Pieces of You & Me (It's Always Been You #3)


by Pamela Ann

Prologue

Back in third grade…

There were ten kids invited for Edith’s, my best friend, summer party.

After three hours of fun games, swimming, eating and other festivities, all eleven of us gathered in Edith’s bedroom to play spin the bottle.

I was having fun laughing at the others’ dares up until it was my turn, pairing me with Greyson Edwards—the new boy that had transferred into our school and everyone had been crushing hard on.

“Ooohh, Olivia’s going to have her first kiiiiisss,” everyone teased while I blushed hot red, looking away from Greyson as I slowly got up and hid inside the closet, which had been marked as the kissing closet.

The small area was dark and chilly, but it smelled comforting—like lavender.

I sat on the carpeted flooring, waiting for him to come. I could hear some shuffling then I saw his face—blushing as hard as I was—before he went inside the closet with me. He closed the door behind him, and then sat right next to me, silent.

Weren’t boys supposed to be initiating the kiss?

“Umm, should we get this over with? I don’t want them waiting.” I could see the outline of his face, his beautiful eyes that struck me speechless.

I love his eyes, I thought as our gazes connected.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” he asked nicely. I could hear his voice shake a little.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like you.” Everyone liked him, girls most especially.

He turned to face me, smiling. "Can I make you mine? My girlfriend?"

My heart sped up—but wait, his girlfriend? "Didn't Marie ask you to be her boyfriend last week?" I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Besides, it was rude to steal boyfriends. That was the rule.

He shook his head, still smiling at me. "I told her I'd think about it, but I'll drop any girl for you,” he said eagerly.

“You would?” Wow. He must like me a lot then.

He nodded. “Yeah, because you're the prettiest and your laugh makes me smile."

I bit the bottom part of my lip, smiling shyly at him. "Okay, I think you're cute, too. I guess you can be my boyfriend." I really liked him a lot.

He reached for my hand before gazing into my eyes. "Cool. Can I kiss you now?"

I gave a quick nod. “Yes, you may.”

Our kiss was quick and sweet. After we parted, it was as if I looked at him differently. My stomach was flip-flopping crazily and I wanted more of his sweet kisses.

“You’re mine now, Olivia Taylor.”

And he was mine.

Glancing down at my lucky charm bracelet that I’d made last week, I pulled it off my wrist and handed it to him. “Here, keep it safe. I’ll always come back to you.”

"Are we forever, Liv?"

"Forever, Grey," I promised.

Chapter 1

Liv

Hi Sweetie!

Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days! How are things holding up with Liam? I’m sure you two lovebirds will work it out just fine. He can always come and visit you, you know.

Spend as much time as you can with your dad. You won’t see him for another year, sweetie. Try not to be too hard on him. He loves you dearly.

By the way, remember that guy I mentioned I met a week after you left? Well, I want you to be the first to know, I’m engaged!!! What a nice surprise, right? I’ll tell you all about it when you get here.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. No, I haven’t lost my mind, hun. I’m in love :)

When Mom mentioned “surprise”, I never would have thought I’d get the surprise of a lifetime.

As expected, Mom was at the airport waiting on me with a huge grin on her face after I had spent my entire summer in Sydney with my father. He moved out there after he and Mom got divorced two years ago. Bizarre really, ‘cause I left my summer to spend winter with him.

It wasn’t all that bad after I started dating Liam Hollingsworth, who was a freshman at the University of Sydney. We promised to try and work things out, but as much as I liked him, I was also aware that long distance relationships were hard work. So we had decided to see how it’d be for a while; we were basically measuring the difficulty ahead of us or to see if it was even worth trying.

So I was unofficially single, if that made sense at all.

Mom didn’t unfold her secret until we were all alone. This whole bomb landed on me the second we got onto the freeway.

“Okay, I don’t want to keep you waiting ‘cause I know you might be dying to know who the man is, just don’t freak out, okay?” My mom glanced at me sideways before looking out to the road ahead with a large, beaming smile playing across her face.

Well, if her smiles were always this huge, then I didn’t care if she married a preacher. Okay, maybe a little, but seriously, watching her now—seeing how happy she was—made me realize how lonely she might’ve been the last two years. It was drastic for her to get engaged with someone so quickly, but if it was what she wanted, then who was I to come in-between her and her Prince Charming? Well, here’s hoping that he was the one after all. Hell, I have yet to meet him.

“Seriously, who is your mystery man? You’re killing me, smalls.” Pulling out my strawberry lip salve, I popped the tin open before I glided my pinky over it and applied some to my lips.

“It’s Brett Edwards,” she said with a pained, crossing on sour, face.

I dropped my lip salve along with my jaws. “You’re kidding, right?” Please, please, please, tell me that you are. I was praying to the gods—or whoever was listening—to help me salvage my senior year in high school.

Mom exhaled a long sigh—a big indicator that she was darn serious. “This was why I never mentioned it to you because I was afraid of this; that you might change your mind and never come back here, Liv.”

She was imagining the extremes. Come on, really? It was no big deal. I was a grown up; I could deal with this. “But Brett, mom? Really?” That did not come out right. Personally, I had no problems with Brett, his only child on the other hand, Greyson… Ugh. Kill me now.

He was your typical as**ole… Thinking about him was a waste of energy. Enough said.

Mom reached out and gave my arm a tight squeeze. “He’s amazing, Liv. He treats me like a queen. Not only that, but he makes me feel wonderful. I did promise you that I wouldn’t marry again until I found my Mr. Darcy. Well, I believe with my whole heart that he is, Liv. He loves me. Well, he’s been in love with me for decades. That’s why he never got married.”

That got my attention. Pride and Prejudice was our all time favorite film. For her to mention Mr. Darcy, it was major deal. “What do you mean? How long have you known him?”

“Since high school and then college, but he left to live in Chicago after we graduated. As you know, I was dating your dad since I was seventeen, so he never stood a chance.”

My mom’s story was disheartening, but at the same time, inspiring. I had to suppose if Mom and Brett would be happily married and in love, my feelings about Greyson would have to be set aside. I had nothing against true love.

“I also forgot to mention it to you, hun, but we moved in with them. Greyson lives in the pool house, so you’re in the clear. I promise.” My mom rushed to add in that teeny, bitty piece of information.

Inhale, exhale, Olivia. The world wasn’t ending. This was my chance to give Mom her happiness, so I dared not ruin this for her. Living with the Edwards—of course! Brett and Mom were now engaged.

“I need a moment to digest this tidal wave of crap, Mom.”

“I’m so sorry to do this to you, Liv. I wanted to warn you, but I was scared you might not come back home.”

“You’re being silly. Of course I’d come back, but I would’ve appreciated a little adjusting time, you know? This is a lot to take in, Mom. The crazy, major, upheaval kind, but if you’re happy, then I’m happy. That’s all I want.”

My mom looked misty-eyed before she gave me a grateful smile. “Thank you, sweetie.” She sniffed, wiping the sides of her eyes. “This means a lot to me. I expected screaming or even an attempt to get out of it, so thank you for not putting me through that. You’re the best daughter a mom could wish for.”

She always gave me too much credit; however she was my mom, right? They always tended to do that, even if their kids were horrendous. “Thank me after a week and I haven’t scratched Greyson’s eyes out.”

“He’s a good kid, Liv. Just give him a chance. Trust me.”

Yep, that was what my mother said.

But, not a chance in hell I’d give that douche a chance. I didn’t trust him. All he ever did was make snide remarks whenever he was anywhere near my vicinity.

This belief was reinstated that very same night after Brett and Mom chatted up with me for a couple hours after dinner; talking about Liam, my undecided college plan, my goals and so forth. As Mom assured me earlier, Brett was a good man—a man who thought the world of my mother. It was icky and amazing at the same time when they were next to each other.

They wore the look of being in love pretty well. It was funny how second chances worked. Even though they married other people in the beginning, when fate intervened, these two were done for. What person would have enough strength to fight what you were fated for? I was sure my mom fought it at first, but in the end, she folded… just like the rest of us. We were, after all, just human.

I was truly overwhelmed with all these “new additions” in our lives. However, my mother was truly radiating a happy glow, and I, too, felt somewhat happy that she found someone to cherish her…

But—and yes, there was always a huge but—this didn’t feel like home to me. Somehow, I felt like I was walking into someone else’s life and I felt bereft. I was jet-lagged and the last thing I wanted was to unpack in a new bedroom that I didn’t have any attachment to. Though the room was nice, overlooking the vast garden and swimming pool, it was still strange to me.