Chapter One

 Oakley

Everyone says that getting over somebody ‘just takes time’ and that one day it will stop hurting and the door will open for you to move on. We are also told that love is eternal; something extraordinary that will stay with you forever. However, after a break up, suddenly love becomes something you should get over once a little time had passed. The contradiction is immense. Right now, I was somewhere in the middle.

I walked my usual route along the beach, holding my sandals in my hand, so I could feel the soft golden sand between my toes. Every night I walked along the beautiful Australian coast. It was so tranquil here. It was what I needed after everything came out. The air was still warm and the moon reflected off the ocean, creating rippling shadows on the water’s surface. I sighed, smiling at the beautiful sight.

A couple ahead of me walked hand in hand, gazing happily at each other. The man leant over and kissed the side of his partner’s head. He reminded me a little of Cole, with his messy hair and flirty smile. I gulped and walked past them, keeping my head down.

My heart gave a small squeeze as my mind drifted back to Cole. Again. That was no surprise though; most things reminded me of him. His eyes were the same shade as the blue of early night sky. The tree outside our house that had one branch leaning to the side, creating an L shape, was the same shape as the one he fell off while trying to rescue a cat. Our neighbour’s dog had a light brown patch of fur on its white tail that was the same colour as Cole’s hair in the summer, when the sun lightened it a fraction.

After I first left, we texted, but it became too hard to keep turning him down, so I cut off all contact. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. All I wanted was to tell him to get on the first plane out here. But he had so much in England: I didn’t want to get in the way of his university and career dreams, and making him move away from his whole family was too selfish. I loved him far too much to be selfish.

For the last three years and eight months, I hadn’t spoken to him at all. It never got any easier. I still found myself almost dialling his number practically every day. I knew Mum and Jenna still spoke. Well, they emailed because it was easier with the time difference, so I knew Cole was doing well. He went to the university he had always wanted to go to and landed his dream job. Mum never mentioned if he had a girlfriend, or worse, a fiancé or wife. I didn’t want to know. It would hurt too much, but I hoped with all my heart that he was happy.

As soon as I walked back inside our house, Jasper practically pounced on me. Since the truth had come out, he had barely left my side. He went from overprotective to almost suffocating. No one could come within ten metres of me without Jasper being there to ‘check them out’. I didn’t need a babysitter. I moved half way across the world to be free.

He stood in front of me and bent his head to look into my eyes – checking if I was okay. “You alright?”

“Yes, Jasper.” I sighed and walked into the kitchen.

Mum stood at the counter, making three mugs of hot chocolate. That was our little routine now; every night after my walk on the beach, the three of us would sit in the lounge drinking hot chocolate and chatting. Even Jasper made it every night. Four years ago, he would have laughed at the idea and gone out clubbing. We were really close now. I loved it, but hated they both had to lose so much for me.

“So have you spoken to Miles today?” I asked Mum, smiling innocently as I leant on the kitchen island.

Jasper shot me a warning look, his eyes narrowed. He was trying to get me to drop it, but I wasn’t going to. Mum met Miles at work three years ago, and they both really liked each other, but she wouldn’t give him a chance. I understood why she found it hard to trust again, but anyone could see that she was as in love with him as he was with her.

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