[Friday, August 31]: Welcome home, everyone! In celebration of everyone being back in town, Valerie is holding a barbeque at her house. Stop by and say hello to your old friends and have a couple of drinks. The party we’ll be running all through the night, so plan on staying awhile.
“Hell’s bells, you look fucking amazing, Liv. Exactly as I remembered, damn,” Val says to me as I knock on the door bearing two bottles of California red wine. I laugh at her as I kiss her on the cheek. “How have you been? When did you get back in town?” She asks as I walk in, immediately recognizing almost everyone there. Val would invite the whole town. It was in Val’s nature. Was Jake going to be here? I was dreading that more than any other interaction with my past. More than dreading it. I look down at my bare left ring finger, silently thanking myself for leaving my engagement ring where it belonged – on my nightstand at my parents’ place.
I wasn’t planning on staying here long. Tyler hadn’t come with me despite his insistent plea that he come break the news to my parents with me. Ty was under some impression that I grew up in some country mansion with parents that were drowning in money. Maybe now, but I grew up middle class, worked at Jeremy Carter’s bar all throughout high school and dated the baseball star with the rugged features and drinking habit. The one who was destined for greater things, and at the time, I thought I was destined for those things with him.
“What the hell is she doing here?” I hear the gruff bark of Jake Parey, as my back is turned talking to Payton about the differences in California and Lewisburg. Day and night – the differences between California Liv and Lewisburg Liv were almost as drastic. I felt relaxed here, like I didn’t have to pretend. These people were my family, they were my town. They knew my darkest secrets. I take a deep breath and turn around to face him. The long, tangled mess of hair was replaced with a short tailored cut that showed off his always handsome face. There were no grease stains on his shirt – another first after blowing his knee out. He lived in the garage after the accident.
“Did they let you take a shower before you left the shop today?” I say sarcastically as the rest of the party watches in awe as we reconnect. He hadn’t aged a bit. If anything, he was even more handsome. “Is that funny out west or wherever the hell you decided to skip town?” He asks, before cracking open a beer, not once breaking eye contact with me. I roll my eyes at him. “You know exactly where I’ve been,” I start. There’s the familiar sparkle in his eye that ignited whenever he got me riled up. “Liv,” I hear the warning voice of the ever maternal Valerie suggesting I take a breather. “It’s fine, it’s fine,” I brush her off before breaking eye contact with him and taking a seat beside Hazel, one of my oldest friends.
I watch as he walks out into the patio at Val’s place, joining a group of guys.
“Remember how perfect you two were for each other in high school before –“
“Before I got pregnant and he settled for a life as a Lewisburg mechanic?” I say, cutting Hazel off. She laughs. “I forgot about your bluntness, Liv,” She says before shaking her head. “And anyway, you should know that Jake’s –“ She starts before Val clears her throat and I stare at her, practically staring daggers into her. “What?” I ask and Hazel smirks before abandoning her original thought and starting a conversation with Elle.
Jake what? I think to myself as I stare at him having a conversation with Jeremy Carter and a few of the other guys he used to hang around school with – I guess, guys he never stopped hanging out with. Jake had never been outside of Lewisburg. Not that he needed to be. This town was his perfect match. Baseball star turned drunk turned someone Hazel Harrington is defending? Never in a million years.
My trip was going to be longer than expected. That was for damn sure.
Included @labellabeautyxo @b0hemian-lovers @peaceloveglitter and mentioned @withlove-kirsten
I will include all the other girls that I didn’t get a chance to include in my next event!