Page 47 of The One

I swipe the back of my hand across my running nose, and Van leans me back.

“You get whatever you want Whip. The wedding dress for the girl who said she’d never get married has to be epic.”

“Darn straight.” I giggle as he brings his lips to mine. The same shiver I felt with his first kiss and every kiss since still reminds me I’ve found the one.




Two months later

It’s midnight, and the house is a disaster. We are exhausted from the whirlwind that has been our life since the day we met.

We got married a month ago. Issi wanted it simple, it was just the two of us, not even her mother—which took some understanding on Gayl’s part—but in the end, she wanted Issi to be happy.

She got the wedding dress she wanted. The exact one that was on the cover of the magazine. It was lace and ruffles and buttons, and she looked like a dream, and I cried. The only other member of the wedding party was George, who of course thought the whole event was about her.

Issi found this new place just on the border of Ohio and Kentucky three weeks ago, negotiated an amazing deal and had it locked up and closed in record time. We wanted a place of our own, somewhere in the mix of my wells and my main office, which is in Cincinnati.

Issi decided to resign from Synergy, and they gave her a nice exit package. She’s since started her own venture capital company focusing on smaller companies with upward potential, especially those headed up by minorities and females. She’s taken on mentorships for several companies as well, seeing the potential in their ideas, but identifying where they lack the business skills to make them successful.

She mainly works from home but has office space in the building where my corporate space is as well, so we are together as much as possible. I’m working on training a couple of my senior guys to take on a lot of my workload as well, working them into a minority ownership stake in the company.

Both of them started with me in the beginning; both have felony records but have served my company without blemish for nearly two decades.

Jack also lives about ten miles east, and in the last couple months with everything that went down, I’d say we’ve actually turned the corner, and both discovered there might be something to this friendship thing after all. He’s watched me cut back on my work and has done the same.

Seems we are both realizing how short life can be, and maybe it’s time two old oil hands looked at the world through different eyes.

There are boxes everywhere from the two moving companies Issi organized to empty out her house, her storage unit, and the few things at my place I wanted.

Everything else I had I left for Kara, because honestly, my stuff doesn’t mean that much to me. Thank goodness, because Issi’s stuff means everything to her. Thus, why we bought a place with two huge outbuildings, so she never has to throw away anything that is important to her.

“Read it to me,” I say to Issi as I work my way to the sofa where she’s sitting with her laptop. George is next to her and gives me a lip-curling growl as I come close. “Shut up.” I pick up the hairy ball of attitude and set her on my lap, and she gives me the dead eye but curls in and settles down.

“Okay.” Issi clears her throat. “I’ll paraphrase. So, Ruby was seen checking into Monte Blanc Recovery Center in Malibu a few hours ago.”

“Wow.” I tip my head. “Interesting.”

“Yep. Since everything that happened—she got that DUI, and it went public—she’s not been on a good road. She and her father released a statement.” Issi scrolls down the page and continues, “She says she takes responsibility for her actions. Her addiction to alcohol has been a growing concern in her life and…yadda, yadda, yadda…it became clear to her that her life was no longer under her control. The news related article goes on to reference reports of her husband’s many affairs, as well as her father’s history of generally being a jerk.”

“That’s too bad.” I put my arm around Issi’s shoulders.

“Yes, it is. I don’t wish ill on anyone. Explains some of her behavior, I guess. She was not in a good place.”

“No, I get that. Doesn’t explain her father though.”

She shakes her head. “No, but I can’t imagine the way she grew up had nothing at all to do with her problems. Ninety percent of people with addictions have some kind of childhood trauma. Who knows what went on in her life growing up? You know the saying, there but by the grace of God go I.”