Forever Mine - 1
To my husband: Thank you for your support and love. And I promise, you will always get the smallest piece of pizza.
The instant my car passed over the Alabama state line, I rolled the windows down in my jeep. I needed to feel the warmth of the air. It wasn’t that California wasn’t nice; it just didn’t have the same warmth as Alabama did for me. This was home. This was where I was going to get back all those years that had been lost and reclaim my life. I would get them back.
Cranking up my iPod, I began to tune out all the wayward thoughts swirling in my head. I knew I shouldn’t have left my mom the way I did, but it was necessary. Telling her the day I was leaving, that I was going home, was abrupt, but I knew she would try to talk me out of it. I wasn’t having any of it. It was past time to return home to my friends and the life that was ripped away from me.
Kinsley and Sawyer had been my best friends since kindergarten. We grew up totally inseparable. We were always there for each other especially when things got rough in all our lives. Not to mention all the shit that happened at school. They were the only two who I could depend on then and now. I could still vividly remember when they thrusted themselves into my life.
“Stop!” I yelled at the boy pulling my pigtails. He had been mean to me all morning. He even pulled my chair out as I was sitting down, causing me to fall. He laughed at me. Now … he won’t go away.
“Aww, are you gonna cry?”
Yes. I was. I wanted him to leave me alone.
“Hey! Get away from her!” A little girl’s voice caught his attention as he stopped pulling.
“You wanna be next?” he barked.
The little girl with light brown hair stood up close to him. “Try it, and I’ll show you what my brother taught me to do to boys who are mean to me.”
“What? A little thing like you?” He laughed.
The little girl lifted her leg, kneeing the boy. The boy grabbed in-between his legs and fell to the ground, yelling as he went down.
“Come on.” The two little girls pulled me away.
“Hi, what’s your name?” the small girl with long blonde hair asked me, holding hands with another little girl with light brown hair. I didn’t want to answer her or look at them. I just wanted to find my mommy. Why did she leave me in this place? I didn’t want to be at this weird building with the Cat in the Hat on the walls. I didn’t like it. “Come on. What’s your name?” she insisted.
Looking around, I saw no one and decided to speak for the first time all day, “I’m Savannah.” My voice was so quiet I really was hoping they wouldn’t hear and just go away.
“Hi. I’m Sawyer and this is Kinsley. We’re friends!” The little blonde girl, Sawyer, jumped up and down. I thought maybe she saw a bug, but when I looked on the ground, there was nothing but crumbs and food wrappers.
“I don’t have friends.” I’d spent all morning keeping to myself. I didn’t know the things the other kids were talking about like DS or XBOX. I had never heard of it, so I just stayed back and listened.
“You do now,” Sawyer said, looking at Kinsley.
“Come on!” Kinsley demanded. My heart began to race when they each grabbed one of my arms pulling me out to the playground.
From that day forward, the three of us were best friends. I missed them so much. I was able to sneak away a few times in college to get together with them, but hadn’t really been in one location with them for five years now. Ever since the summer before my senior year of high school, when my mom decided that we needed to move.
Excited to be heading back to Alabama didn’t do my emotions justice. Thrilled, ecstatic, over-the-fucking-moon was more like it. I knew that when I graduated college, I wasn’t going back to live with my mom. I couldn’t do it anymore. I missed my friends and Grams. But most of all, I missed Deke, the boy who I deserted all those years ago, when he needed me the most.
I knew he still lived in Cottonwood because Sawyer and Kinsley kept me updated on what was going on with him. I wasn’t obsessed—okay, that was a lie—yes, I was a bit obsessed with Deke. The way I left him had eaten at me for five years now. The guilt so powerful it had caused horrible anxiety attacks with bouts of depression. The meds I took helped, but never having that closure with him really bothered me.
I never told him bye, at least not face-to-face. I just couldn’t do it. I took the pansy way out and wrote him a letter telling him everything that I never had the guts to say to him in person. I left my cell number, email, and my aunt Tennie’s phone number, who we moved in with, but I never heard anything. He never returned any of my calls, texts, or emails and eventually I gave up. It gutted me that he cut me out. The pain was still as intense as that first day.
Following the GPS, I finally pulled into the driveway of our new home. I’d seen tons of pictures of it from the girls, but seeing it now with my own eyes, I loved it. I bought this house about a year ago, just from Sawyer’s description of it and her bazillion pictures. It was funny how I could do all the necessary paperwork over the fax machine at my lawyer’s and never had to step foot here.
The two-story house was set on a five-acre lot surrounded by woods. The trees were tall and beautiful just like I remembered the trees at my parents’ house years ago. Not only was it peaceful and serene, but also close enough to town so we were not out in the middle of nowhere by ourselves.
There were two things that totally sold me on this house: location and the wrap-around porch. My work required lots of peace and quiet, and this location would be perfect for that. The thought of sitting on the porch swing, working away on my laptop, made me happy.
Stepping out of the car, I immediately pulled my long blonde hair up into a messy bun on the top of my head. I somehow forgot about the humidity down here. It would definitely be an adjustment.
“You’re here!” I heard Sawyer’s voice and the crunch of her feet on the gravel before I saw her. Turning, she was just as beautiful as I remembered. Nothing about her has changed. Her blonde hair hung just below her shoulders, and her eyes were still the same piercing green they’d been when we were kids. Sawyer was a little thing, but that shouldn’t fool you. She packed a hell of punch with all that kickboxing she did at the gym.
“I am,” I wrap my arms around her and squeeze tightly. God, I’d missed her. Living in California, I was alone, desperately alone. With my mom always in the bottom of a bottle of Jack and my dad not having anything to do with me, I didn’t have anyone to turn to who really knew me. But I always had Kinsley and Sawyer, even from a distance. They were my sisters in my heart and it’d been way too long since we’d all been together at the same time.
“Vann!” Kinsley’s voice pulled my eyes to the door as she barreled out toward me. The last time I saw Kinsley was six months ago when she flew to California. Her parents decided she needed a getaway and she chose to come see me.
Kinsley was a bit of a spitfire. She had always liked to be outside the box, outside the norm and since we lived in small town, it didn’t take much for her to be outside there. She loved getting a reaction from people—good or bad—and she didn’t care much. This was what I adored about her. I wished I had more of that in me.
“Kins!” I let go of Sawyer and went to hug Kinsley. Her hair was much shorter than Saw’s, but the colors were so cool. It was a mixture of blonde, brown, and red, which you would think would look like a clown, but not on her. Her blue eyes filled with warmth for me.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Kinsley said while squeezing all the breath from my lungs.
“I’ve missed you, too.” I choked back. “Okay. Let. Go … Can’t breathe.”
“Come see the house!” Kinsley squealed.
“Yeah, it’s so awesome. You’re going to love it. The contractors fixed it up!” Sawyer’s voice hitched excitedly.
I couldn’t wait to see the inside of the house. Even though I had seen numerous pictures, I knew the contractor’s plans would completely change the entire thing. I wanted my sanctuary with my sisters.
“How was the drive?” Sawyer asked.
“Long. I’m pretty beat. Did the movers bring all my stuff?”
“Yep, and it’s all in the right areas of the house. We didn’t unpack it ‘cause we didn’t know where you wanted it … and well, we didn’t want to.”
“Lazy ass,” I said, playful pushing her aside and laughing out loud.
“I am not! I’m just conserving my energy for you.”
The laughter that poured out of my body felt wonderful to release. It had been so long since I’d really laughed. I wiped the small tears that formed on the side of my eyes.
“Come on,” Kinsley said impatiently. She was an instant girl—something I would need to get used to again. Her fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants and instant gratification mentality took a bit of getting used to, but I wouldn’t change her for the world.
Entering the house, the walkway was just as I envisioned it with coat hooks on one wall and spots for shoes and umbrellas underneath. The girls decorated the other side with beautiful abstract paintings.
The kitchen, living, and dining rooms were all one big huge space. I had the contractors bust out the walls and rooms on the top floor give the house an open feel. They even put in some exposed beams for character.