Dear life, p.1
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       Dear Life, p.1

           Meghan Quinn
 
Dear Life


  Table of Contents

  Dear Life

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Prologue

  Step One: Grieve

  Step Two: Let Go

  Step Three: Grow Your Support

  Step Four: Dream Big

  Step Five: Learn Something New

  Step Six: Face Your Fears

  Step Seven: Acceptance

  Step Eight: Live

  The Mother Road

  Chapter One

  Dear Life

  MEGHAN QUINN

  Published by Hot-Lanta Publishing

  Copyright 2017

  Cover design by Meghan Quinn

  Photo credit: Lauren Perry

  Formatting: CP Smith

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]

  All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.

  www.authormeghanquinn.com

  Copyright © 2017 Meghan Quinn

  All rights reserved.

  To my Grandpa, for teaching me the value of proving my existence every day.

  Prologue

  HOLLYN

  Two and a half years ago . . .

  “Don’t you dare open that door,” Eric calls out, running up behind me.

  His arms circle my waist and his beautiful lips press against my cheek. His five o’clock shadow grazes my skin in the most delicious way possible, sending my body into a heated frenzy.

  This man.

  Leaning forward, he speaks into my ear. “Do you really think I’m going to let my new wife walk into our apartment without carrying her over the threshold?”

  Giggling from the kisses he’s peppering up and down my neck, I answer, “You’re so old school. Why don’t we change things up and I’ll carry you across the threshold?”

  He stops and pulls away. Lifting an eyebrow in a get real way, he says, “Twigs, do you really think you’re going to carry a big, burly soon-to-be firefighter into the apartment on those twiggy legs of yours? With one lift of my pinky I can have you twirling over my head.”

  I cross my arms over my chest in challenge, my wedding dress clinging to my body and my veil clenched in one of my hands. “You don’t think I can carry you into the apartment?”

  Eric, the handsome man with the blond hair and dark brown eyes looks me up and down. That classic smirk of his that captured me six months ago gracing his Californian boy face. “Twigs, I know you can’t carry me.”

  Twigs. It’s the nickname he’s called me ever since we met at a Denver Broncos game one fateful chilly December afternoon while tailgating with friends. He saw me tossing a football—kid size—with my girls, and I saw him smirking at me from the perch of his tailgate. I will never forget the look of determination and his cocky swagger when he approached me, a Broncos winter hat with a pom-pom on his head, and a painted chest showing off his very impressive and drool-worthy muscles. The Denver wind whipped over the mountains, freezing me in my sweatshirt. I thought he was crazy . . . crazy and sexy as hell. He sweet-talked his way into scoring a date with me, and I immediately became infatuated with his lively spirit and outgoing personality.

  We fell hard for each other, so hard that we were engaged months after. Seeing that same determination and cocky swagger now, I know I made the best decision of my life.

  Eric is everything.

  He brings me out of my shell, makes me strive for more, and encompasses me in a cocoon of safety every single day. I’m a new, invigorated person around him. He brings out the best in me.

  Tipping my chin with his finger, he asks, “What’s that look you have on your face?”

  Not giving in, because I’m stubborn as hell, I say, “Get on my back.”

  He barks a laugh as he throws his head back. “No fucking way, Twigs. I’ll demolish you and since it’s our wedding night, I would rather not spend it in the hospital but rather making love to you.”

  “Get on my back,” I say again, ignoring everything he said.

  “Hollyn,” his tone becomes serious, “I weigh at least one hundred pounds more than you. I’m not getting on your back.”

  I stand my ground. When I make up my mind, there is no changing it, and I won’t even be intimidated by that smirk. “If you plan on getting laid on your wedding night, you will get on my back and let me carry you into our apartment.”

  “Hollyn . . .”

  “Eric . . .”

  It’s a standoff of epic proportions. Firefighter versus student nurse. Brawny and beautiful man versus twiggy girl with vibrant red hair.

  Realizing my stubbornness is taking a firm hold on this argument, he runs his hand through his hair, his rolled-up sleeves pulling tight on his forearms and his suspenders swaying at his sides from when he removed them from his shoulders. He’s the picture-perfect man at this moment. This is his first test as a husband. Happy wife equals a happy life. Will he pass the test? Or will he falter?

  “You’re not going to drop this, are you?”

  “Nope,” I answer, my arms still crossed.

  Letting out a long breath, he motions his finger with a twirl and says, “Turn around so I can hop on.”

  Such a good man. Such a smart man. No training necessary here.

  Needing to rid my hands of everything so I can focus on carrying this gigantic soon-to-be firefighter across the threshold, I take my veil, stand on my tiptoes, and place it in Eric’s hair. I position it properly, making sure it flows over his shoulders perfectly.

  “Beautiful,” I joke.

  “This is not funny.”

  “I’m not laughing.” He catches my smile right before I get into position.

  “You’re giving me one serious handy when we get inside.”

  I shake my head and look over my shoulder. “No, you’re going to be one hell of a clam digger with that tongue of yours when I successfully carry you into the apartment.”

  He raises an eyebrow at me. “Is that so?”

  “Yes, it is. I expect the most supreme amount of licking you have in you. The munch of all munches.”

  “And when you fail to carry me into the apartment? What do I get?”

  I roll my eyes. “Your precious handy.”

  “Uh-uh.” He waggles his finger at me. “I want something more if I’ll be pulling out my best tongue maneuvers. I get head and balls, like mouth on balls.”

  “Eck.” I cringe. “Why do men like having their balls in mouths?”

  He shrugs. “Feels fucking good, that’s why. Do we have a deal?”

  Eyeing him carefully, I pause and then hold my hand out ready to make a bet. This will be no problem at all. I have to walk probably no more than five feet with Eric on my back. Easy! “Deal,” I say with full conviction and confidence in my carrying abilities.

  Shaking my hand, he moves his head back and forth in disbelief. “All right, Twigs, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

  “Stop stalling and start stretching your tongue, it’s time to warm up.” I brace myself, creating a solid foundation with my feet firmly planted on the floor, open the door so I can see the end goal, and hold my arms out so I can catch his legs.

  In. The. Bag.

  “All right, here we go.”

  His large hands grip my slight shoulders and I brace myself. Solid foundation, that’s all I need, so I bend my knees,
feeling sturdy, and prepare for his weight.

  His two-hundred-plus pound weight.

  His two-hundred-plus pound weight and giant man body . . .

  Oh shit.

  The minute he climbs up on my back, there is no hope. I have no foundation, I have no balance, and what I thought were going to be sturdy trunks beneath me are rightfully so-called twigs that quiver with the extra weight.

  Instead of inching forward like I planned, I stand there in my mermaid wedding dress, my husband on my back—wearing my veil—and the pressure of his weight pushing me closer and closer to the ground until my knees buckle beneath me sending me forward, through the entrance of the door, and straight on my face, burning our new carpet against my cheek. Eric’s weight is crushing me as he laughs hysterically, his deep voice echoing through our barely moved-in apartment.

  “I told you, Twigs,” he says in between laughter. “Damn, I’ve been wanting a good blow job lately, glad I made that bet.”

  The need to hide within the tulle of my dress is strong, but the practical side of me is still at work. Reasoning eclipses me as I turn my head to look up at him, the carpet rubbing against my face.

  “What do you mean?” I ask, taking in my surroundings. “You lost.”

  Rolling off me, he observes my pathetic attempt at carrying him. I’m sprawled out like a homicide victim on concrete while he attempts to refute my statement. “Um, pretty sure I won, sweetheart. You couldn’t even hold me up for a second.”

  “The bet was to carry you into the apartment. Are we or are we not in the apartment right now?”

  Realization hits him and he says, “Oh, hell no. You’re not winning this on a technicality, Twigs. You didn’t carry me. You fell.”

  “Fell with you on my back which technically is carrying you . . . sooo, get that tongue ready.”

  “No fucking way.” He laughs, kicking the door shut and straddling my body. His intense brown eyes stare down at me, all laughter escaping both of us. “How about this? Since it’s our wedding night, we fuck in every which way until we can no longer move and call it even?”

  My heart rate picks up a notch. “Does that include you going down?”

  “Giving you my best tongue is in no way a hardship, beautiful wife of mine. Either way, I win here. As do you. Now, let’s get you out of this dress. I’ve been dying to see what you have hidden underneath for me.”

  I’ve been waiting for this moment, right here. Where my husband—my husband—is looking into my eyes, the only woman he would ever want and need in his life, completely content and so far in love that I know what we have will last forever. As a couple, we are unbreakable.

  Our love is protected by everlasting armor. I’m aware we married absurdly young, but there is something to say about falling in love with your soulmate. Nothing will penetrate what we’ve created which makes me one hell of a lucky girl.

  JACE

  Two months ago . . .

  “Dude, don’t move or I will blow up your face.”

  “Listen, I didn’t do anything. Put down the gun, turn around, and walk away.”

  “Give me a reason as to why I shouldn’t pop one between your eyes right now.”

  Sighing, I rest my forearms on my legs, my controller in my hands, and turn to my teammate. “Dude, we’re on the same fucking team. What’s the point of blowing me up if we’re on the same team?”

  “Because I can,” he answers right before he blasts my player in the head, turning my screen red.

  “You’re such a dick.” Sitting back on the cool leather of my couch, I take a sip from my beer and scowl at my best friend, Ethan, who apparently thinks it’s the funniest damn thing to shoot me.

  Being drafted right out of high school for the same team and growing up together in the minor leagues, we’ve become very close. Two years ago, he was called up to fill in for Kyle Sanders, the Denver Miners catcher who was put on the DL for a torn meniscus. Kyle didn’t end up coming back, setting Ethan up as a starter. I followed him up last year, starting as shortstop. My rookie season was something I never expected. It was a fucking whirlwind of attention, press, and success. Smashing the longest hitting streak by a rookie with fifty-five games, I immediately rose to the top of the lineup and to the top of the list of consideration for Rookie of the Year.

  Thinking about it now, I still have no clue how I did it. I played ball the way I know how to and the way I love to. It almost seemed too simple.

  Now it’s the off-season, I’m sitting in my nicer apartment in downtown Denver, Rookie of the Year title stamped on my career, and enough endorsements rolling in to make any twenty-one-year-old dickhead a pompous ass.

  But that’s not me.

  I will always be humble, I will always be grateful, and I will always be safe with my money.

  Humble beginnings bring you great appreciation, a saying I’m quite familiar with.

  “Do you know why I shot your sorry ass?” Ethan asks, sipping his beer.

  “Because you’re a little bitch and saw that I was carrying the team?”

  “No.” He takes another swig from his beer. The off-season lends to heavier drinking. We’ll work it off in the spring. Pointing his bottle at me, he continues, “Because you made me drive down 470 West, during rush hour, on a Friday, to bring you gas because you drive a piece of shit that doesn’t have a working gas gauge.”

  This happens to be true. I drive a rusted Jeep Cherokee. Traffic sucked the life out of my car, and I wound up not being able to make it to a gas station on time. I know when my truck needs gas. I always have to pump when the gauge gets to a quarter of a tank, anything past that and I’m playing a gas gauge game of Russian roulette. Thanks to Denver traffic, the gauge fell below the quarter mark, leaving me no choice but to call Ethan when my car stopped.

  “I bought you dinner that night, dude. We’re even.”

  Ethan shakes his head, bottle halfway to his mouth as he peers over at me. “Nothing will make up for making me drive on 470 West during rush hour. Nothing.”

  “Who’s being the little bitch now?”

  “Fuck you.” Ethan laughs. “Speaking of dinner, are you ordering that pizza anytime soon?”

  “Already did on my phone.”

  “Did you get black olives? You know I hate those turdlettes.”

  I shrug, knowing fully well I didn’t get black olives.

  “Dude,” he whines. Laughter erupts deep down within me just as he punches me in the shoulder.

  Ding dong.

  When I go to answer the door, Ethan asks, “Did you really get black olives? You know those things are impossible to pick off.”

  “I didn’t get black olives. Christ, you really are being a little bitch today.”

  Shaking my head, I grab my wallet off the kitchen counter and head for the entryway. I’m rifling through my cash when I open the door. “Twenty-two fifty, right?” I look up and don’t see a pizza, or a warming box, or a delivery person at all. Instead I see a woman.

  Not just any woman, but Rebecca.

  Rebecca the bartender from Phoenix.

  The bartender I had many long orgasm-filled nights with.

  The bartender who I was exclusive with until I moved up to the majors and she called everything off.

  The bartender who came to visit me once last year, seven months ago.

  The bartender who now stands in front of me with a protruding belly, a very pregnant protruding belly.

  Fuck me.

  Avoiding eye contact with me, she somberly says, “Hey, Jace.”

  I swallow hard, sweat starting to form at my brow, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. There can only be one reason why she is here.

  “Rebecca, uh what are you doing here?” It’s a stupid question. It’s obvious what she’s about to tell me, but I’m at a loss for words.

  Looking up at me, not delaying the conversation, she says, “It’s yours.”

  Yup, just what I fucking thought. My hand goes to my forehead in
disbelief and my mouth feels like a desert all of a sudden, my throat closing up on me. Not a word passes between us for several seconds.

  Coming up from behind me, Ethan says, “Dude, just pay her and . . . wow.” He pauses and takes in Rebecca. “Uh, that’s not pizza.”

  Scowling at Ethan from over my shoulder, she says, “No, it’s a baby.”

  “Yikes.” Ethan pats my shoulder. “Uh, I’m just going to grab another beer. Bottle of whiskey for you, bro?” He takes off without an answer.

  Before I can react, Rebecca speaks up. “The baby is yours.”

  Once again, something I already know. Rebecca wasn’t one to sleep around, so there is no doubt in my mind that the baby is mine.

  Still in shock, she continues, “I’m not keeping her. I thought I could do this on my own, but I can’t. I’m sorry, but when I give birth, she’s yours.”

  She?

  Not giving me a second to process what she’s saying, Rebecca continues, sending me into a tailspin of what the fuck. “I’m due in two and a half months. Figure out what you want to do. Here is my new number.” She hands me a piece of paper. I can’t even look at it. The parchment feels like an anvil of responsibility in my hand. “Call me when you don’t have that oh shit look on your face and you’re ready to talk. I’m staying at a friend’s place here in Denver.” Stepping away, she holds her round belly and says sincerely, “I want nothing from you, Jace. I don’t want your love, your warmth, your money, or your fame. I just want you to take this baby and give her a good home. One I know I can’t give her right now.”

  She . . .

  I have a daughter?

  I have a fucking daughter?

  And Rebecca wants me to give her a good home. How the hell am I supposed to do that when I’m on the road half the year?

  What the hell . . .

  DAISY

  One month ago . . .

  “Daisy Beauregard.”

  I stand to attention when I hear my name, my crossword clutched against my chest and my pink pen in the other hand at my side. “That’s me.”

 
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