Title: The Upside of Down
Author: Nicole Rodrigues
Publisher: Boom Factory Publishing, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 12, 2021
When my ex waltzes back into my life, claiming he wants to be a father to my son after eight years of silence, I’m more than a little wary. I refuse to let him come into my son’s life and turn it upside down. But after making a scene at my office, my business partner and best friend, Cristiano Mendes, approaches me with a proposal. A terrible one, considering I’ve crushed on him from the time I turned thirteen, and the fact that he’s never shown any interest in me.
Marriage might be the solution to one of my problems, but being married to Cristiano has its own set of repercussions.
Sorayah Wilson stopped my heart the second I laid eyes on her when we were just kids. Since then, I’ve done everything I can to protect her.
Marrying her is easy, because she’s my best friend. I’ve always been able to keep myself in check but being around her and her son Matteo every day, makes me long for this thing between us to be real.
Only Sorayah doesn’t know that I’m keeping a secret, one she might never forgive me for.
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I stand in the small room, my tight white lace dress hugging my body perfectly. I feel the tears forming in my eyes because I only wanted to do this once in my life. Getting married is a big deal, a big damn deal and here I am doing it for all the wrong reasons. My son is the most important person in my life, though and I would do anything for him, even this.
It could be worse, I think to myself, I could have married his father. Thank God my head was on straight when I found out I was pregnant with Matteo and didn’t jump to marry his dad, not like he was even there long enough for me to marry. He might have mentally cut out before I even left his house after telling him, hell maybe he was done with me long before that even.
A knock on the door breaks my thoughts and I look up, expecting the person to enter but they don’t.
“You ready, wifey?” Cristiano’s voice slithers past the doorway.
I feel my stomach jump at his voice, finding it harder and harder to deny my feelings for him, push them down like I’ve done for so many years. It could be worse, I could be marrying a bastard. Cris is amazing, my best damn friend and the only person that has truly been there for me all these years. If I had to marry someone, I’m glad it’s him.
“I...yeah, I’m ready,” I answer with a stutter.
“I will be waiting at the front of the aisle.”
I hear his footsteps retreat and take a deep breath, fingering my dark curl that’s dropped in front of my face.
“You can do this, Ray. You. Can. Do. This. Think of Matteo.”
I nod to my reflection and grab my flowers from the small side table. I open the door slowly, walking towards the courthouse door and when it opens and I see Cristiano standing in his crisp suit at the front, I feel my stomach drop to my feet.
I have to sleep next to that, wake up to that, pretend to be married to that and not actually do anything about it? Sweet baby Jesus in the manger, give me strength.
I take another deep breath, giving him my best smile and slowly walk towards the front of the courthouse. When I get there, he takes my hand and I flinch, electricity spiking up my arm.
“Sorry,” he mumbles.
“No it’s...it’s okay, I just...am nervous.”
God, we are so weird. This is Cristiano! My best friend. The boy that cheated off of me in Calculus class. The boy that saw me puke all over myself after eating too many of his mom’s chocolate chip cookies. The boy that used to beat me at HORSE, watched movies with me. The man that gave me a job and supported me throughout my pregnancy and helped me raise Matteo when he didn’t have to. I’m a blind fool if I think I can compartmentalize these feelings into a neat little box and never open them. A damn fool.
“I am too. Do not be nervous, it is still just me, Rayah.”
Oh, the way he says my name. I want to cry, knowing this is a dream I let go of once we went into business together and now it’s right here, in front of my face but it’s fake.
I give him a small smile, reassuring him that I’m fine when I am anything but. The clergyman starts to perform the ceremony and I zone out, picturing this as a different wedding, something we both planned and wanted. Our friends and family are behind us, eager to get to our party, enjoy the cocktail hour and dance and celebrate all night long. I feel a squeeze of my hand and look up, shaking away that dream.
“You ready?” Cristiano asks, his smile stealing the breath straight from my lungs.
“Yes,” I whisper.
The clergyman tells us both to repeat after him and when Cris says “I do”, I feel my core tighten, knowing that even if this is fake, he did this for me. He took the leap away from his bachelor life, agreed to come live with Matteo and I and did this for us. It turns me on like nothing I’ve ever experienced before at his caring, protective side.
I instinctively rub my legs together, squeezing his hand and his eyebrow arches, a devilish smirk on his face.
“Save that for after the ceremony, wifey.”
I swallow down my desire to tell him we better fucking consummate this marriage after the ceremony and dig my nail into his palm instead, giving him a hard look. He laughs, the sound tickling my southern region to the point where I have to stifle a whimper and repeat after the clergyman saying my own “I do’s”.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”
I swallow, totally forgetting about this part and my mouth opens. He can’t...we can’t. Cristiano smiles, his face coming closer to mine and I close my eyes, hoping the ground will swallow me whole before we cross this line, before we do something we can never come back from. As if marrying each other didn’t push us over that line already.
I feel a soft touch on my hip, another behind my head and then his lips are against mine, soft at first as the blood in my body bursts around my veins like a water balloon. Little tingles explode up my legs, my arms, my chest and settle between my legs as he deepens the kiss. His tongue presses against my lips, seeking permission and I give it to him, grabbing the back of his head as I tilt mine to the side, engulfing him.
Fuck, he’s a good kisser. He’s a really good kisser. I try to hold back my moan but it escapes, vibrating off his mouth and he growls, responding to me.
A throat clears from next to us and the fire is quickly extinguished, sand and water dousing the flame, never to light again as I pull back quickly, wiping my mouth. The remnants of my lipstick against Cristiano’s lips makes my pussy clench with need and the shock in his brown eyes mirrors my own.
“Well that’s quite a kiss. No marriage consummations in the courthouse though. There’s a hotel down the block if you can’t make it home,” the clergyman jokes.
I laugh, a nervous giggle and Cristiano’s eyes are still on me, not wavering, not giving any indication that it affected him as much as it just affected me.
One year. I can survive one year married to this man. What happens is after; how will I survive when it’s over?
Nicole Rodrigues is a contemporary/ New Adult Romance Author. She is a mama to three kiddos, married to her real life book boyfriend and resides outside Nashville, TN.
She enjoys reading, hanging out with her family and attempting Pinterest projects.
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