Finding Gavin (Southern Boys #2)

By: C.A. Harms

Chapter One

“Maria, your phone is ringing again.” My momma called out from the next room.

I made no attempt to rush to answer it. I already knew who was calling. It was Kori. She calls every day around the same time.

I had done a decent job avoiding her lately. I know she meant well, but damn it, it was hard to talk about everything. In the end, it only made her mad to see how I was allowing this all to destroy me.

A girl could only take so much rejection before she felt defeated. I had reached that point. I felt as if I no longer had a fight in me. My feisty go get’em attitude had depleted to a mere nothing. I just didn’t care anymore.

I was miserable about the fact I could not stomach my best friend’s picture-perfect life. It disgusted me that I felt jealous of something she deserved so much.

Reed and Kori were perfect together. I wanted a life like that so much. I wanted that undeniable love, that ‘can’t breathe without you’ kinda love. I wanted a man who would look at me the way Reed idolized Kori. He was in awe of her—it was written all over his face. There wasn’t a damn thing he wouldn’t do for her.

“Maria.” My momma stood in the doorway of my room, holding my phone in her hand. I looked up to find a concerned look on her face. “Sweetheart, are you okay? Did something happen between you and Kori? Is that why you don’t want to talk to her?”

I shook my head and attempted a smile. “No momma, Kori and I are fine. Really.”

She stepped into the room and took a seat on the bed next to me. Brushing my hair back away from my eyes, she tucked it behind my ear. “I’m not sure what’s going on with you, sweet girl, but I’m worried about you. I can tell you’re hiding something. You can’t hide things from me; you know I’ll just worry. I can tell something heavy is weighing on your mind.”

“Momma,” I said, as my eyes met hers and I took a deep breath. She watched me quietly, waiting for me to continue. I knew that I needed to provide her with some sort of explanation. She wouldn’t be happy without something to ease her mind.

“Sometimes I feel like I just don’t deserve happiness. I mean, I guess I look for it too hard or something. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t think I was meant to find that happy ending we all strive for.” I took a deep breath, nervously twisting my hands in my lap. “I’m supposed to be helping Kori plan her wedding, but instead I’m hiding out.”

I shook my head is disgust. “What kind of person avoids her best friend because she’s jealous of her? I mean, that’s just awful momma, admit it. I should be helping her, but I just keep avoiding it all instead.”

My momma was the sweetest, gentlest person I knew. She was also very strong-willed and had survived some very dark days of her own.

She laid my phone down on the bed next to her and turned back to face me. Taking my hand into hers, she squeezed it gently. “Sweetheart, we all are tested. Every last one of us is faced with struggles we must overcome. Kori had some pretty hard times. She fell to the bottom and had to fight her way back up. You watched as the girl fell apart day after day.”

She wiped the tear from my cheek. “You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You deserve everything good; please don’t say otherwise. Your daddy was the fool, and I know that’s what this all boils down to. You have let that man’s mistakes control your choices. Stop with all that nonsense. It had nothing to do with you. You were just a child, Maria; you did nothing wrong.”

I looked down at my lap, doing everything I could to avoid the truth. “He was and still is a stubborn ole’ jackass, and he missed out on an amazing experience. He has missed out on the beautiful, strong woman you’ve become. You did nothing wrong, please believe that.”

She reached out and tipped my chin upward, forcing my eyes to connect with hers. “One of these days, you’re gonna find a man who cherishes the love you give him. He’ll realize that a life with you will be one of the greatest gifts he could ever receive. Don’t for one second think you deserve anything less.”

All I could do was nod. I needed to snap out of this. This pitiful form of myself wasn’t me at all. I was stronger than this and I knew how to fight back. I learned from the greatest woman I knew that you should never let anyone knock you down.

I needed no man to make me feel whole. I was and would forever be the girl who stood tall, and it was time to stop letting Gavin consume my world. If he was determined to keep me at a distance, I would stay away. I would move forward without hesitation.

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