"J'aime ce moment avec toi. C'est parfait."
MISSED THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS?
Seven years ago
“Margot thinks I’m being stupid,” Phillip Hall said.
Sam shook his head and kept his eyes on the whiteboard.
“’Cause you are. It’s dinner with the in-laws. You’re both practically married,” Sam mumbled and turned to face his best friend.
Phil’s nostrils flared. He raked his fingers through his dark brown hair and then took out his phone. His blue eyes focused on the screen as he mumbled, “You’re an ass.”
Sam chuckled for the first time since that night by the river. She hadn’t walked into their English class yet. He’d been anxious to see and not see her. After he had let her pull him out of the water, they sat on the grass until morning. Meredith didn’t say a word to him until she had said goodbye and walked home with her border collie, Dutch.
“What happened to you on Friday night? Your mum called me.
She was hysterical,” Phil said as he typed a message on his phone.
Sam gazed down at the clean page of his notebook. He still hadn’t said a word to his mother. She was locked in her room and only came out when he walked into the house on Saturday morning. His mother remained silent as she hugged him, made him breakfast, and then returned to her bedroom.
“It’s nothing.” Sam avoided looking at his best friend.
“Well, answer your phone, bro. That’s all you got to do. Just let me know you’re okay.” Phil set his hand on Sam’s shoulder.
“I guess. I don’t really want to go.” Meredith’s voice had him lifting his chin.
A navy blue ribbon fastened her curly blonde hair perfectly. She held her books to her chest and laughed. It was flawless. He’d always been drawn to her laugh. On Friday night, that pull had been extinguished and replaced by something else. She was far too beautiful, far too genuine, and far too innocent for the world. Meredith didn’t look Sam’s way as she took her usual seat to his left and set her books on her table.
Sam watched her take off her scarf and gloves and noticed the scratch he had inflicted on her right hand. Her thumb traced the healing wound. He looked up just as she glanced his way. Her gaze was expressionless. His eyes made their way to her lips and watched them part slowly. He swallowed hard, wanting to know what it would be like to kiss her. A thought he had wondered many times throughout the years.
Sam’s eyes met Meredith’s again. It was as if the room had silenced around them. He wanted to speak to her, but then again, he didn’t. He didn’t want Meredith to know what kind of person he was. When she had screamed his name, he was bewildered that she knew his name at all. Sam Michaels was just someone who sat near her in a classroom.
An elbow met the side of his arm, and the contact caused him to wince. Sam reluctantly turned his head to see Phil raking through his bag.
“Sam, you got chewy?” Phil asked.
“No,” Sam replied and returned his attention to Meredith.
To his disappointment, she was smiling at Tony Pascals. Sam glanced down to see his right hand clenched in a tight fist; his knuckles had turned a vibrant white. He relaxed his fist and examined his hand.
“Yeah, I know. Mondays suck but at least we’re together,” his English teacher, Miss Maddock, announced.
Sam reached over and took hold of his pen, hoping to ignore his need to see if Meredith Driessen had looked his way.
Beth: Sam, I’m sorry. I’m keeping it. Please understand.
The air was forced quickly out of his lungs. It was as if he’d been punched in the stomach. Keeping it meant more trouble, more pain. Beth couldn’t keep it. It had already destroyed his family. Sam rested his forehead against the wooden locker and hoped oxygen would enter his body.
“Are you okay?”
Her sweet voice had him turning his head. The cautious smile she gave him had him standing straight.
“I’m fine,” Sam replied.
“Okay,” Meredith said.
They stood in the empty hall. Silence had surrounded them, just as it had at the river. Sam noticed the slight dimple in her cheek. Meredith had pressed her lips together, nodded once before she walked past him. Sam quickly turned around to watch her ponytail sway with each step she made. The sunlight that passed through the glass door made Meredith’s blonde locks glow. Just like at the river when the morning rose.
“Meredith,” he called.
She had stopped, waiting for a second before she turned to face him. Then she tilted her head at him. “Yes, Sam?”
Nerves succumbed him. He felt things around her. No one had made him feel emotions for a long time. Sam combed his fingers through his short brown hair, buying time in her presence just that little bit longer. He should thank her for stopping him. He didn’t want his mother to be alone. Not with Beth now in their lives forever.
Instead of thanking her, Sam asked, “Why is your dog named Dutch?”
Sam dropped his hand and closed his eyes tightly.
When he opened his eyes, a smile slowly spread across Meredith’s lips. “My parents are Dutch. My papa wanted to call him Limburgse Vlaai.”
“I had no idea you were Dutch,” Sam said, surprised.
Meredith shrugged a shoulder. “You’ve never wanted to get to know me, Sam.”
The sad glint that washed over her blue eyes made Sam feel guilty. He never thought Meredith knew him or would want to know him. She was smart, popular, and sweet. Loved by all. Everything about her was strikingly beautiful. What did Sam have? He was tall, like his father and had plain brown eyes. He had no marks or characteristics making him different or stand out. He was Sam. To Meredith, he was more than likely the boy who tried to drown himself.
“Why did your dad want to call your dog Limbergcee—that word?”
Meredith let out a soft laugh. “Limburgse Vlaai. It’s, uh, my father’s favourite food from back home.”
Her cheeks turned a lovely shade of pink. A colour he wanted to see again and again.
“His favourite food?” Sam asked with a smile.
She nodded. “It’s a Dutch pie with cherries or apricots.”
This time, Sam laughed. “Dutch was about to be named after a pie?”
Meredith joined in on his laughter. “A delicious pie, if that helps. Mamma didn’t want to be calling out a dessert when Dutch went for a walk or a run. So she called him Dutch instead. We’ve caught Papa calling him Vlaai several times. He just loves pies.”
Sam’s father hadn’t liked pies. He hadn’t liked many sweet things. Sam frowned. Since Beth’s news, his father hadn’t spoken to him. He had left, abandoning his wife and son. Embarrassment and pride broke families. Sam’s head fell, and he noticed Meredith reach into the pocket of her blue skirt and pull out a pair of woollen gloves.
“I’m sorry, Meredith,” Sam uttered once he’d looked up and met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to scratch your hand like that.”
Her face softened. “You never have to be sorry, Sam.”
His heart twisted at the genuine sweetness in her voice.
I’m always sorry.
For you, I’m sorry the most.
Sam shoved his hands in his pants pockets. “Would you have really followed me if I had let go?”
Meredith put on the left glove and then the right. “Sam.” She’d spoken so softly that he’d almost missed it.
She wrapped the scarf around her neck and took a deep breath.
“For you, Sam, I would never hesitate.”
A smile graced her lips. Then she turned and walked out of the building, the light drawing her away from him.
Read chapter four in the next newsletter reveal!
Seven years ago, a night by the river would bind them together. Seven years ago, Sam’s entire world blew up before his eyes.
His only saviour …
She saved his life, exposing him to what it could be like to be with her. But that wasn’t Life’s plan. Because deep down, his secrets will destroy their lives and separate them. His secrets will break both their hearts until the day he finds her standing on the edge of the train platform, completely lost.
He did this to her.
And Sam knows that if he doesn’t go to her, he’ll lose her forever.
Will seven years be enough to mend their scars? Or will the secrets they both keep deny them once more?
One thing is certain …
You may never know tomorrow’s sunlight if you’re drowning in yesterday’s storm.
I’m about to start the two month marketing campaign for The First Touch of Sunlight – YEP! I am prepared for this release day – and I could really use YOUR help!
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Until the next chapter reveal next Tuesday, I’ll leave you here with the very fine words from Forrest …
“And that’s all I have to say about that …”
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