Chasing Someday - Sneak Peek
It’s my first day of school, and my nerves are off the charts. Not completely accurate. It’s my first day as an art teacher with students. Thankfully, we’re kicking off the school year with a shortened week. In my mind, the elementary school looks untouched despite the passage of time and numerous renovations since I attended as a child. When I park, my phone vibrates a few times. I scan the preview and note the texts are from my siblings, their significant others, and my niece, Ellie. Having a large family is wonderful. Mine is thick as thieves and loyal to a fault. I’m the last one standing alone. As the youngest of five, I’ve watched my siblings each meet their better half. Mama and Papa are a shining example of a long marriage. They’ve been married for over forty-five years. It’s the type of love I yearn for.
They raised us in York Beach, Maine. It’s a quaint town with a cute village, which includes a store that pulls taffy in the window, souvenir shops, and an amusement park. There are two popular stretches of beach, as well as numerous tourist sites, like the Nubble Lighthouse and the Wiggly Bridge located in nearby Kittery. After the upcoming long holiday weekend, the tourist population will decrease significantly.
This is my home. I’ve never left, nor do I ever plan to. I can’t imagine finding anywhere more perfect to raise a family of my own.
Thankfully, the texts are grouped together. I reply and hurry inside. Stowing my bag, I prepare for my students to enter the room. Art class is a love/hate dichotomy for some students. These kiddos are between the ages of five and eight, and most love it.
Once they take their seats, I take attendance. In the back of my mind, I know there can’t be more than one little girl named Nell in the area. I certainly hope there is though.
When I call her name, she smiles and says, “Here.”
After a brief study of her, discovering bouncy curls framing her face and grin without a front tooth, I continue down the list. Nell’s guardian, Asher, was my classmate in college. I push the angst out of my mind and refocus on my students. Now isn’t the time to wallow in my pitiful love life.
When I finish attendance, I have each of them share a little about themselves before I explain the simple project for today as well as the homework for next class. When I mention homework, the group groans like teenagers. I’m asking them to bring in a leaf. One leaf, it’s no big deal. Yet they grouse as if the assignment will take hours. Hell, they should be able to complete it between getting off the bus and arriving at their front door.
When the lunch period begins, I make my way to the staff lounge and take a seat near the window. Halfway through unpacking my lunch, another staff member approaches me.
“Is this seat taken?” a deep, baritone voice asks.
I reply, “No,” before looking up.
“Hi, I’m Eric. I teach social studies.” He extends his hand to me, but I’m unwrapping my sandwich.
“Lia. Art. Nice to meet you.” I begin eating my lunch while gazing outside.
“Are you from around here?” he asks.
“Yes, but you aren’t.”
His brow furrows. “How can you tell?” His tone indicates his surprise at my seemingly correct supposition. Eric is decent looking but not my type at all. I may not have found the one yet, but I know without a doubt Mr. Sweater Vest isn’t him. I’ll find him when the time is right.
“I was born here. Our town is quaint and tight-knit, or at least the year-round locals are.”
“I was wondering if you—” Eric is interrupted by the bell.
Saved! “Have a great rest of your day,” I state hurriedly and leave the staff lounge. I can only surmise Eric was going to ask me on a date. I understand insta-attraction, but it isn’t enough for longevity, in my opinion at least. Now my dismal dating life is back in the front of my mind. I don’t have any classes after lunch on alternating days, only prep periods for tomorrow, which is good news because my focus is divided.
When Asher made it abundantly clear he wasn’t looking for anything more than friendship, I agreed to a date with Keith who works for Leo at Endzone. There are many titles I could give Leo: bonus big brother, future brother-in-law, and expert fort builder. He and Lily, one of my sisters, have been best friends since I was a toddler.
While Keith seemed gentlemanly and super sweet, absolutely no spark existed between us. Despite the lack of heat, I agreed to a second date, which unceremoniously fell flat, much like the first. When Lily learned about my frustration, she offered to fix me up on a date. I reluctantly agreed with a promise that it be kept between us. The last thing I need is the rest of my sisters, both blood and found, to start fixing me up as well. Tanner works for Frankie at Sunshine Landscaping. I’m meeting him for coffee on Sunday morning. Before my date, I need to finish moving into my first home.
While my brain is dissecting my recent dating failures, I verify my projects are ready for my kiddos tomorrow before leaving the school building and heading to my parents’ house.
I purchased a spacious cape with three bedrooms and an office on a secluded street across from Willa’s old house. Tabi, her lifelong bestie, lives there now. Mine is the last house on the dead-end street. There’s a wooded park to the side of my house and around Willa’s. It’s peaceful. The kitchen has gray cabinetry with a darker hued island and matching arabesque subway tile backsplash. The countertops are white Carrara marble with gray veins. The living room has a cozy fireplace. I spent the last month painting the walls and refinishing the floors to better suit me. I can’t wait to sleep in a properly furnished home, my home. I have been sleeping on an air mattress in my parents’ empty guest room.
Could I have slept in my own house? Of course, except my family, specifically Luca and my brother-in-law Tino, were adamant I needed proper locks and an alarm system first. Luckily, the system was installed, and Luca personally tested it two days ago. Luca was formerly a YPD officer but moved on to the crisis negotiation team with the state police. Tino Gugliotti currently works for the YPD and recently married my older sister Lina.
My second day of school is coming to a close. Instead of driving to my parents’, I drive to my house. The portable storage unit with my personal belongings was delivered a few hours ago. I park behind it and make my way inside. The alarm chimes until I silence it. I consider unlocking the pod and getting a head start on moving some of the boxes, but my family would be upset. They’ll be here first thing in the morning to help. Also, my new furniture is set to arrive at midday tomorrow. I smile and envision my home furnished, then prepare a grocery delivery for tomorrow.
Nearly an hour later, I lock up and head to my parents’.
“Hi, Mama. Papa. How was your day?” I greet them when I arrive.
“Wonderful. We spent time with Luke to allow Willa to get some extra work done.” Luke is my youngest nephew at nearly a year old.
“Sweet. What smells good?”
Mama smiles. “Dinner. Sit and eat. You need your strength for moving day tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Mama. I appreciate you both for letting me crash here until I finished the floors.”
“Bambolina, you have stayed longer than you wish. I know Luca and Tino made you wait for security,” my father adds. He has been calling me “little doll” since I was a child.
“True, Papa. A little over an extra week, but I understand where they’re coming from.”
He nods and digs into his plate. Dinner passes quickly. Afterward, I clean my dish before heading to pack up my remaining belongings, consisting mostly of clothes and shoes. Once I finish, I sit on the air mattress and scroll through potential projects for my students in the winter. I’ve already planned my lessons through Thanksgiving. I merely need to prepare the supplies a few days before my students are set to work on the projects. An hour of scrolling later, I burrow under the covers in my childhood home for the last time.
My phone wakes me at six the next morning. Today is going to be a ton of work, but by dinner I’ll be moved into my own home. When I shuffle to the kitchen, dressed for the day, I find Mama pouring coffee.
“You didn’t have to get up so early,” I state and take the cup from her.
“I know, sweetheart. I wanted to. Plus, we’re watching the grandchildren while your siblings help you.”
“Anything for family.” Rosalie Cappelli is a force of nature. She’s loving but a firm disciplinarian. My siblings and I knew where her lines were, and we never crossed them. Now she dotes on her four grandchildren like she did with us.
I down my coffee in two gulps and hurry out the front door. The ride to my home isn’t far, but I want to be the first to arrive. Much to my surprise, my former roommate and bestie and her fiancé are sitting on my stoop.
“Hey! Thank you for coming!” I hug them both.
Scarlett replies, “You’re welcome.”
“I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”
“Nope, we parked about two minutes ago,” Smithson offers.
“Come on in!”
Scarlett has been inside but not her fiancé.
My bestie steps inside and says, “Wow! The floor turned out amazing!”
I’m crazy proud for doing the work myself. “Thanks, Scar.”
Over the next thirty minutes, my front door swings open repeatedly, and my entire family is eager to help. My oldest sister, Lina, the queen of logistics, starts everyone on their tasks. I grab a quick snuggle with Luke before starting in my office. I shelve my books while Luca and Willa arrange the area rug and assemble my desk.
Near noon, my niece, Ellie, shouts, “Aunt Lia, your furniture is here.”
Giddy with anticipation, I rush to the front door and greet the delivery guys.
“Can you show me where you want these items?” a rail-thin, younger guy asks.
“Right this way.” I indicate where the bedroom set and smaller love seat belong. Then I point out the location for the couch, accent tables, and the dining table. I have my old dining table in my kitchen for now.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He scurries away. Wisely, they bring in the master bedroom furniture first, and his partner begins assembling the bed.
Hearing my name from upstairs, I follow my sister’s voice. “What’s up, Frankie?” I ask in the first guest room. Frankie and Tommy first saw each other at a coffee shop. Then a few days later, Frankie presented her landscape design to Tommy for a huge hotel chain. At the time, Tommy and his ex-wife were working through some co-parenting issues for Ellie. Neither Frankie nor Tommy thought getting involved was the best idea. However, the pull of each other was strong, and they started dating. After a few tough months with conversations and court hearings, the adults came to an understanding and started working well together for Ellie’s benefit.
“Which bedding do you want in this room?” My sister gestures to a gender-neutral option and a more feminine option that was my old bedding.
“Go with the navy set on the bed in here, please.”
“Got it,” Tommy replies.
I return to the main level and head into the kitchen. Gugliotti and Emilia are hard at work emptying the dishwasher. They shelve my new dishes and glassware.
“When will you have food?” Antonio asks. My oldest nephew is a growing teenage boy and thinks about food constantly.
I chuckle. “The grocery delivery should be here around three.”
“Good, I’m starving.”
Shaking my head, I move closer to him. “I promise to feed you pizza and soda before you go home tonight for helping.”
He throws his arms around me and hugs me tight. “You’re the best auntie eva!”
“Hey, no fair! What about me, Aunt Frankie, and Aunt Lily?” Willa asks, joining us in the kitchen.
“Aunt Willa, you know the ranking changes daily with whomever gives me food,” Antonio says, attempting to smooth things over.
“Fine, I’ll allow it. This time,” Willa replies with a wink. She turns to address me. “We’re finished with the desk and the rest of the books. Do you have other decorative items for your office?”
“No, not yet. Thank you. I would like to say I know what still needs to be done, but Lina has been handling it.”
“No worries, I’ll find her.” Willa turns on her heel and leaves.
I peek into my bedroom and note the team is finished assembling my bed. The dark gray, tufted, upholstered headboard works perfectly with the wall color and my new bedding. They have arranged the remaining furniture in the dining room and living room as well.
One of the delivery guys approaches with a clipboard in hand. “Ma’am, if you sign here, we’ll be on our way.”
I scribble my name and tip them before they leave. Once they pull away, I hustle back to my bedroom and get started. The guys moved the appropriately labelled boxes into my huge walk-in closet earlier this morning. Within minutes, my sisters join me, and we quickly put away my clothes and shoes.
“What’s left?” Frankie asks.
“The patio furniture and the groceries.”
Leo joins the conversation after sticking his head into my bedroom. “Nicely done, Pip. The patio furniture is set, and the shed is almost as organized as Willa’s. The firepit is ready to go as well. I suggest a spare propane tank.” Leo called me “pipsqueak” until I was about thirteen, then he shortened it to “Pip.”
Willa laughs. Her shed is as organized with tools as a library is with books. When she moved in with my brother, she took over his shed as well.
“Really? You guys are fast. Thanks.”
“Of course.” Leo leaves as quickly as he arrived.
“Can one of you order enough pizza, wings, and cheesy bread for everyone while I start putting the pantry items away?” I ask my sisters.
“On it,” Lily states and extends her hand to me. Reaching into my purse, I pluck my debit card from my wallet and hand it to her.
When I return to the kitchen, Mama has Ellie, Antonio, and Emilia setting up the sodas on the island, as well as paper plates and cups.
“I heard the word pizza. How long are we talkin’, Auntie?” Antonio asks.
“An hour would be my guess. It’s a large order, bud.”
He shrugs. “’Kay.”
I begin putting away groceries for the first time in my own home. It’s oddly fun.
Under an hour later, the pizza is delivered. We share a meal, scattered on the main floor of my home. Afterward, Scarlett and Smithson take off to watch her niece and nephew for the evening. One by one, each sibling wishes me well and leaves.
“Thanks, Papa.” I hug him and Mama before they slip out the door. Only Lily and Leo remain.
Leo sets a gift bag on the island. “For you, Pip.”
“Thanks.” I pull a bottle of champagne from the wrapping.
“We’re proud of you,” Lily adds.
“I am too.”
“What time is your thing tomorrow?” Lily asks.
“Dinner is at two, like always,” I reply, knowing she means my coffee date with Tanner, not family dinner.
She raises an eyebrow in my direction.
“I’m trying not to put too much emphasis on it. It’s coffee. I’m not going to overthink it or worry it may not be enough or too much.”
“Good for you,” Leo adds.
I give him a side hug. “I’m glad someone is on my side.”
Leo laughs. “I would like to say I understand, but I found my forever in third grade. We took a long, winding road to get to today. You’ll get here, too.” He kisses the top of Lily’s head.
I nod and shoo them out the front door. Finally alone, I turn in a circle, taking in my nearly complete home. I made it my own. Now it’s furnished and secure. The only thing missing are some decorative items, which I’ll find eventually. A huge smile grows on my face. It falls when my doorbell rings. I expect to see one of my siblings because they forgot something. Instead, I’m greeted with a tall, sexy man dressed in a fitted T-shirt, jeans, and a backward ball cap. A hat worn backward is my kryptonite. It adds to a guy’s hot factor exponentially in my opinion.
“Hi, I’m Finn. My grandmother lives next door.” He points toward his left. “She baked her signature blondies to welcome you to the neighborhood.”
“Hello. How sweet of her.” I extend my hand toward him to accept the tin of cookies. As if the hat in combination with his chiseled jaw and broad shoulders aren’t enough, the spark of awareness from his fingers grazing mine is otherworldly. My brain is fuzzy from the unfamiliar but welcome sensations flowing from my fingers to my toes. “Thank you,” I manage.
“You’re welcome. Have a good night.” He turns to leave, stops short, and faces me again. “What’s your name?”
“I’m sorry. Amelia, but everyone calls me Lia.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Amelia.”
Interestingly, he opts for my full name. It sounds delicious when he says it. “You too.”
I watch him walk down my stairs. Aside from his gorgeous face and tempting voice, his ass is droolworthy. I ogle his backside until he disappears from view. I barely resist the urge to step onto my porch and watch him until he makes it back to his grandmother’s house.
Whoa! He’s hot! I set the tin on the kitchen island, locate my phone, and text Scarlett.
Me: My neighbor sent me cookie bars.
Scarlett: That was nice.
Me: She had them delivered by her sexy-as-hell grandson.
Scarlett: Oooohhh! I like this development so much!
Scarlett: Can I say it now?
Me: Not yet. The reminder of your advice is noted.
Scarlett: Love you.
Me: Love you.
Scarlett consistently reminds me to have patience. Her man took nearly two years before he asked for a first date. I smile, open the tin, and bite into one of the blondies. It melts in my mouth. My next-door neighbor has serious skills. These are amazing! Still chewing, I head into my office and search for my thank-you notes. I can deliver it tomorrow after family dinner.