The plane is already beginning its descent. I look out and see the lights of the city and think about how I’d give anything to get lost in Ian’s words. It’s a powerful feeling, to know this magnetic, dangerous, quirky, beautiful, sexy … man wants me. Agony is almost worth it if I could just be with him.
It’s as if no time has passed at all. I see with sickened clarity that I will never be over Ian Sterling. Never.
He’s watching me, waiting for me to say something. Just one word to give him hope and we will be back in our own little world of love and lust and banter.
I turn to face him and he looks at me with expectancy, willing me to let him back in. Willing me to say yes…
I shake my head and the cobwebs clear. I remember. I remember it all. I want him to hurt.
- 2 -
5+ years ago
It’s hard being a pastor’s kid. My dad pastors the largest non-denominational church in San Jose, CA, and even though I’ve always been proud of my parents, the pressure can be overwhelming at times. If you want to know the job of a pastor’s kid, it’s this: be perfect.
My parents are wonderful, loving people … just a little on the strict side with their only daughter. They adore me though, and unfortunately, they love to show me off. Charlie, my mother, is a force to be reckoned with—I think my dad is the only one who has ever been able to tell her what to do—and rarely at that. Otherwise, she rules with a pearl fist: smooth and white on the outside, but if you bite it, you just might wind up with a broken tooth. She knows how to get things done.
I’m pretty sure if Charlie has her way, there will be a wedding before I’m twenty.
I’m not blind; I know I’m not bad looking. I’ve had a few boyfriends in my short time of dating, but to my parents, I am absolutely gorgeous, unbelievably smart, the most talented girl EVER, and they want me to marry another equally gorgeous, smart, talented PREACHER.
I do not see preacher’s wife in my future.
People have been telling me I look older than I really am for the last four years. I’d like to think it’s because I act so mature, but something tells me that’s not it. At thirteen, I reached 5’ 9” and have hovered around there, add an inch or two, ever since. Dressing like an old woman might have also had something to do with it. All right, old woman might be a stretch—let’s just say, I dress about a decade older than most girls my age.
In just a few weeks, I will be moving across the country to start school at New York University. Taking my entire loose-fitting, conservative, and very proper wardrobe to Goodwill is at the top of my To-Do List. I’ll go shopping for a new, younger life once I get there.
I’m going through my massive collection of books when my mom knocks on my door and opens it.
“You almost ready for our lunch date?” My mom is always a little overly dressed, and one of her huge earrings threatens to blind my left eye as the light catches it just right.
“Yes, I just keep trying to weed through the books. I’m down to two boxes of books now,” I cringe. “I can’t stand to think of not having all the ones I want with me. A little bit of home…”
“Don’t get me crying, honey.” Charlie leans over and hugs me. “I’m just now making my peace with you leaving. You can’t take all your books too, your room will feel like you’re gone forever.”
“I’ll be back. I guess I should leave my favorite books here, so I’ll have a reason to come home,” I tease.
“Hey now…” She tweaks my nose. “Good thing your boyfriend’s staying behind … that should help entice you home.”
I think about that for a moment. Michael is quiet about the approaching separation lately, and it makes me wonder for the millionth time how the distance will affect us.
“Get ready, so we’re not all waiting on you. I’m excited for you to see Jeff and Laila. It’s been so long. And I know how much Michael is looking forward to meeting them. He’s supposed to be here soon to pick you up, isn’t he?”
“Yep … I’ll hurry.”
I’ve been dating Michael for the last four months. He’s twenty-two and beyond hot. Our four-year age difference would be a problem for some parents, but this is where my “maturity” comes in. Oh, and Michael is my dad’s right hand man and the youth pastor at our church. Problem solved.
I have a date with Michael later tonight, too. He’s been talking about a restaurant he wants to try in San Francisco. He’s also been talking a lot about meeting Jeff Roberts, now that I think about it. Jeff is an international speaker and has written at least three bestsellers. He and his wife have been friends of our family for years, but I can’t even remember the last time I saw him. I barely remember his wife at all.
I catch sight of the clock and jump up. After the world’s fastest shower, I look for something that doesn’t need ironing. I hate ironing. I put on a new fitted, short t-shirt dress that I bought last week on a whim. This is the exception to my All Things New in New York expedition. I just couldn’t help myself with this dress. It’s too cute and I’m so ready for a change.
I quickly diffuse my long hair and have the usual internal argument with my mother that I always have regarding my hair, only it’s typically not internal. She prefers my hair up because I look older, or calmed down with hot rollers. My naturally curly hair makes her nervous. It’s too wild, too “wanton.” Her word, not mine. But secretly, I think it really might be my only sexy feature, at least of the ones that show. Or maybe my mom put that in my head by using the word wanton.
Michael has been exploring more of my “sexy” features lately when we make out. With all the layers and such, I’m not sure how he will ever find anything at this rate. He has amazing patience; I’ll give him that.
I take one last look in the mirror, giving my hair a final fluff. Michael will most definitely approve of this dress.
I bounce down the stairs, suddenly feeling a bit excited about the lunch. I read Jeff’s last book and was impressed. Maybe I can get inside his head about how the writing process is for him. Do writers ever truly think they’re great? If so, I’d like to roam inside their brain and let all that self-confidence ooze over my guts and pores and cells. It would make writing a lot simpler.