We are a day late thanks to the holiday weekend (in the U.S. at least), but here is the next sneak peek from Meant to be Different, book two in the Meant To Be series featuring Wyatt Carlisle.
Today’s sneak peek is half of a scene from their high school days. And one that never fails to make me tear up.
And if you haven’t met any of the Carlisle clan yet, check out the first book of the series Meant to be Kept on Amazon now!
Twelve years earlier
Her lids had only been shut for a precious few moments when the doorbell chimed again and she jumped beneath his arm. Another condolence. Another offer of help. Another casserole. The table overflowed with them. Southern manners at their shining best. Gigi’s grandmother flitted about the kitchen, looking for containers and muttering about not having enough room to store the plethora of food, all in between crying jags. His heart ached for the family he’d come to love almost as much as his own, but he focused all his attention on the one nestled against his ribcage.
Gigi blinked up at him, her hazel eyes clouded with confusion briefly before reality sank in once more. He hated seeing her remember over and over the loss that shook her world. “It’s okay, you can go back to sleep. Just more food.”
Her chin quivered and she leaned impossibly closer to his side on the sofa. “I don’t think I can sleep anymore.”
In any other scenario he would have rolled his eyes. At any other time he would have told her that fifteen minute cat naps didn’t constitute sleep. But he banked every drop of his swagger and somewhat pushy personality. “Then how about you try to eat something?”
“I’m not hungry.”
Wyatt pressed his lips to her forehead. “I didn’t ask if you were hungry, I said you should try to eat something.”
In the slightly more than twenty-four hours since her mother passed, she’d eaten exactly ten crackers, a third of a bowl of cereal, and one chocolate chip cookie. He’d been counting. Even though grief was clouding her brain and distracting her from anything but the all-consuming pain, his mind was in laser sharp focus and he took it as his personal duty to make sure she was as taken care of as possible.
He stood and held out a hand, helping her to her feet. She stood in front of him with dark rims beneath her lids and pale cheeks that were naturally far too close to the pasty color she normally applied.
His arms wound around her waist and he dropped his forehead to rest against hers. “Please, Angel. Something little, but you need to eat something.”
She sighed and closed her eyes. “Fine.”
It was a small victory, but one he’d gladly take. He led her to the kitchen and pulled out a chair for her before dancing around her still grumbly and weepy grandmother to warm up a bowl of the beef vegetable soup his mother had sent with him on his brief return home for a quick shower and change before rejoining Gigi.
Both his parents had been less than thrilled with the amount of time their second eldest had spent away from home, especially the nights, but assurances from both Gigi’s father and Wyatt himself that they were well monitored and never really alone allowed him a privilege he was grateful for. The chance to take care of his girlfriend.
He set the bowl down in front of her and held a spoon out. “We’ll start here.”
She pursed her lips and gave him a half-hearted glare before taking the proffered utensil and lifting a spoonful of the hearty soup to her mouth. Wyatt plopped down in a seat beside her and grinned when a small, expected moan escaped her mouth. His mother was a damn good cook.
“This… this is pretty good.”
He chuckled as she downed several more bites in rapid succession. Within a few minutes she tossed her spoon into the empty bowl. She sat back in the chair and folded her hands across her abdomen.
Wyatt quirked a brow. “Dessert?”
She shook her head slowly. “No, I…” Her words trailed off as fresh tears filled her eyes. “Isn’t this wrong?”
He reached forward and pulled her hands apart, lacing his fingers through hers. “Isn’t what wrong, Angel?”
A fat drop trailed down her cheek. “Being happy. Enjoying food. Enjoying… anything.”
The deep crack his heart carried since he witnessed her unravelling at the news of her mother’s passing widened with the statement. He cursed his brain for not having the right answer immediately. Or at all. “I don’t know.” The truth was all he had. “I’ve never lost anyone as close to me as you were to your mom. I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. But I know your mom loved you and I’m pretty sure she’d want you to take care of yourself.”
She blinked and he held his breath. Finally she nodded. “Maybe another chocolate chip cookie.”