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Authors: Layne Harper

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From Now Until Infinity (2)

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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From Now Until Infinity

By: Layne Harper

 

 

 

Falling Now Until Infinity is a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

From Now Until Infinity

All rights reserved

Copyright © 2013 by Layne Harper

 

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or recording without express consent of the author Layne Harper.

 

ISBN: 978-0-9893536-3-2 (ebook)

 

Cover Design: Michelle Preast

 

 

 

To my wonderful friends, who’ve first shared dessert with me, and then we ate our dinner. We still have never made it to the appetizer menu. Here’s to many more GNO’s.

Prologue

 

 

I’VE ALWAYS loved this particular oak tree. When I was a kid, my sisters and I would ride our bikes past this house because it was a challenge to navigate under its long, sturdy branches that even today still drape over the sidewalk. It felt like we were entering a cave or secret hiding place that only we knew about. Families from the neighborhood posed for Christmas pictures using this magnificent tree as the background. It must be over two hundred-years-old. Its trunk is so thick that even as an adult, I can’t wrap my arms around it. The tree’s branches are as big as most normal trees’ trunks. Its branches have always reminded me of sculpted arms waiting to hold and support the kids in the neighborhood that need its shelter. Right now, those arms that the tree branches remind me of have landed me in my therapist office, staring out the window at my favorite tree.

When I moved back to Houston from Boston, finding a therapist was one of my top priorities. Since I entered therapy when I was twenty-two-years-old for issues with control that manifested themselves in an eating disorder, I’ve kept my need to exercise and purge in check. That’s not to say that I might not have run a couple of extra miles here and there when I’m feeling particularly anxious, but I haven’t purged. My weight is healthy, and I’ve learned coping techniques for my anxiety when I’m feeling out of control.

Doctor Benson was referred to me by my therapist in Boston. The first time I pulled into her driveway and realized that she lived in the house with my favorite oak tree, I saw it as a sign that she was the right doctor for me. She converted what was probably a formal living room into her office. The walls are painted a soft yellow and her furnishings are cheery without being overwhelming. My favorite thing about her office is the very large bay window that looks into her front yard. Staring at that wonderful oak tree brings me a degree of comfort that no therapy can provide. It reminds me of a simpler time before my father divorced my mother leaving her to raise four little girls alone while he started a new family with his head nurse, Carmen.

“Caroline, I’ll ask you the question again,” Doctor Benson says snapping me back to reality. “What in particular has happened that has made you request this emergency appointment?”

The answer is simple Colin.Fucking.McKinney. In one weekend, he threw my entire life into a tailspin. Where do I begin answering her question? Sex without protection? A maybe girlfriend who happens to be a very popular entertainment reporter? He wants to move in with me during the off season? Realizing the love that I felt for him eight-years-ago never died? The fact that he told me he loved me, and I said it back? What about that he poisoned himself so he didn’t have to sleep with the (maybe?) girlfriend?

“How much time do we have today, Doctor Benson?” I ask very seriously. “I might need all of it.”

She gently laughs and prompts, “You said on your message that you ran into your old boyfriend over the weekend.”

“Yes. I did run into him.” I pause for a second and then decide to lay it all on her at once. “I also slept with him without protection multiple times while he has a maybe girlfriend. Then, I told him that I loved him after he told me that he loved me and essentially said that he wants to marry me.” I say this while touching my infinity necklace that he gave to me. “Then, I agreed that he could move into my home during the off season.”

As a professional, Doctor Benson has been trained to keep her face neutral and offer a nonjudgmental environment for patients. However, poor Doctor Benson can’t even hide the surprise on her face. Instead of pretending that her mask didn’t slip, she replies, “My goodness Caroline. That’s a lot that happened in one weekend.”

All I can do is stare out the window at my favorite oak tree and nod. She’s right. It’s a lot, and my feelings are all over the place. I need her to help center me because if she doesn’t I’m very afraid that I’m going to relapse. One of my coping mechanisms is to keep order and consistency in my life and last weekend’s events took all of that away.

“Let’s take the sex without protection issue first,” she says crossing her legs and removing the cap of her pen to begin taking notes. “Do you want to get pregnant?”

I’m sure my face reveals my answer more strongly than my words. “No. Absolutely not. I would like to have children on day, but not until I’ve been with their father for more than a week.”

Doctor Benson gently asks, “Then why did you take the risk?”

“Because of Colin.Fucking.McKinney,” I reply as I tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear. In my mind that’s a complete answer. He’s the one and only person that can make me be so irresponsible and behave this way. Whatever pull he has on me excites and terrifies me all at the same time.

I stand up and walk to the bay window staring out at the tree. “Doctor Benson, Colin is my kryptonite and my pillar of strength. He’s the only person on this planet that can break me and open up my sealed-off heart simultaneously. His overwhelming certainty in how he feels about me makes me want to open the iron gate around my heart and let him in while at the same time I’m so terrified of doing that I want to run away and hide.”

“Caroline, let’s take a step back. Why have you avoided contacting him for eight years?” Doctor Benson asks.

I walk back to the cream colored couch and sit down. I can answer this question without needing my tree. “Walking away from Colin was the most gut wrenching experience of my life. But it was the right decision. Over the weekend, Colin admitted that he would have wanted more and more of my time and probably manipulated me into dropping out of medical school. I’ve been afraid to see him again. I was scared that all of my feelings I still have for him would be confirmed and that he wouldn’t feel the same way. Or that the opposite would happen, and he would feel just as strongly about me, and I’d wind up sitting in your office.” I finish with a slight chuckle.

As if on cue, my phone begins to play
I Just Want to Dance With You
by George Strait, and I know it’s Colin. Apparently, when he had added his number into my phone he also assigned a ring tone. I’ll give him credit. It makes me smile each time he calls me. I quickly end the call and focus back on Doctor Benson.

The room fills with silence as I watch Doctor Benson uncross and recross her legs. She leans in towards me, and I realize she’s going to ask one of her famous “what’s the worst that could happen” questions. She uses these questions to help me see that my fears are mostly unfounded.

“Caroline, what’s the worst that could happen if you give a relationship with Colin another chance?”

I look out the window at my oak tree. I need its strength to answer this question. After a few minutes of silence, and I’ve choked back my tears, I finally find the right words to answer her. “Doctor Benson, Colin can break me. He can destroy me. He can send me back to the dark place where I went when we broke up. He can take away my desire to get out of bed in the morning… to see the sun. Most importantly, I’ll do anything, anything to avoid feeling that way again. Colin has secrets that I don’t think that he’s ready to share. He hasn’t changed. He says that he wants me any way that he can get me, but I know that’s not true. Colin wants me to fit his perfect mold of me.”

I pause for a moment and walk back to the bay window and longingly look at the oak tree. I’d give anything to be as strong as it is. I want to feel inside that I’m invincible to the storms that life throws at me just like it is against the weather. “Colin wants all of me. Every little bit of my soul he wants. I love him, and I crave him too. In some ways, we’re the perfect team. We could have a relationship that’s one of the strongest that the world’s ever seen, but we also have the power to destroy our individual selves in the process.”

I turn back around and look Doctor Benson in the eyes. “So to answer your question, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I give a relationship with Colin another chance? The worst possible thing that could happen is that I completely lose who I am.”

Chapter One

 

Four Days Later…

 

 

I’M ONLY supposed to work half days on Friday which rarely happens. I have surgery in the morning and then the office staff leaves around noon. I spend the rest of the day getting caught up on all the stuff that’s fallen through the cracks during the week. Normally, I don’t mind. It’s not like I ever have exciting plans for the weekend. Sometimes Brad and I have dinner or I go dancing with one or more of my sisters. About twice a month, I’ve got a fundraiser dinner or charity event to attend. I don’t look forward to them, but they’re great networking for the practice. So I guess I’d say that they’re part of my job.

However, this Friday, I’ve got a spring in my step. I’m anxiously counting down the hours until it’s time for me to leave work because I get to see Colin again. We’ve talked on the phone, FaceTimed or Skyped every day, sometimes multiple times a day, since I left Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

Telling Colin goodbye at the hotel in Los Angeles was difficult for so many reasons. We both discovered that we never quit loving each other. It felt great to reconnect both physically and emotionally. However, we both know that just loving each other isn’t enough. We’re going to have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in our way of being together. Most importantly, he has to wrap up the loose ends of his (maybe?) relationship with Sasha Stone, entertainment reporter and very big potential thorn in our side. We also have to determine how we’re going to make a long distance relationship work with him committed to Dallas eight months out of the year and me firmly ensconced in Houston.

Right now, I really don’t care about any of those issues. I miss him and want to see him again. No. That’s not correct. I need to see him again. I want confirmation that last weekend wasn’t some sort of dream. And that we really have the strong connection that we felt in Los Angeles.

I had a hard time sleeping last night knowing that he’d be in my bed in twenty-four hours. My mind began to play the
“what if”
game.
What if last weekend was just a onetime thing, and we really don’t feel as strongly about each other as I think that we do? What if Sasha is just one of many girls Colin has a relationship with? What if I get to know him better and realize that I don’t want a relationship with him, and we break up for a second time? What if I’m pregnant?

About two o’clock in the morning, I finally got up and took a Benadryl to help me sleep. Not that I was having an allergy attack, but because my mind was racing with anxiety and doubts.

I spent the week making sure that everything was just perfect for him. It’s been a long time since I lived with a man. I picked up sports magazines at the store and threw them on my coffee table. I switched out my girly smelling hand soap in the kitchen and bathrooms with a more neutral scent. Here’s the best. I, Caroline Jane Collins, entered the twenty-first century and upgraded my basic cable with fifteen channels to a package that includes all the sport channels and the premium movie channels. My poor underutilized TV will rejoice having a man in the house.

He’s driving from Dallas, and I’m expecting him around dinner time. I’ve already completed two surgeries today and I just have one more to go. Then, Brad and I are going to a fabulous lunch. I’m buying. It’s my way of thanking him for helping me with last weekend. Not only is he an expert packer, dress shopper, but he’s the best assistant in the world and friend.

There are days like today that I can’t believe that I get paid to be a doctor. I love surgery days. Patients trust me to heal them. I’d do it for free, but don’t tell my dad. This surgery is an ankle repair. It reminds me a lot of Colin’s surgery when he was in college. This guy broke his ankle last year playing weekend basketball, and the previous doctor thought it was healed. He saw me last week complaining of swelling and tenderness. After I did an X-ray, I discovered that it was still broken. He’s getting a metal plate and will be back on the basketball court in about twelve weeks.

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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