Chasing spring, p.21
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       Chasing Spring, p.21

           R.S. Grey
 
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  But that's not why I continued to garden after she died.

  I gardened because I was obsessed with the notion of finding beauty in the dirt. Dirt is chaos, gritty, full of bugs and decay, but from that dirt comes such immense beauty. Roses, tulips, tomatoes, peonies, raspberries, oranges, magnolias...and even me. I wanted to be made new. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to take my past, with its sadness and torn edges, and turn it into something beautiful and worthwhile.

  I'd been chasing spring ever since my mom had left me when I was seven. For eleven years, I’d poured my soul into my garden, planting and cultivating, thinking that if I made the garden beautiful and full of life, it would fill me with beauty and life in return.

  But I was wrong.

  In the end, spring sprung from the pages of an old book.

  At the very end of my mother's book, there was a page a little more crinkled than the rest, a little more worn and forgotten. On it, I found this:

  I don’t know what next year will bring, but this spring has been about us, Lilah and me. We’ve spent every afternoon out in the garden and she’s loved every second of it. As I write this, she’s tugging on my hair, wanting me to finish up. We’re off to pick our raspberries from the vine and she’s so excited. We’ve waited patiently for them all spring and finally, they’re ripe.

  I closed the book and rested my hand against the front cover, trying to process everything at once. The value of the journal was in the details. Her messy handwriting had illuminated something for me that I’d never thought I’d understand: my mother loved me the only way she’d known how. She'd loved me fiercely and now I had tangible proof of it.

  In the end, that's all that I could ask for. Her love was different from other mothers’ love, but that's the thing about life. We have grand visions of our lives because we assume we are the center of the universe while in reality, the universe doesn’t even realize we’re there.

  New mothers are made every day, most with tears of joy in their eyes. I think my mother's were tears of sadness, not because she didn't want me, but because she knew she couldn’t be the type of mother that a daughter needs.

  She'd done the best she could, and as I let her gardening book fall onto my chest with a soft thump, I felt wholeheartedly content in a way I hadn’t since the day she’d left.

  I took a deep breath, a breath that cleansed my spirit, and then I reached for my computer to pull up a map.

  Chapter Sixty-Six

  Chase

  I’d just settled into bed with Harvey at my feet when I heard a tap on my window. It was quiet, hardly there at all, but a second later, there was another tap, and then a third.

  I pushed up out of bed and padded toward the window. I pulled the blinds up to find Lilah standing in the flowerbed in front of my window, armed and ready to throw more pebbles.

  When she saw me, she loosened her fist and dropped the unused rocks.

  “What are you doing?” I asked, pushing the window up a few inches.

  “Let’s go,” she said, waving me out of my house. No explanation, no please.

  I turned to look at the clock on my bedside table: 11:45 PM.

  “It’s late.”

  She made a show of rolling her eyes and then propped her hands up on her hips.

  “Chase. C’mon! We have fifteen minutes until my birthday starts.”

  “Hold on,” I relented, scanning over her. She was wearing jean shorts and a tank top. Wherever we were going, it wasn’t fancy.

  “Psst. Bring Harvey too!” she called after I’d turned away from the window.

  Harvey was already scratching at the door.

  Five minutes later, I crept out my front door with Harvey at my heels. My dad was a heavy sleeper, but our door’s hinges were ancient and I swore as I swung it closed it could have woken the dead. I froze for a few seconds, listening to see if I’d woken him up. Nothing.

  I was in the clear.

  I turned to find Lilah behind the wheel of her dad’s truck, waiting for me to join her. She looked the same. Same cropped black hair. Same fuck-all attitude. Same green eyes that reminded me of every important moment of my life.

  “Did I make it in time?” I asked, opening the door so Harvey could hop in.

  “Nine minutes,” she said, tapping the dashboard clock.

  “Nine minutes left of seventeen-year-old hell,” I said, sliding in beside her.

  “Nine minutes left of being stuck in this small town.”

  She started the car and pulled away from the curb.

  “Nine minutes left until you can buy cigarettes,” I offered.

  “Nine minutes left until I can buy all the cigarettes I can carry and light them on fire,” she responded.

  I laughed.

  “Are you going to tell me where we’re going?”

  She scrunched her nose. “No. That’s not fun.”

  I shrugged and stared out the window. The street lamps did a poor job of lighting our path, but Lilah seemed to know where she was going.

  Harvey curled up into a ball between us as we started our drive away from Blackwater. An hour passed, then two. I wanted to ask where she was driving, but I never did.

  “Thanks for giving me time,” she said a few hours into our drive.

  We’d gone a month without speaking and then out of blue, she’d arrived outside my window, no apologies, no explanation.

  Sometimes life is too short for explanations.

  “Did your read the book?” I asked.

  She gripped the steering wheel with both hands and nodded. “Every page.”

  “And?”

  “And here I am.”

  Her hand dropped from the steering wheel to Harvey. Her palm was an open invitation, and I reached out to take it. Just like that, I knew she was mine for good. There was no going back now.

  “A part of me thought you’d never be ready to come back.”

  She nodded, scanning out over the road. “I worried about that too.”

  We drove for miles, slipping between small towns without much notice. We stopped for gas and food around 2:00 AM. She grabbed two coffees and I grabbed an armful of candy and chips—road trip supplements. The gas station attendant eyed us with curiosity when we dropped our loot on the counter, but he withheld his questions. Did we look like two teenagers running from a small town? Was that what we were doing?

  When we got back to the car, I pulled out a Hostess cupcake and stuck a half-eaten Twizzler into the center of it like a candle.

  “Happy birthday, Lilah,” I said, holding it out for her.

  She smiled and then squeezed her eyes closed to make a wish.

  “Quick,” I joked. “Before the wax drips.”

  She opened her eyes, met mine, and leaned forward to blow out the Twizzler.

  After four hours and two bags of peanut M&Ms, I fell asleep for a while, lulled by the white noise of the freeway. When I woke up sometime later, we were driving over a bridge, surrounded by water on both sides.

  Lilah’s green eyes slid to me. “We’re almost there.”

  I sat up in my seat and glanced around us, trying to place where we were. Thousands of islands sit off the coast of Texas and we could have been driving onto any one of them.

  We continued on through a sleepy beach town. The shops were all closed except for a Starbucks on the corner of Main Street. As we passed a donut shop on the corner, their neon “OPEN” sign turned on. Light was just beginning to pierce the black sky as we pulled into a parking lot across from a beach covered in shadows. Seaweed was scattered across the sand, laying in clumps where the tide had come in overnight.

  “We almost didn’t catch it in time,” Lilah said, opening her door.

  “Catch what?”

  She glanced back at me and smiled. “The sunrise.”

  I let Harvey out first and he took off down the beach, his blond fur lit up in the dawn light. He chased off seagulls and dove headfirst into the waves. We walked to meet him and he came running
back toward us, already a sandy mess.

  “Do you recognize where we are now?” Lilah asked, stepping around the car and reaching her hand out for mine. I laced my fingers through hers and shook my head.

  “Galveston?”

  It was the first Texas beach that come to mind.

  She smiled and shook her head. “Port Aransas.”

  My stomach dipped as I stared back out over the beach, trying to pick up on any familiar landmarks. There was sand, and ocean, and seaweed, nothing that gave away the fact that I’d been there before. It didn’t seem any more special than any other beach, and yet, it was.

  The last time I’d been there, my mom had been alive. The last time I’d jumped in those waves, my mom had held my hand. The last time I’d touched that sand, my mom had been standing beside me. She’d stood right where I was, letting her feet sink into the sand the same way mine did.

  “I wanted to come here for my birthday,” Lilah said.

  “Why?” I asked, staring out beyond the horizon.

  “Because being here with you and your mom is the last perfect day I can remember,” she said, squeezing my hand for assurance.

  I nodded, letting her words sink in as the sun started to creep up over the horizon.

  “I think this is the start of mine.”

  The End

  The Beginning

  Acknowledgements

  I have to take a moment to thank my husband Lance. He was as much an author of this book as I was. He helped me rewrite at least five different versions and over a dozen drafts. Over the last two and a half years, we reworked this story together.

  After a publisher passed up the chance to publish this book last year, I took a step back and worked on other projects, all the while wondering whether or not Chase and Lilah deserved to see the light of day. In the end, it was Lance who convinced me to pursue this story the way I wanted to write it. I am so proud of this book and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  All my love,

  Rachel

  OTHER BOOKS BY R.S.GREY:

  THE ALLURE OF JULIAN LEFRAY

  ADULT ROMANCE

  From: [email protected]

  To: [email protected]

  Subject: Justin Timberlake Nudes!

  Lily, you predictable perv. I knew you’d open this email faster if I tempted you with a glimpse of JT's “PP”. Well, put your pants back on and grab some bubbly because I have much better news to share.

  I GOT A JOB!

  As of tomorrow, I’ll be the new executive assistant at Lorena Lefray Designs. I am SO excited, but there’s one itty bitty problem: I won’t be Lorena’s assistant. I’ll be working for her older brother, Julian.

  I know what you're thinking- ”But Jo, what’s the problem?”

  Google him. Now. He’s the man in the fitted navy suit whose face reminds you that there’s hope yet for this cruel, ugly world. Keep scrolling…Do you see those dimples? Yup. That’s the Julian Lefray I will be reporting to tomorrow morning.

  Lord, help us all...

  XO,

  Jo

  THE ALLURE OF DEAN HARPER

  ADULT ROMANCE

  #1 Best Selling Romantic Comedy on Amazon

  From: [email protected]

  To: [email protected]

  Subject: You're a flippin' idiot

  Good morning my dear, naive friend,

  I hope you're enjoying a breakfast of regret and sorrow.

  Why?

  Because you sent me to work for Dean Harper, aka a control freak in a tailor-made suit. Sure he owns the trendiest restaurants in NYC, but c'mon Jo, his ego makes Kanye West look like the Dalai Lama.

  He's the type of guy that only hears the word “no” when it's followed by “don't stop.”

  Working for Dean Harper would be like selling my soul to the devil...and before you say anything, I don't care if the devil has punch-you-in-the-gut brown eyes and an ass to match. My soul isn't for sale.

  Regretfully yours,

  Lily

  SCORING WILDER

  USA TODAY BESTSELLER

  NEW ADULT SPORTS ROMANCE

  What started out as a joke--seduce Coach Wilder--soon became a goal she had to score.

  With Olympic tryouts on the horizon, the last thing nineteen-year-old Kinsley Bryant needs to add to her plate is Liam Wilder. He's a professional soccer player, America's favorite bad-boy, and has all the qualities of a skilled panty-dropper.

  * A face that makes girls weep - check.

  * Abs that can shred Parmesan cheese (the expensive kind) - check.

  * Enough confidence to shift the earth's gravitational pull - double check.

  Not to mention Liam is strictly off limits. Forbidden. Her coaches have made that perfectly clear. (i.e. “Score with Coach Wilder anywhere other than the field and you'll be cut from the team faster than you can count his tattoos.”) But that just makes him all the more enticing...Besides, Kinsley's already counted the visible ones, and she is not one to leave a project unfinished.

  Kinsley tries to play the game her way as they navigate through forbidden territory, but Liam is determined to teach her a whole new definition for the term “team bonding.”

  THE DUET

  ADULT ROMANCE

  When 27-year-old pop sensation Brooklyn Heart steps in front of a microphone, her love songs enchant audiences worldwide. But when it comes to her own love life, the only spell she’s under is a dry one.

  So when her label slots her for a Grammy performance with the sexy and soulful Jason Monroe, she can’t help but entertain certain fantasies... those in which her G-string gets more play than her guitars'.

  Only one problem. Jason is a lyrical lone wolf that isn’t happy about sharing the stage—nor his ranch — with the sassy singer. But while it may seem like a song entitled ‘Jason Monroe Is an Arrogant Ho’ basically writes itself, their label and their millions of fans are expecting recording gold…

  They’re expecting The Duet.

  THE DESIGN

  ADULT ROMANCE

  Five minutes until the interview begins.

  Fresh on the heels of her college graduation, Cameron Heart has landed an interview at a prestigious architecture firm.

  Four minutes until the interview.

  She knows she's only there because the owner, Grayson Cole, is her older sister's friend.

  Three minutes.

  For the last seven years, Grayson has been the most intimidating man Cammie has ever had the pleasure, or displeasure, of being around.

  Two Minutes.

  But the job opportunity is too good to pass up. So, Cammie will have to ignore the fact that Grayson is handsome enough to have his own national holiday.

  One.

  After all, she shouldn't feel that way about her new boss. And, he will be her new boss.

  ...

  “I'm not intimidated by you,” I said with a confident smile.

  “Perhaps we should fix that, Ms. Heart. Close the door.”

  WITH THIS HEART

  NEW ADULT ROMANCE

  If someone had told me a year ago that I was about to fall in love, go on an epic road trip, ride a Triceratops, sing on a bar, and lose my virginity, I would have assumed they were on drugs.

  Well, that is, until I met Beckham.

  Beck was mostly to blame for my recklessness. Gorgeous, clever, undeniably charming Beck barreled into my life as if it were his mission to make sure I never took living for granted. He showed me that there were no boundaries, rules were for the spineless, and a kiss was supposed to happen when I least expected.

  Beck was the plot twist that took me by surprise. Two months before I met him, death was knocking at my door. I’d all but given up my last scrap of hope when suddenly I was given a second chance at life. This time around, I wasn’t going to let it slip through my fingers.

  We set out on a road trip with nothing to lose and no guarantees of tomorrow.

&n
bsp; Our road trip was about young, reckless love. The kind of love that burns bright.

  The kind of love that no road-map could bring me back from.

  BEHIND HIS LENS

  ADULT ROMANCE

  Twenty-three year old model Charley Whitlock built a quiet life for herself after disaster struck four years ago. She hides beneath her beautiful mask, never revealing her true self to the world... until she comes face-to-face with her new photographer — sexy, possessive Jude Anderson. It's clear from the first time she meets him that she's playing by his rules. He says jump, she asks how high. He tells her to unzip her cream Dior gown, she knows she has to comply. But what if she wants him to take charge outside of the studio as well?

  Jude Anderson has a strict “no model” dating policy. But everything about Charley sets his body on fire.

  When a tropical photo shoot in Hawaii forces the stubborn pair into sexually charged situations, their chemistry can no longer be ignored. They’ll have to decide if they’re willing to break their rules and leave the past behind or if they’ll stay consumed by their demons forever. Will Jude persuade Charley to give in to her deepest desires?

 


 

  R.S. Grey, Chasing Spring

 
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