Unclaimed Regrets, page 1
Stacy M. Wray
Unclaimed Regrets Copyright © 2015 by Stacy M. Wray
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
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For more information visit www.stacymwray.com
To Aaron and Allison – the joys of my life and created from a true high school sweetheart love that’s still going strong.
Chapter one: Adelyn
Chapter two: Adelyn, twelve years ago
Chapter three: Trey, twelve years ago
Chapter four: Adelyn
Chapter five: Adelyn, twelve years ago
Chapter six: Trey, twelve years ago
Chapter seven: Adelyn
Chapter eight: Trey
Chapter nine: Adelyn
Chapter ten: Trey
Chapter eleven: Adelyn
Chapter twelve: Adelyn, eleven years ago
Chapter thirteen: Trey
Chapter fourteen: Adelyn
Chapter fifteen: Trey
Chapter sixteen: Adelyn
Chapter seventeen: Trey
Chapter eighteen: Adelyn
Chapter nineteen: Trey
Chapter twenty: Adelyn, one year ago
Chapter twenty-one: Trey
Chapter twenty-two: Adelyn
Chapter twenty-three: Liz
Chapter twenty-four: Trey
Chapter twenty-five: Adelyn
Chapter twenty-six: Trey
Chapter twenty-seven: Adelyn
Chapter twenty-eight: Trey
Chapter twenty-nine: Adelyn
About the Author
I pull the latch on the weathered mailbox, tugging a little since it sticks at the top, and retrieve the contents. Making my way to the front door, I haphazardly flip through the envelopes. I stop when I recognize my high school logo on a sticker that rests on the flap of the envelope. My mind quickly calculates what I think its contents might be. Has it really been that long?
Once inside, I quickly toss the few pieces of mail I don’t care about on the entryway table and take the one that intrigues me to my favorite, over-stuffed chair.
Sitting with my legs tucked under me, I eye the logo for quite some time, thinking back to a period when life seemed so simple - carefree weekends with friends, fly fishing in Dog River, helping out on the farm, big family meals on Sunday, and selling goods at the weekly farmers market. A slew of emotions attack me. I haven’t experienced these memories for quite some time and it surprises me how they are affecting me.
I glide my finger under the seal and pull out the card. It’s just as I suspected, an invitation to my ten-year high school reunion. It’s scheduled for three months from now, and they would like an RSVP in just one month. Four weeks for me to decide if I want to go down that path. Four weeks for me to go back and forth about seeing people who I haven’t laid eyes on since I left for college. If I’m being honest with myself, there’s only one person who I think about seeing that could alter my decision one way or another. I’m not sure four weeks will be enough time for me to make that decision.
I begin to feel uneasy entertaining the idea of returning home, not that I haven’t been back at all since leaving for college. I couldn’t go all that time without seeing my parents. They were really good about making the four and a half hour drive to where I attended college in New York from Northfield, Vermont, my hometown. They knew that my infrequent visits had nothing to do with them. When I did go home for holidays, I didn’t venture out much, relishing the time with my parents in my childhood home.
I’m having a hard time believing that a four by six card can stir up so many memories – memories I purposely don’t entertain for a reason. That reason is something I have never gotten over and never properly dealt with.
Not wanting to spend any more time contemplating my past, I get up from my chair and walk down the hall to my office, where I place the invitation in the top drawer of my desk. I know that having it out of sight won’t really do the trick but it’s a start.
Deciding I need a distraction, I open my laptop and decide to do some research for my new client. I received my BFA through the graphic design program from the School of Art and Design at Purchase College. It was quite a cultural shock from my small town in Vermont, but I had my heart set on Purchase since I can remember and made myself adjust to city living.
I love what I do – designing book covers for all different genres of books. I’m my own boss, work from home, and set my own hours. I can’t think of a better setup. I can work from anywhere and I have clients from all over. That’s the beauty of technology.
I have always loved everything about books. I love the way they smell, the designs of the covers, and especially reading them. I worked at our local library all through high school and when I got to Purchase, I worked at the library on campus. So you could say I’m definitely doing what I love. When I need to escape the real world, I go to work. How many people can say that about their career?
Currently I’m doing research for a book cover that is a murder/mystery. I finished reading my client’s book last night and after reading through his suggestions on what he would like to see on the front of his book, I begin brain-storming by pouring over different concepts. I could do this for hours without even realizing how much time has passed.
After working for several hours, the alarm on my phone sounds, reminding me it’s time to get ready to meet Wade, my best friend from college. We keep in touch often, not letting more than a few days go by without some sort of communication. Wade is the one person who knows practically everything there is to know about me. He stayed in New York City after we graduated, but I craved a little slower paced atmosphere, locating to Bloomfield, Connecticut. It’s a two and a half hour drive between us, so we meet at a diner in Norwalk which is pretty much halfway.
We try to do this every other week, but there may be times that our schedules don’t mesh. I’m so grateful that we’ve been doing this for the past six years or so; he’s always been my rock and continues to be, especially now when I need him the most.
I gather my purse, throwing my cell phone inside, and grab my keys off the hook by the door leading to the garage. Settling into my Honda CRV, I back out of the garage and start the journey to meet Wade. I put my favorite Script CD in the player and mindlessly sing along.
I try to concentrate on the lyrics of the song, but my mind goes back to the invitation sitting in my desk drawer. I don’t know what to do about it. I’m hopeful that Wade will be able to give me his opinion. If I’m being honest, I really would love to go back and see my hometown since it’s been so long since I’ve visited. I do miss the people I grew up with. Being from a small town, you pretty much get to know everyone who lives there in one way or another. Furthermore, I would love to spend time with my parents. They always say how much they love the drive to come see me, but I really need to quit being so selfish and be the one who goes to them.
I pull into our favorite diner
The bells on the door jingle as I push it open and the aroma of grease assaults me. I look around for Wade and spot him in a corner booth. He sees me approaching the table and gets up to greet me; a slow smile spreads across his face. He embraces me with the warmest of hugs and I take in his scent: masculine and woodsy. It’s such a comforting smell and I’m so content feeling his arms around me, not in a romantic way, more in a brotherly way.
We pull away from our hold so we can look at each other. “Have you been waiting long?” I ask him. “I think I’m a little late.”
He takes my hand and squeezes it. “Nope. I was a little late myself. All’s good.” We both take our place in the booth and grab a menu. We’ve considered meeting at other places, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. This place is so nostalgic and we are so comfortable here. All the waitresses know us and understand we sit here and talk forever, knowing to give us our space after we get our food. We tip them very well for keeping their table occupied for so long.
“How’s Angie? You guys any closer to tying the knot?” I know this is a sore subject with him, which is why I lead with it. I love getting him riled up.
“You love to poke the bear, don’t you?” He smirks at me, shaking his head, some of his shaggy, sandy hair falling in his eyes. Wade is the true definition of a hipster. He’s wearing skinny jeans, paired with a fitted hoodie and his Sanuk slip-on shoes. His lip ring and Buddy Holly glasses finish off his look. He hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve known him. He’s the one constant I can always rely on.
“I take it that means no. You just plan on living in sin forever?” He laughs at this.
“She knows how much I love her. We don’t need a piece of paper to prove it. The only people who have a problem with it are her parents. And you, apparently.” I know he’s teasing but wrinkle my nose at him nonetheless.
The waitress comes to our table and takes our drink orders, giving us time to look over the menu. I decide quickly on the mushroom and swiss burger and close my menu. Wade is looking over the menu so intently, like he’s never seen it before. This makes me laugh. He looks up, his eyes meeting mine. “What?” he asks.
“You should have that thing memorized with as many times as we’ve been here.”
“Get off my case, man. You’re in some kind of mood.” He playfully kicks me under the table. Then he eyes me closely. “You been okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good. Still taking things one day at a time. I feel like I’m in limbo, you know?”
He studies me for a moment. “You know I’m here for you. You need anything, you let me know, okay?”
“I know, Wade. I never question that. I don’t want you to worry about me. I’m handling things like a champ.” I give him one of my goofy smiles so he knows I really am okay.
He nods, trying to decide if I’m being honest or trying to throw him off. He must decide I’m being honest and goes back to perusing the menu.
The waitress approaches us, setting down our drinks just as he’s shutting his menu. He announces he’ll have the breakfast sampler. I should’ve known since he always orders breakfast. I give the waitress my order and she leaves to turn them in.
Now that we’re alone again, I decide to bring up the troublemaker that showed up in my mailbox. “You’ll never believe what I got in the mail today.”
Wade lifts his brows in question, and I answer, “An invitation to my ten-year class reunion. It really threw me for a loop. I had no idea that it’s been ten years already.”
Studying me, he asks, “Are you going to go?”
Taking my straw from the paper, I plunge it into my cup and say, “I don’t know. I need to think about it. I don’t know if I’m ready to see him or if he’ll even be there.”
“It’s been ten years, Addie. Don’t you think this would be a good time for some closure. Frankly, I can’t believe you’ve let it go on for so long.”
That comment surprises me. “I can’t just go traipsing back home demanding to know what happened all those years ago.”
“True. You should’ve found out what happened after the first few months, not years,” he says cautiously.
I blink hard at this. His directness is kind of brutal tonight, but I can’t fault him because he’s right. “So you think I should go then?”
“Only if you think it’s right. Don’t you think it’s time?” His tone is much more gentle now.
I think about this for a minute. “I’m more scared of seeing him with someone than I am of getting the closure.” I search his face to assess what he thinks of my confession. Then I see it – surprise.
“You never got over him after all of these years? Even after being married yourself?” Guess I can still manage to shock him.
“I thought I had, but admitting to myself that it would pain me to see him with someone else says it all, huh? It just now dawned on me that I felt this way. It certainly doesn’t feel like ten years have passed. It feels like yesterday. How pathetic is that?”
“It’s not pathetic if that’s how you truly feel. But my advice is to go to your reunion, no matter how painful it ends up being. This is something you need to do, Addie. I had no idea you still felt that way,” he says, shaking his head.
“Me either. Could my life be any more complicated?” I ask with a laugh.
“I’m afraid not. You want me to go with you? I will you know.” This is why I love being friends with Wade. He sincerely means every word.
“I love you for volunteering to be a voyeur into the tragedies of my life, but this is something I know I need to do on my own. Thank you for asking though, it means a lot,” I tell him, reaching across the table and gently squeezing his hand.
He smiles warmly at me. I don’t know what I would do without him as my sounding board.
We spend the rest of the evening reminiscing about our days at Purchase and all the friends we made along the way. I love doing this with Wade since he’s the one person that links my past to my present.
It starts getting late and we make our way to our cars. After hugging goodbye, Wade says, “See you in a couple of weeks. Be sure to keep me posted.”
“I will. I promise.” He gives me a kiss on the cheek, tells me to drive safe and gets in his Saab. I wave to him as he pulls out of the parking lot and then get into my car.
I go over our conversation in my head on the way home. Wade’s right, I need to go to this reunion. I promise myself I will RSVP right away so I don’t chicken out. I keep telling myself it will be fine.
twelve years ago
It’s the first day of my sophomore year in high school, and I’m so relieved to have the freshman title removed from my identity. I get to school a little early, wanting to meet with my guidance counselor about changing a class.
As I walk through the office doors, I notice an extremely good-looking guy sitting in one of the chairs, waiting to be called back. He’s looking down at his cell phone so I get an opportunity to properly check him out.
He’s got medium brown hair that’s been highlighted in golden tones, most likely from being in the sun all summer. His muscles are very defined and his skin is perfectly tanned. I’m assuming he’s probably worked on a farm all summer, as most do around here. His hands also have all the signs of farm work, and I instantly love them. Most girls will check out a guy’s butt or muscles or eyes, but I always check out their hands. Don’t know why - it’s just my thing.
He must feel me staring and he lifts his head to meet my eyes. I jerk my head around immediately, cursing myself for being so obvious. I spot my guidance counselor. “Mrs. Keller, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure, Adelyn, come on in.” I move to go behind the counter and down the hall, relieved to be disappearing from my slight indiscretion. I don’t spend much
On my way out, the gorgeous guy is standing at the counter, listening to the secretary explain where his first period class is. She sees me and says, “Adelyn, this is Trey Masterson and he’s a new student here. Could you be a dear and show him to his first period?” Oh my God, I love his name!
She smiles at him as she says this. I look over at him, and he has a smirk on his face, waiting for me to answer her.
“Um, sure Mrs. Brady.” I turn to him and ask, “Can I see your schedule?” He hands it to me and watches me as I try to concentrate on the words. I find his first period class and my heart races a bit. I look up at him and say, “Just follow me. You’re in my first period.”
A slow, deliberate grin spreads across his face as he says, “Well, isn’t it my lucky day.” Not really sure what he means by this, I start heading towards the door and Trey follows. I wonder where he moved from and if he has a girlfriend he left back home.
In his smooth, baritone voice he asks, “Did I hear your name as Addison?” His arm rubs against mine as we walk, not deliberate, but in a casual way, and I am more aware of it than my own limbs.
His question makes me smile and I correct him. “It’s Adelyn. Adelyn Winters.”
“I’ve never met an Adelyn before. It’s a great name,” he says. He seems unaware of all the stares he’s receiving from the girls walking down the hall, not even trying to conceal how obvious they are. It won’t take long for half the girls to make their move since this is a small town, and the pool of the opposite sex is small next to most schools. I wonder if he’s prepared for all the attention that will shortly be bestowed upon him.
“Can’t say I’ve ever met a Trey before either. When did you move here? News like that usually spreads fast in a small town.” His eyes get big, like he’s not use to such a thing.