Preview of book 8 (name to be determined)

One thing I really enjoy is writing flashbacks and flash forwards. In particular, Tommy and Jack trying to raise Julie has brought many funny and heartwarming moments to this story. Likewise, writing the romance of Bill and Julie in flashbacks helps to fill in some of the gaps, since they met much before the series began. Here is a particular memory of a time when Bill and Julie were dating and she was stabbed. This scene is shortly after.

(8 years ago)

“You don’t have to tell me everything if you don’t want to,” Bill said as he and Julie sat in his living room having lunch. It had been a few days since she was released from the hospital and they had never addressed the reason she ran in the first place. He had the whole week off to take care of her and they were both finding that being together all the time was much easier than they thought. Their relationship was getting stronger every moment.

“It was stupid for me to never tell you about what happened. I guess I just never felt like it was the right time.”

He brushed her hair behind her shoulder and she looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I think now is the right time,” he said softly.

“You think? Maybe another time would be better,” she shrugged.

“Nope. I feel like it’s now,” he smiled softly.

“Okay.”

He waited and she wiped her eyes. “I don’t know why I’m getting so emotional. It’s not like it just happened, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. Jack and Tommy made me see a therapist and I talked about my ‘feelings’ until I swear I didn’t have any left.” She looked into his eyes and reached up to stroke his face. “I don’t think I ever talked about it with someone I cared about; someone whose reaction mattered.”

“That makes sense, but you’re stalling,” he grinned.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m getting there. This is dramatic build up.”

He laughed and reached to brush her tears away. “Tell me how you found out.”

Her chin quivered as she remembered the scene like it was yesterday. “I was staying at my friend Erin’s house for the weekend while my parents went to a resort at the Hamptons for an anniversary celebration. Tommy and Jack were finishing up their first year at college and had just finished finals. They were at a bar celebrating and I knew that. That’s what was so weird when I saw him. Erin’s mom called me to come downstairs and I did, only to see Tommy and Jack standing there.”

Bill watched her face as she told him the details she had held inside for so long. He felt terrible for her, having to deal with that at such a young age.

“I knew something was wrong, and Jack couldn’t even look at me. Tommy sat me down and told me there had been an accident and they were gone.” She shrugged. “I don’t know how he was able to do that. I don’t know how he held it together during that time. I was a mess, but he took over and made sure I was okay. He and Jack became everything to me and I just don’t know where I would be without them.”

Bill already had immense respect for Tommy and Jack, but it grew at her words.

“The first few weeks were really hard, but it was also when the three of us figured everything out. I begged them to let me stay and not be sent away and they both worked so hard to make it happen. We just kind of developed into this blended family and I think it helped all of us survive.”

He moved closer and pulled her to him in a hug, being careful not to hurt her back. She was surprised, but hugged him back.

“I love you so much and I’m so blessed to have found you,” he said.

She pulled back and held his face in her hands. “I love you, too. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this before.”

“Well, I haven’t been an open book about my parents either, so I can understand that.”

“No, it’s more than that, and it’s why I got so upset. It’s why I ran from the party and it’s ultimately why I put myself in a position to get attacked,” she looked down at her hands, the confession hitting her harder than she thought.

He tilted her chin back up to look at him. “What do you mean? Don’t stop. Tell me what you’re thinking.”

She looked into his blue eyes, so full of compassion and understanding and she couldn’t stop her tears. She put her hands over her face and sobbed.

He was at a loss. He didn’t know what she was so afraid to tell him and he wasn’t used to seeing her like this. She was always a pillar of strength, never rattled and never one to show vulnerability. He hated this; not because she was vulnerable, but because he didn’t know how to fix it. If there was one thing Bill wanted more than anything, it was to make her smile. This was heartbreaking.

“Julie? Can you look at me for a minute?”

She wiped her face and stood up, embarrassed and uncomfortable. She never acted like this and she wanted to disappear. What would he think? “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ll get my things and go back home.”

He wrinkled his brow and stood up, walking to her and cupping her face in his hands.

“Stop it, I’m all gross. Let me wipe my face.”

“No. I love you. I love you all blubbery and I love you vulnerable and I love you strong and I love you when you confuse the shit out of me. What I can’t handle is you shutting down on me.” A thought suddenly occurred to him and he turned pale.

“Unless that’s what you want.” He ran his hand through his hair. “Maybe I’m being completely dense here. Maybe you are trying to leave.” He walked away and then turned to face her. “Are you breaking up with me?”

“What? No. That’s the point. I’m so upset because I’m so upset.”

“Julie. You are not making any sense. You’re upset because you’re upset? What does that mean?”

“I never talk about my parents, and if I do, I never get upset. It didn’t matter if it was a therapist or a teacher, it never mattered, because I didn’t care about those people. Tommy was always so worried about me because I don’t cry. But with you, I can’t stop the tears.”

He was quiet for a minute. “And that’s a good thing?”

She smiled. “It’s amazing, but scary.” She exhaled a shaky breath, “I ran because I realized that I hadn’t told you anything about me. I had kept the most important aspect of my life a secret and I didn’t know if you could forgive me. I felt like I failed our relationship and that you would think I held back from you because I didn’t trust you. The truth is, I thought if you knew how messed up I really was, you would leave and that thought was horrifying for me. That’s why I got so upset. My parents deserved a better daughter, and Tommy and Jack, who did everything for me, sacrificed everything for me, well it was like I learned nothing from that. I felt the walls closing in around me and I couldn’t breathe. I did everything wrong and I’m profoundly sorry.”

“So you don’t want to break up with me?” Bill moved closer to her.

She smiled. “No. Never.”

“Good, because I don’t think I could take it if you left. I’m sorry you felt like you couldn’t talk to me. I’m sorry you worried so much about this and I’m so incredibly sorry you were hurt. But Julie, you’re my whole life. I have never loved anyone like I love you and I never will. Whatever happens, wherever this life takes us, I hope we go through it together. You never have to worry about telling me anything. I just want to be with you. I just need you,” he said simply, his own eyes wet and his words simple and sincere.

She closed the tiny gap between them and pulled his face to hers, pressing her lips to his and kissing him with a neediness and a passion that left nothing unsaid. He backed up and shook his head.

“What is it?”

“You can’t kiss me like that. I can’t stop my body from responding to you,” he took a deep breath.

“So what? Let it respond. You have to know my body is on fire for you,” she moved back to him and pulled him to her for another kiss. She wrapped her arms around him and rested her hands on his behind. She could feel his arousal against her middle.

“Julie, you are three days removed from surgery and we have never made love before. If you think our first time is going to be while you’re in no condition to enjoy it, well you’re crazy.”

She looked at him and ran her hands over his chest. “I can’t wait to be with you.”

He rested his forehead against hers. “Me too, so much,” he held her and willed his body to chill out.

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