Open Wounds: Hope & Abel, a Love Against the Odds
AWWM contemporary romance Novella
Abel sat across the table from her in a dimly lit restaurant, wearing the sexiest navy-blue button up and a pair of dark jeans. She sat back in her low-cut, white cotton dress as Abel eyed the deep plunge of her neckline. In her entire life, she’d never made it past a B-cup and had even considered breast implants at one point; but now, as Abel watched her body, a pink blush spread from her chest to her face.
“Damn, that’s beautiful,” he murmured.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Picking up her glass of wine, Hope took a large gulp. She needed to slow down—the food hadn’t shown up yet and she was already on the second glass. Nervous from trying to draw out her stalker, while getting to know Abel, had her soaking it up like a sponge.
“Just taking in my date.” He winked and took a drink of his water. He’d refused to drink, just in case Edwin made an appearance … and for that, Hope was grateful.
She waved the waiter over for another glass of water, as she needed to slow down, or she would be drunk in no time.
“Hey,” he called, his soothing voice calming a bit of her nerves. “What’s going on?”
Hope pressed her palms to her belly. “Nervous flutters.”
Moving the centerpiece, he pushed his hands to her, palms up. “Talk to me.”
Hope nervously placed her hands in his. His strong hands enclosed hers, the warmth spreading from him to her cool fingers.
“You,” Abel suggested coolly, sad it surprised her.
Mark had never once asked her a question about herself, but had been more than willing to explain to her his struggles at Merrill Lynch, or at the gym. She struggled to come up with something to tell him. There were so many things she could talk about, but where to start?
“My real name isn’t Hope.” She returned his shocked expression with a sly smile. In fluent Korean, Hope spoke her full name and where her mother was originally from.
“What?” His delighted surprise made her giggle.
“Yep, Gidae, but you would pronounce it, Gi-day. I changed it to its meaning, Hope, when I was picked on in school for its rarity.”
He gently squeezed her hands, then flipped them over, tracing circles across her palms. Electricity raced up her spine. Hope’s body heated, and her head went fuzzy. His hands were so sensual, she could feel the tension building between them. And never once had she flinched or run from his touch.
“Man, I hate kids sometimes,” he said. “They can be ignorant and hurtful with their words.”
Yes, that was very true, but her childhood had been too amazing for her to hold on to a few memories of bullies. She shrugged. “That all seems so far in the past. I don’t think about it much now, but I just kept using Hope because it was easier than constantly correcting people’s pronunciations.” Gidae was a relatively easy Korean word, but most Americans butchered it horribly.
A smile grew across his face as he admired her. “Wow, I didn’t even know you were Korean. Not that Koreans look a certain way. Call me crazy, but I’ve worked in a Korean BBQ up north for a few years and you look nothing like any of the ladies I worked for.” He laughed nervously.
“How so?” Hope wasn’t in the least bit offended. Her mother was half-white and Korean, and her father was of mixed descent as well. She was a blend of many ethnicities, a melting pot of Asian and European descent, and she loved all her attributes. Her dark hair—so similar to her mother’s jet-black, silky tresses—and her pale skin, due more to her ethnicity than her recent bouts of lack of sun. Her skin reminded her of her father. He’d taught her German, promising her one day to take her to Germany, the home of his father’s ancestors. The memories were warm and welcomed, and too often ignored.