Hi! I’m Tamie Dearen—wife, mother, grandmother, dentist, Jesus-lover, musician, composer, and author (as of 2013). I’ve published four books and a novella in The Best Girls Series, and one Young Adult Fantasy, Alora: The Wander-Jewel. As a relatively new author, I’ve found Rave Reviews Book Club to be a great resource for information and a wonderful place for mutual support.
This is an excerpt from The Best Girls.
“Charlie, I don’t understand why you won’t even give me a chance.” Josh tried to catch her eyes as he spoke, but they darted away as if his gaze had burned her corneas. She held herself away from him, her posture rigid, even as they swayed together on the dance floor.
“We’re just too different, Josh. We live in different states. We have different dreams. We have different beliefs and values. You believe in casual sex, and that’s fine for you. But I’m the absolute opposite of that. Can’t you see? There’s no hope.”
“There’s no hope because you refuse to allow it. I’m changing. I’ve already changed. I’m not the same man that you met six months ago, but you won’t give me an opportunity to prove it.”
“Why are you trying to change into something different just to please me? You were fine and happy before you met me. There were obviously lots and lots of women who liked you just the way you were. Why try to change into something you’re not?” She tried to pull away, but he firmed his grasp at her waist and hand.
“But that’s the thing. I wasn’t fine and happy before I met you. I was miserable and I didn’t even know it. And now I’ve met you, so I know I could be really happy if I changed and you loved me. But you won’t give me a chance, so I’m still miserable.”
“You’re saying that meeting me took you from being blissfully ignorant about how miserable you were to consciously aware of how miserable you are?”
“You’re twisting my words.” He ground his teeth together, searching for something to say, anything to break through her barriers. “Charlie . . . Don’t you miss me, even a little? Don’t you ever think about that kiss?”
She was quiet for a moment, “Josh . . . Okay, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t physically attracted to you. There. Are you happy? But . . . But that’s not enough to build a relationship on.”
His mind was spinning. This was his moment, his only opportunity. She’d finally at least admitted to an attraction. If that was all he had to work with, he’d have to improvise. “So physically, you could see yourself being married to me? I mean, if I was a different guy with this body and this face, you could love me?”
Her face was so red, he thought she might be in pain, “I . . That’s . . . Okay, yes, I mean, if you were someone else. But—”
“What’s he like? This other guy? This someone else that you’re going to marry someday?”
“I . . . Honestly, I don’t think he exists. I don’t think there’s a guy that I’m willing to give up all my independence for. I don’t really need a guy, anyway.”
“But if he did exist, what would he be like?”
Charlie let out an exasperated breath. “I don’t know. I don’t spend time thinking about it.” Josh peered into her huge golden eyes and saw her pupils dilate. She gave her head a shake as if to clear it. “I guess he’d be a partner. I don’t need someone to take care of me like a parent. And . . . He’d have some kind of cool job, like, I don’t know . . . Maybe he’d be a fireman. Someone brave and adventurous who helps people. Not someone who spends his whole life working to make more money. And he’d be the kind of guy who only wanted to be with one woman for the rest of his life. I don’t want to constantly think I’m being compared with someone else—and probably coming up short.”
He was quiet for a moment, contemplating her words. “Thank you. At least I understand what you want, and how you see me.” He heard his voice crack and turned his face away, embarrassed. The hope that had bloomed in his chest died a little at the truth of her assessment.
“Josh, I’m sorry—”
“No, it’s okay. It’s my fault. You hit closer to home than you realize. That’s pretty much who I was, but not who I am and not who I intend to be.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, whistling between his lips. “But let me ask you just one thing. You don’t think you could ever love a doctor? Not even an adventurous doctor who wanted to help people?”
Charlie felt her face reddening again. She had so little control around this man. It was one of the reasons he made her feel so uncomfortable. When he’d asked her the first question, she’d tried to come up with a description he couldn’t possibly fit. It probably wasn’t even true. She had no idea who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with or who she could ever be in love with. She only knew that her attraction to Josh made her lose the ability to think logically. When she was with him, she always lost the upper hand. And she needed that advantage to compete. What was she supposed to say to his question now that he was making it specific? What was a safe thing to say?
She was distressed to find that tears were flooding her eyes. What on earth was wrong with her? She blinked furiously, but a few escaped onto her cheeks. “I don’t know.” She pulled her hand away, trying to escape before he noticed her crying.
“Wait, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
He drew her against him, wrapping his arms around her. Suddenly, the floodgates broke. She’d been working so hard to be independent and not accept any financial assistance from Steven. But her workload, along with classes and studying, had been overwhelming. And she felt so alone and isolated in Colorado while her mom and sister were across the country in New York City. But she didn’t want to admit it to anyone. She hated admitting she was wrong—she’d always hated it. She’d been so incredibly stressed, but hadn’t wanted to share it. She didn’t want to burden her pregnant mom or her sister who was planning a wedding. Now, enveloped in the Josh’s arms, she realized how much she missed feeling cared for and comforted. The tears kept coming, even while she tried desperately to stop them.
He led her back to her chair and handed her a clean napkin. Then he knelt down in front of her, and gazed into her eyes. She noticed for the first time that his deep green eyes had little flecks of blue in them.
“Charlie. I’m not going to do this to you anymore. I love you, and I want to be with you. But I want you to be happy even more. I can’t stand that I made you cry. I’m really sorry. I won’t bother you any more. Just, please . . .” He made a strangled sound in his throat and dropped his eyes. “If you ever change your mind, please come find me.”
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