Hi! So, this isn't the normal place for updates on Dear Heart, but Wattpad has changed their coding so that it's impossible to write a chapter and then copy/paste or upload it. I'd have to write directly on the site, which would ruin my formatting, and just...no. Ugh. So. Here's chapter 27 - be warned that it is incredibly short. I had a message last week about publishing it, and I told this reader that it was waaaay back on the back burner while I work on all my other projects. And it is. But as it sometimes does, a question like this got me poking around in the manuscript, and I was filled with sadness as I read back through bits of chapters and reminded myself why I started posting this story, and why it's hard to set it aside for the time being. I decided to go ahead and post what I have for 27, though it isn't much. And I'm hoping I can continue to post more regular updates here on the blog.
Real talk time. I started this story because I fell in love with the characters, and because, at heart, I love soft, sweet couple stories about living life and getting past hard times. And once I started writing, I found that this book, like Walking Wounded, was going to be one of THOSE books, the ones where, for whatever reason, my writing could come to the page in its truest and best form. Even today, as I skim through it, I'm very proud of the writing mechanics of it. It's a rare thing when I write something with the sensitivity and attention to detail that I crave while reading, and this book is an example of such.
Compared to my other Wattpad entries, Snow in Texas and Tastes Like Candy, reader interest has been low. (I know how typecast actors feel now, ha!) But I would love to find a way, possibly through some sort of magic, to finish this one this year and have it available on Amazon. I don't plan to continue updating it chapter-by-chapter...unless you want to see that happen. If you like the updates, please consider showing it some love. Stories like these are my absolute best work, and I'd love to be able to write more of them in the future.
You can read chapters one through twenty-six here.
I'll be sure to let everyone know when the final, complete version is available.
He didn’t talk about therapy with her, not the details anyway. She knew that he sat in on group sessions at the VA, and that the counselor’s name was Jason, a retired Army Colonel who’d served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who baked, quote, “amazing” cookies. If she was honest, Wendy didn’t want or need more information than that. When and if Ollie decided to share more, he would. She wanted to be there for him, but she didn’t want to demand that he allow her into the private hell of his thoughts. She loved him, but she wasn’t a doctor, and she wasn’t going to pretend to be.
He seemed a little more at ease, though. Quicker to smile, less likely to startle when they were in a restaurant. He always left for group with his shoulders jacked up around his ears, hands in his pockets, eyebrows tucked together…but he came home relaxed and loose, smiling softly, if a little sadly. Wendy always tried to stay over those nights, and most often they’d walk across the street to grab a slice from Gino’s afterward. LG would usually come out of the back in his flour-dusted apron and drag a chair to their table, munching a burned calzone and filling them in on his family’s antics.
It was nice. Hell, it was wonderful.
But Wendy had the nagging sense they were holding their breaths. That things weren’t settled.
As it turned out, she was right.
“Your dad,” Ollie said one night, just as she was about to tumble off the edge of wakefulness and into sleep.
They were at her apartment, crammed together into her small bed, and she shifted to face him, his eyes luminous in the streetlamp glow that filtered through her curtains. He looked very awake, mouth scrunched to the side in a way that said he was thinking too hard. His scar shined silver, a jagged moonlit river carving down the side of his face.
“What about him?” she asked, resisting the urge to run a fingertip down his scar. It called to her sometimes, asked to be soothed. Her brain knew that her touch couldn’t heal it, but sometimes her body wanted to try anyway.
“When was the last time you saw him?”
She winced. She wanted to claim that their separation had been mutual, but it hadn’t been. It had been all her. He’d been so inconsolable, and by the end had resented her efforts to cheer him. He’d wanted to wallow in his misery, and it had killed her to watch.
“It’s been a while,” she admitted. “Last I heard he’d moved in with someone.”
“Really?” Ollie’s eyes went wide. He looked as shocked as she’d felt when her mother had passed the info along.
“According to Mom, yeah. She’s a veterinarian, apparently.”
“Mom always hated animals, you know, wouldn’t let us have a dog.” She shrugged, the sheets rustling. “I’ve never met her.” Which she felt bad about. She should have at least made sure that the woman keeping her very fragile father company was good for him.
Ollie smiled thinly. “You’ve been too busy with me, huh?”
“No,” she rushed to say. “No, not that at all. I’ve been teaching, and working on my own projects, and…” She trailed off. There were no excuses. She was a bad daughter, she guessed.
An idea occurred. “You wanna come with me? I know he’d love to see you.”
Ollie didn’t jump on the opportunity right away, and she felt a pang of sympathy. He thought of himself as so different now, changed for the worse, damaged.
“You don’t have to,” she said, gently. “But Dad’s always loved you, Ollie.”
“Yeah.” His eyes shifted toward the ceiling and he blew out a breath. “Yeah, I can come.”