Authors: Melissa Pearl
A Songbird Novel
© Copyright 2016 Melissa Pearl
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, actual events or locales is purely coincidental.
Cover art (copyright) by Mae I Design. All rights reserved.
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Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Jane is on a mission of self-discovery. Having lost the love of her life in a horrific motorcycle accident on their wedding day, she’s been a shell of the woman she once was. Learning to live without Blake is going to take more than just waking up each morning. So, she leaves for England to return to the place it all ended, in the hopes of figuring out how to negotiate life on her own. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Harry Tindal, and for the hunky Brit to present her with a surprising proposition.
Harry never intended to approach the red-haired beauty when she stepped into the pub. But the music drew his feet her way and before he knew it, he’d struck up a conversation with the fascinating woman, only to discover they were on similar missions. Trying to escape his painful past, Harry decides to step out of his comfort zone and invite Jane to join him for a fortnight of no regrets.
“No sex. No histories. No awkward conversations. Just two people living life to the max for two weeks. Then we say adios, thanks for a good time, and go our separate ways.”
Jane can’t resist, and the couple embarks on a journey of faith that soon turns into something neither of them expected. As hearts unfurl, truths rise to the surface and the couple must decide if they’re able to risk love once more and hand their hearts to someone new.
Your music is epic. I love your sound and your style. Thank you for inspiring this story with your music.
For Ed Sheeran
Thank you for writing the most beautiful love song I’ve ever heard. You are one of the most talented musicians out there and you inspire me.
In previous Songbird Novels, I have placed the playlist here, but one reader suggested that the list can give too much away. So, if you don’t want to see the song list before reading the book, you can skip straight to
from here. If you’d like to see the Geronimo song list, keeping reading…
(Please note: The songs listed below are not always the original versions, but the ones I chose to listen to while constructing this book. The songs are listed in the order they appear.)
A THOUSAND YEARS
Performed by Christina Perri
BE MORE BARRIO
Performed by Sheppard
Performed by Sheppard
BEST DAY OF MY LIFE
Performed by American Authors
THE EDGE OF GLORY
Performed by Walk Off The Earth
Performed by Ed Sheeran
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING
Performed by Justin Timberlake
OVER THE RAINBOW
Performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE
Performed by Elvis Blue
EVERY LITTLE THING SHE DOES IS MAGIC
Performed by The Police
WHEREVER YOU GO
Performed by Ron Pope
ON TOP OF THE WORLD
Performed by Imagine Dragons
Performed by Owl City
Performed by OneRepublic
Performed by Barenaked Ladies
Performed by Barenaked Ladies
SOMEBODY TO YOU
Performed by The Vamps
Performed by Ben Folds
Performed by X Ambassadors
IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY
Performed by Jason Mraz
Performed by John Mayer
SEE YOU SOMEDAY
Performed by Forty Foot Echo
YOU MATTER TO ME
Performed by Sara Bareilles & Jason Mraz
Performed by Train
IT’S GOOD (IT’S NOT SAFE)
Performed by Sidewalk Prophets
THINKING OUT LOUD
Performed by Ed Sheeran
I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH
Performed by Gustavo Santaolalla, Deigo Luna
To enhance your reading experience, you can listen along to the playlist for
The summer breeze tickled my skin as I stood outside the small stone chapel. White cloud puffs floated like cruising ships in the blue sky while the sun beat down on my pale skin. I’d have to move soon or risk getting burned. My large, floppy hat protected my freckled face but my arms were exposed.
Rubbing my hands over them, I inched closer to my personal nightmare.
I thought coming back to the place it all ended would bring me some kind of comfort, but all I felt was despair. It had been just over a year since my best friend, Sarah, and I giggled our way up the stone path, my wedding dress draped across my arm. Giddy excitement had made us dance and act like schoolgirls. I was getting married. It was meant to be the most thrilling day of my life. And it was…until my mother opened the door to the dressing room.
“He’s gone, love.” Her eyes were messy with tears, her skin pale.
“What do you mean?” I gripped the bench seat I was sitting on, not wanting to match the words with her expression. It couldn’t be true. Blake wouldn’t leave me on our wedding day. We loved each other.
He was my soul mate.
“Justin and his father are heading to the crash site now.”
My heart went limp. It deflated to a flat pancake and slithered into my belly while a thick, pounding beat pulsed through my head.
Sarah gripped my shoulder, her voice coming out broken and wispy. “How?”
“Motorcycle accident.” Mum’s voice turned to white noise, the throbbing inside me drowning out anything other than one simple fact: the love of my life was dead and he wouldn’t be marrying me.
Not that day.
Tears burned my eyes as I gritted my teeth and glared at the wooden doors, the ones Blake and I were supposed to run through while people blew bubbles over our heads.
Sarah and I had planned the day to perfection.
The perfect wedding to start the perfect life.
Instead it had become my worst nightmare. One I couldn’t seem to recover from.
Turning my back on the chapel, I headed to my rental car. Mum told me I could have just borrowed one from Aunt Helen, but I didn’t want the family knowing I was there. She seemed to understand my reasoning. My return to England was not a catch-up.
I was looking for…
What? I still wasn’t sure.
I had to move on.
I figured out about a month ago that no matter how hard I wished for it, I was still waking up every morning, alive and well. It hit me like a mallet to the face that I could be doing that for the next seventy-five years. Was I really prepared to keep trudging away at life, acting like a robot so I didn’t have to feel Blake’s loss so deeply?
I couldn’t do it.
I had to find my way, figure out how to be a person without him.
Dumping my hat on the passenger seat, I started the car and pulled away from the church, heading back toward Rye. It was the cutest, most adorable town in southern England. Only a few miles from the ocean, with quaint, cobbled streets and pubs that were hundreds of years old. My mother had lived there for a short time as a child, and when I came to visit the summer before I started college, I fell in love with it. When she showed me the church she and Dad had gotten married in, I was determined to keep that tradition going. I didn’t know at the time that I’d meet
only a month after thinking that…and I definitely had no idea I’d be burying him in New Mexico five years later.
A bitter scoff punched out of my mouth and I gripped the wheel. I was nearing the corner.
The dreaded corner.
My parents wouldn’t let me go to the crash site in my wedding dress. I was firing for the door when Dad stopped me, wrapping his arms around me and whimpering. “You won’t want to see. Please, baby, don’t remember him that way.”
In retrospect, I guess they were right. I’d never had the heart to truly investigate the accident. I didn’t know the other driver in the collision. Some woman who was speeding through the countryside, unprepared to find Blake on the wrong side of the road.
If I ever felt particularly weak-minded, I’d let myself imagine the crash.
Slowing the car, I pulled to the edge of the road and stared at the corner, picturing Blake on his bike. He’d always been so sexy on his bike. I’d never forget the first time I saw him, pulling up to the curb and taking off his helmet before catching my eye and grinning at me. His wild shoulder-length curls, that cocky glint in his eyes. It’d taken me all of a week to fall in love with him.
I sniffed and flinched as I saw the crash in my mind, heard the crunch of metal, watched Blake’s body fly through the air and land with a sickening thud in the ditch. Apparently he smashed his head on a rock. It indented his skull, making him unrecognizable.
Gripping my mouth, I closed my eyes against the burning sting of tears and turned away from the empty road. I wanted to hate him for not wearing a helmet, but I couldn’t. Instead I cursed the female driver for not obeying the speed limit, for not having enough time to brake and swerve away from my American sweetheart on the wrong side of the road.
Why couldn’t road rules be universal?
I slapped the wheel and then drove on, checking the road twice to ensure I was adhering to British law. The wheel was on the other side of the car, which helped. Blake had been on a bike though. He wouldn’t have had that same reminder.
He’d told me he had a surprise planned for right after the ceremony.
When I’d kissed him good night the evening before, he’d whispered in my ear. “I’m stealing you away before the reception, beautiful. Can’t be sharing our first married moment with a big crowd, now can we?”
The romantic smile on his face had made my heart swell so big I thought it’d burst.
Reaching Rye, I continued through the small village, heading out to the rolling hills on the other side. The cliffs were drawing near and I kept going, wondering what I’d find when I reached the isolated spot.
I couldn’t help wondering if this was where Blake had intended to whisk me off to…on the bike he’d secretly hired. My wedding dress would have been billowing behind the back wheel. I would have clung to him, no doubt worrying about dirtying the cream-colored tulle. Blake would have just smiled and told me to relax.
“Enjoy the moment, carrots.”
The only person on earth I ever let call me a nickname related to my hair. Funny how much I missed it.
A sad smile wafted over my lips as I exited the car and trudged up the hill. The wind picked up as I crested the rise, sweeping the hair off my face and making me feel like I was in some shampoo commercial. Planting my feet at the top of the cliff, I looked out across the vast ocean, so blue and icy cold. Inching to the very edge, I gazed down and wondered what it’d feel like to jump. To throw myself into the abyss and fly for a few glorious moments before crashing to my death.
I’d thought about it almost every day since Blake left me, but I could never bring myself to do it. As much as I wanted all the pain to end, my survival instincts wouldn’t let me take my life. I had to keep going somehow.
Stepping back from the edge, I walked through the vibrant green grass, spotting a small group of tourists below me. My forehead wrinkled and I spun away from them, heading further up the hill until I reached a lone tree.
Placing my hand on the bark, I ran my fingers over the rough surface.
“Well, you look like you’ve survived okay all by yourself.” I looked up to the thick branches, appreciating the way the light and leaves cast shadows together, giving the tree depth and beauty. “I don’t suppose you care to tell me how you’ve done it.”
The leaves rustled and swayed in response.
I sighed and walked around the trunk, the pads of my fingers dancing over the bark until I reached the other side. Jerking to a stop, I pulled in a sharp breath, my eyes flooding with tears as I traced the letters carved into the wood.
Jane + Blake
The words were framed by a heart.
I managed a shaky laugh, my face bunching as tears slid from my eyes.
“Our song,” I whispered.
“A Thousand Years.” It was supposed to play as I walked down the aisle toward him. Instead it played as his coffin was carried out of his family church in Albuquerque.
Pressing two fingers against my lips, I kissed them, then placed that kiss on the trunk.
“I’ll love you for a thousand years, baby. And a thousand more.”
My body started to tremble. I could picture him so clearly. He would have looked so handsome in his chocolate brown wedding suit, his hair tied back in a stubby ponytail. He would have brushed my lower lip with his thumb and kissed me under that tree—our first moment together as a married couple.
I dropped to my knees, the tree roots scraping my skin as I covered my mouth and cried. I missed him so much. Every day was a chore without him. Every lonely minute so depleting.
Sucking in a ragged breath, I let out another sob and forced my mind back to our wedding day. He must have ridden up to the tree that morning to carve his sweet message before heading to the chapel.
Slapping my hand on the trunk, I dug my fingers into the bark, trying to absorb Blake’s last moment. To somehow make it mine. His feet would have been planted where my knees sat, his pocketknife blade digging into the wood as he no doubt smiled and thought of me.
I wanted to stay in that beautiful moment with him, to leave a part of myself behind so our souls could endure together.
My eyes flicked to the emerald on my wedding finger. I still hadn’t found the courage to remove the engagement ring Blake gave me, but for reasons I didn’t understand, I wriggled it off my finger. With quick, erratic breaths, I gouged my nails into the dry soil between the roots until I’d created a big enough hole to place the ring inside.
Kissing the sparkly green stone, I dropped it into my hiding place before I could change my mind. I took my time covering it up, muttering prayers that it would never be found. The longer I worked, the more convinced I was that leaving my ring at the base of the tree would somehow combine Blake and me for life.
I’d never love again, I was certain of it. My heart was too full with Blake to let another in. The whole reason I came back to the beginning was to figure out how to live alone—how to start my life anew. Leaving my ring with Blake, making this spot ours, was a step in the right direction.
Satisfied the ring was now a part of the precious tree, I stood back and wrapped my arms around myself. Gazing at the carved words, I stood in my spot, whisper-singing our song from beginning to end.
“I’m yours forever, Blake.” I brushed the pads of my fingers over his carving. “I love you.”
Turning from our tree, I ambled back to the car, my soul flirting with that peace I’d been so desperately craving. It wasn’t all-consuming, just the whisper of hope that somehow I could do this. I could move on. I could keep going. I
find my way.
Happiness didn’t need to be out of my grasp anymore.
Blake was still with me. We were joined for life.
It was time for me to start living again…for the both of us.