Dare Me Forever

By: Paige Edward
Prologue


Amy

I stood at the edge of the water and felt the cool night sand beneath my feet.

I was on the verge of something huge—a transition in my life that would change everything. The waves crashed softly under the moonlight as the tide gently tugged on my toes, trying to pull me out, into the deep ocean, the vast unknown. I was scared about this new time in my life, but even still I felt excitement stirring in me like water gently set to boil.

It was moments like this I could practically hear my dad’s voice: “In times of trouble, times where you have to make a big decision, that’s when you’ll learn who you are.” He repeated it so often that it became almost like a prayer for him. “Are you the kind of person who lives with her head or with her heart?”

That question stayed with me, guiding the choices I made, gently pulling at me like the waves at my feet that night. Dad said, “You can’t predict what cards you’ll be dealt, or how the dice will role, but you can play it safe, ignore the possibilities around you, and live a smaller life. Or play out the hand you’ve gotten with gusto.” He was careful to make sure I understood…he didn’t believe in gambling but also he didn’t think life should be wasted by fear. He believed in daring to take the plunge, daring to feel, daring to live. Well, he lived by his heart, and little good it did him. At forty-nine years old, he dropped dead of a heart attack.

When he died, I learned what kind of person I was. The quiet, safe life was the one for me. Unexpected things could still happen, but I needed to build a life with a strong foundation, one that was real. Besides, I needed to be practical. I was too busy taking care of my mom and little brother to entertain thoughts of living the way Dad had wanted me to.

And I’d made good on my terms. My little brother was in college, and I was starting my own business. I wasn’t gambling with my heart, and I wasn’t daring to live boldly. I had made my choice and was making the best of my life: I just hoped that if my dad could see me he’d be proud.

But even if you have the best laid plans, life has a way of taking new turns. Those sturdy walls I had built, in order to raise my brother Luke and protect myself weren’t impenetrable. I guess my heart wasn’t satisfied with living safely. But it wasn’t until I connected with him, emotionally, mentally, sexually, that I wanted to tear down those walls, open my heart, and dare myself to really live.





Chapter 1


Amy

“Frozen pizza or Macaroni and Cheese for dinner again?” I murmured.

I blew my new shaggy bangs, care of my friend Jaime’s orders, out of my dark blue eyes as I strolled down the frozen food aisle of the local grocery store. I usually walk around the outer edges of the market, as Cosmopolitan advises, for the vegetables and fruits, and where the other unprocessed foods are kept, but fresh food doesn’t hit the spot like delicious cheesy carbs. And the only way to feel better when I’m upset is to eat, and eat some more. There’s a reason they call it comfort food. I desperately missed my brother Luke, who’d just started college mid-year, and moved out of the house. Jaime and Cat, my two best friends, keep telling me I should be enjoying my lack of responsibility as I’ve been Luke’s de facto guardian for the last six years, but it’s hard to be taking care of someone every day, and then all of sudden, not be needed. I felt a small ache in my chest.

To make matters worse, our absentee mother had been calling me non-stop all week. I had pressed the ignore button every time my phone buzzed in my pocket. She always made me feel insecure, and I was tired of talking to her just to be made to feel shitty.

Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I looked back at the sundry food choices. “Frozen pizza it is,” I muttered. I was allowing myself one week of wallowing in my new empty nest, and this was Day Seven. I pulled the cold cardboard box out of the freezer, and quickly dropped it in the cart. This, coupled with a pint of ice cream, and I’d be ending the week in style. I’d be back to my regular exercise routine of morning jogs, and good eating habits by tomorrow, but I had five hours of carby, sugary goodness left, and I planned to make the most of every second.

I pushed my cart towards the frozen desserts. I scanned the brands until I landed on my favorite, Breyer’s Mint Chip. I was about to open the freezer when I saw the profile of a once very familiar face. I ducked. It couldn’t be him. Snatching the ice cream, I edged my cart towards the edge of aisle four, condiments and canned soup, trying to make out his face more clearly.

It was him. Hunter, my first real boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him in almost four years. Of course the first time I ran into him I would be wearing sweats and a running shirt, in a supermarket after a week of binging. At least I was wearing some blush and mascara. I quickly pulled my hair into a low ponytail, hoping to disguise the fact that it had been too long since I’d washed it. Put your game face on, Amy, I told myself. We were high school sweethearts, but he’d ended it abruptly the week of prom. But I was cool—I was fine—really. Okay, maybe I was a sobbing mess in a sequined dress and white corsage for all of prom. But now, five years later, I could at least pretend I didn’t care. Nervously, I started humming a Katy Perry song, “The One That Got Away,” but immediately stopped, realizing the irony.

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