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Authors: Taryn Plendl

Learning to Live Again

BOOK: Learning to Live Again
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Learning to Live Again

Book # 4

A Philadelphia Series Novelette

By
Taryn Plendl

Learning
to Live Again

Taryn
Plendl

All rights reserved

Text Copyright © 2013 by Taryn Plendl

This is a work of fiction. Any similarities
 of characters to actual persons, living or dead are purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format with exception to Amazon Prime’s Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Dedication

This book is dedicated to my readers. I have so many special fans that encourage me
every day.

A special thank you to Marie who helped me
to see that the story wasn’t finished yet.

 

 

If a book comes from the heart
,
it will contrive to reach other hearts;
all art and author craft are of small amount to tha
t
.
-Thomas Carlyle

 

 

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter
7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Epilogue

Preface

When I finished the first three books in this series, I thought I was finished, but one of my readers gave me the idea of writing on
e more book bringing in a couple of side characters from the other books, so I went with it.

I’m so glad I did.
This book has also allowed me to add a bit more insight to the characters we’ve come to know and love.

You might notice that this book is written in third person rather than first person like the others. The reason I did this was to have a bit more freedom
to include all of the characters feelings and to give you, as the readers, a bigger picture.

I hope you enjoy this book and feel that I have brought proper closure to this amazing group of people.

 

Thanks for taking this
journey with me!

Taryn
Plendl

 

Chapter 1

 

Rachel
watched out the window as the trees flew by, looking like they were painted into the surrounding scenery. “How much longer, Trevor?” The drive seemed to drag; however, the view was absolutely beautiful. She should have never asked because as soon as the words left her mouth, Rachel felt the car veer off to the side of the road.

“Are you not feeling well?” Trevor turned in his seat as soon as the
large rental vehicle rolled to a stop. He and Ava were both staring at her, obviously concerned, and she couldn’t help but laugh. This was ridiculous!

“I was just asking
, guys.” Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She probably should have just gone with their parents on the cruise instead of with Trevor and Ava. At least she could have been ignored instead of fussed over. It was obvious they were going to hover over her for the next ten days. “I shouldn’t have come,” she whispered, more to herself than them.

“Don’t say that, Rachel.” Ava put her hand on Trevor’s arm. “Your brother is just worried about you, that’s all.”

“I get that, really, but I’m okay now.” She looked at both of them. “Please, guys. I just need you to be normal. I just want to be around everyone—to laugh and have a good time. This last year has been the hardest of my life, but I’m good now.” She didn’t care that she was basically pleading with them. Rachel could see the internal struggle in Trevor’s eyes. She was practically holding her breath until he nodded and turned back around, put the vehicle into gear, and merged into traffic. Ava smiled softly. Rachel knew Ava got it. She understood more than most. Ava was with her through some of the worst times in her life, even though she had only been part of their family for the past couple of years. Ava was better than a friend—she was sister.

“When are the other couples getting there?”
Rachel opened her water and took a long swig, letting the cool liquid flow down her dry throat. Her mouth seemed to be so dry lately.

“Talia and Tom are coming in later tonight, and Nick and Chelsea will be there tomorrow morning. They were leaving after seeing Chelsea’s family
,” Ava explained. Rachel was looking forward to seeing everyone. This group of people was like family to her. You know your life is pretty darn special when your friends are your family and your family is your friends.

The SUV slowed and wobbled over a large speed bump, jostling Rachel. She
must have fallen asleep because when she looked out the window, they were pulling into a little village of condos surrounded by vast snow-covered mountain views. The snow was gently falling, casting an ominous glow to the surrounding area. The snow-weighted pine trees occasionally dropped clumps below as the load became too much for them to hold. The air was crisp and fresh—drier than Rachel was used to back on the East Coast. She took a deep breath, letting the cold air cleanse her lungs. Colorado was beautiful and peaceful—the perfect place for her to get away from it all for a couple of weeks.

It was amazing that
everyone was able to plan for such a significant amount of time off together over the holidays. Rachel wasn’t sure Trevor and Ava would be able to pull it off, but in the end it all fell into place.

“Wow, guys
,” she gasped as they walked toward the condo. “How many rooms are in it?”

Ava reached back and grabbed
her hand. “Four bedrooms and a loft with a queen size bed and bathroom.” They walked up the steps and waited for Trevor to unlock the door. If Rachel had been impressed by the outside of the building, it was nothing compared to the inside.

The ceilings were two stories high with a full wall of windows overlooking the ski slopes.
There were doors leading to a wooden balcony that had a huge hot tub. A stone fireplace was built into the far wall of the balcony with seating surrounding it, along with the biggest grill Rachel had ever seen. The guys were going to have a hay day with that for sure.

The kitchen was top of the line with stainless appliances and granite countertops. There was an island with an extended breakfast bar attached with seating for six
, in addition to a large wooden table that could easily seat twelve.

The stairs led up to the loft area with a half wall that seemed to provide a bit of privacy. Off the kitchen appeared to be one of the bedrooms, and down another set of stairs,
she assumed were the others. The décor was warm and inviting—neutral colors throughout with strategically placed bursts of color.

“What room should I take?”
Rachel asked as Trevor brought in some of the luggage.

“You have your choice of the loft or one of the bedrooms. Why don’t you walk around and see what you would prefer.” He smiled as he headed back out to get the rest of the bags, stopping and planting a kiss on Ava as he walked by.
Rachel had never imagined her brother settling down, but after seeing him with Ava for the past couple years, now she couldn’t imagine him without her. They were perfect together.

Rachel
ascended the stairs to the loft first, amazed at the amount of space there was, even with the large bed. Above the bed was a skylight surrounded by wooden beams. Behind the bed was a large window with a view of the village—cute shops, restaurants, and cobblestone streets full of people milling around. Dogs dressed in full winter gear just like their owners walked with their tails held high. This was a happy place, and it made her heart feel light. The other side of the loft had the half wall facing the windows in the back toward the slopes. Without even seeing the other rooms, Rachel knew this was where she wanted to be.

The condo was quiet when Rachel returned
to the main level. She located her two bags and picked them up to carry to the loft.

“What the hell are you doing, Rachel?”  Trevor pulled the largest bag from
her hands.

“I’m taking my bags upstairs
, Trevor.” Rachel put her hands on her hips, staring him down. “What is your problem? If you are going to baby me for the next ten days, I am getting on the first plane out of here.” She glared at him and saw his features soften.

“I’m sorry, sis. I just don’t want you to overdo it
,” he apologized.

She
sighed. “I know you are just worried about me, but I need you to stop. Really. I need this vacation to get back to feeling like myself. I have been so drugged out for so long, I need to prove to myself that I am strong again,” she pleaded. “I need you to understand this.” Her eyes stung with unshed tears, and she mentally chastised herself for getting emotional.

“I can promise you I will try, Rachel, but you do know you are going to have to remind me over and over, right?” He smiled, and
she nodded. Rachel knew he would. She also knew she was going to have this same conversation with him again. “You also realize that as soon and Nick and Tom show up, you are going to have the same conversation with them, too.” She groaned. Her brother’s friends were as bad as Trevor when it came to being protective of her. They had been before, but were even more so now.

“Can I
please
carry your bags upstairs for you?” Trevor asked.

It wasn’t worth a
n argument, so she just nodded and followed him. “Where’s Ava?” she asked after he sat her bags on the bed.

“She
said she was tired, so she decided to lie down for a bit before Talia and Tom showed up.”

“That sounds like a good idea. I think I might do the same.”
She was tired, too, even though she had slept briefly in the car.

Trevor pulled
her into a hug. “Good. I love you, Rachel. We are so glad you decided to come with us.” He released her and headed back down the stairs.

Rachel
pulled the bags off the bed to the floor and slipped out of her jeans. She climbed into the large bed, allowing the down comforter to surround her in warmth. It wasn’t long before she fell into a much needed deep sleep.

***

The sound of laughing brought Rachel out of her sleep. It took her a moment to remember where she was. Looking around, she took in the warm wood and soft décor, and she felt such a comfortable peace come over her.

Stretching, she swung her
feet over the edge of the bed and reached for her jeans. After slipping them back on and making a stop in the bathroom, she headed down the stairs to see what the noise was all about.

“Hey, Rachel!” Talia ran over and pulled
her into a hug, trapping her against her long blonde hair. Moments before Rachel thought she might suffocate, Talia finally released her.

“Hi, Talia.” Rachel
laughed at her exuberance. Tom was next and pulled Rachel into a hug, kissing her on top of her head.

“How are you feeling?”
he asked, and Rachel rolled her eyes at Trevor, who burst out laughing. Tom looked between them with a puzzled look on his face.

“Rachel doesn’t want us to baby her
,” Trevor explained. Tom frowned at her as she tilted her chin up in challenge.

“Yeah, okay little one.” He winked at
Rachel and moved toward the kitchen, grabbing beers from the refrigerator. “Who wants one?” He held several bottles up. Talia grabbed one, as well as Trevor. Ava declined, and Rachel didn’t feel much like beer, so she did, too, grabbing herself and Ava each a bottle of water instead.

Talia walked over to the windows and looked out over the slopes. “What a gorgeous view!”
she gasped. “Did you see the cute shops in the village? I’m going to get Tom to take me shopping later.” Talia winked at Rachel.


Definitely?” Rachel followed and stood next to her. “How’s work?” she asked.

“Ug
h. Same as always.” Talia paused to take a drink of her beer. “I am so looking forward to ten full days away. Are you going to go skiing with us?” Talia watched her with questioning eyes.

“I’m not sure.”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure I am strong enough yet.” Rachel had lost a lot of her strength over the past year. She had always been healthy and vibrate, but that all changed when she had been forced to fight a battle for her life over the last eight months.

“You are
, Rachel. You’re just being cautious, and that’s okay, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want.” Talia smiled. It was nice to have someone to actually encourage her to do more for once instead of trying to keep her from even lifting her own bags.

“Hey, Talia, is Austin driving up with Nick and Chelsea?” Trevor hollered from the kitchen.

“Yes. They should be here by ten tomorrow morning,” she answered.

“Wait, who is Austin?”
Rachel asked.

“My cousin. I think you met him at either Ava and Trevor’s wedding or
ours.”

“I’m sure I did, but I can’t place a face with the name.”
Rachel was honestly a bit unnerved to have someone other than the people she was close to here with all of them, but if it was Talia’s cousin, she would make the best of it. It wasn’t like he was a total stranger.

“Tali
a, does Austin know about me?” she asked nervously.

“No, hon. Why?”
Talia turned to fully face her.

Rachel
shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I just don’t want anyone to treat me differently.”

“Well, I honestly don’t think it would matter to him, but we don’t have to say anything. Okay?” She smiled
.

“Thanks.”
Rachel let out a breath. She wasn’t sure why it really mattered, but for some reason it just did.

Tom came up behind Talia,
wrapping his arms around her. Rachel watched as Talia tilted her head back, turning her face toward his for a kiss. They were so sweet together. Tom and Talia had a rough start after Tom lost his leg in an accident, but when they finally got out of their own way and got together, it was perfect. Tom had a way of grounding Talia. She was wild and fun, but Tom was able to make her stop everything and focus on him like he was the only man in the room.

It was so good to see
her brother and all of his friends happily married. Nick and Chelsea had only been married for a few months, and it was the only wedding Rachel had missed. She had been too sick to attend. Even so, they made sure to bring by the video so she could enjoy it, even making comments into the camera specifically for her. They were all so good to her.

“Is anyone hungry?” Ava asked
, and almost on cue, Rachel’s stomach growled.

“I am, obviously.”
She laughed.

“Come on, let’s go find a restaurant. After we’re done, the guys can go grocery shopping while we hit the hot tub
,” Talia suggested, ignoring the looks Trevor and Tom were giving her.

“Sounds perfect!”
Rachel grabbed her jacket off the couch and waited for the rest of the group to do the same.

BOOK: Learning to Live Again
12.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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