I have been trying to hit my self-imposed deadline of Monday to have the first draft of this book finished, but I don’t believe I am going to hit it so I’ve extended the deadline another two weeks. I may not need that extension, however, after kicking out 2500 words for a very exciting section later in the story yesterday. The section was so exciting and stressful for me, I had to take several breaks, during which my son made fun of me for being upset over the people in my head, because he thinks he’s funny. More on that another day. And know that he was just teasing.
For now the tentative release date for this book August 5, but it could very well be pushed to the end of August.
Let me know in the comments what you think of the story so far.
To read the other chapters from this story, click HERE.
“Two cracked ribs and a wound that luckily looked worse than it was. The horn scraped less than an inch below the surface and hit a small artery, which is why it bled so much.”
She’d given the update with her eyes focused on Alex instead of Jason and then she’d left to go back to her dad.
When she’d turned away, Jason had felt the familiar heaviness in his chest, the one that had been there since the day she’d told him she needed a break. A break from him. The heaviness stayed there on the drive home and Alex could see it.
Jason shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah. Worried about Tom. That’s all.”
“He’s going to be fine. You heard Ellie.”
Jason nodded, shifted the truck into a lower gear and jammed his foot on the accelerator, pulling into the left lane to pass another car. “Yeah. I heard her tell you he’d be fine.”
Alex cleared his throat. “You noticed that too, huh?”
“She probably blames me.” Jason lifted his foot off the accelerator and glided the truck back into the right lane. “Like she’s blaming me for everything else these days.”
“You don’t know that. She said she didn’t. She’s probably just tired, worried about her dad.” Alex shook his head, looking out the window. “Things are going to work out between you two. They have to. I can’t imagine one of you without the other.”
Jason let out a breath, trying to keep himself from driving too fast, knowing he only wanted to get back to the farm so he could throw himself into work and forget about it all.
“Thanks, Alex. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better.”
He appreciated it, but it wasn’t necessarily helping. All he’d really wanted to do in that hospital waiting room was pull Ellie against him, wrap his arms around her, and make sure she knew he’d be there for her no matter what. At this point, he needed to start accepting he might never be able to do that again.
“WHERE WERE YOU?” Ellie couldn’t hide the anger in her voice, standing across from her sister in her parent’s living room. She hissed the question out between clenched teeth, her arms folded tightly across her chest.
“I was at Melanie’s.” Judi shrugged and flopped across the couch, propping her foot on the arm of it. She waved her hand dismissively. “Chill out. Dad’s fine. They didn’t even keep him overnight.”
“We could have used your help getting him home, but as usual, you were unreachable.”
Judi made a face. “As usual? What’s that supposed to mean? And what’s so hard about getting him home? Put him in the car and drive him here. Big deal.”
“There was medicine to pick up at the pharmacy, there was helping him to his room and getting his pillows, there was —”
Judi sighed, loudly and flung her arms in the air. “Oh my gosh, Ellie. You handled it fine. Stop being so dramatic. You’re better at all that stuff anyhow.”
Ellie slammed her purse into a chair and propped her hands on her hips, glowering at her younger sister. “I’m better at that stuff because I’ve always had to do it since you were always off playing around.”
Judi stood and walked toward the kitchen. “You could have played around too, El, but you were always too busy trying to be the good little church girl and mom and dad’s favorite.”
Following her sister, Ellie tried to lower her voice, not sure how much their voices might carry up the stairs to her parents’ bedroom. “Someone had to help on this farm. Someone had to be responsible.”
Judi poured a glass of milk and reached for the chocolate syrup in the door of the fridge. She stood with her back to her sister, one leg cocked to the side, dirty blond hair swishing as she stirred the chocolate into the milk.
“Someone had to be responsible,” she said in a mocking tone as she stirred. “Someone has to be an adult. Someone has to be so uptight they could poop out diamonds.”
She turned, leaned back against the counter and smirked. “You know, this is probably why Jason and you aren’t together anymore. Who wants an uptight, bossy, closed off shrew as a girlfriend?”
The insult stung but Ellie wasn’t about to let Judi know. She tightened her jaw and clenched her fingers around the back of a kitchen chair. “I’m not the issue here, Judi. You are. You are the one who is never around when your family needs you and if it makes you feel better to insult me then go ahead, but it’s not going to change the fact that all you’ve ever cared about is yourself.”
Judi’s slurp let Ellie know that nothing she said was going to matter. Judi would never feel an ounce of guilt for her behavior.
Ellie turned abruptly, shaking her head as she headed up the stairs to see if her parents needed anything. Once they assured her they were fine, she told them she was going for a drive and would be back to help with dinner.
In the car, though, she didn’t know where to drive. She had nowhere to go. In the past when she was overwhelmed or ready to scream in frustration she went to Jason’s or at least the Tanners. Both of those options were out of the question this time and she didn’t know how to feel about that. She turned her steering wheel to the right, pressed her foot on the brake and pulled her car over to the side of the road, pressing her forehead against the steering wheel. She jerked the car into park and let the tears flow.
Stupid Judi anyhow. Why did she have to say that about Jason?
They weren’t together anymore because Jason hadn’t been open with her. It wasn’t because she was too uptight and closed off.
Maybe Jason had never told her about what had happened in college because she was all of those things. Was she such a horrible person he didn’t even feel he could be honest with her? Was she really such a perfectionist that he was afraid telling her about his mistakes would shatter her so-called perfect world? Yes, he probably was.
Tears soaked her face and she brushed them away quickly. She didn’t have time for crying. If Jason had felt she was too closed off and would be too uptight about what he’d done in college then it was a good thing they weren’t together anymore. Who knew what else he had decided was wrong with her over the years.
She took a deep breath, held it, and swallowed hard. When she let her breath out, she shook her head a little to try to shake off the negativity pressing around her. The setting sun cast a red-brown glow on the dirt of the road in front of the car. Her gaze drifted toward a small, cozy-looking farmhouse further down, across a newly planted field on the right. The farmhouse, white, with red shutters, was flanked by two maple trees. She couldn’t see it from where she was parked, but she knew there was a small chicken coup and a tire swing hooked to a tree limb behind it.
Franny Tanner’s. Jason’s grandmother and the Tanner family matriarch. The woman Ellie considered her third grandmother, the one living closest to her since one of her grandmothers now lived out of the area and the other had passed away when she was a child. She hadn’t seen Franny since she’d broke it off with Jason almost six months ago and it broke her heart. She hadn’t known how to explain it all to the woman who had had such a wonderful marriage of 55 years before Ned passed away almost two years ago. Their love had been something to strive for, to look up to, not just for Ellie and Jason but anyone who met them.
She still remembered holding Franny’s hand at the funeral. She was on one side of her, Molly on the other. Franny didn’t cry the entire funeral. The only time the tears came was when the casket was carried out. Jason, Robert, Walter, Brad, and Alex had all been pallbearers.
“There goes my heart,” Franny had whispered, standing next to the pew, grasping Ellie and Molly’s hands for support.
Even now the memory brought tears to Ellie’s eyes. Now her tears came not only for the woman who’d lost her soulmate and best friend but because Ellie had once imagined she’d have what Franny and Ned had.
With Jason. Now, she didn’t know if she’d ever experience a love as true as Franny and Ned’s had been.
She dabbed a tissue to the corner of her eyes, soaked up the moisture, and crumpled the tissue into her hand. She couldn’t stay out here all night. It was getting late, and she’d offered to make her parents dinner. Yes, once again she had chosen to be the responsible one. All she wanted to do was go home and fall asleep reading a book but instead, as usual, she would be the adult while Judi was the childish one having all the fun.