We're getting so close! The Life We Almost Had will be here very soon! And today, I thought I'd share with you the prologue. Hope you enjoy! And remember, you can pre-order your e-book copy TODAY at its special price on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble!
My mother always said that a memory can get you through the rest of your life. So, that’s why I don’t know where to begin. Do I start at the beginning of my life or at the memory—where I believe my life might have actually begun?
It’s been years, but I still think of him—just like I still think of that sleepy, little ghost town we both call home. But just like a memory, I guess, both that little town and that boy are now really more like a dream—one that disappears as soon as the morning sun comes slithering through the blinds. But true to a dream, I suppose, it always leaves something behind. And this dream always leaves behind a longing—for Sweet Home, but mostly, for him.
I grew up in Sweet Home, Missouri. I don’t know if I’d call it sweet, necessarily, but it is home, to me. Today, it looks different than it used to. Today, grass grows up out of the cracks in the brittle sidewalks that line Market Street. A short twelve years ago, I used to wheel a roller dog my grandpa gave me down those same concrete walks with ease. And it’s not just the sidewalks. Tall water hemp covers the bases on the baseball diamond in the park. And now, nearly all the storefront windows have plywood boards covering up dark and dusty, empty rooms. And if that’s not enough, where there once were people from birth to ninety-nine spilling out of the old United Church of Christ every Sunday morning, now there’s a no trespassing sign on God’s big, wooden door.
But back in its namesake years, Sweet Home was pretty sweet, I think. I’ve seen old pictures. And people lived in Sweet Home at one time. Happy people. Proud people. There were cars at the filling station and women buying yards of fabric in the general store. There were men along the street, laughing next to big cars and holding wide-eyed toddlers. Every little front yard had bright green grass that was meticulously cut. And all that green grass was fenced in with wrought iron, all the way down the street, each yard just like the last. And every little home along Market had an American flag that jutted out from some part of the house. And every other house had a rocking chair on a little front porch. And in every rocking chair on Sunday, just when the sun was sinking back into the earth, there would be an old man smoking a corncob pipe or a young woman rocking a baby.
But I’m not too familiar with the Sweet Home of then or the one of today, really. The Sweet Home I knew wasn’t booming, but it wasn’t abandoned quite yet, either. The Sweet Home I knew was about the size of a tire valve cap, and all the people who lived inside that cap could be counted on three sets of fingers and toes. But people were happy, and the buildings still held some life.
When I lived there, there was a bar and a post office and a fire station that we’d take cookies to every Christmas Eve. And there were still lights that lined the streets. Some perpetually flickered, but there were lights, all the same. Nearly every summer night we would dance on the asphalt under their light shows and pretend we were rich Hollywood stars.
There weren’t many babies or kids, though. And except for me and the girl who lived across the street, there was no one else my age. The girl’s parents owned the only watering hole in town. She was quiet, and she mostly kept to herself, but we got along just fine. Her name was Angel. And I always thought it was a funny name. Angels glowed and wore halos. Angel did neither. But then there came a day when I changed my mind about that. Angel really was an angel—sent straight down from heaven above to save me—not once, but twice.
The first time was around the year that we both turned eleven. Angel and I were playing hopscotch outside her parents’ bar, and a dirty old Nova pulled up to us and asked for directions to the nearest grocery store. Angel was her usual self and didn’t say a word, so I decided I’d have to tell him myself. He had long, scraggly hair and a crooked nose, but his eyes were kind. I told him how to get to the IGA, but he craned his neck and said he couldn’t hear a word I was saying. He said I’d have to come closer. So, I took a step toward his car, and that’s when Angel grabbed my arm and screamed louder than I’ve ever heard anybody scream before. I flinched, and my ears cracked. Angel had never spoken more than maybe ten soft words at a time in front of me, and here she was screaming loud enough to shatter that old bar’s glass windows. Within seconds, her momma came running out, and the car with the man in it sped away. And all that remained from that quick moment was the red imprint of Angel’s fingers on my forearm.
Two days later, we heard through the grapevine that a guy in a dirty old Nova had tried to pull a young girl into his car in the next town over. She had managed to slink out of his grip—just about the same time that the man had slipped into the grip of the girl’s daddy. And that’s where that story ended—although, there are quite a few rumors that circulated, none of which ended too well for the man ... or his Nova.
I never thanked Angel for saving me. I never really had the chance. The bar closed down the next day, and Angel and her family moved somewhere far away from Sweet Home.
And that was not too long before the rest of the town left, too. Some said it was just time—time for everybody to go. But most said it was because the old hat factory had closed in Holstein, just east of town. It employed most of the people who were left in Sweet Home—those who didn’t make a living plowing dirt, like my daddy did.
As for me and my momma and daddy, we stayed, though. We stayed in our little ghost town, where daddy drove back and forth all day in the fields, planting money, as he called it. And momma kept working part-time collecting antiques and selling them in a little booth down the road.
And life was quiet—just like Angel had been—until the day that he showed up. And that’s actually the second time that Angel saved me. She moved out of that little house across the street, and he moved in. So, the way I see it, Angel gave me him.
From that day and for a while after that, you couldn’t hear the sound of the water dripping in the kitchen sink or the branches scraping across the tin roof above my room anymore. Those sounds were all drowned out by the crack of Clearly Canadian caps hitting the concrete and his laugh and the high-pitched hum of an engine, as his dirt bike made little circles in the bottom land.
That was all I heard, anyway.
But eventually, he left, too. Everyone always left. And we—we just stayed. And in time, it got quiet again—just like Angel. But I still remember that little piece of moonlight he brought into my life. And that’s where I really feel as if my story begins. It begins with that boy I fell in love with, nearly seven years ago, back in Sweet Home, Missouri.
In case you haven't heard, The Life We Almost Had will be here in a little more than two months! BUT you can pre-order the e-book now on Amazon and Barnes&Noble and have it delivered directly to your reading device Sept. 19!
I'm really excited about this one, and there are lot of reasons for that, but here are three!
One: This story shows glimpses into the past, so you not only get to see snapshots of just how these two fell in love, but you also get to grow up with these characters. They're happy. They're sad. They're embarrassed of their parents. They're embarrassed of themselves. They make the right decisions. They make the wrong decisions. But through it all, they love.
I look into his brown eyes, and I run my fingers through his long hair. He doesn’t fit in here; he never has. He doesn’t know anything about farming or small-town norms. He doesn’t know you don’t wear black everywhere you go. ...I think I love that about him best.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Daddy says. His voice is stern and kind of scary.
“Um, I was just returning the hammer, sir,” Berlin says, eyeing the hammer on the hall desk.
Daddy glances at the desk in the hall. “Then how come the hammer is there, and you’re upstairs?
Two: These characters grow up in a little ghost town that has a post office and a corner store and a restaurant called Victor's...and that's about it. But they make the most of it, and I especially love their little town because it reminds me of a place that's near and dear to my own heart.
And life was quiet...until the day that he showed up. ...From that day and for a while after that, you couldn’t hear the sound of the water dripping in the kitchen sink or the branches scraping across the tin roof above my room anymore. Those sounds were all drowned out by the crack of Clearly Canadian caps hitting the concrete and his laugh and the high-pitched hum of an engine, as his dirt bike made little circles in the bottom land.
Three: Lastly, I can't really promise you anything with this story. But I can tell you that where there is heartbreak, there's also a second chance. Now, what these two choose to do with that second chance AND just how fair life chooses to be with them, you'll have to see. But through it all, their journey is all their own, and it's one I'm hoping you'll be glad you took.
I cried for me. I cried for the little girl and the little boy who loved with everything they had in a little town that nobody cared about but them. I cried because I felt as if no one else would cry for them.
This is the last preview before A Bird on a Windowsill releases Monday! Just 3 more days! I can't believe its almost here! AND I can't wait for you to read Salem and Savannah's story! Until then, though, please enjoy this clip from the prologue!
A Bird on a Windowsill
A Clip from Prologue One
“Who do you choose, Vannah?”
My tone is even, an attempt to hide the uncertainty in my voice.
Her gaze immediately casts down to the floor. I watch as she squeezes her eyes shut, bites her bottom lip—a nervous habit of hers—and then slowly raises her head.
People say birds are a bad omen. But I’m not so sure because while the only bird I ever knew tore my world in two, I loved every single moment of it.
My name is Salem Ebenezer—or Eben, if you’re Savannah. Short e. Short e. And most of all, short for Ebenezer. And this is the story about me and Savannah Catesby. Savannah Elise Catesby, that is. Though, to me, she was always just Vannah.
I met Vannah when we were very young—just five years old. She had short, blond hair and soft green eyes. Though, as we grew older, her hair got longer and her eyes, darker and more mysterious.
I loved Vannah. I loved her for her unruly laugh and the way she made me feel. To her, I wasn’t the smallest and scrawniest boy in the first grade. To her, I was...me.
And I loved her because she would always pick me first for her kickball team. And I loved her for those times I forgot my lunch, and she shared hers with me. But most of all, I loved Vannah because she had this innate ability to make everyone around her feel loved.
But somewhere in the midst of junior high—in the midst of zits and a squeaky voice and an awkward way of getting around, both physically and in conversation, I changed—we changed. That was about the time I realized that I loved Vannah not only for the way she made me feel and the occasional ham and cheese sandwich, but also for our long talks under the stairs after school and the way her mouth moved when she laughed. And I fell in love with the way she ate peanut butter cups—from the inside out—and how she always knew when something was wrong...or new...or different.
And without me even realizing it, the hours turned into days, and the days, to years, and before either of us knew, I think, we were fifteen and in high school. And that was the first time, I think, that I noticed Vannah’s long, tan legs....and the precarious way my name rolled off her tongue...and how she made just pulling her hair back or signing her name in those long, drawn-out curves, somehow sexy.
And it was then that I realized I loved her for those things, too.
But still, for whatever reason—I can’t tell you—I never told her that. I never told Vannah that I loved our long talks or her long legs. Not right away anyway. In fact, it wasn’t until she had moved away and had come back for a summer, the year we both turned eighteen, that I finally got up the courage.
It was the summer of the Polaroid, and God must have taken pity on my oblivious self because he smiled down on me, and he gave me those three little words—and a second chance to tell her how I feel.
July 6, 2001. That was the day that I finally realized that I not only loved Vannah for everything she was, but I, plain and simple, loved Vannah.
And I told her that. I told her that—that same day I realized it. On a soft night in the middle of Hogan’s slab, I told Savannah Catesby that I loved her. And I only remember the date because she said it back.
I’m twenty-three now. It’s July 12, 2007. I’m still in love with that little girl with the unruly laugh and the long, wild hair and the dark stare and the tireless heart. And I know she still loves me.
But now, she’s standing at the door, her dark green eyes slicing open the distance between her gaze and mine. And I’m just staring back at her. And three thoughts are all that are on my mind:
I love this girl.
I love this girl.
I love this girl.
She takes a breath. I hold mine. And with that, a silent thought slips into my cadence.
I love this girl.
I love this girl.
I love this girl.
ONLY 11 DAYS, and A Bird on a Windowsill will finally be here!!!! I've said it before, but Salem (Eben) and Savannah's story is so near and dear to my heart in so many ways, and on top of that, it's packed with young love and second chances—all playing out in a little Midwestern town. So, I CAN'T wait for you to read it come June 20!
But for now, please enjoy this sneak peek!
A Bird on a Windowsill
A Clip from Chapter 19
Eben and I are at Hogan’s slab. I love this place. I love the way the water sounds coming out of the concrete—hurried and free. I love the way it always smells like dirt and sycamore trees. And I love that moon—that moon that hangs just in the right place, so that it can light up a path all the way from its spot in outer space to us, sitting here on this little piece of earth.
Eben’s been especially quiet tonight. I know he’s thinking about me leaving.
I look into his sandy-colored eyes, and he smiles.
I tell myself that we are too good of friends to be in love. But I’m not even sure I believe it. There’s a part of me that feels as if I’d leave it all behind for him—if he asked me to. I’d stay here and live with my uncle. I’d finish high school, and I’d go to college somewhere close. And then, I’d work with my uncle. I think we’d make a pretty good team. But then, I know Eben would never ask me to stay. He’d never ask me to leave everything—my family, my new friends, my new life, Aaron.
All of a sudden, I feel his arm around me. He pulls me into his chest, and the familiar scent of his cologne fills my senses. I close my eyes and try to hold onto it.
“The day you stop looking back is the first day of the rest of your life,” I whisper near his ear. The saying is carved into the railing on a weathered boardwalk in Murrells Inlet. I saw it one day, and I never thought about it again, until now. In fact, I never really found it fitting, until now. And in the end, I think I say it more to comfort myself than to comfort him.
Several seconds beat on into the wind.
“Turns out, looking back is all I have,” he says, in a breathy voice.
His words hit me hard—like a heavy downpour to the chest. I breathe in deeply and breathe out a weighted smile that he can’t see.
I love you, too, Salem.
A Bird on a Windowsill
A Clip from Chapter 18
She keeps her stare on the black image a few seconds longer, and then she sets the camera down—but keeps the photo—and lays her head on my chest. I want to kiss her, but in the back of my mind, that boyfriend word lifts its ugly head. So, I just lie there, with our hearts touching. And after a few moments, I can’t tell if I feel my own heart beating...or I feel hers. But I just keep lying there, breathing in, breathing out, until the moon is high above us.
I lift my head so that I can see her. Her eyes are closed. Strands of her hair are falling over her face and onto my chest. She looks peaceful. It’s a sharp contrast to the dark-clouded storm brewing above us.
“Are you sleeping?” I ask.
“But you just answered me.”
I smile and let my head rest back on the wooden boards of the dock again.
“My heart’s awake,” she mumbles, just loud enough that I can hear it.
I lift my head, rest my eyes on her face and just watch her.
“My heart’s awake, daydreaming of you,” she adds.
I pause, my head suspended in the air, my thoughts suspended in time. And then, I smile. I smile and lay my head back down. I don’t know if she really is sleeping or if she knows what she just said, but it doesn’t matter.
“I love you, Vannah,” I whisper.
I can hear leaves in the catalpas around us swooshing, their branches bending back and forth in the wind. I can hear the weather shifting. But mostly, I just hear my heart beating.
“I love you, too.”
It’s just a soft whisper, but I hear it, loud and clear. I close my eyes and let her words get swept up in the hot and cool air swirling around us. They tickle my skin and then fly up and brush past the willows’ arms, swaying to and fro. They’ll soon be lost, but I’ll remember them. And I’ll remember this moment. And mostly, I’ll remember her...always.
★ *´¨) ¸.•´¸.•*´¨)
A clip from the prologue of When Cicadas Cry!
Just 18 days until the release!
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ★
When Cicadas Cry is due out in just 34 days! And because we're so close, I thought I'd share with you a clip from Rem and Ashley's story.
Hope you enjoy!
“Sorry, man,” I hear a voice say.
A guy turns into me and then backs off. I don’t say anything; I just keep pushin’ my way through the swaying masses of blue jeans and tee shirts and work boots. Hall’s is crowded tonight. The stools at the old, wooden bar top are full. The few tables scattered around the bar are also occupied, and the little space left is taken up by stragglers, craning their necks to get a glimpse of one of only two small TVs in the whole place. The game’s on—third game of the World Series. And that’s why I’d like to get my order and get the hell out of here. At least back home, there’s a TV screen that isn’t straight out of the 90s.
I turn back toward the voice. It’s the man I just ran into...or who just ran into me; I don’t know. He’s staring at me, but I don’t recognize the guy. He’s got this funny grin on his face, and he’s wagging a finger at me.
“You...and Ashley Westcott...” He nods his head as if he’s just put two and two together.
“No,” I say. “Wrong guy.”
I turn back toward the bar even though I’m pretty sure he’s still starin’ and pointin’. Karen notices me and holds out a brown paper bag.
“Here ya go, Rem.” She gives me a motherly kind of smile. I know she heard the guy, and she probably heard what I had to say to him too, but I don’t care.
“Keep the change,” I say, handing her a bill.
I reach for the bag, but she keeps a firm grip on it and settles her gaze on me.
“It gets better.” She smiles and lets go of the bag.
I don’t say anything, and I try not to react either. I just tip the bill of my cap and head straight for the screen door in the corner of the bar.
Seconds later, my hand is pushin’ against the old, wooden frame. The door squeaks open and then slams shut behind me.
Outside, the October air is cool. I feel it sink deep into my bones, and at the same time, a shiver runs up my spine. And I’m not really sure if it’s the cold or the thoughts runnin’ through my head that cause it. Either way, it feels a whole hell of a lot better out here than it did in that crowded bar; that’s for sure. At least, out here, there ain’t anyone makin’ any assumptions. Out here, no one’s givin’ me sympathetic smiles or coverin’ up their whispers. The black night doesn’t care she’s gone.
I stop and rest my hand on the door handle of my truck, and I let my head fall back. The sky is darker than dark, but the stars are bright.
We had this whole town fooled. Every. Last. One. Even now, they just don’t know what to think. Half of them constantly have a question on their tongues, but it’s as if they just can’t quite get it to leave their mouths. And I’m convinced the other half already has their minds made up—even though I’m pretty sure not a darned one knows the story.
I level my head and catch a star dyin’ out in the distant sky. In an instant, it’s there, and then it’s gone. I lower my head and laugh a little. Just like us, huh?
Then I sigh and pull on the handle right before I toss the bag onto the seat and slide into my truck. But as soon as I get the key in the ignition, I stop, and I think about the guy in the bar. And I think about her. Her.
“Damn it, Miss Westcott,” I whisper under my breath. “I swear I can’t go anywhere without you. Everywhere I go, you’re always just a rumor away.”
I let a lungful of air fall onto the steering wheel as I put the truck in gear and let off the clutch.
You left, but then again, you never really left.
Here's a quick sneak peek into By Way of Accident! This is River and Brooke's poem, which appears on the page before the Prologue! Get their story in just 9 days!!!
For All You Have Left is due out February 11! But I thought I'd share with you a chapter from the novel a little early!
This particular scene is where Logan's (Lada's) sister, Hannah, finds a piece of Logan's past that Logan has been hiding in her nightstand drawer.
Please enjoy! And don't forget to look for For All You Have Left on Amazon and online at other book retailers Feb. 11!
“Lada, where’s your lotion?” Hannah asks, busting into my apartment.
Hannah’s always been a fixture in every place I’ve ever had. She’s never been an actual roommate, just more of an honorary one, I guess. This new apartment is no exception. She has a key. She uses it liberally.
“My hands feel like dead lizards.” Her voice trails behind her as she makes a beeline for the back rooms.
I scrunch up my face. “Eww. Why do they have to be dead?”
She doesn’t answer me. Instead I hear her rummaging through my drawers in my bedroom. My bedroom! I jump up and run to my room. But right when I spot her, I freeze in the doorway. I know she has already seen it. She’s bent over, with her back to me. She’s staring at something—it—inside my nightstand drawer.
I just stand there and watch her—waiting, for what seems like an eternity.
Eventually, she pulls it out from the drawer and turns back toward me. “Lada,” she says, holding up a marriage license.
I take in a deep breath and let out an audible sigh.
“I didn’t know you still had this,” she softly says.
I don’t say anything. There’s nothing I can say really.
“Lada, you’ve got to move on,” she pushes out, gently. “I know you love him, but he can’t keep coming in and out of your life like this. You can’t let him. You can’t do this forever, Lada. You have to live.”
She looks at me with two sad eyes—those same sad eyes that she always gives me when this same subject comes up.
“I am living, Hannah,” I force out. “I’m living. I eat. I sleep. I smile every day.”
Her sad eyes don’t waver. “Lada,” she says and then follows it with a long sigh. “You know what I mean. You’ve gotta let him go. You’ve gotta let someone else in.”
I stare at her for a moment before I lower my face. “It’s not that easy, Hannah.”
A minute passes in the quiet, and then I hear her voice again.
“All I’m asking you to do is try. That’s all anyone is asking you to do.”
My eyes catch and get stuck in the red polish on my toenails. “I do try,” I whisper.
It’s true. I try. I don’t try in the way she wants me to try, but I do try. I try to tell myself that it is possible to move on—that it is possible to actually live two happy lives in the span of one lifetime. I try to push the thoughts, the dreams, the nightmares from my old life to the back of my mind. But ultimately, I know what moving on means. It means never going back, and that terrifies me more than anything. I know Hannah wants me to forget, but I can’t forget. I don’t want to forget. If I forget, I lose it all twice. I want to remember. I have to remember.
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Back Cover Summary
Logan Cross met her first love on the playground when she was nine. She married him at eighteen. But life had different plans for Logan. And now at twenty-two, she is in the midst of starting over when Jorgen Ryker moves in next door. A paramedic, Jorgen seems normal, and he's definitely easy on the eyes, but Logan still has her reservations—and her secrets. Can she put her old life aside to start anew? And what big secret is she hiding that Jorgen might already know?
Set in small-town Missouri, For All You Have Left is a love story with an unexpected twist centering around three lives, two great loves and one epic journey in learning to love again.
I write about rain on tin roofs, gravel roads, old trucks with holes in the floorboards and small-town summer nights. I grew up on a farm in a little Midwestern town. Now, I live in Kansas City, Mo., with my weatherman husband.
Laura Miller's first contemporary romance novel, Butterfly Weeds, hit the Amazon Best-Seller's List and Top 100 in October 2012. The sequel to Butterfly Weeds, My Butterfly, released in June 2013. For All You Have Left, By Way of Accident, When Cicadas Cry and A Bird on a Windowsill followed. Look for The Life We Almost Had, Laura's latest small-town romance, at book retailers now. And check out her children's book, Pay It Forward!