Check out my review of More Than Lies/More Than Memories!

HI GUYS! I’ve missed y’all!! I have two books to review for you today, they are a part of a series, however, can be read as standalone novels- More Than Lies is the first, More than Memories being the newest book, both written by the lovely N.E. Henderson. The author sent me both of these […]

via More Than Lies/More Than Memories DOUBLE REVIEW! — The Book Hangover

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UPDATE!

Hello everyone, happy Friday!

Chapters 3 and 4 of my story “Awake” are now available for reading on my Wattpad! Be sure to check it out and let me know what you all think.

Have a great weekend full of great reading! ❤

Awake: Chapter 1

I clutch my pillow closer to my chest, holding on tight, willing myself to sleep. I had hoped that playing my favorite song on repeat would lull me right to sleep, but sleepless nights have become a routine thing for me throughout the summer. I’ve always been a night owl, but my habit of staying up until dawn crept up on me. At first, I was up late with my nose in a book, unable to put it down until I finished it, and then I grew to love walking to the park in my neighborhood, my only company being my music and the moon. Soon, I became restless, unable to sleep until at least six in the morning daily, so my nights were full of good books and attempts at writing, both music and stories. Often, as I was just falling asleep, I could hear the stirrings of my parents waking up, going through their morning routine. They haven’t noticed much of my habits, mostly because they sleep like the dead and they’re out like a light at nine o’clock, sharp.

They’ve always been early birds, and my brother, Lucas, is just like them. Typically, he makes it until ten or ten thirty before passing out, but I’ve never seen him up later unless he’s cramming for a big test. My sister, Jennie, is just like me- she’s big into academics like the rest of my family, but leads a double life as valedictorian and top party girl. I’ve always known when she’s sneaking out, but I’ve never said a word. I keep her secrets, and she keeps mine, and its always been an unspoken pact.

Tomorrow is the first day of my senior year, and I don’t think it’s possible to be less excited than I am. For me, school is a prison. We’re required to go and learn exactly what they tell us to, leave when we’re allowed to, with people we’ve been stuck with our entire lives. I don’t have many friends, I prefer to keep to myself. I do have one good friend, Katelyn Montanez, who has stayed with me through it all. I don’t know how she did it, with my hot and cold moods, and the meltdowns. I appreciate her more than she could ever know.

I guess the best part of being a senior is having free periods. In previous school years, after school, I would find myself in the practice rooms by the band and orchestra hallway, practicing piano until Mom summoned me home for dinner. Once I scarfed down my dinner, I would find myself back at the keys in our basement, practicing until my parents went to bed. Then, it was usually just me and a book or my writing. In the past, I tried my hand at poetry, and even though Katie told me it was good, I could never believe it. I have a notebook full of it stashed away somewhere, in case I want to try again or edit some of what I’ve written previously. So far, I haven’t felt the need to write poetry again, just stories with fantasy worlds that take me far away from where I am in the moment. As long as I can feel like I’m living in a world I create and not the real one, I feel safe and welcome there.

At two in the morning, I decide to get up and run, in an attempt to wear myself out. We have a treadmill in the basement, but nothing beats fresh air and a cool summer night. Last run of the summer, let’s make it count. The park greeted me with open arms as always, and I ended up swinging before making a mad dash home at three thirty. I’m going to hate myself in the morning.

I woke up, my alarm roaring in my ear, at seven thirty the next morning. Like a zombie, I stumbled into the kitchen, fumbling around for a mug and freshly brewed coffee. I didn’t bother with creamer and sugar this morning, as I had enough time to grab a mug and head back to my room to find an outfit and hopefully cover the dark circles under my eyes with concealer. On days like today, it felt like there wasn’t enough concealer in the world to hide these circles, but I just have to do what I can and hope for the best. I arrived at school at about eight thirty, rushing through the doors with just enough time to sneak in through the back of the auditorium and grab a seat near the door. Our school holds a senior assembly every year, basically welcoming us back for the last year of high school, pumping us up to finish high school strong instead of succumbing to senioritis as many have before us. In the dark auditorium, I attempted at fighting sleep. With Principal Andersen’s monotone droning on and on, I felt myself doze off more than once, my head falling off of my hand propping it up. Finally, the sound of cheering and clapping brought me back to the land of the living.

I stayed behind a few minutes to find Katie, checking my phone while waiting. I had a few texts, a couple from my parents telling me to have a good last first day, and one from Katie asking where I was. As I was typing a message back to her, I heard her squeal at me. “Cami!” Katie rushed up and threw her arms around me. I hugged back, then on the way to first period, we compared schedules. We have one class together this semester, and both of us have the last period of the day open. As seniors, if we have our last class period as a free period, we can do whatever we want- roam the halls, go to the library, or study, but most seniors just go home early. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to hide away in one of the practice rooms in the music hallway, one hour of peace and my music.

Time dragged slowly, and as a general first day tradition, all of our teachers went over syllabi and rules for the classes, as well as what to expect that semester. What I said earlier about there not being enough concealer to hide my dark circles? It’s still true, but there was not enough caffeine in the world to keep me alert for my classes today. Getting back into a normal, school routine was going to prove difficult, but I knew it was a necessity if I wanted to survive and graduate with my class. I don’t want to be here any longer than absolutely necessary.

Finally, sixth period ended, and I made a mad dash to the music hallway. I plopped my bag down by the piano bench, and dug through my bag for my sheet music and composition book. I had tried writing an original piano piece, but I’ve been struggling lately, so I settled for learning a piano version of some other songs I loved. Most recently, I had been working on My Heart I Surrender by I Prevail. The original song is played on acoustic guitar, so it’s been a little odd to learn, but it’s still beautiful. I got lost in the music for about twenty minutes, singing and working out all the kinks and mistakes. I was at peace and completely in music land when I heard three soft knocks on the door, and a boy standing outside of the door, facing away from me. He had a guitar in hand, and appeared to be nervous.

When I opened the door, he turned to face me, looking like a deer in the headlights. “Hi,” he said loudly. “Was that- was that you in there?” As soon as he asked the question, the color drained from his face, as if he was scolding himself internally for asking a silly question.

I raised an eyebrow and nodded. “Well, there isn’t anybody else here,” I sighed. I didn’t need a distraction right now, and just wanted to get back to practicing. We stared at each other for a few more seconds before I broke the silence. “Um,” I stammered, “Can I help you with something?”

“What?” He looked down and back up at me again. “Oh yeah, um, sorry to interrupt,” He stuttered. He was clearly nervous, though I had no idea why. “I heard you playing and just wanted to know maybe if I could watch you play, or listen? I feel like I’ve heard the song before, but-”

“I’m sorry, I don’t do well with a crowd,” I cut him off. He looked down, a little bummed. He started mumbling about how he was sorry and started walking away, and I immediately felt bad. Here I was, with literally one friend, chasing people away, when I could really use another friend. And one that loves music like I do? Jackpot. “Hey, wait.” He turned to look back at me. “I could use the company, but I have a favor if you come in and listen.”

“Sure, anything.” He agreed quickly, a hint of a smile on his face.

“Well first, I need to know your name. Then, I want to learn how to play guitar, and I think you could teach me.”

“I could totally teach you, I’ve played guitar for years. Do you have seventh period free every day?”

“I do. What’s your name?”

“Nathan,” he sighed. “Sorry, I’m kinda terrible with introductions. I kind of ramble on, and forget to do that… anyway, what about you?”

“Camille, call me Cami. Come on in, Nathan.”

He settled down in the chair next the door, holding his guitar and watching, eagerly waiting for me to play again. I started to play again, but the feeling of eyes boring into the back of my head made me too nervous and I had to stop. “Hey, um..” I stuttered. “Sorry, I wasn’t kidding about the stage fright thing, but are you able to maybe close your eyes or look away? I don’t perform well when I feel like I’m being watched. I start to panic.”

Nathan held up a hand towards me, as if no more explanation was needed. “No problem, I totally get it.” He stood up and straddled the chair, so he was facing the wall away from me. Half of a smile crept to my face, and I breathed deeply before playing again. The first playthrough, I didn’t sing, I just played and let my fingers dance across the keys. At some point during the song, he turned back around to face me. When the song ended, I turned to face him, and he had the biggest grin on his face, from ear to ear. I didn’t know Nathan for long, and I didn’t know hardly anything about him, but I knew that he played guitar and that he had a nice smile. A smile I would see daily, from today on.

The first couple of days, he just let me play piano, listening to me practice. On the fourth day, he asked me to sing. “Do you remember that song you played the first time we met?” I nodded, and he continued. “I know I’ve heard you play it a couple more times, but would you sing it for me?” I hesitated, and he went rambling on like he said he does. “I know we’ve only talked for a couple days, and I only heard you singing the one time by accident, but I’d really love to hear you sing again.” I gave him my usual half smile, and agreed.

“Fine, but only if you face away from me again the way you did on the first day. I’m serious about the performance anxiety, Nathan.” He chuckled and turned around again, and like the first day, he was facing me by the time the song was over. His same, amazing smile was back, and he had his hands on his knees and was leaning forward, like he was listening intensely, afraid to miss a single note. “So,” I sighed, “I know it’s not special or anything-”

“Say no more, Cami,” he cut me off this time. “You’re great, truly talented at what you do. I’m so glad we get to work together on music. Hopefully some of your talent will rub off on me.”

“Oh, stop it!” I smacked his arm playfully, and this time, a full smile escaped. “You’re great too, and you know it.”

“I guess I am pretty great, huh?” He joked, grabbing his guitar and handing it to me. “Now, are you ready to be great at guitar too? You’ll be a triple threat by the end of the year.”

I looked back at him, confused. “How am I a triple threat?”

He smiled, looking down before answering me. “With that voice and your piano skills, it’s a matter of time before you master guitar and pass me up. Nobody will be able to resist you.”

I couldn’t fight the blush that rose to my cheeks, surely turning me into a walking tomato. I also couldn’t fight the full smile that formed on my face, and soon, Nathan’s smile mirrored mine. Breaking the silence, I laughed softly, then strummed obnoxiously on the guitar. “Easy there, killer. Don’t hurt the strings!” Nathan plucked the guitar from me and held it close, stroking it as if the guitar were a dog or a cat. “This is my baby, you see. I can’t let you do that to Nellie!” This time when I laughed, I couldn’t help but throw my head back.

“Wow, Nellie?” I giggled. “I knew guys had a habit of naming their cars and trucks, but I’ve never met a guy who’s named his guitar.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything.” Nathan stood and handed the guitar back to me, gesturing for me to sit in the chair. I obliged, moving to the chair he was just sitting in, but instead of sitting across from me, he stood behind me, showing me how to hold the guitar. My heart jumped when his fingers brushed against mine, and before I knew it, I was blushing again.

Before we both went home that day, Nathan insisted he needed my phone number. I was a little hesitant, but only because I had never really had many guys interested in me before, and I was so distant and awkward with them that we never really hung out or talked much after the first day or two. Finally, I agreed, and we swapped phones, quickly tapping our numbers in. Nathan walked out with me to my car, and before leaving, he told me if I wanted to talk or hang out outside of the practice rooms to just give him a call and he would be there, any time of the day. “Well, you might regret that,” I warned, before starting the car and leaving him there with a sweet, confused smile.

To be continued

For more of Awake, be sure to check out my Wattpad! I will continue to post chapter by chapter on that account. 

Thank you for reading!

I’m Leaving You (part 2)

Allie

I ended up taking Kate’s advice, and I waited three days. Three lonely, agonizing days that felt like an eternity without Gavin. I know it’s cheesy, and I know I did this to myself. Out of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, pushing him away, letting him leave.. It was definitely the biggest mistake I’ve made. I found a loophole in Kate’s advice- I waited three days before going to see him. Did I wait three days to call? Hell no. I wanted to check on him, to hear his voice, even if I did just get his voicemail.

I decided to go up to his hotel room, to try and talk things over with him. I’ve spent three empty days with just my thoughts for company, and all I wanted was for Gavin to come home. To run my fingers through his soft hair, see his goofy grin return. So, here I am, parked in front of the hotel, gathering the courage to walk in there and beg for forgiveness. His car is parked on the side of the building- I drove around the lot to make sure he was here. He’s off work today, so I’m hoping that if he won’t talk on the phone, that he won’t slam the door in my face. If he did do that, I deserve it. I did this.

As I approached the front desk, I was more nervous than I was when we went on our first date. My hands were shaking, and my knees felt like they were made of jelly. The receptionist gave me his room number without any questions asked, which I was grateful for. I wouldn’t have even known what to say, how to lie about who I was. I did ask that she did not call him and let him know I was coming to visit. She was kind about it, and smiled as I made my way to the elevator. Gavin was staying on the top floor, no doubt in a room with a good view of the city.

I knocked softly three times on his door, suddenly forgetting what I was there for. I heard a groan as Gavin approached the door. He opened the door, and there he was, shirtless, wearing only mesh basketball shorts, still wiping sleep from his eyes. What I wasn’t prepared for was the girl who walked up behind him, wearing one of his tank tops. “Baby,” she whined, “who’s at the door?”

His eyes widened as he registered what happened. He opened his mouth to speak, but I answered before he could say anything. “Nobody,” I sighed. “I’m nobody, I must have the wrong room.” I ran down the hall towards the stairwell, Gavin calling out to me as he followed.

“Allie, wait! This isn’t what it looks like!” He grabbed my wrist, catching me before I flew down another flight of steps. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. “Allie, please,” he continued cautiously. “I know how this looks-”

“Like I pushed you away and you had to fuck someone else to forget me.” I said under my breath. His hands cupped my face, the way he did three days ago before he left. “It’s okay, Gavin. I deserve this, I pushed you away..”

He pulled me into his arms, holding me tight. “Shhh, no. Allie, I love you and I meant what I said when I said I would wait for you.”

“Who is she, Gavin? I don’t understand.”

“Come up to my room with me and we’ll talk. I’ll explain everything.” I nodded in agreement as he threaded his fingers through mine. We walked back to his room, hand in hand, and whoever this girl was didn’t understand the message.

“Ugh, you’re really going to choose her?” She rolled her eyes, popping on gum incessantly. “Whatever, I know my way out. Call me when you want some real fun.”

“Real fun?” Gavin snorted. “Real fun is standing here with me, holding my hand. You’re nothing like that. Now leave, or I’ll have security escort you out.”

“Oh please, babe, no need to be dramatic. Like I said, I know the way out. Later baby!” She blew a kiss to Gavin as she walked out, letting the door slam behind her. I could feel Gavin shaking as he gripped my hand tighter, only letting go to walk over and lock the door.

“Allie…”

“Gavin, I’m so sorry for everything I’ve done.” I cried, launching myself into his arms. I know he had to explain what happened, but for now, I just wanted to be in his arms, in his presence. This is the most relief I’ve felt in days.

He hushed me again, just holding me. “Shh, shh. I know. We can talk about everything in a few minutes but for now I just need you.”

“I need you too, Gavin. More than you know.” I kissed him softly. He pulled me over to the couch and let me curl up into him, running his hands through my hair as I laid my head in his lap. Blissful quiet, that could have lasted forever, but I knew we had to talk about everything that has happened, and how to move on from here. Gavin leaned down and kissed my forehead, before sitting me up.

“I love you. God, Allie. I really, really love you.”  He smiled, the signature, goofy smile I’ve missed so much and have been dying to see again. I reached for his hand, squeezing gently. “Well, I have a lot of explaining to do. Want me to order room service and we can talk and eat?”

“Sure,” I agreed. Honestly, my stomach was in knots, and I wasn’t sure if I could eat, but I had to try. We ended up ordering sandwiches and lemonade, eating on the bed the way we used to do at home. Used to do. Hopefully that’s something that can happen again. As we ate, neither of us spoke. The silence felt thick and awkward, like someone could cut through it with a knife. “So,” I broke the silence first. “How are you?”

Gavin swallowed his mouthful of sandwich loudly. “Well, I guess not the best,” He sighed, looking back down to his plate. “And you?”

“I’ve been alright.” I lied. I don’t know why I lied, it wasn’t going to get us anywhere. “Actually, I-I’ve been really awful,” I stammered. “Awful, guilty, heartbroken. I wish I could go back in time and stop it.”

“Allie,” Gavin sighed. He adjusted so he was sitting up a little straighter, like he was ready to have this conversation. As nervous as I was, I desperately needed to hear what he had to say. Good or bad, pretty or ugly. “It’s not all your fault, which I told you before. I understand why you did it. But now we- I have to live with this.” I shook my head and pushed my plate away, feeling more nauseated than hungry. “Allie, listen. Please,” He was begging me now. Damn, those beautiful brown eyes. They’re going to be the death of me. “I want to make myself better for you, before we jump back into anything. I love you more than anything on this planet, more than life, and I have to be better and more serious for you. In a way, I should be thanking you for the wake up call even if it felt like I was dying in the process.”

“No!” I wailed. I thought that I was out of tears, that I couldn’t cry anymore, but man, was I wrong. “Gavin, please don’t do this…” Everything was shaking. I folded my arms across my chest in an effort to feel some more control, but all I felt was isolation. “Please, let me make it better. Let me make it up to you-”

“I can’t, Allie,” Gavin sighed, reaching out to touch my shoulder. I jerked away, and from the corner of my eye, saw him flinch. “I can’t because you deserve so much better than me. You deserve the world, the universe, and I can’t give that to you right now.” He ran a hand through his hair, turning to the wall beside him. “Damn it!” He yelled, pounding his fist against the wall. He inhaled sharply, then turned around to face me again, tears in his eyes. “Okay, fine. Maybe you’re right, I should just come home.” He padded over to me, grabbing my hands in his. He stopped and looked down at my left hand, shocked when he saw the ring- his ring- sitting on my fourth finger. “You’re wearing it,” He whispered.

“I’m wearing this because I love you, Gavin. After you left, after our fight, I realized I felt empty without you. My life without you has no color, no sunlight- that’s where you come in. Without you, I’m in a world of hurt. Gavin,” I sighed, kissing his lips softly. “I am so in love with you, and I never want to be apart from you again, and I never want you to hurt like this again. Please, come home with me, be with me. Help me announce our engagement to our families, friends, and the world.” Tears were falling from both of our eyes, and as he reached up to wipe mine away, he kissed me and nodded.

“Say the word, I’ll follow you. Let me pack my things and check out, and we’ll make things even better when we get home.” He smiled at me, just before I grabbed his face and peppered kisses everywhere. I helped him pack up and check out, walking away from the hotel and the hurt, hand in hand.

Gavin

I was going to stay here, try to fix the mess I had made because I was hurt, but then I saw her wearing the ring, and I caved. It looked perfect on Allie, like it was made for only her. But once I told her what I did, I’m not sure the ring would stay on her finger. I told her I would explain, but I can’t find the words to say what I need to. I’m just hoping, praying, that she doesn’t mention this until later, at home, when we can talk about this. It would be even better if she forgot altogether, and I can tell her when I’m ready.

No, that wouldn’t work. I need to be better, need to seem serious for her. If only she understood how serious I’ve really been. I’ve been promoted through ranks quickly at work, and now that I’m climbing the ranks, they want me to travel, attend meetings in different places around the country. I’ve wanted to tell her, sure, but I wanted to surprise her with the ring and good news all at once. But after she tore my heart out? I had made some calls to my boss, requesting to relocate permanently. He said he would put in the request and that he would get back to me, and wouldn’t you know it? He called this morning. “Congratulations, Gavin. You should be proud of everything you’ve done, you’ve accomplished so much in a short time.”

See, Allie thinks I’m not serious about life or work because I job hopped a lot in the past, and never mentioned school to her. While she attended school, I did too. I worked my ass off to graduate in a short period of time, in order to get the degree that allows me to work and make as much as I do now. She’s always thought she was the breadwinner in the relationship, but the truth is, I haven’t let on exactly how much money I’ve been making. A good portion of it has gone into an account for her, in her name, in case something should ever happen to me. After this, it will definitely stay that way. Maybe I’ll even put it into her married name.

“Gavin? Baby.” Allie’s voice brought me back to reality. “Hey, are you okay? You seem quiet. We don’t have to talk about anything tonight if you don’t want to, we can just rest and enjoy each other’s company.”

I smiled, pulling her hand up to my lips, kissing it gently. “That sounds perfect to me. Just have a dinner and movie night in, we can take on other issues tomorrow.”  She smiled back up at me. How could I ever tell her I didn’t wait for her like I said? How can I tell her I got too drunk to remember what happened the first night, but was fully sober the second night things happened?

The next morning, I decided to get up early and treat Allie to breakfast in bed with some flowers. Since I was about to make her day hell, I may as well do something good for her before she views me as the complete bastard that I really am. I brought up a TV tray and placed down a plate of eggs, bacon, toast, and a cup of coffee next to it. “Mmm, coffee,” she sighed, sitting up and rubbing sleep from her eyes. As her eyes opened and she saw what I brought up for her, the smile she had already transformed into an ear-to-ear grin. Man, do I love that smile.

After breakfast, we cuddled up on the couch together, before she decided she wanted to get up and get ready to go for the day. “Hey, Al?” I tugged on her wrist, urging her to sit with me. I couldn’t put this off any longer. I felt guilty, and I know that this morning was just the calm before the storm. She gave me a half smile, tucking a strand of her perfect blonde hair behind her ear. It’s one those things that tells me, or anyone that pays enough attention, that she’s nervous. She has every right to be. “I need to tell you something. This has been bothering me all morning, and even though this isn’t what you want to hear, I just need to spill.”

“Gav, what’s wrong?” Her big blue eyes stared into mine, as if she could see right through me. I reached for her hand, in an attempt to brace myself, and her, for the blow. “Gavin, you’re scaring me,” she warned. I took in a deep breath. Here we go….

“Allie, I needed you to know this before we plan anything for the wedding. If you don’t want to be with me anymore I und-”

“You slept with her, didn’t you?” She whispered. Allie was no longer looking at me, but instead down at the ring on her left hand. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”

“Babe, I didn’t know what I was doing,” I sighed, holding her hand tighter. I can’t let her pull away from me until I’ve spilled everything. “I’ve had problems with alcohol in the past, and until you left me, I had been fine. But that night, I lost control. At first, all I could think of was leaving, getting as far away from here, you, as humanly possible. Then, when I checked into the hotel, I wandered around and then found myself at the bar. The next thing I remember, I woke up next to her in bed. Of course, I had hoped, prayed, that I didn’t sleep with her, but the way she spoke to me, I knew there was no way that something didn’t happen.” Allie covered her mouth, shaking her head. “I felt disgusted with myself, and I kicked her out.” My voice was shaking now. “I still hate myself for this. I know that we technically were apart, but I still felt as if I cheated on you, my love.”

“That doesn’t explain what she was doing in your room on the third day, when I showed up at your door. How many nights did that happen, Gavin? Please, don’t lie to me.” She looked up at me once again, eyes full of tears. Allie’s eyes were longer the bright blue they were a few minutes ago, now they were a dark, grayish blue, resembling storm clouds.

“It happened one more time, Allie. It happened again the night before you showed up-”

“Why did you lie to me?” She wailed. She covered her mouth again in an unsuccessful attempt to cover a sob. “After everything I said, after I told you how guilty I felt and how I wanted to be better for you.. After I let you into my heart and my bed again? You couldn’t have told me then?” She was yelling, and Hurricane Allie had officially arrived. “You lied to me, Gavin! You lied when you told me you would wait, and then you lied when you told me there was nobody else! What else is there? I know there’s something else, I can tell you’re not finished.” The room fell silent, only the sound of Allie’s heavy breathing filling the empty space. “Do I have to continue to scream at you, or are you going to be honest with me?” I stood up and tried to close the space between us, but she held her hand out, warning me to stay away. “Don’t,” she warned. “Do not touch me. Just continue talking.”

“Fine,” I agreed. I held my hands up in surrender. “I’m leaving, Al. I called them the night I left, requesting a transfer, and they approved it as of yesterday morning.”

“Great,” she barked at me, “This is fantastic. And when are you supposed to leave?”

“I don’t know! I didn’t give them a specific date, and I didn’t want to until I heard from you again. Until I saw you again.”

“You could have heard from me the day after, you know? I tried to call, but you? You didn’t answer. You must have had a hell of a hangover from all of the booze and bangin’ sex you had the night before, huh?” She crossed the room, grabbed my hand, and slipped nothing other than her ring into it. “This,” she motioned to the ring, “doesn’t belong to me. It feels foreign now, as if it’s only a meaningless weight on my finger. For right now, Gavin, I can’t even look at you. I don’t care what you do about work, but for us, I will not sleep in the same bed as you, or in the same room. I’ll stay on the couch or with my parents, but I’ll still pay rent here, just as we always had.”

“That’s not necessary, Allie. I make more than enough to support us on my own. You don’t owe me anything, you’re free to do whatever, sleep wherever.” I sighed. If I thought it hurt when she broke things off the first time, that pain was miniscule to what I felt now. Even then, I couldn’t imagine the world of hurt she was living in. “I’ll stay here until the end of the lease in June, and we’ll figure things out when the time comes.” She nodded, glaring at the ground, arms folded tightly across her chest. I held her in my arms tightly, kissing her one last time, before letting her walk into the spare room, slamming the door behind her.

Allie

Asshole! I can’t believe he did all of that, in a span of three days, while I sat here in complete misery… How could he? Oh, right. I rejected him, and he was getting revenge. He was really, truly trying to leave me. After the shitstorm of the morning I had, I couldn’t even cry, couldn’t even conjure up a single tear. I was completely numb. Everything in my body and mind was completely, totally numb. I had texted Kate, asking her to meet me at that coffee shop in an hour or so. She was running errands, so I told her not to worry and that I could just talk with her later. It wasn’t long before I finally felt the weight of everything I learned about Gavin, crushing my chest, the world crashing down again. Without thinking, I grabbed my keys and purse, and sprinted out the door, rushing down the stairs as fast as my short legs would take me. “Allie!” Gavin hollered behind me. “Allie don’t leave! Please talk to me!”

“Fuck you, Gavin,” I growled, my voice shaking. Gavin held his hands up in surrender again as he slowly descended the stairs in our apartment building. My gaze was burning holes in the ground, walls, doors, but I couldn’t allow myself to look at him. “If you love something, set it free, right? Set me free. I’ll tell you how this one ends though, Gavin, I won’t make you wait. I’m not coming back. I’m not yours, and I will never be.” I spun around on my heel and sprinted out into the parking lot, towards my car, not looking. Luckily, the car speeding at me was paying enough attention to slam on the brakes, screeching to a stop. That wasn’t enough to stop me, though. If nothing else, being hit by a car would hurt less. It has to hurt less…  

“I’m sorry,” I called to the driver, “I’m so, so sorry…” I started sobbing, and the driver stepped out of the car, sitting next to me on the ground. We sat there, and he let me cry for what felt like forever, before he finally broke the silence.

“Hey,” the stranger tapped my arm gently, catching my attention. I knew he looked familiar, but in my state of mind, I couldn’t place a name with his face. Mystery Man was tall, definitely taller than Gavin, and lean with deep brown hair and stunning green eyes. I struggled, unable to find his name still, after staring at him for a few seconds. All I knew for sure was, he was handsome, kind, and let me cry in the middle of the parking lot while his car sat there with the hazards on, blocking the way. “Are you okay? Do you need a ride somewhere?”

I sniffled, wiping my eyes on the heels of my hands. “No,” I sighed, my breath shaking. I stared at the ground again. “I’m sorry I ran out in front of you, I could have dented your car. She’s a beauty.”

“Don’t even worry about it,” his hand rested on my arm. “Cars can be repaired or replaced, but you can’t. Are you sure I can’t take you somewhere?” I looked back up at him, shaking my head. Through the glass door of the apartment building, I could see Gavin watching, obviously curious and guilty about what happened.

“No, but can you do something for me? I’ll explain everything if you don’t ask questions. I’ll get you a coffee too.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. Before he could ask any questions, I grabbed his shirt and pulled him in for a long kiss. It was supposed to be random, no feelings, nothing. But something felt electric, and the way his lips responded to mine felt good. No, silly girl, it didn’t just feel good… it felt right. When we finally pulled away, chests heaving with heavy breaths, he smiled and chuckled softly. He leaned down to my ear and whispered. “I was almost sure you had forgotten me, Allie.”

I felt a big pang in my stomach, like something was wrong. How did he know me, but I had somehow forgotten him? Who is this man? Mystery Man then answers my biggest question, as if it’s a giant, glaring tattoo on my forehead. “Allie, it’s me,” he paused. “It’s Ryan.”

TO BE CONTINUED

I’m Leaving You

Hey everyone! Long time no see, I know… I’ve been super busy lately, between starting a new job, running a podcast with my friend, and starting school again soon! I’m going to try my best to keep up with my writing, and to start writing again, I’m going to use some awesome prompts I’ve found from Writer’s Digest. I do have a story in the works, and I’m hoping to make it a book and live my dream as a writer. But we all have to start somewhere, right? I hope you all enjoy this!

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Valentine’s Day is the ultimate couple’s holiday, right? Usually, for me, I spend it with my long time boyfriend Gavin. He makes a whole night of it, taking me to a nice dinner, watching a movie and then spending the rest of our time between the sheets. The past year has been a little difficult for us though, and I’ve had enough. As awful as it is, this Valentine’s Day is going to be one neither of us will forget, no matter how much we wish we could.

For the past hour, I’ve been trying on outfit after outfit, pacing around my room, staring at myself in the mirror thinking about what I can do to fix my hair or makeup. Ugh, Allie, why bother? I scolded myself silently. I sigh, my lips turning down. There’s no reason to dress up tonight, you are going to be strong and break things off with Gavin so you can move on with your life. Although I was ready to be free, to not feel stuck in my life anymore, it still hurt. I’ve spent five years in a relationship with Gavin, and the first four years were truly great; any girl’s dream come true. We were not only lovers, but also best friends. We were playful and fun, but could also be serious and romantic, not to mention we hardly ever argued. Gavin was really cute and laid back; he just kinda goes where life takes him, whether it was us moving from place to place or him switching jobs, which he did often. He always told me he liked the experience, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever settle down and be serious about life, maybe go to college and get a degree so he could stay in just one job. He got a new job about six months ago, and this is the longest he’s ever stayed with one company since we’ve been together. He really likes the people, and his boss has been promising promotions and raises. Empty promises, leading to stress and him lashing out, but leaving that baggage at the door and doing his job the best he could.

Any time I’ve mentioned school or my progress lately, he’s gotten annoyed with me. Sometimes he’ll huff at me and leave the room, and come back after smoking and cooling down. Other times, it starts into a fight, and the school thing snowballs into other arguments, which get ugly quickly. The fighting has grown more frequent lately, especially because there will be nights where he would say he’s working late, then come home and sneak around the house, hardly staying around me for more than a few minutes at a time. Money has also been tight lately, and he seems to be short all the time; did I mention he plays dumb, like he doesn’t know where he spends his own money? I’ve had enough, and lately, this relationship has felt more like a prison than a safe haven. I don’t look forward to coming home from work anymore, knowing that there’s most likely an ugly fight waiting to happen behind the front door.

So, here I am, getting dressed in the spare room and waiting for Gavin to return home. After I changed seven times, I decided that the first outfit looked fine, and that it would be nice, but not give away my intentions. I had thought about this for a few weeks, and turned to my sister, and best friend, Kate, for help, as well as discussing this with my mom. My mom was sad, of course, but understood that if this is what I needed to be happy, that she supported me and that I could stay at home again for as long as I needed until I found a new place of my own.

I was extremely nervous, and my anxiety spiked when I heard the lock on the front door turn. “Babe!” Gavin called. “I’m home, let’s get ready to go to dinner! I made reservations at that restaurant that you love and we need to be there in a half hour.” He paused in the doorway, holding a bouquet of red roses towards me, sporting his signature goofy grin. I couldn’t help but smile. I loved him, and would miss his sweet, brown eyes greeting me at home, or seeing me off to work every morning. I would definitely miss his soft, mousy brown hair, and running my fingers through it. I met him halfway across the room, taking the flowers and planting a soft kiss on his lips. “Mmm,” Gavin groaned. He playfully squeezed my ass, then grabbed a dark red dress off of the bed. “You should wear this tonight, it’s my favorite dress you own.”

I smiled and nodded in agreement, waiting for him to leave before shutting the door, letting out a long sigh. I’m starting to second guess myself. Maybe I should just wait until after dinner, we can talk things over. Maybe give him one more chance…

I picked up the red dress, giving it a long once over before slipping out of the skirt and blouse I was wearing currently. Three soft knocks on the door, and Gavin made his way over to me, zipping up the dress without me having to ask. It was these little things that I loved, that he would just do for me, no questions asked. And then, he argues with you about the big, serious things. What then? I turned and wrapped my arms around his neck, looking deep into his eyes. This is how I want to remember him- happy, goofy, carefree. Unlike how he will be later, when I have to talk with him. I have to do this. He grabbed my hand and led me out the door, down to his car where he opened the door for me, like a gentleman. As he settled in the car and clicked his seatbelt into place, I grabbed his hand and squeezed softly. “Hey, Gav?”

“Yeah babe, what’s up?”

“I love you, you know that? I just wanted to talk about some things, but we can talk after dinner.” He smiled and nodded in agreement, kissing me quickly before starting the car and driving us to dinner. “I have something for you too, but we’ll take care of that when we get home.” I giggled softly, watching the scenery as we drove through the city.

The meal was great, and we had a great table, too. The music was soft and romantic in the background, and we were full and happy by the time we left. Gavin was acting a little strange at dinner, almost antsy. I was anxious too, and I’m one hundred percent sure that it’s for a different reason. Just breathe, Allie. You can do this. I had to keep reminding myself to stay strong. I love Gavin, I do, but it’s just been too difficult being with him recently. Things have gone downhill and I think that at the very least, we need some time and space away from each other.

We got home, and he set up candles and some dessert at the kitchen table. The roses he had brought home earlier had been put into a vase, and made a beautiful centerpiece. I was really starting to worry and question myself more and more, and soon, my inner voice was yelling at me. It was to the point that I couldn’t even concentrate on what he was saying, and at one point, he had to snap me out of my thoughts. He poured us some champagne and put on some soft jazz music, holding out his hand to me. “Can I have this dance, my lady?” He said, using a British accent. I smiled, grabbing his hand. He pulled me up and into his arms, holding me close. We had never really danced before, so at first, it was awkward and didn’t feel right. Maybe it doesn’t feel right because you’re leaving-

“So, I have a little surprise for you.” Gavin interrupts my thoughts, stopping our short dance. He grinned at me, and suddenly, I was extremely nervous. “I know you’ve wanted this for a while and I just wasn’t ready at first, but I am now. I love you, Allie,” he sighed, kissing the back of my hand as he got down on one knee, pulling a small, black velvet box out of his pocket. Oh, no. No, no, no.

“This can’t be happening,” I whispered, covering my mouth with my right hand. He held my left hand in his, opening up the box to show a beautiful diamond ring. Exactly the one I wanted.

“Allie, will you-”

“Gavin, I can’t marry you,” The words spilled out. I pulled him up and looked down at my feet, feeling my eyes beginning to burn. He snapped the box shut and grabbed for my hand, but I pulled away. He was already making this harder than it needed to be.

“Allie?” He said quietly. He put his fingers under my chin and gently forced my face up, so I had to look at him. The look on his face hurt, but the tears in his eyes shattered me.

“Gavin, I wanted to talk with you earlier,” I sighed. I tucked a strand of loose hair behind my ear. “But you had planned this dinner and I didn’t want to ruin anything-”

“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?” He muttered. He looked down, shifting back, allowing for some space between us. His eyes found mine again, searching for answers. I took a deep breath, hoping for some strength to explain without breaking down.

“Gavin, I love you, I really do,” I explained. “But lately things have felt so off, so wrong. You’ve been distant, moody, and nothing has really felt serious anymore. I want to be with you, but-”

“You just need some space, right?” He was angry. When he looked at me, it felt as if he had never really loved me. The only thing I could see now was the fire in his eyes, fierce and unforgiving. “This was supposed to be a surprise, Al. I know it’s hard for you to understand, since you didn’t have to deal with planning this proposal, saving money away to make sure I got exactly what you wanted, while you avoided this house, our house, like the plague. While you grew distant from me, and I knew I had to act fast. Dammit!” Gavin was yelling now. I took a step toward him, but he took a couple more back away from me. “No. I don’t want to hear any more. You think I haven’t thought about getting serious, Allie? It’s all I’ve thought about! You are my dream, my future. All I’ve ever wanted. And now you just want to walk away, after all of this! What we’ve been through, how much we’ve grown?”

“Gav, it isn’t like that-”

“Oh, really. Then tell me what it’s like, Al.” I shook my head, willing my tears to stop. In one swift movement, he rushed over to me, cupping my face with his hands. His big, brown eyes desperately searching mine for answers, begging me to change my mind. And for a second, I almost did.

“Gavin, I am so sorry,” I cried, voice shaking. “I need you to understand that I love you, and I always will. But right now, I just need some space. We need some time apart.” He shook his head, more tears forming. “This doesn’t have to be anything permanent. We’ve spent the last five years together, and they were the best five years of my life.”

“If they were the best, why are you doing this? Why? Even though I am so sad, so confused, you’re the only person I want to talk to, Allie,” He whispered. “But I understand. I’ll go, I’ll stay at a hotel or something for as long as you want.”

“No, Gavin,” I cut him off. I had already broken down, and I needed to stand firm now. “I’ve already made arrangements. You can stay here. We’ve already paid rent this month, I don’t want you to be short on money or anything.”

“I can’t stay here, Allie. All it will do is remind me of you and this.” He motioned around the room before rubbing at his temples. “It will kill me slowly. And that’s not how I want to go.”

“Gavin-”

“It’s done, Allie. If you need time and space, that’s what I can give you.” He let out a deep sigh. “I just hope we can find our way back to each other one day.”

Why does this feel like a forever goodbye?

Gavin leaned down and kissed my forehead, before heading into our room. Immediately, I rushed across the living room and to the back door, sitting down on the balcony before letting out the tears and emotions I had held in for so long. I haven’t cried this way in a long time, not at least since my parents got divorced. What have I done?

Hands shaking, I pulled out my phone and called my older sister. She was the only one who had seen me like this before and really knew how to comfort me, and was able to successfully calm me down. Gavin is the only other person who could help me.

I called Kate sobbing, and she told me she would come pick me up in twenty minutes. I padded into the bedroom, noticing the stillness in our home. More hot tears spilled down my cheeks as I walked to the dresser, where he left a note with the ring box, open and waiting for me.

Allie,

At first I didn’t get it, but now I do. I haven’t been the person you’ve needed me to be, and that’s okay. That’s not your fault. I’m going to stay in a hotel close to work, so I won’t be far if you need me. I love you, Allie. You’re my one, and I’m so sorry I let you slip from my grasp. I’ll always be waiting for you.

Always. Gavin

The note fell from my hands, and I crumpled to the ground. More heavy sobs poured out of me as Kate sat beside me, pulling me into her arms. She sniffled, trying to hush me as I felt my world fall down around me. “K-Kate,” I hiccuped, “What did I do?” She pulled me in tighter. “What have I done?” I wailed, shoving the note and the ring in her hands. She read the note and rocked me until I was finally calm enough to talk about what happened. Kate had managed to talk me into going to a late night coffee shop for a pick-me-up.

I spilled my guts, including how I immediately regretted my decision. Kate reached across the table and squeezed my hand gently. “Honey, I know you are hurting right now, and that you want to run to him, but you need to remember he’s hurting too. I think you both need some space, maybe a few days to breathe.” I sighed. She’s right. I did this, to myself, but mostly to Gavin. He didn’t deserve this. “I wish I had just talked with him, instead of leaving him. I ended up hurting both of us in the process.” My eyes burned, but I felt as if I had no tears left to cry.

Kate nodded silently. “Babe, it would have hurt no matter how it happened. It sounds like you’ve been trying to talk with him, right? And he hasn’t really heard you. Maybe this will give him, and you, some time to think about what you both really want.”

For me, the answer is easy. I want him. I want my best friend back. Mostly, I want to turn back time, at least go back to yesterday, and warn myself what would happen. How much it would hurt not just him, but me as well. In an attempt to gain some space and a little time, I lost more than I could ever hope to gain. I let out a shaky sigh.

“Hey, don’t do that,” Kate warned. “No matter how much you wish you could go back and change it, undo the past, it won’t work. The best advice I have for you is to take a few days, three minimum, to think and breathe. Both of you need time to breathe.”

“Thank you, Kate. I don’t know what I would ever do without you.”

TO BE CONTINUED.

Flight: Part 7

IT’S HERE! And it’s a lengthy chapter! This is the final chapter, I hope you all enjoy it!


One Year Later

Things have been very stressful and rocky since I finished my book last year. I’ve been working like crazy, waiting tables and tending bar at a restaurant just down the street from our new apartment. Nick has been insanely successful at his job, and has to go on business trips every other month or so, which leaves me behind, and alone, frantically trying to find someone, anyone, to publish my book. I learned quickly that it was foolish of me to think that writing would be the most difficult part of the process.

When Nick first started leaving for business trips, I was sad. I never wanted him to leave, and he didn’t want to leave me, either. He called daily, sometimes more than once, and usually texted me all day long. The more business trips he took, the less he called, and the longer he would be away. He would call sometimes after a few days of being gone, sounding breathless and and desperate, saying he was too busy and didn’t have any time to call me until then. At first, I understood, and was patient. My patience wore thin quickly, and soon, we would end a call quicker than it started, usually with a big fight over nothing.

Of course, when he came home, he always tried to make everything up to me, and it gave me a glimmer of hope that we could be the couple we used to be. We wanted to wait to be married, and still have not set a date, or really gotten any details figured out. I think my parents and Rachel are getting more and more impatient than I am, always asking for updates and asking to go shopping for dresses. Though I hated it, I always declined, but I have window shopped for wedding dresses more than I would care to admit.

Marriage is now a touchy subject for Nick. At first, he was so excited to be married, but he wanted it to happen in enough time for us to plan our dream wedding, and make sure it was everything I ever wanted. As time passed, we both grew busier, and now, any time I try to bring up marriage or the wedding, or even just planning, it starts a fight. I’m not even able to speak to him about children, or our future past the wedding without starting a fight!

Nick doesn’t know it, but when he leaves town, I go and stay at my Mom’s house. Lately, I’ve reached out to some of my old high school friends, and when I’m done working a shift, I change and head out to a bar. Lots of guys flirt with me and then when they see the ring, they leave me alone, and avoid me like the plague. There has been nights, and many more recently, that I’ve considered leaving the ring at home, but when I take it off, I put it right back on; I feel too naked without it, and it feels wrong.

I’m desperately hoping that Nick and I can find that place that we once were, before all of the business and the writing, the wedding, and the fighting. In the midst of finding a publisher that will actually accept and publish my first novel, I’ve written a sequel, but with all of the stress, I’m having a major case of writer’s block. When all I can focus on is the fighting and worrying about if he’s actually going to come home, or call, of course I’m going to be stressed and not focused on writing…

And just like that, I had a new idea, something different and that had potential to be therapeutic for me. This little idea literally felt like the lightbulb that you see above inspired characters in children’s cartoons, and though I felt cheesy, I also felt a lot better. I pulled out my phone and called Rachel as soon as I knew. She answered on the very last ring. “I’m really kinda busy and irritated right now, as in, I don’t really want to listen to your Nick drama,” she snapped at me. Okay, update on Rachel and I- since Nick and I started fighting, Rachel and I first grew closer, but with me turning to her to talk to and complain to all the time, she grew sick and tired of me quickly. Most of the time she just would say she was busy, and she’s never said flat out she doesn’t want to talk about Nick problems. Not that I blame her…

“Bitchy much?” I growled back at her through the phone.

“If all you wanted was to call me names, I’m going to hang up-”

“No, no no, Rach. Wait, please,” I begged. “I’m not calling to complain to you, or to fight with you. I want you to go out with me to the mall or something.” I said it all in one huge rush, as if she would actually hang up on me, and only had a few seconds to spit out exactly what I needed to say.

Rachel was silent for about five seconds before responding. “I’m listening,” She sighed. “What do you need at the mall? And where is ‘or something?’” She quoted me.

“I don’t know Rach, I just need to get out for a bit, get some air,” I sighed. “I just figured some retail therapy would help, and I do need to get out and do something other than my normal late night bar crawls.”

“Oh, em, gee!” She squealed. “Yes, Diana! Welcome back, sis! I’ll come pick you up in about twenty minutes!” I laughed. “Oh, and BTW, would you please shower and wear at least minimal makeup? And look presentable? You only ever go out looking like a hoe, no offense,” She giggled. I rolled my eyes, smiling.

“At least you’re honest about it. Yes, I will shower and look nice and not like my usual ‘hoe’ bar look. I will be ready soon, I’ll leave the door unlocked for you. Let yourself in when you get here if I’m not ready by the time you get here.” We said our goodbyes and as I plopped my phone down on the bed, my phone began ringing at me again. This time, it was Nick. I paused, contemplating if I wanted to answer or not. Who am I kidding, of course I want to. He’s my future husband, and this project will be for him, too. In my heart, I knew that at the very least, I needed to hear his voice. “H-hello?” I stuttered. I rummaged through my closet while balancing the phone on my shoulder.

“Hi, babe. What are you doing?”

“Getting ready to go out with Ra-”

“You have to be fucking kidding me, Diana!” Nick growled at me. “It’s only two in the afternoon, and you’re going out to a fucking bar?” He snorted. “Typical. Poor you. I’ll be home later tonight, I’ll sleep on the couch and let you crawl into bed yourself.”

The call ended, and I felt as if I got smacked across the face. Hot, angry tears welled up in my eyes, and I looked for shorter shorts, and a top that was showed a little more skin.

Most importantly, I took off the ring, and hid it in the ring box in my underwear drawer. Today, I was only Diana Malley, single girl, chasing her dreams and trying not to choke the shit out of her roommate, who also happened to be avoiding her problems with retail therapy. Rachel sent me a text saying she was here and ready to go, and when she saw me, she covered her eyes and looked away in annoyance. I fastened my seatbelt and looked over at her in time to see her shake her head. “What?” I asked, playing dumb. I knew too well why she was shaking her head at me, and I did deserve it.

“Did I miss a memo? Are we really going to the mall, or are we going to a bar or a club today?” She snapped, huffing angrily at me. She held her lips in a tight line, as if holding back everything she truly wanted to say. She looked down, and cut me off as I opened my mouth to respond. “Whatever, just save it. I’ll take you to the damn mall, and then to Mom, so she can see how you truly are. When was the last time you remember looking in the mirror and thinking that you can remember the night before? Or where you went, even who you were with? Can you remember a time you were actually proud of yourself, or what you’ve done?” She vented. She took a deep, shaky breath.

“Yes, I can actually,” I said calmly, not allowing the lump in my throat to be known. “The last time I looked in the mirror and was proud of myself, or what I’ve done, was when I finished the book. I was waiting for the last page to come off of the printer, and as I did, I couldn’t think of how my life could ever go wrong, because then, it was perfect. I had tears in my eyes and running down my cheeks, but I smiled through the tears. I smiled, ear to ear, because I was genuinely, one hundred percent happy, and full of pride.” The knot had actually gone away, and though I knew I had messed up plenty of times, I was not ashamed to talk about how proud of myself I used to be, how happy I once was with my life.

“And now?” Rachel whispered, wiping tears from her eyes. Her eyes begged me for an answer, to make a promise. I reached over and squeezed her hand gently for the first time in a long time, causing my baby sister to smile.

“And now, Rach, I’m going to tell you the truth.” I closed my eyes, willing the tears to disappear, taking a deep breath. “This may hurt, but it definitely won’t hurt as much for you as it will for admitting it to myself. I hate myself, Rachel. I’m rebelling, retaliating against myself. I could have had another book written and ready to present by now, I could have had most or all of the wedding things squared away by now. But I was feeling weak, defeated, and completely alone.” My voice broke, and Rachel stifled a small sob as I continued. “I mostly hate myself because I threw everything away, and I’m now in the same boat I was in before I moved back home. This habit I have, it was easy getting back into because it’s all I knew when I was in San Diego. The only difference was, most nights I would bring home a different guy. I was too scared to be attached, and I didn’t want any feelings or emotions between us. Most of the time, I was too wasted to want anything else anyway, and they never came home with me.”

Rachel interrupted, looking down into her lap, clearly scared to ask the question. “Diana, I need to ask you this, only because I love you and I need some clarity.” I nodded, and she took a deep breath. “Have you slept with anyone else? Or you just go out to drink and come home miserable, whether Nick is here or not?”

I hesitated, stalling by running my hand through my hair. “I have not cheated on Nick, and I don’t want to,” I sighed. Her eyes found my bare ring finger, and widened. “This is not what it looks like. I haven’t done anything with anyone else, and like I said, I don’t want to. I love Nick, but when I’m pissed off at him, I take it off. Usually it ends up back on before I leave the house, but he said something that really hurt me today, and I decided I didn’t need the extra weight of the ring to remind me of the hurtful things he’s said to me.” Rachel turned off the car and leaned across the seat, squeezing me in a long, tight hug.

“Do you want me to kick his ass? Because it’s been a long time since I had to threaten to kick his ass,” she joked, causing both of us to laugh. “Hey, let’s go upstairs and get you changed, and get the ring back. I have a better idea than retail therapy.”

“Fine, but I’m not wearing that ring right now. I meant what I said, and obviously Nick did, too. He was hurtful and rude, and I’m not going to flaunt his ring and give him the satisfaction right now. Maybe in a couple hours and after some coffee.” Rachel nodded in agreement, and as I let her into our apartment, she ran straight for my closet. She protested when I tried to help her find my outfit, and she told me to go check some e-mails and call out of work tonight, because we now had plans together. Once I had everything taken care of, she called me back to the my room from the living room. She had laid out a beautiful black dress on the bed, with a pair of nice pumps and beautiful accessories that all went together perfectly. My eyes shot wide open as soon as I saw the dress, because I haven’t worn that dress since…

“The engagement dress. Rachel, I can’t-”

“Yes you can, and you will. You looked completely stunning that night and you need to again tonight, trust me.” She was firm, and picked up the dress, holding it out to me. “I’ve already picked out an outfit for myself, and I’m going to take your bathroom to change and fix my makeup and hair. Crying makes me terribly ugly, I’m afraid,” she laughed, then locked the door. I rolled my eyes and smiled, as I quickly changed into the outfit Rachel picked for me, without any further complaints.

Rachel had taken me to a dinner meeting with another publisher, and this one went surprisingly well compared to the others in the past. Most of the time, the receptionist was the person you were able to communicate with, and she would insist that you mailed in your rough copy, and that they would be in touch if they were interested. I still had a pile of rejection letters waiting to be shredded. At first, I saw it as a reminder daily to stay determined and keep moving forward, but as time went on, it turned more into a daily reminder of what I haven’t accomplished; how I failed.

I really enjoyed the dinner we all had together, and Rachel was seriously good at talking me up, making me look awesome and professional, and making it sound like the publisher would be making a big mistake by not taking me on, essentially. After a year of rejection letters and short-tempered receptionists, I left dinner still hopeful, but not with my hopes too high. I know I need to make a change, starting with spending my nights in bars and clubs versus at home, working on my writing. What I needed most was to let out all of my emotions, and though I thought all the alcohol and dancing was letting it out, I still never felt completely better and relieved.

Rachel gave me a quick hug as she dropped me off, waiting until I was inside the building before pulling away. I made my way up the stairs and down the hall, taking my time unlocking the door and stepping inside. The lamp in the living room provided a dim light through the apartment, but every other room was dark. I slid out of my heels and padded down the dark hall into the bedroom, ducking into the closet in time to hear Nick’s laughter, and someone else’s voice. What the hell?!

There was another woman, in my apartment. Laughing with Nick, discussing who knows what. I could hear their voices, and as I peeked around the corner, I saw him throw his head back as he laughed, this dark haired, tan-skinned lady watching him. They were both trying too hard, and both held a glass of my favorite red wine, with the bottle sitting on the coffee table next to them, empty. I had a choice to make- one, I could be typical me and freak out, shrieking at the other woman until she left my home, or two, I could pack a bag and ask Rachel or my mom to pick me up, and sneak out, leaving Nick to his own suspicions. Deep in thought, Nick’s deep voice bellowed at me from across the room, snapping me back to reality. Here we go…

“Oh, Diana, you’re just in time to meet my new friend!” He giggled like a teenager with a crush; he was clearly drunk. “Well, wait, she’s my boss but my friend off the clock!” They both howled with laughter, and didn’t even notice when I turned my back on their ‘conversation’ and excused myself to pack a bag. I don’t need to stay and watch this… I don’t have to deal with this, and I’m not going to. Not anymore…I rushed into the bedroom, furiously wiping at the hot, stinging tears in my eyes. I grabbed my purse, the laptop, and the book I had been reading, when the sparkling ring grabbed my attention as I walked past the mirror. Holding back a sob, I pulled it off, and put it back into the small, black velvet box, and left the small box on my side of the bed; no note, no explanation, nothing.

I padded back down the hall, my vision so blurred with tears that I didn’t even see the other woman making her way towards me. I completely ran into her, mumbling an apology as I ran out the door, slamming it behind me. I didn’t bother locking the door; Nick would take care of it when he took home his boss, friend, whoever she was. My phone rang as I walked towards the bus stop, and when I saw his picture on the screen, I threw my phone into the pavement. He continued to call, and my phone screen stayed lit up on the ground, as I plopped down on the curb, hugging myself as I cried.

I had finally gathered the courage to pick up my phone and face whatever wrath I had waiting for me. Was there any way to fix this? I left the ring- his ring, in the box on my side of the bed. I can’t fix things right now, I can barely fix myself and my bad choices. Nick had called me five times, and sent me three texts. As I went to open the messages, his picture popped up on my screen one more time, giving me a last chance to answer and face him. “H-hello,” I stuttered, attempting to sound as normal as possible.

“Are you done being psycho yet, and are you going to give Alice a chance? She’s just a friend, there’s nothing going-” He paused. I already knew what he had found. “Diana. Why?” Silently, I let the tears run down my cheeks, letting him talk, get angry, whatever he would do. Her voice- Alice, wasn’t it?, softly followed a series of knocks on the door. I heard her say she was leaving, and taking a cab home. He grunted goodbye, saying he would see her at work on Monday when he went back in. Nick took a deep breath, letting the silence between us grow for a few seconds. “Is this what it’s come down to, Di? Are you that jealous or insecure?”

“Nick, I-”

“No, Diana, no excuses! What happened?” His voice grew shaky and quiet. “You were wearing same dress as the night you said yes. I didn’t know it was possible for you to look more beautiful than you did that night. I saw you, Di-”

I panicked and hung up the phone, sobbing as I hugged my knees tightly to my chest. A car slowed down and pulled up to the curb next to me, rolling down the window slowly. I looked up, and wouldn’t you know it? Alice had pulled up, wearing a mask of concern. “Hey hun,” she called, “Do you need a ride somewhere? I know you just left home and I could give you a ride back there or-”

“Can you actually give me a ride to my mom’s house?” I cut her off. Alice smiled back at me, and gestured her hand to get in the car. She moved her purse to the back seat, making sure there was room for me. Avoiding her eyes, I sat down quickly and pulled the seatbelt across my chest, looking at my feet the whole time. From my peripheral vision, I could tell that she was watching me, waiting to start driving until she made sure I was fine. I took a deep breath and turned to face her, when she pulled a tissue and a small mirror from her purse and handed them to me. Then, I understood why she did- I look freaky! My mascara and eyeliner completely ran down my cheeks, leaving black streaks. My eyes resembled a racoon, and needed some major TLC. Once I had wiped most of the makeup off and looked acceptable again, she silently handed me her phone and had me type the address into Google Maps.

The entire car ride was uncomfortable, and completely quiet. I had turned my phone completely off, so I wouldn’t be bothered by anybody on my way home. As she pulled into the driveway of my childhood home, I turned to her. “”Thank you for the ride, Alice.” I muttered, before she stopped me.

“Wait, Diana.” She blurted. When I turned and looked at her, her dark brown eyes seemed to be genuine and full of concern. “He never once mentioned he was engaged, until he started drinking. All Nick talked about was you, until you got home, and then he turned into a real jerk. I’m putting in a transfer tomorrow so I don’t have to work with him or be his boss any more, and he will have a male boss. I never wanted to be a homewrecker, and I will never be one, as long as I breathe. Do you trust me?” More hot tears spilled down my cheeks as I nodded. “Good,” she said shakily. “Plus, he’s not really my type anyway.”

I giggled shakily, swiping at the tears running down my cheeks. “Should I even ask who or what is your type?” She smiled back at me, and looked down, as if she was embarrassed.

“You’re more my type than he is,” she smiled back at me, and waved as she rolled the window back up. I rushed around to the driver’s side of the car, and tapped the glass quickly. She rolled down the window and I pulled her into a quick, awkward hug. “Thank you,” I whispered by her ear. “I’ll talk to him in the morning when we’ve both had some time to cool down.”

Alice pulled back, looking at me. “I’m glad to hear that,” she sighed, smiling at me. “He really does love you, you know. Lately he just hasn’t been good at showing it. To be honest, I think what’s bothering him the most is his own failure in your relationship. But hey, I’m an outsider here. What do I know, anyway?” She laughed softly, looking down again. “I am honestly glad to know you’ll give him another chance, even after the way he’s been to you. You deserve someone great, and most of the time, that’s exactly what Nick is. I wish you the best, Diana, but I need to get going. I’m tired and have an early flight out tomorrow, but give me a call if you need anything, okay?” She handed me a napkin with her number scrawled across it. I stepped back from the car, waving as she pulled away from the curb.

I plopped myself down on the front porch, and took a few deep breaths as I waited for my phone to turn back on. My phone was full of texts, missed calls, and even a voicemail, all from Nick, but nothing rattled me more than the most recent text he sent. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I gazed down at the beautifully happy couple in the photo, from the night he took his love out for her dream proposal, and had a photo taken of them, her showing off the ring to the camera. My smile was radiant, but his was so genuine and true, it was contagious. “What happened to them?” I whispered to myself, looking down to the finger where my ring used to be.

“They started drifting apart, because the man wasn’t a man at all, he was weak and stressed out.” Nick’s deep voice startled me; I hadn’t even heard him pull up or walk up the driveway. “They drifted because the man that was supposed to be there for his girl, to support her as she chased her dream, decided to chase his instead, leading him to stress and irritability, and a lot of alcohol.” He crossed his arms over his chest, looking down. Even though I only saw him under the light of the moon, I could see the tears shining in his eyes, though he tried to avoid my gaze. “Diana, what have I done? How can I ever make it right?”

“I don’t know, Nick,” I sighed, “I honestly don’t know how we could fix this. We’ve both made mistakes, and we’re both to blame, not just you-”

“But I’m the one who pushed you, and our relationship, to this point!” He bellowed. “I didn’t cheer you on, I half-listened to you, made false accusations, and criticized you, every step of the way! I’ve never been even half of the man you deserve, and the fact that I tried to flirt with my boss tonight in front of you, in your home, proves that I-”

“Don’t you say it, Nicholas,” I warned. “I don’t want to hear it as much as you don’t want to say it. I’ve messed up too, you know! I was demanding, needy, and I’ve always been broken. You made me whole again, you were exactly what I needed.”

He looked up at me, and I stood to meet his eyes. “W-what do you mean, I was exactly what you needed?” He whispered shakily. “Am I not what you need anymore? Is there someone else or something else you need to be happy? What can I do?”

I shook my head, grabbing his arms, trying to get him to look at me again. “Nick, that’s not what I meant, and you know it,” I cried. “You’re still what I need and who I need, but we also need to find ourselves again, and I think we need to remember why we fell in love. My heart and my head hurt too much to figure any of that out tonight, and that’s why I came here, Nick. I need to think. I need some time, and that’s all I need. You’re welcome to come by in the morning, I’m sure my parents will be happy to see you. Maybe that’s a place to start.”

He looked down, frowning and nodding his head. “Diana, I could barely make it here in the car. I’ve drank too much, and I don’t think I can make it home. Can I stay with you? Will you come home with me, please? Baby, I need you more than anything-” He continued babbling, grabbing my arms, my wrists, trying to pull me closer as I struggled to gain distance.

“Nick, stop!” I shrieked. I took a step back, and took a deep breath. “I need time and a little space. You can stay here, or I can drive you home, but either way, I’m coming back here. Before you come inside, you need to calm down, or my parents will come out here and I guarantee they won’t allow you to stay. Not like this,” I sighed. I thought I didn’t sound as shaky as I felt, and that I was in control. Nick nodded silently, waiting for me to make the next move. “What do you want me to do, Nick?” I sighed again, swallowing hard to get rid of the lump in my throat. I had already cried so much, I didn’t realize I still had any tears in me.

“I can stay in another room, and I’ll give you whatever space you need and want,” he responded calmly. “I’ll go home after breakfast tomorrow, and I can drive you back so you can get some clothes and things. I did bring this back for you tonight, in case you did end up needing or wanting it.” He pulled the ring out of his pocket, kneeling again in front of the porch, holding it up to me. “I want more than anything to make things right, but I know that we both need space, and I’m okay with that. I have the next couple of days off, and they will be lonely without you, but I’ll be home. I’ll wait for you, I promise.” I stifled a sob, holding out my hand, allowing him to slide his beautiful ring back on my finger again. It felt right, and I already felt a little less broken. He stood and pulled me into his arms, and I cried harder into his shoulder than I had all night. He rubbed soft circles in my back, allowing me to let my emotions out.

Quietly, we padded through the dark house, as I showed him to the guest room, just a couple doors down from mine. We were separated by only a closet and the small bathroom, but it felt like he was halfway across the world. As soon as I flopped down on my bed, it was easy to find sleep; the only problem was staying asleep. I would reach out, reach for Nick, and when I felt the empty space next to me, everything hurt a little more. I gave in, grabbing my pillow and a blanket, and padded to the guest room. He was in bed, rolled flat on his back, just staring at the ceiling. I opened the door and he sat up, and breathed a sigh of relief when he recognized me.

“I thought you needed space,” he whispered as I crawled in bed next to him.

“I need you more, Nicholas,” I half smiled at him. “I can’t sleep, I hardly ever sleep when you’re gone.” Nick smiled back at me, and pulled me against his chest, nuzzling my neck. It had been a long time since things had felt so right, a small part of me wanted to pinch myself to make sure it was real.

Quote/Update 09/02/16

Hello everyone!

I know, I’ve been gone for quite some time.. To be honest, I’ve been really busy and super stressed out. Most of all, with all of the stress and anxiety lately, I have been feeling insanely uninspired. I felt like I’ve been too exhausted to even think twice about writing, and I’ve only written twice in the last few weeks.. And the things I’ve written are still sitting in my folder, waiting to be finished and posted.

I have this habit that I developed last year at my old job. See, when I worked there, I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse in my life, and I was tired of it. I needed some hope, inspiration, motivation to grow and eventually leave. At first, I wrote quotes that were mostly just for me, only one or two people noticed them. Then, I would fight back with my quotes- mainly about leadership. And then I started writing them out, after searching them online, on the back of a checklist that I turned in during each shift. Turns out the girl that read them actually really loved these quotes, and looked forward to seeing them every morning. (Update on that: I send her pictures of quotes I write out)

I still have whiteboards by my desk at this new job, as does everyone, and lately, I’ve been feeling anxious and stressed to the max, and I’ve hit my limit more than once these past few weeks. So this morning, I decided I needed a change in scenery, even if it was something as small as changing the quotes on my boards. I found some really awesome ones, but my favorite one I found this morning is this:

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” -Maya Angelou

Okay, WOW.

I feel seriously so much better, and I continued searching through Maya Angelou quotes on Google, and I just seriously feel the most intense need to read and write, to settle down and let the words flow, or get lost in a book world and forget my problems for a bit. My therapist would most likely tell me that I’m just distracting myself or avoiding the issues, but as long as I don’t make a habit of it, I should be fine. Right?

Now that I’ve talked about myself, we could talk about my projects I’m working on. As lots of you know, I’ve been writing chapters in a story I called Flight. I am currently working on part 7 and I think (key word) I’m about finished. After part 7, Part 8 should be my last.. At this point, I’m trying to figure out how to spit out exactly what I want to say without each portion being too lengthy! I have been working on another project, a short story. This one is starting to feel like I bit off a bit more than I can chew, and I only wanted it to be one post, but who knows right now? This idea basically hit me like a freight train at work, and when I told my sister the word that inspired me, she huffed and groaned at me… but was relieved when I explained everything else. 🙂 I will give you the title, and I’m really hoping you enjoy this when I do post it… “I, Zombie.” (yes, sounds like the TV show, but it is definitely different!)
Thank you all for sticking with me and being patient. Life has been quite a headache lately and I sincerely hope it gets better from here, and with the help of some inspirational quotes and plenty of wine and coffee, I should get some more work done and released for you all! Happy Friday, enjoy the long weekend! 

Check out my podcast!!

Hello everyone! As you may know, I am one half of The Book Hangover podcast, and our newest episode is now available! Be sure to listen on iTunes, Sound Cloud, and Google Play!  Enjoy!

Guys, We have officially finished the House of Night series by P.C Cast and Kristin cast! we are super excited and sad to be finally finishing this amazing series! Please go and listen to this final episode of the house of night series! Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment on all of our social media […]

via THIS IS THE END — The Book Hangover

Flight: Part 6

Nick

She has no idea what she’s walking into, I thought to myself. Diana was obviously deep in thought, in that beautiful, brilliant mind of hers. I spoke with her father before we even came back home, because this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. With any other girl, this has always been at the very back of my mind, normally not something I would have thought about. I never really imagined much of a future with the other girls, and with them, it was all about the present.

Diana is different. She is fearless and has huge dreams, and is very honest and will talk about anything with you. There are days where she hides her feelings, but she will eventually come forward and talk about it, given enough time. Since Diana and I have first started seeing each other, all I could think about is when I would see her again, and after we moved in together, starting with the hotel, that’s when I started considering our future- my future with her, and her family.

Am I nervous about dinner tonight? Absolutely. Am I going to run screaming from the restaurant? Definitely not, though with the way my stomach was churning, it felt like I did want to run to the restroom before dinner. We were headed to a restaurant that had a small dance floor and soft music playing through the meal, and for those who needed to get up and move after eating. Diana’s parents and Rachel were on the way to pick up the ring, as I didn’t want the box to fall out of my pocket or for her to notice a box and get curious. I can’t keep anything from her, and I know I did when we first were together, but as time passed, we shared everything with each other.

The fact that I haven’t told her I want to propose, that I have to keep this secret, is killing me. But her face and her reaction will be worth it. Diana and I have talked about what our biggest dreams for the future were, and what her ideal wedding and proposal would look like. I’m about to make her dream proposal come to life, by having a nice dinner with her family there, the band playing soft, slow music we were able to dance to, and I would get down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor, and ask her to marry me, with her parents and sister there to capture the moment. Small and intimate, but with the most important people in her life there for support.

I pulled up and parked at the restaurant, jumping out and opening the door for Di. She flashed her full wattage smile at me as she threaded her fingers with mine, following me into the restaurant. “We’re here with the Malley party?” I asked, hoping her parents had beat us here.

“Yes sir, the rest of the party has already been seated, follow me.” I thanked the host, leading Diana through the restaurant and to our table. Rachel must have been asking a few more questions about our plan for the night, because as soon as we approached the table, she looked startled and all three of them stopped talking. Diana giggled as I pulled out her chair so she could have a seat.

“What, is there some big secret I’m not allowed to know?” She teased. Rachel’s eyes grew wider and she sucked in a breath, ready to spill the beans. I cut her off before she was able to.

“Babe, remember what I said in the car,” I sighed, shooting Rachel a very obvious look. This girl is going to ruin the whole plan, I started to worry. As dinner went on, I grew more anxious and nervous, and Rachel’s nervous babble was not helping anyone. Eventually, I motioned for her to just be quiet. She couldn’t possibly mess it up if she didn’t talk, right? Of course, the way Diana would have defied me, Rachel did as well.

“Hey, Diana,” she whined, “I need some help fixing my dress, will you come with me?” I noticed her hand was behind her back, fiddling with the zipper. Diana sighed and hesitated, but she agreed. When the girls were out of earshot, Tom leaned across the table.

“I have the ring, do you want me to hold on to the box?” He hissed, keeping his voice down as low as possible. I nodded and held out my hand, as he set the cool, sparkling, silver ring in my hand. I hastily stuffed it in my pocket, as I didn’t know how long Rachel would keep Diana occupied in the restroom. “We hired a photographer to capture the moment, so we all have a better photo than one taken on a smartphone,” Tom smiled, shaking my hand. “Are you nervous?”

I nodded, pointing at Diana and Rachel making a beeline for the table again, smiling at him. I’m more nervous than you can imagine, I thought, but Diana is worth it. “This genius thought something was wrong with her dress, when really, it was just barely unzipped!” Diana huffed, crossing her arms and settling down in the chair beside me.

“Hey, it was causing a major malfunction! You know how I am about a fashion malfunction-”

“Major or minor,” Diana finished her sentence, growing irritated. “Yes, I know you. You could have just asked me to fix it here, oddball.”

“No I couldn’t,” Rachel babbled, “I needed the right light to make sure it was nothing serious. This dress wasn’t cheap and I would never take the chance of ruining it!” She gasped, as Diana huffed again. I covered my laugh with a cough, but Diana noticed it.

“You are so lucky you don’t have siblings,” she sighed, “Rach, I love you to death, but you seriously drive me insane sometimes.” Rachel winked back at Diana, and blew her a kiss. Diana’s favorite song started playing, and her eyebrows shot up in excitement. “Ohmygod, babe! It’s my favorite song, I don’t think I’ve heard it played this way before!”

I stood up and offered her my hand, bowing to her. “Diana Malley, may I have this dance?” She mirrored my smile, allowing me to pull her to her feet, and lead her to the dance floor. This is it, I sighed dreamily, looking at my girl right in the eyes. Her parents followed us to the floor, Rachel watching the four of us dance from the table. Diana laughed softly.

“I know Rachel is emotional, but I’ve never seen her cry because of a song,” she pointed out. I looked back, and sure enough, she was smiling, but wiping at her eyes with a Kleenex she pulled out of her small, sequined purse. “Maybe she just loves the song as much as I do,” she sighed, looking back up at me. I spun Diana around, and pulled her back into me. We had danced once before, at the apartment back in San Diego when she insisted I slow dance with her after we came home from the bar. It was the same night she spilled all the details about the dream proposal. Her song was almost over, and that was my cue.

When I stopped moving, she looked confused, and looked over for her parents. She searched the crowd for them, which gave me enough time to get down on one knee before she turned back to face me. Her eyes shot open wide, and she covered her mouth with one hand. “Diana,” I smiled, looking up to her, “I know we’ve only been together a short time, but in the short time we’ve had, you’ve become my best friend, and I can’t imagine a life without you. My life truly began when I met you, and I can’t remember a better time in my life without you in it. Diana Malley, will you marry me?” She wiped a tear away from her eyes before nodding her head and leaping into my arms. She sobbed, shaking, as I rubbed her back. She kissed me, as everyone applauded for us, and I slid the ring on her small finger. She smiled and kissed me over and over again, laughing happily and holding onto me tightly.

Diana

I knew something was up when we all went to a ridiculously fancy and expensive restaurant, but I didn’t know that it would end with my engagement to Nick. At first, I did think that it could be a proposal, but then I realized that my parents and Rachel would be there, and I figured he would propose to me at a private dinner, with just the two of us. Not to mention, when we got in the car and I was trying to figure out what was going on, he threw me off, and said that he thinks my parents have news, and that he caught them and Rachel whispering all day long about it.

I think the most perfect thing about it is that this truly was my dream proposal. I don’t remember much about the night I told him, but I remember that Nick did ask me about dream weddings, proposals, and other wild dreams of mine. He told me about some of his dreams, too, so I believed we were just discussing and giggling at each other’s crazy, wild dreams. I didn’t imagine he actually remembered everything, and made sure that my dream proposal came true, even with my favorite song!

Throughout the rest of dinner and dessert, I couldn’t resist staring down at my ring. At every angle and in the light, it sparkled brightly, catching my eye, and I felt like I couldn’t look away. Nick beamed at me, sitting closer to me through the rest of the meal and the ride home. I was very happy, but my brain took off running, now that I recognized I was engaged. Now that we’re engaged, we should really look into our own places, and I should really pursue a true, adult job, and the writing I can do on the side.. I can’t wait tables and rely on Nick forever, no matter how much he wants me to-

“May we take a photo of you and your lovely bride-to-be?” A deep voice cut off my mental babble. “We have many engagements, and we love to hang their photos on the wall, for everyone to see. Our restaurant loves to celebrate happiness and love.”

“Of course, you may!” Nick exclaimed, pulling me to my feet.

“Perfect!” The waiter replied. “Follow me, there is better lighting over here.”

We took a handful of photos, the typical couple pose with Nick’s arm around my waist, pulling me close to him, and a close up of our hands together, showcasing my incredible engagement ring. After a few minutes of photos, we thanked the waiter for his time, and made our way back to the table. Rachel was starting to squirm, obviously ready to head home and change into her party clothes, and my parents looked exhausted. No doubt, everyone has been planning this night for me all day, and for who knows how long, and it was definitely time to head home and get some rest. Nick insisted on covering the whole bill for the table, but I was the one who covered the tip, even though Nick protested. Eventually, he caved, and allowed me to leave a tip before we left.

We climbed in the car, and he drove us, but back to the hotel he stayed in for the first week we were together, instead of back home. When I looked over, he winked at me, before jumping out of the car, and opening the door for me again. “Baby, can I carry you bridal style up to our room?” He pleaded, eyes shining. “I need practice for the real thing, and I just love holding you.” I laughed and rolled my eyes, and before answering, Nick’s strong arms pulled me up and held me tightly. He startled me, so I squeaked and automatically wrapped my arms around his neck. He smiled down at me, kissing me on the forehead before marching into the hotel.

I didn’t sleep much that night, between tickle fights with Nick and just staring, mostly at my ring, but also at the ceiling. Nick fell fast asleep hours ago, and had a slight snore. His arms were around me, holding me protectively while he rested. I felt safe and loved, but I also wanted to go out and enjoy some fresh air on the small balcony. If I move, he’ll wake up and follow me, I wondered, but I think it’s an okay risk to take, even if I get a minute or two of time to myself..

I slowly moved his arm up just a little so I could move, and in my place, allowed him to cuddle with one of my pillows for the time being. Quickly and quietly, I tiptoed to the door, grabbing my robe on the way, hugging it close to me while I gazed at the starry sky. I gulped in the cool night air, as if I hadn’t been outside in months, and looked down at my ring, allowing the moonlight to make it truly shine. I grinned again, ear to ear, feeling a random tear escape. I swiped at my eye, commanding myself, Don’t cry, you will not cry, Diana! Stop this! But the more I tried to stop myself, the bigger the lump in my throat grew. At this point, I didn’t even know why I was crying anymore, I couldn’t tell if it was just happiness or what was going on. I sat down against the hotel wall, and hugged my knees to my chest as I stared up again at the sky.

Before I even realized what had happened, inspiration hit me like a train, and all I knew is that I needed to write, and I needed to write now! Frantically, I ran back in, closing the glass door behind me, not noticing how loud it was until Nick stirred in bed. I stopped in my tracks, waiting for him to settle down again and fall back asleep, and once he did, I ran over to the bag he had packed for us. Luckily for me, Nick always brought his laptop with him, for business reasons. For me, this was a more personal reason, and as the computer booted up, I saw that he had created me my own personal account on his computer. I clicked on my picture icon, and as the screen loaded, I saw he left a note on the side of the screen, in the Sticky Notes application.

Di,

I knew inspiration would strike at some point, most likely in the middle of the night or a weird time of the day, but I knew you would need this. Have a blast, you can do this!

-Nick

I smiled to myself, tracing my fingers gently against the screen. There was no doubt in my mind that I had made the right choice in accepting his proposal, though it was very early in the relationship. I had always known that something with us had clicked from the get go, even when I told those ridiculous lies on the plane. I left the sticky notes open as motivation and silent support, and began writing.

I didn’t realize how long I had been writing until the sun rose, and I hadn’t gotten any sleep. Though I was tired and knew I would have to retreat to bed eventually, I still also felt awake and inspired. One more chapter, then you have to rest, I told myself. Sure, I had told myself that for at least the last four chapters, but I was on a roll, and wasn’t able to stop. To be completely honest, I hadn’t felt this inspired since I graduated high school, and wrote fantastical stories of my future, and turned my dreams into words and chapters, and hid them away in notebooks stashed in my closet at home. I finished up the last chapter, and wrote a note to myself to look for those notebooks, before finally closing the laptop lid and shuffling to bed. Naturally, as soon as I got comfortable and was ready to fall asleep, Nick’s arms wrapped around me, pulling me into his chest, whispering in my ear. “I love you,” he sighed sleepily. “How did the writing go?”

I smiled, giggling softly. “I’m so inspired baby,” I sighed deeply. “I wrote quite a bit, so much that I’m not sure I can just post it to my blog, but I just want to share it with the world. I think I’m going to finish this book, and once I have finished it, I’m going to submit it to a bunch of editors and publishers.”

He smiled, kissing my head. “That’s my girl,” he grumbled, rubbing circles in the small of my back. “Now, get some sleep so you can get some more writing done tomorrow. Sweet dreams, beautiful.” He kissed me gently on the lips, and I snuggled closer into him, smiling as I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

 

Nick

Diana slept most of the day away, giving Nick plenty of time to think of a perfect dinner date for their first night as an engaged couple. He wanted to do something fancy, and then take her on a walk through the park where they first kissed, but he was also trying to think of something different that they hadn’t done yet together. They hadn’t really done anything childish together, like laser tag, or racing go karts, even going to an arcade. Would she even be up for that? I wondered. We’re both growing up now, and I know she would appreciate a fancy date, but would she also love a fun date at home or out doing something that teenagers would do? I sneakily slipped my shoes on and tiptoed out of the hotel room, practically sprinting down the halls and to the car, full of excitement and adrenaline.

I spent most of the day out at the mall and the grocery store, and then made a quick visit home. Of course, her mom and dad had rapid fire questions for me, and thankfully, Rachel came home just in time to quiet them down. “Would you two give him a chance to speak? Yeesh,” she muttered under her breath, making her way upstairs to her room.

“Where is Diana? Where did you two go?” Her mom asked, obviously concerned. I took a deep breath before replying, buying me a couple seconds of sweet silence.

“We went to the hotel where we stayed together when we first met,” I blurted quickly. Her parents continued staring at me, using their wide eyes to signal that I needed to continue with an explanation. “I booked the room for us a few weeks back, hoping to stir up some memories and happy feelings after a night of tears and-”

“And hoping you could get lucky with my little girl, huh?” Her dad smiled, joking with me. I let out a long sigh of relief, laughing along with him. He shook my hand with a strong grip. “I know you’re taking care of our Diana, and we will see you both at home soon, I presume?”

“Absolutely, we will be home after dinner tonight. I’m planning on doing an ‘at home’ date for her, just to do something together for our first full day as an engaged couple. I just wanted to grab a couple things from here and then we will be home tonight.” I smiled, backing up slowly towards the front door. Her parents smiled and waved, wishing me luck with the date planning for tonight as I made my way to the car. My next stop would be the mall, as I had a few things planned to surprise her with for our date. I took out my phone, smiling at my background picture- a picture of us from last night, her flashing her ring for the camera, both of us happier than ever. I hoped she was still sleeping, so I could get the last few things together but still go home and get ready with her. I dialed the home phone, and her mom answered on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Hi, Mrs. Malley, it’s Nick!”

“Oh, Nick, sweetie, call me Deb,” she laughed, “What’s going on? Is everything alright?”

“Oh definitely, Deb,” I sighed, smiling. “I was wondering if you would be able to take Diana out to the mall to find a nice dress for tonight, or basically just distract her for a few hours. I’m trying to plan a nice dinner date at the hotel for the both of us and it’s difficult when she’s there, you know?”

“Of course! I’ll call her right now, one of us will get ahold of you when we’re leaving or out, if that’s alright.”

“Definitely, sounds like a plan! Thanks so much Deb!”

“No problem, sweetie! Anything to help you and my baby girl!” We giggled as we hung up, and I ducked into a coffee shop to waste time until I knew it was safe to go back to the hotel. I pulled out my laptop, checking my e-mail and looking for recipes to make for dinner. I was in the midst of saving the recipe when my phone chimed, showing a text from Diana.

Going out with Mom, she wants to take me shopping for a dress. I’ll be home in a couple of hours. I love you! Xoxo

Perfect, I thought to myself. I packed up my computer and grabbed my things, and scurried to the car. I did have to make a super quick stop at the grocery store, just for some ingredients for dinner and some wine, and then I sped back to the hotel. I sent a quick text to Deb, making sure to have Diana come over all dolled up in her new dress, and that I would also be dressed up when she got back here. I chose to shower first, then cooked dinner in my robe, with my outfit laid out on the bed. Our meal was in the oven, allowing me time to get dressed and make final adjustments around our large hotel room. I lit some candles, and put her bouquet of red and pink roses on the table to act as a centerpiece. I dimmed the lights in the room, and started playing some soft instrumental music, humming along when I heard the door close, and Diana step into the hotel room.

Diana

I should have known Nick was up to something, Mom normally doesn’t like to go out to the mall, and I saw that she was secretly texting someone and that when I went in the dressing room to try on some different dresses, I heard her whispering on the phone, wandering a little further away from my fitting room. By the time I had the first dress on, Mom was back, sitting on the little bench right in front of the door, waiting to see which dress was the best for me.

Dress shopping didn’t take long, as the first two dresses just didn’t fit right and looked odd even on the rack. What took the longest was finding some shoes, and Mom getting me home and basically shoving me in the shower, babbling and repeating to, “Get ready! Make sure you look real nice for tonight!” I didn’t think much of it, just that maybe her and Dad would take me out to dinner, but Dad wasn’t home yet. He worked late quite a bit, so maybe it was just a dinner with Mom and Rachel?

We got in the car, and Rachel wasn’t home, either. So far, it was just me and Mom, driving together. I saw she was driving me back to the hotel, and she sent another text quickly as I was getting out of the car, shielding the screen from my view. When I walked through the door to my hotel room, I suddenly understood Mom and Nick’s weirdness this afternoon. He did all this for me? I gasped, which prompted Nick to walk out of the kitchen, carrying plates and silverware, ready to set the table. I am one lucky girl, any other girl that let him go made a serious mistake…

Nick flashed his smile at me, at full wattage, before pecking me lightly on the lips. As soon as he set down the dishes, I launched myself into his arms, kissing him deeply and passionately, desperately tugging at his shirt. He smiled against my lips and pushed back from me slightly, giggling. “Well hello to you too, Princess. I planned this date for us, and so far, we’re doing it completely backwards,” He sighed, sliding his arm around my waist. “But I definitely won’t mind that other part after dinner, if you’re up for it.”

I blushed, and nodded shyly. It was totally out of character for me to just attack his face that way, and whatever was cooking smelled amazing. Plus, with the mood lighting and the music, and the gorgeous roses waiting for me on the table, Nick would definitely be getting everything he wanted; he’s already done so much for me, and I was definitely not shy about returning favors. For crying out loud, he put a ring on it! I had the rest of our lives to return as many favors as I wanted.

Nick’s deep voice brought me out of my internal babble. “How is the writing going, babe? I know you were up all night writing, I woke up a couple times and saw your fingers flying, like you couldn’t get the words out quick enough. Does that mean it went well?” He smiled, pouring each of us a glass of rich, red wine.

“You know, when authors tell everyone that inspiration strikes at some of the weirdest of times, they’re definitely not kidding,” I chuckled. “I was just getting some fresh air, looking out at the sky like I sometimes do, and an idea literally hit me like a freight train. I really couldn’t get the words out fast enough, and I got quite a bit written,” I said breathlessly. “I think I might even be almost done, and almost ready to submit to publishers once I have a couple people look it over. I would be really happy if you would take a look, and be my first editor?”

“I would be honored,” Nick smiled. He brought my hand up to his lips and kissed it gently.  “I am really so glad you asked me first, thought I would not have been surprised, or offended, had you asked your parents.”

“I want them to read it, but you have believed in me from the very start,” I sighed, grinning up at him. “You have seriously been my rock, and my biggest fan, from the second I let you in on my secret, and my dreams. I couldn’t have asked for anybody better to have as my first editor, and I never really imagined that he would also be my husband one day.”

It was Nick’s turn to wipe a single tear from his eye. He looked away, still smiling, but wiping tears away quickly. I followed his face, looking him in the eye, cupping his face with my hand. “I love you, Nicholas. You really, truly are the love of my life, and I have never been happier than the time we have spent together, fights and all.” He nodded, smiling down at me. I wiped one more tear away, and kissed him gently. We set the table together, and had a successful, beautiful first date as an engaged couple.

TO BE CONTINUED…