This is the prologue of Finding Us (True Love, Book 2) which is in Jag’s point of view 🙂
I don’t have any fancy fucking quotes to explain how I feel, but if I had anything to say it’d be that you don’t die from a broken heart. You just wish you did.
My name is Jagger Jensen, I’m twenty-seven, should be in the best place in my life as a star pitcher for the Dodgers, making a mint for every ball I throw, yet I can’t get my head in the right place because of all that’s happened with my girl over the past couple years which is why she’s not here with me now.
To say I screwed up royally with her would be an understatement, but it’s damned near as close as I can get to telling the truth.
The love of my life walked out on me because I’m an asshole.
See, Ellen Reese Love had been a part of my life since I was six or seven and she was four or five. Hell, I don’t remember stuff like that, specific ages or dates, but guys aren’t supposed to remember that shit, right? That’s why we’re always getting in trouble for forgetting anniversaries or birthdays. But I swear, women have built-in calendars in their heads or something because El remembered every date there was. Like, she knew that July 24th was the first time we met and that August 26th was National Cherry Popsicle Day (which I only remember because when we were little, she’d insisted that her mom buy us several boxes of them, and we’d eaten them for an hour straight until our tongues seemed to be permanently stained red, which we, of course, had to show to everyone by sticking them out every five seconds. And then we’d both thrown up on her driveway).
So as far as dates go, I’m a typical guy. But thing is, when it comes to El, it seems I remember just about everything. And I’ve yet to decide whether that’s a blessing or a curse.
Anyway, we met when we both ran to the ice cream truck that was making its way through our Chicago suburb neighborhood. The Spiderman pops that we both ordered seemed to cement our friendship from the start. A girl who liked superheroes was awesome, I decided, and from that moment on, she became a part of my life.
We played together nearly every day since there were no other kids in our neighborhood, but that was fine by me because El was cool as hell to be around. She challenged me to see who could climb the massive oak tree in my backyard fastest, and it almost always ended up a tie, which, if I’d developed my fragile male ego at that age, I’m sure it would’ve pissed me off. But as it was, I was in awe of her since she was an agile little thing, and I was just glad to have a friend to play with.
Summers we’d compete to see who could swim from one end of the pool in her backyard to the other, and my little boy mind couldn’t comprehend why she’d cry when I won. I’d end up calling her a baby, she’d yell back through bitter and abundant sobs that she wasn’t, punch me in the arm, sniff a time or two, wipe her big, green eyes free of tears then all would be well and we’d move on to the next thing on our playtime agenda. Winters we’d have snowball fights, building our own little forts across the yard from each other, compiling clusters of ammo, and let me tell you, the girl threw a wicked screwball. I’d think it was going to go one way, I’d move to get away from it, and end up being nailed right in the head. I couldn’t help but smile that she was as adept as she was at throwing especially since I’d begun pitching lessons by that time and knew all the pitches, so I told her she should become the first woman to play in the pros.
El and I were inseparable until puberty hit and the testosterone in my body arrived guns blazing. Suddenly, girls were all I saw. God, they smelled so good, were so pretty and most were just so sweet it was hard to ignore them.
Funny thing was, I tried looking at El as if she were a girl, but I just didn’t see her in that way. She was my friend. The friend who laughed when I bit it hard after attempting a pop shove it nosegrind nollie flip on my skateboard. The friend who called me a sissy when a grasshopper landed on my head and I wigged out trying to get it off until she walked over, picked if off me and proceeded to coddle the fucking thing in her hands before setting it free.
So it’s easy to see where this is going. Yep. I totally ditched her… for five years. I know. I was a dick. But that was the problem—my dick. For some time, it seemed to be doing all the thinking for me. But by senior year, I’d matured a bit and finally started thinking with my bigger head some, but by then I figured it was probably too late to reestablish things with her.
Oh, I’d kept an eye out for her over the years we were apart, but I hadn’t paid much attention to her in the guy-checking-out-a-hot-girl way. It was more the we-were-best-friends-when-we-were-little-and-you-saw-me-squirt-milk-out-of-my-nose-once-so-that-made-us-buddies-and-now-I’m-just-making-sure-you’re-okay way.
But when I was a senior and she was a sophomore, I happened to be driving by her house one day when she’d gotten home and was walking up the driveway to go inside. Doing a damned double take when I saw her, I almost had to slam on the brakes.
She had on a short skirt and somewhere along the way, she’d grown legs that seemed to be a mile long. Her long, auburn hair flipped around her shoulders as she walked, catching the sun and shooting out blondish sparks here and there. When she stopped and bent down to tug on the strap of her sandal and I saw that her breasts swayed gorgeously with her movements, not to mention her skirt that rode up a little in back teasing me with a glimpse of her gorgeous ass, I almost ran into a car that was parked on the side of the street. Damn.
As much as I wanted to ask her out, I knew I’d be heading off to college soon to continue playing baseball, and I didn’t want the responsibility of having a girlfriend possibly thousands of miles away.
I know, I know. I had a huge ego because I’d just assumed that she’d want to be with me. What can I say? I was eighteen.
But not wanting the burden of a long-distance relationship was the reason why I’d broken up with Blair Adams. Well, one of the reasons. To say she was clingy was an understatement, and I hated clingy. To say she was easy was more of the same, except I didn’t hate easy so much. Yeah, I dated girls who’d been around the block a time or two and knew I could score with. Already told you I was a dick. Sue me.
So I let things go with El almost the entire year until March 27 (See? She’s burned that shit on my brain for eternity) when I couldn’t stay away any longer.
After baseball practice that day, I was driving out of the parking lot in my badass ’69 Camaro when I saw a group of guys at the south end standing around laughing. I drove over to see what was going on only to find that they were surrounding El who was sitting on the rail pretty much ignoring all their tactics to get her attention. I couldn’t help but chuckle because it was so typical teenage guy.
Seeing her sitting there looking so goddamned beautiful, the wind blowing her ponytail everywhere, oblivious to the guys’ antics, made my heart stop. I knew I should’ve just driven away, but I kept telling myself it’d be okay. We’d just start up our friendship again and that was it. Nothing more.
I asked if she needed a ride, and after a little contemplation, which was a total slam to my ego, mind you, she agreed and got in my car. And I’m telling you, when she did, it was all I could do to keep from putting the car in park and jump out to pound my fists against my chest, showing the guys that I’d won the prize.
And that’s where it all started.
What comes next explains how she and I got to the mess we were now in. And how I continued being a prick, earning my Assholes Anonymous card. But don’t be too hard on me. I’m just a man who had it all and lost it… and has lived to regret it each and every day thereafter.
Harper Bentley © 2014