Synopsis: After three years in Boston attending college, Mallory Wells has come home to Casper, Maine to care for her father, who is dying from cancer. She left Casper without looking back, leaving her small-town life and everyone in it, behind. Including her sexy high school sweetheart.
Luke Bates was devastated when Mallory left him for the city life. He managed to pull himself together and move on, even if only just barely. When Mallory shows up in town, Luke vows to stay away from her at all costs. So why does he keep checking in on her and her father, showing up when he’s clearly uninvited? Maybe Luke isn’t as ‘over her’ as he thought.
Dawn Pendleton is a New Adult and Young Adult author living in Maine with her husband and pup.
Right now, she’s working on two manuscripts simultaneously. It’s a difficult task for her, but one she’s certain will pay off in the end.
“No way, Luke. You’re going to explain what you meant before, about my dad being sick for years,” she demanded.
“There’s nothing to explain. Joe’s had cancer since you were seventeen,” I said.
Her face fell. “He’s been suffering for years?” she whispered, her voice hoarse. “He never told me, Luke.” Her pretty blue eyes begged me to believe her. “He called me earlier this week and said it was a new development. All this time, I’ve been gone and he’s had cancer.”
I didn’t know what to say. I had thought she was selfish and only concerned about herself all this time, but Joe hadn’t even told her about his cancer. I could almost understand why he didn’t tell her. He wanted her to live a full life in Boston and not be plagued with the need to come home and take of him. He didn’t want her to have to see him when he went for his chemo treatments and watch his body all but disintegrate. But she had deserved to know, to make the decision herself.
Instead, he left the job of telling her the truth to me. He let my heart break over losing her and then break all over again when I realized he was going to die. Neither of them were going to be in my life once Joe died. Anger filled me; I wanted to kill Joe for putting Mallory through this hell now and for putting me through hell over the last few years. Lucky me, I wouldn’t have to kill him—the cancer would take care of that.
My thoughts were mean and hardened, but I couldn’t find room to care right away. I was furious with Joe. All this pain—his, hers, mine. It wasn’t fair. My heart broke as tears slipped down Mallory’s cheeks. She made no noise, though and I was helpless to do anything but stare as the tiny saltwater drops made their way down her face. I couldn’t move; I was frozen in place by my own bitterness. Joe would be the one who escaped this mess. He was the one got to embrace death while Mallory was going to have to live with the guilt she felt for the rest of her life.
And it was all because of me.
“I’m sorry, Mallory. I thought you knew,” I said softly, still unmoving.
Her head whipped up and her eyes flashed. “You thought I knew? You thought so little of me that you believed I would leave my dying father alone for all these years? You thought I was just some spoiled little girl running away from Daddy’s cancer? I didn’t know, and if I had, I would have stayed. I hope, though, that I would have had the good sense to dump you, even if I hadn’t gone to Boston. You’re a nothing, just like every generation of deadbeats before you. Get out of this house,” she demanded.
“No! Just get out! I don’t want you anywhere near this house again! Stay away from us!” she screamed.