I’m Hopping again!!!
As you might have seen, my story All Those Miles I Walked is part of the May Fair and, because of that, it’s ON SALE throughout May!
Here’s a little bit of it from Chapter 2.
Born ready, my ass,DJ thought the morning after, as she drove for the third time around the block where his restaurant was. She wouldn’t even start thinking about the times she’d tried in the past days. Her parents were still home when she’d arrived, so she’d had a moment of relief from the constant pain that plagued her come back–Scott Beckett. The thought of him had started hammering again when her parents had left for their case, and there was no sign of it getting quieter.
It would be so, so easy.
Communication was her thing, after all. Walk to him, and tell him, I am sorry. Just that easy. But it couldn’t be, of course, because he was Scott.
If only she’d met someone in all her travels, only one man, who’d filled up her stupid heart like Scott had. Someone who’d made her happy just by sitting with her on the sand. Simply because he was hers.
She stomped her feet on the floor of her car, slapped the steering wheel too hard. Then cursed, because it hurt as much as the thought of not being able to face him.
DJ gritted her teeth. “That’s it,” she said, and whipped into a parking spot right in front of the restaurant’s entrance. She got out of the car, slammed the door. Got in again, killed the engine she’d forgotten, and took her purse. Hated herself when her hand stayed on the entrance’s door handle a heartbeat too long. She pushed it open with a hiss, walked inside.
Nobody could say the man didn’t have taste. Like the first time she’d stepped into Scott’s, she had no trouble giving him the room, with its soft tones and furniture of light wood, was perfect. Classy, but not uptight. Stylish, but welcoming. A couple could have a first-date here and be happy just as much as a family of 4.
Way too early for lunch, the restaurant was empty except for a tiny woman sitting at a table, filling paperwork with a laptop in front of her. She raised her head, her eyes big for the surprise. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Hi, is Scott here?”
“In the kitchen, prepping for lunch.” The girl got up. “I’ll see if–”
“No,” DJ hurried, and tried to soothe the edge in her voice. “Don’t worry. I… I’ll find him.”
The last thing she wanted was for him to have the smallest chance to boot her out.
She crossed the room and opened the kitchen door.
The Bobby Bones Show was on the radio, laughs from the speakers mixed with those of an older man she didn’t recognize. And Scott’s. The sound rippled through her, splashed into the bottom of her belly. How much she’d missed his laugh, low, and earthy, and precious like a rare gem.
He stood in front of a counter wearing a battered black T-shirt, a rolled blue bandana secured on his forehead. He glanced her way, returned his attention to whatever he was chopping.
Then stopped dead. His blue eyes shot not to her, but right in front of him; Scott laid down the knife; rested both his fists on the counter.
“I… umh… I need to check on the…in the dining area,” the other guy said catching the room’s sudden mood swing.
“Stay,” Scott ordered. “She’s on her way out.”
“The hell I am.” DJ took a step further into the kitchen. “I know what I put you through,” she said, knowing time wasn’t her friend today and she had to push the point as quickly as possible.
“No, you don’t,” he stated quietly, not moving his gaze from the wall in front of him.
“Shut up for one second and listen. I do know, because I put myself through the same.”
“Really? Then you’re stupid, on top of everything else.”
“I was young and scared,” she hissed, briefly recording the older man leaving the room despite Scott’s order.
He turned to face her, resting one hip on the counter and crossing his arms on his chest. “Bullshit. After the test result there was nothing left to be scared about.”
“I was scared of you,” she breathed out, regretting her words the moment they were uttered.
He said nothing, but one black eyebrow rose in question. One she wasn’t ready to answer, not to him and not like this, in anger. It had taken her years to dig deep enough within herself to fully understand the rush to keep him away, to cut him from her life.
It had taken even more time to get over him. If she ever had.
“I apologize,” she spat out despite a tight throat. “That’s all I wanted to do.” She spun around to get out of the suddenly chilly kitchen.
She stopped, didn’t turn around, one hand already on the door.
“You took 12 year-worth of love away from my life. Gave me no explanation. You’re gonna have to do a lot better than apologize to make me even think about swallowing it.”
DJ nodded, knowing that while he watched every move she made, he couldn’t spot the little tilt of her lips.
The smile held in place when she got home. All she needed was a crack, and whether he’d wanted to or not, he’d given her as much. In what she considered a big win, he hadn’t stuck that huge knife into her chest or back, or slit her throat. She would work with it toward being civil enough to get together with common friends.
Details were still a bit fuzzy, but the plan was coming back to Crescent Creek for good.
The pull toward home had gotten stronger in the past few years, when more and more often she’d found herself fantasizing about a little home along the beach, not far from her parents’. Nights with Eva, and the friends she’d carried in her heart as she learned the world.
Travel, yes, but less often, and for shorter periods of time. She wanted a base, a place other than her parent’s house that she could call home. The longer she stayed, the more it felt right.
But before any of that, she needed his forgiveness because coming back meant sharing a small town, friends. They were bound to run into each other, or so she hoped. In any case, they needed to be at least on human terms.
It was the only way she’d get over him and the ghost of what they had been, and could have been.
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