Lost In You - Chapter 3
Chapter 3 Preview: Cooper and Ryan get to know each other after the wedding during a trip to the emergency room.

 

Just as Ryan and Cooper stepped outside the reception hall, rain poured down.  Luckily, they were covered by the awning attached to the building.  A few other wedding guests stood alongside Ryan and Cooper awaiting their cars from the valet.

 

“Just great,” Cooper sighed, handing the man her parking voucher.

 

She wrapped her arms around herself as they watched the downpour.  The raindrops hit the green canvas of the awning; the sound like tiny feet tip-toeing above their heads. Cooper shivered and Ryan took off his tuxedo jacket.  He wrapped it around her shoulders.

 

“Thanks.”

 

She smiled at him briefly before staring at her feet.

 

The silence was almost awkward yet comfortable.  At that moment, Cooper didn’t want to meet up with everyone else. Being alone with Ryan seemed like the perfect way to spend the rest of the night. She sighed listening to herself think. Cooper rarely thought things through, and that did worry her.

 

She hasn’t had any real regrets so far, but knew she was bound to go wrong somewhere. Her brother considered her dropping out of business school to pursue screenwriting a mistake. She didn’t though.  Different paths were part of life, she told herself. Her aunt had thought breaking up with her high school sweetheart was a mistake. Again, Cooper didn’t. She was fairly carefree, but she worried more than she let on. She hated to worry, which is why she kept moving and changing her life around—the chaos left her little time to think.

 

Cooper sighed again, not knowing what she wanted out of life or expected of herself anymore. At least she was alone with Ryan and not JT. Ryan was gentlemanly in his flirtations while JT was almost ravenous; not in a bad way or even in a way that made her uncomfortable.

 

In fact, she knew if she were alone with JT, she wouldn’t say no. He knew how to take things to a provocative level without going over the top.

 

And his voice…

 

All JT had to do was whisper in her ear, and Cooper would probably throw herself at him. It was rare someone had that kind of effect on her, but then again, it was rare someone had Ryan’s effect on her, too.

 

Ryan made her feel warm inside and weak in the knees. Thoughts of him consisted of sweet kisses and marriage proposals. I’m ridiculous, Cooper thought sighing again. She confused herself more often than not, and in result, would ramble off a conversation to the first person who’d listen. She didn’t like staying in her head too long.

 

“What?” Ryan asked her.
“What?” Cooper turned to him.
“You sighed like five times. It’s pretty annoying,” he smirked, his mouth teasing, but his eyes remained sweet.
“What does valet mean?” she asked.

 

Her rambling was surely coming into play.  She feared how dumb she would end up sounding without the music playing, the alcohol wearing off, and the rowdiness of Sound Wave gone.

 

“Um, guy who gets car for you?” Ryan suggested with a laugh.
Cooper laughed, “Is it French?”
“Sounds it,” he added a shrug.

 

“I took French in high school. We never learned valet. You ever wonder if they drive your car while you’re like at dinner or a party or something?”
Ryan just stared at her blankly, “I never really thought about it.”

 

“Like in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’.  I love that movie. Do you?”

 

Ryan marveled at how fast she talked and about the most random, insignificant topics. She and JT were definitely one in the same in that area.  Ryan saw pieces of JT’s personality in flashes with Cooper.  However, though Cooper was outgoing, she definitely had an introverted side that JT didn’t. Ryan was barely listening to her words anymore.  He just stared at her mouth as it moved. She had a thin top lip and a full bottom one. It balanced out, he thought. He then looked into her eyes. They could only be described as autumn leaves, with a blend of brown and green. They sucked you in, but it was almost like they were challenging you, until she smiled. Cooper’s eyes seemed to soften only when she smiled.  Ryan found that intriguing.  He liked making her smile just to see the change in her face.

 

“Ryan?”
“Hmm?”
“I’m rambling,” she sighed.
“I’m sorry and you weren’t rambling,” he lied before answering her question. “Yeah, I love that movie.”
“I was so rambling. I do it a lot. It’s a bad habit.”
“I don’t mind,” he smiled.

 

The valet pulled up with the rental car. After Ryan insisted on paying the tip, Cooper thanked him. She reached for the wet railing, distracted by Ryan’s blue eyes, and the ankle she had been injuring all day twisted.  Her hand slipped off the railing and she was about to tumble down the stairs. She squealed and Ryan grabbed her from behind, wrapping his arms around her before she could fall. They both landed at the top of the steps.

Cooper was leaning against Ryan; his arm had wrapped across her chest tightly in the commotion. The rain pelted against them as their hearts pounded.  Ryan could actually feel Cooper’s heartbeat under his arm; as if her heart was pumping blood to his own veins.  It didn’t quite register where his hand was until that moment.  He felt the pulsing underneath his palm along with the soft flesh.  He bashfully slid his arm back down to Cooper’s waist.

 

“Are you okay?” The valet asked.
“Fine,” Ryan said

 

“My ankle…” Cooper whined in pain.

 

She was distracted by the placement of Ryan’s hand until he removed it.  That was when the shock wore off and the throbbing replaced it.

 

“Can you walk?”

 

The valet grabbed her hand helping her up; Ryan’s jacket falling from her shoulders and landing in his lap.  Once Cooper’s left foot stepped on the ground, she cried out and almost fell back down. Ryan quickly got up and supported her from behind.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked worriedly.
“No,” she said, the tears falling down her face.
“I’m taking you to the emergency room.”
“I’m fine,” she sighed, embarrassed by her whining.

 

She tried to walk, but almost slipped again.  Ryan instinctively caught her.

 

“Cooper…” he said, grabbing her arm and putting it around his neck.  “Just hold onto me,” he advised.

 

Ryan carefully walked her to the car and helped her inside. He knelt down and started unbuckling her shoes.
“What are you doing?” She sniffled.
“I’m not risking you tripping anymore.”

 

He moved to her left foot. Cooper winced and let out a shrill scream. “I’m sorry,” he said immediately.

 

After closing the door, he ran around to the driver’s side and got in. Ryan looked over at Cooper; her face showed pure anguish. He looked down and noticed the slit in her dress had ripped even more, now exposing the straps of her underwear.  A small rose tattoo was peeking out from underneath the straps. Ryan couldn’t help but stare before laying his suit jacket over her lap. His face was flushed and Cooper noticed. She lifted the suit jacket and her eyes bulged.

 

“Oh crap,” she sighed as tears poured out of her eyes.
“It’s okay,” Ryan tried comforting her.
“What if I can’t walk?”
“Maybe not for a couple of weeks,” Ryan shrugged.
“What if I can never walk again?”
“I don’t think it’s that severe,” he assured her, snickering to himself.

 

He started the car and pulled away a moment later.

 

“It hurts,” Cooper whined.

 

“Are you always like this?” Ryan wondered as he drove, trying to remember his way around Orlando.

 

It had been over six years since he had lived there.

 

“Like what?”
“Klutzy and whiny?” he smirked.
“No,” Cooper pouted. “You’d whine, too, if you were in pain.”
“But you are a natural klutz, right?” Ryan asked.

 

He was trying to take her mind off the pain.

 

“Ugh, not really. I’m just one of those people…” Cooper began.
“One of those klutzy people?” he teased.

 

She rolled her eyes, “I’m one of those people who have bad days. Once one thing goes wrong, everything else goes wrong for the rest of the day.”
“Really? So you consider today a total disaster?” Ryan asked, smiling at her.

 

Despite the pain, Cooper smiled back.

 

“I don’t know. The day’s not over yet,” she winked and Ryan grinned.

 

About ten minutes later, he parked the car. “Don’t move,” he advised as he got out.

 

He ran around to Cooper’s side of the car and opened the passenger side door.

 

“I’m keeping this over me,” Cooper blushed, holding Ryan’s jacket against her body.

 

He smiled and nodded understandingly before reaching out his hand to her. She took his extended hand and Ryan practically lifted her out of the car. She put her arm around him for support and hobbled along side of him.

 

The emergency room was semi-crowded. Ryan sat Cooper down in the waiting area before talking to a nurse.  He sat down next to Cooper and handed her a clipboard with the necessary forms she needed to fill out.

 

“Thank you so much,” she said gratefully.
“You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure,” Ryan smiled.
“Sitting in the emergency room all night is no one’s pleasure,” Cooper laughed.
“Well, I have good company,” he shrugged.

 

Cooper smiled and patted his leg in a friendly manner before turning her attention to the forms. While she filled out the paperwork, Ryan went outside to let Dave know what happened by cell phone.  As Cooper and Ryan waited, they discussed random topics from past jobs to embarrassing moments to movies.

 

“How can you say Adam Sandler is funnier than Will Ferrell?” Ryan gasped.
“How can you not?” Cooper asked in shock. “Will Ferrell does the same thing over and over pretty much.”
“Oh, and Sandler doesn’t do the same thing over?”
“Not really. His storylines are always different,” Cooper pointed out.
“They’re all about the loser coming out on top,” Ryan said. “Ferrell is a comedic genius. His characters are always different.”

 

Ryan was speaking just as over-passionately as Cooper about the debate.  Cooper smiled, not knowing many people she could have such a conversation with.  Most people she knew had outgrown Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell movies.

 

“All Ferrell’s characters are whacked out.”
“That’s what makes them so funny!” Ryan huffed.
“Hey, I didn’t say I didn’t like Will Ferrell. I just love Adam more,” she shrugged.
“He’s cool, but I can imitate Ron Burgundy way better than Billy Madison,” Ryan pointed out.

 

He immediately followed with a line from Anchorman.

 

“You are a smelly pirate hooker!”

 

Cooper laughed loudly.  Ryan tried to think of a good Adam Sandler impression, but she decided to help him out.

 

“So hot!  Want to touch the heine,” she said in a funny voice, quoting Billy Madison.

 

Now Ryan laughed loudly, and everyone was staring at them. Cooper smiled at him; enjoying his company.

 

“You know who loves Adam Sandler?” Ryan asked. “JT.”
“Awesome.”
Ryan nodded, “So are you going to go on a date with him or something this week?”

 

He stared down at his chewed up fingernails, almost regretting that question.  He was afraid how that must have sounded—like he was jealous.

 

Cooper shrugged, “I don’t know. If he asks me out and no one else does,” she said coyly, hinting around.

 

It was now obvious what they were skirting around to Cooper—the flirting, sharing of stories, awkward smiles—it is pretty cute how shy Ryan is to ask me out, she thought.

 

“JT will ask you. Don’t worry about that,” Ryan sighed.  “He doesn’t take a girl’s number and not call her.”

 

Cooper eyed Ryan for a moment.  He seemed disappointed.  Figuring he might think she was more interested JT than him, Cooper decided to be less subtle.  She leaned in closer to him.

 

“Will someone else ask me out?”

 

Ryan looked up at her surprised.  He didn’t know what to say.

 

“Do you want someone else to ask you?”
Cooper laughed, “Why don’t you find out?”

 

She couldn’t believe she was being so forward. She was usually more of an innocent flirt with no bite when it came down to it.  Cooper blamed it on the booze she consumed at the wedding mixed with the pain in her ankle.  She couldn’t discount the confidence she gained on the dance floor with Ryan, JT and Matt aiding in her bolder approach. She definitely lacked confidence in the guy department, but she didn’t allow other people to see that insecurity too much.

 

“Cooper Jackson?” the nurse called.

 

Cooper looked over at Ryan, who was just staring at her now with a half smile. He looked as if he were in shock. Cooper couldn’t help herself and leaned in, kissing him on the cheek, rather close to his lips. He looked at her surprised.

 

“I need your help,” she smiled innocently.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Ryan stood quickly.

 

He snapped out of his fog and immediately helped Cooper up. The nurse glanced at the paperwork before immediately calling over an orderly. He was an elderly man who scurried over with a wheelchair as if Cooper’s life depended on it.

 

“Sit, sit,” he insisted, even giving her shoulder a push as Ryan eased her into the chair.  “Don’t worry. You be okay,” he said in broken English.

 

Cooper and Ryan shared a quiet chuckle.

 

“Thank you,” Cooper smiled at Ryan before the orderly took off down the hall with the wheelchair.

 

Her stomach dropped and she called for Ryan.

 

“Right behind ya,” he assured her, breaking into a light jog after the wheelchair. “Hey, hey, buddy…slow down.”
“Emergency, yes?” the orderly asked, his accent thick.
“Not that kind,” Cooper said as he turned a corner and she screeched

 

“Pain, yes?”
“Yeah, just slow down,” Ryan said, finally able to grab one of the handles of the wheelchair, helping the orderly. “I think I got it. Where do we have to go?”
“Go? Doctor,” the orderly said.
“Yes, but which room?”
“Room?” he smacked himself in the head. “Be right back. Don’t go nowhere.”

 

The orderly ran off and Cooper looked up at Ryan, both of them bursting into laughter.

 

“He’s dangerous,” Cooper said.
“So are you,” Ryan smiled, referring to her flirtations with him.
“I am not. Only to myself,” she laughed.
“That’s what you think,” he said just above a whisper, but flashed a smile right after.

 

Before they knew it, the orderly was back, directing them to the correct room. Ryan waited outside of the examining room as the doctor looked at Cooper’s ankle. His cell phone rang and some doctors walking by flashed him an annoyed look. He pulled out his phone and quickly turned it off.

 

“Sorry,” Ryan apologized and one of the male doctors stared at him.

 

“I know you from somewhere…”
“I get that a lot,” Ryan laughed, downplaying his fame.
“Were you ever a patient of mine?” the doctor asked.
“Uh…no.”
“Oh my God!” a woman walking by screamed.

 

Ryan closed his eyes tightly. He hated when this happened in the most embarrassing of places, like hospitals, and especially church.  He still remembers the girl in the choir almost setting the church on fire because of him.  She knocked over a candle after noticing him sitting right in front of her.

 

Church was always the one place he felt normal, like any other one of God’s children. It’s where he went for forgiveness, for peace and to hope for the best through the hard times, not to be ogled and idolized.

 

“What are you doing here!?” the middle-aged woman shouted before closing the few feet between them.
“That’s how I know you!” the doctor said, snapping his fingers. “My daughter’s a big fan. Can I get an autograph?”

 

The doctor’s words mixed in with the woman’s squealing and her hugging him. He didn’t mind the admiration half the time. He genuinely loved to see his fans’ faces and the smiles he helped create, but it was also a strange phenomenon no one could understand; though he tried hard to. A pen and paper were thrust at him from several directions now and Ryan obliged.

 

“Is everything okay?” the middle-aged woman asked.
“Of course,” he smiled with a laugh.
“Well, you’re not sick, are you?” a slightly younger girl asked.
“No, no. Nothing like that. A friend of mine twisted her ankle, that’s all,” he explained, not wanting rumors starting again about his health.

 

Ryan had gone to the emergency room last year for food poisoning, but somehow rumors circulated he was suffering from spinal meningitis, which he overcame as a small child.  Ryan still has the occasional nightmare about spending weeks in the hospital, even though it happened over twenty years ago.

 

Only a few minutes after the commotion died down, the door opened and Cooper was wheeled out, a bandage along with a brace now around her left ankle. She was sucking on a lollipop and Ryan laughed.

 

“Baby.”
“You’re just jealous you didn’t get a lollipop.”
“I’m not a sucker,” he said with a laugh. “How is she, doc?” Ryan asked, tearing his eyes away from Cooper’s.
“She’ll be okay.  A ligament was torn.  I want her off the ankle for at least two weeks though. So I’ll see you soon,” the doctor smiled at her.

 

He handed Ryan her crutches a second later.

 

“Thank you,” she nodded.
“Thanks,” Ryan shook his hand before wheeling her down the hall.

 

“I can walk.”

 

“Let’s wait until we get you outside.  I don’t want any more accidents,” he laughed.
“Was all that screaming for you?” Cooper wondered.
“Yeah, sorry.”

 

“Why are you apologizing?” she laughed.
“I don’t know. It’s a hospital, not a concert,” he shrugged. “So two weeks off your ankle… Does that mean you’re staying here for two weeks?”
“The doctor advised me to, but he said if I really had to, I could go home.  I figured my ankle will heal a lot slower in the cold North than the sunny South,” she shrugged.

 

“Are you upset?”
“Nah, I’m thinking about moving here anyway, so it’s kind of cool,” she smiled.

 

“How long have you been thinking of moving to Orlando?” Ryan wondered, since she hadn’t mentioned it before.
“Technically, on and off since Dave moved here, but actually, tonight I decided I want to take the plunge,” Cooper explained.

 

“Florida is fun,” Ryan shrugged, wheeling Cooper out of the hospital.
“You lived here?”
“You really know nothing, do ya?”
“Sorry,” Cooper laughed.

 

“I moved here when I was nineteen to join the group. I shared an apartment with John and Mikie,” Ryan explained.
“So why’d you leave?”
“Missed home,” Ryan said pulling out the rental’s car keys.

 

He opened the door and helped Cooper into the car. She felt his eyes on her exposed thigh and part of her wished she was fully covered, but another part of her was happy he was looking.  Cooper didn’t feel so stupid for kissing him earlier then—even if it more on the cheek than his lips.  She glanced up at Ryan, and he blushed before busying himself with putting her crutches in the backseat.

 

“Where to Miss Daisy?” he asked once he got back in the car.
“I don’t know,” Cooper answered honestly.

 

Ryan didn’t know where to go either.

 

“Do you want to go to Kelly’s sister’s place?”
“Do you?” she asked.
“I don’t care,” he shrugged.
“We’re real good decision makers, aren’t we?” Cooper laughed. “Maybe I should just stay in my hotel room, so no other bad accidents happen.”

 

Ryan looked at her and nodded.

 

“Good idea.”

 

He started the car before asking where her hotel was. He drove in silence. The air was strange between them as if something needed to be said.  Ryan pulled up to the hotel and turned the car off. A smile was passed between them and the air turned even stranger.

 

“Ryan…” Cooper began.

 

She was going to mention the peck of a kiss at the hospital. She wondered if maybe it was the wrong move after all.  It was really a casual gesture, but she knew it felt like more.  Cooper figured the kiss may have been what killed the conversation between them. Before she could say another word, Ryan was shooting a question at her.

 

“So you are going out with JT?”
Cooper laughed, “Now who’s random?”
“At least my random thoughts are important,” Ryan winked.

 

“Why is it so important whether or not I go out with JT?”
“Because.”
“Not a good answer, Ryan. Is JT a bad guy or something?”

 

“No, no! JT’s one of my best friends. I was just wondering…”
“Ryan, I’m here with you, and I’m here for at least two weeks. I like you.  Now that it’s out there, you make what you want of it.”

 

It all sounded so elementary coming out of her mouth, Cooper realized.  Was Ryan really that shy?

 

He offered a smile and a nod in response to that.

 

“I’ll help you upstairs.”

 

He got out of the car and helped her up to her hotel room.

 

“You need anything else?”
“Like what?”
“Help into bed?” Ryan asked almost shyly.
“Oh, um—no. Good night,” she said, before starting to hobble into the bedroom.

 

She was disappointed.  She thought Ryan would at least hang out for a little while more.

 

“Cooper, if you want me to stay…” he called after her, but she slammed the door shut behind her.

 

Ryan followed anyway and opened the door.

 

“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. I just thought—I thought you liked me, too.”

 

“Cooper, I do. I just…” Ryan sighed. “You don’t even know me.”
“I’d like to.”
“I’d like to know you, too,” he admitted.
“Okay,” she smiled.

 

“But I should really go back to my hotel tonight,” he said.
“Ryan, I wasn’t asking you to stay here with me,” Cooper smirked, finding his discomfort odd, but endearing.
“Oh, okay,” he nodded with a laugh. “Will you be okay?”
“I think so.”

 

“Call me if you need anything,” Ryan smiled.
“I would if I could,” Cooper laughed.
“Why can’t you?”
“I don’t have your number.”
“Oh, that could be a problem.”

 

He laughed as well before grabbing Cooper’s cell phone from the nightstand.  Ryan took the liberty of programming his phone number into it and then texting himself, so he had her number as well.

 

“Thanks,” she laughed.

 

He took out his phone and turned it on. It beeped, signifying he had a voicemail message on top of the text he just sent to himself.  He saved Cooper’s number into his phone before looking back down at her from where she was sitting on the bed.

 

“I’ll be in town a few more days. We should all hang out.”

 

Ryan leaned down and kissed her cheek.

 

“Okay. Bye Tom,” Cooper said.
“Bye Cooler,” Ryan chuckled.

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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.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

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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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