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About the author:
As a passionate reader and writer, Jade Whitfield loves nothing more than a good cup of coffee and a sweet romance. A fan of ‘Happily Ever After’, she believes that everyone should find their own forever love and is committed to telling stories to inspire that.
What inspired you to write your book?
I’m a fan of comedy and a fan of romance and this is the perfect mix. As much as I enjoyed writing my first book, some of the angst was very heavy. This was the perfect way to decompress.
Here is a short sample from the book:
On seeing that old familiar sign welcoming me back to Franklin, the knot that has been ever present in my stomach since boarding the flight from LAX to Hilton Head airport definitely tightens. Why I agreed to come home for the Summer, I really don’t know. Well, actually I do, I was running out of money and if I didn’t get away from my depressing and very gothic roommate Vanessa, I’d probably kill her. Plus, the guilt of not seeing my family in almost six months was starting to eat at me what with my Mom’s weekly phone calls, or guilt trips as I like to call them. There’s only so many times a person can be updated on how long it’s been until they finally get the hint and crack. It’s not as if I haven’t seen them on purpose anyway. Ok, maybe at first I was nursing a very broken heart and couldn’t face seeing a certain guy whose name begins with B, but since then I’ve simply been too busy. Ok, maybe I’ve been busy going through my three stages of a breakup as my self-help book referred to it, but I would never tell my Mom that. I’m so done with that stupid book now anyway. Not only was it totally inaccurate, but in hindsight it was pretty unhealthy. I dread to think how many girls out there take it as gospel. I’m not one to talk though seeing as it was my obsession for a while. Maybe I should send the author a bill for my semester, it was her book that basically guaranteed my failure this year after all.
The first stage was crying while watching terribly sad movies and eating chocolate and ice cream. I officially will never be able to stomach watching ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ ever again. All the junk food had me gaining like ten pounds too, though stage two easily rectified that problem. Yes, apparently the way to recover from a broken heart is to take on a raw vegetable diet and volunteer. That helped for a total of about five minutes until I realized it was actually no help at all. That led onto stage three which was to drink the pain away. Yes, someone actually published this crap! That basically undid most of the good from stage two seeing as though when volunteering at a rehab center, it’s not surprisingly frowned upon to turn up hungover and smelling like a distillery. Anyway, I created my own stage four which was definitely my favorite. Oh yes, burning the damn book actually turned out to be the most therapeutic thing of all, even when my little trashcan bonfire activated every sprinkler system in my apartment block.
I park up in front of the white country style house that I grew up in. It looks exactly the same as it did at first sight when I was just five years old with its black window shutters and white front door with a single pane of glass filling the top half. The only thing stopping our nosy neighbors seeing inside is a white and blue checkered curtain which is drawn across. I can see my little sister Bailey’s toys littering the driveway in front of my Dad’s cherry red Chevrolet S-10 and my Mom’s silver 2001 Toyota Sienna. Me being the second oldest of five kids, my Mom definitely needed a minivan.
After a six and half hour flight I’m looking forward to getting some shuteye as well as my Mom’s famous apple pie that I have no doubt is currently baking. It’s my Mom’s signature for any special occasion. I wouldn’t call me coming home with my tail in between my legs a special occasion but I know my Mom is super excited. She’s a typical Mama bear that lives for her kids. I think if she could, she would keep us all living at home till we’re ninety if only to feed us sweet treats and get all the gossip because if my Mom is anything, then it’s the world biggest gossiper.
I walk up the stone path, avoiding Bailey’s pink Barbie tricycle that lies on its side and a purple scooter that’s obviously been thrown aside as she’s rushed into the house. I briefly wonder whether I should knock on the door or just step right in. Even though this is my home, it’s not where I live anymore and hasn’t been for the past two years. I know my Mom would be extremely offended if I dared to knock on the door though so I simply pull the chrome handle down and walk right on in.
As soon as I step over the threshold, my ears are instantly attacked with noise. Well this sure feels like home. I can hear Bailey screaming along with my Mom’s soothing voice trying to console her. She’s many things my little baby sister, one of them being a complete spoilt brat. I can only pray I haven’t gotta share a room with the little monster. I’d rather take the couch but there’s no room to argue in this house. My Mom may be a protective Mama bear but she rules the roost, no matter what my Dad says, and I know for a fact she’d never accept anyone sleeping on the couch. It’s pretty much a law in our house that seeing as there are seven of us including my parents, that the oldest kids that still live at home get their own rooms and the visiting kids which are now my older brother Luke and I, bunk with the younger kids. If Bailey still has the princess bunk bed she had six months ago then I’m totally stuck with her. This being a four-bedroom house and there being five kids, it’s the first time since Avery, my sixteen-year-old sister was born that every kid has their own room.
Last time I visited which was at Christmas, I was at Brady’s parents’ house. His parents usually spend Christmas skiing in Switzerland so we had his colossal mansion to ourselves which was heaven. This time I won’t have the same luxury of being able to practically run around the whole house naked and not have to worry about how long I’m in the shower in case I use all of the hot water up. Instead, I’ll more than likely be sharing a room with my baby sister who may or may not still be wetting the bed.
“Hello!” I call out, resulting in the noise stopping for about three seconds before resuming and getting nearer and nearer.
A stranger would probably hightail it in the other direction but I grew up in a home filled with noise, laughter, and tantrums so I’m used to it. Hell, I was the one making this much noise at one time, though I was never as spoilt as Bailey. Being the youngest as there is a ten-year age gap between she and the previously youngest child Avery, I suppose it’s to be expected.
My mom rounds the corner to meet me in the hallway and her face instantly brightens my day. Even with all my worries, I know she can make it all better, but I’m a big girl now and it’s time to get my big girl panties on and toughen up. My mom is basically me in twenty years’ time with her thick black hair which lies just past her shoulders and big brown eyes. All of the girls in my family look like her whereas my brothers Luke and Aiden are the image of my Dad.
“Oh honey, you never called to say you were on your way.” She says as her arms wrap around me. There really is nothing like a Mother’s hug.
“Sorry I totally forgot.” I say as I struggle to breathe through her death grip.
“I missed you sweetie, your Dad is going to be so happy you’re home. He’s at work but I’m gonna call him now and I’m sure he’ll come back early.”
“Dad’s not home? I saw his truck in the driveway.”
“Oh he got a new one for work. It’s very fancy. It’s got Martin Construction written on the side, you’ll love it.” That’s my Mom, excited for anything. I almost forget sometimes that being the daughter of first generation Italian immigrants, she didn’t get many nice things since my grandparents basically started from scratch in America.
“CINDY! CINDY!” A six-year-old Bailey comes running towards me, her face still wet with tears.
“Hey Bailey.” I crouch down and hold my arms out which she proceeds to throw herself into.
“Cindy, I missed you.” She whispers into my ear. Now, this is the Bailey I love, however, I know her too well so I know that within ten minutes she’ll be stamping her feet and pitching a fit once she can’t get her own way with something.
“I missed you too.” Yes, I definitely missed this Bailey, the sweet and lovable one. It’s the Regan MacNeil version I can live without.
I look up to see my Mom tapping something into her phone with a wide smile on her face. It’s probably a text to my Dad informing him I’m home. She looks up at me and quickly pockets it in the pouch of her apron.
“I’ve got some apple pie in the oven.” HA! I knew it! “I didn’t know your flight was in yet so it won’t be done baking for a while. How about we go in the kitchen and I get you some iced tea? You must be so tired after that long flight.”
“Ok.” I smile.
“Bailey honey, why don’t you go play with your toys in the den?”
“But I don’t want to!” Bailey’s pout comes out in full force.
“Well, your sister just got back and Mommy would like to speak to her without little ears being around.” As well as being a complete spoilt brat, Bailey is also incredibly nosy and unable to hold her own water, a little like my Mom.
Bailey looks at me with shiny pleading eyes as if I’m able to do anything. I quickly avoid her gaze and look around the hallway with its paneling running halfway along the wall and upper walls covered in family photos. It’s weird how parents always seem to pick the most embarrassing pictures to put on display as is evident by a photo of me in only a diaper in the back yard with ugly ass pigtails in. That can actually be one of my first calls of business while I’m here, somehow burning that picture.
Eventually, Bailey gives up and storms away, hitting the soles of her bare little feet against the wooden floor in the hardest steps she can and grumbling to herself.
“Some things never change.” I mumble.
“She’s going through an adjustment period what with Aiden leaving for college soon.” My Mom shrugs.
Looks like some things definitely don’t change, being that Bailey can never do anything wrong. I hate to break it to my Mom, but if Bailey has to go through one of these adjustment periods every time there’s a change, then my parents are screwed. With five kids there’s always change and since Aiden’s leaving for the University of Virginia soon and then Avery will be going to college next year, she’s gonna be in an adjustment period for a long time.
“Ok.” I simply answer, totally unconvinced.
“She’ll grow out of it. Oh, how is Vanessa?” She asks while I follow behind her into the country style kitchen with its oak cabinets and white granite worktops.
“Erm… she’s good.” I may have told a little white lie concerning my friendship with Vanessa. While my Mom thinks we’re best buds who paint each other’s toenails and watch ‘Pitch Perfect’ together, in reality, she’s actually a super bitch and I suspect a devil worshipper. I can’t tell my Mom that though. I can’t tell her that I hate college and I hate LA and most of all I hate my purple lipsticked, heavy eyeliner wearing, heavy metal music listening roommate. She’d have me moved back home in a heartbeat.
“I’m glad. You should have brought her home with you. I would love to meet her.”
“I know but she’s… Erm… going back home to her family?” That totally wasn’t supposed to come out as a question. I cross my finger behind my back and silently pray that she doesn’t call me out on my lie.
“Maybe next time then. So, tell me how long are you planning on staying home?”
“Probably until the end of Summer.”
“Perfect, you’ll be here for Avery’s birthday, that’ll make your sister so happy. And I guess you’ll be here for the wedding too?”
“Wedding?” My eyebrows are furrowed in confusion. I don’t know who the hell is getting married but I doubt I even know them. I mean, if someone I knew was getting married I’d know about it, right?
“Liv and Noah’s.” At those three words, my face drops and I can feel the color drain out of it.
I haven’t seen Liv or Noah since I broke up with a certain guy whose name begins with B. Liv tried repeatedly to call me afterwards but seeing as she was back here in Franklin along with everyone else and I was in LA, I simply couldn’t face it. In the end, she gave up and there had been too many missed calls and unanswered messages for us to pick up on where we left off. The fact that all those missed calls and messages were possibly to tell me she was about to get married makes me feel like the worst person in the world right now.
“Sure, maybe.” I look down at my feet in a bid to hide the tears that are building up in my eyes.
My Mom pulls some glasses out of the cupboard before pouring a generous amount of Ice Tea in each of them and topping them off with a slice of lemon.
“Have you spoken to Brady?” She’s still looking at the glasses but I don’t miss the hopeful tone of her voice. My Mom was definitely a fan of his as was every other member of my family.
“Mom.” I groan, wanting this line of conversation to end.
“I’m just asking.”
“Well, please don’t and you know that that name is banned in my presence.”
She lets out a sigh and gives a slight shake of her head as she gives me the look. It’s the same old look she’s been giving me my entire life. It’s the look that says “You can’t keep burying your head in the sand.” The truth is that I like burying my head in the sand and that’s the way it’s gonna stay. I’m just going to hide out here for the next three months and avoid Liv and Noah, and of course, he whose name starts with B, so that’s basically everyone, and then I’ll go back to LA, back to my evil roommate and back to hating on my life.
“Where’s my little lady?” My Dad’s deep voice distracts me from my self-pitying and head burying as I turn to see his smiling face as he walks through the den towards me.
His bright blue eyes are twinkling and the slight wrinkles at the corner of his eyes from forty-five years of laughing pull me out of my depressive state and I start running to him. I throw myself into his pot belly and breathe in his familiar spicy cologne.
“Hey, it’s good to see you too.” He laughs while spinning me around as if I weigh nothing more than a feather. I love my Mom to death but I’m a Daddy’s girl through and through.
He puts me down while holding me at arm’s length.
“When did my little lady grow up, huh?” He says while I smile wider at his nickname for me.
“I’m twenty years old now Dad. I don’t think I’m so little anymore.”
“You could be fifty years old and you’d still be my little lady. Just like all your brothers and sisters, you’ll always be my babies.”
“Hear hear.” My Mom chimes in with a warm smile on her face.
“Actually, where is everyone?” I point out, realizing that the usually busy household is near enough empty. Normally it’s a fight to get a seat and a chorus of squabbling.
“Luke is working with your Father now. He’s got his own apartment downtown. It’s very swanky. He’s got a wall with a fish tank in it. In the actual wall! Can you believe it?” Her eyes widen with excitement. “Oh, and Aiden and Avery both got jobs for the summer. Aiden’s working in the hardware store and Avery is working at Annabelle’s.”
“Wow.” Is it sad that my eighteen-year-old brother and sixteen-year-old sister both have jobs and I don’t? I think it is.
“Yeah honey, maybe you can get a job while you’re here. Actually, I’m sure you could do with some help answering the phones couldn’t you, Jim?” She says, raising her eyebrows towards my Dad.
“Come on Deena, the girl just got here.” My Dad thankfully comes to my rescue and gives her a look that tells her to cut it out.
“I’m just saying.” She holds her hands in the air in surrender. “It would help get her mind off everything.”
“Uh hello! I’m still standing right here and I don’t need to get my mind off anything.” I say.
“Of course you don’t dear.” My Mom smiles sweetly in a bid to placate me.
My Dad simply throws a wink my way and sits down on a stool.
“Where am I sleeping anyway?” I ask to change the line of conversation. The mantra in my head right now is “please don’t be with Bailey, please don’t be with Bailey.” I’m almost tempted to put my hands together in prayer.
“Oh, with Bailey but don’t worry, you get the choice of bunks.” Someone pass me a gun so I can pop myself in the head please? I can’t really argue the point though. As I said before, I don’t live here anymore.
“Ok.” I sigh. “I’ll go and get my stuff.”
I have a pout on my face that could rival Bailey’s as I walk out of the house towards my car. I’ve not even been here half an hour and I already want to leave. The only thing that could make it any worse is bumping into a certain guy whose name begins with B. Well, it was definitely a bad idea to even think of him. I have no idea how I’m going to spend the next three months living in the same town as him. There’s no way I’ll be able to avoid him for long, not in a town as small as Franklin. What am I going to do when I do see him? What if he has a new girlfriend? Oh crap, there’s no way I could bare to see him with another girl, that’d just about finish me off.
I pop the trunk and bite my lip while thinking about how much coming home was a bad idea. Not only do I have to avoid a certain someone, but I just can’t face Noah and Liv either, not after snubbing them for the past six months. She probably hates me now anyway and Noah probably hates me for hurting her feelings. On graduating from High School with dreams of getting out of Franklin, I definitely didn’t think that I’d find myself back here for the Summer two years later, single and friendless.
Anyway, it looks as if it’ll definitely be an interesting Summer. One other things for sure, I’m definitely not the same Cindy who left two years ago or even drove away in tears six months ago. The thing is, I’m not totally sure if I like this new Cindy or if I want to try and recapture the old sweet happy go lucky one. Well, I’ve got the next three months to find out at least.