All I Ever Need Is You(Sullivans,book 14)(51) by Bella Andre
“If I recall correctly, you weren’t sure the two of you were even friends yet.”
“We are now.” Adam struggled for a moment with how much to divulge, even to his father. “More than friends, actually. A hell of a lot more.”
Adam hadn’t been planning to come see his father today, hadn’t been planning to tell him all about Kerry either. But now that he was here, he realized just how much he needed to discuss the situation with the man he respected most in the world.
“Rafe and Brooke asked me to meet with her a few weeks ago. They both had scheduling conflicts, but I’m pretty sure it was also a matchmaking attempt on their part, since they could have sent Mia or Mom instead of me. Anyway, during our first meeting, Kerry got to talking about a gazebo she wanted to have built on the beach for the wedding, and I offered to build it for her. Before I left the meeting, I asked her out, but she said no.”
“She turned you down?” His father was grinning now, knowing how rarely a woman ever said no to Adam.
“Without a moment’s hesitation. But I couldn’t shake the sense that she was special, so I didn’t give up. One thing led to another and—” No, he couldn’t go any further with his explanations. Couldn’t betray his intimate secrets with Kerry, not even to his father. “We’re not officially dating, but we do see each other quite often.”
His father nodded. “I see.” And Adam could tell that he did, even though he didn’t ask any clarifying questions about the whole not-dating-but-still-seeing-each-other thing.
“We both thought it would be easy to keep things clearly delineated. No complications, just two friends having a good time. After all, that’s what we both wanted.”
“Both of you?” His father looked more than a little doubtful. “We all love you, Adam, but you know we’re not always crazy about the way you approach women and relationships.”
“I know you’re not, but there’s never been anyone I wanted to have a real relationship with before. And Kerry, she’s been waiting her whole life for the perfect guy, for someone she can count on no matter what. I know on paper that might not look like me, but—”
“But regardless of what your dating history looks like,” his father finished for him, “if Ms. Dromoland doesn’t know that she can count on you as a friend, then she doesn’t know you very well.”
“As a friend, I’m pretty sure she does know I’ll always be there for her. But as more?” Adam walked to the doorway of his father’s wood shop to look out at the oak tree in the backyard. It was big, but not quite as big as the one he and Kerry had just picnicked beneath. “When we first set up our...our arrangement...I told her she didn’t have to worry about me falling for her. I promised her things wouldn’t get messy. I said we would keep things simple, just two friends having fun.” Adam appreciated his father holding his silence while he collected his thoughts. “But when we were over at the house today for lunch to celebrate her signing on the dotted line for it, I realized I wasn’t just happy for her because she’d found her perfect house. The real reason I’m happy is because working on the house with her means we’ll get to spend time together over the next year. A lot of time.” His father joined Adam in the doorway as Adam laid it all on the line. “Before Kerry, I’d find any way I could to avoid entangling things with a woman. But now I’m going out of my way to find ways to tangle things up.”
Now that Adam had started talking about Kerry, he couldn’t stop, couldn’t find a way to stuff it all back in. “Seeing her is the best part of any day, the best thing that happens all week. I think about her all the time. I have to stop myself from showing up at her office and dragging her out to the park or for a sail or just to hang out doing nothing. Kerry shouldn’t have been different. I wasn’t expecting her to be different. Anyone but her, actually. But she is.” By the time he finally finished talking, Adam realized Max was grinning at him.
“Look,” his father said, “I’m not going to lie and say it’s not terrifying. I’m not going to pretend it’s not confusing as hell to feel something so strong that it rocks your world off its axis. Especially when it’s something you might have thought you were never going to feel for anyone.”
“We have an arrangement,” Adam explained again. “One she’s been really wed to.” Just the way he’d been wed to it at first, too. It had seemed so perfect—getting to spend nights with a gorgeous woman who didn’t want long term any more than he wanted it. “But then, somehow, somewhere along the line, things changed. And I don’t want to stick to that arrangement anymore.”
“Your whole life, when you’ve wanted to fix things,” his father said in a serious voice, “you’ve fixed them. It’s one of the reasons you’re so good at what you do. Just as you’ve always known when something is so beautiful, so precious, that you can’t possibly walk away without regretting it.”
Max gave Adam a warm hug, one he was surprised to realize he’d really needed. Sometimes it didn’t matter that you were a grown man with a hugely successful business—you needed to be reminded that the people who loved you most were there for you.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting her,” his father said, “more than ever now. Friend or lover or girlfriend, however the two of you work things out, she’ll always be welcome.”
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