Photograph by Christopher Correia from CJC Photography
Cover model: BT Urruela
Cover model: Jessie Reis
Cover designer: Rebecca Pau from The Final Wrap
She was the one for me.
The one that I knew would be mine forever until I made the biggest mistake. I pushed her away and I’ve regretted that decision ever since. I’ve tried to move on, tried to put the memory of her behind me, but she’s always consuming my thoughts. Now, she’s back in our hometown, trying to rebuild a new life. I know she’s keeping secrets. She tries to hide them from me, and I will do whatever it takes to prove that I’m the one she needs. Because Shelby Ross is the other part of me that I can’t live without and I refuse to let her go again.
He broke my heart.
I never thought I would be able to pick of the pieces he left behind. When he let me go, I ran away from it all, thinking it was the easiest thing to do. But, running has a price and I’ve paid it in full for years. Now, I’m back where it all began, back to putting my life together and starting over. It should’ve been easy, but Carter Harlow is reawakening long buried emotions that I thought were gone. He wants to make me his again. I can’t let that happen. He ruined me, broke me, and I’m afraid I’ll never survive it a second time around.
I don’t know what to say, so I just stare up at him. He smiles back at me, and slowly takes his hand off my face. I want to cry out at the loss of his warmth, but I know he needed to move away from me. I watch him as he walks back around the kitchen island, and swallow hard as he refuses to take his eyes off me. His gaze is intense, and I can’t stop the warm sensations that form in my stomach. I go to grab my necklace, but stop midway. Carter frowns then asks, “What is it?”
I debate on whether, or not to tell him I still have his gift. Then again, maybe if he sees I’ve kept it all this time, he’ll know I never forgot what we had. I reach into my shirt and pull out my keepsake. I hold it in my hand for a moment, and stare at it before letting it drop. Carter sucks in a breath when he sees it. I watch him closely as a variety of emotions cross his face. Shock, disbelief, and when he looks in my eyes again, he looks at me adoringly. As if he’s seeing me again for the very first time, with such love in his eyes. “I know we didn’t end things on a good note, but I couldn’t bear to part with it. Every time I needed strength or a reminder of what I left behind, I would look at it, and just knowing I had a piece of you made things easier.” I’m surprised by my admission, but at the same time, it feels good to open up to someone again. It’s been so long since I felt like I could trust someone with how I really feel.
“I can’t believe you kept it after all this time.” He grins, shakes his head, and his eyes light up. “Do you remember what I said when I gave it to you?”
Of course I remember. It’s committed to my memory, and it’s one that I used to think of often. “I do. Instead of me giving you a graduation present, you gave me this.” I glance down at my necklace, thinking back to that day. It was a happy day, and I was so proud of Carter for graduating, and getting accepted into Harvard Law. I wasn’t expecting a gift from him, but I remember being excited when he showed me what he bought. I blink, coming back to the present as I say, “As you put the necklace on me, you said it was to remind me how much you loved me. That no matter how far apart we were, it wouldn’t matter because our love for each other was strong.” I glance away from him, as I repeat his sweet words from a lifetime ago. “I remember you saying, that my necklace was your way of giving me your heart and that we’d always be able to find one another.”
I look back at Carter, noticing he’s rubbing his chest. I want to ask him if he’s alright. But I don’t. I know that day meant so much to the both of us. I could see and feel how much he cared about me back then. Which made when he broke my heart that much more painful. He clears his throat before saying, “I’m glad you kept it, and it’s brought you good memories when you needed them.”
I suddenly feel shy, and a bit out of place. The emotions running through me scare the shit out of me, and the room feels as though it’s closing in. Reliving the past then the emotions running through me now … it’s too intense. I look away from him and place my necklace back in my shirt. I get off the stool and say, “I think I should head back to Annie and William’s. I’m sure they’re worried where I am.” I don’t look at Carter. I don’t want to see the hurt in his eyes because he’ll know what I’m doing. I hate that I can’t seem to stay around him, but the wave of all the past emotions and the present ones colliding is overwhelming. I have to get away from it.
“Yeah, okay. I can drive you there since it’s on my way.” I nod and head back to his room to grab my shoes. I remind myself to breathe and stop over thinking everything. It’s stupid of me to act this way, but going for so long without feeling any of this … it’s frightening.
Brie Paisley is a small town gal from Mississippi. She always wanted to write at a young age and was always filling journals with her thoughts and short stories. Brie started with the idea of Worshipped a year ago and with the encouragement of her husband and sister in law, she was able to write her first book. When she is not writing, you can find her reading a good book, painting, scrapbooking, or watching a good movie with her husband and her boxer.