Fly and Fall
Siddique has a problem. He's fallen for his best friend, but she has enough troubles. He loves her daughter too, secretly wishing he were the little girl's daddy. He’s no longer the shy, immigrant boy with the funny name whom Melly befriended. But if he opens his heart, will she take her daughter and run?
Melly has several problems. At long last, she's putting her life back together. She isn't surprised at how good Siddique was with her daughter, but when did he become smoking hot? If she falls for her best friend, she just might scare away the only person still speaking to her.
But undeniable sparks fly, and they have to decide - - play it safe and settle for friendship? Or take a chance on love?
Oh, hell. Maybe she could get away with part of the truth. “He told me. I didn’t respond well. In fact, I was rude.” She paused, then forced herself to go on. “I accused him of leaving to get away from Rose. From all the—well, everything—he does for her.”
Nothing moved in Radifah’s face. Melly had the feeling it wasn’t because she was surprised, but because she wasn’t. She already knew this part, too. “You are aware, and were at the time, that is a false charge.”
Melly contemplated the cookie still lying on her plate. “Yeah. I know. It’s just—” she broke off. What could she say? I’ve developed a reckless infatuation with my best friend, your son—hey, when did he get to be smoking hot, by the way?—and he figured it out, and like a not-crazy person, is getting away as fast as he can? Because me, duh. Who wouldn’t?
“Who wouldn’t what?”
Melly looked up into Radifah’s eyes, and realized with a horrible grinding slide that moved down her throat to her stomach she had been thinking out loud. Oh, shit.
Radifah’s brows knit. Which probably meant she’d said that, too.
“Because…” Melly spread her hands. How do you gesture, Everything about me, from bad language to bad judgment?
Radifah reached across the table and laid her palm on her cheek. “You think all that is true? Ah, child.” She put a second cookie on her plate.
Melly looked down. She was twenty-one. She was a mother. She felt a mortifying sob rising. She was still a child in many people’s thinking. She couldn’t afford to be. Rose was the child now.
“Eat. You’ll feel better.”
Melly broke off a piece of date-filled cookie. They really were astonishing. Medicinal. She needed a comfort cookie. “I can’t believe how much I managed to torpedo my life before I could have a beer legally.”
“That is not what I find surprising. Destruction is easy.” Radifah held her cup, inhaling the aroma of the coffee. “What astonishes me is how well you put it back together.”
“Sweet of you. But look at me. I have a toddler.” As if to underscore that reality, Rose crashed pieces of train track together with a loud bang. Melly and Radifah looked at her to make sure everything was all right. “Most people my age are leery of having a pet. I didn’t go to college. I work as a waitress.”
“What I hear is you provide for your daughter. It need not be this way forever. You will be young still when she starts school. You can take classes part-time and get your degree by the time you are thirty.”
“Did I say the path would be easy?”
“It is worth doing, yes, if you choose?”
Melly considered Rose again, who was now moving her train along the tracks. It would be hard. But better for them both in the long run. “You’re right. I hadn’t thought about it like that. Too caught up in getting by day to day. But not going to college when I wanted doesn’t have to mean I can’t go at all.”
“See? You are mending things.” She rose. “I should be getting home.” She put a hand on Melly’s chair as she walked past. “About the rest…”