Book 1 in my Sweet Home Alabama Series! *Each book in the series will be a complete story :)
Emelyn LaClaire was honored to be the Maid of Honor in her best friend’s wedding, but it came with a catch. She has to walk down the aisle with her ex fiancé, Lawson McCoy. He’s not just the Best Man; he’s also her best friend’s brother, and she’s loved him since she was eight years old.
Emelyn has avoided any kind of contact with Lawson since the day everything fell apart during her sophomore year at the University of Alabama. Now, after four years of avoiding him, she’s not just seeing him, she also has to walk down the aisle with him – the one man she dreamt of marrying almost all her life…
Lawson McCoy only has a single regret, and it’s throwing away the one thing that was good in his life. When his sister, Delilah, and her fiancé, Grayson, asked him to be the Best Man, it came with a stipulation. Do not in any way mess up their wedding. That’s easier said than done, especially when the one girl who would rather stick hot pokers in her eyes than look at him will be walking down the aisle beside him….
AVAILABLE JULY 20th 2015!!
A New Standalone by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Danielle Jamie!
Here’s a SNEAK PEEK!!! Enjoy & Share <3
November 14th 2009
My head is pounding, and every inch of my body hurts. I blink my eyes awake and slowly take in my surroundings. I quickly realize after seeing stark white walls and hearing the sounds of beeping monitors that I’m in a hospital room.
I bring my hand up to my head and feel gauze taped to my forehead. Taking in the room, I see flowers and stuffed bears beside me.
What the heck am I doing here, and what happened? I think to myself as I wrack my brain trying to remember where I may have been, or what might’ve happened for me to end up here. I squeeze my eyes shut and try my hardest to remember anything.
Slowly, I start to recall being at a frat party on campus, where I attend the University of Alabama. Images flash before me of my fiancé Lawson, my best friend Delilah, and our roommate Lily. We were all at the party together, but other than that, I can’t remember anything else.
I find the button to call for a nurse and push it as I shout out, “Hello?” My throat is dry and hoarse.
I attempt to call, “Hello?!” one more time, hoping someone will hear me, and finally come tell me what the hell is going on and why I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train.
The instant I yell out again, my head pounds as if a snare drum is beating inside my skull.
I let out a sigh of relief when a few moments later, a nurse appears, along with my mother beside her. “Oh good, you’re awake,” the nurse, who looks like Mrs. Claus, says as she makes her way around my hospital bed.
“How are you feeling, sweetie?” my mom asks, bending down beside me on the opposite side and brushing my hair affectionately from my face.
“Like I’ve been run over by a bus. My head really hurts, and I can’t move my right leg without it causing a pain to shoot through it.”
I glance down at my lower half, which is covered in a blanket, and my mom looks in the same direction. She has a worried look on her face. Turning her eyes back to mine, I notice tears welling up in her eyes. “Do you remember anything from tonight, honey?”
Shaking my head, I look at her with confusion. “No, the last thing I remember is being at a party, but after that…nothing. Just tell me what happened, please,” I beg as I begin to feel a knot tighten in my gut. I have this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach as my mother lets a tear fall from her watering eyes.
“You were in an accident. Why, Emelyn? Why would you ever get into a car with someone who’s been drinking? Haven’t I told you enough times in your life to never for any reason ride with anyone who’s been drinking?”
What is she talking about? I was in a car with someone who was driving while intoxicated?
Squinting my eyes, I press myself to remember anything, but nothing comes. “I can’t remember, Mom. Will you please just tell me what happened?”
Grabbing a tissue from the rolling table, she dabs her eyes before sitting in the chair beside my bed. With each passing second, I grow more nervous.
Resting her hand on my arm, she smiles weakly up at me. “Honey, you were in a very bad car accident. Your side of the car was hit by a pickup truck when Lawson ran a red light at the intersection. You suffered a concussion, and your leg is broken in three places. The doctor said your leg is in really bad shape, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to get back onto the softball field anytime soon.”
I am stunned. Car accident? No softball?
Shaking my head, I tell my mom with anger seething out of me, “No. I want another doctor. Broken legs heal quickly all the time. I will play softball. I need to play softball. Without it, I lose my scholarship!” My head is screaming out for me to stop talking, but I ignore the shooting pains that consume me.
Softball is my life. I cannot accept this.
It’s been my dream since before I can even remember to attend the University of Alabama. I worked my ass off all throughout high school to keep my grades up, and busted my butt to impress scouts to get a full-ride scholarship playing softball. Now, to be told it’s all being taken away from me…it’s as if someone just snatched the floor out from under me.
Tears fill my eyes as my mother’s words echo around inside me head.
“I’m so sorry, honey. I just wish I knew why you did it.”
My head is spinning; I can’t process this right now. “Did what?” I snap. I don’t mean to, but I am sad, angry, disappointed, and most of all, in shock.
“Allowing Lawson to drive, for one, and for getting in the car with him. Did you know he was over two times the legal limit?”
I run my free hands over my face as I wipe the tears from my eyes. “He said he was fine. He’d only had a few beers. I can’t believe this.” I turn my head and try to find the courage to ask her the one question I’m afraid to ask. When I do, it comes out weakly. “Is anyone else hurt?”
It was Lawson and me in the front of his ‘99 F-150, Delilah sitting behind Lawson, and Lily was sitting in the middle with her feet resting on the console. In my mind, I hear Lawson’s thick, raspy voice telling her that her feet smell like a skunk’s ass, but I knew he was just teasing her. He always loves picking on her, because she gives it right back.
I squeeze my eyes shut for a few moments as I try to remember anything else. All I see are flashes of this evening at the party, and then leaving, but nothing after that.
Opening my eyes, I stare at my mother, who has fresh tears streaming down her face as she dabs a tissue to her cheeks, trying to wipe them away. “Lawson and Delilah are okay. Lawson has a cut on his head and a sprained arm, and luckily his sister walked away with just minor cuts from the broken glass.” She inhales a shaky breath and drops her eyes to the ground as more tears fall from her eyes.
My chest feels as if an elephant is sitting on it, making it impossible to catch my breath. “What about Lily?” I ask. My entire body is shaking as my mom’s eyes meet mine. They are filled with sadness as she shakes her and lets out a soft sob.
“Her parents are with her now, but it doesn’t look good. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, and was ejected from the truck. The doctors have Lily on life support, but are talking with Molly and Derrick about turning it off. She’s been unconscious since the EMTs arrived at the scene of the accident.” She stops talking as another sob escapes her.
My hospital room is filled with the sound of our cries as I learn our poor decisions tonight had led to one of my best friends being put on life support. Lily is the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever known. To realize one bad decision has steered us to this point in time is overwhelming, and it’s all too much to handle.
“People come out of comas all the time,” I tell my mother feebly. I’m grasping at any piece of hope I can. I won’t accept this.
“She hasn’t had any brain activity. It doesn’t look good, Emelyn. It breaks my heart to see her parents in her room grieving for their daughter, when all of this could’ve been avoided.”
I feel numb.
There’s no way I can accept the fact she’ll never wake up. I just can’t.
“Where are Lawson and Delilah?” I ask, glancing towards the door of my hospital room. “Seeing they are okay, I thought they’d be here to see how I’m doing.”
“Their parents came and took them home, back to your apartment. We all came as soon as we heard. I was scared you’d be lying here alone with no one while I drove the one and a half hours from Lincoln. Your father wanted to be here but he stayed home with Camryn because she has a basketball game tomorrow. When I got here, they said you’d been unconscious at the scene, and then they had to put you under to do emergency surgery on your leg. You’ve been out for a good five hours, or so they said.”
Emotionally and physically exhausted, I ask my mother to turn out the light so I can go back to sleep. All I want is to fall asleep and wake up to discover this has all been just a bad dream.
Sadly, that doesn’t happen.
The next few weeks have been worse, rather than better. Three days after the accident, Lily’s parents took her off life support. Two days after that, I had to attend my best friend’s funeral. She, Delilah, and I came to the University of Alabama with dreams of having the best four years of our lives. In matter of seconds, it was all ripped away from her.
All because of one stupid decision.
Lawson, Delilah, and I were all interviewed by police about the accident. Because Lawson was driving while over the legal limit, he got charged with a DUI, plus other charges added onto it for having three minors in his vehicle, since we are all just nineteen years old. With Lily dying, his father went ahead and hired the best attorney in all of Alabama to represent him, because he’s now facing a DUI Felony charge, which could lead to prison time.
I’m terrified. This is the man I’ve loved since I was eight years old, who purposed to me on our graduation night promising me that we were going to spend forever together. We had all these plans, and now, because he chose to drink and drive, everything is being taken away from us.
Like I guessed, once I informed my coach I couldn’t play softball all season due to my leg, I lost my scholarship. My classes are only paid for up until Christmas break, and then I’ll have to try to get into a community college I can afford in January. It’s the worst feeling in the world watching everything you’ve worked for just vanish from in front of you.
I’ve been stuck in a wheelchair for the last four weeks. I’m constantly in pain, physically and emotionally. Lying around our apartment is torture. Everything I see reminds me of Lily.
It doesn’t help that since the accident, Lawson has been distant. He’s gone from a loving fiancé, to a complete stranger. His father has been working night and day with his attorney for his case. They’re hoping to only get probation and points on his license, where he’d just have to take recommended driver’s safety courses.
I only know all of this because Delilah told me. I’ve seen Lawson maybe a handful of times in the last four weeks. When he’s here, he’s aloof and doesn’t stay for long. I’ve heard rumors around school he’s been partying a lot more, and getting in trouble with his football coach. I’ve even heard whispers in class of him hooking up with a few girls from the cheer squad, since I’ve been contained to my room every weekend with a broken leg.
Staring at my engagement ring, my eyes mist as I think about how quickly life has changed from a few short weeks ago. Every night, I fall asleep after praying I’ll wake up and it’ll all be nothing but a really bad nightmare, but every time, I awaken to find it’s real.
Lying on the couch in our apartment, I watch television for a few hours and wait to see if I hear from Lawson. I sent him a text earlier asking him to come home because I need to talk to him, to see where we stand. I can’t keep going on like this.
Finally, my phone vibrates and blasts Star Strukk by 3OH!3, my favorite song Lily and I always sang together every morning while getting ready for class. I wipe away a stray tear that falls from my eye as thoughts of Lily fill my head. Grabbing my phone, I see it’s a text from Lawson. He’s on his way up now.
I don’t know why, but my stomach drops, and I find it hard to breathe as I think about confronting him. I’m heading home with Delilah to Lincoln in a couple of days for the holidays. The idea of spending my first Christmas away from Lawson makes me fall deeper into the depression that has been consuming me since the night of the accident.
I hear him knock on the door before letting himself in. With each passing second, my body tenses and my heart rate increases. “Baby, I grabbed some Chinese on my way over,” he says as he walks into the small living room with a plastic bag in his hand.
“Thanks, but I’m not hungry.” My words come out shaky and so soft I’m surprised he even hears me.
I’m trying to keep my tears in, but it’s getting harder to keep them at bay as my eyes land on the man I’ve loved for almost my entire life. He looks as sexy as ever in loose faded jeans, boots, a tight, long-sleeved thermal tee, and his signature Alabama ball cap. His eyes look tired, with dark bags underneath them. He looks like he’s not been getting much sleep, which is something I wouldn’t know, seeing how he’s refused to stay here with me since the accident. He uses the excuse he doesn’t want to hurt my leg.
Every night, I wake up crying from nightmares and reach out for him, only to find nothing but an empty bed. After Lily’s funeral, bits and pieces of the accident came back to me. The doctor said they probably would. I thought I was prepared for the memories, but I wasn’t.
Setting the food down on the coffee table, Lawson walks over to the edge of the couch and leans down to kiss me. Knowing this is the last time I’ll ever kiss him, I let his lips touch mine. With tears hidden behind my lids, I run a hand along the nape of his neck, twirling strands of his hair that are peeking out from the bottom of his hat with my fingers. I’m burning the memory into my mind of the way it feels to hold him, how his lips feel as they kiss mine, and how his tongue tastes as it slips into my mouth, caressing mine.
With a quivering lip, I finally pull away and stare up into his hazel eyes. My breath catches, and I bring my hand to my mouth, running my fingers over my lips, where I can still feel his kiss tingling.
A tear falls from my eye and rolls down my cheek.
Lawson drops to his knees in front of me with a pained look on his face. Running his fingers through my hair, he asks, “What’s the matter, love? Why are you crying?” before leaning in to press a kiss to my forehead. It’s the most affection and words he’s given me since the party that fateful night. Is he laying it on too thick, trying to cover up he’s cheating on me?
I decide I need to do this now before I lose my courage and go back to just living in denial, like I have been these last few weeks. I’m going home anyways, so soon enough, we’ll be over two hours away from each other and he can go on with his life, seeing any floozy cheerleader he wants.
Allowing my tears to fall freely, I inhale deeply and exhale slowly, trying to work up the strength to speak. “Are the rumors true?” I ask.
He raises an eyebrow at me, giving me a confused look. “What rumors?”
Shaking my head at him, I glare up into his eyes, making sure he sees the pain he’s caused me burning deep inside mine as they lock onto his. “Don’t play stupid with me, Lawson. Guys aren’t the only ones who talk.”
His face drops immediately, and I know he now realizes he’s been caught. I don’t know why, but seeing the defeat on his face makes me hurt more, which I didn’t think was possible. I believed he cheated on me, but now, having it confirmed makes it all too real and that much more painful.
Lifting his hat off of his head, he nervously runs his fingers through his long brown hair before replacing the cap on his head. “I love you, Emelyn—you and no one else.” He lets out a deep sigh as his eyes lift from the ground and settle back onto mine.
I keep telling myself to shove him away, to tell him to leave, but the small voice in my mind telling me to hear what he has to say wins, and I lay quietly, listening for him to explain why he threw everything away.
“I have had a lot going on with the accident—Lily dying, then you having to leave your dream school. It’s been hard. Being around you makes it harder, so I’ve tried to stay away. On the weekends, I’ve been partying more to try and numb myself. One night, I got too drunk and things went too far—but it didn’t mean anything. I love you. I’ve only ever loved you.”
Wiping my face with my sleeve, I stare up at the man I pictured marrying and having a family with, wondering how he could do this to me. I’m hurting. Does he see me fucking random men? Sure, I can’t really do anything in the condition I’m in, but even if I wasn’t, there’s no one worth throwing away what we have—correction: had. Our relationship died the same day Lily did; we just let our love stay on life support a little longer, but I’m pulling the plug.
“Goodbye, Lawson. You can show yourself out,” is all I say before rolling onto my stomach and burying my face into my pillow to cry.
A small part of me wishes he’d fight me and refuse to leave, staying by my side to comfort me, telling me he’d do anything to fix this. Instead, he does the opposite. He mumbles, “I’m sorry, baby,” before disappearing into the cool December night, leaving me all alone once again.
June 8th 2013
I dreamt about him last night for the first time in years. I’ve done well pushing Lawson McCoy from my thoughts and moving on with my life. Now that my best friend Delilah, who just happens to be his little sister, is getting married in two weeks, I can’t escape thoughts of him, from his smile, to his warm hazel eyes that would turn me into melted chocolate on the floor in front of him with just one glance, to the feeling of his big strong arms around me.
It’s been four years since I said goodbye to him, since that day I left Tuscaloosa and never looked back. The first few months were hard. A small part of me kept wishing I’d come home one day and find him sitting on my parents’ doorstep, but that sadly never happened. I told him it’d be easier if we didn’t see each other the day I packed up my things and moved out of my apartment with Delilah. Lawson, never one to do as he’s asked still showed up that morning saying he wanted to help my parents move out my things.
I tried to give him back the engagement ring he’d given me, but he refused and told me to keep it…pawn it…he didn’t care. Hearing those words—He. Didn’t. Care.—shredded my heart into a million tiny pieces, and then I watched them as they blew away in the gentle, cool winter breeze as I wheeled myself back to my dad’s truck that was full of my belongings.
To this day, it is still hard to think about the accident, about Lily’s death, and all of my dreams that were ripped from me. Every day I woke up without Lawson beside me, I grew bitterer and hated him a little more. I was back in Lincoln going to a community college to become a registered nurse, instead of a doctor like I’d imagined my entire life. I’d lived and breathed softball since I was old enough to stand up and my dad got me a whiffle ball set.
Lawson got to continue chasing his dreams. He got to graduate with all of our friends at our dream college. His life went on as if nothing had ever happened, while I felt like my life had frozen in place the second I woke up in that hospital room. He only had to serve thirty days in jail, and then got probation and community service for killing my best friend.
I’ve tried to move on. I’ve dated, met some amazing men, but none of them have clicked the way I did with Lawson. Our love was instant, all consuming, and what I thought would be the greatest love story of all time.
I wonder all the time if Lawson has moved on. He so easily walked away from me and didn’t think twice about sleeping with a random girl while we were together, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had. Delilah swears he’s still hung up on me and has never been able to commit to a girl for very long before finding some lame-ass excuse to break up with her. I hate that it elates me knowing he’s feeling the same way I do. I want him to suffer and be alone, so I don’t feel like such an idiot for not being able to get over him.
Delilah tries her best not to talk about him around me, but sometimes she’ll slip when we’re out together. She’ll say something about him, and the instant his name hits my ears, my heart stammers in my chest.
Before we broke up, I thought the idea of hating someone and loving them all at the same time was something that could never happen. But, as I sit here today and sip my latte at Delilah’s and my favorite café in town Coffee & Books. I battle with myself as thoughts of how I feel about seeing Lawson play on a loop in my mind. The idea of seeing him finally after four years infuriates me and makes butterflies invade my stomach all at the same time.
We’ve been going over last minute menu changes for the wedding, and mapping out our plan to hit some antique shops this afternoon to try and find some unique items to decorate the reception. She’s going for a classic southern feel. I swear my best friend wishes she’d been born back during Scarlett O’Hara’s time.
“So, how are you feeling about you-know-who coming to town today?” Delilah asks nervously as she rings her napkin in her hands.
I feel awful. This is supposed to be a happy time for her, and instead of being excited about her upcoming nuptials, she’s stressing over how Lawson and I will get along these next two weeks.
I decide to lie. I want her to stop stressing and enjoy this time. I love my best friend too much to allow myself to have anything to do with her not being excited about marrying the man of her dreams. “I’m fine. It’s been four years. I moved on a long time ago.”
She gives me a weary look. “Are you sure? If you are really freaking out on the inside, it’s okay and completely understandable, Emelyn. I know he’s my brother, and I love him to pieces, but what he did to you was wrong. All of us were a mess after the accident, but you didn’t see you and me treating everyone we loved as if they didn’t matter. If it helps, he’s freaking out…like big time.”
This gets my attention. “What do you mean?”
“He told me the other night on the phone he’s nervous about coming home. You guys have somehow managed to avoid each other for the last few years. Now that is impossible to do, since you’re in my wedding together. He said he’s afraid it’s going to be too hard being back here, and not just seeing you, but having to walk with you in my wedding.”
I take a long sip of my latte as I absorb her words. A part of me wants to confess to her I’m freaking the hell out inside, while the other part is saying I need to put my big girl panties on and suck it up. Then, to hear Lawson is feeling everything I am only makes my nervousness intensify. Being around him is going to be extremely hard, and I’m not sure I’ll survive these two weeks without doing something stupid.
Lawson McCoy is my ultimate weakness. Even with every fiber of my body loathing that man for breaking my heart, for some messed up reason I still miss him. I never told Delilah, but that’s the reason I’ve avoided him every time he’s come to town for the holidays. I’ve always been too afraid that once I see him, the pain I’ve worked so hard to move past will come flooding back, and I’ll cave and beg for him to give us another chance.
My goal is to survive these next two weeks and steer clear of Lawson unless absolutely necessary.
I give Delilah a huge grin as I place my hand over hers. “I’m fine. Really. I will do whatever I can to stay out of Lawson’s way while he’s here. I won’t allow anything to happen that’ll ruin your special day. We’re both grown adults. There’s no reason why we can’t walk up an aisle together and get along for the sake of our favorite person. We both love you and want this wedding to be everything you’ve envisioned since we were eight years old and made our dream wedding scrapbook.” I laugh as I give her hand a gentle squeeze.
I’m convincing her as much as I’m convincing myself.
“As long as you say so.” Her eyes light up and a small smile spreads across her petite face. “Now, no more dreary, sad stuff. We’re leaving the doom and gloom behind and we’re going to have a fun-filled day of wedding shopping.”
I nod in agreement. “Sounds like the perfect plan to me.”
The door to the café chimes as someone enters. We’re sitting by the front window in our usual seat, where we get coffee together every morning. We were so engrossed in our conversation, I didn’t notice anyone walk by and enter the café until the bell above the door rang.
Glancing up, I spot Tucker Reid. He’s the fire chief here in town and on more than one occasion has tried to convince me to go out on a date with him. I’ve tried to avoid dating anyone in this town. My relationships never last, so it’s easier to just avoid the local guys all together. I don’t want the headache of worrying about running into them around town, so I’ve always dated guys from the ones surrounding Lincoln.
“Good mornin’, ladies. What are you two up to on this lovely day?” Tucker greets us as soon as he spots Delilah and me sitting by the window. He’s best friends with her fiancé Grayson; they work in the same firehouse together. Delilah’s been on my case to give him a chance, and even went as far as suggesting he be my plus one for the wedding.
I have to admit his dimpled chin smile and sparkling hazel eyes are enough to make my heart rate pick up. I’m not blind; I know he’s extremely good looking. I just don’t want to give him the wrong idea by asking him to be my date to the wedding, but I also don’t want to look pathetic in front of Lawson by showing up alone. What if he brings a date? Delilah’s never mentioned if he’s going with someone, but then again, she rarely talks about him around me to begin with.
“Hey, Tucker. It is a lovely day out, isn’t it?” she says, grinning from Tucker to me before glancing out the large glass window.
“Mornin’, Tucker. We’re getting ready to do some last minute wedding shopping for the reception.” I smile weakly at him before sipping on my coffee, trying anything to distract myself.
I’m a bundle of nerves, and it’s all because of the mischievous glimmer sparkling in my best friend’s eyes right now.
“Are you working at the fire house today?” Delilah asks as Tucker leans against the wall beside our table—directly next to me, of course.
He lets out a low, “Mm-hm. That I am. I’m just grabbin’ a coffee then heading over for my shift. Grayson is working today too; we have a school field trip coming in this afternoon. You know how much the kids love that big goofball. So it should be an interesting day.”
“Aww, I love seeing the pictures of the kids with their fire hats on. Hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll have a Jr. Fire Fighter running around the firehouse.”
Tucker and I both give her a serious look, silently asking if she’s hinting at anything. If she gets knocked up before the wedding, I’m going to kill her, because I booked us a weekend getaway next weekend for her bachelorette party. Strippers and shots won’t be any fun if she’s all bloated and puking.
“Chill, you guys!” She laughs, holding her hands up. “No baby-on-board car decals yet. Believe me!”
I relax in my seat. Thank God!
“Speaking of weddings, I need to send you my RSVP. I’ve been swamped at work and it keeps slippin’ my mind,” he says, and I feel Tucker move away from the wall and take a few steps, stopping in front of us. Leaning forward, he rests his hands on the table and flashes me his sweet boy-next-door smile.
“Oh, don’t worry. You can just give it to Grayson at work if you’d like. Are you bringing a special lady with you by chance?”
What is she doing?!
He lets out a deep chuckle. “Well, actually no, I’m not. Slim pickin’s around here. Everyone seems to be getting hitched lately.”
I divert my eyes out the window, but can feel Delilah’s on me.
“Well, my maid of honor here is flying solo too. Why don’t you two just go together? It’d be fun!”
I snap my head around so fast I cause the table to shake and some of my coffee to spill out of my cup.
I’m going to kill her before she even gets a chance to walk down that damn aisle.
“A beautiful girl like you attending a wedding alone? I find that hard to believe,” Tucker says with a hint of flirtation in his voice.
I drop my eyes to my mug. I wonder if it’s possible to drown yourself in a cup of coffee if you try hard enough, because right about now, I’d do anything to escape this conversation. My matchmaking best friend is so going to get it once we leave this damn café.
Shifting nervously in my chair, I look from Delilah to Tucker. What the hell do I say?
Do I lie and say I have a date? But then what would I say when I show up to the wedding alone?
“Sadly, yes, my best friend here is going alone. I swear she’s going to be one of those old, lonely cat ladies. All she does it work all the time.”
Just as I lift my gaze to Tucker’s to politely turn him down, I hear a rumble of a motorcycle pulling up outside the window. My stomach flip-flops as I see it pull up out front of the café. The instant the helmet is pulled from the head attached to the massive body of solid muscle wearing the sexiest pair of tight jeans I’ve ever seen on a man, black biker boots, and a tight fitting grey v-neck tee, my mouth drops. Not because of the body, even though it looks like his biceps were chiseled from marble, but because of the face I see as the sleek black helmet is removed and set onto the seat of the Harley.
Holy fucking shit!
I think I let a small gasp escape as I take in Lawson standing beside his bike, running his fingers through his long auburn hair that falls to the top of his ears. He was always handsome, but now he has a rough and rugged manly look to him, with a light stubble shading his strong jaw.
“You okay?” Tucker asks, snapping me out of my Lawson haze.
I force my eyes away from the window. “Sorry. I’m fine. To answer your question, I’m very single, and yes, I planned on attending the wedding alone. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt if two friends went together, all in the name of celebrating our best friends getting married.”
I can’t believe the words coming out of my mouth right now. Seeing Lawson has my brain scrambled, but there is no way in hell I’m going to that wedding alone. I need someone to keep me distracted and to help keep Lawson away. If he thinks I’m with someone, it’ll make it easier to avoid him at all costs.
One thing is for sure: I now officially know I’m definitely not over Lawson McCoy. If it’s possible, I think seeing him just now made me fall just a little bit harder for him.
I’m totally and utterly screwed.
Please, God, let these two weeks fly by. The faster we get this wedding over with, the faster we can all go back to our normal lives. Lawson can go back to Tuscaloosa, and I can return to my content life of denial I’ve been living.
May 10th 1998
My stomach is in knots as I watch my parent’s’ car slowly pull into a strange driveway, up to a strange house, in a strange town, full of—as the sign says population of 5,371 people I don’t know.
Ever since the day my dad broke the news to my mom, my sister and I that he was offered a Parish here in Lincoln, Alabama I’ve spent every single waking moment praying to God that whoever it is that told him this would show up at our door and say, “Sorry. But I made a mistake and it looks like you’re staying in Birmingham.
Both my mom and my dad have said again and again that this is exactly what our family needs. We need a safe, family oriented community, with small town values. Since my baby sister was born my father has been looking to transfer out of the city and into a smaller Parish. I on the other hand see no reason to leave. It’s the only home I’ve ever known.
Sure I’m only eight. But that’s eight years I had to make friends and build relationships.
Now I have to start all over again from scratch. Being the new girl in school during the middle of a school year is the most intimidating thing I think I’m going to ever have to go through—at least I hope it is.
I’ve had nightmares the last few nights that everyone in Lincoln immediately hates one. The dream I had last night though was the worst. I dreamt a group of faceless brats spit gum into my hair and my mom ended up having to cut all of my hair off.
Let me tell you I am not one of those girls who can look “cute” with short pixie hair.
“Home sweet home!” Mom say’s bursting with way too much joy for me to handle at the moment.
“It’s just fantastic.” I grumble under my breath as I grab the handle of the back passenger side door, push it open and climb out. My legs are cramped from the drive and my body feels stiff and sore. I raise my hands into air and stretch my body as far as I can as I lean up onto my tip toes.
Spinning around I take in the site of our tiny street that screams ‘perfect suburbia’.
All the yards are perfectly decorated with floral gardens, well-manicured lawns and even a few with kids who look to be my age running around outside their cookie-cutter looking houses.
I suddenly feel that all too familiar feeling of dread consuming me as my belly begins to ache again and my palms start to sweat.
My father’s voice comes from behind me as I feel his big strong hands come to rest on my shoulders. “Look at that kiddo. It seems we’ve picked the perfect street. There’s kids running all over around here playing with one another. In no time you’ll have so many friends your mother and I are going to drive ourselves crazy answering the door every time one of them stops by to ask if you can come out to play.
Fingering my charm bracelet my parents got me for my birthday last week I think back to a week ago when I was able to play with my best friends and enjoy my last birthday party with all of them.
Why did we have to move to this place?
Rolling my eyes I begin to mentally swear off every single one of these more than likely way-too-snotty-for-me kids…until I catch out of the corner of my eye a girl who looks to be around my age with long blonde hair braided down her back, and a boy who appears to be a few years older, sitting on their front porch next door to our house.
I didn’t notice them at first because I was too busy with my pity-party as I sized up all the other kids running around this darn street.
The blonde is playing with a baby doll on the stairs, while who I’m guessing is her brother holds a basketball in one hand and a stick in the other. I can see the girl continuously smacks the stick away from her as she yells at him to go away.
He has ‘trouble maker’ written all over his face as he smirks down at his little sister and continues to poke her baby doll and flipping her long braid around the back of her head with the stick. For some reason I feel nervous butterflies flutter in my belly as I take in his smile and cute boy next door face.
Her soft voice carries over to my driveway as I hear her shout up at him as her delicate little face whips to the side to stare him down. It tears my attention from him back to her. A small smile pulls up at the corners of my lips. Immediately I like her. I haven’t met her yet but I can already tell she is someone I can be friends with. Like me, she’s little but she is a force to be reckoned with.
“Knock it off Lawson! Or else…”
“Or else what?” I hear him snap back at her with an arrogant tone.
I can only imagine how many times they’ve had this conversation.
Before I even process what it is I’m doing I find myself walking over the slightly overgrown lawn that is ours, and then onto the immaculately trimmed lawn of this kid Lawson and his feisty little sister.
Sensing my presence they both stop talking and turn their eyes towards me—‘the strange eavesdropping new neighbor’. I force a nervous smile as I get closer. Each step grows harder to make as I watch Lawson climb to his feet and flashes me hands down the cutest smile I’ve ever seen in all of my eight years. The butterflies in my belly that a few seconds ago were frolicking about inside of me are now fluttering at warp speed making my stomach flip-flop with nervous excitement.
One thing for certain is Lawson will not be one of those boys with a mouth full of metal. Nope. He has a perfect set of teeth that form a smile that makes me suddenly believe in all that love at first sight, mumbo jumbo my friend Alli’s older sister always goes on and on about.
“Hi. You must be the new girl moving in to old Mr. Fisk’s house. I’m Lawson.” He says politely stretching his hand out to mine. He’s tall and lanky, with long arms and big hands. They swallow mine as I allow him to take it. “This here is my sister, Delilah.” Tilting his head towards the blonde who’s now forgotten all about the spat with her older brother is now beaming across the small space between us with a genuine friendly smile on her face.
“Hi.” I say nervously and stare down at my feet momentarily. I bringing my eyes back up to his, before sliding my gaze over to his sisters. I feel my cheeks warming after only making eye contact with him for a few seconds. I can barely find my voice as I tell them my name. “I’m Emelyn. It’s nice to meet you Lawson—and Delilah.”
Bouncing on the balls of her jelly shoe covered feet, she grabs my hand and shakes it with a little too much enthusiasm. “Oh my Gosh! I’m so happy you’re not a boy! Lawson here kept teasing me saying two boys were moving in and he’d heard they were like that kid in ‘Problem Child’—mean to the bone and evil as they come.” She pauses a moment to glare up at her brother before turning back to me and plastering a big bright smile back on her face. “But as we can see you are most certainly a girl. I can tell already we’re going to be the best of friends.”
Call me crazy but I can’t help but think the same thing also. I’m slightly taken aback by her comment because I didn’t think I’d feel this comfortable so quickly around new kids here. There’s just something about these two that has me immediately liking them.
I give her questionable glance as I push my brows together and ask slowly, “You can? How we only just met a few seconds ago?” I laugh as I fold my arms nervously across my chest and shift my weight from my left foot to my right foot.
“I know because, first of all you’re wearing a Rugrats t-shirt. And I LOVE the Rugrats!” She shrieks with excitement once again as she flingers her hands out towards my shirt my parents got me for my birthday. She’s an explosion of contagious energy. I can’t help but find myself relaxing with every passing moment I spend standing here with them.
Within seconds we’re deep in discussion over the Rugrats and every other show we love to watch. I learned Delilah is in fact the same age as me, and her brother is two years older than us. When I told her the teacher that was on my school enrollment letter she was bummed because we’re not in the same class. But we agreed the school year is over in two weeks. Then we’ll have all summer to play together.
Lawson spotting a friend coming towards their driveway, takes that I guess, as his excuse to escape his sister and I.
“It was nice meeting you.” He says flashing me one more heart stopping smile before jogging across the yard to meet a kid who looks about the same age as Lawson.
I shout, “You too,” at him with a goofy grin plastered across my face.
The entire time we sit on the stairs talking I find my eyes roaming over to Lawson. Every once and a while I catch him watching me too. I don’t know why but I find myself feeling giddy over the fact that he keeps stealing glances back at me.
I’ve had crushes on boys at my last school and even had a boyfriend—if you can even call them that—for a little while. But never an older boy. Two years may not seem like a big age gap but for an eight year old it mind as well be ten years. Older boys are so mean and stuck up. They look down on us and act like we’re these little annoying brats. But since I got here now thirty minutes ago not once has he made me feel that way.
I thought there was no possible way a boy here would even give me a second look. I’ve read too many books and watched way too many shows where the new girl is hated by all and used as a form of entertainment for the cruel bullies—but I’m suddenly thinking maybe that won’t be the case after all.
One can only hope.
Making some friends right off the bat seemed impossible five minutes ago but now I’m thinking maybe—just maybe moving here won’t be as hard as I thought. Especially with Lawson living right next door. And even though she is maybe a little too bubbly…I like Delilah.
I’m normally exactly like she is: bursting with energy, friendly to everyone. But I’ve been too busy moping around having my own little pity-party that I don’t even know where that girl went.
I think in no time she’ll resurface. Especially if Lawson keeps flicking my pigtails and flashing that mega-watt smile my way every time he sees me.
Add to your TBR Lists! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23152680-mine-would-be-you