by Len Webster
Release Date: Jan 12, 2015
One breath of air,
One moment in time ...
Could change your life forever.
Growing up, Peyton Spencer fell in love with the boy across the road, Callum Reid. As the years went by, it only made sense that they would wind up being completely and utterly infatuated with each other. That was, until the morning Peyton wakes up to find Callum packing up and leaving the small town they lived in. Left heartbroken and with no explanation, Peyton spends the next four years of her life without him, ensuring they never cross paths again.
At seventeen and months after Callum leaves her, Peyton buries her parents—feeling more alone than ever before. Now at twenty-one, she’s inherited the family hotel, The Spencer-Dayle. Just when she thinks life couldn’t get more complicated, the one person that shattered her heart, soul and belief returns. For Peyton, his return opens up all her old wounds and resurfaces the memories she’s tried to forget.
He’s not the same boy she once fell in love with. He’s guarded and keeps secrets close to him. Peyton knows her life will begin to unravel.Untold truths will finally come to light. Whether or not Peyton wants to hear it, the truth will undoubtedly break her heart all over again.
Peyton listened until Jay’s familiar laugh rang high and then she breathed out. His laugh was a form of remedy for her. Though he was so much like Peyton and Graham, he was far different from them. Jay was comfortable with his life. For Peyton, she was just managing.
Shaking her head, Peyton looked down at the papers sprawled on the table. The sound of a chair scratching caught her attention. When she lifted her gaze, she was irritated to see none other than Callum Reid sitting in front of her, his arms crossed over his chest.
Peyton closed her eyes tight and sat properly in her chair. It was a talk Callum wanted, and Peyton had thoroughly avoided it since his return.
“Peyton,” Callum acknowledged in a dull tone.
“Callum,” she said, mimicking the lifeless pitch in his voice.
His lips pursed and he eyed her. Silence was exchanged between them, suffocating her. When it reached an unbearable quota, Peyton started to collect her work.
“Why does everyone in this town love you so much but hate me? I grew up here too.”
His question startled her, causing Peyton to lift her head and glance at him. His eyes swept over the pub, filled with disbelief.
He really doesn’t get it.
“Because you left, Callum,” Peyton stated.
He slowly turned his head until his eyes met hers. Callum’s jaw locked as if he were attempting to control his emotions around her.
“So did everyone else,” he pointed out.
“Everyone had their reasons.”
Callum’s eyes flashed and he abruptly leant forward. “And I didn’t, Peyton?”
“Yes, you did. But you didn’t give me a reason. They all left because they gave a reason. They told the town. They let people know. But you? You just up and left, Callum. You didn’t tell me.”
Callum flinched like her words had hurt him, which Peyton found ridiculous. “I had my reasons, Peyton,” he said through clenched teeth. “But that doesn’t explain why these people I’ve grown up with can’t even look at me.”
This time, it was Peyton who flinched. Her eyes burned. He still didn’t get it.
“Because you didn’t come back!” she shouted, tears running down her cheeks. That façade she had hid behind crumbled. She no longer used a fake smile. For Peyton, this was as raw and as naked as it got for her.
His eyes grew sadder, but she didn’t care. Around them the voices had started to hush until the pub had silenced around them.
“Look around you, Peyton. Nobody else came back!” Callum raised his voice.
Her heart clenched at the truth he spoke.
“But they did,” she sobbed.
Callum shook his head. “No, they didn’t.”
“But they did when I needed them the most!” Peyton cried before she wiped the tears from her cheeks, hating the weakness she was showing.
“What?” he breathed.
“They all came back—every single one of them. The town hates you because you didn’t come back. Everyone came back, Callum. My parents’ funeral—they were all there…except for you!” Her lips trembled as the heat burned through her chest.
“Peyton,” he said almost apologetically.
“No! That one day. Their funeral. That was the day you could have redeemed yourself, Callum. I don’t care if you couldn’t love me. I needed you then. I lost them and you didn’t show. It was their funeral, Callum. They died. My parents, they loved you. Don’t you get that? They loved you! They wanted me to forgive you, but I couldn’t, and when they died, I knew I could never forgive you. You didn’t have to be there for me. You could have been there to pay your respects or to say goodbye, but you didn’t. The moment I buried them, I buried any hope of you redeeming yourself.”
Peyton shook her head. “Save it. If you had just come back, I would have forgiven you for breaking my heart. I don’t care if you couldn’t love me back. I just needed your support and for you to acknowledge their deaths. They all came back. The only person who didn’t show was you.” Peyton sniffed and tucked her hair behind her ear.
That was the day she had vowed she would never let him back into her life. The last glint of hope had died with the very last breath her parents had breathed that day all those years ago.
Len Webster is a romance-loving Melburnian with dreams of finding her version of ‘The One.’ But until that moment happens, she writes. Having just graduated with her BBusCom from Monash University, Len is now busy writing her next romance about how a boy met a girl, and how they fell completely and hopelessly in love.
She is also not a certified explorer, but she’s working on it.