Lost In You - Chapter 17
Chapter 17 Preview: Impulsive and insecure Cooper Jackson accompanies her cousin to a wedding where she meets Sound Wave, a famous boy band.

Zac Jackson’s house constantly hosted company in the week to follow.  Dave and Casey practically lived there since Uncle Bill’s passing.  Zac comforted Dave as best he could.  If anyone knew what it was like to lose a parent, it was Zac and Cooper.  Casey was just as broken up over Bill’s death as Dave was.  Zac was glad Cooper was there now, he needed her, and so did Dave.  She wanted to be strong for Dave, but needed her family’s comfort just as much as he needed hers.

JT sat next to Cooper quietly.  It was the first time he was meeting her family, and it was awkward.  Not only because of the terrible circumstances, but things changed between he and Cooper, and he knew it was obvious.  On top of that, Marcela was staring at him.  He could see her out of the corner of his eye.  Every time he looked her way, she’d turn her head quickly.

“I’m going to get some more tea,” Cooper announced.  “Do you want coffee?” She asked JT.

“Sure,” he smiled at her.

“I’ll help you,” Marcela quickly stood up.

Both women walked into the kitchen.  Cooper took a tea bag off the container on the counter top and placed it in her cup.  Meanwhile, Marcela grabbed a mug and poured coffee into it.

“I still can’t believe your boyfriend is in Sound Wave,” Marcela gushed.  “JT Madden is sitting in my living room!”

Cooper looked over at Marcela as if she had three heads.

“Are you a fan?”

“Well, um, when I was a kid…” Marcela began.

Cooper just looked at her waiting for a truthful answer.

“Yes, I’m a fan.”

Cooper rolled her eyes and laughed.

“Just talk to him already.  Put two sugars in his coffee and half and half.  He’ll be your best friend if you make it right.”

She walked back into the living room with her tea.  Instead of sitting next to JT, she sat next to Zac.  She leaned into him and he put his arm around her.  Marcela brought JT his coffee a moment later, and he smiled gratefully.

“Mmm, that’s good coffee,” JT said after taking a sip.  “Thank you.”

Marcela beamed with delight and smiled over at Cooper.  She snickered to herself and looked up at Zac.

“Your wife has a crush on my boyfriend,” she whispered.

“What?” Zac looked over, and saw Marcela acting like a schoolgirl.  “She better not ask for his autograph.”

Cooper laughed, “JT won’t mind.  He’s cool.”

“He’s cool?” Zac questioned.

“Yeah.”

“That’s a weird word to describe the man of your dreams.”

Cooper looked at him blankly, “He’s not the man of my dreams.”

“What’s going on with you two?” Zac pressed, knowing something was off since Cooper and JT arrived.

Cooper shook her head with a sigh before standing up.  She walked out of the room, and Zac looked toward JT.  Marcela was rambling now, and JT couldn’t help but be distracted as he watched Cooper walk away.  They hadn’t spoken much since leaving France.  Cooper cried mostly, and JT just held her.  It broke his heart seeing her so upset, and knowing he didn’t help the situation with his infidelity.

Zac and JT just looked at one another, mentally debating which one should speak to Cooper.  Just as Zac was about to get up, JT excused himself, and followed the path Cooper had gone.  He found her on the balcony, once again, without a jacket.  It was a habit he often made as well.  Living in warm climates, one tends to assume it’s warm everywhere.  In Milford, New Jersey, that was not the case.  There was a light blanket of snow on the ground, and Cooper wrapped her arms around herself, pretending the cold didn’t bother her.

JT walked past the living room and into the foyer.  He grabbed both his and Cooper’s jackets before joining her on the balcony.  Cooper merely glanced over her shoulder when she heard the glass doors open.  JT draped her jacket over her shoulders.  She muttered a thank you before looking out over the yard.  The pond was in clear view, and there were still some ducks drifting along in the cold water, brave enough to bear the last brunt of winter.

“It’s really pretty out here.”

JT balled up his fists against the wood railing of the balcony.  Cooper stood right next to him, and looked at him from the corner of her eye as she nodded.

“My mom used to take Zac and me to that pond every Sunday to feed the ducks when we were kids,” Cooper offered.  “It was something we all missed when we moved away.  Uncle Bill made sure we made a trip out here when we would come and visit him,” she said before laughing lightly.  “He took us all fishing once, and once was enough.”

“What happened?” JT turned toward her now.

Her face seemed to come alive again with the memory.

“Dave stuck a worm in my face and I freaked out.  I wound up knocking Zac into the pond with my waving arms.  Uncle Bill panicked knowing my mother would flip if she found out.  He jumped in the water and scooped Zac right up.”

“How old was he?”

“About eight.  He could swim and wasn’t even the least bit scared, but Uncle Bill was just terrified.  It took him a good hour before he laughed about it.  Dave was punished for like a day, and he blamed me for being such a girl,” she laughed again.

JT laughed as well, “Your family sounds great.”

“Yeah,” she breathed.

The first of many tears streamed down Cooper’s face, warming her cold cheeks.  JT pulled her into his arms and she welcomed the embrace.  When they finally released from the hug, Cooper was about to go back into the house, but JT pulled her into him and kissed her softly.  She smiled as they parted before walking back inside.

 

d

 

The next couple of days were grueling.  A two-night wake was planned, and Cooper knew that’s what Uncle Bill would have wanted, but she found it to be torturous.  Dave looked exhausted when the day of the funeral arrived.  The black limousine picked the family up and took them to the funeral home.  JT decided to meet Joyce at her hotel, so they could ride over together.  Cooper was happy Joyce would be at the funeral; she needed her to be there.

On the ride over, Cooper watched Zac as he placed his hands on Marcela’s stomach.  She wasn’t showing in her pregnancy too much, but the looks on the couple’s faces told her they couldn’t wait until their miracle was obvious.

Cooper took Dave’s hand in hers, and squeezed it.  He offered a smile as his hand trembled.  She put her head down on his shoulder and smiled at Casey.  This would be the hardest day yet.

Walking into the funeral home for the last time made everyone uneasy.  They joined hands as they stepped inside.  Friends and family filled the room, and Uncle Bill’s casket was in clear view despite the large crowd.  His distant relatives, co-workers, and his golf buddies attended, but also friends of Dave, Zac, and Cooper paid their respects.  Some didn’t even know Uncle Bill, but the sentiment was sweet.

As the family walked toward the front of the room, Cooper looked up to see JT and Joyce, who reached her hand out.  Cooper took Joyce’s hand and squeezed it on her way up to the casket.  Each member of the family said their final goodbye to Uncle Bill, and that’s when it hit the hardest.

Cooper fell into a continuous flow of tears.  Tissues were handed out, and though Zac didn’t cry, he felt the pain just as much.  Dave, however, was having the most difficult time saying goodbye.  Uncle Bill was his best friend, especially after his mother passed away a couple of years ago.  With both parents and his aunt gone, Dave realized he, Cooper, and Zac were it.  They would have to carry the torch on for their own children, and keep traditions alive.  It was a scary thought.

After the final wake, everyone prepared to head to the church next.  Cooper stopped to hug Joyce briefly, and as she made her way to the door, she spotted Kelly.  She hugged her and thanked her.  Someone was standing behind Kelly, and Cooper caught a glimpse, but figured her mind was playing tricks on her.  Once Kelly stepped out of the way, she still couldn’t believe he was standing in front of her.

“Ryan…”

“Hey.”

He hugged her tightly.  He was dressed in a dark grey suit, and looked every bit the part of the consoling friend.  His expression told her he knew how hard this was for her.  Cooper breathed in Ryan’s scent and found comfort in his arms.

“What are you doing here?”

“You’re my friend.”

“But what about the tour?  JT’s already missing a couple of shows…”

“We had today off.  I flew out after last night’s concert and I have to meet the guys back in Italy tomorrow.”

“You didn’t have to do that.”

Cooper was on the verge of tears before throwing herself in Ryan’s arms again.

JT watched on with jealousy and pain.  At the same time, JT knew Cooper was happy Ryan came.  Joyce took her son’s hand and gave it a squeeze.  Ryan had one of his hands on Cooper’s neck as he opened his eyes to see JT walking by.  JT gave him a cold stare and Ryan knew he would have to face him later today and then again on the road.

 

d

 

After the funeral, most people came back to Zac and Marcela’s house.  The gathering offered a distraction from the pain.  Cooper walked into the kitchen to get a bottle of water.  Casey had her head down, and busied herself when she heard Cooper walk in.

“Case?”

“Hey,” she forced a smile at Cooper.

It had been obvious Casey was crying.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.  How are you holding up?”

“I’m a mess,” Cooper admitted.

“Yeah.  I’m trying to be strong for Dave, and I just keep breaking down.”

“Oh, Casey,” she hugged her friend.  “Dave understands.”

Casey breathed in and out before taking both of Cooper’s hands in hers.

“Dave asked me to marry him.”

“What!?” Cooper practically yelled.  “What did you say?”

“Yes, dummy!”

“You called my cousin a dummy after he asked you to marry him?” she teased.

“Ugh, shut up.”

Cooper hugged Casey tightly.

“That’s great news.”

“Is it?”

“Case, I’m over it.  I can tell you and Dave are madly in love.”

“Oh yeah?  How can you tell?” Casey chided.

“Because I know I haven’t been, so I can recognize when people are,” she shrugged.

“Cooper Ann…” Casey sighed.  “JT loves you.”

“That’s different.  When are you going to do this thing?” she asked referring to the wedding.

“I don’t know.  We don’t want a really long engagement, but we haven’t decided yet,” Casey explained before her tone turned sorrowful again.  “We were going to tell Bill the night…the night he passed away,” she sniffled.

“Aww, sweetie.  He knows now, and I’m sure he’s thrilled.”

Casey smiled before hugging Cooper again.  Dave walked into the kitchen.

“There are my two favorite women.  I’ve been looking for you.”

Both girls tried covering up their tears.

“You don’t have to protect me,” he said putting an arm around each of them.  Cooper placed her head on her cousin’s shoulder.

“Congratulations.”

“You told her?” he looked at Casey.

She nodded, grinning.

“Thanks Coop.”

All three of them hugged before Zac jumped on them.

“Family hug!” he shouted.

Once the hug broke apart, Zac put his arm around his sister.

“Um…your SW guy friends…are talking.”

“So?” Cooper laughed.

“Well, considering JT is your boyfriend and Ryan is your…”

“Friend,” Cooper finished.

“Right,” Zac laughed, looking at Dave.  “Should I supervise?”

“I think they’ll be okay.”

Cooper said the words, but really she was slightly worried.  She imagined Ryan returning JT’s punch from months ago, and all because he cheated on her.  She somehow took joy in that thought, but in reality, she didn’t want JT and Ryan to fight at all, especially not because of her.  She knew how fond they were of each other.  They were best friends and had such a great amount of respect for one another.  Their relationship reminded her of Zac and Dave’s.  She hoped things would work out somehow.

 

d

 

The cold air felt good to Ryan as he and JT walked, their breath showing before them.  Ryan wasn’t all that surprised when JT asked him to take a walk with him.  The look on Kelly and Dave’s faces expressed stun, however.

Ryan wondered what people gossiped about.  He also wondered if JT badmouthed him to Cooper’s family or to Joyce, but knowing Joyce, she wouldn’t judge him.

Ryan did judge himself, though.  He still felt guilty for his feelings.  All this time, he’s been thinking about Cooper; all this time, she’s been with JT.  Ryan remembered every kiss vividly and also remembers most of them occurred while he was still engaged to Danielle.  Ryan went to confession several times, but still, he felt unsettled.  Even now, as Ryan walked with JT, knowing he was unfaithful to Cooper, Ryan somehow felt responsible; it still didn’t justify his own betrayal to JT.

The two men came to the pond, and JT sat down on the closest bench.  Ryan joined him, and waited for him to speak.

“You know, don’t you?”

Ryan looked at him carefully, “Yes.”

“Do you hate me?”

“I think you should be asking Cooper that question.”

“I screwed up, like always,” JT sighed.

“J, you were good to Cooper.  Why’d you have to go and cheat on her?”

JT looked out at the frozen pond; a few ducks were gliding along the ice.  He stared down at his hands before finally looking at Ryan.

“Revenge?” Ryan wondered, his eyes wide.

“Rizz, come on.”

“Seriously, did you cheat on Cooper because of me?”

JT looked away.

“No,” he paused.  “Maybe.  I don’t know.”

He stood up, and kept his back toward Ryan.

“You know, Cooper’s mom used to take her and Zac here,” JT mentioned.

Ryan smiled to himself.

“…And Uncle Bill took them fishing once, and only once,” Ryan laughed, remembering the story Cooper told him.

JT turned around and looked at Ryan snickering to himself.

“Cooper told you that story?”

“Yeah.”

“When?”

“I don’t know.  A few months ago,” Ryan shrugged.

JT raised his eyebrows, “Huh.”

He looked out at the pond again, thoughtfully, his hands on his hips.

“That’s funny.”

“What?”

“You know when she told me that story?”  He looked at Ryan.  “Two days ago.”

Ryan didn’t say anything.  JT tried getting Cooper to open up to him since the start of their relationship, and though, the fishing story was just a pleasant memory for Cooper, he appreciated her telling him about it.  He wanted to know more things like that, and he suddenly had the uneasy feeling that Ryan knew a ton of stories Cooper told him.  It hurt deeper than any kiss Cooper shared with Ryan.

“JT…” Ryan called out to him, but JT just walked away, leaving him alone.

 

d

 

As the sky grew dark, the guests thinned out.  Joyce and JT left in the afternoon.  Cooper was slightly surprised when JT decided to stay at the hotel with his mother.  He told her to be with her family, and she didn’t think more of it.  Ryan lingered a little bit longer, though he felt uncomfortable.  Dave and Kelly were reminiscing, sharing stories with Zac, Marcela and Casey about their horrible relationship.

Cooper watched Casey carefully wondering if she were okay with the situation.  Kelly was lucky enough Mike was very secure in their relationship.  Cooper, knowing Casey, wasn’t so sure she’d be happy Dave’s ex was discussing their past.  Casey laughed along with the stories, and Cooper was giving Dave a look of warning.  He shut up suddenly.

“So Ryan, how’s the tour?”  He changed the subject.

“Whoa, you were in the middle of telling us a story!” Casey protested.

“Ah, it’s not important,” Kelly said, catching onto Dave’s sudden change.

“I want to know how you got him to stop snoring though,” Casey laughed.  “It’s awful.”

Kelly and Dave looked at each other.  Dave put his arm around Casey gratefully.

“Hey, I know I can be a jealous person, but I’m not that bad,” Casey laughed.  “Besides, Kelly’s married to a celebrity.  You think she’ll leave him for your lame ass?” she teased.

Everyone at the table cheered, clapped, and laughed.  Kelly was in hysterics as Dave looked at his fiancée appalled.

“That’s it!  The wedding’s off!”

“Baby…” Casey said putting her arms around him.

“Don’t baby me.  There’s a Sound Waver,” he pointed to Ryan. “Why don’t you leave me for him?”

Ryan put his hands up defensively.

“Don’t get me involved.  In fact, I think that’s my cue to leave.”

“Aww, really?” Zac asked.

“Yeah.  I have to get some sleep while I can.”

Ryan stood up and began shaking hands and kissing cheeks.

“Thanks for the autographs.  You and JT must hate me,” Marcela said embarrassed.

“Are you kidding?” Ryan laughed.  “We love it,” he winked.

Zac rolled his eyes, “Chicks.  By the way, thanks for the picture.  The girls at work will be envious.”

Everyone laughed and Cooper shook her head.

“What a dork.”

“It’s not my fault you live in a cave and don’t know Justin Timberlake from Matt Porter.”

Again, everyone laughed at the teasing.

“Yeah,” Dave agreed, shaking Ryan’s hand.  “Tom, was it?”

Ryan laughed loudly, “Good one.”

Cooper pouted.

“That was mean by the way.”

Kelly giggled, “My cousin, George, still thinks you were trying to hit on him at the wedding.”

Cooper rolled her eyes before she got up to walk Ryan out.  She remembered her coat this time, and walked down the street with him toward his rental car.

“Your family is great.”

“Thanks.  They are, aren’t they?”

Her eyes twinkled as she spoke.

“It just feels like we keep getting smaller.”

“That’s the way life goes I guess.  But it’s going to get bigger again.  Your little niece or nephew is on its way.”

Cooper grinned at the thought.

“So…” she turned toward him.  “What did you and JT talk about?”

“You,” Ryan smiled lazily at her.

“Oh boy.”

“He was pretty calm.  So was I,” he said slightly surprised.  “I understand if you forgive him.”

“You do?”

Ryan just nodded.

“JT deserves to fall in love.  He’s a hopeless romantic, and I guess he just tries so hard, and when it doesn’t work out… man, watch out.”

“Are you saying if I break up with him, he’ll fall off the wagon?” Cooper asked, horror washing over her face.

“No!  No, sorry.  That’s not what I meant,” Ryan put his hand on her shoulder.  “I mean, that’s why he cheated on you.  Maybe it was to get back at us, but maybe it was because he feels like he hit a dead end with you.”

Cooper nodded, trying to understand.

“Are you saying I should break up with him or not?”

“I’m not saying anything,” Ryan put his hands up.  “That’s not my decision.  Don’t think about me when it comes to him.  Think about you, okay?”

“Okay,” she nodded.

Ryan pulled out his keys before hugging Cooper.  He kissed her lips lightly, needing at least that much.

“Thank you again for coming,” she said gratefully.

“Call me if you need anything.  Even just to talk,” he shrugged.  “I miss your text messages and late night confused calls.”

Cooper laughed, “I remember you calling me some of those late nights.”

Ryan shrugged, “Guilty, but I’m the one who’s single now.  So I’m not confused.”

He smiled at her, and Cooper felt like her insides were tingling.

“Have a good flight,” she smiled in return before walking back to the house.

 

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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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