This is a scene that was deleted from the final Finding Willow short story. This passage would have been at the very beginning of the book. It takes place before Brody moves to Wisconsin, which is the main setting for the story. There are no spoilers, so it’s fine to read even if you haven’t read Finding Willow (which is free on all major platforms).
My lips grazed over hers. She made a whimpering sound in the back of her throat and fisted her hand in my hair, her other gripped my shoulder.
“I have to go,” I whispered and moved away.
“Not yet.” She pulled my head down for another kiss.
I reached up and detangled her hand from my hair and grasped the hand clawing into the skin on my shoulder.
Clingy. I hate clingy. Why do they always turn out this way?
I sighed. “Cassie, I’m sorry, but I have to go. We’re leaving early tomorrow and I told my mom I’d be home tonight to help her finish packing.”
“You’ll call right? We’ll Skype and Facebook. Email and text. It’ll be fine.” She nodded her head once and gazed up at me, her eyes shiny.
Shit. I hate this part. This is why I don’t do relationships.
“I think it’s better that we make this a clean break. Neither one of us really wants a long distance relationship. I mean, with prom and—”
My face flew to the side when she slapped me. I have to say, the girl could hit. My cheek burned and I bet I had a perfect imprint of her small hand on the side of my face.
She turned on her heel and walked away. Well, actually she teetered, like a penguin. Why girls insisted on wearing shoes that looked more like stilts was a mystery to me. A T-shirt and tennis shoes girl, someone who knew who she was and was comfortable with it, that’s what I was looking for. Not a Barbie in designer clothes and three-inch Jimmy Choos. And I only know who the hell Jimmy Choo is because my mom has some of his shoes. I don’t. Have his shoes, I mean.
Well, that’s done. Note to self: no long-term relationships, dumbass.
My mom travelled a lot for her job. So I jumped from city to city, state to state, school to school. I tried to lay low, not get involved, and stay away from relationships. It was always messy when they ended. And they had to end. I wasn’t doing the long distance thing.
Maybe that made me seem like a jerk—starting a relationship with someone knowing that I’d end it. But it got lonely being invisible all the time. Not an excuse. Just a reason.
I walked into the kitchen and found my mother frantic over a stack of cookbooks.
“What’s up?” I slide a stool at the breakfast bar.
She glanced up and let out a frustrated sigh, flinging her hands at the stack of books. “Hey, Brody, which of these should I keep and which should I get rid of? How do I accumulate so many cookbooks every time we move? It’s like they multiply.” She put her elbows on the counter and dropped her head in her hands, her fingers running through her hair.
“I don’t really see the problem, Mom. Just dump them all.”
She lifted her head and glared at me. “Why would I do that?”
“Um, maybe because you don’t cook?” I smiled at her and picked up the book on top of the pile. “Especially, things like ‘365 ways to use tofu.’”
“I might use it one day.” She took the book from me and started flipping through the pages. She wrinkled her nose and tossed the book into the box marked: charity. “Okay, maybe not that one, but there has to be one in here I’d use.”
She started going through the books. I’d pick up the ones I knew she’d never use and toss them into the charity bin. She put the cookbooks she was sure she’d use at some point in a stack on the other side of her so I couldn’t reach it.
Finally, after going through cookbooks for nearly five minutes, my mom sighed loudly and swiped her arm over the breakfast bar. The books thudded as they hit the charity bin.
“There. That’s done. What’s next?” She grabbed her list and ran her finger down the items.
“Mom? This new position you have, you’re sure we’re going stay this time?” I popped the little bubbles on the bubble wrap laying on the counter.
“Brody, look at me.”
I raised my eyes to hers. Hers were open and honest. “I’m sure. I’ll still have to travel just like always, but home base will stay the same. We won’t be moving again.” She ran her fingers through the hair just over my ear. “This is going to be a good move for us. I promise. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think it would give us a little more permanency.”
I nodded and tried to smile. “Okay, Mom. Then I guess Wisconsin it is.” I scrunched my nose, saying, “We’ll be cheese heads.”
She shrugged, still looking at the impossibly long to-do list. “You like cheese, dear.”