WARNING: Don't read if you haven't finished Book One: Hate!!!
I’m a survivor. I have spent months in intense physical therapy learning how to walk again. I have gone through numerous surgeries to fix my back, and currently it’s the best it has been since my accident. I have worked hard at healing my physical ailments. My surgeon tells me he is impressed with me. He can’t believe I am walking without a limp now. Sometimes I still have it but it just depends on my leg strength that day. For the most part though, I walk normal. I’m not without pain however. I have numbness in my left leg continuously and pain that runs down my lower back and the backside of my leg. It makes it hard for me to sleep most nights and it’s even harder to sit for long periods of time, but I manage.
It’s not all bad though, I lost a bunch of weight. My once curvy frame has now been replaced with a much thinner one. I might have looked like Miranda Lambert before her recent slim down, but now I look more like Carrie Underwood. I must admit I love the new skinny version of me even if it came with a heavy price tag. I’m a new person with a new look, and today I plan to take that new look to the extreme.
~ ~ ~
“Yes Mom, I’m sure.” I look at my Mom in the mirror she seems super nervous about this.
The hairdresser behind me pulls my hair in a tight ponytail and I hear her cut her way through my signature long thick locks. I know my Mom isn’t a fan of this but it’s not like I am going all Sinead O’Connor, I’m just getting a cute bob.
“Well you certainly have the bone structure for a bob.” The hairdresser says as she begins to cut and shape my hair.
I decided on my way to Seattle today that I needed a new look before I go back to school. I haven’t been back to Washington State University since fall break of my freshman year. I made the decision a couple of months ago to re-enroll. I missed Pullman and I missed all my friends there.
For the past year I have been taking classes at the community college at home. I thought for sure I would lose that first semester at school but somehow my Dad finagled a way to get my professors to let me take my final exams. My guess is he donated money to the school, but he refuses to confirm that suspicion.
I start school in a week. I was supposed to move into my sorority but it became clear very quickly that stairs and I don’t mix anymore, and the sorority house is full of stairs. So my parents, being the wealthy people they are, bought a house on campus. It’s not large or extravagant it’s a three bedroom, two bath, rambler. My parents have been busy remodeling it because as my Mother said “it wasn’t fit for her Baby.” I’m sure the house will be beautiful and I’m excited to see it finished.
The best part of this new arrangement is that my parents invited Millie to live with me. Mills is totally stoked. She has been busy picking out new Pottery Barn furniture with my Mom to decorate it. I’m also excited that the house is on greek row. It is only a block from the sorority and it shares an alley with the main bar on campus, The Station. I know Millie and I are going to have a blast living there.
~ ~ ~
“We will take it!” My Mom tells the personal shopper who is helping us in Nordstrom.
I look into the mirror at the person staring back at me. I don’t recognize her at all. She is totally gorgeous. My platinum short hair is striking against my tanned skin and I am wearing the most beautiful black Kate Spade dress. It’s simple with clean lines that accent my new thin frame perfectly.
“I love it.” I tell them.
“It is just perfect Paige. Every girl needs the perfect little black dress in her closet.” My Mom looks at me adoringly.
My Mother insisted on bringing me to Seattle today to buy me new clothes before I go back to school. Most of my clothes don’t fit me anymore. I have shrunk from a size eight to a dainty size four. So I pretty much needed an entire new wardrobe. Good thing my Mother is such a skilled Nordstrom shopper.
I didn’t exactly plan on giving myself a complete makeover. It just kind of happened. When I sat down in the hairdressers chair I stared at myself in the mirror thinking how much I had changed, I decided in the moment it was time to get drastic and get a fresh new look. If I was going to return to school and face my past I needed to do it looking fierce. My Mother always said “if you are hiring or firing, breaking up or making up you always want to look your best.” Well, I wasn’t going to be doing any of those things but I was going to come face to face with my ex, which is just as important. And when we do come face to face I want him to see this new me, not the once weak girl he destroyed. Before I was naive and now I am expertly aware of how cruel this world can be. I’m sure some people would say I’m bitter but I’m not, I’m just a bit jaded. I think I have earned that right after enduring the devastation that is Cutter Daniels.
My windows are rolled down in my new Dodge truck and I breathe in the fresh Eastern Washington air as I cross the Columbia River. My parents insisted on buying me a truck instead of a car. My Mother said she felt safer with me in a large vehicle so they bought me a dark blue Dodge Ram 1500 longhorn edition with the saddle leather seats and the quad cab, it’s totally freaking awesome. I have been on the road a little over four hours in my new truck and I love it. I have another two hours to go before I get to Pullman. Miley Cyrus blares in my speakers singing about coming in like a wrecking ball and I sing along at the top of my lungs. I’m not really a Miley fan but the girl can sing about heartbreak so she is currently at the top of my playlist along with Adele and Sam Smith.
My parents didn’t want to let me drive back to school on my own but after a sufficient amount of convincing they allowed it. I needed this. I had to have these hours to think and get my head on straight before I go back to the place that holds so many memories of Cutter and me. I know that I shouldn’t think of him, but I can’t help it. For the past year and half I have been working like crazy to heal myself physically but I have ignored my emotional wounds. I have shoved my feelings for Cutter way down deep into the far corners of my heart, and I pray that is where they will stay.
I truly don’t know how I will react when I see him and just the thought makes me agitated. The only time I have seen him since the accident was at the fair last year. He was in the dairy barn with Jasper. When he saw me he had only starred at my cane, refusing to look at me at all. When I started walking toward him he quickly got up and left. That had pretty much answered my question as to whether or not he would say something to me. He hates me and probably always has. He thinks I killed his Dad. In a way maybe I did. My rational mind knows I was just a small child that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the other part of me says I am responsible. In so many ways I don’t blame Cutter for hating me, I would probably hate me too.
We have not talked since that fateful night in November. Our only communication has been a handful of random text messages he sent me in the middle of the night saying he was sorry. I would always answer asking him what he wanted and he would never respond. Finally the text messages stopped coming. I don’t know what hurt more the rogue apologies or the silence that has taken their place. In the beginning I thought about trying to contact him, but every time I reached for my phone I would remember how he lied to me.
I know this is the exact thinking that Jasper was worried I was going to do while I was driving alone for six hours. He had begged me to not go alone. He said he would drive me or offered Lacey to go with me. I’m not sure Lacey was really volunteering but I know she would have come if I asked her. It's just I know she would rather stay at home with Jasp. They are a couple now. Well, apparently they had been a couple for quite some time; it just seems no one bothered to tell me. They started dating shortly after I left for college. Everyone knew including Cutter, but you can just add that to the list of secrets he kept from me.
Looking back it all made sense now. It explained why Lacey was so upset when Jasper went missing and why she was so secretive on her phone at the horse show in Oregon. They had finally broke down and told me about a month after my accident. I don’t really know why they thought I was going to be so upset. I told them I was happy for them and surprisingly it wasn’t awkward at all hanging out with them. In fact I had come to really enjoy my time with Jasper and Lacey. It all kind of made sense in some weird parallel universe or maybe I didn’t care because my heart was already shattered.
Either way I feel very blessed to have them as friends. It has been my friends that have helped me pull myself back together. Especially Tess, she practically lived at my house over her month long Christmas break right after the accident. She brought over my favorite foods and loaded my room up with movies and kept me company every day until she left to go back to school. Every break she had from school she came home just to be with me. She is an amazing friend. During this last summer break my parents sent Tess and I on vacation to St. Thomas. I think they could tell it was getting hard for me to be around the farm and not be able to ride. My parents have a yacht in St. Thomas, so Tess and I spent two months sailing around the Caribbean having a blast. We came back home with a ton of fun memories and about four shades darker than when we left. That vacation was exactly what I needed and Tess helped me keep my mind off of going back to school. She has the innate ability to know exactly what I’m thinking without me saying a word. She is the best therapist I could ever ask for and I am going to miss her tons while we are away at school.
~ ~ ~
I’ve made it to Pullman safe and sound. I make my way into town and I feel nauseous. I drive along the backside of greek row on Opal Street. The house my parents bought is off of greek row on Howard Street. The only way to get there unfortunately is to drive right past the one fraternity I wish I didn’t have to, Chi Sigma Rho. I tell myself I won’t look as I drive past but as soon as I get close I find my eyes glued to the large brick building. There are several guys sitting on a couch in the front yard but thankfully none of them are Cutter. I take a deep sigh of relief and drive past the gravel parking lot in the rear of the frat. Unfortunately my luck doesn’t hold. I see him. He is just getting out of his big black truck and he looks amazing as usual. He is wearing khaki shorts and a dark blue vintage tee that shows off all of his muscles. I feel my heart skip a beat and then drop off to the pit of my stomach as I watch a dark haired girl climb out of the passenger side of the truck. It is Laney Davis. Cutter stands at the front of the truck waiting for to get out. I push down on the gas. I don’t know how I manage to keep the truck on the road, but I do. I make it to my new house and pull my truck in the drive. I don’t get out immediately, instead I sit there for a long time with my head against the steering wheel thinking about what I just saw and willing myself not to break down.
Eventually after talking myself off the ledge I climb out of my truck and head on into my new home. I know Millie is already here because her BMW is sitting out front.
“Hello.” I call out as I open the front door.
“Hey friend!” Millie calls out from inside her room. Millie had asked me if it was okay if she took the front room right off the living room. I told her to pick whatever room she wanted.
“You all moved in already?” Her room is pretty much all put together. She has a beautiful wrought iron queen bed in the center of her room with a pretty red quilt covering it. Milllie’s Mom loves to quilt so I’m guessing this is one she made especially for her new room because it matches perfectly.
“Yup, I got here yesterday and unpacked. I am loving our new house.” She tells me excitedly. I know Millie had come during the summer and met my Mom and the contractors to help pick out finishing’s and appliances. From the looks of it they did an awesome job.
“I’m going to go throw my stuff in my room and check out our new digs.” My Mom had told me that my room was in the back of the house near the patio. I was excited to see it.
“Cool. If you need help carrying something just holler.”
“I will.” I say and turn to grab my bags.
“Paige, I’m serious. I have strict instructions to not let you lift anything heavy.” I know my Mother has told Millie all about my “care plan” as they doctors call it. I’m sure she has given her very strict instructions on what I can and can’t do.
I unload my bags in the back bedroom. It is huge. It has high vaulted ceilings and it has been painted slate gray with thick white trim. A four poster espresso stained king bed sits against the far wall and on the opposite wall is a matching desk. The bed is completely made up like it came straight out of a catalog with a purple paisley duvet and matching purple sheets. I love it. It is exactly what I would pick out. I am surprised to see I have a walk-in closet. It’s not huge like my one at home but in this size home I’m surprised at its presence.
I venture out into the kitchen which is right next to my room. The kitchen is small but adorable. The cabinets are all white and the countertops are a beautiful marble. The floor throughout the kitchen is a dark wood that is carried on throughout the house. There is a large farmhouse sink and shiny stainless steel appliances. The rest of the house is just as beautiful as the kitchen and bedrooms. The living room has been completely furnished with a huge flat screen T.V. and overstuffed soft leather sofa with a matching recliner. There is a huge area rug that looks like someone skinned a Holstein cow and left it on the floor. The living room definitely has a western feel to it and it reminds me of home. My Mom has truly outdone herself. Yes, my Mother has definitely been here working her Martha Stewart magic.
I have pretty much gotten all unpacked and settled in. Millie unloaded my truck for me, refusing to let me do anything. I wonder how long she will be this overprotective. I know I’m not supposed to lift anything heavy or even kind of heavy but I’m not completely useless.
I sit down at my computer and log into my email. I need to check my class list to make sure I got the electives I wanted. School starts in a week. I’m here early for Rush Week. For the most part only the fraternity and sororities are all moved in on campus. I am told this week is supposed to be a ton of fun because the houses are recruiting new members all day and at night it is one giant greek party.
I log into my school email to print my class list and my fingers stop dead in their tracks. I stare in disbelief at my screen. Cutter has sent me an email. Should I open it? Of course I am going to open it. I am the most curious person ever. I open it and it is just one line.
Why are you here Paige?
I am immediately pissed off. I slam the top on my laptop and stalk around my room muttering to myself. What a freaking asshat. I can’t believe he has the nerve to email me and ask me what I’m doing here. I have every right to be here.
Stay tuned Love & Hate (Book Two: Love) coming out soon!
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