Lost In You - Chapter 8
Chapter 8 Preview: Impulsive and insecure Cooper Jackson accompanies her cousin to a wedding where she meets Sound Wave, a famous boy band.

Joyce Madden stood outside her guesthouse with a wrapped plate of food in her hand.  The door swung open; Cooper appeared in the doorway barefoot wearing sweatpants and a tank top.

“How’s it coming?”

“Okay.”

Cooper glanced around at the boxes scattered everywhere.

“I brought you some dinner.  I figured you didn’t have time to think about it.”

“Aww, thank you,” Cooper smiled.  “Has anyone told you that you’re the sweetest woman on Earth?”

Joyce laughed, “Well, thank you.  Do you need any help?”

“I think I have it for now.  I just hope I get most of it done before Monday.”

“Do you start work this week?”

“Yup.  I never saw myself as a travel agent, but hey, who knows, right?” Cooper shrugged.

“Life throws us many unexpected turns, but they all lead to something,” Joyce assured her.

Joyce is a life coach, which Cooper felt comforted by.  She had many motivational sayings even when she was off duty.  Cooper didn’t understand it, but when Joyce spoke, she actually listened.  She didn’t brush her off or disregard any advice the older woman had to offer.

In some way, Cooper saw a piece of her own mother in Joyce.  They were both single moms and had such wisdom within them.  Cooper craved motherly guidance, or even just female guidance for that matter.  She was always surrounded by men.  Her brother, cousin and uncle were her only family.

Being the only girl somehow made it easier to push guys away.  She loved men, but didn’t know if she could trust them once she was in a relationship.  With her father leaving, and all the other failed relationships in this world, it just didn’t seem worth it.  Cooper kept her heart wrapped up tight in a little box, afraid someone might break it.

 

d

 

“Sunshine Travel, this is Cooper speaking.  How can I help you today?”

It was Cooper’s third day at Kelly’s travel agency.  So far all she learned were the phones and filing system.  The job appeared boring and mundane.  Cooper wondered how long she would last.  She hated to let JT and Mike down, but if things didn’t spice up a little, she was already considering other options.

“Please hold for Mrs. Bailey.”

Cooper said pleasantly before transferring the call to Kelly’s office.

“Very good,” Trish, her new co-worker said smiling as if Cooper were a third grader getting a spelling bee word correct.

She rolled her eyes and laughed, “So is this the extent of the job?”

“Well, to start, basically¾yes,” Trish said.  “Hate to break it to ya.”

Cooper laughed, “How long have you been here?”

“Since Kelly started out…about two years.  Now that we have some big clients, it’s getting a little more exciting.  Who knows; maybe it will be more stimulating for you from the start that it was for me.  Maybe Brad Pitt’s agent will call or something and you can answer,” Trish teased.

Cooper’s eyes lit up.

“He’s a client!?”

“Unfortunately, no.  It was just an example.”

“Oh,” Cooper said realizing that was her last hope for a thrill.

The phone rang and Cooper answered dully.

“Sunshine Travel, Cooper speaking.  How can I help you?”

“Who died?”

“JT?” Cooper perked up.

“Hey babe.  How’s the nine to five?”

“Great!” She lied through her teeth.

“Awesome, thanks for the front,” he said before they both laughed.  “That bad, huh?”

“It’s not bad, just boring.”

“Kelly’s cool though, right?”

“Oh yeah.  She’s really sweet,” Cooper said truthfully.

“How’s my mom doing?”

“Great.  I love her so much.”

JT laughed, “Wow, that’s a first.”

“What do you mean?” Cooper asked shocked that anyone wouldn‘t like Joyce.

“Usually my girlfriends don’t get along with my mom.”

“Well, I’m not your girlfriend.”

Cooper smirked to herself, and that’s when she realized Trish was listening to her conversation.  She turned away from Trish and prepared to speak a little softer.

“Those are usually the kinds of girls that really don’t get along with my mom,” JT chuckled.

“Well, I’m not that kind of girl either.”

“Then what kind of girl are you, Coop?” he asked; his voice was dripping with sex.

Cooper yearned for JT at that moment.  It was nice having him to herself while he was in Florida.  She wasn’t used to having a romantic interest around.

“Any kind of girl you want me to be,” Cooper flirted back.

JT licked his lips on his end, “Make Kelly book me a flight there.”

She laughed, “I might actually do it.”

“If I didn’t have all this promotion to do, I would be there in a heartbeat,” he said.  “By the way, did you get the new album?”

“No.  It came out this week?” she teased.

“Still not a fan, huh?” JT asked, slightly disappointed.

“Oh, I’m a fan alright.”

“Cooper?” Kelly called.

She jumped and dropped the phone.  Kelly held back a laugh.

“Are you taking a personal call?” she asked, with her hands on her hips.

“Uh, uh…” Cooper didn’t know what to say.  “I’m sorry, wrong number, sir.”

JT laughed, “Nice try.  You think Kelly is that dumb?”

Cooper looked up at Kelly, and she finally cracked a smile.

“JT?” Kelly asked pointing to the phone.  Cooper nodded.  “Tell him to stop distracting my staff.  And you,” she began.  “Relax, I don’t bite.”

“Not according to Mikie…” JT teased on his end.

Cooper laughed.

“What did he say about me?” Kelly scowled.

“Nothing,” Cooper fibbed.

“Riiiiight.”

Kelly walked back into her office.  JT and Cooper laughed a little.

“Listen, I have to get going,” JT said.

“Alright.  Talk to you soon.”

“Okay, bye sweetheart.”

“Oh, JT?”

“Yeah?”

“I love ‘Believe.”

Cooper referred to one of the songs on Sound Wave’s new album.

“So you did buy the album?” JT was completely surprised.

“Goodbye JT.”

Cooper smiled to herself, knowing it was the only music she listened to since she purchased the album.  She hung up the phone and returned to work.  Since nothing was happening, she decided to take her lunch break instead.

Cooper walked down the street and the sun blared down on her.  She made a note to herself to bring sunglasses with her everywhere she went.  Using her hand as a shield, Cooper crossed the street and stepped into a café.  As she ate lunch, she let her mind wander.

Cooper stood in a gorgeous wedding gown.  The stitching was intricately detailed all around the full skirt and had a form-fitting bodice that hugged her body perfectly.  She saw herself in a quaint church with beautiful flowers everywhere.  When she glanced down the aisle, she saw that smile…Ryan’s smile.

Shaking her head to herself, Cooper snapped out of the daydream.  It was unlike her.  She hardly ever thinks of getting married and in a church?  Never.  What has Ryan done to me?  She wondered.  It was like he had some sort of spell on her.  She realized she was a schoolgirl with a crush when it came to Ryan Latham.  She was sure there were millions of girls who felt the same way about him, but she wasn’t some fan.  Why couldn’t my marriage fantasies be about JT, the single one? Cooper asked herself.  Not that she didn’t have a thing for JT Madden.  She certainly did, but Ryan was such a novelty to her.  Her cell phone ringing brought Cooper back to Earth.  She glanced at her caller I.D. before answering.

“Hey Joyce,” Cooper said.  “Checking up on me?”

“No, I know you’re fine,” JT’s mother laughed.  “Listen, I was wondering if you’d like to make some extra money?  You’d really be helping me out,” Joyce’s voice came through with desperation.

“Well, what do you need me to do?”

“You know how my cousin helps me out with my life coaching business?”

“Yeah.”

“She decided to go back to school in California to get her masters degree.  She can still do my website, but I’m out an assistant,” Joyce explained.  “Would you be able to just help me out until I find a replacement?”

“Um, sure,” Cooper said.  “When I get home tonight, you can train me.”

After Cooper hung up with Joyce, she wasn’t sure how she felt about working for her.  She wasn’t very well going to say no to her.  The woman was allowing her to live on her property for practically nothing.  However, Cooper wasn’t so sure she’d want to come home from a boring day at the travel agency to run Joyce’s errands.

Within the hour, Cooper was back at work staring at the clock.  The sound of Trish’s nail filer going back and forth was the only noise filling the room.  It was driving Cooper crazy.  The day dragged on.  By the time Kelly came out of her office from her meeting with some multi-billion dollar client, it was time to go home.  Cooper was doodling as Kelly walked out of her office.  She laughed at Cooper.

“Bored?”

“Honestly?” Cooper looked up at her.  Kelly nodded.  “Yes.”

“You could listen to music¾”  Kelly laughed, “Trish, you just let her bore herself to death?”

Trish shrugged, “Sorry.  I thought she was keeping herself busy.”

“All right guys, let’s get out of here,” Kelly announced shooing her hands in the air.

 

About forty minutes later, Cooper got off the bus and trekked the fifteen blocks to Joyce’s house.  She reminded herself to look into buying a car as she made it to the guesthouse door.  She junked her car in New Jersey since it was on its last leg anyhow.

Cooper stepped inside the guesthouse, dropped her purse and kicked her shoes off.  She changed into a t-shirt and yoga pants before putting her flip-flops on.  She grabbed her cell phone and made her way up to Joyce’s door.

Joyce showed her all of her files, her appointment book, her newsletter system online, and all of her contacts.  Cooper was slightly overwhelmed.  The job was bigger than she expected.  This was the type of work she thought she was stepping into at the travel agency.

Sunshine Travel had two locations, the other was in California—which was the busier office.  It was becoming apparent to Cooper that Kelly didn’t really need her help.  Maybe she would in the future, once Trish re-located to the LA office, but that wouldn’t be for six more months.  Joyce’s small business intrigued her more and it was apparent she needed the help.

“Sorry I asked you to do this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Cooper waved her off.  “I wish I would have known you needed someone.”

“You’d want the job?” She asked surprised.

“Well, yeah.  This stuff seems pretty cool.  It keeps me busy at least.”

“Damn.  Too bad Mikie pulled strings for you,” Joyce bit her lip.

“Yeah,” Cooper sighed.

They continued to work throughout the evening.  For dinner, they ordered take-out and afterwards, Cooper helped clear the table.

“Oh, I have mail for you,” Joyce announced before grabbing a pile of letters by the door.  She handed Cooper two envelopes.  One was her cell phone bill and the other was a letter addressed to her.  It wasn’t a bill and had no return address.

“Thanks.  So if you want, I can make some phone calls to the clients to confirm appointments tomorrow during my downtime,” Cooper laughed, knowing the whole day was downtime.

“Only if it’s not going to get you in trouble with Kelly.”

“No, she’s pretty cool.”

Once Cooper was back in the guesthouse, she kicked off her flip-flops and sat down on the couch with her mail.  She opened the envelope with no return address.  It was a card that said “Good Luck” on the front.  Cooper opened the card and was surprised at who it was from.

 

Cooper,

I wish you all the best in Florida.  I hope you find what you’re searching for.

With Love,

Ryan Latham

 

Picking up the phone, Cooper was happy Ryan gave her an excuse to call him.  She waited and after a few rings, Ryan picked up.

“Well hello,” he answered.

Cooper could tell he was smiling by the tone of his voice.

“I got your card.  That was very sweet.  Thank you.”

“My pleasure.  How’s it going Little Miss Sunshine?”

“Good, I think.”

“You think?”

“Well, I have a slight problem.”

“I told you I’m engaged, so I can’t help you out.  I’m sorry,” Ryan teased.

Ryan was a joker by nature, but that particular joke was said more to remind him of his own relationship status.

“Shut up,” she laughed.

“What’s the problem?”

“My job.”

“You don’t like Kelly?”

“Oh no, I love Kelly.  Hate the job.”

Ryan laughed, “So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.  I feel bad.  Joyce kind of has a job for me.”

“Kind of?”

“Well, if I want it, it’s mine.”

“Do you like working for her?”

“Well, put it this way…I worked with her for three hours today and I love it and love her even more!”

“Hmm, getting to know your future mother-in-law, ay?”

Again, Ryan’s joke was more to remind himself that though JT and Cooper were merely friends with benefits at this point—she was still off limits.

“Stop,” Cooper laughed.  “Help me here.”

“It seems to me you already figured it out.”

“But will Mikie and Kelly hate me?”

“You really care how people feel about you, don’t you?”

“Yes!  Don’t you?”

“I only care what God thinks of me,” Ryan said.

“Oh no¾are you a holy roller?”

“Thanks Cooper,” Ryan said offended.

“What?”

“I’m a proud Christian and I don’t see that as a flaw,” he snapped.

“Hey, I didn’t say it was a flaw,” Cooper defended herself.

“I assume you don’t believe in God?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“So, what are you saying?”

“I just don’t believe in religion.  I think it’s a crock.”

“Is God a crock too?”

“Maybe.  That’s just the way I feel.”

“Well, maybe I see that as a flaw.”

“Um…okay.”

Cooper felt awkward.  She never heard Ryan sound so defensive.

“Ryan, I’m not knocking you.  So don’t knock me.”

“Sorry.  I’m used to people arguing with me about religion.”

“Yeah.  I guess I’m a cynic where it concerns God.  After my mom died…”

“Your mom died?” Ryan softened.

“When I was eighteen.  She was all my brother and I really had.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I guess I never forgave God for that.”

Silence filled the line.

“He gave me a second chance, so I guess I’ve always been grateful.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I was five, I almost died from spinal meningitis,” Ryan explained.  “I realized I was meant to do something in this world.  Music is God’s gift to me.  He wanted me to share it with people.”

Cooper was intimidated by Ryan’s strong beliefs.  She was afraid of God.  She didn’t want to think there was a reason for her mother dying.  It couldn’t be justified to her.  At the same time, Cooper was fascinated by Ryan’s views.

“So I hear you guys are coming here next week?” Cooper changed the subject.

“Yeah.  Am I going to see you?”

“Do you want to see me?”

“I¾I can’t answer that question honestly without feeling guilty,” Ryan admitted with a sigh.

“Ryan,” Cooper began, but stopped.

“Yeah?”

“I can’t¾I can’t stop thinking about you.”

As she admitted that fact to Ryan, she wondered what was wrong with her.  Why did she tell him that?  Ryan was silent.  He couldn’t help but smile to himself.  He was relieved, but didn’t know what to do.  Ryan realized he would have to go to confession again for even thinking what he was thinking.

“Cooper, I need…I need to see you.  I need to find out what the hell this is all about,” Ryan gulped.

“It’s just a crush,” she assured him.

“I hope you’re right.”

After they hung up, Cooper laid back on the couch.  She felt butterflies inside, yet she felt so guilty.  The entire situation was bizarre.

 

d

 

Ryan lay down on the hotel room bed cursing himself.  He would see Cooper next week and feel nothing, he told himself.  He could move on and marry Danielle next month with a clear conscience.  He was just having cold feet.

Cooper was just another pretty girl; one last temptress before he tied the knot.  He has turned down many girls since he’s been with Danielle.  He can keep his hands to himself around Cooper.  JT would be all over her anyway.  If that wasn’t a turn off, Ryan didn’t know what was.  JT and Cooper, and their nights of passion with no commitment.  How disgusting! Ryan thought to himself.

Ryan never had a one night stand.  However, he did have a three night stand on vacation in Hawaii when he was twenty-one.  Ryan loved the feeling of just giving into his passions for once.  It was exciting, but he becomes attached easily, and guilt sets in.  Even though the girl initiated the three day stint, he somehow felt he was taking advantage.

Coming from a southern Christian community, Ryan was raised to treat women with the utmost respect.  Marriage, having children, and church was what Blue Ridge, Georgia was all about.  That and basketball.  Ryan still lived by those things, even basketball.  He still wishes he were taller, remembering his dream of playing professionally.  Singing in the choir and school theater were his other extra-curricular activities, and one day he wanted to spread the gospel through music somehow or even become a minister.

Instead of accepting his music scholarship to a Baptist college, Ryan joined Sound Wave and the rest is history.  He has been able to touch millions of lives through music and his charity work.  Now he’ll get to achieve the rest of his dreams by getting married, which he hopes will lead to children soon, and next year, he was scheduled to release his solo album.

Ryan’s phone rang and he looked at the caller ID.  He sighed and prepped himself to speak to his fiancée.

“Hey honey.”

“Do you realize your band members have not RSVP’d yet?”

“You know they’re coming…” Ryan laughed.

“Well, are they bringing dates?”

“Um, Mikie is.”

“Can you ask JT and Matt for me?”

“Sure,” Ryan said.  “So what else¾”

“No, I mean like now?” Danielle asked.

Ryan groaned.

He hasn’t had a normal conversation with Danielle in the past month.  Every word was about the wedding.  He supported Danielle and wanted to help her as much as possible, but he wished for moments of laughter and small talk.

Conversations about nothing at all were sometimes the most important.  Danielle didn’t always understand that.  She could name every anniversary they had together; she always remembered Ryan’s birthday, and what he wore on their first date.  However, the story about the crazy fan he told her about yesterday was lost in space, his favorite line from his favorite movie is vague, and his secret fantasy of being a superhero was never paid attention to in the first place; it was immediately followed by Danielle asking what color she should have the bathroom painted.

Ryan knew girls worried about things like that.  Sometimes he did too.  He just wished Danielle was a little more like the girl he met.  She was sweet, and complimentary, and excited about him.  She giggled at everything he said and wanted the same things in life he did.

Ryan walked down the hall and knocked on Matt’s door.  He opened the door with a phone attached to his ear.

“Hold on, sweetie…” Matt said.

Ryan raised an eyebrow at him.  As far as he knew, Matt wasn’t actively dating anyone.  Then again, this was Matt, and there was always someone.

“What’s up, Ry?”

“Dani wants to know if you’re coming to the wedding,” Ryan rolled his eyes.

“No, I’m busy,” Matt laughed.  “Yes, Danielle,” he said in an annoying tone.

Danielle mumbled something over the phone, but Ryan blocked it out.

“Are you bringing a date?”

“Uh…” he placed the phone to his chest.  “Most likely.”

“Yes or no, Matt,” Ryan laughed.

“Say yes.  Even if I don’t find someone, I’ll bring my sister or something,” Matt shrugged.

Ryan nodded and let Danielle know before proceeding to JT’s door.  The music was blasting from JT’s room.  It was a rock song Ryan wasn’t too familiar with.  He pounded on the door and JT made some kind of funny noise before opening the door.

“Rizzle!” JT yelled.

“Too much coffee again, J?”

“Coffee Bean!” he cheered.

Ryan admired JT’s wackiness.  That was one thing he always missed when the band was taking a break.  No one was as crazy as him back home as his four brothers were.  Even John had a certain quirkiness to him that came out from time to time when he was with the rest of the band.  Ryan always felt like he could truly express his silly side with JT and Matt, and even Mike; once he was started, he could be just as crazy.  JT had to be the most hyper of them all though.

“Listen, Dani’s on the phone.  You guys didn’t RSVP and she’s freakin’ out.”

“I’ll be there with bells on!” JT said in an exaggerated, flamboyant voice.

“He’s kidding, right?” Danielle asked.

Ryan laughed, “And if he wasn’t?”

He knew very well it wouldn’t be out of character for JT to show up somewhere wearing an outrageous outfit or hairstyle.  If anyone could pull of bell bottoms, it would be him.

“Ryan, he is not making a joke out of¾”

“Baby, relax,” Ryan sighed before shaking his head at JT.  “Are you bringing a date?”

He didn’t expect JT to bring anyone.  Lately, JT was picky about bringing a girl to a function unless he was serious about her.  And JT hasn’t been serious about a girl in over a year, which was a record for him.  He was known for falling in love too easily.  He was usually dependent on his girlfriends and miserable when his relationships didn’t work out.

“You know what?  Yeah, I will,” JT decided.

“Who?” Ryan wondered.

“I’m going to ask Cooper.”

“Cooper!?”

“Who’s Cooper?” Danielle asked, overhearing.

Ryan ignored her.

“Why not?”

“Because you’re just, you know…”

“She is my friend too, Ryan,” JT shrugged.  “I thought you of all people would be happy I’m bringing her and not someone else.”

“Yeah, Cooper’s great…but…I’m just surprised.”

JT shrugged, “Who knows, maybe we could be something,” he patted Ryan’s shoulder.  “I’m going outside to smoke,” he said turning off the stereo before stepping outside the room.

“So JT’s bringing a date,” Danielle said, trying to get Ryan’s attention back.  “Now, who’s Cooper?”

“Oh, she’s just this girl JT met at Mikie’s wedding.”

“Skank?” Danielle asked.

“No way!”

“Do you like her?”

“What? No¾I mean, yeah, she’s cool,” he said.

“Okay,” Danielle laughed.

Ryan hoped Cooper would say no to JT’s invitation.  It would be a bit awkward for her to be a guest at his wedding; it would be awkward for him as well.

 

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*Legal Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandy Lo.
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About the Author

Sandy Lo ()

Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.

Website: http://sandylo.com

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