Authors: Olivia Hayes
Copyright © 2014 by Olivia Hayes
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is a matter of coincidence. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover Design by Louisa Maggio at LM Creations
Editing by Elizabeth Froelich
Formatting by Angel's Indie Formatting
used with permission of Amy Marie.
This book is dedicated to anyone who's ever had a dream.
For me writing has always been a hobby. I've written poetry, screenplays, short stories, and children's plays, but I always dreamt of one day writing a full length novel. This book is a realization of that dream, and an acknowledgement that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything!
Freud believed that dreams are manifestations of our deepest desires, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions. For the last two years I had been willing the dream to continue so I could finally find out what happens next, but it had never worked. That is, until just then.
I opened my heavy eyes, stretching my aching body and looked at my surroundings. I briefly surveyed the heap of a man laying next to me and shuddered. I wanted to kick and scream, break something, fight, but the time for that had passed already, so I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and silently prayed for a miracle.
I stand on the front porch of a house that seems familiar to me, but in a way I can't quite place. Something draws me to the front door, which opens by itself, and I feel like I'm gliding through the house, being propelled by an unseen hand at my back. My heart begins pounding in my chest as if it knows something I don't.
The back door opens and I glide through onto the back deck. As I turn to my right, I see tan, broad shoulders, and thick dark hair. My breath is rushing out of me, and I feel inexplicably drawn to him.
Suddenly I am standing directly behind him and my arm is raising with a will of its own to touch his shoulder. As he turns towards me the sun breaks through the trees, blinding me, and all I can see is his bronzed and muscular chest, his chiseled jaw and his heart stopping smile. One of his hands cups the back of my neck and the other wraps around my waist, drawing me in. I can feel his warm breath on my lips and I know he's about to kiss me.
A loud banging startled me awake and I rolled over, pulling my pillow over my head and wishing it would stop. As I willed myself back to sleep so I could continue my dream the noise, which I had figured out was someone knocking, grew louder and more insistent.
I threw my pillow on the floor and pulled back the covers.
"What the hell!" I grumbled to myself as I stomped into the living room. I slowed my steps and the hair on my arms stood as I crept over to look through the peep hole.
"Fucking shit!" I said too loudly.
Luke Johnson, all six foot four inches of muscular male sexiness, was standing outside my door. I hadn't seen him since Christmas break.
"Caroline! I heard you!
Open the door!"
"Go away Luke, I have nothing to say to you!"
"Fine, you don't have to talk but I need you to listen," he commanded through the door.
I knew I should just walk back to my room and crawl back into my bed. It didn't really matter what he had to say, I had made my choice, but I couldn't bring myself to move. I leaned my back against the door and slid to the floor, pulling my knees in. I had met Luke and his brother, Mark, when I used to spend summers at my grandmother's as a kid. The two of them became my best friends and we were inseparable all summer, every summer. I had had a crush on Luke from the moment I laid eyes on him and if I was being completely honest with myself, I still had some feelings for him. Feelings I'd shoved into the back of my mind and tried not to think about.
was hot and humid that first summer. My mother and I were visiting my grandmother in Bluffton, South Carolina, a small town about forty-five minutes north of Savannah, Georgia. I was about 11. I could hear yelling coming from the house; my grandmother and mother arguing about my grandfather again. I looked toward the voices wondering if I should go inside when someone called to me.
"Hey! Want me to show you how to fish?"
I looked toward the river and saw the cutest boy I had ever seen. He was a few years older than me, standing on the floating dock and holding up a rod and bait bucket. His chest was tan and his muscles flexed as he gestured to me.
"Okay," I called back, walking down the dock.
"My name is Luke," he said, pulling his baseball cap off and smoothing back his thick dark hair as he sat down, dangling his bare feet into the water. "I live in the next house over, about half a mile down the road."
Oh. My. Goodness. He was breathtaking up close. I had never ever seen anyone who looked like him before. The hair on my arms stood on end as I lowered myself to sit next to him.
"I'm Caroline," I said, nervously. "This is my grandmother's house. We're visiting from Savannah."
"Savannah huh? That's cool," Luke said in his deep voice, casting the rod and then handing it to
me. "Now, when you feel a tug and see the rod head dip down, that's when you know you've got a fish on."
"How come you don't fish at your house?" I asked, taking the rod and looking over at Luke.
"We don't have a dock, so I come down here instead," he said.
I nodded and smiled at him before turning my eyes to the river. My younger brother, Carson, and my dad always took ca
mping trips during the summer so I never had anything to do aside from hanging out in the backyard alone. It was nice to have someone to talk to for a change.
"Hey! You've got one! Reel it in!" Luke's voice pulled me away from my thoughts and I yanked up on the rod before reeling in my first fish.
"A catfish, look!" Luke said, unhooking the fish carefully. "Do you want to keep it or put him back?" He asked me.
"Let's put him back!" I said excitedly.
Luke leaned down and gently let the fish swim away from his gloved hands. Then he looked up at me with his sparkling green eyes and asked, "Okay Savannah, wanna try it again?"
I giggled, nodding eagerly.
As the sun slipped behind the tree line, and the sky turned bright hues of pink and orange, Luke looked at me smiling.
"Do you want to hang out again tomorrow?"
I smiled, warmed by the thought of spending
more time with him.
"Sure!" I said.
"Great! My younger brother Mark will be home from summer camp. I'll bring him too."
After that fateful day, Luke
and I had spent every waking minute together, catching fish, canoeing, climbing trees, digging for clams and drinking lemonade. Mark was with us more often than not, but I lived for the moments when it was just Luke and me. We laughed and carried on like we'd known each other our whole lives.
Luke and Mark were Irish twins, born eleven months apart. Luke was a born leader, determined and outspoken, whereas Mark was compassionate and endearing. To look at them you would have thought they were identical, aside from eye color. But I knew how different they were and while I made room for both of them in my heart, Luke was the brother I fell in love with.
After Luke left for college I rarely saw him, except around holidays. I missed him, his smile, his laugh, and the connection I thought we shared. But Luke never admitted to having any feeling for me, and eventually pushed me away. Since then he'd been surly, unforgettable, angry, perfect, and mean. But one thing he never was, was mine.
I didn't know what possessed him to drive the six hours from his home to The University of Georgia today. He had asked me to listen, and now that he'd shown up uninvited to my apartment, I realized listening to him was probably the easiest way to get him to leave.
I was done with the mind games he'd been playing over the last five years, and I just wanted him gone.
"Fine, I'm listening," I yelled through the door.
I didn't hear anything right away, and I almost thought he had given up and left, but then I heard his voice.
"I'm in love with you Caroline, I always have been. Just give me a chance to show you how great we can be together."
I closed my eyes, leaning my head back against the door, thinking back to the day when hearing those words from Luke would have made me the happiest girl in the world.
After Mark's high school graduation we had gone to lunch at Maria's and after using the restroom and washing my hands I started to open the door, but stopped short when I heard Luke and Mark talking in the hallway.
"What's going on with you and Caroline?" Mark asked.
"Nothing is going on. She made a big impact on me when we met. I've just missed her."
"So, you're just friends?" Mark pressed.
"I guess you could say that. Why are you grilling me?"
"I care about her, man, so much. And you seem to really like her too, so I just wanted to make sure if I ask her out, things will still be cool between us." I heard Mark say.
"Go ahead. It can't hurt to ask," Luke said, and I flinched. Could I have really misread him
"Thanks bro. That means a lot."
"Hey Mark? You know she's special right?" Luke asked.
"Yeah man, I totally get it. See you back at the table."
I'm special but he doesn't want me? I heard Mark walk off and waited a moment, calming my breathing before I opened the door and plowed, unexpectedly, straight into Luke's chest. He reached out to steady me as I stumbled and I looked up into his eyes, trying not to let my hurt feelings show.
"Whoa there Savannah, I got you."
"Um.... thanks," I said, taking a step back from him and shrugging out of his grip.
"What's wrong?" He asked, reaching for me again.
"Nothing at all, you just startled me," I lied, smiling at him for effect before skirting his reach and walking around, back into the dining area where Mark was seated.
"Hey, Caroline," Mark said, moving into the chair next to the one I had just sat in. He was so close I could see the golden flecks in his eyes. "I couldn't let this last chance slip by me. I think I'm in love with you."
"What?" I asked, swinging my wide blue eyes to his.
He picked up my hand and squeezed it.
"We've spent so much time together over the last year. I've always loved you, but recently that feeling has grown into something more. I just wanted to let you know before it's too late. I'll be leaving for college in a few months, but I'd love it if we could spend our summer together like old times. Just think about it?"
"Okay Mark, I will," I said.
The ride back to the school was quiet. When we pulled into the parking lot, Mark parked his truck next to my car, and Luke climbed down and helped me out.
"I'll call you," I said to Mark, smiling at him. He nodded and then Luke shut the door behind himself.
I dug my keys out of my purse, thinking about what Mark had said. As I opened the car door, I turned to Luke.
"Mark said he has feelings for me," I said, before thinking better of it.
"He did, did he?" Luke asked, leaning against my car, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Can you think of any reasons why I shouldn't date him?" I asked, silently praying he would give me the one reason that would make my heart soar.
For a moment I thought I saw something flash across his eyes, but the next moment it was gone.
"If you're asking if I have any reservations about Mark's character, I don't. He's a great guy and he'll treat you right," Luke said.
Before I could change my mind I rushed into him, wrapping my arms tightly around his torso and resting my cheek on his chest. My pulse was roaring in my ears and I willed my heart to push out the words my brain was trying to hold back, but I couldn't force myself to say it.
"Are you sure?" I asked him once more, trying to give him one last chance to tell me what I wanted to hear.
I started to pull back from him, ready to turn and drive off before he noticed my tears, and that's when it happened. Slowly, his arms gathered me close, tightly. With my palm to his chest I could feel his heartbeat quicken, and then he leaned down and kissed me briefly, before moving his mouth next to my ear.
"If that's what you choose," he whispered.
I felt like my heart had just been broken. And as I laid on my bed later that evening thinking about the day, I couldn't figure out why Luke would hold me close and kiss me, even if briefly, and still tell me I could date Mark if I wanted to. I was angry. I wanted him to tell me that he felt something for me, that I hadn't wasted all these years clinging to the idea that one day I'd have a relationship with a guy who just thought of me as a good friend.
It was then that I realized I'd already wasted too much time on Luke. The next day I called Mark and told him I had made a decision.
Armed with a fresh reminder of how hurt and humiliated I had felt that day, I stood up from my position on the floor, and flung the door open. I glared at Luke, not caring that I was still in my tank top and sleep shorts. I took a step out the door and pointed my finger into Luke's chest.
"You do not get to show up here and say that you're in love with me and think things will just change! I have spent the last five years with Mark. We love each other, and we're going to make a future together. How dare you do this to me, and to Mark. Your brother loves you, and this would kill him! You already had your chance! God, I am SO mad at you! How long have you felt this way?" I demanded.
"Since I met you."
"What the hell Luke? You've treated me like shit
the last six years, and now you're here claiming to have loved me the whole time?"
"I tried to tell you before! Fuck, Caroline. The last day of your visit that summer before I left for college I was so distraught. I went over to your grandmother's and gave her that letter and gift for you. I swear to God, I thought you'd write to me, but when you didn't I just assumed you didn't feel the same for me. That destroyed me! Then when you said Mark had feelings for you, I didn't tell you how I felt because I was so unsure of what you wanted." He swallowed hard.
I watched his face for a moment, seeing the range of emotions pass over his handsome features. I felt like my heart was being pulled in two.