Sunday, September 20, 2015

NOVEL: If Tomorrow Never Comes, Chapter 1

If Tomorrow Never Comes
By: Sophie Slade

*NOTE: Hey everyone! I've been wanting to blog a book, so I thought I'd try my hand at it with my book If Tomorrow Never Comes! I'll post chapters here each Monday and would appreciate your feedback. It's not been edited yet, so be easy on me! LOL! Seriously, can't wait to hear what you think! It's a work in progress, coming soon from Simply Sexy Reads

Chapter 1

Eight years ago …

“I love you,” I said as I hugged my father goodbye. My Volkswagen Bug was loaded down, so much so that the back end was sagging, even though my father had added more air to the rear shocks.
“Just take care of yourself,” he breathed into my hair as he held me to his chest. Then he pulled back to look into my eyes. “Just promise me that you’ll write.”
“My God, James,” my mother replied with a smile. “She’s just going to Nashville, not to the Moon.”
“Dad, if you got a cell phone, then you can text me any time you like.” On second thought, maybe it was a good thing he didn’t. I was now officially eighteen years of age and had just graduated from high school. My parents had insisted that I go to college, but I wanted to wait a few years. I had been a singer my whole life, having started off singing in the church choir and at school, and then graduated to different venues.
“You know it’s not too late for you to change your mind. You can always go to college,” Mom said, pulling me in for a hug.
“Mom, we’ve been through this,” I said with an exasperated sigh. “I’ve waited my whole life for this. If I wait too long, it’ll be too late.”
“Honey, you’re only eighteen,” Mom said, stroking my sun streaked blonde hair. “You have your whole life ahead of you …”
“Maggie, let her go,” Dad said, rescuing me. Mom turned around to glare at him when he added, “Now who’s holding on too tightly?”
Mom laughed, looking into my eyes one more time as tears welled up in hers. “Alyssa, remember: you can come home any time you like.”
“I know, Mom,” I said, taking a deep breath. “If you don’t stop, you’re going to get me crying, too.”
“Come on, sweetheart,” Dad said, pulling her away, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind. My mother and father were so in love. I made gagging noises, but I secretly hoped that one day I would find someone to love like that, but they would be hard to live up to. They had the perfect relationship, always so patient and caring toward one another. Over my whole life, I had never remembered them ever uttering a cross word to one another.
“Hey, sis.” Greer pulled me in for a hug. “Don’t forget to write,” she said sarcastically with a grin over her shoulder to our father. He rolled his eyes, swaying mom back and forth with his arms still wrapped around out mother’s waist. Then, Greer pulled me in to whisper, “Don’t behave yourself. Have some fun.”
I laughed as I pushed away. She had the same long, sun-streaked hair as I did, but was a little shorter than me, even though she was only a year younger. She was fun, perky, and I could tell her anything, often talking until the wee hours of the night. I’ll miss our nightly chats when she’d sneak into my room. We’d sit up for hours on end talking or eating Oreos and milk. Once, we had polished off a whole gallon of milk and a package of cookies in one sitting, even though neither of us gained an ounce. Mom blew a gasket the next morning, but it was worth it. I loved Greer dearly. “Hey, maybe you can come visit me …”
“Not until she graduates from high school,” Dad interjected as mom smiled.
“Dad, come on!” Greer complained. “Not even during Spring Break?”
“Now who’s being over protective?” Mom asked, laughing. Dad tickled her and she squealed with delight.
“I’m going to miss you, Greer,” I said, pulling her in for one last quick hug. “Take care of yourself and don’t forget to study!” Greer was a bit of a party girl, so I didn’t need to remind her to have fun. I had always been just the opposite, despite our similar looks. She always reminded me to have more fun and I always reminded her not to have too much fun. I worried that she might go a little wild without me to reel her in, but she was smart and I knew that she would make the right decisions.
Greer rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, Greer. Dad will never let me come visit if I don’t graduate, remember?”
“That’s right,” Dad agreed behind us.
“Well, get out of here before I start crying,” Greer said, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. “Love you, sis.”
“Love you, too,” I said, then waved to everyone as I slid into my VW, threw it into gear, and pulled off, leaving my family behind. I watched them waving in the rearview mirror as I drove down the highway, headed onto I-95N, headed toward Nashville, Tennessee.
I had grown up in West Palm Beach, Florida, but had always dreamed of trying my luck in Nashville. From the way Dad acted today, you would have thought that he was the one who didn’t want me to go, but actually he had been the one to save me from Mom. After I told her my plans for moving to Nashville, she was determined not to let me go, but it was Dad who had finally talked her into it, telling her to let me spread my wings. My father was a great singer and had always regretted not trying his hand in Nashville. He didn’t want me to make the same mistake. Mom still wasn’t happy about letting me go alone, but had finally relented.
Now on I-95N, headed toward Nashville, I finally felt free. I had waited for this moment my whole life. I was finally on my own … for better or for worse. I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I was up for the adventure. I looked down at my blue jean purse that I had made setting on the floorboard between the bucket seats and remembered the thousand dollars I had stashed there. I had worked hard at the local pizzeria, saving what little tips I got along with my measly paychecks and had finally saved five hundred dollars. To my surprise, Dad had matched it and I now had enough to get an apartment and live on for a week or so.
My plan was to rent an apartment or at least a room for a while. Then, I needed to find a job. I hoped to get a job singing in the city, but I wasn’t that naïve, knowing that Nashville was crawling with singers who had come to Nashville, awaiting their big break. I vowed to try and find a singing job first, but relented to work as a waitress if I needed to until I could land the job I wanted. Yes, I had a lot of work ahead of me, but a thrill ran through me at the thought of the prospects.
I cranked up the little radio in my car and flipped the channels, until Free Falling by Tom Petty came on and I started singing it at the top of my lungs with the windows open. I was into the music and lost in my thoughts of Nashville when I happened to look over. A carload of great looking guys was driving beside me, all listening to me sing. I rolled my eyes, smiling as I turned my attention back to the road.
“Hey, you sound good!” said one of the guys. I turned back and he gave me a wink as I laughed. I wasn’t offended or worried, even though I was alone. They looked harmless enough. They waved as they drove ahead. I laughed when on the back of their car window was written NASHVILLE OR BUST in white shoe polish across the back of their black hatchback Camero. I guessed that I wasn’t the only one wanting to try my luck at the big time. I laughed, shaking my head as they sped on, whooping and hollering as they leaned out the windows, obviously enjoying their new freedom, too.
I shook my head, smiling as heat filled my cheeks at having been busted, but it felt good to hear they say that I was good. A moment later, the song ended and Garth Brooks’ If Tomorrow Never Comes came on the radio and I started singing along. It was sad, but had such a great message:

If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?
Did I try in every way to show her every day that she's my only one?
And if my time on earth were through and she must face the world without me
is the love I gave her in the past gonna be enough to last
if tomorrow never comes?

I belted it out at the top of my lungs as the sky started turning dark and shoots of pink, purple and orange streaked across the sky, not really thinking of the meaning behind the lyrics. I loved the tune and, as I said, the message was wonderful. My thoughts went immediately to my parents and their love. It was nice having witnessed a love like that, and I wondered if I would ever have a chance at that kind of love, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.
I quickly brushed the thought aside as the song ended and a fast song came on. It was getting late and my stomach started growling, so I stopped at a McDonald’s, wanting to save my money. I was going to go through the drive through, but I decided to stop when I saw the familiar black hatchback Camero with NASHVILLE OR BUST across the back window.
What the hell? I thought to myself, laughing. What were the chances? I almost chickened out and drove on, but thought why not and pulled my car into an empty spot a few spaces down from their Camero, locked up it and headed inside.
Inside the McDonalds, I didn’t look around, but just walked straight up to the counter instead and placed my order.
“I’m freeeeeee falling,” a male voice sang at the top of his lungs from behind me as I laughed.
“Go ahead. Laugh it up,” I said, then turned around to see the brightest crystal blue eyes I’d ever seen on a guy before. He was wearing blue jeans and a blue-jean jacket with a gray T-shirt that hinted at tight muscles beneath.
“Hey, I’m not judging,” he said innocently, then stepped up to the counter as a strand of his dark blonde hair fell across his forehead. “Free falling,” he sang under his breath, then looked over at me and gave me a wink.
I pushed his arm. Although I had just met him, there was something about him that made feel as if we’d known him for years.
“Hey, would you like to join my friends and me?” he asked, gesturing to his three buddies sitting at a table, boring around. “We’re sitting right over there.”
“No, I think I’ll just take mine to go,” I said, feeling a bit uncomfortable sitting with a bunch of guys in the middle of nowhere by myself. I wasn’t stupid.
“May I join you, then?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. Then, he leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, “I’m not a serial killer. I promise.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” I joked as I took my tray from the counter. “It’s nice to meet you, though.”
“Likewise,” he returned. “Hey, you like ice cream?”
“Come on, who doesn’t like ice cream?”
“I guess … why?”
“Let me buy you some ice cream, at least,” he said. “It’s the least I can do for taking up your time.”
I took a deep breath as I looked away, and then back into his ice-blue eyes. “You promise you’re not a serial killer?” I asked, only half serious.
“Promise,” he replied, making a cross over his chest. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Not funny.”
“You have to admit that it was a little,” he said.
I rolled by eyes, but couldn’t help but smile.
“Well?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
I nodded, for him to follow me as I carried my tray to a table.
“Yes!” he said, pumping the air with his fist.
“Yeah, like that wasn’t awkward,” I teased, but he ignored my comment.
“You like hot fudge?”
“Who doesn’t?”
He grinned. “A girl after my own heart. I’ll be right back,” he replied, then bought two hot fudge sundaes and hurried across the restaurant to his friends to grab his tray. I couldn’t help but notice how cute he was and how defined the muscles in his body were. He ignored the jabs of his friends as he hurried over to my table and plopped his tray down on the table across from me.
I laughed, shaking my head as I popped a French fry into my mouth. McDonalds has the best. “So, are you guys headed to Nashville?” I asked, suppressing a smile.
He leaned in as his blue eyes looked into mine, then whispered conspiratorially, “Is it that obvious?”
I giggled as I nodded toward the restaurant’s huge plate glass window to his car. “Nashville or bust?” I laughed, enjoying the exchange.
“Yeah, I guess it is that obvious,” he replied, then took a huge bite of his Big Mac, devouring half of it in one bite.
“Really?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah … well … I guess that wasn’t the most romantic thing to do.” His lips curled into a sexy half smile.
I shrugged. “I’ve seen worse.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” he joked as he took another bite of his sandwich. He was enjoying it so much that I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Enjoying yourself?” I asked, taking a bite of my fish sandwich.
“You have no idea,” he said, finishing it off. “Big Macs are one of life’s guilty pleasures.”
I laughed, enjoying myself more than I had in a long time. “Guilty pleasures?”
“Yeah, that and making out,” he said matter of fact as he opened his other Big Mac.
“Okay, I think I’ll take the rest of mine to go …”
“Sorry,” he said with a shrug, “but it’s the truth.” He took another bite of his Big Mac and the look on his face was nothing short of euphoric.
He looked so innocent that I couldn’t help but laugh as I sat back down.
“So, where are you headed?” he asked between bites.
“What makes you think I’m headed anywhere?” I asked, popping another French fry into my mouth.
This time, it was his turn to look through the window toward my car. “Well, your car being so loaded down that you can barely drive it was no clue.”
I laughed. “Yeah, I guess it is pretty obvious.”
Suddenly, one of his friends looked down at his watch and got up. “Shit, man!” Then, he looked over at us. “Logan, man, we’ve got to go!” With that, all of his friends started clearing off their table.
“Logan?” I asked, realizing that I was sitting here talking to a complete stranger and I didn’t even know his name.
“Yeah, Logan Ambrose,” he said, extending his hand. “Nice to meet you. And your name is …” He raised his eyebrows expectantly. When I didn’t respond right away, he said, “Come on, really? We just shared a romantic meal together.”
“Romantic meal?” I asked, clearly amused.
“Logan, man,” his friend yelled across the room. “Get her number and let’s go!”
The guy behind the counter frowned.
“Dick,” Logan said under his breath as he shook his head, and then turned his attention back to me. “Come on. I might not ever see you again. Please, at least tell me your name.”
The look in his eyes was so hopeful that I couldn’t resist. “Alyssa. Alyssa Collins.”
A broad smile spread across his lips. “Well, Alyssa Collins, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Logan, let’s go!” his friend yelled. The other guys were already headed out the door. “If you don’t come on now, I’m leaving your lame ass!”
“Kyle, I’m coming!”
From the way Kyle laughed and shook his head, his mind was definitely in the gutter. “Okay, man. Whatever you say.”
“Ass,” Logan said, then turned his attention back to me. “Look, I have to go, but may I have your number?”
“And he has manners, too,” I hedged aas I folded my hands under my chin, laughing.
His friends started honking the horn and revving the engine outside. “Come on, Logan!” they yelled from the car.
The manager looked up, frowning again.
“Look, I have to go before my friends get kicked out of the McDonald’s parking lot,” Logan said, clearly torn. “What’s your number?”
“I don’t have one,” I said, suddenly regretting not having taken the Track phone that my father wanted to buy me. I vowed to get one as soon as I got to Nashville until I could get a better phone.
Logan looked around desperately, and then looked down at my paper bag and ran to the counter. “Do you have a pen?” he asked the manager, who just looked at him. “Man, I’m begging you. Give me a pen and I’ll give it right back.”
“Logan, man …” his friends yelled from outside.
“Give me a pen and I’ll get my friends out of here,” Logan said, and then added, “Please.”
“Only if you’ll leave with them,” the manager replied.
“Of course,” he said innocently.
“Here.” The manager slid a pen at him across the counter. “Now, get your friends out of here before I call the cops.”
“I love you, too,” Logan said to him sarcastically, then ran over to me and quickly scribbled something down onto my McDonalds paper bag. “It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope I get to see you again.”
“The pleasure was mine,” I replied, then held up my half-melted sundae. “And thanks for the ice cream.”
“It was the least I could do,” Logan said. “Look, I have to go. Will you call me?”
“Logan, man …” Kyle yelled, exasperated as he held the door open. His other friends were yelling from the car.
“Just give me a minute …”
Kyle rolled his eyes and walked out.
Logan turned his attention back to me. “Will you call me?”
I smiled. “I’ll think about it.”
A broad smile spread across his face. “That’s good enough for me. I’ll see you later, Alyssa Collins.”
I nodded as he ran out the door. “You guys are dicks!” he yelled at his friends just before the door closed.
I laughed and shook my head, then watched as he jumped into the car and sped off. When I looked down at the paper bag and it said:

Thanks for dinner.
They were the best Big Macs I ever had,
but what made it truly the best was spending time with you.
Nice, to meet you, Alyssa Collins.
Maybe we can indulge in more
of life’s guilty pleasures sometime.
Ha, ha!
Call me,
Logan Ambrose

His cell number was written at the bottom of the page.
I laughed as I read the note. Typical guy, I thought to myself. Then, I tore the note from the paper bag and slipped it into my purse. And as I finished my meal, I wondered if I would ever see him again.

Copyright Sophie Slade, 2015
All rights are property of the author.

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