Begin, Again (Season of Growth)


Trigger warnings apply: self harm, addiction, sexual abuse

My life felt like a series of people tinkering and toying with me. Some things that happened to me as a child, I didn’t even understand until I grew up, like the man who handled Georgie’s landscaping, and liked to take me into the gardening shed for our “secret playtime.” That began when I was four and ended when I was six, after I mentioned meeting him to my mom. He was fired, but I wasn’t asked anymore questions or explained to why he was wrong. I lived too much of my childhood believing that man was a friend, because my mother wanted to keep me guarded from the blowback of going through a trial, and having the story reach the public. One day, when I was sixteen, Oliver started taking my clothes off in the heat of a moment in my bedroom, and it clicked for me. I never told anyone, until now, I guess. However, that ah-hah moment, and the feeling of betrayal that came with it, enraged me. Shortly after, my dad walked into a gas station to grab a squishy pop without realizing that he was walking right into an armed burglary. Although he was a police detective for the Roy County Major Crimes Unit, he wore civilian clothes. He tried to be a hero and he never walked out again. He didn’t need to save the day. He saved me everyday, and losing him was a blow that echoed in my head. For five years, I shut everyone close to me out, picked up a few unhealthy habits, and became the worst version of myself, all while strangers tripped over themselves to get close to me, fake friends smiled their way into my circle while holding knives behind their back, and my best friend begged me to save my own life.

By my twenty-first birthday, I didn’t want to hear anyone’s opinion. I became unavailable for phone calls, text messages, or anything that wasn’t a part of my plan for that moment, which proved a superb route to burn bridges and isolate myself on top of my hill. While the people I loved advanced in their lives, I occupied myself with drinking too much at random parties, or locking myself in my office where I got high with my thoughts. I felt alone, unmotivated, and all-around empty, which led me to dangerous places, like tolerating Oliver’s abuse for far too long, carving into my arms to feel something, and overdosing my medications “just to see what would happen.” I was the only one who didn’t know that I was racing towards self- destruction all while being one of the most famous heiresses in Pennsylvania.

Even with my attempts to push them away, Rae and Amy still included me in the birthday party for myself and my twin brother. I felt like an outcast from the second I stepped inside of the bar and grill they chose as a venue that year. Thaden was the first person that I looked for, but with no sign of him, I decided he would come later, and I sat alone at the bar inside of Sheila’s, a popular hangout spot at the bottom of Pacer Hill. Rae Stuck to Eli’s side for most of the night, except for taking the time to sit down and eat cake with me; and, Shayna busied herself with flirting with Justin. Before I knew it, I was drunk off of seven Old Fashions, and I was too lost in my own jumbled thoughts to even know that the party was over and nobody stuck around to walk me home.

At least Rae offered to escort me before she left with Eli. They had to be up early in the morning to meet with a contractor about the house that they were planning on building next to mine. Rae didn’t drink that night, which made me curious, but not enough to call her out in a room full of people. Shayna left with Justin, and honestly, if there was one person more caught up in herself than me, it was Shayna Shay. After being her friend for ten years, I expected this of her.

But, what about Thaden? Since we were nine years old, we never missed each other’s birthdays.

“I’m going to go find him,” I mumbled to myself as I pushed myself out of my seat.

“Find who?” Chase Claire, the sexiest bartender I had found in Pepper’s Ferry, asked me while he worked on his closing duties. He had taken off his dress shirt, and wore only a tanktop and his tight brown corduroy pants as he wiped down counters with his muscular arms. “Girl, you can’t find anyone with how trashed you are. Do you even know where you’re at?”

“I know.” I straightened out my dress and swiped my fingers through my hair. “I know where I am, Chase. I’m not that drunk.”

“Okay, and I’m not so white that I’m glowing in the fluorescents.” He smirked at me, with the dimple on the right side of his face showing through, and his solid black hair standing up in the perfect cowlick at the front of his head. “Come on. Hang out with me until I close the place down, and I’ll take you up the hill.”

“I hardly know you,” I pointed out to him, even as I took my seat. 

“Are you interested in knowing me better?” He smirked again. “I know a lot about you. I can see that you’re overwhelmed since you became the Princess of Pacer Hill, making headlines all over the place. Everyone wants a piece of you, and you’re just doing what you can to be able to think.”

“No.” I shook my head at him before taking an eager sip of the water he offered me. “No, it’s not that deep. Or, maybe it’s deeper than that.” 

“You have been dodging conversation with everyone who approached you, tonight. At least three times I watched you throw back a drink and rush off to the bathroom to get away from somebody trying to talk to you.”

“None of those people are interested in me.”

“That’s my point. So, if I’m wrong, what is it? What has you walking around town with a look on your face like you have a thousand places to be, and you don’t want to be at any of them?”

“Maybe, it’s the look I have because there’s one place I want to be, and I can’t be there.” I gave him a sad smile as I said, “Listen, we can’t keep this going. You’re just going to have to give me a ride home and forget about me.”

“Or what?” he asked, with a chuckle. “What happens if I don’t forget about you? What if I get your number and take you out on a date? What if I fall in love with you?”

“It would probably happen. You’re a great looking guy. You seem kind. You’re smiling whenever I come in here, and I really like that…But, once you get to know me you’re going to learn that the Pacer Hill Princess isn’t everything she’s cracked up to be in all of those articles. I was given a bunch of money, and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know what to do with my time. Until yesterday, when the man I have had feelings for my whole life told me that he was moving to Arizona to chase his dream of becoming a famous tattoo artist, I thought life would go my way because of who I am. I was wrong. The only thing I really have is the ability to never really worry about money again. My best friend is building a house, my twin brother is building it with her and planning to propose, my little sister owns a coffee shop, and my older brother is a married CEO with a baby on the way. I got nothing but a streaming channel that people like to tune into for a reason that I can’t pinpoint. Is it for me? Do they like genuinely like me? Or is it because they just want what I have and they’re waiting to see me fail? Because, I see more hate than love. Oh, and I have a room full of sketches I am terrified to show anyone, and a bunch of weed. I am always high, Chase, because I don’t have a reason not to be. Unless I am drunk.”

“Do you want to know what it sounds like to me?” He leaned on the counter. “It sounds like you just turned twenty-one today, and you’re not trying to rush life. I am twenty-six, okay? I just bought my first car. I have three roommates in an apartment with two bedrooms. We all have bunk beds, dude, because we’re all just trying to make it, and my oldest roommate is this idiot pushing forty, who just loves to repeat the same mistakes, time and time again. The only living being that counts on me is a dog, and sometimes I forget to feed him in the morning.”

“What’s his name?” I asked, as I leaned into the counter.

“Moose, a six month old Golden Retriever.”

I smiled. “Can I meet him?”

“Sure you can.” He grinned from ear to ear, exposing both dimples. “Just give me your number so that after you’ve sobered up I can ask you if you’ll go on a date with me.”

“Bust out some of those greasy chili cheese fries, and this could be a date.”

He shook his head at me. “I’ll get you the fries, but this won’t go down in the books as our first date.”

“What will it be?” I asked.

“Just say yes when I ask you tomorrow, and you’ll find out. Okay?”


Rae didn’t even open her eyes as I crawled into bed with her, and nestled my face into the small of her neck. Sneaking into her bedroom in the middle of the night became a habit when we were six years old, and with her being my roommate, running to her was easier than ever. She was my safe place.

“What is wrong?” she asked, sleep still thick in her delicate voice.

“Thaden just sent me a goodbye text. He already left for Arizona. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him.”

“You encouraged this, Laney. I was there when you were getting your butterflies. He mentioned that woman offering him a place in her shop, and you were all, ‘You have to go. You have to follow your dreams.’”

“Okay, so what would you have done?” I snapped. “Ask this guy who has never even tried to kiss me to stay in town for me? That doesn’t sound reasonable, does it? Just saying it makes me feel crazy.”

“Would it be that crazy to find out if there is anything between you before he rushes out of town and causes you to wake me up in the dead ass middle of the night? God, I can’t wait until there’s a locked door between us.”

“Oh my fuck, you’re being bitchy this morning, aren’t you?“

“You have me awake at three in the morning listening to you whine over your crush! I have to be awake at five in the morning to meet with a contractor. So, if you wouldn’t mind getting lost with your end of the world shit, I’m tired. And, if you do stay, I might puke on you.”

“You know, I thought sharing a house with you would be a lot more pleasant and fun. For the past three weeks you’ve been a miserable hag,” I murmured, as I stumbled through the dark room, stubbing my toe against her dresser and letting out a little sob.

“Karma does exist,” she grumbled, as she flopped back over in bed and buried herself amongst her dozen or so pillows.

I couldn’t fall back asleep after my argument with Rae. I found myself in the kitchen, making a whole meal. I scrambled eggs, fried up bacon, threw sausage in a skillet, and worked on a batch of pancakes as she entered the room.

“It smells amazing.” She smiled at me as she shuffled into the kitchen dressed in a skinny pair of black jeans and an oversized hoodie, Rae’s signature “nowhere special to be” outfit. Her shoulder length, dark brown, straight hair fell down perfectly on her head, and her bright blue eyes had an extra twinkle in them. I could see her hesitation to sit at the kitchen island as I pulled blueberries and whipped cream out of the fridge. “You haven’t cooked anything since before we graduated high school.”

I shrugged. “When Dad died, I lost interest. I caught a bug this morning, though. I am even thinking about a pot of spaghetti for dinner.”

She winked at me. “I’ll be here.”

“You can have Eli over, too. I might invite somebody.”

“Who?” she asked, as she piled whipped cream on top of her pancakes and added the blueberries.

“Mmm, somebody I know.”

“So, Thaden leaving isn’t the huge travesty you made it out to be an hour ago.”

“I don’t know.” I threw my palms up at my side. “It might be. I could spend the rest of my life wondering what would’ve been if he stuck around and I got the nerve to tell him how I feel about him, but here we are. He’s gone. He’s following his dreams, and, now, it’s my turn.”

“How is that?” she asked.

“I know you’re busy. With the house and everything else, I’m sure you’re exhausted, but since you are the co-owner of Georgie’s mansion, I have to run it by you. I want to turn it into a hotel.”

“Into a hotel?”

I gave her a nervous look. “I can show you my idea better than I can tell you.”

“Show me.” She shoved a bite of eggs into her mouth before following me to the locked door of my office. I pulled the key from around my neck, where it hung on a chain, and swung open the door.

My heart raced as she stepped inside with me. She looked around at all of the sketches on the walls with amazement in her eyes.

“What are these, Laney? Did you draw all of them?”

“It’s just how I spend my downtime,” I said, as I threw a baggie of weed and a glass bowl into a drawer and slammed it shut.

“You have never once hinted at being able to draw, or even being interested in art. This is the old jailhouse. A perfect sketch of it,” she said, as she tapped her finger on a piece of paper. “What is this? The old school?”

“I reimagined what it would look like if it were still active. I was really bored that day,” I explained, before sipping on my coffee.

“You are blowing my mind, Laney.”

I shrugged as I pulled out a sketchbook and laid it on the desk in front of her when she finally took a seat across from me. “It’s not for anyone else. This is a thing for me. Anyway, this is my idea. First, we take the dining room and turn it into the bar area. A really sleek black bar top, with all black details. I want it to feel almost gothic in there, like a mysterious place where anything can happen. I even found candles that use magnets to make them look like they’re floating in glass jars. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I got excited. The bar will be open to the public, with exclusive perks for guests. We’re going to expand the kitchen and knock out that office area that’s on the first floor. We’re going to make the kitchen industrial sized, that way we can offer amazing dinner services in the dining room. The living room is already so huge that we can combine it with the library to make a lounge. We shouldn’t even have to touch those rooms, but we’re going to have to make them more welcoming. I want a light space, like a cafe setting, where we can host Indie music nights and—I don’t know—readings of some sort. But, the dining room is going to be my big show stopper. It’s going to be nothing but white, bright, and elegant. I’m going to add a row of glass doors that open up to the patios, which can be used for outdoor dining and entertaining. We can offer graduation parties, baby showers, and retirement parties out there. I’m even going to install a bar area separate from the main bar. People can pay a fee for exclusive access, or buy it out for the night as an open bar. We will offer ten rooms on the second floor and five on the third, which leaves office space for administration. The second floor rooms will be priced at the same level, but the third floor rooms are the suites. We have Georgie’s Room as the master suite, Cassidy’s Room as the Bridal Suite, Chuck’s Room as the Bachelor’s Suite, Adele’s Room, and Darlene’s Room.”

I showed her each detail that I spent hours bringing to life in a sketchbook with a purple dragon on the cover. For three months, my world revolved around time with that sketchbook. 

“That sounds and looks amazing,” she told me, with a wowed look in her eyes. “Laney, why have you been hiding this?”

“Yeah?” I asked. “Is…Is it something you would want to do with me?”

“Laney, it’s our dream, right? To take over this hill together, and raise our families together just like our moms. I know things have been different. You’ve been living your life and I’ve been living mine. There are days where we just don’t have the time for the way things used to be, but even when there aren’t enough hours, things will always be the way they used to be. If that makes sense. You are always my girl, Elaina Georgie Pacer.”

“And you’re mine.” I pulled her into a tight hug, before I whispered, “Rae, are you pregnant?”

She snatched herself away from me with a flabbergasted expression on her face. “Why are you asking me that?”

“You didn’t drink last night and you also just threatened to puke on me. So…” I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Oh my goodness,” she gushed, pointing to the wall. “This portrait of Georgie, Laney! When we get the hotel finished, this needs to go right in the entryway.”

“We’re going to do it, then?”

“Babe, it’s practically already done. You’ve done the planning. The hardest part will be waiting for a remodel to be completed, because I am dying to see this come to life.”

“Yes.” I slowly flipped back through the pages of my sketchbook. “I hope this is what Georgie meant when she challenged me to do great things.”


Chase pulled down this long dirt road that looked like it led to nowhere. Normally, I would’ve been nervous, unsure of myself while being thrown into a situation where I didn’t have any control, but that night I felt at ease. I wore my favorite black dress with a white flower print, and white open-toe heels. My hair was curled, and I had spent what felt like forever putting on my makeup, convinced that I needed to look perfect after Chase sent me a text kindly asking me to dress up for our date. He wouldn’t tell me why or where we were going, but I also didn’t feel the need to ask. I was enjoying the music, and the way his arm felt resting over my shoulders as he drove, with the breeze coming through the music as he asked me questions and I laughed at his jokes. I hadn’t had a night like this, a night where it felt like a man was going out of his way to make me smile, in years. I felt like I was enough every time he grinned over at me and showed off his dimples, and I enjoyed knowing that somebody was happy to be sitting next to me.

“Here we are.” He grinned at me as we pulled up in front of an entrance of a barn with a sign hanging over the open doors that said ‘The Barn.’

“What is this?” I asked him, as I took in the string of color changing lights around the building glowing against the night sky.

“This is The Barn. It’s a dining experience for two,” he explained. “It’s exclusive. Hard to get into and not well known. Fortunately, I have a few connections through some old servers at Sheila’s so I was able to get us into the only table at this spot for the night.”

“There’s just one table?” I asked.

“That’s it.” He opened his car door, straightening out his tie before he looked at me and said, “And it’s ours.”

He took me inside, holding my hand the whole way as he walked a step or two ahead of me. The muscular, lean man had this way of taking a step like he was always walking on a cloud.

“Jana.” He let go of my hand, only for a second, as he hugged a greeter standing by the door. “Thanks for getting me in tonight, darling.”

“Hey. The mayor’s son is probably going to be pissed about the cancellation I sent him, but when you said you were bringing a Pacer…They’re kind of a big deal. Bigger than the mayor.” She looked at me with this charming smile. “Having the oldest money in Pepper’s Ferry will get you places.”

“Mmm.” I forced a smile at her although I wasn’t enjoying the idea that he dropped my last name to get his reservation.

“I never mentioned who I was coming with.” Chase gave her a stern look without even a hint of a smile on her face. He looked concerned as he stared at her. “How would you know that?”

“Rumors spread.” She shrugged, her cheeks red with a hint of embarrassment lingering in her movement as she busied herself with grabbing menus and silverware. “I heard that you two were hanging out after hours at Sheila’s. Somebody said you left together, so I just assumed you were bringing Elaina.”

“Can I get a lemon water?” I asked. “If you have sparkling water, that would be amazing. I know we’re not even sitting yet, but I have severe allergies. My throats been tingling since that quick rain came in.”

“Oh, okay.” She nodded her head. “I’ll be back. You two can take a seat.”

“What happened?” I asked Chase as we took a seat at the table. I could see his muscles tightened in his neck as he looked over the menu in front of him, which consisted of calamari, an eggplant pasta dish, shrimp scampi, scallops and a roast veal sweet bread. 

“Forget it.” He smiled at me. “Just forget everything that happened with Jana. I’m a private man and I get uptight when people have information about me that I haven’t told anyone. I also don’t want you to think that I’m bragging about being close to you, like I have some kind of agenda. That’s not fair to either of us.”

“Okay, it’s forgotten,” I told him.

“Let’s get this on track with a glass of wine. This is a bottle ordered from the finest makers in Italy.” Jana smiled as she placed our glasses in front of us before carefully pouring with a skilled hand. “Enjoy. Dinner will begin shortly.”

“This is a string quartet,” I said, as I pointed out the music that surrounded us after taking a sip of the wine. “My dad really enjoyed string quartets. He taught me my love of music. He is the reason that there’s not even a television in my house. I just play the music and get lost in a sketch or a daydream. I have this sound system that is amazing. I’ve built it up so that it will play in every room of my house.”

“Do you like to dance as much as you like to listen?”

I smiled at him. “I love to dance. I forget how much I love it until somebody mentions it.”

“Dance with me.” He reached out his hand with a smile on his face. As I took hold of it, he led me out onto a wooden dance floor dusted in hay.

I laid my head on his shoulder and we swayed around to a slow, but upbeat song. 

“You are amazing,” he whispered in my ear. “Talking to you for the past four days has had my head in the clouds, Elaina Pacer.”

“I feel the same,” I told him. “And to be honest, it’s terrifying.”

“Why?” he asked.

“What if I wake up tomorrow and it’s not there?” I asked him, as I pulled back from him and looked into his brilliant gray eyes. “What if I say something wrong? What if I do something wrong? What if you find something or someone that’s better than me and I never find a reason to smile the way that you make me smile again? What if there is no other man who wants to go out of his way to make my night? What if you’re my one real chance and I find some way to make you run from me? Because, I’ll be honest, on paper, I am the perfect woman.” I smirked at him. “I don’t need you for anything. I am as self-sufficient as any person can come. On paper, I was named the most eligible bachelorette in Pepper’s Ferry at only twenty years old. On paper, I am the Princess of Pacer Hill, but the more you get to know me, the more you see that the paper should be ripped up and thrown in the trash, because I am a mess.”

“You are always so down on yourself.” He grabbed my chin. “What if that’s all in your head? What if the pressure of being who you are has made you your own worst enemy? Because, on paper, I am worthless. I make decent tips but with the rate life is going today, I can’t keep up. People will look at me standing next to you and wonder why you picked me, when a woman like you could have any guy on the planet. I didn’t deserve a second of you entertaining my childish hope that you would be interested in a kid who grew up in the low income townhomes in Destiny’s Point, but here we are. You’re standing in front of me, and I am blown away. I am faking every bit of confidence that you see in me, because I’m terrified that any second now, you’ll realize you made a mistake. The first night that we talked, I told you that I slept in a bunk bed with another man, knowing that you live in a twelve-bedroom house on a hill made up entirely of million dollar homes.”

“Twelve room home.”

He cracked a smirk at me. “What?”

“There are only six bedrooms in the Merlin House. The purple room is my room, and the yellow room on the first floor is Rae’s. Then, there’s a green room, an orange room, a blue room, and a red room. My office, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the sun room, and my library are the other six rooms. Oh, and there are five bathrooms. Two on the second floor, and three on the first floor. People always say there are twelve bedrooms, but they have it wrong. There were never twelve bedrooms. Georgie Mae, my great-great grandmother built it for the Merlins. Before they all turned up dead, there were only seven Merlins. Cormac, Sorcha and their five children. Cormac was the groundskeeper and Sorcha was Georgie Mae’s best friend, but she went by the title of housekeeper.”

“How did they all turn up dead?”

“They were shot execution style in the Hollow. Some believe it’s because they were Irish, but I found some things in Georgie Mae’s diary that suggest they were accused of sorcery, which is strange when considering their last name. If what Georgie Mae wrote is true, it just shows how quick people are to snap judgment. The rumor was that they enchanted Georgie Mae into being so kind to them. They were using potions and spells to gain her generosity.” I cracked a grin. “She did not have a reputation of being kind, but she did take care of the people she loved, and she just happened to adore Sorcha for being there for her during a time when she felt isolated. Asher was having an affair with Mitchell by that point, and building the Hart Family Mansion for Mitchell, his wife, and his children to make their secret rendezvous easier. I like to believe that maybe Georgie Mae had the same thing going on with Sorcha, but that is my personal speculation from the time I spent reading her diaries.”

“Isn’t your best friend building a house right next to you?” He laughed, before asking, “Should I be concerned?”

“Absolutely not. If those feelings existed between Rae and me, I would already be all over it. There would be no secret meetings. I would scream it for the world. I love her more than anyone, but she is my best friend who chose my brother because she couldn’t have me like that.” I winked at him. “That’s the power I possess. If people can’t have me they go running to the nearest person that reminds me of them, and in Rae’s case, it was Eli. At least it worked out. He’ll be proposing to her soon and she’ll be getting her fairytale ending. I never guessed I would be the one doomed to wander the land alone, trying to figure out where I fit, even with being born into a plan that was already written out for me.”

“If that didn’t exist, if you weren’t born the first granddaughter of the Great Georgie Pacer, who would you be?”

“I would be me.” I nodded at him. “I would have the tattoos, the love for art, and the passion for creating something out of nothing. I just wouldn’t be here. I would be everywhere.”

“Why can’t you do that now?”

I shook my head at him. “The head of the Pacer Estate rarely gets to leave the Pacer Estate without being escorted by security guards and an agenda written out and approved by people assigned to keep me breathing.”

“What if you go and you just don’t tell them?”

“Go where?” I asked. 

“Everywhere,” he answered, smiling at me with a devious expression on his face. “Anywhere. Just go live, Elaina. I can see it in you. You’re so desperate to see or do something more.”

“And then what?” I asked. 

“You come find me and tell me all about it. Send me pictures and emails. Keep me filled in, because I would love to hear about it. But, if you want to go, you have to go. You have to live your life, or you’ll spend the rest of your life resenting living. That is no way to live.”

I smiled at him, as we finally took a seat back at our table. “You make it sound so easy, but people will lose their minds and keel over to die if I’m not there to sign the checks.”

“Let ‘em die.” He chuckled, as he laced his fingers behind his head. “It won’t kill them.”

“Why would I leave this when it’s just starting? Why don’t we spend, I don’t know, the next six months getting to know each other, and when I decide that you’re not some homicidal maniac hoping to kill me for my money, we can get on a plane together.”

“Hmm.” He took a sip of his wine. “What if you’re the homicidal maniac who is so bored with all of her money that she gets her thrills off of swooping men off to other countries and killing them?”

“Oh my fuck, you pick up on things fast.” I pressed my hand to my chest as he grinned at me. “We’re going to need that check, now. I have to move on and find another victim who isn’t so intuitive.”

“If loving you is to die by your hand, I would love you with a million lives.”

“Is that Shakespeare?”

“No.” He leaned forward. “Taylor Swift. I swear she wrote it in the jacket of a CD cover my sister hung up on her wall.”

“Shakespeare and Taylor are one in the same. Same struggles, different centuries, different avenues of expression. But, same soul, same genius.”

“Who is the Elvis of our time?” He raised his drink at me. “Answer that.”

“Elvis didn’t have to be reinvented. The man wasn’t dying for tragedies. He was dying for a bowel movement. Do you only have a sister?”

“Two sisters. Cassidy and Chrissy. They are amazing, but I don’t get to see them that much. Cass lives in Harbor, and Chrissy lives in Ohio. She comes here often, but not enough.”

“Do you ever go to her?”

“To be honest with you, no. I don’t have the extra funds. I pay my bills, buy my dog food, get a few groceries and that’s it. Everything else I make goes into savings to get me into a house. I want a place with a yard for Moose to run. And maybe one day, I’ll open my own bar. Something more progressive that draws in a younger crowd, a place where I can have live music and breathe life into this town.”

“If you play it right, Moose could have a whole hill and you could have a woman who sends you away to your sister every weekend for her own sanity.”

He laughed out loud like a child, pressing his hand to his mouth as I grinned at the sound of joy. A new life was beginning for me that evening, a second chance that I didn’t know that I needed, and a shot at love with the kind of man I didn’t believe existed. 

“Can I walk you to the door?” he asked, as we pulled up to the Merlin House.

I could see Eli sitting at the window with Rae, watching me sit with Chase where he parked in the gravel parking spot in front of the front porch.

“Normally, I would say yes, but my creep ass twin brother is in there watching, and I just know he’ll do something stupid.” I smiled, as I rested my hand on my cheek and looked at him. “I had the time of my life with you in a barn tonight. If we never spoke again, I think this night would cross my mind once a day.”

“Same.” He smiled at me. “But, don’t worry. There will be more. I may have set the standard too high with that first date, though. I can’t think of another single place in Roy County where I could replicate that experience.”

“Why replicate it?” I kissed his cheek. “There is so much more to see and do, Chase. I will call you, okay? I have a busy week of meetings ahead of me, but you’ll hear from me in my spare time. Listening to you tell me the horror stories of bartending will be a welcomed comedic relief.”

“What are the meetings?”

“A question for another day.” I gave him a sad smile. “Goodnight, love. I wish this evening never had to end.”

“Goodnight, darling.” He smiled at me. “Until we talk again, you take care. And, I know that you don’t need me on paper, but if anything should come up, I’ll be there.”

Written by Ava McClure

Part One of a multi-post project called The Real Pace Hill. This project is a movement against traditional publishing and their tendency to take freedom as well as earnings away from the author and creator.

Part Two will be posted next Monday! Until then, please enjoy and join my Facebook for more updates on my work.



  1. CarolCooks2 says:

    An emotive subject… well written…Thank you for following CarolCooks2 🙂


  2. beth says:



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