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Authors: Regina Bartley,Laura Hampton

Escaping Heartbreak

BOOK: Escaping Heartbreak
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Copyright © 2014 Regina Bartley

All rights reserved


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity between actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any use of locales, or events are used fictitiously.


Edited By: Laura Hampton

Cover Design and Photos By: Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign and Photography






“Earth to Sawyer,” Uncle Jake snapped his fingers in front
of my face. “Where are you at?”

Today mark
s the six year anniversary of my parent’s death. It still feels like it was yesterday. I was fifteen and my brother, Dane, was eighteen when the accident happened. The rain was coming down hard that night. The semi lost control and crossed over the yellow line. The officer said that it was instant and no one felt any pain. There’s no way in hell that he could know that. At fifteen, you feel like your life is shattering around you, but when everyone else is crumbling, you have no choice, but to be strong. I’m grateful that I was there to help everybody, keeping busy made things easier for me.

The snapping continued.
“I’m here.” I shook my head and tried focusing my attention where it was needed. Uncle Jake was a handsome guy. His long brown hair hung down in front of his blue eyes. He had aged so much over the past several years. After mom and dad had died, he stepped in as sole guardian for me. Dane was eighteen and in his first semester of college. He couldn’t handle the responsibility. Uncle Jake was only thirty at the time and had absolutely no clue what it meant to raise a daughter, a teenage one at that. He was so young himself. The two of us have practically raised each other. Actually, I’d say I raised him. I did all the cooking and household responsibilities. Someone had to. He worked and made sure that the manly duties were all taken care of. As far as teenage female issues, he had no clue. I learned a lot of things on my own or from my best friend Wren.

It doesn’t look like you’re here.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “I asked you what you want to do for your birthday.”

“It’s two weeks away. Do we really have to discuss this now?
” I rubbed small circles into my temples. “Besides, I’m sure Dane won’t come home. It’s been nearly six months since I’ve seen him.” I looked down at my hands. “He barely even calls me anymore. We used to be so close and you’d think that today of all days, he’d call.”

“I know
pickle, but he’ll come around. He’s probably busy with finals or something.” I love that about Jake. He finds the good in everyone. He has to stop making excuses for Dane though. Dane is a big boy, he needs to start acting like it.

“Uncle Jake,” I said taking his hand.

“Yeah,” he squeezed mine in return. I gave him one of those overly serious, we-need-to-talk looks. He lifted his brows. “What is it? You’re freaking me out.”

“How long has it been since you’ve had a date?”

He looked down at his watch. “What day is it?”

“I’m serious Uncle Jake.”

He rolled his eyes. “I don’t know maybe a year.”

“Or three,” I waved my fingers in front of his face. “You have to get out and get yourself a life. You will never be married at this rate. You don’t want to end up an old lonely man with nothing but a computer and a dog.”

“Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. You haven’t been living much yourself, you know.” He tugged on my ponytail.

I set back in my chair and shut my mouth. He was right. Besides my best friend Wren, I have no life. I haven’t had a date since my junior year of high school. It went so bad that I refused to do it again, ever. I prefer spending my time taking care of Jake and when Dane’s home I take care of him too. Dane’s the older of the two of us, but certainly not the wiser. I was supposed to go to college right out of high school. It was what my parents and I had always talked about. I chose to work instead and stay home with Jake. We’ve always been a team. Only recently have I
been thinking that it’s time to do my own thing. I’ve just not found the right time to tell him. Or, maybe I’m just scared of what it will feel like to be on my own.

“I think it’s time that you got out more pickle.”

“I’m twenty years old. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped calling me pickle?” I raised my brow and watched him closely.

“Hell no, you’ll always be my pickle.”

“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes. The thought of eating pickles now makes me sick. I used to eat them jars at a time when I was little and the name just stuck.

“What about swimming? It used to be your thing.” I took a deep breath. This was not where I wanted this conversation to go. I hoped that it would never be brought up again.

“I don’t want to have this conversation.” I rolled my eyes and stood up from the table. I poured the left over milk from my cereal into the sink.

“Listen to me Sawyer,” Jake walked over and stood next to me in front of the sink. He
wasn’t much taller than I was so we were nearly eye to eye. “You never want to talk about this, but we need to.”

“It’s not a big deal.”
I grasped the frame of the sink in my hands, holding on so tight that my knuckles whitened.

“It is a big deal. Swimming was your life. You can’t just give everything up because you feel like the
accident was your fault. It was an accident. It was no one’s fault. Start living already, you hear me.” I heard him alright. This wasn’t something that I was prepared to argue about.

“Swimming was my life back then. I’m grown up now. I need to experience new things and find new goals.” And I seriously needed a diversion from this conversation.

“Oh yeah, like what? Talk to me.” He said.

Good, the diversion worked.
It’s now or never, Sawyer.
“Actually, I was thinking about spending some time at the lake house. No one’s been there for a while.” He nodded. “I could take care of the place and maybe get a job there, or maybe even take some college classes. I have lots of money saved.” I really didn’t have to save money the way I did. Mom and dad left us pretty well set. The lake house was our summer home since we were kids. I haven’t been there since my parents died. I’m sure the place is a mess and could use some love.

“You know what? That sounds like an awesome idea. I think you should do it. After all, your parents would want you to use that house. There were some amazing memories made there.” He nudged my shoulder and grinned.

I shook my head. “I think I will.” I replied. He pulled me to him and hugged me. He kissed my temple and whispered how proud he was of me.

“I love you, Uncle Jake.”

“I love you too, Pickle.” I sighed loudly.

“I’m going to work. We’ll work out the details of my trip later tonight.” I grabbed my bag and headed for the door. “Oh and Uncle Jake,” I yelled back.

“What,” I heard him yell from the kitchen.

“I’m going to find you a date. A hot, sexy, blind date,” I laughed and ran out the door. I heard him yelling something and running through the house. I was in the car with my doors locked when he came barreling out the front door. The dish towel was still hanging out of the side of his basketball shorts. I smiled and waved and blew him a big kiss. He shook his head and laughed, as I backed out of the driveway. We always have so much fun together; it will be hard being away from him for very long.

The drive to work was a quick one. We only lived about three miles from town and traffic didn’t get bad for about another hour. When I pulled in the parking lot of the Printing Shack, it looked empty. I’ve been working here since my senior year of high school. It screams future potential every time I develop someone’s pictures. I’m climbing the corporate ladder one photo dweeb at a time. NOT! Hence the need to get my butt out of town.

I put Sally in park and patted her dash, silently thanking her for another successful trip. She has yet to fail me. I’ve driven this little Ford truck for so long, I’m
wondering when the wheels will fall off. I have the money to buy a new car, but I don’t have the heart to part with this one. My dad bought me this truck a few months before my fifteenth birthday. I had begged him for it and couldn’t wait to get my license. I swore that I’d never part with it. I think about how petty it was for me to want this truck and about how the bright yellow really stood out now. I would trade it back in a second, if I could get my parents back, but that’s only wishful thinking.

I had about twenty minutes before my shift started so I figured I’d call Dane.

Pulling my cell phone from the bag, I dialed his number. After about the fourth ring, his machine picked up. “Figures,” I huffed. He was probably avoiding me. “Hey Dane, this is your sister. I’m reminding you in case you forgot about me. I have some big news that I want to talk to you about. I’m going to work right now, but I’ll be home around six o’clock. Call me back, please. It’s important. Okay, well, I love you. Talk to you later.” I pressed the end button and thought no more about it. I had to get inside and go to work. Hopefully, the butthead would call me later.




When I got home, I was surprised to see Dane’s civic parked in the driveway. The lime green practically glows in the dark. His car is fixed up to race and stands out about as bad as my yellow Ranger.

If Dane is home then that means Wren will be here soon if she isn’t already inside. She and I have been best friends forever and she is so in love with my brother. She always has been. She’s dated other guys, but swears that she’s holding out to marry Dane. Funny I know, right. I’m sure she heard his car pass her house. She’s
stalkerish in that way. She lives at the end of the street by the stop sign. He had to pass right by her house on the way in. Sometimes I think that he would rather cut off the engine and push his car home than risk her hearing.  Dane says she gets on his nerves and that she is too young, but every year Wren’s boobs get bigger and so do his eyes. It’s only a matter of time. It doesn’t bother me. I love them both so I couldn’t care less if they get together. As long as I don’t have to hear the details, we’re good. Honestly, I think Wren is just what he needs to straighten his ass out.

I walked in the front door and set my bag down by the stairs. Our house is big considering it’s just me and Jake. It used to seem small when mom, dad, and Dane
were all here.

I saw the lamp still on in the living room so I walked in. The television was playing some kind of sports and Uncle Jake was laid back in the recliner napping.

“I didn’t wake him up.”

“Shit Dane,” I said as quietly as possible. I put my hand over my heart. I thought that it might beat out of my chest. “You scared the crap out of me.” I whisper yelled. I looked up and saw a shadow of him standing in the doorway of the kitchen. I tiptoed slowly toward the kitchen, trying not to wake up Jake.

“Why haven’t you called me?” I started to fuss. “Oh my God Dane! What happened to your eye?” Clearly he’d been in a fight. It was swollen shut and as black as night.

“It’s nothing,” he waved it off. I went straight to the freezer for some frozen peas. I think we only buy them for injuries because we sure don’t eat them.

“Come here and let me look at it.” I hoped up on the countertop and pulled him by his shirt over to me. He’s a big guy. I stand about five foot three and he’s more than a foot taller than I am. Even sitting on the counter, I’ll have to reach. “What happened?” I brushed a stray hair from his face. It looked bad, real bad.

“I told you it’s nothing. Ouch, damn it Saw,” he winced in pain when I put the peas to his eye.

“Quit being a big baby. You took a fist to your eye; all I’m using are peas.” He glared at me and I smiled real big. “Are you gonna keep avoiding the question or tell me what happened?”

“Avoiding,” he said.

“Fine,” we sat there in silence for a moment. “I really wish you would call me more. I’ve missed you.”

“I’m sorry,” he wrapped his big arm around my side. Dane and I have always been close, but lately he’s been drifting away. When mom and dad passed
away, he changed. He became wild and crazy. On weekends that he would come home from college I would nurse his hangovers. He would go on a weekly drinking binge and then sober up at home with us. I would spend both days waiting on him hand and foot. I loved taking care of him. I’m not sure how he managed to complete his courses at school. He took nearly three years off to find himself, but stayed with his friends around school. The only thing he found was that he loved to drink and party and spend money. Now that he’s back in school I don’t understand how he’s passing. He must be doing some serious cheating. Either way, I thought he was doing better this year until he quit calling me. Now, I don’t know what’s going on. My phone vibrated in my pocket and it didn’t take a psychic to know it was Wren. I held the phone up to Dane’s face and he shook his head no.

I rolled my eyes. “You know she is going to keep calling until I pick up, and if I don’t she’ll just show up.”

“I haven’t been home fifteen minutes and already she’s up my ass.” I had to laugh.

“I’ll shut my phone off. That will give us about ten minutes to talk before she shows up.”

He shifted his head back further so that he could look at me. “What did you want to talk about?”

“So you do get my messages.”

“Yes, I get your messages.” He huffed. “I’ve just been really busy.”

I stared at him. I could tell he was hiding something from me. I could see it all over his face. He knew that I could tell too, but I didn’t push him for information. What good would it do me? “
Well, I wanted to talk to you about the lake house.”

BOOK: Escaping Heartbreak
6.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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