While the rest of her friends, otherwise known as the Fab Five, were away starting college, Chloe was left alone to endure a hellacious senior year of high school. Surrounded daily by a sea of familiar faces, she shared no bonds or friendships with her classmates. Everyone else had a place in the high school social scene. Everyone but Chloe. Bad enough was her label as the class outcast. But her dysfunctional home life made matters worse. An already fragile relationship between she and her mother began to unravel, turning Chloe’s once perfect existence into a nightmare. Worst part, though? The one person she’d counted on to help her through it – Flynn Caulder, her best friend’s brother and the secret object of her affection – was nowhere to be found. It was obvious he still resented Chloe for the decision she made years ago. Above the catty remarks and whispered gossip of others, Flynn’s actions were the ones that hurt the most. Flynn simply treated her as if she didn’t exist.
Right up until the one night he didn’t…
Handsome, popular, athletic and smart, Flynn Caulder made life look easy. Whatever he wanted, he got. Except the one person he couldn’t have. At some point, Chloe Ryder became more than his sister’s best friend. Brave enough to finally tell her so, she waffled with uncertainty, which he took as rejection. It was then he vowed to shut Chloe completely out of his life, determined to forget her. Though, he never could. With his sister, Suzanna, no longer around, Flynn’s resolve to keep Chloe at a distance is tested and eventually breaks. He takes off his mask of indifference, showing his true feelings for Chloe haven’t changed, but instead grown stronger. It leads to one magical night together neither of them will ever forget. But for entirely different reasons.
Now, three years later, Chloe and Flynn find themselves pulled together again by the magnetic connection that just won’t go away. Though they try to fight it, it becomes apparent time apart has done nothing but strengthen their feelings for one another. Can they make it last this time? Or will the pursuit of dreams once again take precedence over their relationship? They only have a summer to figure it out. And the clock is quickly ticking…
Only when the well of tears has finally dried up, do I relinquish my firm grip around Brian’s body. He looks down into my red, swollen, watery eyes. Wiping the last of the wetness from my face, Brian places a soft kiss on my forehead. “Feel better now?”
“Maybe just a little, yeah.”
“Think you’re ready to talk about it?” Brian asks with trepidation. I’m sure he’s scared any second now I’ll start another round of boo‐hoos.
“I don’t know, Brian. It’s some pretty heavy shit.” Heavy is an understatement. In the past three years, I’ve been living like I’m carrying the weight of a two-ton elephant on my back. There’s one piggy‐back ride you don’t want to find yourself on the bottom of.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea. Hold on,” Brian says as he jumps off the bed. He immediately goes to his constant travel companion, his mini-camcorder and tripod. He begins setting up his equipment at the end of the bed, the lens pointing toward me. As he tests for the appropriate camera angles and adjusts the tripod height, he starts to explain. “Okay, pretend you’re auditioning for the character in my series. And since it’s an impromptu audition with no lines to memorize or scripts to read from, I’m gonna need you to improvise. You have all the creative freedom to do or say whatever you want_”
“Good, because I’m about to get real creative when I call you every name in the book!” I retort. Seriously, has Brian lost his freaking mind?
“Just do it, Chloe. You’re vulnerable and raw right now. Use those emotions to give me your story. You don’t have to use real names. Heck, I’ll even make up the names as you go. You’ve already peeled away layers of hurt and angst. Now, you just need to let the words flow like the flow of your earlier tears. I promise you’ll feel better at the end. Plus, I’ll have some excellent footage to show casting, guaranteeing you an audition for my drama series. Ready?” Brian goes back to fiddling with the camera all set to hit the record button. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of sharing something so secret with someone outside of my immediate group of friends. But to be honest, Brian is the perfect confidant to spill my secrets. Having no relationship other than causal friendship with the rest of the Fab Five, only having met them this weekend, I know Brian’s loyalty is reserved just for me. Plus, I think he can be impartial once he knows all the players and details of my story. I can’t say Suz, Landon, James, or Patrick could remain unbiased.
“Seriously, Brian? You really want me to reveal my deep, dark secrets in front of your camera? Seems kinda silly if you ask me.” Actually, I’m closer to agreeing than I’d like to admit. I’m always best in front of a camera. I can go into character mode, removing myself from the story, pretending to be someone else. But with something that really happened, something that left me permanently scarred, could I really separate myself?
“Would you just do it already? Confession is good for the soul, you know. Plus, I’ll soon be moving across the country and you refuse to go with me. Least you can do is give me this recording of your exquisite beauty and abundant talent. Footage I’ll need to ease the ache of missing you so much,” Brian says through a smile. Boy, he is laying it on thick.
“Alright, enough of that. Gee, you’ve resorted to stroking my ego just to get me on film. You’re ruthless! Now I know you’re going to be just fine out there in Hollywood…the land of cut throat/back stabbing deals. Okay, I’ll tell you my story. But I better not see any of what I say written into your drama script,” I warn. Although the things I’ve lived I’d never wish on anyone else, they could be the makings for some fantastic storylines.
“Oh, it’s that good, huh?” Brian teases, trying to lighten the mood and get this pseudo- audition started.
“Good, no. Bad, sad, heartbreaking, depressing, hopeless…well, you get the picture.” Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves I exhale slowly. “Okay, here it goes…” So begins the story of how I came to love and hate Flynn Caulder. And why I’ll never be able to completely wipe him from my memory or my heart.
When she’s not teaching or chauffeuring her kids to cheer or soccer, Hart is likely to be found typing away at a new book, furiously reading yet another book, or visiting her favorite South Carolina coastal spots.
I’m Not Going Anywhere is the third novel in Hart’s Fabulous Five series.