“You can’t go,” Nick said. He held me tightly.
“I’m keeping my promise,” I said. “I’ll be back by October 15th at the latest. Besides, I have a divorce to finalize.”
“That’s only going to take a day. We’re talking about 47 days,” Nick said. His hands slid to my stomach.
“Time will fly. You’ll be working on your songs.”
“I need an audience,” Nick complained.
I closed my eyes. “Please Nick, this is hard enough.”
His forehead lowered to mine in silent resolution. His eyelashes were so close they tickled my face.
“I love you,” he kissed me gently. “Have a safe flight, Liv.”
I squeezed his hands and slowly backed up. With one last wave I turned and headed down the tarmac as fast as I could.
My stomach was in knots by the time I made it to my seat. I secured my bag and sat down. It seemed weird not traveling with Nick. I looked around.
Right across the aisle from me sat a couple, their heads together, sharing an inside joke. Farther down a blonde haired man was bouncing a little boy on his lap.
I buckled my seatbelt.
Pretty soon the stewardess closed up the cabin and they began an explanation of standard procedures. I heard the plane roar to life. I closed my eyes.
I was leaving my heart in Tampa.
My mom was waiting for me at the airport. She rushed up to me, her face lighting up with joy.
“Look at you!”
Her hands flew to my stomach. “Oh, Liv.”
I smiled. “Hi, mom.”
She took my bag and bounced through the airport, talking a mile a minute. I nodded along, interspersing with a ‘yeah’ or an ‘oh really?’ My mind was a thousand miles away.
By the time I sat down to dinner, I was still only half there. I picked at my meatloaf.
I looked up. “Hmm?”
“Why didn’t you bring Bitsy with you?”
I sighed; I knew she was going to ask. I had good intentions of bringing her; but one look at her curled up with Lila and Iggy had changed my mind. She was truly a beach dog.
“I left her with Nick,” I explained. “She loves the sun and sand.”
Mom frowned. “But you’re not going to see her for awhile.”
Atari came up and nudged my arm. I scratched him affectionately behind the ears.
“Yeah, about that…”
I told mom my plans. As soon as I mentioned putting in my two week’s notice by the end of September I knew this conversation was not going to go well.
“What are you really trying to say Liv?”
I took a deep breath.
“I’m moving to Florida.”
She shook her head. I saw tears spring into her eyes. “You’re taking my grandchild and moving over a thousand miles away? Liv, I don’t have anyone here.”
I sighed. I felt like a Stretch Armstrong; one arm was being tugged by my mom while the other was being tugged by Nick. I was stuck in the middle, praying I wouldn’t get amputated along the way.
“Mom, I don’t want to leave you. But he’s the father of my child and I want to be with him too. Who knows, maybe you can move down to Florida. Like you said, we don’t have any family left around here.”
She scooted away; most of her food was left untouched.
“You’re father’s grave is here.”
I sighed; I looked down at the scarred wood table. He had made it when I was five years old. “Mom, his grave might be here, but he’s in a much better place. He wouldn’t want you to sit in this house all day with the dogs and get lost in the past.”
“I do volunteer work,” she retorted.
“Mom, you know what I mean. You need to live. Get out, meet some friends. Maybe,” I closed my eyes. I knew she wasn’t going to take the suggestion well. “Maybe even go on a date.”
I had touched a nerve. She stood up, shaking her head. “Unlike you, sweetheart. I don’t need a man to feel complete.”
My eyes widened in astonishment and hurt. “Is that what you think?”
“It’s nothing against Nick,” my mom said quietly. “I just think this whole situation is out of control. It’s like a rollercoaster. One minute you’re zooming up and then you’re crashing down.”
I stood up; my body shook slightly. “Mom, I’ve spent my whole life afraid of heights and afraid of taking chances.” I took a deep breath. “Maybe my life is like a rollercoaster, but you know what? I’m beginning to like the thrill.”
I brushed past her and into my room. I sunk onto my bed, burying my face in my hands. I had never argued with my mother; she had always been the one person that knew exactly where I was coming from.
It wasn’t a good feeling.
My mom went to bed without saying goodnight. I crawled under the sheets; pulling Atari close. As I drifted off to sleep I heard a familiar tap at the window. I sat up.
It couldn’t be.
Then I heard it again. I slid out from under the covers and went over to the window. Nick looked in at me, a soft smile on his face. I yanked up on the window.
“What are you doing here?” I asked in a loud whisper. In response, he cupped my face, kissing me hungrily.
“My spidey sense told me I might be needed here,” he whispered back.
He didn’t know how right he was.
“How long are you staying?”
“I’m not leaving without you.”
I knew by the look on his face that he was serious. As he climbed through the window, I felt my heart leap.
I let myself sink into his arms knowing that no matter what, I, no we, would be okay. I couldn’t tell whether my coaster was sailing up or diving down, but at the moment I didn’t care. I was finally at the point in my life where I knew I just needed to sit back and enjoy the ride, for better or worse.
And through it all, I had to believe that Nick would always be right by my side.
Will Brian and Nick ever get revenge on Aaron? Is Hunter truly out of the picture?
All this and more will be answered in the exciting continuation of the
Coaster series with Book Two – Cruise Control!