Promise Me: Chapter 1
Hannah took a moment to process that one little word. Barcelona? As in...Barcelona, Spain?
Well, duh... Was there really any other Barcelona situated next to the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean? She glared at the picture of his new house on her computer and blew out an unsteady breath. He lives in Spain. He's an engineer for a global multi-billion dollar company. He has a beautiful wife and two, just-as-beautiful children.
And I'm the idiot who dumped him.
Hannah didn't know why she felt the sudden urge to search for Luke Kirkland. She had not seen, nor talked to, him in almost thirteen years. Not since that year after they both graduated high school and she left their small hometown to pursue her dream of becoming an actress/singer in Hollywood.
Actually, yes, I do know why I had to see Luke for myself. Because his dad walked into her store yesterday, and Hannah couldn’t avoid him this time. Ronald Kirkland cornered her in the herb garden section and asked how she was doing after all these years. She said she was fine, and she asked about himself and his family, which only started this chain of thoughts about Luke, leading up to her compulsion to see his success for herself.
And look at me...alone, single, a few non-speaking parts in a some cop dramas -- mostly as corpses, she chafed -- one tampon commercial, a b-rated scream movie in which she died within the first thirty minutes and a chain of pointless, unsuccessful auditions under her belt...and that was about it. And no one wanted to hear her songs, not even in the clubs. Said she had a good voice but was too country. Said she should go to Nashville. Hannah didn’t want to go to Nashville. She wanted to be a Hollywood star...like her mother had tried unsuccessfully to become, and Hannah thought she could do what her mother couldn’t. But that was before Lawna Miles married James Baker, settled back in Conway, Arkansas, gave birth to Hannah, and left forever because the place was “too country.”
Hannah had been determined to do prove she was better than her mother, but she returned home five years ago to care for her ailing father as the cancer slowly took his life. She’d been running her dad’s farm and garden supply store ever since then because she could never bear to disappoint her father, and this store had been his whole life after her “mother” left. But Hannah’s life had become meaningless...hopeless...loveless.
Just the week before, she tried to recall the last time she had sex. It was back in California five years ago, she remembered that, but the man’s face was a blur, a weak moment from a painful bout of loneliness, but ever since then she’d been taking care of business herself because she just wasn’t the casual sex kind of girl. She’d seen enough bed-hopping in Hollywood to realize she’d never be able to complete with some of those young, ambitious actresses that way. And now, she was stuck in a town full of good ole country boys, and Hannah wanted to yank her hair out every time one said, “Hey there, sugar.” But who could blame her? Working all day in a farm store in this little town, the only men she ever saw were the ones working for her, those regular customers who her dad knew, and occasionally a new face. Still, they liked to tease her -- “Sing us a song, Reba!” -- and proposition her, but Hannah Baker didn’t find anything attractive about a man covered in mud and smelling like cow manure.
Her eyes strayed back to her computer screen. Luke, he had grown up on a farm, but he never seemed like the guys around her all day...rough, loud, smelly. Oh, no. Luke Kirkland had been so mature for his age, always so polite and kind and so very responsible. Now, he still had that same look to him, but older, more handsome, happier than the last time she saw him. He’d been her first...on that old, tweed couch in his parents’ farmhouse basement. She remembered how quick and awkward it had been, some heavy breathing, his cold fingers under her bra, his belt buckle poking her in the knee,