Authors: Melanie Shawn
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romantic Comedy, #Literary Fiction, #Series, #Romance, #Contemporary
Copyright © 2014 Melanie Shawn
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing from Melanie Shawn. Exceptions are limited to reviewers who may use brief quotations in connection with reviews. No part of this book can be transmitted, scanned, reproduced, or distributed in any written or electronic form without written permission from Melanie Shawn.
This book is a work of fiction. Places, names, characters and events are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover Design by Hot Damn Designs
Copyedits by Mickey Reed Editing
Proofreading Services by Raiza McDuffie
Proofreading Services by Melani Bruce
Book Design by BB eBooks
Published by Red Hot Reads Publishing
very. Day. Every
“I can’t believe Chase Malone
grew up here,” Misty exclaimed, her brown eyes glued to the TV as she lifted the remote to turn up the volume. “Did you know him? Did you go to school with him? Was he always so
Krista’s cold fingers gripped the steel edge of the door to her locker. She wanted so badly to bang her head against it. Knowing that, as appealing as that sounded, it wouldn’t actually make her feel better, she refrained.
One day. Was that too much to ask for? Just
Chase-free day. One day that she wasn’t reminded of him. One day that she didn’t hear his name. His songs. See his face. One day that she didn’t feel like her heart was breaking into a million pieces all over again.
“We went to school together, but he was a couple years ahead of me.” Krista gave her patented “Chase Malone” answer as she pulled out her purse and slammed the locker shut, spinning the dial on the combination lock.
Whenever the subject of the rock star came up, Krista tried to downplay her knowledge—which was biblical!—of him as much as possible. It wasn’t too terribly difficult, considering that the only people who ever uttered his name around her were ones who didn’t have any idea about their history.
Except his mom, of course.
Abby Malone talked to Krista about her son
. Krista made it a point to stop by and check on Abby, who rarely left her home and suffered from depression, several times a week, and inevitably, the conversation would turn to Chase. She knew Abby missed her only son more than life itself. To say that Abby and Chase’s relationship was complicated was like saying that the Grand Canyon was just a hole.
The flat screen, that was mounted on the wall of the small employee lounge, blared—thanks to Misty maxing out the volume!—making it damn near impossible to tune out the entertainment news correspondent’s voice.
“Chase Malone has once again sold out an impromptu performance. After announcing only two hours ago via social media that he would be playing at the Emerson Music Hall in Memphis, Tennessee tonight, all 4,700 seats have been snatched up. Tickets are now being sold for upwards of $500, and even those are hard to come by.
“After leaving his band of seven years, Midnight Rush, and embarking on his solo career just ten months ago, Chase has played over a half dozen venues, each time to a sold-out crowd and each time announcing his appearance only hours before his show. Still no news on when dates will be released for the mysterious and elusive rock star’s much anticipated North American tour. Bringing you the latest in entertainment news, this is Kat Vargas signing off.”
“I would do
to see him perform live!” Misty clutched the TV remote to her chest. Swiveling around on the stool she was perched on, the pretty blonde asked, “What was he like? Does he ever come back and visit?”
Krista knew she should have made a break for it while her new coworker had been enthralled by the report, thereby avoiding more questions. Unfortunately, Krista herself had been interested in what the ‘latest news’ on her ex was and had not made it the four steps it took to leave the room and be safely out of the tell-me-everything-you-know-about-Chase-Malone zone.
As much as she tried to distance herself from Chase, telling herself that she wasn’t interested in anything that had to do with him, reminding herself that she was
her brain, heart, and hormones all had differing opinions on the subject. Krista hated that her body betrayed her logic. When she set her mind to something, it got done.
She’d obtained her DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) degree in two years as a postgrad. Normally, the program took three. She was currently in a clinical residency program working towards her board certification. As of today, she was just three hundred hours shy of completing the two-thousand-hour requirement to achieve her goal.
Her eye was on the prize. She didn’t allow distractions to take away her focus. Over the years, she’d been in and out of relationships. Some more serious than others. But school, her residency, her goals
came first. Focus plus discipline had equaled success.
The only exception to that equation was the Chase Malone factor.
The hours she’d
on that man were too numerous to count. Of course Krista could blame the media, television, magazines, and radio. But if she did that, then she wouldn’t be facing the truth, which was something she’d always strived to live for—her authentic self. If she were being totally honest, then she would have to admit that, more than anything or anyone else, she alone perpetuated her unhealthy attachment to someone she hadn’t even had a conversation with in over ten years.
Her most recent Chase-fail was downloading the acoustic cover he’d released of ‘their song’ “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison and adding it to her ‘Chase playlist.’ He’d performed it live at the Grammys earlier this year. It had been his first performance after announcing that he was going to put out a solo record. Within twenty-four hours, the performance had garnered over a million hits on YouTube and shot straight up the charts to number one on iTunes.
Krista had watched the show in her room, by herself. As she laid on her bed—wearing
shirt, which she’d had since seventh grade—she’d closed her eyes and, just like that, she had been transported back in time to the first time he’d sung that to her.
They’d ridden their bikes down to the river on a sunny summer day. When they’d gotten there, there was a blanket spread out on the bank. Chase had somehow set up a picnic for them prior to them arriving without her knowing. They’d eaten deli sandwiches and drank soda out of the can. Then he pulled out his guitar, told her he’d been working on learning ‘their song,’ and begun strumming the chords to the beautiful melody. Before he’d even sung the first lyric, she’d had tears falling down her face.
Now she listened to his live performance every night on her iPod as she fell asleep. Most nights, a few tears still slipped down her cheeks.
The other non-media-related culprit that hindered her personal must-get-over-Chase-at-all-costs campaign was the fact that he still contacted her—like clockwork. Four times a year, without fail, she’d receive something from him. Presents, flowers, messages, emails. The dates were always the same: on her birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and the anniversary of their first time. No matter where around the globe he was, Chase had not missed one of those dates in ten years.
There were also the random messages that simply stated, “I miss you,” or variations of that theme. Some were more specific. “I miss your smile.” “I miss your eyes.” “I miss your laugh.” “I miss your lips.” Those texts were far worse than any present, voicemail, or flower delivery because she never knew when they were coming, so she couldn’t brace herself for impact.
“Krista.” Misty’s high-pitched voice interrupted Krista’s inner thoughts. “Does he? Ever come back here?”
“As far as I know, he hasn’t been back to Harper’s Crossing since he left halfway through his senior year.” Not even to attend his father’s funeral—not that she’d blamed him. Krista pulled her purse strap up on her shoulder as she reached for the doorknob. “See you tomorrow.” Krista’s tone was as upbeat as she could possibly manage as she slipped out of the door.
Krista was halfway down the hall in the blink of an eye. As she blew on her hands, which were always cold, she hoped that she’d satisfied Misty’s curiosity, at least for now. If the girl dug much deeper, asked a few of the right people, then she’d easily unearth the fact that, not only had Krista known Chase, she’d been his girlfriend on and off for six years.
But that was what felt like a lifetime ago. Before he’d left Harper’s Crossing. Before his rise to fame as the lead singer of Midnight Rush. Before they’d been adults.
Now Krista had a career. Goals. A full, rich life that had nothing to do with Chase Malone.
She almost had herself convinced until she remembered where she was headed. It was Wednesday, which meant that she needed to go over and check on Abby. Her relationship with Chase’s mom honestly had nothing to do with him. When she’d actually been Chase’s girlfriend, she hadn’t spent much time around the woman at all. Mainly because his father Roger had still been alive.
When Krista had graduated from college and received her Bachelor’s degree, she’d returned home to work on her DPT and had also started volunteering for the Harper’s Crossing Women’s Shelter (HCWS). Around the same time, Roger had died of a brain aneurism. After spending time with the women at the shelter, she’d begun noticing similarities in their demeanor and behavior with that of Abby’s. She’d always known that Roger had been horrible to Chase, but as a kid and teen, she’d never even thought about the fact that his abuse might have been directed towards his wife as well.
Seeing how broken the women at the shelter were, Krista had started visiting Abby, checking up on her. It was shocking and heartbreaking to see the shell of a person Chase’s mom had become and the conditions she lived in. Krista had decided on her first visit that something had to be done. It had taken over a year to finally convince Abby to see someone about her fragile mental state, but when she did, they’d prescribed her Cymbalta and she was now doing much better. She even ventured out to the movies with Krista just last weekend.
Krista might have initiated her relationship with Abby primarily because of Chase. Their bond might have intensified because of their shared experience of being abandoned by Chase. But now Krista could honestly say that she considered Abby a friend. Completely independent of her son.
So even though Chase Malone was the last thing she should be thinking about, she was headed over to check on his mom. Then she would call Chris, who was her current ‘person,’ and see what time his shift ended at The Grill, where he bartended.
Chris was nice, funny, and good-looking, and the sex was good. There was only one problem. He just wasn’t …Chase.
* * *