Read Falling for Hope Online

Authors: Natalie Vivien

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Genre Fiction, #Lesbian, #Lesbian Romance, #Literature & Fiction

Falling for Hope

Falling for Hope

The
Hope Stories Collection

 

by Natalie Vivien

 

© Natalie Vivien 2013
 
-
 
All Rights Reserved

 

Synopsis:

 

What if the woman of your dreams
was your best friend?

Veterinarian Amy is looking
forward to a week in the woods at the cabin with her closest friends, but this
year, their "summer party" is very different from usual. For
starters, it's been six months since Melissa, Hope's partner, passed away, and
Hope has been withdrawing from their group of friends.
 
And Amy has been keeping a deep secret:
 
she's been head over heels in love with Hope
all this time.

Take a group of best friends on
their yearly camping trip, add in a lot of romance, friendships, laughter and
heart, and you have the Hope stories.

Falling for Hope
is the complete collection of the four romantic Hope stories, "Visiting
Hope," "Building Hope," "Finding Hope" and
"Embracing Hope."
 
It is
approximately 20,000 words long (several hours of reading or so).

 

Table of
Contents:
 

The Hope Stories, 1:
 
Visiting Hope

The Hope Stories, 2:
 
Building Hope

The Hope Stories, 3:
 
Finding Hope

The Hope Stories, 4:
 
Embracing Hope

Also by Natalie Vivien

About Author Natalie Vivien

 

 

Dedication:

For my darling

 

 

Visiting Hope

 

 

It had been almost six months, to
the day, since Melissa died.
 
Amy
gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, pressing her foot harder on the
gas pedal as she swallowed, tried to blink back tears.
 

She hadn’t realized it was the
anniversary of her death.
 
She should
have.
 

Outside the car, the dark pines
kept rolling past as the gravel track angled higher and higher into the
mountains.
 
Amy remembered the first
time Hope and Melissa had invited her to their “summer party.”
 
She’d had no idea what she was getting into,
ascending that dangerous gravel “road” to the beautiful vacation cabin Hope and
Melissa shared with each other, and—each summer—a handful of their nearest and
dearest friends.

Amy had first met Hope at her job
at the vet’s office.
 
Hope brought in a
cat that had been hit by a car, the orange fur on the near-death feline matted
with blood.
 
Amy had just started
working there, had just moved to town for the job, and Hope was an as-yet
unfamiliar face.
 
The short-haired,
stocky woman with the quick smile handed Amy the unconscious cat.
 
Surprisingly, Amy had been able to save the
cat, and she was shocked when she came out to the waiting room to tell the
patient’s owner just this fact—and Hope declared the cat was a stray.
 

“All animals have a right to be
taken care of,” said Hope easily as she took out her wallet from her back
pocket.
 
She flashed Amy a wide,
handsome smile, and Amy’s heart had raced.
 

It seemed that almost every day,
Hope was in the vet’s office with one of her animals, or a stray that needed
help.
 
Amy was getting accustomed to
seeing the attractive woman in the waiting room holding a cat or dog or,
occasionally, goat.
 
Amy liked Hope’s
fast smile, how gentle she was with the animals, and Hope could always tell a
joke that would get Amy laughing.
 
Amy
was just summoning up the courage to ask Hope out on a date when, one Friday
evening, Hope asked her to come out to the summer party.
 
She said
our
summer party.
 
Not
my
.

When Amy pressed for a little more
information, Hope said with her effortless smile, “It’s at my and Melissa’s
cottage, in the mountains.”

Of course.
 
Amy shouldn’t have expected that a woman
like Hope would be single.
 
But she had
been, well, hoping.

Still, she didn’t have many friends
in town yet, so she’d readily agreed.
 

Here and now, five years later, Amy
came out of the thick, dense trees and parked her Mini Cooper on the gravel lot
between Chris’s gigantic blue truck and Aspen’s bucket of rusted bolts that had
been, once, a car.
 
Amy switched off the
ignition, reached behind her for her overnight pack and got out of the Cooper,
pausing with her hand on the car door and inhaling deeply the scent of pine,
loam, moss, rotting leaves and—somewhere—perfect wildflowers.
 
Amy stood for a long moment, her fingers
gripping the edge of the door and car window, the pack weighing heavily on her
shoulder, as she remembered last year at this time, Hope and Melissa and the
other women gathered around the bonfire behind the cabin, laughing over some
ridiculous joke Chris had made, burning the roofs of their mouths on s’mores
and thinking that summer would never end.
 
But it had ended, and then Melissa had gotten into the car accident,
driving up the mountain in the snow.

And Melissa had died.

Amy was aware that life was finite
and precious—she knew that fact intimately, working with animals every day,
whose fragile lives she could sometimes piece back together—and sometimes could
not.
 
But she’d known Hope and Melissa
for five years; they’d been the first friends she’d encountered here, in her
new life, and Melissa was the first of Amy’s friends to ever pass away.
 
And so suddenly.
 

Amy could just see the lights from
the large cabin peeking out from the trees further up the mountain.
 
Everyone was already here, she saw, counting
the cars and hefting the pack on her shoulder.
 
She slammed her car door, startling a few blackbirds from a nearby fir,
and made her way to the steep staircase, cut in the side of the hill that led
to the cabin.
 
As Amy ascended, she
began to hear voices.

It was too beautiful a night for
anyone to be inside, and as she’d thought, the women were seated in camp chairs
around a roaring bonfire in front of the cabin.
 
The cabin sprawled behind them, a few lights on, warm and
inviting in the summer twilight, but what was most inviting to Amy was her
group of friends that stood to greet her, arms wide.
 

There was Chris with her new
girlfriend (Chris always had a new girlfriend), Aspen, Vanessa, Shirley, Cole
and Irene with Lindsey.
 
And there was
Hope, too, who squeezed her tightly before taking a step back with her easy
grin, jerking her thumb over to Aspen, who was currently putting another hotdog
on a stick.
 

“Dinner’s early tonight,” said
Hope, taking Amy’s overnight bag from her and slinging it easily over her
shoulder before she turned to take it inside.
 

Amy wanted to ask Hope how she was
doing, how she was, in general.
 
It’d
been a few weeks since Hope had been into the vet’s office.
 
She’d been coming more irregularly since
Melissa passed away.
 
It wasn’t like
Hope, but Amy didn’t want to press.

“Hey, Amy, you’re not with any
lucky lady?” asked Chris, toasting her from the edge of the fire with her can
of beer and a wink.
 
Chris’s current
girlfriend punched her in the shoulder, but Chris took another sip of beer and
laughed.
 
“I’m telling you, one of these
days, you’re going to come up with one of those business types…”

“I resent that remark,” said Irene,
tugging at the top button of her suit’s blouse with a roll of her eyes and a
laugh.
 

“Ain’t nothing wrong with a
business type!” promised Chris, pulling her girlfriend down and onto her lap from
her perch on the camp chair’s arm (which Amy had been thinking was kind of
unsafe by the fire).
 

Amy excused herself, curling her
hands into fists and, with a gulp, following after Hope into the cabin.
 

She wasn’t quite certain where she
was getting this resolve from, but she intended to use it before it evaporated
like Chris’s beer.

Amy shut the cabin door behind her
after she entered and was plunged immediately into quiet.
 
She leaned back against the door for a
moment, listening to the faint murmur of voices outside before clearing her
throat.
 

“It’s just me, Hope!” she called
into the stillness.

Hope poked her head around the
corner from the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
 
“Hey, Amy…
 
I figured I’d
put you in the usual room with Chris and her new lady friend and Vanessa?”

Amy grinned for a moment, hooking
her thumbs in the loops of her jeans.
 
“I mean, that’d be fine.
 
But as
I recall last time…Vanessa and I didn’t get much sleep on account of how
considerate Chris is.”
 
She was laughing
as she rolled her eyes, and Hope grinned, too, though she seemed a little
subdued.
 

“All the beds are full.
 
You could always sleep in my room,” she
said, shrugging.
 

Amy felt herself redden before she
cleared her throat, pushed off from the front door and came forward with one
step, two steps.
 
She paused awkwardly,
trying to sort out the words she’d planned on saying.
 
“Are you okay?” she finally managed.

“You know we weren’t partners when
it happened.
 
We were on and off so many
times…”
 
Hope trailed off, ran her long
fingers through her short hair, cleared her throat.
 
“I miss her so much,” she said then, voice cracking, “but we
weren’t good for each other.”

Amy knew that Melissa and Hope had
been caught in what they affectionately called “an endless lover’s quarrel.”
 
More often they were friends than partners,
but they’d always had a connection.
 
A
connection that Amy had watched from the outside, wistful and hopeful, and if
she was honest, a bit jealously.

“I just find it hard to get my feet
back under me,” said Hope, then, leaning against the wall and glancing past
Amy, through the glass door to the assembled women around the bonfire.
 
“I’ve been looking forward to this vacation
for months now.
 
It’ll help me get my
head back on straight.
 
You guys kept me
going through all of this, you know,” she said, glancing back to Amy.

Amy swallowed the lump in her
throat.
 
“If there’s anything I can do
to help you, please just…just let me know,” she said then, quietly.
 
“You’re my best friend, Hope.
 
I’d do anything for you.”
 

When Hope looked at her, then, her
eyes were wide with surprise.
 
Amy
swallowed again, nodded her head, not looking at the woman beside her.
 
“I’m kind of hungry,” she laughed softly,
turned, trying to blink away the tears that were threatening to spill.

“Amy…” called Hope.
 
Amy stopped, felt her back stiffen.
 
She breathed out softly.
 
But whatever Hope had been going to say, she
changed her mind.
 
“Uh…what room did you
want to stay in?”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Amy
lied.

 

---

 

It was never a proper vacation
until Chris brought out the ukulele.
 

She was pretty drunk at the point
that the ukulele came out but still managed to hit almost all of the notes as a
few of the women began to sing.
 
Hope,
who usually led the charge of Kumbayas around the fire, was surprisingly quiet
tonight, and only Cole and Chris sang a very off-key version of “Amazing
Grace.”
 
As off-key as it was, it was
still pretty to hear, with the crickets and cicadas chirping, the fire crackling
merrily, and overhead the millions of stars that no one could see in town
shining now for everyone.

“I’m calling it a night,” Lindsey
declared, after the last note faded away.
 
“We have plenty of time to go on adventures, ladies.
 
Let’s not ruin it by staying up super late
the first day.”
 
Lindsey was a teacher,
and Amy always found herself moving to Lindsey’s orders long before her mind
actually registered it.
 
She thought
that Lindsey must have the most well controlled classroom in the States.
 
As the women rose, stretching, taking a last
sip of wine or beer or gazing up at the stars, Hope stood, too, came around the
side of the bonfire toward Amy.

Amy found it quite alarming that
still, even after five years, her heart sped up when Hope looked at her.

Amy had had the chance to ask Hope
out.
 
Several times, in fact.
 
Melissa and Hope were infamous for breaking
up over the tiniest squabble.
 
They
disagreed about everything, to the point that it had almost become a joke
between them.
 
Hope and Melissa had both
had a few different girlfriends during the bouts when they were no longer
partners, and Hope had brought one, once, to the annual summer party.
 
Hope had just been in to the vet’s office
before she’d asked the girl out, and Amy would always remember that, at the
time, she’d felt more cowardly than ever before in her life.

Maybe it was the fact that Amy
didn’t want to ruin their friendship.
 
She often told herself that was the reason she didn’t ask Hope out.
 
But the deepest fear, the reason that she
knew, deep down, she’d never gathered up enough courage to ask her best friend
out on a date was because she was worried that Hope would say no.

“I can tell you anything,” Hope had
always said to her, patting Amy on the back like she was a little sister, not
someone you could ever consider romantically.
 
And Amy loved being Hope’s friend, loved the camaraderie they shared,
but when Amy looked at Hope…well.
 
She
didn’t see a big sister.

Hope was a few drinks in, but she
always held her liquor pretty well, and she didn’t even act tipsy when she reached
Amy, jerking her thumb toward the cabin.
 
“I put you in my room, and I’m getting ready to hit the sack.
 
Are you ready to go in?”

“Yeah,” Amy said quietly, and Chris
and Lindsey began to put out the fire while the rest of the women made a
beeline for the cabin.
 

There were three bathrooms, but Amy
was always the one standing and waiting in line, even though she’d tried to get
ahead of the pack this time.
 
She found
herself waiting now, holding her toothbrush and toothpaste, with Irene.

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