A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Some dogs just want to be free to wander, because they don't have a boy who loves them."
Told in first-person point of view from a dog's perspective, this book is an emotional journey. It follows a dog through several lives as he tries to find his purpose. This book also chronicles the humans he lives with through a dog's perspective.
This book is such a powerful read. It makes you think about the priorities in your own life and your own relationship with your dog. I loved seeing the journey and growth of the people and the dog in this book. I finished it within a few days because I was so absorbed in the story.
While many dog books make me sad, this one was beautiful in the way it portrayed the unending connection between a boy and his dog. I loved this unique perspective and read. I will definitely be looking for the sequel.
This book is perfect for any animal lover who wants a new perspective on life, on dogs, and on the relationship we have with our pets.
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I'm a beauty junkie, so I'm always trying new products. This holiday season, I got quite a few beauty gifts...from others, and from myself. Here are four products I'm loving right now. Bonus**Henry also approves
I got this at a super bargain price right before Christmas. I have a really hard time finding a foundation I love. I have super pale skin, so many fair formulas look orange on me. This one blends in perfectly and offers the perfect, medium coverage.
I had heard great reviews about this but was terrified to spray this on my face. I pictured dripping mascara and smeared, chunky powder. It actually really works. My makeup doesn't budge all day, and it doesn't smear any of my makeup.
3. Bare Minerals Vanilla Sugar Radiance
This came in a mini try-it kit. I adore this all over highlighter. It just adds a touch of radiance to my skin without looking like I stepped out of the glittery 90s.
4. Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons Eyeshadow Palette
I'm an Urban Decay eyeshadow girl through and through. I swore I'd never use another eyeshadow. But when my mom got this for me for Christmas, I became a believer in Too Faced! These eyeshadows are perfect colors for my fair skin and so blendable! They really work well together to bring out your eyes. It's super easy to mix and match shades, and I think any combination works. If you struggle with picking out shades to use from a huge palette, this one is perfect because as I said, they all complement each other!
How about you? What are your beauty faves right now? Leave a comment and share your beauty must haves!
The tension of a pounding heart and veins begging to crawl out of my body choke me with fear. A cold sweat creeps in, and my mind is racing. I’m desperate for an escape, and the rational, rule-following me is replaced with a bargaining, pleading mess of a woman. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shot, an IV, a finger prick, or a blood test. It doesn’t matter if is happening today or if I’m just sitting at the doctor’s for a checkup.
Needle phobia never leaves me. It taunts me when I have a medical appointment. It causes me to put off screenings and trips to the doctor at all costs. It overpowers me when I’m flipping through television and see a picture of a needle or a clip with an IV. It’s there every moment, every day. It’s there even when I’m sitting at home or driving in the car. The constant question stirs the fear: What if something happens, and I need medical work requiring a needle? The possibility of facing my biggest fear is always lurking around the corner. It’s not a question of when I will have to face my phobia; it is a question of when.
Needle phobia, in many ways, keeps me in a glass box. There’s always the fear of something going wrong, of something happening that will lead to a shot, to an IV, to a need for medical attention.
Needle phobia or anxiety comes in many forms. For some, it’s a mild form of anxiety. For others, it’s positively debilitating, leading to very real physical reactions. For some, the phobia was always present, and for others, it was stirred by a negative event. For some who are phobic of needles, it’s the lack of control, the pain, or the sight. For others, it’s an unexplainable fear.
Like all phobias, there are so many versions. But the thing I’m here to say is: Needle phobia, like any other phobia, is real.
All my life, I’ve been told patronizing, condescending things about my very real phobia. “You’ll get over it,” or “Suck it up,” or “Stop being a chicken” all come to mind. I’ve had doctors dismiss my phobia as immaturity or tell me no one likes needles, so I’m no different than anyone else. I’ve had medical professionals tell me “Too bad” or “Deal with it.” I’ve been told that I’ll get over it when I’m older.
I’m 28, and I’m still not over it.
I know my phobia is irrational. I know a shot or an IV isn’t going to kill me. I know the pain is minimal. But it doesn’t quiet the fear, the racing mind, or the desire to crawl out of my own skin. It doesn’t stop the wild tears from flowing in a medical setting. It doesn’t quiet the countdown clock that begins when I know I have to get a shot or medical work. It doesn’t stop me from agonizing over how many days, how many more dinners, or how many more sleeps until it’s “D-Day.” It doesn’t make me stop cringing when I see a needle on television or when a friend tells a descriptive medical story.
I’ve spent so many years being embarrassed about my phobia. While other phobias seem to be “okay” to admit to, many people don’t seem to understand that needle phobia is real. I’ve met very few people who are willing to admit to having an extreme phobia of needles. It seems like a weakness to admit to. People don’t understand the depth of the fear or the fact it’s not something you can just get over. I’ve grown up thinking I was odd for having this phobia. I’ve grown up thinking I’m a weak person, a chicken, a wimp, or even crazy for my fear. I’ve told myself to get over it, to move past it, to just “suck it up.” However, the fear is always there, the phobia is always nearby.
However, the one positive that’s come from my phobia is that I’m more understanding of all phobias. Unless you have a phobia of something, it can be easy to dismiss others’ fears. I never do. I know what it’s like to be gripped by overpowering fear even when your mind is telling you to stop.
I also have learned that it’s okay to own up to my phobia. I’ve learned I’m not alone. I’ve learned to be honest with medical professionals about my anxieties because if they are the right medical professional for me, they’ll try to understand my fears instead of dismiss them.
So please, if you are a medical professional, understand for people like me, the fear, while irrational, is very real. It’s not something we can just “get over.” Believe me, we would if we could. The cold terror is the same as with any other phobia, except we have to face up to our phobia in order to stay healthy. Please realize that dismissing our phobia or telling us to get over it isn’t making anything better. Please recognize that our phobia is as real as any other phobia.
And if you have a phobia of needles, please know that no matter what it seems like, there are more of us than it seems.
My second novel is #FREE for two days only! Grab a copy of my novel about two women trying to sort out their lives and love.
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Title: Who We Were
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: February 25, 2017
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
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“I guess that’s the thing about high school reunions, though. They make you snap a little.”
In the ten years since high school graduation, Maylee’s career, living arrangements, family, and especially her love life are at a standstill. When her twin brother, Mitch, falls for her high school enemy at their ten-year reunion, Maylee’s life is catapulted into chaos.
Maylee’s hatred for the blonde-haired Josephine isn’t the only thing she discovers at her reunion. Benson Drake, the introvert from high school, has matured into a sexy intellect. Now a writer and bartender, Benson’s grown into a man with a perfect balance of quirky wit and sex appeal. After a wardrobe malfunction, a spy mission gone wrong, and a dangerous cup of coffee, Maylee and Benson explore something they never even thought about during senior year. Along the way, they find out that reconnecting with the past can change you… or maybe just help you find your true self.
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A high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay's the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.
Lindsay's goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she's done her job.
Lindsay's hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Sometimes life and love are better when they're simple.
Welcome to Maplewood, where Cadence Mills is trading in her New York City life for a simpler experience. As she moves to Maplewood to care for her grandma, she comes to realize that sometimes simple is more exciting...and that sometimes love finds us in unexpected places.
Follow Cadence Mills' life and love in Maplewood with this serially published chick lit saga. To read parts one and two, click on the Simply Love page above.
It’s strange to say, but I think I saw a glimmer of glee in Grandma’s eye when I told her about the station wagon.
Not that I had to tell her much. Even with Grandma’s less-than-stellar hearing, I’m pretty sure she heard the crunching of the mailbox with her bumper.
I’d slinked back into the house, head down, dejected, awaiting the lecture from Grandma. Instead, when I fessed up about her bumper, she gave a little shrug.
“No worries, Cadence. Just take it to Creeson’s.”
“Creeson’s garage. It’s on the corner of Hemlock and Grove street. They’ll have it fixed in a jiffy.”
And then Grandma had scurried off to watch her soap operas, leaving me stumped at her calmness about the situation.
So here I am now, after three wrong turns, sitting in front of the dilapidated sign for Creeson’s garage. It looks like it’s straight out of the 1950s or something, a tiny garage without a lot of charm, however.
I sigh, pushing my sunglasses back on top of my messy bun as I slowly get out of the station wagon. I hate this sort of thing. I’m always out of my comfort zone, questions about cars or anything mechanical making me feel stupid.
Plodding up to the door, which is hanging wide open, I gingerly step onto the cement in the tiny “office” area.
“Be right there,” a deep voice bellows from under a car in the garage. It doesn’t seem like there’s much happening here today, which is good. Maybe this won’t take that long.
A few moments later as I’m studying posters on the wall of the office that seem to solidify the 1950’s vibe, I turn to see a man standing in the doorway, wiping grease off his hands.
Correction. I see a gorgeously handsome man, late twenties to early thirties, commanding my attention with his mere presence. I remind myself to keep my jaw closed as I eye those rippling biceps underneath his work uniform, his green eyes beckoning me forward. He’s got dark hair which, despite the sweat dripping down his forehead, is working for him in a messy kind of way.
Get it together, Cadence, I inwardly chide myself. What’s wrong with me? I act like I haven’t seen a man my entire life. He’s probably married or has a ton of baggage or isn’t interested in women or…
My incessant trail of thoughts is interrupted by a simple, “Can I help you?”
I feel my heart flutter ridiculously, and I’m pretty sure my pits are getting a little sweaty. Great.
“Um, hi, I’m Cadence Mills and I’m new to town. Well, my grandma lives here, do you know her? Anyway, I was backing down the driveway and I lost track of what was happening somehow and the next thing I knew, crash, I hit the mailbox and…” I can hear myself talking a mile a minute like one of those annoying teen movies… but I can’t stop myself. I just feel my lips flapping away, my words tumbling out. This guy has rocked me to the core.
I don’t understand it. I mean, yes, as I’ve clarified, this guy is super attractive, but it isn’t like I haven’t seen that before. There are plenty of good looking men in the Big Apple, although their personalities don’t always match. I’ve had a few not-so-great run-ins with love in the city, but I’d like to think they’ve taught me to be a little more cautious with my heart.
Yeah, but this run-in is telling me otherwise.
“Do you need your bumper fixed?” he interrupts gently, smiling. He’s got perfect white teeth. Great. The list of attributes and reasons for my nerves to amp up just keeps getting longer.
“Um, yeah. If you have time.”
He grins. “Look at this place. It’s not like I have lines of cars here. Plus, your grandma is amazing. Even if I was busy, I’d stop everything for her.”
“You know her?”
“Everyone knows her. Greatest lady in town. She always sends over a strawberry pie on my birthday and on my dad and brother’s birthdays. They’re the best.”
“Does your whole family work here?”
“Yeah. Dad inherited the business from my grandpa. Now, my brother Zeke and I work here.”
“Oh, that’s neat.”
“Yeah, I’ve always liked cars, so it worked out.”
“So you’ve lived here your whole life?” I know I should probably stop talking, should let the man get to work. I’m sure standing in the stifling heat talking to some rambling girl isn’t on the top of his list, especially a girl who can’t even handle driving a station wagon.
However, as I’m talking and he’s continuing to wipe off his hands, I notice something. There’s no ring. I’d like to say this doesn’t make me happy—but it does.
“Yeah. Left for trade school for a little while, but then I came back. It’s a small town, but I like it that way. It’s simple. How about you?”
“My grandma always lived here. I’ve been living in New York for a few years now. But when grandpa died, I moved back. I’m all grandma has left.”
“I’m sorry. That’s tough. But that’s really awesome of you to move back.”
“Yeah. Grandma did so much for me over the years. I knew it was the right thing to do. But it’s been quite a shift.”
“I bet. Well, if you ever need anything or want me to show you the finer points of Maplewood, just let me know.”
Was that a date offer? Stop it, I chide myself again. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Although, it did sort of feel like a date. My stomach flutters at the thought.
“I’d like that. It seems nice here but…”
“Dead? Boring? Yeah, it can be,” he chuckles. “I’m Zander, by the way.”
“Cadence,” I spew, before remembering I already told him that.
He doesn’t call attention to it, though, just smiling. “Well, why don’t I take a look at the car. Head across the street to Dina’s Donuts. Tell them I sent you, and they’ll give you a free coffee. I’ll come over and get you when I’m finished.”
“That’s so nice. Thank you,” I say, meaning it. Zander nods before heading to the car. I turn and walk across the street, hoping I picked the jean shorts that make my butt look round and not saggy. I mentally tell myself not to sway my hips, to not look like I’m trying to hard.
Not that it would work, anyway. I’ve never been one of those women who have the natural flaunt-it characteristics. My form of flirting usually looks like I’m having a seizure. Still, something about those green eyes, something about Zander’s voice makes me want to try.
“Cadence?” he says, and my heart freezes. Maybe he’s going to ask to join me for coffee.
“Yeah,” I say casually, turning before I cross the street.
“What?” I ask. “Oh, right.” I walk back, handing him the keys to the car.
Great. Now he definitely thinks I’m a bimbo.
“Thanks,” he says, as I hand them to him. Our hands graze each other’s as we pass off the keys, and I shudder at the roughness of them.
“See you soon,” he says, giving me a grin.
“Likewise,” I say, and then shudder inside. Who the hell says “likewise?” I better work on this flirting thing.
Still, as I head through the door to Dina’s and take in the cute charm, also reminiscent of the 1950’s, I’m smiling way too wide for a donut shop.
“Can I help you?” a perky, pink-haired girl with a nametag that read “Ivy” says.
“Um, Zander sent me?”
“Did he now?” Ivy gives me a grin, and there’s a sparkle in her eye.
“Uh, yeah?” I say as a question, not sure what’s going on.
“Gee, I wonder why.”
I’m confused as hell. What is she talking about? What is she getting at?
“Um, because he’s working on my car?”
“Honey, if you think Zander only sent you over for free coffee because of that ratty station wagon, you’re out of your mind. Have you looked in the mirror? Your gorgeous. No wonder Zander wanted to keep you around as long as possible.” She winks at me, showing me there’s no malice in her voice. She smiles, giggling a little as she heads over to the coffee pot. I’m still not sure what’s going on or how to take her.
I get out my wallet to pay, but she shoves it away, handing me a coffee. “It’s covered honey. We’ve got it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, I’m sure. So what’s your name?” She comes from behind the counter, leading me to a booth. There’s a ninety-something year-old man in a corner booth, but other than that, the shop’s desolate. Still, I’m surprised she’s just abandoning the register so freely.
“Cadence. Just moved here from New York.”
“Oh, are you Gladys’s granddaughter?” she asks, taking a seat across from me, smiling at the name.
“Yeah, do you know her?”
“Of course! She’s the sweetest lady. She always sends me my favorite, a chocolate pie, for my birthday.”
Apparently my grandma is into pies. I had no idea.
“Zander said she does the same thing for him and Zeke?”
“Yeah, she does. But strawberry? The morons would like strawberry. Ew.” Ivy shrivels up her nose. I’m not sure if it’s at strawberry or the names Zander and Zeke.
“Do you know them well?” I ask.
She laughs hysterically. “You’re not used to small town life, yet, huh? Everyone knows everyone here. Seriously. There’s no privacy.”
I smile. I like this girl already. “Yeah, I’m gathering that. So what’s Zander like?”
Ivy shakes her head. “He’s an idiot. And an ass most of the time. Good with cars, but a smartass. Drives me crazy.”
I feel my heart sink a little. I don’t know this pink-haired girl well, but she doesn’t seem like one to sugarcoat things. Maybe my instincts about Zander were wrong.
Not like it matters, I remind myself. He’s fixing the bumper on my grandma’s station wagon, not asking me out.
“But, I’ve heard he’s not so bad to date.”
“Yeah, if you’re into that sort of thing. I mean, I’ve heard that he’s not so bad to look at. But that’s not something for a sister to analyze.”
“Wait…” I pause, tilting my head in question.
“Yes, that idiot’s my brother. Zeke, too. They work with dad at the family business. I work with mom, here. She’s the Dina in Dina’s Donuts. We’re just one big happy family.” She shakes her head.
“That’s really neat. I had no idea.” Now I get a little worried. I had no idea this was Zander’s sister. Was I obvious in my interest? What if she tells him? I don’t want to see like a psychotic, desperate stalker.
“It’s something. In all honesty, it is pretty great. I love my family. It’s just a lot sometimes. Zeke moved out last year when he got married, but Zander and I still live at home. Not quite how we pictured our twenties, but you know, life and all that.”
“So Zander’s not married?”
“More like forever alone. He had a rough relationship in his senior year of high school. Broke his heart. He’s dated here and there, but let’s be honest, Maplewood population practically nothing, well, it doesn’t offer a lot of options, you know? Zander needs someone a little more…exciting than what we have here. He needs a woman who doesn’t have marriage and babies as her only goals. Not that he’s against that. I just think he’s a little wilder than that, wants a life a little bigger, you know?”
“I do get it. But why hasn’t he left?”
“Family. I think he doesn’t want to leave us. We’re a close bunch and all. But if the right opportunity came along, the right woman…” she winks at me.
I feel myself blush. “Well, you never know when things can change,” I say, not really sure how to respond.
“Indeed. So, when are you going out with my brother?” she asks, jumping straight to the punchline.
“I’m not—we’re not—he’s just fixing my car.”
“Okay. Whatever you say. All I know is he wouldn’t have sent you over here if he didn’t want me to get some information out of you.”
I should feel set-up and a little bit violated, being scoped out by the family. But I don’t. There’s something about Zander, and even something about Ivy, that makes me feel like maybe Maplewood won’t be so bad after all, 1950’s décor and all.
***Part I of Simply Love: Welcome to Maplewood is available HERE***
“Oh dear, Tyrion doesn’t like to have his belly scratched,” Gram says, pulling her floral robe a little tighter in the cool morning air that is filling the house.
My hand is already bleeding from the crazy cat’s wild scratching and biting, his growls only punctuating his frustration. “I’m getting the idea he might not like to be pet at all,” I say, finally wrangling my hand back and standing up, my black leggings covered in white cat hair just from rubbing against him. So much for my favorite color to wear being black.
“How did you sleep, dear?” Gram is shuffling her feet in her hot pink slippers, her walker grinding into the carpet as she moves toward the kitchen.
“Great,” I lie as I head over to the coffee machine. I struggle to remember how to even make coffee in this ancient coffeemaker, making a mental note to put a Keurig on my list of things to buy as I attempt to open the foreign contraption.
In truth, I barely slept a minute, or at least that’s what the bags under my eyes seem to suggest. The mattress in the guestroom is probably circa 1950, and the yellow floral wallpaper just sort of gives me the creeps, even in the darkness. Perhaps its Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” or an overactive imagination, but I just feel like it’s watching me.
Still, I know things are hard enough on Gram. Going to bed alone, missing Grandpa—I can’t even dream of complaining. She’s done all she can in her condition to make my move comfortable, opening her home to me as best as she can.
I struggle with the measuring and pouring of the coffee for a while, hoping the liquid that comes out of the appliance won't be too tar-like. Here's to hoping.
Despite the peeling wallpaper, the bed, and the lack of modern appliances, I sit at the wooden table in the kitchen thinking about how warm I feel inside. To be in this cozy kitchen, gram trudging to the table with her cane in her right hand—it feels right.
This is where I need to be.
“So, what do you have planned today?”
“Well, I don’t have a Skype call until Thursday with Whitney,” I say.
I smile, shaking my head as I sloppily put my hair into a ponytail. “A call with work. I don’t have to call them until Thursday.”
“I do worry about your career with this move. I’m so glad to have you here. But I hate to see your dreams on hold.”
“Gram, I can design anywhere. Nothing is on hold.”
She smiles, taking a seat beside me as she pats my hand. “I don’t ever want to come between you and your dreams.”
The look in her eyes says she means it. It makes my heart swell even more to know she cares about me. I didn’t realize in New York how much I missed that, the connection of family.
“Thanks, Gram. Love you.”
“So you still didn’t answer me. What are you doing today?”
“Well, I need to run a few errands maybe. Pick up a few things to settle in. Do you want to get lunch?”
“No, honey. You take some time to explore on your own. Look around, see what Maplewood has to offer. You need to check out the young crowd.”
I laugh at the way the last words fly off her tongue like a foreign phrase. “Well, then maybe I’ll get us some takeout for lunch? I wouldn’t mind catching up on some soap operas you know.”
Grandma is a sucker for soap operas, or the “stories” as she calls them. She’s got a thing for quite a few of the actors.
“Oh, yes. Lovely! Your grandpa always made fun of me for watching them. It’ll be so great to have someone to share them with. You know, there’s a new Ricky on the stories and let me tell you, he’s something to look at.” She winks, and I shake my head.
“Always scoping out the men, huh Gram?”
“Hey, I might be old, but I’m not blind. A girl’s gotta get her looks in while she still can. Speaking of which, don’t you worry, Cadence. There are plenty of lookers in town here.”
I sigh. “Gram, don’t get any ideas. I don’t need you trying to set me up with anyone.”
She puts her hands in the air. “I’m just saying. My beautician Belinda has a grandson, and he’s not bad on the eyes.”
“Well, I’ll keep that in mind as I explore the town today,” I say, mostly just to appease her. She smiles as if pleased with herself.
“It’s about time you find yourself a nice young man, Cadence. Someone to share life with.”
“We’ll see, Gram.” I don’t have the heart to tell her that at my age, a nice young man isn’t exactly on my list. Give me some hot one night stands, give me a few fun nights out, and I’m happy. I don’t need a ring to make me happy. In fact, on the contrary. I’m doing just fine on my own, my career keeping me busy.
I know Gram’s from a different generation, though. A generation of commitment and settling down, of love being the answer. I don’t have the heart to tell her that’s not what I have in mind. Plus, I don't exactly want to explain the concept of a one-night stand to dear old Gram. She watches enough soap operas to know, but still--there are some things grandmas just don't need to hear from their granddaugthers.
Not that I’m against love or marriage. Someday maybe I’ll take that step. It’s just right now, I’m not ready to settle down, to let love take over.
I break out of my introspection, heading over to grab a cup of coffee for each of us. We spend the next hour talking about everything from the storyline of the soap operas to the weather to my job. Gram, although still in mourning, seems happy. It makes me feel good.
After I change out of my leggings and touch-up my makeup, I decide to head out. Gram lets me borrow her car, an ancient station wagon. I make a mental note that procuring a car is also going to be on my ever growing list of to-dos.
Uprooting your life isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. Once I finally get the thing to clink to a start, I back down the driveway, carefully watching the rearview mirror. It’s been so long since I’ve driven, the taxis in New York City and the subway substituting for driving most days. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve actually been behind the wheel.
It’s not as if I’m driving in New York City traffic, though. There’s not a single car in sight for miles. I guess if I need to get reacquainted with driving, this is the place to do it.
I ease my way back down the driveway, momentarily getting hung-up in the mirror on my wonky eyebrow. When was the last time I had those things waxed? I think to myself.
And then crash, crunch, boom. I’m no longer looking at my eyebrow but slamming on the break, hoping to stop the crunching metal feeling before it’s too late.
But it’s way too late. The damage has been done. I exhale loudly, wondering if this whole moving thing was such a good idea after all. Because right now, looking at the crunched mailbox underneath the tire of the equally crunched up station wagon, I wonder what the hell kind of message the universe could possibly be sending me.
***To be continued***
**Simply Love will be a work published serially. Contemporary romance slash chick lit, this piece will be updated every week. Follow Cadence Mills as her twentysomething life of cocktails and fashion is turned upside down with a family tragedy. Moving to Maplewood isn’t her choice, but could living the simple life put things in perspective…and even lead to love?***
Sometimes putting your dreams aside can lead you to new passions.
Our lives don’t typically change in a formulaic, mapped out fashion. Our lives usually morph because of a fleeting idea, a dancing fantastical whim coaxing us forward onto a new path.
My life changed forever when a whim beckoned me home, or at least to the closest thing I had to home.
I don’t know if I’d call it a whim exactly. Perhaps it was more of a gut reaction, an instinct that it was the right thing to do. In the moment, it seemed like a simple act, simple words. In fact, I upended my entire life with three little words: “I’m coming home.”
It was a mucky Thursday, mud sloshing under my knee-high boots, when the words escaped my lips and transformed my life. Standing under the umbrella the funeral director held above my head, I put an arm around Gram. Squeezing her into me, the soft floral scent of her familiar perfume dancing around me in the midst of the ashy rain smell, I practically whispered the words.
“I’m coming home.”
“What, dear? What do you mean?” Tears danced down her cheek, and her voice cracked from the strain of the day.
It was a bold statement to make backing away from Grandpa Joseph’s grave. Gram’s tears were still flowing, and our hearts were still panging with the heaviness of good-bye. Still, walking away from the graveyard, my frail Gram in my arms, I knew the words were necessary. More than that, I knew the action behind them was necessary.
The words, although genuine, were arguably inaccurate. No wonder poor Gram was confused. Maplewood had never been home for me, not really. It was Gram and Grandpa’s home their entire lives. I’d visited here a few times a year when Mom and Dad were still alive. Growing up, I’d spent holidays in Maplewood, had been here to walk the creek in the summer months every now and then.
But it was never home.
Home for me was with my parents in South Carolina. Home now was in my overly expensive two-bedroom in New York City, the bustle of the nightlife energizing me.
Maplewood would never be home, not physically. The word slipped off my tongue though, perhaps saying more about my situation than I even knew.
Gram was there, my only living family member. Perhaps Maplewood was home after all, even if I didn’t know it yet. How couldn’t it be? That beautiful woman who had saved me during my darkest hour, who had upended her own life to take care of the lost seventeen-year-old I once was, needed me. I owed her.
“I’m moving. I’m coming to live with you.”
e walked toward the hearse, ready to go to the funeral luncheon. I knew it was a formality, but I didn’t know if I wanted to face everyone’s cheerful conversations over ham sandwiches, cookies, and strange punch. I wanted to mourn in peace. I wanted to surround myself with Grandpa Joseph’s favorite things, to talk about him with the only woman who truly knew him—Gram.
“No, honey. You can’t do that. Your life is in New York. You’ve got an amazing job and friends. You can’t,” she said, vehemently shaking her head.
“Gram, it’s not up for debate. It’s done. I’m coming to live with you. I want to do this. Let me do this.”
“I won’t let you do this. I’m fine, dear.”
I opened the door for her and helped her creakily lean down, her bones cracking as she moved her frail bottom across the seat.
Gram let out a loud “umph” as she settled in, and I crawled in beside her. The funeral director shut the door. I wondered if he ever felt awkward, like he was privy to conversations too intimate for funeral director’s ears. Then again, when you handled the dead, perhaps nothing was off-limits or too taboo.
“Gram, listen. It’ll be great. I can talk to Whitney. I’m sure with Skype and things, I could just work from home, work remotely. And it’ll be good. A change of scenery will help with the creative juices.”
“Come on, Cadence. I might be ancient, but I’m not daft. You’re not moving here for a change of scenery. You want to babysit me.”
“It’s not like that, Gram. I know you’d be fine. I just…I miss you. I miss Grandpa. I want to be close to you.”
Sighing, Gram leaned in to give me a squeeze, her cold, bony fingers digging into the soft flesh of my arm. I rested my head on her shoulder like I'd done so many times, the comfort of her familiar yet scratchy sweater soothing me.
“I miss you, too. I just don’t want you changing your whole life for me.”
“Gram, let me do this. Please,” I begged, knowing I’m winning her over.
“Okay,” she said simply, patting my hand. We sat in silence the whole way to the luncheon, thinking about Grandpa, thinking about how frail life is, and thinking about how so much was changing.
For me, though, the big changes hadn’t even begun. I just didn’t know it yet.
I shove the three suitcases into the trunk of my Uber driver’s car. He looks a little annoyed that I’m jiggling and wiggling them into the trunk of his flashy red sports car, but I don’t care. It’s been a long day, and I just want to get to Gram’s house.
My house, I correct myself.
I blow a piece of my hair out of my eye, sliding my sunglasses back down as I plod to the passenger seat. He shuts the trunk as I prepare for the awkward twenty-five minutes of small-talk I’m about to endure.
Mercifully, though, my phone rings. It’s probably rude to answer it, but I don’t care right now. Roger will just have to deal with it.
“Hey, miss me already?” I say into the phone once I pick up.
“Don’t you know it. I still can’t believe you’re gone. This is crazy, Cade, you know that right?”
I exhale. I’ve been through this so many times with Lilly, with Whitney, and with everyone else in my friends’ group in the city.
“It’s the right thing, Lilly. She’s all I have left, and vice versa. I can’t just let Gram live alone.”
“They have places for this sort of thing.”
“I can’t put Gram in a place like that. She’s too feisty for those witchy women there. She’d be evicted in five minutes. Besides, she upended her life for me not that long ago. It’s the least I can do to pay her back.”
“But she was in her seventies when she did that for you, not twenty-six. There’s a big difference.” Lilly’s voice is a tad whiny, as if she can change my mind.
“Lil, I know. But I need to do this. Look, I’ll come back to the city as often as I can. And who knows, once Gram recovers a little from the shock and gets back on her feet, maybe I’ll come back.”
“Well, maybe I’ll find a new roommate by then,” Lilly says into the phone. Her voice tells me she’s smiling.
“Please, I know better. Who the hell else would deal with your obsession with Teen Mom and your messy habits?”
“You’re right. Well, listen. If you’re going to be in another state, at least do some prospecting for me, okay? Let me know how the man market is there. Maybe I’ll have to make a visit out there.”
“If you can’t find a man in New York City, what makes you think you’d find one here, in the middle of nowhere? Pretty sure the pickings will be slim,” I say, accidentally making eye contact with Roger who is at a red light. I wince a little at my implied insult, and turn back to look out my window.
“Well, call me once you get settled in. I miss you already.”
“Miss you too. Don’t worry, I’ll be calling plenty. The biggest thrill here is Dunkin Donuts and Wal-Mart. Seriously. There’s like nothing.”
“Despite the fact I think you’re insane for giving up your awesome, youthful life here in the city, I think you’re doing a nice thing. Your Gram is lucky to have you.”
“Thanks, Lilly. Be sure to harass Stuart for me at work on Monday.”
“Of course. Much love,” she says, and she hangs up. I rest my phone in my lap, feeling sad.
Glancing out my window, I peer at the trees as they pass by, missing the bright lights and crazy traffic already. When I headed for the city at twenty-two, I thought I’d be there forever. I thought the city life would be mine to own for as long as I wanted.
But life changed. I learned early on that life doesn’t always go as plan. Tragedy can strike at any time, and sometimes your life takes an unexpected turn.
Still, as Roger pulls into the familiar driveway, the one-story brick house in view, my Gram waving from the rocker on her front porch, I smile. I miss my friends and our cocktail hours already. I miss the sushi bar down the street from our apartment. I miss the hustle and bustle of the office, of going across the hallway at the office to show Lilly my latest sketch for the new collection. I miss all of the possibility, the exuberant feeling of walking down the sidewalk feeling like I’d achieved my goal.
As I hand Roger cash, though, and tug my luggage out of the trunk, I can’t help but feel hopeful in a new way. Maybe moving to Maplewood will be a new kind of dream, a new kind of possibility. Maybe a new life is waiting right around the corner.
Regardless, I walk onto the porch, rushing into Gram’s arms. “Welcome to Maplewood,” she says as if she’s greeting me for the first time.
In some ways, I guess she is. Because the old Cadence Mills is gone again, her designer heels and sunglasses looking quite out of place in this simple setting.
Welcome to Maplewood, indeed.
TO BE CONTINUED….