Authors: Stephie Walls
© 2016 by Stephie Walls. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and revival systems without prior written permission from the author except where permitted by law.
, places, and events portrayed in this book are inspired by a true story but remain fictitious. Any similarity to real persons living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author or necessary permissions to use such likeness has been obtained.
or my daughter
who barely survived these years intact—I love you and your strength!
“Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. Your testimony could be someone else’s deliverance”
and I met on February 7, 2009, we were engaged on February 7, 2010, and our lives were turned upside down on the morning of February 7, 2011—just three months after we married.
is inspired by my own personal life experience. The events of the years this took place had a profound impact on my life and left me forever changed. While I used my creative license to align the story with the rest of the characters in the series, the premise is based in reality. The frustration, the pain, the heartbreak, the triumphs—we felt all of those emotions…some of which we recovered from, others we did not.
My own story didn’t end the way Piper and Moby’s does but I can tell you, we had our own version of a happy ending. We both prevailed over the hand we were dealt and in the end came out stronger. Sometimes the fight of your life doesn’t have a winner or a loser—sometimes you’re lucky to merely survive.
Rachel’s irate, her face reflecting her rage by the deep shade of crimson red it’s become. She’s normally not very easy to rouse, but she’s in rare form today. Her laid-back personality is nowhere to be found. The vein bulging in her forehead makes me want to giggle—she looks like a Klingon—but I choke back the urge.
Glancing at my watch, I wonder how long this persecution will continue. I get she’s angry. I get it; they’re all angry. But the fact of the matter is I’m thirty-six years old. Before this weekend, I’ve never married, and never seriously considered marrying. At my age, you don’t need to date someone for three years to know whether you’re compatible. I’m firm in my ways. I’ve lived alone for years, so I know; people are either a fit or they’re not.
Rachel doesn’t grasp that concept at twenty-eight with more boyfriends in her history than I can begin to count. She kicks them out as quickly as they come, with a never-ending supply waiting in line. That’s not me now and wasn’t me when I was her age.
I haven’t responded to any of the comments thrown at Moby and me, not by my Fish, not by his brothers. We both just sit here, hand in hand, his thumb gently stroking the top of mine—a quiet reminder he’s by my side. Maybe we should have done this separately, him with the guys and me with the girls. I knew they would be surprised but had no idea they would be stark-raving mad. If it was just my friends, I could handle the inquisition. Having his brothers here adds an entirely new dimension I’m not accustomed to.
“Are you pregnant?” Cam’s so straight forward it makes me want to smack her. Everything is always black and white, cut and dry, in her world. There are never any shades of gray. She’s normally so straight-laced her current lack of civility shocks me. Like that’s a question to ask in a room full of people. Even if I am, I certainly wouldn’t just stand up and say,
Yep, Moby knocked me up so we ran to the nearest chapel.
It is certainly the wrong question to ask of me with a crowd of people around with my husband present. Three...two...one...
Shooting out of his seat, he drops my hand, the vein on the side of his neck bulging to the rapid beat of his amped-up heart. “Who the hell do you guys think you are? No, she’s not fucking pregnant. She’s also not eighteen and neither am I. We didn’t make a mistake just because you can’t wrap your minds around our decision.”
Silence fills the room as the easygoing playboy of our swarm blows his gasket. Joey watches Moby intently, looking as though he’s ready to pounce if he has to.
Moby inhales loudly. I can hear the agitation with each breath he takes. He’s typically jovial and playful, but there’s no trace of happiness on his face as he glowers at the crowd gathered in front of us. Glancing down, he touches my shoulder and the warmth of his fingers soothes me. “If you guys would like to have a mature conversation, we’d love for you to stay for dinner and talk. If you’re going to continue down this path, you know where the door is. Make your choice and make it now.” His voice is stern and curt leaving no room to argue. He seizes my hand, and helps me to my feet, before escorting me to the kitchen—our kitchen.
End of discussion.
With only a thin wall separating us from ten of our closest friends and family, we both start gathering food from the refrigerator and pantry to cookout. I collect everything we bought, hoping our friends come around, but if not, we will be eating steak and potatoes for weeks. I keep waiting for tears to fill my eyes, but they don’t come. My husband kisses my temple as he walks by, reminding me of why we did what we did. I have no regrets. Everyone else will just have to come to terms with it.
Dax, Moby’s oldest brother and Cam’s fiancé, appoints himself group spokesman. “Guys, look where we’re coming from.” Standing in the doorway, he fills the space suddenly dwarfing the room. He’s a good-looking guy and has been perfect for Cam. A gentle smile graces my cheeks thinking of what this man means to our group and my best friend. Their words have hurt, but I’m not angry. “You’ve been dating less than a year, and several of those months were under the radar. You tell everyone you’re going on a weekend getaway and come back married. You didn’t take any of us with you, no one knew your plans, and we all missed out on the biggest day of both your lives to date. Surely you can see how we might be bothered?”
Moby never looks up from the cutting board on the counter. “What I can see is the group of people we’re closest too hasn’t bothered to ask my wife what her ceremony was like, if she wore a dress and what it looked like, or asked to see her ring. So, in my estimation Dax, until you all show her some love, I’m not willing to acknowledge any point you might be trying to make. I will, however, tell you, I’m grilling steaks and Piper’s making potatoes and a salad, and we would love for all of you to stay.”
Moby claps his brother on the shoulder, the muffled sound causes me to jump slight. He offers Dax a smile before disappearing through the glass doors leading to the porch to start the grill.
I don’t really know what to say. I don’t want to get between brothers, but wonder how my role as his wife will work in their relationships. They’re all extremely close and very protective of each other. I ponder stepping in, shutting up, or making the salad.
I opt to shut up and make the salad.
“Piper, how’d he talk you into this? You’re always the levelheaded one in the group. I figured he was safe with you. Never thought you’d allow him to screw up in such a big way.” The disappointed look on Dax’s face pisses me off. I can’t possibly have heard him correctly. I lose the ability to maintain my composure.
“Excuse me?” My brow furrows as my lip curls in anger; my voice is low as not to alert everyone in the house. Dax Cooper is about to get an ass chewing of monumental proportion. His eyes dart to mine. “Did you just say marrying me was a screw-up?” I stuff my hands in my pockets when they begin to shake. The surge of adrenaline makes me edgy—teetering on the line of explosion.
Moby walks in from firing up the grill. His pinched brow and narrow eyes indicate he’s heard Dax and is about to lose his shit.
I don’t stop to acknowledge his entrance. “I get you guys are upset you weren’t included, but the fact is, our marriage isn’t about you, Dax, or anyone else standing on the other side of that door.
“I waited a long time to find a man I consider a partner, my soul mate, who makes me laugh, encourages me, loves me in a way I’ve only read about in books. If you think I was going to let that slip through my fingers because I was scared to act on what we both knew was meant to be, then that’s your issue, not mine. I will not apologize to you or anyone else for marrying Moby.”
Putting the knife on the counter, I wipe my hands on a dishtowel and push past Dax to see everyone standing just out of eyesight hanging on my every word.
I will not lose my shit.
I will not lose my shit.
I will not lose my shit.
I chant on my way to the bathroom. I just need to make it behind the door, close it, lock it—then I can break down privately.
“Piper,” Charlie calls after me in concern. The sorrow in her voice is palpable as if my name is synonymous with an apology for everyone’s nasty comments and overall attitude.
She has the sweetest heart of anyone in the group and is unable to handle tension looming in the troops. She’s forever the appeaser in our circle with a personality for pleasing and a disposition to match.
Too little, too late, Charliebug.
Safely behind the door, I hear a scuffle start between Dax and Moby. Moby’s about two inches shorter than Dax but being a personal trainer, he works out regularly and is in great shape, not to mention four years younger. He will decimate Dax, and I’m going to miss it pouting in the bathroom.
Their tiff is short-lived. I’m sure it only took Cam a matter of seconds to pull her fiancé off my husband. She can be such a buzzkill.
Knocking on the bathroom door, just down the hall from public view in our living room, Moby quietly speaks to me. “Piper...” His voice soft and smooth, nothing but love coming through the door. “Baby, open the door.” When I don’t immediately respond, his knuckles tap the wood again. “Let me in.” It’s not a command, rather a request. I stand from my seat on the throne, blotting my eyes with a wad of toilet paper, and hide behind the door. I open it just a crack to allow him passage. His laughter pierces the air, rolling past the tiny opening. “You’re gonna have to give me more than six inches to squeeze through, Pipes. I’m a big guy.” With a huff, I sit back down on the toilet allowing the door to swing completely open.
Squatting before me, he cups my face in his hands, kissing me tenderly on the mouth. “We knew we would be facing the firing squad, right?”
I nod. We talked about this at length when I told him I didn’t want a wedding.
“And you said you were ready for it, right?”
Again, I acquiesce my fault in all of this.
“Time to face the music, baby,” he states after looking in my eyes and nodding.
I shake my head like a petulant child. Earning another chuckle from him, he kisses my forehead and stands with my hands in his.
“Yeah, baby, it is. Come on. I promise no more yelling,” he assures me.
One of the things I’ve loved about Moby since the day I met him is his ability to stay positive. In the worst circumstances, he always finds the joy in life. Right now, I find that quality irritating as hell.
Succumbing to his request, I stand, looking into his soft blue eyes. I love the way they crinkle on the side when he smiles. I muss his straw-colored hair with my hand causing him to grab me and tug me toward him. My hips press against him before he bends to kiss me tenderly. Oh, how I want to take this kiss deeper but making out in the bathroom with a house full of company, albeit unwanted at this point, would probably not pass Emily Post’s etiquette test.
I expect to see everyone standing in the vicinity they were in when I entered my hideout, but the room is vacant. My friends have taken up residence in the kitchen; Cam pours the wine while Charlie and Sutton work on the salad and potatoes. Rachel stares out the partially open window over the sink at the guys on the back porch who have taken it upon themselves to start grilling steaks. The aroma of beef searing over the fire wafts through the screen. These four women are like sisters and have been for years. Their displeasure strikes a deep chord in me.
Cam gives each of the Fish a glass of Pinot Noir, handing me mine. I bring the stemware to my nose and am rewarded with a delicate aroma of dried rose petals, pepper, and nutmeg. My eyes close, savoring the scent and tasting it on my tongue.
“Okay, Piper, spill it. All the dirt. From beginning to end. How on earth did you tame the playboy, much less get him to put a ring on it?” She winks at me, and all is right with the world again. This is how the conversation should have gone to begin with—no arguing, no angry statements—just my friends asking me to give them the scoop and then crying with me because they missed being a part of it.
“I don’t know, guys. He’s just different with me than he was with other girls. He’s protective, kind. He makes me laugh. I just knew. I can’t explain it any other way. I knew long before we ever started dating he was the one; he was it. I just didn’t have a clue how I would ever get him to notice me.”
I watch their faces for clues they’re connecting with me but the shadows from the setting sun obscure the details. I want to know it’s evident to those who care about us just how perfectly matched we are.
“The first date we went on was casual, not really even a date, just two friends having dinner. We were sitting at that Italian place off Haywood Road talking about nothing, and everything. I don’t know.”
I pause remembering that night fondly with a silly grin on my face and a dreamy look in my eyes. The way the candle flickered on the table put Moby in the most romantic light, and the food was so rich I could’ve died happy in that moment.
“It was the most comfortable I’d ever felt with another human being. So we’re sitting there and out of the blue he just announces he knew the moment he saw me I was