Settled in New York City, Ryan and Julia Matthews seek to enjoy their idyllic newlywed life together. Julia’s high-profile job at Vogue and Ryan’s promising career in medicine will surely set them up for everything they could ever want. Their only obstacle seems to be finding enough time to spend together.
When a scuffle at Ryan’s hospital puts his life in danger, a colleague steps in to save him but is critically injured in the process. In a heroic and unwavering effort, Ryan manages to save her life, but her injuries irrevocably change her future forever.
What happens next will push Ryan beyond human endurance, when he is forced to decide how much he will pay for his new friendship and Julia, what she is willing to sacrifice in order to spare herself the unspeakable pain of watching someone else try to replace her in Ryan’s heart.
Join Ryan and Julia in the heart-wrenching conclusion to the unforgettable story of an incredible love, worth every single sacrifice…
For there is nothing more sacred than… A Love Like This…
5 of 5 A Love Like This
First I have to start out by saying this is the BEST SERIES I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes shouty caps because it is true. Man did this series take me on a roller coaster of a ride and back. I have never read anything that has torn my heart out and stomped it on the ground only you pick it back up and put it back together. Julia and Ryan have been through so much together and apart. This has not been an easy journey for them but together they took this journey and made it work. In The Future Of Our Past we get to see Julia and Ryan start their relationship out. They tell each other how they fell and the fears they face because Ryan is going to be starting Medical School in the fall and he will be moving to New York. Julia has her own dreams and has accomplished so much that she is proud of herself for all the things she accomplished. She loves Ryan and as they start the new journey of graduating college and starting out new lives they have to decide what they will do about their love for one another and if they can make it as a couple. Then in Don't Forget To Remember Me we see Julia and Ryan struggling to find that balance of careers and love. Ryan and Julia go through a lot in the second book and by the end they have come full circle and are more in love with each other than before if that can be said. Which leaves us to the final book A Love Like This. WOWZER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just plain old WOWZER because what happens between them here had me hysterical in tears at some point and before I knew what was going on I was yelling at the kindle and pissed all at once.
So Here is my review for A Love Like This and yes it will not have spoilers in it because you have to read this series to get the full effect of Julia and Ryan's journey of finding love and keeping it. Julia and Ryan are newly weds enjoying the afterglow and bliss of marriage. They are enjoying their careers and Julia has a job working for Vogue and she is so excited! Ryan is moving up the ranks at the hospital and enjoying the one thing he always said he would be a doctor. He loves it and it is his life well the second thing in his life because the first and foremost thing has and will always be Julia. But as things start to move forward between Julia and Ryan a curve ball is thrown into the mix. One day at work Ryan has an altercation with a gang and a nurse Jane steps in to save him and she is injured. This is the beginning of some serious shit between Julia and Ryan. Ryan feels guilty that Jane was hurt and his guilt eats at him and causes him and Julia to start having problems. But as always Kahlen had me at the edge of my seat freaking out wondering what was going to happen because I was like shit Julia and Ryan finally found there HEA and now some trollop Jane comes in and thinks she is going to break them up HELL TO THE NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In this EPIC conclusion to Ryan and Julia's story what will happen between them? Will they stay together and fight for what they have? Or will Ryan throw it all away from some stupid ass guilt trip trollop? This is an EPIC EPIC EPIC ending to The Remembrance Trilogy.
Excerpt: A Love Like This
Julia padded softly around the bedroom and bathroom as we both brushed our teeth and got ready for bed. She silently rubbed my bare back and kissed my shoulder, standing there, watching me in the mirror with her soulful eyes. My chest filled. I’d never been so happy to see anyone in my life as I was when she walked through that door in the ER.
I put down the toothbrush and gingerly slid an arm around her waist and tugged her close to my side. The familiar scent of her, the warmth and love I found in her face when she looked at me, was as life-giving as a bonfire in Antarctica. My lips found her forehead and then moved down the side of her face. Her skin was warm beneath my mouth; alive. I breathed in deeply, sucking in her life-giving breath for my own.
Julia’s arms wound around my waist and she kissed my jaw before our lips met in a gentle kiss. I could feel the remnants of her fear and sensed the ache in her heart at the prospect of losing me. It was a feeling I remembered all too well.
She drew a shuddering breath as I forced my arms to wrap around her despite the pain that knifed through me with the movement. “I was so scared. I couldn’t bear to lose you. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
My hands framed her face as she looked up at me, her features gentled by sadness and love, my thumbs brushing along her cheekbones. She seemed so small, so fragile… so luminous. Emotion flooded through me and my heart constricted. It was so real—the possibility of the end of everything—and losing just one second with her was something I couldn’t contemplate. Even these quiet moments were so precious. It would’ve been easier being the one who died, rather than the one left behind. My brow knitted and I closed my eyes, nodding, pulling her little body closer into mine. “You won’t lose me, baby, but I know what you mean.”
The Remembrance Trilogy
Many of these are on Ryan & Julia's playlist...some are specific scenes in the books as noted.)
Iris - The Goo Goo Dolls
I'm with you - Avril Levign
From Where You Are - Lifehouse
Broken - Lifehouse
Running Away - Midnight Hour
Cry - Kelly Clarkson
Look After You - The Fray
Mad World - Gary Jules & Micheal Andrews
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack
Endless Love - Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney & Wings
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
You are so beautiful - Joe Cocker
Listen to your heart - Roxette
Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
I'll Be - Edwin McCain
Is this Love - Whitesnake
I believe in you and me - Whitney Houston
Naked - Celine Dion
Umbrella - Mandy Moore
Be Still - Kelly Clarkson
Far Away - Nickelback - (The Concert Scene, song 1)
Never Gonna Be Alone - Nickelback - (The Concert Scene, song 2)
I'm Not Giving You Up - Gloria Estefan - (From the 4 Seasons Dinner Scene)
Lie - David Cook
I will Remember You - Ryan Cabera - (Trilogy Theme)
Bad Day - Fuel
Down - Jason Walker
Answer - Sarah McLachlan
Hello - Evanescence
Beside Me - Jennifer Milan
Covered in Rain - John Mayer
You and Me - Lifehouse
Together Forever - Hannah Pestle
Find Me - Boyce Avenue
Lost - Faith Hill
Two is Better Than One - BoysLikeGirls
Just Like Heaven - Katie Melua
If You Only Knew - Shinedown
Only Hope - Mandy Moore
Answer - Sarah McLachlan - (From the Piano Scene)
Believe Again - Delta Goodman - (From the Couch Scene)
Love Drunk - boyslikegirls
I Will Be Here - Steven Curtis Chapman - (This one is obvious, can't tell you where, since it would be a spoiler)
Mirrors - Justin Timberlake
Thunder - Boys Like Girls
Never Let Go - Bryan Adams
I Miss Us - Kenny Loggins
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
What About Now - Daughtry
Here Without You - Acoustic Cover of 3 Doors Down by Boyce Avenue
Thinking About You - Puddle of Mudd
Your Guardian Angel - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Trying Not To Love You - Nickelback
Sorry - Buckcherry
My Safest Place to Hide - Backstreet Boys
All That I'm Asking For - LifeHouse
Little House - Amanda Seyfried
Try - Pink
Flame - Cheaptrick
Unbreak My Heart - Tony Braxton
It's Not Goodbye - Paula Pausini
Yesterday - Paul McCartney
Just One Last Dance - Sarah Connor
Go There With You - S. C. Chapman
Valentines Between Friends…
An outtake from The Remembrance Trilogy
Copyright 2013 – Kahlen Aymes
Fucking Valentine’s Day! I hated the Goddamn holiday and always had. Ever since I’d hit puberty, there was always at least one girl expecting something from me that I wasn’t willing to give; batting their doe eyes in expectation and then angry or crying when I didn’t fulfill their sugarplum visions. It was uncomfortable as hell and I really didn’t get it. I rolled my eyes in disgust. I had a feeling this year would be worse than ever.
Aaron wasn’t the romantic type at all! In fact, I’d call him the actions-speak-louder-than-words sort of guy; as long as the actions included the humpty dance, that is. His words, not mine.
Me, I had more finesse. Women wanted me and I knew it, but my delivery was much more refined. Admittedly, most of the time I was more interested in the body and than the brain, but I tried not to abuse it and seriously, it was because I hadn’t found anyone that I wanted to talk to more than have sex with. I cringed a little at the thought. Was it my fault if they threw themselves at me? I’m only human. I huffed and then smirked because I couldn’t help myself.
The only thing that redeemed me was that through high school and the first year of college, was that Aaron was worse. However, this year, he was stumbling all over himself to show his girlfriend, Jenna, that he wanted more from her than sex. I had to stop and make sure I wasn’t imagining it, but my brother pacing back and forth, going over what to write on the card. You’d think he was going to his execution he was so stressed out it was ridiculous!
What the hell, I may not have anyone I wanted to fawn over, but the least I could do was help him out. “Aaron. Chill, dude. Stop fidgeting, for Christ’s sake! You’ll scare the shit out of her.”
“Shut up! It’s only because you’re never invested in your relationships that you can be so cool about women. I actually care about this girl.”
“You’re right. I’m not the fawning type.” He looked at me in confusion. “I don’t fawn. I bask in the fawning.” I explained simply, grinning.
Aaron frowned and starred at me blankly. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You! You’re a mess. Get your balls back, man!”
“Well, some of us have to work at it, pretty-boy.”
“Yeah, Ryan, you have it easy! I mean, look at that mug!” Julia huffed at me. “It’s not as if you’ve ever had to work for it, so cut Aaron a break!”
My eyes darted to my best friend, sitting on the chair at the other end of the sofa in the apartment I shared with my brother. She was concentrating on her calculus assignment and wasn’t looking at me so I let my eyes roam over her.
Her fine brows were knitted together as she worked out a problem, glancing between her notes and textbook, once in a while grimacing and taking her eraser to the page. The long, flowing dark brunette hair falling almost to her waist in waves, draped over her face at one point and she impatiently shoved it behind her ear. Her small, rose-colored bow of a mouth looked so soft. Not to mention the firm little body, with the lush curves I’d imagined naked a hundred times, just lying in wait to be discovered. I inhaled, filling my chest to capacity before blowing it out and running my hand through my hair. I had to remind myself who she was and what we were.
She was so beautiful, but off limits. Off. Fucking. Limits. I tried to convince myself that she wasn’t a woman; she was my best friend. It shouldn’t have been that difficult because she was unlike most of the women I knew. The short time since we’d met, felt like a lifetime. I liked her mind, she was funny and she didn’t take my shit… I had serious respect for her. She was the best of both worlds; I could be myself around her, goof around or tell her absolutely anything. She was the first person I wanted to talk to in the morning and the last person I wanted to see at night. She got me. And I got her. Now if only I could convince my dick. My lips thinned in determination.
“Shut up, Abbott. You’ve probably got gaggles of poor assholes just waiting in line with hearts and flowers today. What happened to that sap making googely eyes at you in the library, yesterday? Poor bastard!” I scoffed.
Her eyes lifted from her assignment and she scowled at me. “Martin Frank? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
One side of my mouth quirked in a smirk. The dude had it bad for her, but he was a first class nerd. No way in hell, she’d ever be interested in a worm like him. “Yeah, you guys could probably use the grease in his hair for lube.” I continued to goad and tried not to laugh out loud but couldn’t stop myself.
She smiled and bit her lip, trying hard not to join my laughter but when her eyes locked with mine she grinned wide. “Um, not all women need lube you know, Matthews. Maybe you aren’t motivating enough.” Amusement danced over her face and her large green orbs, sparkling.
“Humph!” I snorted in disgust and dared her with my eyes. “That’s not why they need it,” I said wryly.
“Ugh,” she moaned, blushing slightly. I loved it when she blushed. It was ninety percent of the reason I teased her so mercilessly, the other ten percent was to keep myself from touching her. “Whatever. Your ego knows no bounds.”
“It’s part of my charm.”
“I’d love to stay and bask in your greatness, but as it happens, I do have a date. Not with Martin Frank, however.” She shoved her books into her backpack and rose from the chair. “It is Valentine’s Day and he’s no worm.”
I sat up, my interest more than piqued as my mind sorted through the possibilities. “Really,” I scoffed. “If he’s so wonderful, why is this the first I’ve heard of him?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I registered Aaron picked up the bouquet of roses and the card he’d just finished signing and took it with him toward the hall to get his jacket. He shrugged into it, awkwardly juggling the flowers from one had to the other in the process.
Nonplussed, Julia continued her task of closing her backpack. “Good luck, Aaron. Have fun.”
“We will. We’ll be at The Mill later. You going there with your date?” He smiled at Julia and I sat back; annoyed.
“Maybe.” She half-shrugged. “He’s making the plans.”
“And, who is he?” I interrupted.
To my chagrin, Aaron shook his head knowingly and chuckled. “Later, bro. You should meet us out, too.”
I followed Julia into the small kitchen after she picked up the plates from the cheese quesadillas Aaron and I had wolfed down an hour earlier. Aaron hovered by the door waiting for my reply.
Julia eyed me warily and I frowned. “Do I know him?”
“Jesus, Ryan!” She rinsed the plates and stacked them by the sink. “It’s not a big deal! He’s a guy from my econ class. He’s nice.”
My interest in Julia’s date was more than I wanted it to be, but I told myself that she was my friend and I wanted to make sure she was okay. “Okay, then tell me who it is, Jules.”
My eyes widened slightly before I could stop them, but I quickly masked my expression to one of mild interest. Dave Kelly was an upperclassman and one of the big wigs in the Phi Psi fraternity; they kept focus away from their womanizing ways with their high GPAs. They were slick and good-looking and smart as hell. They’d recruited me hard first semester, but I decided not to rush. If Harvard was going to even be a possibility, I had to focus on school as much as possible. Didn’t mean I didn’t have fun, but my inner circle was small and close-knit.
My skin prickled with agitation and an unfamiliar emotion I couldn’t label. I tried not to let it show, casually leaning against the counter with my hip; I crossed my arms nonchalantly. The scent that was Julia, a subtle mixture of her perfume and something else uniquely her, wafted up to my nostrils. She pushed the sleeves of her dark blue sweater halfway up her arms and started running water in the sink to wash the dishes.
“Yeah, I heard of him,” I said blandly, my eyes darted between her hands in the soapy water to the curve of her face. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure I wanted her to meet my eyes. “He’s not as nice as you think.”
“Relax, Ryan” Aaron said. “Let her have some fun without hovering.”
My cool control broke. “Don’t you have somewhere to be? I’m not hovering, but I don’t trust the guy! You know what I’m talking about, Aaron!”
Julia rolled her eyes and walked to get the dirty sheet pan that was resting on top of the stove. Before she reached it, she patted Aaron on the stomach. “It’s okay. I can handle Ryan and his moody ass. Go have fun with Jenna. Text later and I’ll see where we’re at.”
I shifted until my back was to the counter and folded my arms. Aaron’s gaze met mine and mine narrowed in silent communication. I knew he’d let me know where Julia and her date landed once she’d texted him. Aaron knew why I was worried. We’d both heard the dude bragging about his latest conquests on more than one occasion. Normally, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if the girls were too silly to realize what the asshole was about, but this was Julia. Aaron left without another word and Julia brought the pan to the sink to wash it. Our apartment was to old and run down to have a dishwasher, but before I met Julia, we lived on take out and frozen pizza, so we never missed one.
My eyes bored into her. She had to feel it. “I’m not being moody. The guy only wants to get in your pants.”
She stopped and looked up at me, then burst out laughing. “Wow. Really? That’s what all guys want! Doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough to fall for it. But you know what? Maybe I want in his. Ever think of that?”
No. I’d never considered that she’d just want to get laid. I shook my head in astonishment. “No. You’re not like that.”
“Like what? The kind of girls you date? Like them? You have no problem hitting it when you need it. So how is Dave Kelly worse than you? And why shouldn’t I?”
She was right. Why shouldn’t she? She was gorgeous and lots of dudes wanted her. But I didn’t want it to be that asshole. I didn’t know how to answer that, so I blew it off.
“I actually like the girls I date. I don’t prey on women for sex.”
She shook her head. “You don’t have to prey, Ryan! Girls will drop their panties if you snap your fingers! He couldn’t possibly like me, right? That is what you’re saying, isn’t it?”
She turned and angrily wiped her hand on a dishtowel before throwing it down. “Thanks for trying to ruin my night, dickhead!”
I stepped forward and grabbed her arm. “Julia, I’m not trying to ruin anything. I’m worried about you. I don’t want you getting hurt. And I especially don’t want you getting used.”
Her head cocked to one side and the anger left her features. Julia sighed, her deep green eyes looking right through me, seeing everything I didn’t want to see myself. “Ryan, I’m a big girl.”
My head moved in the negative, just one short movement. “No, you’re not. You’re soft and fragile and too sweet for someone like him. He’s a snake. I’ve seen him in action.”
Her shoulder nudged my arm and leaned against the counter next to me. “I appreciate your concern, but I’m going, Ryan. I’m not some bimbo with wide eyes and nothing between my ears. Besides, won’t you be too busy tonight to care?”
I sighed again. “No. I don’t give anyone delusions with stupid hearts and flowers. I was hoping we’d hang out.”
Her head cocked to one side and she reached out and slid her fingers down my arm. “Sorry.”
“Where are you going?”
She shook her head. “Uh uh. If you show up Dave will feel like a third wheel. Remember when we did that double date at the arcade with Kevin Armister and Maria… ” Her face crinkled up and she looked at the ceiling as she pretended not to remember my date’s last name. “What was her name again?” She smiled wide and my heart flip-flopped inside my chest.
We’d ended up side-by-side the whole night with both of our dates completely pissed off. “Williams,” I said and leaned in enough so our shoulders were touching. “They were both boring as shit anyway.”
“Yeah. Did you know they’re dating now.”
“No shit? Match made in heaven.” I smiled but my face sobered. “So where did you say you were going?”
Julia launched away from the counter and turned to face me. “Ughh! Ryan! I can’t have a date with you lurking in the background.”
“Okay, I concede that. But you can call that dickhead and cancel; then we can go to a movie or maybe that arcade again. We had a great time last time, didn’t we?”
She bit her lip and looked at me, her eyes locking with mine.
“Come on, Abbott. You know you’d rather hang with me.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s what I should do.”
Again, she was right. It was unfair that I tried to keep her from dating, from possibly finding a boyfriend, but it just didn’t sit right. I shrugged. “I know. So?”
“So, hand me my phone.”
Ryan Matthews has everything he ever wanted. Close to graduation from Harvard Medical School and on the verge of marrying his gorgeous and accomplished girlfriend, Julia Abbott, his dreams are about to come true.
Julia is on the fast track as a fashion editor for a big New York magazine. Ryan plans to join her there to complete his residency at a major trauma center and all of their sacrifice is finally at it's end.
When tragedy strikes, their relationship is hurled into turmoil that leaves Ryan devastated as sorrow drives him to keep his distance, while Julia reaches out to find him again.
The second book of The Remembrance Trilogy follows Ryan and Julia's quest to rebuild their stunning past; an incredibly beautiful and heart-breaking romance, full of passion, intensity and truly immeasurable love. You'll be left spellbound, breathless and aching for more...
Excerpt: A Love Like This
“Is your husband that dear Dr. Ryan?”
I smiled brightly. “Yes! Do you know him?”
“He’s a sweetie. He buys Vogue every month at the gift shop and gives it to me. Of course, I thought it strange, such a virile young man reading a woman’s magazine, but he explained that his wife works there.” Acknowledgement dawned on her face, pale with too much powder than punctuated with too much blush. “You?” She pointed a long, bony finger at me, and smiled.
I nodded, my cheeks infused with heat. “Guilty. I didn’t know he bought it, though. It may be because I don’t bring copies home. Work intrudes enough.”
The woman smiled, her bright red, Marilyn Monroe-esque lipstick a stark contrast to her pale skin. “She’s been moved out of critical care; in room 511 dear. You go right on up.” She waved me toward the steel doors of the elevators to our left. “Say hello to your handsome husband for me, if he’s here.”
“I expect that he is. It was very nice to meet you…” I hesitated.
“Oh, Louise. But Ryan calls me Louie. Now, don’t be jealous, honey.” Her light blue eyes sparkled from her jovial expression.
I couldn’t help but giggle. “I won’t. It’s so nice to meet you, Louie!”
Julia Abbot and Ryan Matthews have been inseparable best friends since the moment they met. Each of them fight an internal battle unwilling to risk their incredible friendship but unable to quell their deep longing for the other. On the verge of his departure to medical school and to her new job on the opposite coast, Ryan and Julia are forced to face the undeniable truth of their deeper feelings.
Excerpt: A Love Like This
Once again, it was after midnight when I arrived home and as usual, I was beat. My back ached. After Jane and I returned from our dinner break, we had an automobile accident and five victims, three of them critical, one a three-year-old boy. He made it, but his mother did not. I’d worked on her tirelessly for twenty-five minutes when she flat-lined, but it was useless. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and her frontal lobe was mashed into the windshield at fifty miles per hour.
Julia stirred when I moved around the dark bedroom. “Ryan, are you here?” Her voice was soft and laced with sleep.
“Yes, baby,” I answered, reaching out to rub her back gently through the blanket. We kept it cool in the bedroom; cooler than the rest of the apartment. Julia liked the thick comforter and snuggling close to me, but I was always warm, “Don’t wake up. I’ll come to bed soon.” My fingers played in the dark strands of her hair.
She was on her stomach and turned her face toward me on her pillow. “How was your night?”
“Busy. Not great. Had a car accident victim that didn’t make it.”
“Oh… I’m sorry, honey.” Julia’s eyes glittered in the dark and her hair was all messy. She reached for me and I took her hand in mine, bringing it to my lips. She was so soft and alluring, and dead tired or not, my dick stiffened and started to throb. I was sitting on the bed now and hoped Julia didn’t notice. It had been my plan to finish the note and then sleep, but my body had other ideas.
“I need to take a shower, babe.”
“No, you don’t.” Julia moved up onto her knees and sat on her heels. One hand held the comforter to her breasts, but her shoulders were bare. I wanted to reach out and yank it from her, exposing the beauty I knew lay beneath. I leaned in to kiss the one closest to me. Her hand wound in my hair and began to gently scratch my scalp. It felt amazing and I let my forehead drop into the curve of her neck. “I can give you a massage.”
“Mmm…” I moaned. “That sounds like heaven, but if you touch me, I’ll wanna make love.”
3 book set signed paperbacks or $15 Amazon gift card and t-shirt, apron and coffee mug
Christmas in Chicago
Outtake from The Remembrance Trilogy
Copyright 2012 – Kahlen Aymes
I was bored shitless; lying on the floor of my room at my parent’s house, with my lower legs flung on top of the bed. I didn’t know what to fucking do with myself. I’d been home two days and I was going stir crazy.
I tossed the baseball against the wall opposite me. My dad caught it from a pop fly on opening day two years before, when Aramis Ramirez was at bat. I threw it again, remembering how pissed Aaron had been that I’d won the coin toss and in turn, this ball. In retrospect, I realized I probably could have just let him have it. I rolled it around in my hand, admiring the smooth, almost new leather before I resumed the mindless activity. Thump, thump, thump… the noise and the motion of it providing the white noise I needed.
At the last minute, Aaron had decided to stay behind at college with Jenna and I would have joined him if my mother wouldn’t have been completely crushed having both of us bail on Christmas in Chicago. Now I was stuck in this rotten cold weather without a damn thing to do. My dad was called in for emergency surgery, so he wasn’t even in the house. Thump, thump, thump… I threw it harder in my frustration.
The door to my room burst open, and my mother stuck her head in. “Ryan! What are you doing in here?”
I flushed guiltily. “Oh, sorry,” I mumbled, holding up the ball in explanation.
Her features softened. She was always so elegant, dressed to perfection, her shoulder-length hair; the same color as mine was always perfectly styled, while I lay around like a slob in baggy grey sweat pants, white crew socks and an old Nine Inch Nails T-shirt. I scratched my head and then my stomach. I definitely needed a shower.
“I know you’re bored, honey. Can you call some of your high school friends?”
I sat up and shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I’m going downtown shopping later. Do you want to come?”
“Maybe,” I mumbled again. I hated shopping downtown. I hated the traffic, I hated the slushy streets. I stood up and went to my desk to fire up the laptop. “I guess I do need to buy a few presents. I’m not good at buying for girls and I need to get Jules’ gift. I could use your help.”
Mom came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. My room was pretty much unchanged from the day I left for Stanford. My high school football and basketball jerseys were stuck to the walls with push pins among posters of Milla Jovovich and Megan Fox, sports trophies, concert tickets and a bunch of pictures.
“What does she like?”
“Everything. She’s cool.”
“Is she the tomboy type?”
I huffed in amusement as I looked through my email. “Hardly. Why would you assume that?”
“I don’t know. She hangs out with my son and but she’s not his girlfriend. You never spend any time with girls that you aeren’t dating, that I recall.”
Something inside me stopped. “Yeah, well, Jules is different. She has a brain, we can talk about stuff. She’s cool,” I said again, searching for the right words to describe Julia without making it sound like I had a crush on her.
“Ryan! Are you insinuating that most women are mindless?” Her eyebrow shot up in disapproval.
“No, it’s just… ” I paused searching for the right words. “Julia doesn’t yap on and on about clothes and make-up and meaningless crap. She’s the first girl that I’ve ever respected like that.” She shot me another reprimanding look. “Besides you, I mean.” I flashed a full-on grin and she smiled back.
“Girls like bath oil, shower gel and lotions. You could get her a gift basket or gift card.”
“Ugh! Seriously? That shit’s lame. It’s what you get your kindergarten teacher or old Aunt Sally.”
Mom chuckled. “If you like her that much, why aren’t you dating her?”
I stopped playing with my computer as I contemplated the question. I half-assed shrugged and shook my head. “We’re good friends. It might get weird if we dated.”
“Is she pretty?”
“Yeah,” I answered without thinking. “Super hot. Aaron thinks my dick’s broken.”
Shit! Did I just say that to my mom? I flushed guiltily then grinned.“What?” I asked incredulously. “He’s the one who said it, not me!”
My mother rolled her eyes and smiled despite her motherly chagrin. “I’ll have to have a talk with your brother. So, she is pretty?”
“She’s, er… amazing.”
“Yeah, but amazing goes way beyond looks. I like her mind and she’s funny. She’s fun to hang out with.”
“Do you think, if you spend so much time together, you should get her something a little personal for Christmas?”
“Probably, but I don’t know what.”
My computer dinged and an IM came up from Julia. I looked guiltily at my mom, hoping she’d take the hint and exit my room.
“Okay, we’ll figure it out. After I’m done putting the roast in the crock pot, I’ll have a few hours and we can go.”
“Sure.” My computer dinged again and still I waited until my mother had gone.
Ryan? You there?
Yes. Bored as hell. You?
Same. My dad is working on some big murder case and he’s never here. I wish I’d stayed at school.
Funny, I had the same idea.
How’s the weather? :-/ It was obvious she knew it was like an iceberg. California might be cool, but Chicago was colder than hell.
Frigid, I typed back.
I don’t want to hear about your last one-nighter. LOL
I laughed out loud at her teasing remark. Shut up.
It’s nice here. Wanna come over? J
I wish I could! I typed furiously on the remote keyboard, wishing I could hop an early plane back to California. My mom would kill me, though. She has this big shindig planned.
Dad’s living at his office. I’ve seen him for 2 hours in 2 days, so it looks like it’s turkey burger-ville for Christmas.
Ugh! Sounds nasty. Can you get on Skype? I hated the thought of her all alone on Christmas.
Yeah. Give me a minute.
I sat, impatiently tapping my foot, my knee bouncing obnoxiously as I waited for Julia to log on. I knew I looked like hell, but Julia wouldn’t care. I ran my hand through my hair and shoved my Cubs hat on my head, pushing the hair around the edge beneath it.
It wasn’t long before her call came in and I opened the window. She wore a dark pink hoodie with a Nike swoosh in navy blue and her hair was down. She didn’t have on make-up but she still looked beautiful in a natural, unpretentious sort of way.
“Hey,” she said. “I thought I was gonna get a break from your unbearable presence for a couple of weeks, Matthews.”
I grinned and leaned back in my chair. “You know you miss me, but I won’t make you admit it.” Julia looked at me through the computer, her brows furrowed and mouth pursed. I could tell she was doing her best not to smile.
“Whatever. I can see your ego hasn’t taken a hiatus,” she deadpanned.
I burst out laughing. It was just like her to goad me. “It’s gonna snow tomorrow so the lake effect will probably have me stranded in the house. Yay.”
“It’s pretty cool here, but I don’t think we’ll get snow.”
“So, will your dad be around on Christmas?”
“One of his partners has this big ta-do on Christmas Eve that he wants me to attend with him. It’s a bunch of stuffed shirts so I don’t think I’m going.”
I shifted in my chair, not loving how uncomfortable I felt at the thought of her canoodling at a party without me. I knew only too well what happened in situations like that.
“You could always come here,” I suggested sheepishly, deep down hoping to hell she’d agree and hop the first flight out.
“Yeah,” I said again. “But you gotta get here before the storm so we can be snowed in together.”
Julia inhaled and shook her head slightly. “You’re serious.”
“Yes!” I quickly opened Expedia.com and began looking for flights. “The best deal will probably be out of SFI.”
“Ryan, slow down. I have to speak to my dad, and don’t you have to ask your parents if it’s okay?”
“Nah. Aaron’s room is open.” I probably should ask them, but I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission if it meant Julia would be here in a few hours time.
“Ew. Really, you want me to sleep in Aaron’s room? Dude, that’s weird.”
“We have two other rooms, but one is my dad’s study and my mother is remodeling the other, so you can have my room, if you’d rather.” I winced a little, thinking Julia would find my room juvenile. For sure she’d make fun of the girly posters.
“I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”
“Julia! Shut up and call your old man, will ya? I’m booking the ticket right now.”
“Ryan, wait! I can’t afford this and I don’t want to ask my dad.”
“I said; I’m booking the ticket. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. I’ve been struggling with what to get you anyway, so this is perfect!” My blood was racing with excitement and anticipation. Suddenly the break didn’t seem so mundane after all.
I ran across the room the jeans lying in a pile of dirty clothes and began to rummage through the pockets for my wallet for my debit card.
“Ryan, will you wait?” Julia shouted over the computer.
I bit my lip over a smile as I sat back down at the computer and began to type in the card information. “Better hurry, your flight leaves in two hours.”
“You’re impossible! I should let you lose your money and stew in your own juice!” She was moving around her room and I could hear a big thump from what was surely her closet. “Ouch!”
“My hiking boots just hit me in the head! I don’t know what to bring? Do you get dressed up on Christmas? I don’t have gifts for your parents! I’ll feel like an idiot.”
“I’ll see you in a few hours. The flight is direct, United 2735 to O’Hare. I’ll be waiting just beyond the gates.”
“This will be great!” I was so excited I could hardly sit still. She said something else while she rummaged through her closet, but I couldn’t catch it.
“Just stop your mumbling and get your little ass on that plane.” At the sound of Julia’s tinkling laughter, I raced out of my room and down the stairs to inform my mother that my best friend would be with us for the remainder of Christmas break.
The jet bridge was filled with the sounds of people talking, laughing and the grating whiz of the wheels of the many carry-on cases being carted up to the terminal. Butterflies filled my stomach. I had to admit that when Ryan suggested I fly to Chicago for Christmas, I was thrilled and filled with excited anticipation. I’d never seen Chicago in winter, but it was the fact that Ryan insisted I come that was responsible for the nervous adrenaline pumping through my veins. This was Ryan, my best friend. My gorgeous best friend, true, but still, he was like my other half, the calm in my storm, the cream to my coffee. I told myself it was the prospect at meeting his parents that had my stomach all tied up in knots.
I’d shoved a few changes of clothes and the bare necessities into a carry-on and grabbed a cab for the airport. The fare was fifty dollars and I charged it on the credit card my dad had given me when I started college, for emergencies only. I inwardly shrugged. This was an emergency. I was dying of boredom in San Francisco and seriously missing the easy camaraderie that Ryan and I shared. It was really the first time we’d been separated since we’d met and I’d been seriously unprepared for how much I’d miss him. I looked down at my Nike clad feet and my stomach dropped. I didn’t have time to shower or change and still wore the tattered jeans and hoodie that I’d thrown on that morning. The purple coat that was shoved under my left arm was the first one I could grab as I’d rushed from my father’s house. The first impression with Ryan’s family certainly would not be what I wanted. The butterflies did somersaults in my stomach again and I swallowed hard, wishing I had a soda or bottle of water with me. There were plenty of places to stop and pick one up, but my anxiousness to get to Ryan overshadowed the need. My iPhone blipped in the front pocket of my sweatshirt and my hand plunged in to retrieve it, a smile already plastered on my face. Typical impatience from Ryan, only this time, I mirrored the feeling.
Jules? You here?
I furiously typed my answer one-handed as I pulled my luggage behind me and made my way past the security checkpoint. The lines were insane and I was thankful I didn’t have to fight that mess.
Yeah. Walking into main terminal.
When I saw the glass windows at the front of the terminal come into view, my eyes began the search for Ryan. He was leaning up against one of the large pillars, nonchalantly scanning the crowd, his hands shoved unceremoniously into the front pockets of his jeans. My heart did the little flip it always did when I saw him, and as usual, I pushed it away. He was so gorgeous and I did have breasts and a uterus, so I couldn’t expect to be immune to the incredible pull he held over women. Even Brian, an openly gay student who was a member of my philosophy discussion group, would gape and drool every time Ryan would come pick me up after one of our study sessions at the campus library. Ryan’s discomfort on such occasions was palpable and it made me laugh.
“Brian is no different than the gaggles of women fawning all over you constantly. That doesn’t seem to bother you, Matthews!” I’d mumbled under my breath. “And, he’s prettier than some of them.”
He’d had the grace to blush and shot me a look that could kill, his eyes warning me to stop my goading. “Shut up or I’ll punish you,” he warned with a quirk of his lips. Later, he’d held me down in my dorm room and tickled me furiously until I was screaming with laughter and begging him to stop the torture. He didn’t let me go until I promised I’d never tease him about Brian again.
Ryan’s face lit up with a brilliant smile when he saw me and he quickly came forward and wrapped me in a tight bear hug. The scent of his cologne engulfed me as his arms tightened around my shoulders. I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes as my cheek pressed into the soft material of his sweatshirt over the solid muscles of his chest and my arms wound around his waist. My coat dropped to the floor and the handle of my carry-on clanked against the tile as it dropped. Ryan had hugged me before. He’d given me numerous piggyback rides and slung his arm around my shoulders on countless occasions, but this hug had me plastered up against his male body, my softness smashed to the hard contours of his male form. I felt flustered and unsettled as I moved back and glanced into his face. His blue eyes sparkled with excitement.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he said. His voice oozed over me as his hands grabbed my shoulders. “My mom is circling the terminals and should be around to pick us up very soon.”
“I didn’t have time to get ready. I look a mess. Thanks for that.”
Ryan chuckled and bent to pick up the bag and the coat. He pushed the handle down and easily slung the bag over his shoulder before handing the coat back with a sardonic grimace. “You’ll look like a giant purple people eater,” he teased, “or, a bloated grape.”
“Thanks,” I retorted shortly. “Again, it’s your fault, dickhead. I didn’t even look at what I grabbed out of the closet!”
“Did you wear that when you were five?” His shoulder nudged into mine and I couldn’t help but smile. “I don’t think I can take you downtown in that. I may have to buy you a new one.”
“No, it’s not. It’s hideous!”
“Some of us aren’t as vain as others,” I shot back as we started to walk toward the large revolving doors that would take us out to the curb, silently dreading wearing the horrible thing. “You said it was going to be a blizzard here. I didn’t think we’d do much beyond making a snowman.”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t lose you in that, even in a whiteout. Here comes my mom.”
A sleek silver Lexus stopped and Ryan went around the back to deposit my bag into the trunk as a slender woman in a long black cashmere coat and black leather gloves emerged from behind the wheel. I didn’t find similarities in their features, but her blue eyes and sandy hair were identical to her son’s. She was impeccably groomed which only made my unkempt appearance more annoying.
“Julia, it’s so nice to meet you! I’m Ryan’s mother, Elyse.” She embraced me warmly as the cold Chicago wind whipped around us and blew my long hair across my face. I began to shiver.
“Thank you, Mrs. Matthews. Sorry for the short notice.”
She whisked my objection away with a casual wave of her hand. “It’s no trouble at all, and you must call me Elyse. Ryan, you drive, darling. I want to get acquainted with your friend.” She tossed Ryan the keys before he handed me my coat and held open the back passenger side door and ushered me inside.
The drive and shopping trip proved to be a lot of fun and I found an easy camaraderie with Ryan’s mom. She was warm, easygoing and very welcoming. She chatted on about Ryan and Aaron, the tree-house they built in the backyard with their dad when they were ten and how Ryan broke his arm when he fell out of it the following spring. Overall, there weren’t many embarrassing things I’d be able to tease Ryan with when the need arose to blackmail him but things changed that night at dinner.
“Ryan, have you bought any whores yet?” his father asked with a laugh.
I gasped and some of the roast beef I’d been eating got sucked into my lungs. I began coughing uncontrollably, covering my mouth with the fine linen napkin that had been resting in my lap. My eyes began to tear as my chest convulsed painfully.
“Jesus, Dad!” Ryan admonished, pushing back his chair and pounding on my back. “Sorry, Jules, it’s a joke.”
Elyse rose from her chair and rounded the table toward the two of us, the tears in my eyes increasing as I struggled to regain my breath between coughing spurts. She handed me the glass of ice water next to my plate and offered it to me. I coughed again, wiped my tears and reached for it. I was acutely conscious of Ryan’s hand rubbing my back between my shoulder blades.
“I’m so sorry, Julia. I often tease Ryan about his whores.” The handsome face, so similar to his son’s, flashed a full grin as I finally took my seat again. I raised my eyebrow at Ryan who ran his hand through his hair. His agitation was clear.
“Gabe, explain to the poor girl.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Or not,” he insisted forcefully.
“No, I’d like to hear this,” I said with a laugh, then flushed when Ryan shot me a warning look. I guess he didn’t think that was funny, but I sure as hell did.
His father burst out laughing. “I like this girl, son. She’s smart.”
“Smart ass, you mean.”
“Ryan and Aaron went to summer camp for two weeks every summer from the age of seven. It had horseback riding, canoeing and a lot of other fun stuff. Ryan particularly like the horses and he’d write home telling us he’d like to buy a horse, only he spelled it H O R E S, so it’s been an ongoing joke. Ryan and his whores.”
“Oh, my God!” I laughed out loud. “Awww!” I reached out and pushed against his arm roughly. “I guess not much has changed, huh?” I asked my friend.
“Nice, Julia.” Ryan looked annoyed.
“Well?” I teased.
“In your dreams.”
Four eyes bore into me as they waited for an explanation. “Um, well, it’s just that Ryan dates a bunch, um… uh, a lot of girls like him.”
Elyse rescued me from further embarrassing myself. “He’s always had a bevy of girlfriends, but we’ve yet to meet anyone he’s serious about. Only one he dated more than a month. Ryan, do you still keep in touch with Jennifer?”
“What?” she asked, setting down her wineglass. “Surely it’s nothing your best friend wouldn’t already know.”
“Can we just not… talk about that stuff? Please?” Ryan begged. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
The truth was, I was feeling the pain as well. We never seemed to get around to talking about the past much, not when it came to relationships. We always seemed to be focused on the present, but the conversation put me in a weird place. Of course, my subconscious knew he’d had at least one major girlfriend in his past. He was funny, smart and gorgeous, and I wasn’t stupid, but somehow I’d managed to keep the thought buried in the back of my mind. I glanced in Ryan’s direction out of the corner of my eye. He was staring at his plate.
After dinner, Ryan and I helped with the dishes without a lot of conversation and I started to wonder if maybe this was a bad idea. As he stacked the last of the plates into the dishwasher after I’d rinsed them he nodded in the direction of the stairs and I followed him to his room.
“Don’t make fun of me,” he said with a slight smile and went into his room ahead of me. He turned on a bedside lamp and the television on the wall opposite the double bed.
“What are best friends for?” I asked. I always thought of Ryan as my best friend, but it’s never something we’d said to each other, nor had I ever heard him refer to me as such, but apparently he’d said it to his mother.
He flopped down on his bed as I glanced around his room. I could see his eyes follow me as I checked out the trophies and the photographs. I saw one of Ryan in a black tux with a blonde girl in a bright pink, sequined dress, and guessed that must be the infamous Jennifer. I sensed his hesitation and my face burned and my lungs felt on fire. I inhaled, trying to ease the heat and calm the weird emotions racing through me. He studied me intently.
“What?” I asked, the bed giving softly beneath my weight as I sat next to him.
“Is that okay?” His jaw stiffened slightly and my eyes skittered over the shadow of whiskers shading it. My heart thumped unexpectedly in my chest. I knew what he wanted to know.
“Yeah. You are my best friend. Duh.”
“I told your mom I’d help her cook Christmas dinner. Do you have any traditions?”
“Sure. We have to suffer my dad’s Aunt Mabel’s fruitcake. It’s so disgusting! Dad takes it and practically drowns it in rum to try to make it palatable and still it sucks ass. Don’t eat it, whatever you do.”
I laughed and grabbed the remote out of his hand. He let me take it without protest. “Doesn’t your mother make your favorite dessert?”
“No. She said it’s not holiday-ish.”
“Hmmm. I always make my dad Black Forest cake and Prime Rib for Christmas.”
He watched me with sparkling eyes. “I like strawberry cheesecake, but that sounds good, too. What is it?”
I flipped from channel to channel and shrugged.
“Chocolate cake soaked with Cherry Liqueur, filled with cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. It’s a lot of work, but it’s delicious.”
“Yeah, I know. It is.” Tongue in cheek I waited for him to ask. He would ask. I would make him ask. The seconds ticked by, both of us starring at the T.V. without speaking. Finally, he caved.
“Will you make them and save me from the gross fruitcake?”
“I don’t know. Your mom’s right. Cheesecake isn’t Christmas-y. Strawberries are out of season.” I said, training my eyes on the T.V. and waiting, baiting Ryan more as I rattled off reasons not to make his beloved cheesecake.
Ryan huffed and lay down on his bed, finally leaning over and stealing the remote out of my hand. “Fine!”
“Moody much?” My lips crept up at the corners.
“You tease me with that shit and then renege. Just remember, payback is a bitch.”
I bit my lip to stop a laugh. “Fuck you. You called me a bloated grape! So what was it you were saying about payback?”
“Your ticket was $636 dollars and change. I take cash or check.” His elbow nudged my arm as he shifted again then leaned into me as the channel settled onto HBO. The Bill Murray version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ was just starting.
“Okay, I’ll make it, if you’ll stop pouting, already. But, you have to go to the store and buy the stuff.”
“What? The fucking thing already cost me $636!”
A laugh erupted from my chest and Ryan joined me. “It’ll be worth every cent.”
“It already is.”
Want Kahlen To Visit You.....
Your readers leave comments on your blog post listing the reason(s) why Kahlen should visit their city. It could be the city is awesome or they want to plan a signing event, go to dinner with Kahlen….etc. Their comments are a free-for-all.
July 16, the admin of each blog will pick one comment
(based on how compelling the reader’s argument) as their finalist!
Entries will be submitted to Kahlen’s assistant, Laura Wilk:
Laura will strip the entries of any identifying information and pass them along.
Kahlen will anonymously pick a winner from the finalists
based on the best argument and she will arrange to visit before the end of 2013.
The blog that generates the winning entry
Receives a Kindle Fire HD to give away at the conclusion of the contest!