Riley has a lot on her plate in Three Heartbeats Away. She’s dealing with a Bridezilla ghost, a jealous girlfriend, an alcoholic dad, and a hot guy that doesn’t remember her. But at least she has her best friend. Kelsey and Riley have each other’s backs. They talk, share secrets, and offer each other advice. Do you have a friend like this? Someone who listens, commiserates with you? Here’s an excerpt showing Kelsey and Riley’s friendship. Riley has just confided in Kelsey that she feels something is off with Hayden and her.
Kelsey sits up, crosses her legs, and stares at me. “Maybe you’re not as attracted to the real Hayden as you were the spirit Hayden. The whole ghost thing could have been what turned you on to him! Like bad boy versus good boy. Dead versus alive.”
“Are you crazy?” I pop up. “No. I look at him and I melt. At night, when I’m alone, he’s all I can think about. And he’s ten times more attractive now than he was!”
She holds up a hand. “Chill. I was just putting the worst-case scenario out there first. I have a few other possibilities.”
I exhale and drop back on my headboard. “Okay. What are they?”
“Maybe you’re scared.” She bites down on her bottom lip. “Like I am.” Her words come out sincere. “I know you were hurt when Carl started dating only a few weeks after you left. Maybe that scared you more than you know and now you’re afraid to love someone. Afraid they’ll walk out on you or yank your heart out and feed it to a Rottweiler.”
I let that reasoning crawl around my head and heart a second. “That’s not it, either,” I say. “Yeah, Carl hurt me, but even then I knew it wasn’t true love. I was more upset about Shala, my ex-best friend, than I was with him.”
Kelsey holds up three fingers. “Okay, third and last possibility. You need to close a few doors before you open up another one.”
“Huh?” I ask.
“Metaphorically. You’ve got a lot of open issues. Your mom issues. Hunting down a murderer. Things with your dad. That’s a lot of crap in your litter box. Maybe you need to scoop some out.” She sighs. “Which is another metaphor. A bad one, I know. What I mean is you need to solve something before you begin something.”
While her analogy feels a little off, it’s like I just heard the hammer hit the nail. I know she’s right. And her number-two reason isn’t that wrong, either. Though it’s not about Carl or Shala. This is about being abandoned and done wrong by the people I should have been able to trust. It even kind of explains why I went bonkers with the whole Brandy issue. Hayden’s needing time made me feel as if he was about to abandon me. Then when I thought he’d been seeing Brandy the same time as me, I felt like another person I loved hadn’t been honest with me.
I let out a deep breath of angst. I need to find my nerve. I need to scoop the poop out of my litter box.
I look at Kelsey. “You make a damn good shrink.” I hug her. “Now about you and Dex.”
“I’m okay,” she lies.
“No, you’re not.” I grab her hand. “Promise me that you won’t shut Dex out again. If he tries to kiss you, kiss him back. Take a chance. You know, if I’ve learned anything dealing with spirits, it’s that life is short. And I think we end up regretting more of the things we don’t do than the things we do. Give Dex a chance. He may not end up being the one. But he really likes you.”
Right then, the temperature in the room goes cold. Kelsey gets her wide-eyed there’s-a-ghost-here look. And she’s right.
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