Complicated on 5th Avenue

By: Abbie St. Claire
Book Two

5th Avenue Romance Trilogy

Chapter One


The scotch scorched the back of my throat, and somehow, I continued to toss it back as more or less an idiotic form of self-punishment. While I watched the fireplace smolder from my favorite leather chair, I felt no heat from the flames. My body was numb to my behaviors of the prior week.

Disappointing Chelsie didn’t make me feel more of a man. In fact, it made me feel less of a decent human existence. As Oliver fought with the estimation of somebody getting my time and attention away from him, he also agonized over having his feelings show for someone else besides me. In the process, I’d pulled away from Chelsie during the time she was most vulnerable.

I knew I loved her, and I’d professed my desires for us to be together, to blend our families. But what I didn’t do was convince her I wasn’t a one and done kindof guy—that I wouldn’t use her, body and soul for my own pleasure, and leave. And worse, I stayed away for days trying to console Oliver and at the same time convince myself we could be more than just great lovers.

The word coward could easily have become my identifying description. As painful as it was to admit, I had failed her.

We had mapped out how we wanted to show the boys our relationship. Chelsie used the word organic and I concurred. As neighbors, it was comfortable to spend time together, but with the ‘no sleepover rule,’ our intimate connection was fueled by consorting to stolen moments.

I didn’t plan on kissing her in front of the boys too soon; it just fucking happened. Thrilled that her vision was returning so quickly from the surgery, I got carried away. After all, even the surgeon said he wasn’t hopeful it would happen and certainly not as soon as it did. Orbital fractures resulting in blindness are rare, so when she lost her sight from the fall, we lost all hope. The complicated surgery was more or less a last effort. And even then, I fucked that day up for her too.

She knew she wasn’t pregnant and the test would prove it, but as a physician, I should have known women could skip periods for no other reason than stress. But I didn’t listen, I yelled at her like a mountain man. I let her be put to sleep angry and upset with me.

She was right. I fought with her, but I didn’t fight for us.

Perhaps I didn’t know I needed to fight for love. It wasn’t like I’d been having serious relationships in the eight years since my wife’s death. But the realization that Chelsie put in front of me on the day of her surgery was wickedly moving.

“Ian, people put up walls to make others try harder. It’s human nature to want to be worthy.”

The idea I had made her feel less than anything amazing…shredded me with guilt.

Oliver was at school, and I’d planned the day off to be with Chelsie, hoping she would be feeling well enough post-surgery to do something just the two of us. With my phone screen blank in front of me, I stared for a moment and thought about what I wanted to say. She was worthy of everything I had to offer her, and as complicated as our lives were together and apart, I needed her to know.

“I miss you,” I said, my heart beating so hard my lungs could barely force the words out.

“I’ve been right here, waiting…for days.” Her voice was firm. She was taking charge like I’d taught her.

Needing to see her, I wasted no time. “May I come over?”

“Yes, when?”

Excitement took over, and I dropped the phone, hanging up on her. Rather than fool around with precious time, I grabbed the phone from the floor, my keys and ran as fast as I could to the love of my life, intent on claiming Chelsie Peterson as mine once more.

Grateful she’d made me a key, I let myself in. “Babe, where are you?”

I made it to the archway leading to her den by the time she answered. “Right here.”

She drew her knees up for me to sit on the end of the sofa. Without even thinking about it really, I started massaging her feet and subconsciously hoped to win her over with my talented hands. She immediately noticed the bracelet Olivia had given me was gone. It signified the closure of my past. While a personal declaration, Chelsie knew the meaning.

When she searched the room and didn’t make eye contact, I worried I was about to hear something that would forever change me. Tears flooded her face.

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