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Never Too Late

By´╝ÜMicalea Smeltzer

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

—BERTHOLD AUERBACH


I NEVER THOUGHT I’d end up back here.

Back in the place where my whole life blew up into a million tiny pieces.

When we drove away with the moving truck in tow I thought I was saying goodbye to this part of my life forever.

I’d been wrong.

Anger simmered inside my veins—anger at the boy I’d loved and lost here. He’d discarded me like I was a piece of trash, just when I needed him most. I was nothing to him.

Back when we were sixteen he’d been nothing but a bad boy with a scowl on his face.

Now, Mathias Wade was the lead singer of Willow Creek—one of the most popular bands in the world.

I couldn’t escape him.

Everywhere I looked his face was on a magazine, or one of their songs played on the radio.

At twenty-three years old I should’ve been over him.

I guess to an extent I was, but the pain and anger had never gone away.

Now I was back home, and according to the copy of People magazine clutched in my hand so was Mathias.

The pages of the magazine began to crinkle where I gripped it tightly.

I wanted to throw it down and stomp all over it—on him, just like he had done to me.

I wanted him to feel even a smidge of the pain I’d felt when he broke my heart into a million pieces.

I was convinced that once you fell in love with a Wade you could never stop loving them.

He should’ve been nothing more than the boy I loved as a teenager, but he wasn’t.

He was everything.

And I was nothing to him.

“Ma’am?”

I startled at the sound of the cashier’s voice.

“Do you want the magazine too?” She asked.

I’d basically mauled the poor magazine into oblivion so it would’ve been rude to put it back on the shelf. “Yeah.” I handed it over. The way I figured it, I could burn it and chant some kind of spell that would turn him into a toad.

I swiped my credit card and she handed over the bag full of cat food, and the magazine.

I’d only gotten back into town last night and realized I didn’t have cat food.

Percy was not pleased.

I made up for it by giving him too many treats.

He still wasn’t happy with me, but at least I felt better.

I made the short drive home—still fuming over Mathias.

I couldn’t believe that he was back in town. Although, I guess he never really left—according to the tabloids anyway. All the Willow Creek boys kept places in their hometown of Winchester, Virginia, even if they did spend a lot of time in L.A.

I pulled into the driveway, staring over at the plastic bag on the passenger seat.

I’d never finished reading the article, and now I was desperate to know everything it said.

I warred with myself, but finally I ripped the magazine from the bag and flipped through the pages.

Basically, the gist was that the guys were home for the holidays before their Coming Home Tour kicked off in the New Year.

I ran my finger over the picture of the four of them. I didn’t know the blonde one, but I knew Maddox—Mathias’ twin brother—and their best friend Ezra. While I’d mostly hung out with Mathias the other guys had been nice to me.

Even with the anger simmering in my veins I couldn’t hate Mathias’ success. I’d always wanted that for him. When we were young he’d never seen his own self-worth, but I’d always known he was remarkable. I hoped he saw that now too.

I still hated his fucking guts though.

I startled at a noise and realized I’d ripped apart the magazine.

Oh well. There goes another one.

Sadly, it wasn’t the first time I’d torn apart a magazine because of Mathias.

I gathered up the torn shreds and put them in the plastic bag. I climbed out of the car, drawing my coat closer around me. After living in Arizona the last seven years I’d forgotten how cold it got here.

I stepped into the older home—inhaling the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

“Grandma!” I called as I locked the door. “You’re supposed to be in bed!”

“I wanted some cookies,” she called back, “so I’m making some God damn cookies and no one can stop me.”

It was safe to say I got my fiery personality from my grandma.

I stepped into the kitchen and set the grocery bag down on the granite countertop—my parents had paid for the whole house to be remodeled a few years ago.

I kissed my grandma’s cheek. “Here, let me help.” I took the bowl from her so I could mix it. “Go sit down and I’ll finish this.”

She glared and yanked the bowl from my hands with surprising strength for someone as small and frail.

“Grandma!” I admonished. “You’re supposed to be resting. You had a heart attack.”

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