“One Wish”

One Wish Book Cover_New Design_Half

Now available on ebook and in paperback.

If you could go back in time and change one decision, what would it be?

This is the question Claire Berkeley is presented with after saving the life of an old woman. Claire is given a chance that some of us only dream of: the opportunity to go back in time and change her life.

Her life is a mess at the time when the opportunity presents itself. She is filled with hopelessness at the loss of Wyatt, her fiancé and the broken heart bestowed on her by Ben, the man she has loved her entire life. She remembers a moment back in high school, almost ten years ago, when she had the chance to choose between them. The Claire in present day believes with all of her heart that she chose wrong.

Given the opportunity to change the decision, she makes a wish that catapults her back in time ten years to the exact day when she first made the choice between Ben and Wyatt.

This time, she is determined to make the right decision.

The only problem is, changes are like dominoes–move one thing and everything else can topple over…

***Excerpt from Chapter One of “One Wish”***

 

After Lexie filled the coffee pot with water and pressed the button, she turned around to face him. “By the way, I know why you’re here and you can just forget it,” she proclaimed.

Ben shook his head. So the niceties were finished. “I don’t know what you mean.” He attempted to act innocent. It didn’t work.

“Cut the bullshit, Benjamin. You forget how well I know you. I knew when I saw Katie the other night and she was salivating over the latest gossip, you wouldn’t be far behind.”

“Just tell me how it happened,” he requested. He told himself he’d only come here for information, nothing more. “Please, Lex. I need to know.”

Lexie lowered herself to the chair opposite his. She placed her hands on the table and focused on them as her expression turned somber. “Wyatt found her about six months ago. He was just browsing some website on the Internet, you know those dating kinds, and there she was. I didn’t even know she had a profile. I mean I know how lonely she’s been but I never thought she was looking.

“She called me up the day she got his email. Asked me what I thought. What was I supposed to say?”

“How about: he’s an asshole and you shouldn’t give him the time of day?” Ben blurted out.

Lexie shrugged and ignored his snide suggestion. “They started out by talking on the phone—every night. He lived a day’s drive away so they made plans to get together. She told me it was like having a connection to something again—to the happy part of her past. Wyatt went to visit her one weekend and within a month, he’d packed up and moved in with her.”

Lexie’s words cut into Ben. Claire was lonely and vulnerable. It was the only reason she would’ve let Wyatt in—at least the only reason that made any kind of sense.

“Before you say anything,” Lexie continued, “she’s happy.”

“Now who is full of bullshit?”

“She is! Whether you want to believe it or not. I can hear it in her voice. She calls all of the time and I can tell that he makes her happy.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? Why is this the first I’m hearing of any of this?”

“Are you serious?” Lexie laughed sarcastically.

“Hell yes!” he shouted, his voice echoing in the small kitchen. “I deserved to know.”

“You didn’t deserve shit—not after what you did to her. You want to know why I didn’t tell you? Because of this…exactly what is happening now. I know what you want. What you are planning.”

“I’m not planning anything.”

Lexie paused for just a moment before she pleaded, “Please don’t do this, Ben. Trust me, they’re really in love.”

“Come on, Lex. Seriously,” Ben protested. “You know she doesn’t love him.”

“Oh yeah, Ben? Tell me why not?”

“You know she’s only choosing him because of me.”

“Oh dear lord, there is no ego left in our family because you’ve got it all!”

“Okay.” Ben took a deep breath, trying to control his temper. “Tell me this, if she really loves him and she is so happy, why didn’t she choose him in school? We all grew up together and not once did she ever even think about him that way. She had chance after chance and she never did.”

“People change,” Lexie added. “Maybe she finally realized that what she wanted and what was good for her aren’t necessarily the same things. Perhaps she figured out a way to be happy without being hurt. What is so wrong with that?”

“You know he’s going to hurt her. Lexie, you, of all people, know what Wyatt is all about.”

“This isn’t about me. And this isn’t about Wyatt,” Lexie responded.

“Yes it is!” Ben yelled his fists slamming down on the table.

Lexie stood up and turned away from him as the last drip of coffee made its way into the pot. She reached up into the cabinet, pulled out two mugs, placed them on the counter, and filled them both up. Ben watched her carefully as his heart rate came back to normal. She walked back to the table slowly and placed the steaming mug in front of him as she returned to her seat. Her hands wrapped around her cup.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his eyes not meeting hers. “I didn’t come here to pick a fight.”

“As I said before, I know why you’re here.” Ben let her comment slide over him and tried not to let his frustration get the better of him. “But tell me this, what do you want, Ben? What do you expect to happen? You weren’t there for her when she needed you the most. You were an asshole and Claire deserved better.”

“I know,” he responded, the weight of the situation settling right in the middle of his chest. “I’ve never deserved her. That I remember.”

“But not in Claire’s eyes. To her, you walked on water.”

“Please tell me where she is.”

“No,” Lexie responded. “You can’t seriously think I would tell you that. I can’t. I won’t.” She looked at him, leaned back in her seat and folded her arms defiantly.

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll go to her and she’ll let you back in. She always does. And you want to know why?”

“Tell me.”

“Because you’re in her heart.” Lexie placed her hand in the center of her chest. “You have been since as far back as I can remember.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“It is a bad thing! For her! You do this every time. You swoop in and make her believe you two can actually work out.” Lexie waved her hands in the air. “And then you leave her. Every fucking time, Ben!”

“You act like I am a villain.”

“You are the villain in her life. You never come around when she really needs you. You wait until she is strong and happy and then you turn her life upside and down and leave it in ruins!”

“I’ve changed…” he said in a low whisper.

“Prove it.”

“How?”

“Leave her alone,” Lexie stated simply

“I can’t do that.”

“She just wants to move on and be happy. Forget who it’s with. Forget that it’s Wyatt. I have. Just let her go.”

Ben shook his head and rubbed his eyes in exasperation. “Haven’t you been listening? He won’t make her happy. Not in the long run. You know that.”

“I don’t know that. I haven’t seen Wyatt in years. Neither have you.” Lexie added, “You claim to have changed, why can’t Wyatt?”

“Because he can’t.”

“I love you, Ben. You’re closer than a cousin. You’re more like my brother than anything. But this is a bad idea.”

“Why? You think I can’t make her happy?” he asked.

Lexie shook her head. “If you go looking for her, I’m scared of what will happen.”

Ben stared his cousin directly in the eye, his resolve unwavering. Whereas he had no idea what to do when he arrived here thirty minutes ago, it was all very clear to him now. He had to find Claire and he had to fix things with her.

“You know there are other ways to find her,” he stated defiantly.

“Then why are you here?” she asked defensively. “I know you can find her without my help.”

“Because I would like your blessing,” Ben responded. “You are her best friend and I figure if she knows you sent me, I’d have a better chance.”

“Well, I’m not sure I can help you there. You don’t even know her anymore.”

“I know her,” he stated softly but resolutely.

“No – you don’t,” Lexie shot back at him, equally resolute. “You know who she used to be. Correction: you know who she used to be for you, turning herself inside out like a damn pretzel to be exactly what you wanted her to be so that you would love her. She’s changed. You don’t know her anymore.”

“I know that…but—

“But what? She has been through hell. So don’t sit there and tell me you know.”

“I’m sorry for all of that, but I didn’t cause it.”

“The hell you didn’t!” Lexie shrieked, losing control of her tongue she had been holding all of this time. “Why do you think she is even considering marrying that asshole? You go running away just like you are famous for, make her wait for ten years, and instead of moving on with someone new, she chooses your best friend! Imagine that for a moment, Ben. Claire fell into the arms of a man who destroyed everything in both of our lives, a man who will probably cheat on her and treat her like a piece of shit—because she believes this is acceptable because it’s what you did to her the entire time you two were together.”

When she was finished, Ben just sat and smiled at her.

“What?” Lexie asked in a huff.

“So you do agree with me. It took you long enough to admit it.”

“Whatever,” she retorted. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

“For the record, I never cheated on her. She only thought I did.”

“But you still broke her heart. God, Ben, she found out that you had enlisted in the Army when the principal announced it at graduation! Don’t get me wrong, she knew you were leaving her. She’d been feeling you pull away from her for months. But to find out like that—it devastated her.”

“I never meant to hurt her,” Ben said, his smile dissolving.

“But you did.”

“I know that. I want to make it right. I just need to see her.”

“Give me one good reason why.”

“Because I love her,” Ben offered.

“If you do, you’ll leave her alone.” Lexie repeated her earlier advice.

“Like I said, I can’t do that.” Ben again repeated his response to her advice. “Tell me this, Lexie. If Claire knew I was here, what would she want you to do?”

“Besides kick you in the nuts?” Lexie asked, completely serious.

Ben cringed. “Yes, besides that.”

Lexie let out a groan of frustration that signaled to Ben that he was winning. “She’d only want what she’d want because of how she feels about you. How she’s always felt about you.”

“Exactly,” he announced and stared her down. “Please, Lexie, let me try to fix this before it’s too late, for all of us.”

The two sat in silence, in a deadlock, staring at each other across two half-empty cups of coffee and a lifetime of memories and family and friendship.

Lexie let out a sigh, knowing she was defeated. “Cody.”

“What?”

“She’s in Cody, Wyoming. She owns a cafe.”

“A cafe?” He asked with a chuckle.

“Why’s that so funny?”

“She hates to cook. Remember the time she blew up her mom’s microwave when she tried to cook hardboiled eggs in it?”

Lexie smiled sadly. “Like I said, you don’t know her anymore.”

“Okay. Fair enough. She’s in Cody, working at a cafe. What happened to her painting?”

“You’ll have to ask her that.”

“What’s the name of the cafe?”

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Fine,” Ben responded with a laugh.

“Listen.” Lexie added. “I’ve known you since we poured sand in each other’s diapers in my back yard. You’re my family. I know what kind of person you are. I know you have a heart.”

“And?”

“She’s broken, Ben. Don’t make it worse.”

“Okay.”

“One more thing…”

“What’s that?” he asked, as he stood up knowing he was leaving again, less than an hour after he arrived. His poor truck was in for another long ride.

“You hurt her again,” Lexie stated. “And I’ll kill you.”

2 thoughts on ““One Wish”

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