Lost In You - Chapter 18
Chapter 18 Preview: Impulsive and insecure Cooper Jackson accompanies her cousin to a wedding where she meets Sound Wave, a famous boy band.

The Milford Diner was somewhat quiet on a Saturday morning.  JT took a sip of coffee, and glanced at Cooper.  She looked tired.  She didn’t have any make-up on, and her hair was back in a ponytail.  She is still beautiful, JT marveled.

They ate breakfast in silence, and they both hated it.  JT was flying out to catch up with the tour in a couple of hours.  With that looming over their heads, they both felt an urgency to settle their relationship.  Neither of them knew what to say, though.

After leaving the diner, JT reached for Cooper’s hand.  The morning air was crisp, but not too bitter.  Instead of walking toward the car, they walked around the shopping plaza next door.  None of the stores were open yet, leaving the plaza desolate.

“I’m so sorry, Cooper,” JT said softly, not looking at her.

Cooper could hear the pain in his voice.  She remembered what Ryan had said about JT, and she felt sorry for him.  Coming to know his respect for women all these months, Cooper understood that hurting her this way was not his intention.  She rubbed her thumb against his knuckles, and turned him toward her.

“I know,” she kissed him softly before they hugged.

“I don’t think we’re working out,” he whispered in her ear.

Cooper pulled back from the hug, making sure she heard him right.

“JT, I forgive you.”

“I know you do,” he smiled.  “I don’t forgive you, though.”  He was still smiling as he said the words, and Cooper was confused.  “You will never care about me as much as you care about Ryan.”

“JT¾”

“Cooper, let me finish,” he stopped her.  “I can’t be second best, and I know now, you and me…” He shook his head.  “We have a great friendship with a lot of great sex.  I will miss that.  The sex, I mean,” he snickered.  “I hope we can keep the friendship, though.”

Cooper just stared at him incredulously.  She didn’t know what to make of this man in front of her.  She only had one other boyfriend who lasted longer than a few weeks, and that was in high school.  She broke up with him when she went to college, and he was deeply hurt, and wanted nothing to do with her.

Here JT was, smiling at her, talking so casually about breaking up, yet he still wanted her in his life.  This wasn’t what she knew about men.  Men leave.  Her father left.  Every single one of her mother’s boyfriends did, too.  Cooper didn’t have male friends other than Dave and Zac, but they were family.

“You’re just saying that.”

“No,” JT shook his head.  “Coop, I love you, and always will.  I can’t just forget that.  I know we have a connection, we just got the line screwed up,” he shrugged.  “Besides, you’re my family now.  My mom practically adopted you,” he winked.

Cooper laughed, “She raised you well.”

She put her hand on his cheek before pecking his lips lightly.

“I love you, Jamie.”

She hugged him again; grateful for everything he’s taught her.  It was the first time she ever called him Jamie, and would probably be the last time.  The words somehow meant more when she called him by his first name, just like how Joyce hardly ever called him JT.  To Joyce, JT was a stage name, a persona.  Jamie was her son, the sweet little boy with a big heart.  Cooper wanted to remember JT as that boy also.

 

d

 

The end of winter seemed to take it out on Toronto the hardest.  Joyce had visited for a few days and left the night before.  She was lucky she just missed the blizzard.  Snowed in until the concert that night, Sound Wave made the best of it by heading into the hotel gym.  It had been Mike and John’s idea, and though the other three preferred to be lazy, and play videogames, they went along with it.

While on the treadmill, Mike and John spoke about their wives.  John explained how he and Kristin wanted to start a family after the tour was over.  Ryan smiled over as he lifted a dumbbell into a bicep curl.  He thought of his nephew, Ethan, and how his family was growing with in-laws, and new babies.

He was the only one left to get married and have children.  It hurt somewhat, but he knew it would have hurt worse if he would have went through with the wedding.  He would have hated himself for breaking up with Danielle after they started a family.

Ryan often thought about Danielle and how she was doing.  He spoke to her a few days ago and was surprised to hear she met someone; an assistant district attorney, whom her father introduced her to.  Although Ryan was happy for Danielle, he wondered why things hadn’t been that easy for him.

He glanced over at JT.  Matt was spotting him on the chest press.  Ryan wondered how things were going for him and Cooper.  JT didn’t offer any information about what happened when he came back from New Jersey.  Ryan assumed they were back on track, and his heart grew heavy with that realization.

“I’m meeting up with Anna when we tour California,” JT said suddenly.

He sat up on the bench, and wiped sweat from his face with the towel.

“How’s she doing?” Matt asked.

“Good.”

“Is she still dating that guy?” John wondered.

“Nope, all gone,” JT laughed wickedly.

The rest of the band laughed, except for Ryan.  He looked at JT with renewed anger.

“Why can’t you let her go?”

The gym grew quiet, and everyone just looked at Ryan, waiting for JT’s response.

“Anna or Cooper?” JT wondered.

Ryan didn’t answer.  Both? He thought.  He didn’t think it was fair to women like Anna, who still had feelings for JT, to be kept on a string, hoping he’ll change someday.

“Rizz, Cooper and I are done.”

“What?” Everyone in the room seemed to ask at once.

“I broke up with her before I left Jersey.”

JT stared at Ryan as he said the words, almost daring him to do something about it.

You broke up with her?” Matt asked surprised.

“Hey, it wasn’t entirely my fault,” JT shrugged.  “We’re still friends.”

“Of course!”  John threw his hands in the air.

JT remained friends with most of his serious girlfriends and John always found that odd.  Most friendships don’t survive the awkwardness after dating.  Somehow JT always managed to make it work.

“I could never be friends with so many of my exes,” Matt laughed, and so did everyone else.

“That’s because all of your exes hate you,” Mike mentioned.

As the bantering went back and forth between the men, Ryan contemplated what he should do with the information given to him.  He wanted to call Cooper, and spill his guts to her.  He wanted to hop on a plane and see her; doing all the things to her he’s wanted to do for months.

Ryan wouldn’t call her, though, or see her.  JT broke up with her.  It wasn’t Cooper’s decision, and that concerned Ryan.  Maybe she is too hurt to get involved with me, he thought.  Or maybe she loved JT more than she realized.  Or maybe she doesn’t feel for me like I feel for her.

These issues had never been a problem for Ryan before.  The issue had always been that he and Cooper were both in relationships; therefore, they couldn’t feel anything for one another.  Now, they were allowed to, but what if it just weren’t that simple?  There was still a guy code between he and JT.  Ryan knew he already broke it, but he didn’t want to completely destroy it.

“Ry, are you okay?” John asked.

“Fine,” he nodded before busying himself with another exercise.

 

d

 

The telephone rang in Joyce’s office.  Cooper answered absently as she scribbled down a reminder for herself.

“Revelations, Cooper Jackson speaking.  How can I help you today?”

Cooper took down the woman on the line’s information, and gave her instruction on filling out the application for a trial life coaching session with Joyce.  After she hung up, she printed out invoices she needed to mail out.  Joyce walked out of a separate office in her house with a client.

“Cooper will set up your next session with you,” Joyce led the woman over to Cooper before slipping back into the other office. “Oh Cooper, can I see you for a minute after you’re done?” she peeked her head out.

Cooper nodded before turning her attention back to the woman.

After escorting the client out of the house, Cooper stepped into the session room.  Joyce told her to have a seat as if she were one of her clients.  She looked at her with a warm smile, and Cooper wondered what more was behind it.

“My cousin is able to come to work for me full-time now,” Joyce began, and Cooper felt her throat close up.

She couldn’t lose her job.  She felt betrayed by Joyce.

“Joyce, is this because of JT?”

Cooper felt all of her worries were coming true.

“No!  Would you just listen?” Joyce shook her head and laughed.  “Meghan will be running the office, and you will be my partner.”

“Partner?” Cooper didn’t quite understand.  “How do you mean?”

“My business has exceeded my expectations, and I’m getting more clients than I can handle.  I want you, my dear, to become a life coach.”

“Me?”

Cooper was in shock.  I couldn’t even coach my own life, how will I be able to coach others?

“Don’t freak out.  I know what you’re thinking, and just stop.  Cooper, you’re amazing, and I’ve seen you progress so much more than you realize,” Joyce explained.  “Whether you admit it or not, your life is coming together.  You should be proud of yourself.”

“Joyce, how can you say that after what happened?”

“You mean you and my son breaking up?” she waved her off.  “Oh please, that was an eye opening experience for the both of you.  I believe you’ve learned from each other.  Jamie has finally agreed to go to a relationship therapist because of you,” she smiled at Cooper with gratitude.  “You might want to consider doing the same.”

“If JT can do it, then I will, too,” Cooper nodded.  “But me, a life coach?”

“Cooper, who better than you?  You’re a survivor.  You’ve had your fair share of hang-ups, and are working through them.  Besides, I’m paying for all of your training, so don’t argue with me.”

Joyce winked, and Cooper was speechless.  She hopped out of her seat, and hugged Joyce.

“Thank you so much, Mom.”

The word came out, and Cooper wasn’t sure how she felt about it.  Joyce hugged her tighter, and soon both women were crying.  Cooper suddenly felt like her mom would be happy she had a second chance at a mother figure in her life.

 

d

 

Over the course of the next month, Cooper was fairly busy between work and training to become a life coach.  During her spare time, which was becoming rare, Cooper found herself calling her family frequently, and she began seeing a therapist recommended by Joyce.

JT and Cooper fell into a habit of checking in with one another once a week and it was always pleasant.  He didn’t mention Anna much, even though she had been all he thought about since breaking up with Cooper.  He realized he was still very much in love with Anna, and didn’t quite know how to get her back.  Cooper didn’t mention Ryan to JT, either; she desperately wanted to know about him.  She knew she could call Ryan herself, but she was simply afraid of losing him somehow.

JT mentally prepared himself for the day Ryan asked his permission to pursue Cooper or vice versa.  When neither one asked him after a month, JT was angry.  He figured they were sneaking around behind his back, making late night phone calls.  He asked his mother about Cooper on numerous occasions, and Joyce simply said, “She hasn’t mentioned anything to me.”  JT turned to Matt, and he didn’t know anything either, saying Ryan changes the subject anytime he brings Cooper up.

The tour stopped in Georgia next.  There were only several more shows left, the last few in Florida.  The band had a couple of days to rest in Georgia, and Ryan was grateful.  Home cooking was just what the doctor, and his mother, ordered.  In fact, she ordered it for the entire band, inviting them to spend their days off with the Latham family.

After Sound Wave’s Atlanta show, they took the tour buses to Blue Ridge.  The climate had warmed up significantly now, welcoming spring with open arms.  JT, however, wasn’t so welcoming of the new season.  His allergies were in full swing on the bus ride making him sneeze too often, preventing him from a peaceful night’s sleep.

 

d

 

The next morning, Ryan awoke to the smell of bacon wafting from downstairs.  It felt as if someone were dangling a strip overhead, trying to lure him awake.  Squirt picked his head up from his spot on the bed, and waited for his master to make a move.  Ryan opted to stay at his parents’ house considering he was currently without residence; his and Danielle’s house was sold a few weeks ago.

Ryan sat up in bed, and glanced around the room he spent his childhood in.  It hadn’t changed at all.  His basketball trophies still lined the dresser; blue-plaid sheets still covered the bed, and the crucifix still hung overhead.  Unlike some adults, Ryan didn’t feel odd sleeping in his old room.  He welcomed the feeling of youth and normalcy, especially in contrast to life on the road.

After showering and dressing, Ryan headed downstairs.  Within minutes, it seemed the house filled with his band mates.  John and Kristin arrived later than everyone, and no one was surprised since any one of them would take extra time alone with their significant others.

Lynda Latham relished in the enthusiasm the boys had over her cooking.  She took pride in cooking for people, especially her sons.

“Bobby and the family are coming for dinner,” Lynda said.

“Good,” Ryan smiled.

“You should feel the hold that baby has on your finger.  He’s so strong,” Robert, Sr. marveled.

Kristin linked her hands around John’s arm, her eyes telling him how much she wanted a baby.  He smiled at her, and kissed her briefly.

“Matt, how’s that girlfriend of yours?” Lynda asked.

“Beautiful,” he grinned.

“Awwww…” the guys teased in unison.

He blushed profusely, and Lynda patted his back as she put more eggs on his plate.

“Leave this boy alone,” she ordered.

“Thanks Mom,” Matt scowled at the others.

“What about you, JT?  How’s Cooper?”

Everyone just looked at him.

“She’s great,” JT grinned.  “Single, though.”

“What?” Lynda gasped.  “Oh, I liked her a lot,” she said disappointed.

“Well, you’ll probably see her again,” JT told her looking in Ryan’s direction.

Ryan looked at him oddly, and Lynda caught it.

“What do you mean?”

“Your son is secretly dating her.”

JT was joking around, but really, he wanted to feel out if Ryan was in fact dating Cooper behind his back.  Ryan’s mouth dropped.

“What?”

Everyone at the table looked at Ryan.

“I’m not dating anyone.”

“Ryan, you don’t have to lie to me,” JT sighed before standing up.  “Thanks for breakfast.”

He kissed Lynda’s cheek before walking outside.  A moment later, Ryan followed JT, who had just sneezed.

“God bless you.”

“Thanks,” JT muttered, not looking at Ryan.

“Cooper and I haven’t even spoken.”

JT turned around quickly, “Why the hell not?”

Ryan shrugged, “She was your girlfriend.”

“Was she really, Ryan?  All the time I was with her, she belonged to you.”

“No…” he shook his head, trying to make JT feel better.

“It’s okay because my heart was really with Anna.  I don’t know if she’ll ever take me back, but I have to keep trying,” JT sighed.  “If you love Cooper, what are you waiting for?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I’m just scared.”

“Of what?”

“That we’ll end up like Danielle and me.”

“Won’t happen,” JT shook his head.  “Cooper is not Danielle, and you were not you when you were with Danielle.”

Ryan nodded, agreeing with him.

“What if Cooper doesn’t love me back?”

“Are you kidding me?” JT laughed.  “Trust me, she loves you.”

“You don’t know that,” Ryan sighed.

“Oh no?  She loved me.”

“So?”

“So, she loved me, but she didn’t look at me the way she looks at you.  She has to at least love you a little,” JT patted his back, and Ryan laughed.

“You’re not mad?”

“I’m over it.  Just don’t let Anna fall in love with you, too, okay?”

“That’s going to be hard.  I am kind of irresistible,” Ryan teased.

“Let’s not go that far, Rizz.  You’re not me, remember?”

They both laughed.

“Thanks J.”

They shook hands, pulling each other close to bump shoulders.

 

d

 

The steady clicking of the keyboard filled the room.  Joyce walked into the office and placed a sandwich down.

“Take a break.”

“Thanks,” Cooper smiled at her gratefully as she stopped typing.

“You’re going out with Laura tonight?”

“Yeah.  I invited Kelly, but she’s planning for the big welcome home party for Mikie,” Cooper laughed.

“Kelly and her parties,” Joyce smiled. “Are you going?”

“Yeah, why not?  It’ll be good to see the guys.”

“JT said he’ll leave tickets for you if you want to come to the concerts in town.”

“Yeah, I’ll probably go,” Cooper nodded.

Joyce looked at her inquisitively.

“Have you talked to Ryan?”

“Nope.”

“Maybe you should call him.”

“I don’t know.”

“Cooper, JT told me just about everything.”

“I know,” Cooper nodded.

“Ryan told you he loved you.”

“That was months ago.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, a lot has changed.”

“Yeah, the fact that you two are single,” Joyce laughed.

“We can’t do that to JT.”

“JT understands.  He’s told me that.”

“Will Ryan understand if I break his heart?” Cooper sighed, playing with the crust of the bread on her sandwich.

“Why would you break Ryan’s heart?”

“I get scared and I run.  That’s what I do.”

“Cooper, that was who you were, not who you are now.” Joyce took her hand and held it.  “Besides my son and my husband, I can’t think of a more wonderful man than Ryan Latham.  I’ve seen the way you two look at each other.  Don’t hold back with him.  You can trust Ryan.”

Cooper listened to Joyce’s words, and nodded.  She felt her heart leap inside her chest at the hope of love, better yet, at the hope of love with Ryan.  That fairytale she imagined with him surfaced again, and for the first time since she was a child, she believed “chick flicks” could be a reality, her reality.

 

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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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