P. S. Goodbye Teaser
Updated: May 1, 2021
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Whipping her door open, Caroline dashed toward her cousin Nate's house. She jumped over a puddle at the bottom of the porch, raced up the three steps, and offered a courteous two knocks before opening the door. “Hello?”
An announcer prattling on about curve balls from one of the other rooms was the only response. Predictable.
After shaking off the rain, she shed her coat and sandals in the mudroom. The previous pastor’s wife had an amazing sense of style, and Caroline had no desire to spot the dark wood floors. Her reflection in the window of the door testified to the damage the rain had done on her hair. She wiped the wet mop off her forehead, as well as the black smudges from under her eyes.
Her long auburn hair had started to form little ringlets by her face, and it’d only be a matter of moments before she’d be in full Raggedy Ann mode. At least it was only Nate. She stepped around an unopened moving box and opened the fridge as her stomach growled. The church had a steady stream of casseroles arriving all week.
“Stealing my food?”
Caroline bumped her head on the freezer door. “Ouch.”
“Didn’t mean to startle you.” Nate leaned against the counter, crossing one foot over the other. His dark hair flopped into his eyes. The guy needed a haircut and a shave.
“I’m not stealing your food. I’m sharing it.” Caroline rubbed at the small bump on the top of her head. “Have you eaten yet?”
“No.” Nate’s gaze traveled from her dripping hair to her bare toes. “What happened to you? I thought you had a date.”
Caroline pulled out a pan of lasagna from the fridge, slid it into the oven, and turned the temperature to three-fifty. “The rain happened. As far as the date—I don’t want to talk about it.”
“He bailed on you again?” He pointed to the oven. “Aren’t you supposed to preheat that or something?”
“It’s a glass pan. Better to let it heat up with the oven.” She shot a glare at her cousin. “As far as the date, I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
Nate pushed away from the counter and took a seat at the table. “You need to wake up and realize you can do better than Mason Peterson.”
Caroline pulled out two glasses molded like old-fashioned Coke bottles from the cupboard. “Mason just got a job as the worship leader at his church. He wants to be a Bible translator for Wycliffe. Mason is—”
“All about Mason.” Nate locked eyes with her. “You deserve better.”
“The only guy I’ve ever liked that you didn’t hate was Grant Quinn, and that was because he was your best friend. Or maybe it was because I was all of thirteen at the time and you knew I didn’t stand a chance.”
“He was eighteen. Your crush was more amusing than anything. When you wrote his name on your shoes . . .” Nate’s laughter filled the room. “That was—”
“Humiliating is the word you’re looking for.” She set the glasses on the table with a thud. “Give me a break. It was my first crush.”
Grant Quinn. The name still stirred a mountain of unwelcome feelings. What Nate didn’t know was that the summer she’d been eighteen and Grant had been home on leave from the Army, they’d reconnected at a party in Canton. They had stayed up all night talking by the bonfire on the beach of a small private lake. Just talking, but still . . . the memory caused her heart to do that stupid hop thing.
It hadn’t been just his looks either, which had caused many girls to whiplash over the years. He had this calm confidence about him, and he’d looked at her in a way that had made her feel . . . seen. That even though everything else in her life had been crumbling around her in those days, she wasn’t alone.
She’d told him she’d write, which she did. He promised to write back. Which he didn’t.
Nate had mentioned in passing a few months later that Grant had gotten back together with his high school sweetheart. That was the day she’d learned that feelings couldn’t be trusted. Lists and plans could.
An expression she couldn’t decipher filled Nate’s face. “Speaking of Grant—”
“He’s still single. You told me. Not going to happen. I don’t care if my twenty-three to his twenty-eight makes sense now. Growing up has taught me that Grant isn’t the type of guy I’d marry.”
The type of guy who had made her feel too much, want too much. And in the end made her hurt too much. Why would anyone want to yearn for someone else? Yearning only led to heartbreak.
There was no way she’d walk that road again. Besides, Rule number four—No rebounding.
“It’s true.” Caroline opened the fridge again, grabbed the milk carton, and searched for the expiration date. With Nate living as a bachelor, it was worth checking. “It takes more than piercing turquoise eyes and a heart-stopping smile to make—”
“What?” Caroline turned toward Nate and froze.
Grant stood in the doorway behind Nate. His hands shoved deep in his pockets only emphasized the width of his shoulders. The blond hair that he’d worn military short now dusted the top of his collar and curled at his ears. Not to mention the scruff. The man needed a shave, and though she wasn’t usually one for facial hair, scruffy looked good on him. Really good. There was a new red scar that lined his left cheek and wrapped over his eye, but instead of stealing his all-American boy look, it added a roughness that made Caroline’s insides go on alert.
His blue-green eyes focused on her in that familiar, comforting way that warmed her to the core and set every nerve on edge at the same time. A smile tugged at one corner of his mouth.
Talk about not going according to the plan.