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Authors: Kelly Mooney

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Stay

BOOK: Stay
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STAY

Kelly Mooney

Copyright 2013 Kelly Mooney

Smashwords Edition

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If
you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
purchased for your use only, then please delete it and purchase
your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this
author.

For my sister, Sheila.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter
1

Chapter
2

Chapter
3

Chapter
4

Chapter
5

Chapter
6

Chapter
7

Chapter
8

Chapter
9

Chapter
10

Chapter
11

Chapter
12

Chapter
13

Chapter
14

Chapter
15

Chapter
16

Chapter
17

Chapter
18

Chapter
19

Chapter
20

Chapter
21

Chapter
22

Chapter
23

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

Prologue

Senior Year

I got in. This was my first thought upon
seeing the thick envelope lying on the counter, my name typed in
bold letters. Everyone says, the thicker the envelope, the better
your chances. Quickly, I ripped it open to see if my dream had come
true. And it had. For a fleeting moment, it had. The International
Culinary School at the Art Institute in Washington wants me to work
toward my Associates degree while learning the proper techniques of
baking, pastry making, and culinary arts.

To learn how to make a soufflé without it flopping
would be awesome. It’s not like I hadn’t tried numerous times, but
someone would usually come in, open up the oven, or decided to have
a friendly shoving match in the kitchen, and the soufflé’ would
flop as a result. Of course, the three idiots didn’t care-they’d
eat anything I put in front of them. Good little guinea pigs,
including my brother, Jeremy.

Luke, Dean, and Jeremy have been best friends for as
long as I can remember. They rarely separate. They played on the
same Little League teams growing up, dated girls in the same
cliques at school, had sleepovers every weekend until they were
almost fifteen. Sleepover still happen now, but usually, when
they’re drunk and covering for someone. The choice of house
depended on who is the soberest at night’s end.

Even though excitement ripped through me as I reread
the words, “Congratulations Margaret Collins,” I knew it would
never happen. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure why I put myself through
the heartache. I’ve always been that girl who wanted to prove
something. Prove that I could get in, even if I couldn’t afford the
tuition.

And to be honest, I wanted to get as far away from
home as possible.

Jeremy, Luke, and Dean were all going to
Northwestern together. Of course. God forbid they go their separate
ways for once. The thing about having a boy as a twin-while it was
great most of the time, my father’s salary as a small-town police
officer meant the budget didn’t leave a lot of excess, especially
since my mom didn’t work. Jeremy got his license first; he scored
the car to drive us around. I was told early on that he was the
boy, and that’s the way the cookie crumbled. Unfortunately for me
he got everything he ever wanted. And because I loved him more than
anything, I never let him know how much it bothered me. And I never
begrudged him for his happiness. It just wasn’t in my DNA to hold
him accountable.

So, I still had no idea why I let myself even try to
grab hold of that brass ring. Jeremy was the one who got accepted
to the school of his dreams and actually got to live it. Since
childhood, my brother and his friends had idolized Northwestern’s
football team. Now the threesome wouldn’t stop talking about going
to the games, which frat they were going to join, the girls they
were going to lay. It was nauseating and painful to hear how they
could just cast me aside. Like after all these years, I no longer
mattered. That I could be pushed away while they live their dream
lives.

I wanted to cry about my acceptance, and I wanted to
do it where no one would see me. The three idiots were in the
family room playing Xbox, and my mother was in the kitchen making
her famous chili. It always amazed me how his friends were always
invited for meals, but if one of my friends were over, which was
rare, they were politely asked to leave. It was probably better to
keep girls away from here anyway.

For completely other reasons.

I found myself in the dollhouse in our backyard. My
grandfather built it for me when I turned six. It was painted a
robin’s egg blue on the outside, with two little windows adorned
with pale yellow curtains that my grandmother had stitched. There
was even a giant ledge with a few sleeping bags tossed on top that
you could sleep on if need be. I actually had a few times. It was
my pitiful escape from reality. I said pitiful because it was only
twenty feet away from the majority of my problems. And I found it
damn near impossible to pretend my problems didn’t exist.

When you’re little, you expect the world to be
perfect-full of rainbows and pretty butterflies. You trust the
people who surround you, who are supposed to love you. By the
tender age of nine, I found that to be total bullshit. Life as I
knew it would never be anything other than trying to survive
another night in my bedroom.

“What are you doing out here?” I jumped hearing the
deep boom of his voice. When I opened my eyes, Luke was leaning on
the ledge of where I was lying down. His arms were crossed, his
chin resting on his knuckles, eyes fixed on me.

I wiped away the tears, quickly sitting up.
“Nothing.”

His hands grabbed hold of my waist, lifting me down
until my feet touched the wooden floor. He swiped away a few tears
with the back of his hand. “It’s not nothing. Why are you
crying?”

My eyes shifted to the envelope and then back to
him. “I got in.”

His concerned face shifted immediately to a huge,
happy smile. He picked me up and spun me around. “Well, that’s
great, Mags. You did it.” He placed me back down, but still kept
his hands around my middle. “If you need any references for those
mad baking skills, I’m your man. I love everything you make for
me.” His finger tapped the tip of my nose before he brushed it with
a simple kiss.

I frowned, unable to hide my true feelings. He
noticed right away and pulled me into him. I buried my head into
his chest, sobbing. “What’s wrong, then?” The thing with Luke was
weird. We were always together because of his friendship with
Jeremy, but Luke and I shared a separate friendship that few people
understood. Even Jeremy didn’t get it. Even though Jer and I were
very close, Luke and I had a bond that started a long time ago. He
dated other girls and I dated other boys, but we always looked out
for one another, and we always were there to fix one another when
necessary.

“You know I can’t go. It’s too much money.
Especially with Northwestern.” I knew I should pull away, but I
secretly loved when he held me. And, although I was positive he
held no romantic feelings toward me, he always let me hold on as
long as I needed.

“Did you talk to Jeremy? Maybe you two could figure
something out where you both get your dreams.”

I shook my head, still sobbing. “No. I don’t want to
do that to him. He’s so excited.”

Luke pulled back, running his hands down my arms
until our fingers intertwined. “Stop doing that, Blue. You deserve
to be happy just as much as he does.” He’d been calling me Blue
ever since we were freshmen in high school. He told me one night
after some boy drama at a party. Sean Williams tried a few moves on
me that I didn’t appreciate. Luke found me all upset, tears in my
eyes, and he had called me Blue for the very first time. He said my
eyes were the most beautiful that he’d ever seen. It was something
I loved.

I pulled my hands out of his and dried my tears with
the hem of my shirt. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll go to state school
or the shitty community college. It’ll work out.”

He sighed and offered a small, comforting smile.
Luke was very aware of how I’d let things slide my whole life,
while Jeremy never gave up one thing. And, I didn’t believe Jeremy
did it for any other reason than ignorance. He never seemed to
notice that I always ended up with the raw end of the deal.

“You could always visit us. Every weekend I expect
to see you. You can be our illegal whenever you want.” I gave him a
big hug, smiling at his words. Luke, Jeremy, and Dean already
received approval to be roommates in student housing. Meanwhile, I
was once again pushed to the side to figure out my own life with
zero guidance from my parents.

***

Nineteen months later-Sophomore Year

It was a Friday night, and I was in Luke’s bed at
Northwestern, waiting for him to come back from brushing his teeth.
We’d spent the first hour or so at his fraternity house, one where
he didn’t live in yet, but would be the following year.

His junior year.

Luke being Luke, he noticed almost immediately that
something was off with me when I didn’t allow him to pull me onto
the makeshift dance floor. His eyes patiently scanned my face, his
nose scrunched up, eyebrows furrowed. “What’s wrong, baby?” His
lips nuzzled my neck, taking a nip or two.

“Nothing. I just don’t feel good. Do you think we
could leave?” He pulled away, scanned the room quickly, and then
his gaze fell back on me. “Yeah, let me find Jer and tell him.”
Luke walked away slowly, glancing back like he was trying to figure
out some difficult crossword puzzle.

After grabbing a pizza that Luke insisted we pick
up, he held my hand softly in his. Every few seconds I’d feel his
gaze leave the road to glance over at me. “So, are you going to
tell me what’s wrong, or am I supposed to guess?”

If he only knew.

I forced a smile and turned to him. “It’s nothing.
I’m just a little tired.” Luke pulled into the parking lot and then
walked around to my side to help me out. Something he always
insisted on doing. Always the gentlemen. Every time I tried to get
out on my own, he’d look at me and say, “You know my mother didn’t
raise me to be an arrogant asshole. Let me get the door for you.”
After a while, I gave in. It seemed to make him feel better.

The whole night he’d gone on and on about how much
fun school was, and how college life had been way more than he’d
ever anticipated. He hated the fact that I only saw him on the
weekends, but understood since I was taking a full load at the
local community college. I had even started checking into some
evening cooking classes. But, three days prior to spending the
weekend with him, my life changed, and I didn’t have the heart to
take it all away from him. He couldn’t be a part of me anymore. I
had to let him go.

After we both had our fill of one another, it was
something I never thought I’d ever want to give up. The one
beautiful thing about Luke was that it was never just about sex, or
getting to the finish line. When we were together he made love to
me, tenderly, passionately, every time, and he sure as hell always
let me know how special I was to him. Deep down I knew how strong
his feelings were, but I also thought he’d understand my decision
and eventually move on. We were both so young. And I was
scared.

Maybe he knew something was wrong by the way I’d
acted earlier, but I wasn’t sure. We always talked about our future
together like it was a no-brainer, but for some reason that night
he made me promise him that no matter what happened, or what went
wrong, that I would come to him before doing anything that I’d
regret. I wanted to. I did. I loved him more than anything in this
world and I really thought long and hard about my decision. For the
first time in my life, I lied to the only man I’d ever loved. And
probably would ever love.

I lied to Luke Matthews.

As he held me in his arms, his index finger slid
slowly down until it reached my knee. He wrapped his strong hand,
lifting my leg, placing it over his. His mouth hovered over mine,
almost kissing me, but just a breath away. “Tell me what’s wrong. I
want to fix it.”

BOOK: Stay
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