That Girl By Rachel Strong
After serving half of a three-year prison sentence, James is out and ready to try and get his life back on track, which means forgetting about the girl who sent him to prison in the first place - despite the fact he’s still in love with her! Katie knows that she can’t see James, but that doesn’t make it any easier. If she does it could send him straight back to prison, but, she still loves him and is desperate to make things right and tell him how sorry she is for ruining his life. After accidently bumping into each other, James and Katie can’t stay away from one another and so begin to see each other in secret. After a slight wobble on James’s part, when he decides he can’t take the risk of going back to prison, Katie decides enough is enough and it really is time to move on and put James behind her. Heartbroken, James decides to try and get his life in order. But due to his conviction it’s not as straightforward as he would like, leaving him miserable and despairing at what his life has become. When a job opportunity comes up hundreds of miles away he doesn’t hesitate to head south and put his troubles behind him. Can James and Katie forget each other and move on with their lives without one another?
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All I can think about is him! Today’s the day he’s being released - I know this as his parole officer sent me a letter informing me. I want to see him, but I know it’s not allowed, I know he would end up back in prison for breaching his license conditions. I’ve thought about him every day for the last eighteen months’ - but I didn’t think I’d want to see him as much as I do right now.
“Kate, you’ve been staring into space for most of the day, that essay won’t write itself you know,” Mum sighs, walking into the kitchen with a basket full of washing.
She is the last person I can talk to about this. She knows he’s coming out today, she saw the letter too, she hasn’t said anything - but I know she thinks he shouldn’t be released yet. “I know,” I reply, getting up from the table. “I’m going to pick Hollie up from nursery,” I tell her, picking up my car keys and heading for the front door.
I drive to the nursery on auto pilot, I’m not meant to pick her up for another hour, but I have an overwhelming urge to see my daughter, an evening of Disney princess’s and snuggles is what I need right now. She will take my mind off it all.
But the moment I see my dark haired beauty, she takes me right back to him - she looks so much like him.
“Happy Birthday!” I exclaim, hugging Becca. “Eighteen at last!”
“Thank you,” she giggles, hugging me back. “Come on, come and meet Liam.” She’s grinning and I don’t have chance to reply before she grabs my hand and propels me in the direction of two lads - one of them grabs my attention straight away! He’s incredibly tall, with short, ruffled, light brown hair. He has an impressive muscular physique, with huge biceps and broad shoulders. I really can’t stop staring at him - he’s hot . . . I hope to god he's not Liam!
“Liam,” she begins, putting her hand on the one with short, dark hair - much to my relief! “This is Katie, my cousin. Katie, this is Liam.” She’s smiling so much I’m scared her face is going to crack.
“Nice to meet you, Katie,” Liam grins, whilst shaking my hand.
“You too,” I reply. It’s nice to finally meet the guy my cousin hasn't stopped talking about for the last month. I don’t think I have ever seen Becca as happy. I really am pleased for her.
“Katie, this is James, Liam’s best mate,” Becca adds as an after-thought, indicating to Mr Gorgeous - who I can’t stop staring at. I need to get a grip, it’s embarrassing.
“Hi,” I reply, suddenly going all shy.
“Hi.” He smiles and I feel my cheeks turning red. He’s got a cute smile, I could stand here all night staring up at James, but at that moment my mum calls me away. “See you later,” I say reluctantly, heading across the room, to where my mum is standing impatiently waiting for me with my grandma.
* * *
“Katie, you know you can’t see him,” Becca warns.
“I know,” I sigh, “It’s just . . .”
“It’s just nothing! Seriously, stay away from him, it really wouldn’t be fair on him if you did, he would go straight back to prison.”
I stare at her in shock - amazed that she’s worrying about James going back to prison, when two years ago she could have killed him.
“He’s my fiancé's best friend,” she says, when she sees me looking at her with my mouth hanging open. “He’s done his time, let him be whilst he’s on license. You don’t want him to go back inside, do you?”
“No, do I hell, I didn’t want him to go in the first place,” I reply, whilst wondering where James is, what he’s doing and how he feels to be free after eighteen months in prison. “What about Hollie?” I add, because I know he’s going to want to see her.
“You know all that, you know he is only allowed supervised contact with her - and that doesn’t mean you!”
I sigh loudly. “I just . . . I just . . .”
“I know, Kate, I know, but it’s time to move on. You’re eighteen years old, you have your whole life ahead of you and there are so many nice boys out there that you could fall in love with…”
"I have a child.”
“So? Katie, you’re beautiful and such a lovely girl, you could have any lad you want. James Askew is not the be all and end all!”
He is to me - I would do anything to be with James - I still love him!
“Seriously, Mum, stop staring at me,” I laugh, though I’m not joking. I’ve only been home two hours and every few minutes she comes over and either squeezes my arm, ruffles my hair or kisses the top of my head like I’m five years old. And now she is sitting across from me at the kitchen table, just staring at me with a silly grin on her face.
“I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I missed you,” she says, sipping her tea.
“I know you did, but it’s starting to creep me out a bit,” I reply with a sigh.
“Yea, come on, Lynn, leave the poor lad alone,” Dad says with a laugh, from the other end of the table.
“It’s alright, I’m gonna go upstairs and un-pack, she can’t stare at me there.” I stand up, push my chair in and head into the hallway, sticking my tongue out at Mum as I pass her.
“Cheeky boy,” she calls after me.
“See, he’s fine, I don’t know what you were worrying about?” I hear Dad say, as I’m halfway up the stairs. I stop and listen.
“He’s trying to act fine for me, Will. He’s putting on an act, he’s not the same old Jamie.” Mum sighs sadly.
I don’t want to listen to anymore, so I carry on upstairs to my room.
It kills me to think what I have put my mum and dad through over the last few years. How did I get myself into this mess? Is the question I have been asking myself over and over again, ever since this whole nightmare began. Three years ago I had a job I loved and a gorgeous wife, now I have neither, it’s all gone. No job and a wife that wants nothing to do with me and who's taken my son thousands of miles away.
I know it’s all my fault - I only have myself and my own stupidity to blame. But at the end of the day, if I could go back and change it all, I doubt I would, as I know I couldn’t keep away from Miss Katherine Greene! And no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, I know I’d be with her like a shot if I could - I love her, even after everything that happened.
“Put your eyes back in your head, Askew!” Liam laughs, patting me on the back.
“Have you seen her?”
“Yea.” He laughs again, clearly amused by me. “What are you like? Come on, let’s get another?” he suggests, shaking his empty pint glass at me and heading for the bar.
The last thing I wanted to do tonight was come to Liam’s girlfriend’s eighteenth. He didn’t want to come on his own and I felt sorry for him, so I had to give in. I’m glad I came now, because the tiny brunette in the short, pink dress has made my night. She’s absolutely stunning and it certainly beats sitting at home, moping over the fact my that girlfriend of two years has just dumped me.
I spend the rest of the night watching Katie on the dance floor amongst a gaggle of girls. I want to go and talk to her, but I don’t know what to say. I’m not normally nervous when it comes to girls, but it’s been a while since I’ve done any chatting up and I think I’ve forgotten how.
By the time I’ve plucked up enough courage to go and talk to her, the party is wrapping up and everyone is moving on to a club. I only agree to go as I really want to get to know Katie. When we get there, I spend ages trying to locate her, but after an hour I give up - she’s nowhere to be found. I’m seriously disappointed.
“Where’s Katie?” I shout to Becca, over the music.
“She’s gone home.”
“Oh, can I have her number?” I ask cheekily.
“No.” Becca laughs and walks away, leaving me gutted that I’m not going to end the night with Katie.
* * *
The knock on the door brings me out of the past and back to the present. “Have you got a minute?” Dad asks, opening the door slightly and sticking his head round.
“Yea,” I reply, trying my best not to sigh. I just want to be left alone for a bit.
Dad comes in and closes the door whilst I sit up on the edge of my bed.
“Don’t suppose you’ve given much thought as to what you’re gonna do with yourself now, I mean work wise?” he asks, sitting down beside me.
I can’t stop the sigh that comes out. “No, not really.”
“I was thinking you could come and work for me?”
“What, as an accountant?” I exclaim with a groan. This is what I have tried to avoid my whole life - working for my dad.
“Well, no, seeing as you’re not qualified, but we could use you in the office and put that math’s degree to good use. What do you think?”
“Can I think about it?” I ask, not wanting to say no straight away. I need to come up with a good excuse as to why not.
“Yea, okay,” Dad replies, sounding disappointed and making me feel guilty as I know he's only trying to help. “Dinner won’t be long,” he adds, standing up and heading for the door.
“Listen,” he begins, turning back to face me, “go easy on your mother. I know she’s a pain, but the last couple of years haven’t been easy on her. If she’s being too . . . over the top, just let her, she’s just pleased to have you home.”
This makes me feel even guiltier than I did before - if that’s possible? “Yea, I will.”
“Great, see you in a bit.” He opens the door and leaves me to it.
“Fuck!” I mutter, throwing myself down on the bed and rubbing my face. What have I done?
Later on, when I can finally escape my parents and I’m in bed, I realize as much as I hate the idea, I have no option but to accept my dad’s job offer. I need a job and it’s not like I can go and get my old job back!
About the Author
Rachel Strong is a romance author and lives in Lancashire, England, with her husband, three children and little dog Daisy. Rachel works part time as a Health Care Assistant at her local hospital, but her real passion is writing.
Ever since she can remember, Rachel has been writing stories but didn’t really take it seriously until summer 2012 when her husband discovered one of her stories, read it and convinced her that it was good. She loves writing and creating characters, sometimes a whole day can pass her by, just sitting at her laptop, typing away. When she’s not writing, Rachel loves to read slushy romance novels, chick-lit and a good thriller. When she finds a spare moment she will be found curled up on the sofa with her nose in a book.
Rachel’s debut novel ‘Complicated Love’ is out now with her second novel ‘That Girl’ is due to be released this coming June.
Find her here
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