of his drink. “No offense to your home and wife, Bruce, but I want a wife who knows her place in my home as well as by my side.”
Chuck and Dad both snickered. I continued to stand there with my jaw on the floor.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Charles went on. “Charlotte’s great for business and public outings, but that woman couldn’t cook if her life depended on—”
Dad cut him off. “Which, of course, means Kamryn couldn’t cook before she went to those schools.”
Charles clucked his tongue and pointed his hand—the one holding his scotch glass—at Dad. “Precisely.”
“Smart kid you’ve got there, Chuck.” Dad laughed into his glass before taking another sip. “Damn smart kid.”
“So you aren’t letting her open up the bakery? Your mother and I have been worried about your judgment in letting her do this.”
“Hell no.” Charles laughed, shooting his dad a look like he was crazy. “There’s a reason I haven’t let her open one yet—I’m just trying to keep her happy until we’re married.”
“And you’ll be proposing tonight?”
My eyes about popped out of my head at my dad’s question.
“Yup, gonna push for that whole ‘we’ve been together forever, there’s no point in having a long engagement’ thing. My guess, end of the year, we’ll be married and we can stop dicking around with this merger.”
“Sounds good,” Dad said, and the men stood up to shake hands across the table.
I made sure to keep quiet as I quickly backed away from the door and took off for my room. Get married to him? Oh, hell no. I might have stayed with him to keep Mom and Dad happy and off my back for the last six years, but no way in hell was I going into a lifelong commitment with him. And I couldn’t believe he would encourage me to go to the cooking schools just so he’d have a wife from the fucking fifties!
“Cook for you?” I hissed as I shut my bedroom door and hurried to the closet. “I’ll cook for you.” Grabbing a small suitcase, I threw it onto the bed and opened it up. “With rat poison.”
I buzzed Barbara before grabbing only a few of my favorite clothes and shoes and tossing everything in there. I was throwing the necessities from my bathroom in a small bag when I heard Barb’s voice in my room.
“What can I do for ya, baby girl . . . Kam, honey?”
“Barb!” I apparently still hadn’t graduated from hissing. “He’s proposing!”
Her eyes were wide as she looked at the too-full suitcase. “I thought we were already expecting that?”