Lost In You - Chapter 13
Chapter 13 Preview: Impulsive and insecure Cooper Jackson accompanies her cousin to a wedding where she meets Sound Wave, a famous boy band.

The next morning, Ryan felt the sun shining in his eyes.  His head pounded as he tried to lift it.

“Good afternoon, drunky,” John said, opening the blinds.

Ryan looked around and realized he was in John’s guestroom.

“What time is it?”

“Five hours until your rehearsal dinner,” John responded, and Ryan groaned.  “Kristin put on a pot of coffee for you.  Get your butt downstairs.”

After John left the room, Ryan slowly got out of bed.  He felt horrible physically and emotionally.  He vaguely remembered the details of his bachelor party.  He felt ashamed of his behavior: what he said to Cooper, what he said to JT, drinking so much, barfing on a stripper.  JT must hate me, he thought as he touched his eye.  He winced as the pain renewed.  Cooper must hate me, too.  And the stripper, she definitely hates me.  Ryan needed to decide what to do.  The only thing that was clear was he didn’t want to marry Danielle.

He stumbled down the steps, feeling slight pain in his injured knee as he sat at the kitchen table.  He immediately tossed his head down.  Kristin placed a cup of coffee, and a plain bagel in front of him.

“Thanks, Kris,” Ryan mumbled.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, rubbing his back for a moment.

“Like my world is falling apart.”

“Ryan, this does not sound like the guy I knew a few months ago.”

John joined Ryan at the table with a sigh.

“A few months ago, I wanted to get married.  I pushed for it.  Now, I feel trapped.”

“Sweetie, it’s normal to be scared.”

“I think there’s more to it than that, babe,” John chimed in.  “I never thought you would have a woman on the side.”

“What?” Kristin was shocked.

She didn’t believe that for a second, not about Ryan.

“Whoa, I don’t have a woman on the side, Johnny,” Ryan took a sip of coffee before continuing.  “So what if I have feelings for Cooper?  I didn’t cheat on Dani.”

“You kissed Cooper though, right?” John asked, knowingly.

Visions of he and Cooper making out half naked in the ocean flashed through Ryan’s mind.  He felt worse than he did a moment ago, knowing his definition of cheating was becoming fairly loose.

“You kissed Cooper!?”

Kristin felt lost in the conversation as she tried to follow.  She was instantly concerned about her brother-in-law.  Everything she was hearing was completely out of character for Ryan.

“More than once,” John added.

“Does JT know?”

“What do you think?” Ryan asked, pointing to his eye.

“Oh my God, and I thought Cooper was so nice…”

“Kristin, she is nice.  She’s great.  She just fell for me first,” Ryan sighed softly.

“So, what does this mean for you?” Kristin asked.

“It means Ryan is getting married to Danielle.  And JT will make up his own mind about Cooper,” John answered.

“No, it means I need to have a serious talk with Danielle.  And as for Cooper—we’ll see what happens.”

John was becoming impatient with his brother now.

“Ryan, what are you talking about?”

“Look, Cooper or not, I’m falling out of love with Danielle,” Ryan explained.  “But that aside, I feel something I’ve never felt before when I’m with Cooper.”

“Yeah, adultery,” John snickered.

“I’m sorry that this is all so wrong.  Obviously I needed a wake up call so I wouldn’t make the biggest mistake of my life,” Ryan sighed.

“Cooper is not your wake-up call, though, Ryan.”

“She does love JT, right?” Kristin asked.

“Yeah,” Ryan sighed again, hurt by the thought.

He hardly touched his bagel.  His stomach was too unsettled.  He showered and debated on his plan of action.  After he got dressed, he asked John to drive him home.  He didn’t see Danielle’s car and sighed.  There was a note on the counter from her when he walked into the kitchen.

 

Ryan,

Had to run some errands before

the rehearsal dinner.  Don’t be late!

Love,

Dani

 

He didn’t want to have to talk to Danielle at the rehearsal, but he was left with no choice.  Ryan changed his outfit, and fixed his hair.  He tried calling JT, but he didn’t answer.  He sent Cooper a text message and she didn’t respond either.

 

d

 

Danielle took some aspirin with a glass of water before plastering on a smile.  She remembered her bachelorette party in detail, and regretted drinking.  Like Ryan, it was out of character for her.  She spotted Matt and Laura, and decided she should apologize.  She despised Matt, but she knew she crossed a line with Laura.  She rather skip the lecture from Ryan.  Danielle walked over and apologized quickly.  Matt had a smug look on his face and she hated him for it.

“Where’s JT and Cooper?” Danielle asked.

“I don’t know,” Matt shook his head.

Danielle knew she had to apologize to Cooper even more so than Laura.  Ryan was incredibly protective of JT, especially about his addiction.  If he knew she even mentioned it last night, Ryan would flip.  It was then Danielle realized how unsettled she felt.  Not only did she have a massive hangover, but there was a weird air the past couple of days.

In general, there’s been a weird air between her and Ryan since they set a date for the wedding.  I have been wrapped up in the wedding planning, and the redecorating plans, Danielle thought.  Things will get better after the wedding.  She remembers when she first fell in love with Ryan.  The feelings she had were far from what she felt now.  She kept chalking it all up to settling into a relationship.  New love is different than what a married couple will experience.  Still, she worried.

JT held the door open for Cooper as they walked into the country club.  She told him she’d understand if he didn’t want to go.  They could spend the day in bed, she suggested.  The thought was tempting, but unrealistic.  JT had to face Ryan, and despite his annoyance with him, Ryan was still one of his best friends.  It was finally clear to JT, as well as Matt, that Ryan was actually imperfect.  That was something that always bugged and comforted them at the same time.

As far as they knew, Ryan always did the right thing, especially compared to them.  Finally, Ryan showed a flaw: loving his best friend’s girl.  It was deceitful to both JT and Danielle.

Before Danielle could make her way over to Cooper, Ryan walked in.  He didn’t make eye contact with anyone else in the room, but Danielle.  She smiled at him, and quickly noticed his eye.

“What happened?” she gasped.

Sadly, her first thought was not concern for Ryan, but how the wedding pictures would turn out with his black eye.

“Oh, nothing.  I was drunk, got into a little fight,” Ryan waved it off.  “Can we talk?”

“Sure,” Danielle nodded, wanting to give him grief about fighting, but decided against it for the time being.

Ryan took her hand, and he noticed how beautiful she really was.  She was sweet when she wanted to be, but she could be pretentious at times.  That was something that came out more frequently over the course of their relationship.

Danielle grabbed her coat before the couple walked outside, and sat on the patio.  Everyone aware of what happened the night before allowed their eyes to wander in their direction.  Cooper took JT’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.  He put his arm around her, and looked over at John, wondering what he knew about his baby brother that no one else understood right now.

“Where’s Ryan and Danielle?” Lynda asked.

“They’re talking,” John informed her.

She didn’t quite understand the levity of what that meant, but the look in her eldest son’s eyes said something to her, and she accepted that as a way of saying, “leave them alone”.

 

d

 

Danielle placed her cold hands in Ryan’s.  He glanced down at her engagement ring, and smiled.

“Remember our first date?”

Danielle’s face lit up, “You mean the one I spilled my dinner in my lap and cried?”

Ryan laughed, “Yeah, that one.  You were trying so hard to impress me and to say the right thing…” he remembered.  “But at that moment, with your make-up running down your face, your food in your lap, and your cheeks flushed—that was the real you.  And I liked her a lot.”

Danielle smiled, and blushed.

“I don’t get to see that girl much.”

“You want me to drop food on myself more?”

She laughed.  Ryan did, too.

“I want you to walk away from me and find her.”

“What?” Danielle asked; her smile fading.

“I’m not in love with you, and I know you’re not really in love with me; not in the way we should be.”

Danielle looked down at their hands.  The tears started cascading.  She looked up at Ryan, and nodded.

“You’re an amazing guy, Ryan Latham,” she began.  “I guess I took that for granted.”

“Hey, we just became two different people who want different things,” Ryan wiped her tears, and she nodded.  “Come here,” he said softly.

They kissed for the last time and talked for a little while longer.  Ryan stood up, grabbed Danielle’s hand and led her back into the country club.

“Everyone, can we get your attention, please?”

He looked at Danielle reassuringly.

“Danielle and I decided there won’t be a wedding tomorrow.”

The room was filled with gasps of shock.  Lynda was both surprised and relieved.  She wanted to hug her son, but held off.  Ryan glanced over at JT and Cooper before speaking again.

“Please enjoy dinner tonight.  And though there won’t be a ceremony tomorrow, please come for the reception.  There’s no hard feelings here.”

Ryan put his arms around Danielle and hugged her.  She smiled before making her way over to her parents, who looked extremely concerned.  Ryan immediately hugged his mother.

“Thank God,” Lynda cooed.

Ryan laughed, “I’m glad you support my decision.”

“It’s a dream come true.”

He had to laugh at his mother’s glee.  He knew she meant well and just wanted him happy.

“Excuse me for a second, Mom.”

He saw JT and Cooper making their way toward the door.  Ryan jogged over to them.

“JT, wait¾”

JT turned toward Ryan, and surveyed his eye for a second.

“I’m sorry…for everything.”

JT nodded, not knowing how to respond.  There was an awkwardness, and Ryan wanted to say something more, but he didn’t know what.  Cooper found herself wondering why Ryan said he loved her last night, even if he was drunk.  He couldn’t possibly mean it, or did he?  It didn’t matter now.  She needed to put Ryan out of her mind and focus on her boyfriend.

“Goodbye, Ryan,” she said almost coldly.

She took JT’s hand and walked out with him, wanting nothing more to be said.

 

d

 

The next morning, Ryan poured himself a cup of coffee.  Danielle walked into the kitchen and smiled at him.

“I’m all packed.”

“You need help with your bags?”

“No, my brother’s taking them out to the car.  I guess I’ll come by during the week for the rest of my stuff,” she explained.  “Are you going to show up?”

“To our reception?” he asked, and they both laughed.  “I don’t know…”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” she said, looking down and playing with her fingers.  “But we’re going to be okay.” She looked up at him and smiled.

“Yeah, we are.”

Danielle kissed Ryan’s cheek, and he offered her a smile.  After Danielle left, Ryan pulled out his cell phone.  He sent Cooper a text message.

          Can we talk?

Cooper didn’t respond right away.

Tonight, at the reception, she replied about ten minutes later.

Ryan sighed aloud, “I guess I’m going to the reception.”

 

d

 

The hall was decorated beautifully, though a bit overdone in most people’s opinions.  Ryan decided against his suit, and wore a blue dress shirt and grey slacks instead.  He looked around in surrealism.  He would have never thought he’d call off his own wedding the day before.  He was relieved and saddened all at once.

A few members of the press had been standing outside the hall when he entered.  He gave them a brief statement about the wedding before refusing to answer any more questions.

“Congratulations!” Matt cheered walking in.

“For?” Ryan looked at him oddly.

“Ding-dong, the bitch is gone!”

He held up his hand for a high-five, and when Ryan didn’t respond, he put his hand down.

“Sorry,” Matt said clearing his throat.

Little by little, guests started arriving.  Though it was a weird thing for everyone, Ryan felt the most awkward.  It was as if he were at a funeral the way everyone walked up to him and apologized.  He was only there for one reason; that reason walked in, and JT was still glued to her side.  Cooper was in the red dress she originally planned to wear to the wedding.  Her hair was swept up with curls in the back, much like the way it was the first time Ryan saw her.

“He’s looking at you again,” JT whispered.

“He’s looking at us,” Cooper assured him.  “I’m sure he feels guilty.”

“Guilty about loving you or about calling off his wedding?”

“He doesn’t love me and he should have called off his wedding.  You said so yourself,” Cooper reminded him.

JT walked over to John and Matt, avoiding Ryan, at least for now.  Cooper grabbed a soda at the bar with Laura.

“Why does Ryan keep looking over here?”

“I don’t know,” Cooper shrugged.

“Yeah, and Ryan really got a black eye bumping into a wall,” Laura rolled her eyes.

“Matt didn’t tell you?”

“All I know is JT punched Ryan because of you.  He didn’t call off the wedding because of you too, did he?” Laura asked wide-eyed.

Her dark hair cascaded over her shoulders making her blue eyes pop even more in the dim lighting by the bar.  Cooper immediately shook her head.

“No,” she decided.  “Look, Ryan may think he feels something for me—” she swallowed, and was interrupted by her cell phone beeping.

Reaching into her bag, she continued to talk.

“He really just wanted out of his engagement, and I was a distraction.”

Cooper glanced at her phone.

Meet me outside by the fountain in 5 mins., Ryan’s text message read.

She put her phone back into her purse and looked at Laura.

“Well, do you have feelings for Ryan?”

Laura wasn’t sure if Cooper would answer the question, considering she hardly ever confided in her.

“Me?  I liked Ryan…a lot.  Then I found out he was engaged, and I started dating JT.  I love JT.”

Cooper liked hearing herself say it.  She believed it more when she said it aloud.  Laura nodded before Cooper excused herself to go to the bathroom.

 

d

 

The air was crisp, but not as cold as it was a couple of nights ago.  Cooper wrapped her coat around her shoulders, as she sat by the fountain.  The stars were scattered in the sky, and Cooper stared up at them, as if she were making a wish.  Ryan walked out a moment later with his hands in his pockets.  His black eye had started to change colors, and Cooper didn’t think the look suited him well at all.

“Whatcha wishing for?” Ryan asked.

“Nothing.  Just thinking about my mom.”

“You think about her often I bet.”

“Everyday,” Cooper sighed wistfully.  “It doesn’t get easier.  I don’t care what people say.  My brother and his wife are having a baby.  She won’t be here to see her grandchild.”

“Of course she will,” he assured her.

“Yeah, well…so…what’s new?” Cooper asked.

Ryan laughed, “Oh, well, I puked on a stripper.  My best friend punched me.  I called off my wedding.  And oh yeah, you probably hate me,” he decided with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Ryan, I don’t hate you.  I don’t even know you, actually.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…this…us,” she motioned with her hands.  “What we thought we had¾that wasn’t real,” Cooper sighed.

“Of course it was real.  I felt something.  Don’t tell me you didn’t.”

Ryan sat down next to her.  She looked into his eyes, and ran her hand across his face, right under his black eye.

“From what everyone tells me, and from what I know, this isn’t you,” Cooper sighed.  “You don’t cheat.  You don’t lie.  You certainly don’t steal your best friend’s girlfriend.  And you don’t marry someone you don’t love.”

“Well, then who am I?  Because that’s who I’ve been lately.”

“I think you need to take some time.  Danielle and this wedding got you all screwed up.”

“Maybe you’ve got me all screwed up,” Ryan said.

“Maybe I have, but I can’t let you mess up what I have with JT.”

Ryan sighed, and ran his fingers through his hair.  He turned toward her again.

“Do you think I want to?”

“Ryan, JT is the first guy…” she paused.  “I haven’t had a steady boyfriend since my mom died.  I haven’t loved my job or where I live.  I haven’t felt at home in so long…” Cooper was crying now.  “I don’t want to lose this.”

“I’m not taking it away from you, but what you said on the beach…”

“That was then.  I thought you’d get married and that would be it.  I also didn’t know if JT was serious about me.  Now…I can’t,” she shook her head.  “I love him,” Cooper cried harder.

“And what if I love you, Cooper?  I don’t want to hurt JT, but…”

“You don’t love me.”

“I could,” he gulped.

“Don’t,” Cooper said.  “Don’t love me.”

“I’m afraid of losing JT, and you…” Ryan admitted.

“Then don’t.”

Cooper stood up, and looked back at Ryan.

“If you care about either of us, just don’t.  Be our friend, and leave me alone.”

Ryan felt her words hit him hard.  He didn’t try and go after her.  She wiped her tears quickly before going back into the reception.  He knew then it was over and he was alone.

 

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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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