In anticipation of the release of A Stranger Thing, which is just a FEW DAYS AWAY =D now, check out the prologue below! I have a good feeling you might be hooked afterward… 😉 And if so, good news, you can still pre-order for $15 (cover price is $23.99)!! Just email me at email@example.com to do so! Free shipping too, at least in the continental US! Prologue below… 🙂
A Stranger Thing
it wasn’t supposed to be you
Lorylyn’s heart pounded the whole time the plane was taxiing. When it stopped at the gate, she pulled her carry-on and purse out from under the seat and held them in her lap, then tapped her foot anxiously. She was so glad she was in the second row. She was afraid she was going to pass out or throw up if she didn’t get off of here soon. She needed the rush of cold air that usually greeted her in the jetway. She needed to freaking move!
When the seatbelt sign dinged off and the doors opened, she jumped out of her seat, flinging her bags over her shoulder, and waited urgently for the man beside her to get out of her way.
Once she was in the jetway she shoved past the man and walked quickly. Then, as she neared the terminal, she slowed. She might see who it was in a matter of seconds. She still felt like she was going to pass out.
She stepped out of the jetway and scanned the crowd. She saw no one who looked familiar.
Slightly disappointed yet more so relieved, she let out a huge breath. The person must be waiting for her at baggage claim. It would’ve been hard to get to the gate anyway…it would’ve meant buying a ticket. And that seemed way overboard.
She stopped in the bathroom and took her time looking in the mirror and brushing her hair, even though her hands were shaking and she felt like anyone who looked closely at her would be able to tell she was a wreck. She wanted to look good though.
On Saturday, two days ago, she’d been in her room at her parents’ house in Indiana getting ready to go through all her mail. She hated doing it because it always piled up; she still listed her parents’ house as her permanent address on everything and got a ton of junk mail there. Just as she’d been picking up the first envelope, her mom had leaned into her room and said, “One more.” She’d tossed another envelope onto Lorylyn’s bed, and Lorylyn had put the first one back down and grabbed this one instead.
It had no real markings on the outside and no return address, but it was probably some kind of credit card application. They’d made it just nondescript enough so she would at least open it to see what it was.
She opened it and pulled out the contents, then frowned when she looked at them. There was one piece of paper folded in thirds and something else that looked like a plane ticket. It was probably a fake plane ticket, like saying, if you get our credit card and charge so much on it, we’ll offer you free miles, and you’ll get a free plane ticket. But when she peered a little closer at it, she realized it didn’t look fake. And when she looked even closer, she was stunned.
From everything she could tell, it was a valid ticket. Continental Flight 2064, from Indianapolis to New York LaGuardia, business class, for May 11, 2009. Two days away. Seat 2A. Departing at 1:55 p.m. and arriving at 4:09 p.m. What the hell?!
Lorylyn laughed incredulously and a little excitedly as the thought crossed her mind that Jansen might have done this. It might be something like that Fourth of July when she’d sent those invites for the party on the Vineyard without even telling anyone about it. Lorylyn wondered what was going on this time! She remembered the paper and grabbed for it to unfold it.
Please come. I need to talk to you and I have a surprise for you.
The note was typed, and that was all it said. There was nothing else on the page. “What?” Lorylyn asked in confusion. She grabbed the envelope again and looked more closely at it. Her name and address were typed too, and the postmark was from New York, NY.
Jason? she thought breathlessly for just a second. No way. That would be crazy. In her dreams, maybe.
But she didn’t think it was Jansen anymore, unless Jansen was trying to play some kind of trick on her, because the note didn’t fit. It had to be a guy.
Then her heart raced as she had another thought. Jordy?!
But no…surely not. She’d only talked to him twice on AIM since the cruise, and they’d written on each other’s Facebook Walls once. She hadn’t gotten any kind of impression he even planned on ever seeing her again.
So was it Jason? As much as she wanted it to be, her brain told her there was no way. It was something he would do, yeah, but she really didn’t think he would do it for her. Why would he need to see her right now? Jansen was there. Wait! Unless Jansen had told him about how she was going to be with Thaler when she moved to Chicago in August…and Jason was really upset…and so he wanted to see Lorylyn. Or maybe he’d wanted to see her all this time, but hadn’t thought he should because of Jansen, but now that he’d heard about Thaler…
Stop it, Lorylyn! she screamed silently at herself. There’s no way it’s Jason! And if so it’s nothing like what you’re thinking…at least not that he’s secretly in love with you!
It could be him if it was something like the Vineyard party though, she supposed. Maybe it was just some event in the city he thought she would like. Maybe he and Jansen had done this together. But it didn’t explain the “I need to talk to you” part.
Another thought occurred to her and she grabbed her laptop. She could check to see if this was even a real flight. She quickly went to Continental’s website and searched for flights from Indy to New York for May 11. She inhaled sharply when she saw the second result. Flight 2064…departing at 1:55 and arriving at 4:09.
Then she had another idea, and she grabbed the ticket. There. Her confirmation number. She went back to the main page and under Change or View Reservations, she typed it in, along with her last name. She waited breathlessly while the next page loaded. She fully expected it to come up saying Error! No Itinerary Found! or something of the sort.
She inhaled sharply again when it displayed her reservation. Lorylyn Porter, 5/11/09, Flight 2064, IND-LGA, Seat 2A. “Holy shit,” she whispered.
She grabbed her phone off the bed and called Jansen.
“Hey, this is Sinead.”
“Oh, hey!” Sinead was Jason’s roommate in New York. Jansen was staying at their apartment while she was in the city for the summer.
“Hey. Jansen’s hungover and asleep. Her phone was on the couch so I just answered.”
Lorylyn laughed. “Oh. Well is Jason there?”
“No, he stayed at Hersh’s and I don’t think he’s coming back here before the wedding.”
“Oh!” Duh! Lorylyn had been so wrapped up in the plane ticket mystery she’d completely forgotten today was Hersh’s wedding. Her friend Kylar was there for it too…staying with Sinead, Jason, and Jansen. Kylar had hooked up with Hersh all through college, most recently on the cruise a bunch of them had gone on together in March, which had been dubbed Hersh’s unofficial bachelor party. Kylar had debated long and hard over whether to go to his wedding, and finally she’d decided to, as a way to say goodbye to him. “Well…um…you don’t know anything about either of them, like, sending me a plane ticket to New York, do you?”
“No, why, did they do that?”
“No, I don’t know. I got one from somebody. Don’t mention it to them though.” Lorylyn didn’t know why, but she didn’t want them to know. She’d been planning on pretending she’d just called to talk and then asking Jansen random questions to fish for the answer, such as what she and Jason were doing this coming week.
“Okay, I won’t. Don’t worry.”
“Do you know by any chance what they’re doing next week?”
“No, I’m not sure. Nothing big that I know of.”
“When do they leave for Europe?”
“Not for a couple weeks.”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.”
“Bye.” Lorylyn hung up, her heart racing again. So it could be Jason, or both him and Jansen together…it sounded like they were going to be in the city next week…
Then she had another crazy idea, and her heart pounded against her chest. Her hands shook a little as she typed in the first few letters of the address and waited for Firefox to come up with the past places she’d visited. She clicked on the URL for the Rockies’ 2009 schedule. When the page loaded she quickly scanned the May calendar.
Three days in a row, Tuesday, May 12 through Thursday, May 14, the purple boxes in the calendar read, “@ NY Mets.”
“No fucking way,” Lorylyn whispered. “No…fucking…way.”
She fell back against her pillows, staring at her computer screen and then at the plane ticket. Was it Brady?! But he always handwrote his notes…and wait, no, it couldn’t be him. Because the postmark had come from New York. And he wouldn’t be there already…his first game there wasn’t for three days.
She let out a huge breath that was a mix of relief and disappointment. The possibility of it being him had left her stunned…and now that possibility had been yanked away already. Unless…she leaned forward to peer at the Rockies’ schedule again. Thursday, May 7 through Saturday, May 9… “@ NY Yankees.”
“Oh my gosh,” Lorylyn breathed. So he would’ve been in New York since at least Wednesday…plenty of time for him to mail this from there. No way.
She fell back against her pillows again. She had no idea what to think! Which one of them was it?!
Brady? Her first love, the guy she’d thought for years was The One? With whom she’d had a blowout fight last October and only recently gotten back on speaking…or more like texting…terms?
Or maybe Jordy…her fling from that Vineyard Fourth of July party three summers ago and the cruise two months ago?
Or Jason? Her absolute fantasy guy, with whom she’d shared what was probably the best day of her life on a beach in Curaçao during that same cruise but who could never really be hers because his whole past and a big part of his present belonged to Jansen?
Or Jason and Jansen together, because they loved to be outrageous and were always creating some wild new adventure?
She still didn’t know why, if it were Brady, he’d be so secretive. He’d never been like that before. He always included a handwritten note with anything he sent her and signed it. Would he have not done that this time hoping she wouldn’t know who it was, because he thought if she did know she wouldn’t come? No, that didn’t really make sense.
She picked up the note again and reread it. The wording sounded like something Brady would write. It sounded less like Jason or Jordy…but with Jason, you never knew what he and Jansen might be up to. And it kind of sounded like Jason by himself…depending on the situation. She just had no idea what this situation was, so how was she supposed to know if it was something Jason would write or not?!
Then she had a totally different thought. It could be Hilton! Or Kelsey! They were two of her best high school friends. Hilton was in New York a lot for her job, and Kelsey lived there.
But neither of them would word the note like that. Lorylyn laughed at the thought. If it were from Hilton the note would read more like, “You better come, I have a kickass surprise for you!” with a big wink sign afterwards. Kelsey would probably write something similar.
Lorylyn screamed in her mind. Aagghh! She had no freaking clue, and she was going crazy!
She picked up her phone to call Cade, her best friend. Maybe he could help her figure it out from a guy’s perspective. Disappointed when he didn’t answer, she called Wes. Maybe Cade was in his room and had just left his phone downstairs or something.
“Hey, what’s up?” Wes answered.
“Hey, are you at The Dilapidated Whorehouse?” Lorylyn asked, naming the house she had just moved out of a few days ago. It had been their college house for the last five years…not just Lorylyn, Cade, and Wes’s, but seven of them total, including Jansen, Kylar, Thaler, and another friend Xavier. Their other two best friends at Irelan, Zibby and DJ, who were married, had lived there for the first year and then moved into a house nearby.
“Yeah,” Wes said.
“Is Cade there? I just tried to call his phone and he didn‘t answer.”
“No, he had to go to New York.”
“What?!” Lorylyn cried, sitting straight upright so quickly she felt a jolt of pain in her back.
“Yeah, the traveling athletic trainer was sick or something, so he had to go with the baseball team this weekend.”
“Oh my gosh.”
“Nothing,” Lorylyn said quickly. “He didn’t say anything about me, did he?”
“No,” Wes said.
“Wait, where in New York? New York City?”
“I don’t know.”
“When did he leave?” Lorylyn asked, thinking of the postmark. She suddenly realized it would show the exact date and grabbed the envelope again. May 7. Thursday. Two days ago. Brady would’ve already been in New York for one day.
“Um, Wednesday? Yeah. He flew out there on Wednesday. Their games were Friday through Sunday.”
“Oh my gosh,” Lorylyn said. “Okay, thanks. I guess I’ll just try calling him again.”
“Okay,” Wes said. “See ya.”
“See ya.” Lorylyn hung up and dropped her phone on the bed, staring but seeing nothing. Was it Cade?! They had history too…some of her most important history. Five and a half years ago, they’d gotten married while studying abroad in Amsterdam. It wasn’t legally recognized in the States, but they’d kept it going for a year after they’d come back. Since then they’d hooked up a few times and remained best friends and talked about how maybe someday they’d be together again, but…
Lorylyn tried to piece together all the clues. Every one of the possible senders would’ve been in New York City at the time the letter was postmarked. Wait. She looked up Irelan’s baseball schedule. Maybe the games were in some totally other part of New York, which would rule out Cade. She scrolled down, searching, searching… “May 8-10”… her eyes darted across… “@ Long Island University.”
Lorylyn let out a deep breath. Long Island. That was New York City, or at least close enough. She didn’t know where on the island the university was, but it didn’t really matter. Holy shit. It could be any of them.
Continental…Jason and Jordy had flown that to San Juan for the cruise. But that didn’t mean anything. It may have just been the cheapest flight, or the one with the best times. She had never heard Jason say he always flew Continental or anything. The business class ticket…Jason or Brady could easily afford to do that and probably would. It seemed less like Jordy or Cade. But…if Cade were doing something really big, like telling her he was in love with her and wanted to marry her again…he would go all out. Jordy…she didn’t really know. He had a job in sales of some kind and made enough money to live in Manhattan, but it seemed somewhat overboard that he’d buy a business class ticket.
The wording of the note probably sounded most like Brady, but really it could be any of them. She still thought it was weird that Brady would be secretive about it though, just because it didn’t fit his past note-writing style. She could see Cade being secretive about it for the element of surprise. He would know it would drive her crazy. Jordy…once again…who knew? Maybe he wouldn’t even realize she wouldn’t know it was him. He didn’t know anything had ever happened between her and Jason, so what other guy did she know in New York?
She stretched her brain. Did she know anybody else in New York? No. Not anybody who would send her this note and plane ticket.
She picked up her phone again to call Zibby. Maybe Zibby would have some idea, or maybe if it had been Cade, Zibby would know.
Just as she picked her phone up off the bed, it rang, startling her. It was Jansen.
“Hello?” she asked, her heart pounding.
“Hey, it’s Sinead again.”
“Oh, hey.” Lorylyn let out a long breath and tried to calm her racing heart.
“Hey, well Kylar’s here for the wedding, you know, and she just got up so I asked her when she’s staying till and she said Tuesday. So I asked her what her and Jansen are doing for the next couple days, and she said on Monday they’re going to a Dierks Bentley concert. And I was like, ‘Is Lorylyn coming?’ and she was like, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Like she sounded like she hadn’t heard anything about it. She said Jansen surprised her with the ticket when she got here, ‘cause Jansen had just heard about it a few days ago and knew Kylar thought he was hot or something. Kylar was like, ‘Yeah, Lorylyn likes him too, but as far as I know she’s not coming.’ So I don’t know if that means anything to you, but I thought I’d let you know. I wasn’t even gonna call back ‘cause it didn’t seem like a big deal, but then she went to get in the shower so I figured why not. Since Jansen did surprise her with the ticket or whatever, I was like, well maybe she’s surprising Lor too. I don’t know.”
“A Dierks Bentley concert?” Lorylyn asked, thinking she might pass out.
“Yeah. Isn‘t he that totally hot blond country singer? Maybe I should go.” Sinead laughed. “So does that help at all?”
“Yeah, it does,” Lorylyn said. “Thanks. Don’t tell them still.”
“Okay, I won’t.”
Lorylyn was out of breath as she hung up, and her mind was whirling even faster than before. Her immediate thought was Brady; he’d mailed her every new Dierks CD since 2003 and marked a song in each one that reminded him of her. But a second later that certainty swirled back into all the other ideas in her brain and become clouded again. Maybe it really was just Jansen…the surprise would be the concert…and Jansen would totally throw the “I need to talk to you” in just to screw with Lorylyn.
Lorylyn laughed a little at that thought, then screamed in her head again. Aaggghhh!
And two days later, she was no closer to figuring it out.
Jansen did seem like the most logical answer now, since she had surprised Kylar with the Dierks ticket, but Lorylyn didn’t want to believe that. She wanted it to be a guy.
Of the guys, it seemed most likely it would be Brady, because he didn’t have a game tonight and he would be able to take her to the Dierks concert. And that was definitely the type of thing Brady would surprise her with.
But not now, she realized on the flight to New York.
It was the type of thing he would’ve surprised her with. When they were together, or even the first few years after. But not now. Tickets to his games this summer…sure. But sending her a plane ticket to New York to take her to Dierks? Why would he do that? The whole Dierks thing could just be a coincidence. Brady might not even know Dierks was in New York tonight.
And Cade…if it was him it would’ve had to be totally spontaneous, because he hadn’t even known he would be going to New York. That would make sense why the ticket was one that looked like it was issued by the airline rather than an e-ticket…maybe he had gotten it at the airport when he landed. Maybe he’d had the whole idea on the plane. And he had never called her back after she’d called him the other day. That was unusual for him; she hadn’t left a message, and normally he would’ve called to see what was up. But maybe he had known she would’ve been calling to tell him about the plane ticket, and he didn’t want to give anything away.
Oh my gosh! What if it’s Cade and his surprise is he’s taking me to Amsterdam?! she thought. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of it before. Irelan’s last game in New York had been yesterday…it made perfect sense. She suddenly panicked. She hadn’t packed enough stuff for a trip to Amsterdam. She’d only packed enough for three or four days! But whatever, it didn’t matter. If they were going to Amsterdam…that would be so freaking awesome. And she did have her passport; she always carried it with her when she traveled in case she lost her license. And…Cade had said they should go back sometime. Just a week ago, on one of their last nights at Irelan. Maybe this week he’d gotten really sad about her being gone…and realized he wanted to be together again…. Holy shit. Could it be?
The ticket not being an e-ticket made it seem probably less likely that it was Jason. He would’ve bought a ticket online, wouldn’t he? Either Brady or Cade could’ve bought it at the airport when they flew into the city. But why would Jason go all the way to the airport?
But then maybe he had a travel agent who had booked it for him and given him the real ticket. He did! Or at least his family did. She had booked the room for Jason in Cabo a few years ago over spring break when his flight to Switzerland had gotten cancelled and he and his friends had decided to go to Cabo with Lorylyn and Jansen and their friends instead.
Or Jansen could’ve gotten the real ticket. For Jason or herself. She had worked at a travel agency for the last four years.
Lorylyn sighed. She wondered for the millionth time which of them she even wanted it to be. And the answer, like every other time, was all of them.
She wanted Jordy to have realized he liked her more than he’d thought, she wanted Brady to surprise her with a Dierks concert, she wanted to go back to Amsterdam with Cade, and of course she wanted it to be Jason.
Her thoughts whirled.
The four main guys from her past, the four main guys in her life so far. She still talked to all of them, still saw a chance she might hook up with all of them again. Still saw a chance she might date any one of them in the future, even if with Brady it was just the smallest chance, one she really didn’t even want to admit existed.
She was almost twenty-six, and no guy doors had closed in her life. Every guy she’d loved or even liked a lot…every guy she’d slept with…was still there, still a possibility in her mind. She’d acted as though the door with Brady was closed and believed in her head it was. But her heart had always kept a little opening tucked away for him, and she knew it. With Jordy she’d been okay knowing it would never go anywhere, and she still was…but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be open to it going somewhere if the opportunity arose. And Cade and Jason…of course the door was still open with both of them.
In the bathroom at LaGuardia, she was growing more nervous with each stroke of her brush through her hair. Another part of her couldn’t wait to see who it was, because there was a crazy hope building inside her by the second too. Agh! She felt like she was so conflicted she might burst.
Finally she dropped her brush in her purse, offered her reflection an edgy smile, then left the restroom and continued walking.
She took an escalator down and followed the signs for baggage claim. She took another escalator down.
And then, just as she was coming off the second one, she saw who it was.
She froze, and somebody bumped into her from behind. “Sorry,” Lorylyn muttered, barely turning her head, but the person had already rushed past.
What? her confused brain asked. What? She hadn’t thought she knew who she wanted or didn’t want it to be, but this was wrong. No, no, no. What?! No!
She’d told herself not to get her hopes up; she’d known she really had no clue how she would react when she saw who it was. But now that she had, she knew right away it was wrong. This wasn’t how this was supposed to turn out. What?! She didn’t even understand what was happening, couldn’t swallow the stunned disappointment.
She felt like she was in a dream. She remembered Kylar’s dream about Hersh last weekend, when Hersh had said, “It wasn’t supposed to be you,” and Kylar had woken up knowing with absolute certainty she wasn’t the girl he was supposed to marry. Those words had allowed Kylar to go to New York for his wedding at peace with the situation.
But Lorylyn was definitely not at peace with this situation. She knew with absolute certainty this wasn’t who was supposed to be waiting for her today.
She still hadn’t moved from her spot just off the escalator. She shook her head slowly, the words from Kylar’s dream replaying in her head.
“It wasn’t supposed to be you,” she whispered. “It wasn’t supposed to be you.”
…………..:):):) That’s all for now! Don’t forget…email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-order! 😉