What happens when you take a chance one night … make a decision that will change your life forever?
Kasey Wilson, the girl next door, had a crush on the boy next door … Joseph Mitchell was that boy.
Kasey was left with the consequences of her decision when Joseph left her behind, leaving for the Marine Corps. She never thought she would see Joseph again, leaving her to continue on with her life, moving forward.
But fate has a way of intervening …
Joseph Mitchell always lived with the regret of walking away that night, never to see Kasey again. Finally ready to settle down, he’s now engaged to someone else. But when he finds Kasey again, he learns of a secret she’s been keeping, a secret that will change both their lives forever.
Can they finally have the relationship they never had? Or will Joseph be forced to walk away again?
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“Thank you. I hope you enjoy,” I say, handing the bag to the customer as she smiles back at me. I watch her walk away, already looking down at my phone again. It hasn’t been long since my daughter has left, but I can’t help but worry each time she goes to get her juice.
She knows to go straight there and back. She’s been doing it on her own for the last couple of months. Looking over at Alley, I ask, “Will you be alright for a couple of minutes while I go search for my little munchkin?”
With a smile, she responds, “Of course. I’ll be fine.”
I know I don’t have much to worry about. Everyone who has a booth on this row knows Josephina and me, but I can’t help but worry regardless. Walking further down the aisle I spot her, my worry taking over. She’s speaking with a gentleman, but with a smile on her face. I don’t like it. It doesn’t surprise me because Josephina is a very friendly child, but she’s still young and trustworthy. Speeding up my steps to get to her faster, I yell for her. “Josephina, didn’t I tell you not to speak to strangers?”
I watch as her eyes go wide, clearly surprised at being caught. I rush over to her, grabbing her to pull her to my side. I look her over, making sure she is physically okay, needing to reassure myself. Taking her in and knowing she is fine, I look up and my blood drains when I take in who I’m staring at. It’s Joseph. The same Joseph who I’ve been dreaming of for the last five years.
I’m left paralyzed, unable to move. I can’t breathe. I can’t even speak. Every coherent thought has left my mind as I take him in. What’s he doing here? Pulling Josephina tighter against my body, feeling the need to protect her, I keep my eyes locked onto his, forcing myself to breathe again.
“Hello Kasey,” he says, his eyes narrowing down at me, as if he’s upset. I don’t understand why he’d be the one upset?
“Mommy, you know this man?” she asks, but I ignore her as I continue staring at Joseph, still trying to figure why he’s here.
Needing an answer I will myself to ask, “Joseph, what are you doing here?” My heart is rapidly beating, the shock now taking over, fear soon following it. I force myself to take deep calm breaths to not show how worried I feel deep down inside. The last thing I want Joseph to know is how he makes me feel, both weak and fearful that he’s standing in front of me again.
“Your name is Joseph? That sounds like my name. My name is Josephina. Doesn’t his name sound like mine, mommy?” she asks with excitement in her voice, the opposite of what is coursing through my body.
I watch as Joseph looks back down at my daughter, his eyes taking in every inch of her, analyzing her. I don’t like it. I feel her tugging at my shirt, still waiting for an answer. “Yes sweetheart, it’s exactly like your name,” I declare, trying to mask the fear inside of me.
Breaking eye contact with Joseph, I kneel down in front of my daughter. “Go back to the booth and wait there with Alley. I’ll be there in a moment.” She grumbles, clearly disappointed in my request, but I nudge her in the direction of my booth, forcing her to move.
She quickly turns for a moment. “Since technically you knew this man mommy, he wasn’t a stranger, so I’m not in trouble right?” she tries to clarify.
“Since technically you didn’t know that I knew him he was still considered a stranger. Which means you shouldn’t have spoken to him. Now go wait with Alley like I asked and we’ll discuss your punishment when we get home,” I order, pointing my finger in the direction of the booths.
She stands there, her face growing disappointed before saying, “I know what that means. I’ll be in time out when I get home for sure.” She grumbles to herself before turning to walk in the direction of her destination.
In the distance I hear another gentleman laugh. “She’s a smart little girl,” he says, making me glare at him.
He quickly clears his throat to disguise his laughter before looking off into the distance. Joseph takes a couple of steps towards me, making me step away. When I feel him grab onto my arm, I know I’m trapped. The fear takes over again, making me grow rigid.
“Kasey, please. You know I would never hurt you,” Joseph’s calm voice reassures me.
“I’m surprised to see you again, Joseph, that’s all,” I answer, trying to sound calm. Even I can hear the deception in my voice as I try to avert my eyes, telling myself I’m only doing it to make sure my little girl made it safely back to the booth. No longer able to see her, I look back to Joseph.
“I’m surprised to see you. I never thought I would see you again,” he states, tilting his head down to stare at me.
His gaze saddens me; it reminds me of what I miss so much. Him. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again either,” I sadly say.
“Is there something you need to tell me, Kasey?” Joseph asks, his eyes narrowing down at me, demanding an answer.
His question surprises me, keeping me silent while I think of how to answer him. Shaking my head, I tell him, “I’m not talking about it here,” before looking in the other man’s direction. I don’t know who he is, but I’m not going to have a conversation with Joseph in front of a complete stranger.
“Why did you leave, Kasey?”
I’m stunned he would even ask me that. “You left me first if I recall. I might have left, but I waited for you and you never came,” I tell him.
“What do you mean I never came? I did go back and you were already gone.”
“I wrote to you, waiting for you to come to me and you never did,” I declare.
“Wait, I’m confused. When did you write?” he asks, looking confused.
“Man, this is one interesting conversation,” the other gentleman sarcastically states.
“Look, I’ve got to go,” I tell him, trying to escape from Joseph.
“No, Kasey. I’m pretty sure we need to talk,” he demands.
Shaking my head, I say, “Not here.”
“Then where? Because we are going to talk. I need to know why you left.”
“I didn’t have a choice, Joseph,” I insist, sounding bitter. “I was forced to leave.”
My response takes him by surprise, clearly not expecting that answer. “I did go back Kasey, but your parents told me you left to college out of state, but they wouldn’t tell me where,” he explains.
“Of course they would say that,” I grumble.
“Then where did you go?” he asks.
Looking over at the stranger again, I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of him, but I know Joseph deserves an answer. “I had to leave because of what happened the night before you left. I was left with no choice,” I whisper to him.
“You keep saying you didn’t have a choice, but you’re still not making any sense, Kasey. Why wouldn’t you have a choice?”
I stay silent, unwilling to explain any further. Deep down inside, I don’t feel like he deserves any more answers, but by the shock on his face, he clearly understands.
“How old is she, Kasey?”
“She turned four in March,” I force myself to answer as I keep my threatening tears at bay. I refuse to allow myself to cry for him anymore. He doesn’t deserve my tears. Not anymore. He left me, never to come back… until now.
About The Author
Gabbie is a Southern California native, who currently lives in Washington with her wonderful husband, two amazing kids and a senior citizen kitty. When she’s not writing you can find her reading or sneaking off for a run. Some might say it’s a crazy life, but she wouldn’t change anything about it.
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