Chapter 21 Preview: Impulsive and insecure Cooper Jackson accompanies her cousin to a wedding where she meets Sound Wave, a famous boy band.

The six-pound, five-ounce baby girl was placed in Cooper’s arms.  Ryan put his arm around her.  Looking at Cooper’s niece made him think of Ethan and how he was thrilled to be going home next week.  Cooper would be coming with him to officially meet his family.  The couple had been in Milford for the past two weeks.  Cooper had become a certified life coach the day before they flew out of Florida, and it seemed the past fourteen days have been a non-stop celebration.

Marcela had a planned cesarean birth, and the surgery was a success.  Zac snapped pictures of Cooper and the baby, Allie Cooper Jackson.  Cooper was also chosen to be the baby’s Godmother while Marcela’s brother served as Godfather.  Zac turned his camera on his wife, and Marcela wasn’t too thrilled.

“I look horrible,” she groaned, still groggy.

“You never looked more beautiful,” he said, and she laughed at him.

“Allie, you have great parents,” Cooper told the baby.

Baby Allie opened her eyes and closed them, and Cooper gushed over the small gesture.

“Come on, Ryan, let’s crack open the cigars,” Zac said, once Dave and Casey came into the room.

The three men walked outside of the hospital.  They lit the cigars, and puffed every so often.  Ryan gagged a little, but smoked anyway in order to keep the tradition.

“Cooper is extremely happy.”

“Did you drug her?” Dave joked.

Ryan laughed, “I’m extremely happy, too.”

“Thank you,” Zac said sincerely.

“Zac, you don’t have to thank me for loving your sister.  I should be thanking her.  She’s this¾she’s like this light, every time I see her¾I don’t know¾she doesn’t even know how incredible she is, and that’s what makes her so amazing.  She’s so strong and so crazy…” Ryan laughed.  “When I’m with her, I feel like I can do anything.”

“I’m pretty sure she feels the same way,” Dave said and Zac agreed.  Ryan smiled.




After lunch, Cooper and Ryan found themselves at the cemetery.  Giving her hand a squeeze, Ryan walked with Cooper to her mother’s grave.  The grass was soft from the rain the night before.  There were flowers on the grave that Zac planted on Mother’s Day.


Allison Marie Jackson

Beloved Mother



Cooper ran her fingers across the lettering on the tombstone, and began to cry.  Ryan gave Cooper her space.  He knew how difficult visiting her mother’s grave was for her.  Cooper laid a pink rose on top of the tombstone.  She stepped back until she was standing next to Ryan again, taking his hand in hers.

“Hi Mom.  Sorry it took me so long to visit you.  I wanted to thank you for visiting me, though.  I guess you beat me to it,” Cooper laughed.  “I’ve been praying ever since.  By the way, you’re a grandmother now.  Zac named her after you.  Allie.”

“We drove up to Cooperstown last week.  We couldn’t help but think of you.  Remember when you took me and Zac as kids?” she laughed.  “You were mad at me because I liked the Red Sox back then.  I thought their name was cute.  Soon you convinced me and Zac to be Yankee fans, though.  You’d be happy to know I bought Allie plenty of Yankees dresses.”  She looked over at Ryan and he smiled at her, “This is Ryan.  You probably know that already.”

“Hi Ms. Jackson.  It’s nice to meet you,” he spoke.

“Isn’t he a gentleman?  He won’t break my heart, Mom.”

“I promise,” Ryan whispered.

“He even has me going to church now,” Cooper laughed.  “I just wanted to thank you for helping me out.  I miss you, Mom,” she cried.  “I love you.”

Ryan pulled her into his arms, and let her cry on his shoulder.





That night, Cooper lie in Ryan’s arms.  They slept in the same bed since they arrived in New Jersey, but still have yet to consummate their relationship.  It was a mutual decision to treat their relationship as if they were just dating and working their way up to love.  It wasn’t easy, and both were finding it more and more difficult to resist one another.  They fooled around, and almost gave in several times, but didn’t want sex to define them as a couple.

Cooper watched Ryan sleep.  He had no shirt on and the tattoo on his arm was staring her in the face.  She pulled the blanket back slightly to look at his body in detail.  His boxers fit him tightly, and she admired his toned legs, and lean body.  He had some blonde hair around his belly button, and Cooper found it sexy.  She released herself from his arms reluctantly, not able to look at him anymore without touching him.  They had been up all night talking, and she knew Ryan was exhausted, and didn’t want to wake him up.

Knowing the house was empty, since Zac was sleeping at the hospital, Cooper made her way downstairs in just her tank top and underwear.

“Milo, it’s just me,” Cooper called turning on the kitchen light.

The dog wagged his tail and she ran her hand through his stringy hair.  She pulled the ice cream out of the freezer and dug in with a spoon.  Her back was toward the entrance of the kitchen, and she didn’t notice Ryan watching her.  He looked at the material of her underwear outlining her behind.  Her thighs were slightly parted.  His eyes danced down the side slope of her breasts and along the curve of her waist.

Cooper turned around and jumped when she saw Ryan standing there.  The spoon slipped from her mouth and she dropped ice cream on her shirt.

“Shit,” she cursed.

He laughed at her, amused that he had startled her.

“What are you doing standing there?”

“Watching you.”

“That’s a little creepy,” she laughed, before pulling the shirt away from her chest, observing the chocolate stain.

Ryan walked over to her, and grabbed the ends of her tank top.  He lifted the thin material over her head and threw it in the sink behind her.  Cooper’s eyes were intrigued, as he looked her nearly naked form over.  Instead of touching her, he smirked and walked to the sink.  He put soap on the shirt and rubbed the material together.  He turned the water on and soaked it.

“I know it’s your favorite thing to sleep in.”

He turned the water off before looking at her.

“Thanks,” she said, crossing her arms across her bare chest, feeling slightly self-conscience.

Ryan laughed at her, “Don’t cover up.”

“Easy for you to say, you’re not standing here naked,” Cooper rolled her eyes.

“And what’s this?” he asked, motioning to his boxer-clad body.

“That’s not naked for guys,” she shook her head laughing.

“Alright, fine,” he pulled down his boxers, and Cooper’s mouth dropped.

“Feel better?”

She began laughing.

“Hey, I didn’t laugh at you.”

“Aww, baby, I’m not laughing at you…“ Cooper motioned to his body.  “I’m laughing at you for being you.”

“Oh, because that makes sense.”

Ryan’s face was priceless, and he turned away a bit.  Cooper immediately wrapped her arms around him from behind.  She ran her hands over his chest and stomach.  He could feel her breasts pressed against his back, and was becoming excited at the sensation of her bare skin on his.

“You’re hot, and I love you for exposing yourself to me in the kitchen, in front of the dog.”

Ryan turned around and saw Milo staring at them.  They both laughed.  He pulled Cooper into his arms, and kissed her deeply.  She allowed his hands to roam over her body, and Cooper could tell he was getting just as aroused as she was.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, kissing behind her ear.

He pulled away and looked at her.  She didn’t feel self-conscience anymore, and allowed him to explore her body even more with his hands.

“Let’s take this upstairs,” she urged him.

They left the kitchen, with the ice cream melting on the counter, and the shirt soaking in the sink.  Ryan and Cooper made love for the first time.  It started out slow and sensual, working its way up to passionate and feverish.  After, they whispered how much they loved each other before making love again.  This time, they took time to get to know one another’s body and what the other one liked.

By the time morning came, they both awoke starving for breakfast and each other again.  After curing one hunger, they both threw on some clothes and made their way down to the kitchen.  Milo was lying on the floor near the counter where the ice cream had dripped down the cabinet and onto the floor.  Cooper let Milo outside before cleaning up the mess.  She threw her shirt in the washing machine as Ryan looked through the refrigerator for something to eat.  They made breakfast together, but couldn’t keep their hands off each other as they cooked or ate.

“Let’s go back upstairs,” Ryan growled, nipping at Cooper’s ear.

“Zac and Marcela should be home soon with the baby,” she said closing her eyes at the feel of his teeth followed by his tongue.

“We have time.”

“We have to shower,” Cooper decided.

Ryan was disappointed, but agreed.  Cooper stood up from the kitchen table and stopped at the doorway.

“I said we have to shower,” she winked.

Ryan laughed and saluted her.

“Yes, ma’am.”




The next week, Cooper and Ryan headed off to Blue Ridge, Georgia.  There was a large welcome upon their arrival.  Not only was Ryan’s immediate family over his parents’ house, but his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were there as well.  Ryan pulled Ethan into his arms almost immediately.

Cooper stood awkwardly at first.  The Latham family was much larger than hers, and she wondered what they thought of her since she had dated JT.  Ryan’s mother had been sweet to her at the brunch before Ryan’s wedding that never happened.  She was worried Lynda wouldn’t like her so much now, though.

“Ethan, this is Aunt Cooper,” Ryan introduced the nine-month-old baby.

“He’s adorable,” Cooper took Ethan’s hand in hers.

“Thank you,” Tracy said.

Lynda came over and hugged Ryan.

“You’re lucky Ethan is my grandson or else I’d be jealous you went to him before your own Mama.”

Ryan laughed, “I’ve missed you, Mom.”

He hugged Lynda with Ethan in his arms.  Lynda immediately hugged Cooper tightly, surprising the young woman.

“Ryan has just gone on and on how happy he is.”

“Well, the feeling is mutual,” Cooper smiled.  “I just love your son.”

Her eyes darted toward Ryan as she said the words, causing him to smile.


Lynda clapped her hands together with enthusiasm, and her family laughed at her.

“Mom, let the girl breathe.  She didn’t even get to walk in the house yet,” Bobby laughed.

Robert, Sr. hugged Cooper next.  Cooper saw John and Kristin, and was slightly relieved she knew some other people there.

“How ya doin’ sweetie?” John asked, his drawl coming through.

“Great, a little overwhelmed,” Cooper whispered.

Kristin laughed, “I was too, you’ll get used to it.”

“So, I hear you’re expecting?” Cooper asked.

Kristin nodded excitedly as John just smiled.


Cooper hugged them both before Lynda called her over.  She was introduced to the rest of Ryan’s family, and she felt even more overwhelmed.

After the excitement calmed down a bit, the family gathered in the living room and dining room.  Cooper noticed Lynda was in the kitchen for a long period of time, and was surprised no one offered to help her.

“I’m going to see if your mom needs a hand,” Cooper announced, already on her way toward the kitchen.

“Uh Coop…” Ryan tried to call before looking at John a bit worried.

“Mom will go easy on her, she’s new.”

John assured him and Bobby snickered at the idea.  The three sons of Lynda Latham knew how difficult their mother was when she was in the kitchen.  No one offered to help Lynda simply because she didn’t want anyone’s help.




“Need any help?”

Cooper walked through the swinging door.

“No, that’s okay,” Lynda assured her.

“Hey, your sons are home, I’m sure you want to get this done so you can spend time with them.  Let me help,” Cooper smiled.  “I used to help my mom all the time.  I miss that.”

Lynda couldn’t refuse her offer after the mention of her mother.  Ryan had told her about Cooper’s family history already.

“Alright, but you might hate me by the time we’re done.”

Cooper laughed, “I’m a kitchen Nazi myself.  I’ll understand.”

“Okay, can you cut up an onion?”

Cooper followed Lynda’s instruction and made a suggestion or two of her own.  Lynda appreciated Cooper not rummaging through things; instead she simply asked her where something was.  She couldn’t stand people searching through her cabinets, drawers, and refrigerator.  It irritated her since she was anal about organization.

An hour and a half later, Ryan realized Cooper never came out of the kitchen.  Curious, he pushed open the swinging door.  To his surprise, Lynda and Cooper were working side by side.  They were talking and laughing.

“How’s it going in here?”

“Hey,” Cooper smiled, turning with a knife in her hand.

Ryan put his hands up defensively.

“I’ll leave, just put the knife down.”

Cooper laughed.

“Dinner is almost ready,” Lynda smiled.  “I found a new cooking buddy.”

“I see that.”

“You didn’t tell me Cooper liked to cook.”

Ryan shrugged, “I guess she’s full of surprises.”

Cooper smiled and walked toward Ryan.  She pecked his lips.

“You’re so lucky my mom didn’t kill you.”

“I heard that, Ryan.”

“I knew I could win her over,” Cooper said proudly.  “Now get out.”

“I’m going, I’m going,” he laughed before mouthing, “Love you.”

Cooper blew him a kiss before returning to her work.




After dinner, Ryan and Cooper went for a walk.  They could see the mountains in the distance, and Cooper breathed in the fresh air, admiring the beauty.  They strolled lazily down the path from the house, talking about the future.

Cooper would return to Florida next week, and Ryan was staying in Blue Ridge.  She had a business to run with Joyce now, and Ryan wanted to make the most of his time off.  Soon, he would get to work on his solo album, and he would once again be traveling.  It was this realization that brought Ryan to a sudden decision.

“I’m moving to Florida.”


“I can’t be away from you.”

“Ryan, I would love for you to live near me, but what about your family?”

“I’ll visit often.”

“It’s selfish of me to keep you all to myself.”

“It’s selfish of you to keep me away,” Ryan smiled.  “This past month has been amazing.”

“I can’t believe it’s only been a month,” Cooper sighed.  “I almost don’t remember life without you.”

“I know, and I don’t want to remember life without you.”

“You know, I’d move here if it wasn’t for my job,” she explained.

“I know you would.  Look, I’ll get an apartment for now.  You can still live with Joyce.  I don’t want to rush into anything, you know?”

Cooper nodded, “Me neither.”

She hugged him, happy with his decision.  Cooper imagined the rest of her life, and for the first time, she knew exactly what she wanted and how she felt…

She didn’t plan on changing her mind any time soon.


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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.


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