I met my muse at fifteen. I’d just gotten busted for smoking behind the school gymnasium. She inspired me with her laugh and nonjudgmental attitude and, before I knew it, we were inseparable. Then I left to pursue my rock star dreams—dreams she encouraged.
I got over Jaymes Grenier no problem. I never think about that little bow at the top of her pink lips, or the way her green eyes admired mine. Nope, I barely recall the way she fit so perfectly in my arms when I held her at night. The sweet way she would whisper she loved me has long faded from memory.
These are the lies I regularly tell myself in hopes of believing them one day. Yeah, I was told I’d get over my first love.
Derrick Masters marked me the moment we met back in ninth grade. He called me over—all bravado and bad boy mystery wrapped in a James Dean-esque package. Dark hair and blue eyes with a rebel without a cause charisma. He was everything I was warned about, but I couldn’t resist. I was his from that moment on.
His career took off almost as soon as he did. I knew it would. I just thought I would be beside him as his partner in crime, best friend, and lover. That’s what we had always been … before he left me behind to fend for myself.
Fend? Fight is more like it.
I’ve been fighting ever since.
Fighting for survival.
Fighting for a better life in a world determined to keep me down.
I don’t have the luxury of letting my head live in the lure of La La Land. His dreams may have come true, but mine were extinguished. These days I fight for something bigger than me, bigger than we were ever meant to be.
When his dreams come crashing back into my reality, is this a second chance at that fairy tale ending or another heartbreak in the making?
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On the front porch, leaning against the wood column in all his newfound glory, stands the most breathtaking man I’ve ever seen. As a teenager, I thought he was the best-looking boy I’d ever seen, and based on how I’m struggling to breathe just from looking at him now, I think he still holds the title. But now he’s a man.
Ace is talking about what some kid named Shiloh got in trouble for today at school, but I’m still staring at Derrick Masters.
My very own Perseus, though right now I’m thinking he was more my Achilles heel in the grand scheme of things.
Derrick Masters is standing on my mother’s front porch like he belongs there. A smile that shines like the star he’s become appears and he waves. Not sure if it was the grin on his face or the wave that sends me tripping flat on my face into the grassy lawn, but I’m cursing the curb when I lift up and look right into the dark blue eyes I’ve tried to despise.
“Are you okay?” he asks, trying to help me up. His voice is deep, the timbre the same one that always made my heart beat a little faster. It’s not that thought that runs through my mind. It’s his hands on me, grappling to help me to my feet.
He’s touching me.
Derrick Masters is touching me and I consider lying there longer just to savor the feel of his calloused fingers again. Ace tugs at my ankle like that will help me up. “Mommy, you fell.”
Derrick knows I’m a mommy.
Oh my God. What does he think?
Does he hate me? Disappointed in me? Happy for me? Or not care at all?
I would care if I found out he has kids.
Maybe he already knew . . .
Maybe I’ll just lie here as long as I can until he goes away.
Ace lies down next to me and rests his face on my hand. Looking at me with wide eyes, he asks, “Are we playing a game? This is fun.”
“Yes, I quite like it here.”
I hear Derrick chuckling just above me, enough to feel his warmth covering my body like sunshine as I lie in the cool grass. I might be mistaken but it sounds like he’s behind me now. On the ground with me.
Ace’s eyes look over my head. “My friend is here too.” He giggles. “See? Right there.”
Lying like a dead fish, I smile at my cute son not quite ready to face Derrick Masters. “What’s your new friend’s name?”
“Derrick. He plays a guitar like you, Mommy.”
After a tap on the back, Ace’s new friend speaks, “Hi.”
I miss Derrick’s hands on me, even if it was just helping me up. Ace is a ball of laughter and gets up. I watch until he runs behind me. “I’m here now. We’re all here. This is fun. Oh look, the moon.”
I can’t avoid him forever and the grass is grounding, literally, and settles my anxiety over just this kind of thing happening. I’ve embarrassed myself and he’s found out I’m a mother in the course of one sexy smile and a wave. I shake my head and close my eyes annoyed with myself for acting so foolishly in front of him. He was once my everything. When I roll onto my back, the top of our hands meet in an innocent touch that neither of us bothers to retreat. Finally building enough nerve, I turn my head and look straight into his eyes again. “Hi,” I whisper.
That devastatingly charming smile reappears, and he says, “It’s good to see you, Jaymes.”
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