By Michelle Bellon
#Romance #Contemporary #NA #HEA
You grow up. You get married. You have a family. That’s what Malea Winters believes she’s supposed to do. So why is it every time she comes close to finding that happily ever after, she runs?
When she meets Garrett Taylor, she warns him that she’s not the marrying type. History has shown that long-term relationships are not her forte. She has a tendency to leave when things get too serious; the direct result of being raised by an emotionally detached mother and a stepdad with philandering ways. So, she swears off men and surrounds herself with her best friends; three quirky, funny women who are facing their own challenges. But Garrett is everything she’s ever looked for; charming, successful, fun, and sexy.
Despite her better judgement, his persistence pays off and she finds herself falling for him. Learning how to love and be loved will be the hardest lesson she’s ever faced. The question is, will her relationships survive that lesson?
I’m running down a dirt road, sweating, panicked. I know I’m dreaming but I’m not sure what I’m running from. All I know is that I’m terrified.
My throat is parched so I stop, gulping for air. The landscape around me is dry and desolate. I’m alone. What am I running from?
Someone shouts my name. “Malea!”
I turn but no one is there. A breeze picks up and something flitters against my cheek. I reach up and grasp it between my fingers and thumb. The thin roughness reminds me of lace. I realize what it is and my breath hitches.
White. Lace. A wedding veil. What?
I begin to take inventory. When I look down, I see that I’m wearing my favorite blue jeans. No dress?
There is weight on my back. I reach around and pull off my well-worn, seen-many-adventures backpack. It dawns on me.
I’m running again.
“Argh!” I bolt upright from the dream. I’m in my bed. My heart is racing and all I can think is that I’m so glad it’s just a dream. But the reality is almost as bad. The fact is that I do run. All the time. I don’t know how to stop.
Frustrated, I throw the blanket aside and walk to the window, grateful for the cool air on my flushed skin.
Why? I wonder. Why can’t I feel love?
I mean, in the sense that I personally can experience the emotion, I feel it; the rush of overwhelming joy that comes when I feel my heart surge with love. But those are my own personal feelings, born within, flooding out into the universe.
What I can’t feel is the love that others have toward me.
We are taught in science classes, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, a yin and yang. If this were true, then I should be able to feel the force of love that vibrates out of another being to me and for me. It should be just as knee-buckling, just as throat-constricting, just as alive as the love which emanates from me to them. I SHOULD FEEL IT!
But it isn’t. And I don’t.
The dream reminds me of that shameful lacking feeling that has lived inside of me most of my life. It reminds me of the mistakes of my past and fills me with doubt. It could not have come on a worst night. Tomorrow is my wedding day.
Suddenly cold, I turn and crawl back under the covers. The pit in my stomach gapes wide open. Taking shallow breaths, I ask myself—what does it mean to be unable to feel love? I close my eyes tight against memories and regret. I’ve spent a great deal of my life searching, manifesting, and reaching, reaching, reaching for experiences that would lead me toward that moment when I might truly feel the caress of another’s love.
Ironically, I often haven’t felt anything resembling love during that search. I’ve felt hurt, lonely, sexy, frantic, desired, broken, high, desperate, restless, searching, searching, searching.
But love from another? No. Never love.
It’s not that I haven’t been loved. I have.
Garrett, my fiancé, professes his love all the time. And I believe him. I just wish I could feel it. Maybe then, the restlessness would ease and I wouldn’t feel the need to run away.
About the Author
Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards.