Authors: Kelly Mooney
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College
A Long Goodbye
By: Kelly Mooney
Copyright 2012 by Kelly Mooney
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission of the author except where permitted by law. This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any person living, or dead, any place, events, or occurrences is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination.
All my life, I’ve known that something was out there waiting for me. Something that was way more exciting than just drinking sweet tea on the porch with Daddy every day. Just what, I had no clue. I wasn’t even sure if he’d even let me leave. He’d always kept a short, invisible rope tied so tightly around me, but it was finally time to pull out the scissors and cut myself free. Hell, I was twenty-two years old and have had only one boyfriend, three hangovers, and one, one-night stand. And let’s just say that he wasn’t at all what he was cracked up to be. That boy and that night were one big, old disappointment, right up there with the summer that I lost my virginity. Heck, I honestly just chalked the first time up to nerves, but the second time, my one-night stand? It wasn’t the nerves at all. It was the poor boy whose last name I didn’t even remember.
Shouldn’t life be more adventuresome than this? I mean, heck, every time I turned on the television or opened a magazine, it seemed no one else had any problems finding love and having fun in the process. If I didn’t let my hair down and let loose soon, I wasn’t going to be able to make any promises on what I was going to do next. I think that was why I’d finally gotten up the nerve to ask, instead of right-out lie to him. It didn’t matter what I did. Somehow, Daddy always found out that I lied, and then he’d stick me with one of his pit-bull watchdogs to keep an eye on me. Even in college. If that wasn’t embarrassing, then I didn’t know what was. Nothing like walking into a frat house with GI Joe tailing behind you the whole night, while trying to find someone to take me home for a few torridly, sexy hours. I was not a slut. I was far from it, but just once, once I’d like to have a guy take me home and do things to me that I’d only dreamt about. Or do the things that Lu told me about.
Twirling my hair and popping my gum-the two things that annoyed Daddy to no end-was exactly how he found me, waiting for him on our porch swing.
He sat down and nestled his arm behind me, tugging me to him until my head rested on his shoulder. “All right, Sugarplum. What did you want to talk to me about?”
I breathed in deeply before I started. “You see, Daddy, I was talking to LuLu about going on a little road trip with me this summer.”
He tensed, tightening his grip. “Sugarplum, you know how I feel about that girl. I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He stood, his eyes showing disappointment as they always did when I brought something up that he didn’t approve of.
Feeling brave and fed up, I stood and stomped my foot on the ground like a spoiled two-year-old brat. “I’m going, Daddy. You can’t stop me. And Lu’s been nothing but a wonderful friend to me.” Problem was that Daddy didn’t like or trust LuLu. But I loved her, so he let me keep her in my life. Heck, we’d been friends since the second grade when we sat next to each other at lunch. All the girls carried their lunch in a sweet tin lunchbox with My Little Pony, or Strawberry Shortcake on them, except LuLu. She carried nothing. I felt so bad that I gave her my sandwich and apple. I could still remember how she didn’t want to accept it, but then a few seconds later, she had gotten too hungry, so she simply smiled brightly and ate every last bite of that sandwich, but she made me eat the apple. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
Daddy turned, both hands gripping my shoulders. “Ashton Grace, just who do you think you’re speaking to?”
I wasn’t backing down, not this time. “I’m not a child anymore, and I want to have some fun for once. I’m sick of doing nothing with my life. I want to work, date, and go to the movies with my friends without you thinking that something awful is going to happen. Daddy, please, just this once, I’m begging you.” I would get down on my hands and knees for this one opportunity to be free for a few weeks without the worrisome eye of William Winslow watching me. At this point, if he didn’t agree, I was willing to pack it all up and run off to California or someplace far away. But still, I wanted his approval more than anything else.
His eyes bored into mine, just staring like he wasn’t even paying attention. Then he pulled away abruptly, but not before he said, “Give me the details and I’ll think about it. I expect a printed itinerary of everything before I agree. And Sugarplum, I’ll want to have a word with Lulubelle, also.”
“Yes, Daddy. I promise I’ll have it ready for you within a few hours.” With that, he left me standing on the front porch feeling so darn giddy that I pinched myself to make sure it was real. Because even I knew that, after all these years that once Daddy committed to ‘thinking about it’ it meant yes.
I’d always felt sorry for Daddy and understood where he was coming from when it came to me. He’d become overbearingly protective around the time I turned three, or so I’d been told. My grandmamma sat me down one night and told me the whole sorry story right before my sweet sixteen ball. Of course, I’d seen pictures of my mama throughout the house, but I never knew her. I never got that chance. Shortly after my delivery, my mama died from a hemorrhage. She got to hold me for all of five minutes before they realized that something was drastically wrong. Daddy and I were ushered out of the hospital room so they could save her. They failed.
From what my Grandmamma told me, my daddy couldn’t even bear to be around me, let alone look at me, until I was three. My grandparents moved close by to raise me and had the help of a new nanny every few years. I knew it pained him to look at me. I looked exactly like her, except for my smile. That was all from Daddy’s side. I always wondered how different my life would’ve been had she lived. Would she have allowed me to date, or go off to college like all my friends?
Instead, I was a commuter student forced to come home every day after classes and only attended parties that he approved of. Every day, I traipsed back and forth between classes for four years until I finally had my degree in education. Daddy wanted me to go into business, but my education was the one thing I stood my ground on. I wanted to be a teacher, and I was sure as ticks took to dogs that I’d already have a job if I’d have let him have anything to do with it, but I wouldn’t allow it. I wanted to do this on my own, not have him pull those fancy strings of his that he so desperately wanted to.
It’s early summer, and a few of my applications had been mailed to schools within a reasonable drive. I’d already been called in for one interview, and although I think I nailed it, I hadn’t received a call back. At least, not yet.
A while later, I found Daddy in his office. He labored over paperwork with a glass of Bourbon dangling from his hand. He looked up as he heard me walk in. “Sugarplum.” He smiled.
Inching my way over nervously, I stretched out my shaky hand to give him the itinerary for my trip with LuLu. I was praying that he’d say yes to Miami since I’d never been, and was dying to see why so many famous people flocked there. I had a sinking feeling that he’d pick Nashville instead. LuLu and I figured we’d throw down two options that we knew we could live with. I wanted South Beach and bikinis. She wanted Nashville and cowboys. Either way, I’d take whatever trip he allowed. I could work with cowboys and line dancing just as easy as I could dance in stilettos while sipping fruity Mai Tai’s.
LuLu constantly rained on my parade and told me to grow a pair when it came to him, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was all he had, and he made sure that I knew that. It never stopped me from loving him wholeheartedly. He’d given up so much to make sure that I had everything a girl could possibly want. The only problem was that as I got older, ponies and cotton candy had become something of the past, no matter how much he fought it. I was all grown up, and I wanted to fall in love, deeply in love, the kind of love that would make my head spin just by looking at him. Heck, I didn’t care if he came from the same ritzy cloth as me, or if he lived in a teepee on a reservation, as long as he only had eyes for me.
The one boyfriend I did manage to have, and only because Daddy approved of his family, apparently cheated on me the entire time we’d gone out. It seems the whole town knew, except for Lu and me. When she overheard some bar whore talking about Toby Brooks and ‘her barely being able to walk afterwards’ speech, Lu came right over and told me everything. Although, come to find out from Toby when I was breaking up with him, LuLu not only smacked him silly, but also chucked the poor girl’s drink in his face. Personally, I was surprised Lu and I didn’t go all Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” on his ass, but I decided to take the high road, even though that damn high road hadn’t gotten me terribly far yet.
I just wanted to know how it felt to have my heart pitter-patter, my knees to buckle, and the need to catch my breath at just the sound of his voice calling out my name.
Unfortunately, Daddy had him all picked out for me already. His name was Trevor Owens, and he was everything I didn’t want. He was a big, ol’ Mama’s boy (yeah, I know that’s the pot calling the kettle black), but in a boy, it was just downright not attractive. He didn’t have one physical flaw other than that. Not one. His teeth were perfect after four years of braces; his hair was always meticulously manicured, along with his nails that he had taken care of every few weeks at a local salon. He drank expensive wine and scotch, and smoked cigars when his mama wasn’t looking.
He’d had a thing for me since back in high school. His eyes and hands were both greedy when it came to me, but sadly for the both of us, he just wasn’t what I wanted. It didn’t help that it was a known fact that he had a wondering eye along with another body part. The guy for me will have flaws, maybe even more than one. I don’t want to seem picky, but I don’t want him to be perfect either. I’d had perfect my whole life, and I wanted to change that starting with this trip. Besides, perfect was darn right boring. It was time to let my hair down. Way down.