Can she teach him to accept their love? Breaking Free @authorllcollins

Alexis Carson-Nichols has had what anyone would describe as an idyllic childhood. She has great parents, little brothers and sister that mean the world to her, and friends that are always there for her. As she graduates from high school and gets ready to go to college, she feels like she has the world at her fingertips. She can’t wait to experience life as a young adult. Maybe even get a boyfriend…as long as her school comes first. 

What she doesn’t expect is to meet Greer Henderson. Greer hasn’t had a life anything like Alexis’. Sure, he’s had the parents that loved him, but that was about it. He’s never been understood or even tolerated. He’s spent his life in a constant state of inner chaos and outer turmoil. See, Greer has Aspergers. When he finally gets up enough courage to take a few classes at his local college, he becomes lab partners with Alexis. He thinks she’s the most beautiful person he’s ever laid eyes on, but he knows she won’t want anything to do with him. None of the kids ever do. But if there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s science. 
As Alexis tries to break through Greer’s tough exterior and understand his idiosyncrasies, she realizes that Greer may just be teaching her more than she could ever imagine, and changing her life in insurmountable ways. Can Alexis teach others how to love and accept Greer, even if he’s different? And can Greer, through Alexis, realize that all of his dreams are within his reach and that he’s worthy of love after all?

The door swung open, making Alexis jump. Hailey breezed in, her arms full of empty boxes. “Whatcha doin’?”
          “Reading my mom’s diary from when she was in college, after she met my dad.”
          Hailey dropped the boxes, then sat cross legged next to Alexis on the floor. “Can I read, too?”
          “Sure. I’ve read a lot of it already. I just read this entry where my dad kissed her for the first time but they were still pretending to be friends.”
          “Crazy,” Hailey shook her head. “Wonder what in the world kept them from admitting it.”
          Alexis shrugged. “I can see it, I guess. Even though I wouldn’t have waited that long with Greer, feeling unsure about how someone else feels about you is terrifying. They were friends, and they both liked each other’s company so much they were afraid to admit that they each wanted more. Until it was almost too late.”
          “Go to the night he proposed,” Hailey said, bouncing up and down on her bottom. “That was the night of their graduation, right?”
          Alexis turned pages, watching the date at the top. When she got to May, she slowed down. She’d have to go back and read the rest later, but now that Hailey had asked to read the engagement, she couldn’t wait to find it, either. She saw while scanning a few sections where her mom was upset and crying over leaving Alex. They weren’t planning to be in the same area at all after graduation, and she was torn up over whether she should come out and tell him. Apparently they had crossed the line of friendship a few other times after that one kiss, but neither had brought up what was happening with them.
          Alexis saw all capital letters at the top of one of the May entries, and she stopped.
          “Graduation Day,” Hailey read. “This is it.”
          Emotion overcame Alexis, and she struggled to keep her composure. “I don’t know why this is hitting me so hard,” she said through tears.
          Hailey hugged her. “Because this was your dad, and because you feel like this could be your life, too. You’ve met an amazing man, and even though you’re only nineteen, you’re wondering if maybe this is it for you, too.”
          Alexis hugged her back, knowing she was right. Maybe she should start keeping a diary like this for all of the things she and Greer did in their relationship so she could read them to her children later in life.
          Wiping her eyes, she turned back to the page, Hailey reading over her shoulder.
I can’t believe it. I’m done with college. But that also means, I’m done with Alex. Despite everything over the past few months, neither of us have had the guts to ask the hard questions. Like what happens now? Are we just friends? Do we visit, keep in touch, say goodbye? The thought of saying goodbye to him after today makes me physically ill.
My parents are here, and after graduation we’re going to his apartment for one last hurrah with friends and families. I’m not sure I’ll make it through that without losing my mind. How do you say goodbye to someone and keep yourself from falling at their feet and begging not to let you go?
Sigh. Time to get the cap and gown and get going. Today’s a happy day. Right?

          “God, that rips my heart out,” Hailey said, sniffling. “There never would have been an Alexis Carson had one of them not gotten the nerve to finally say something.”
          “I know,” Alexis sniffled also, thinking of her mom’s anguish that day. She guessed that her dad was also stressed, but he already knew what he was doing that night, so his nerves were probably of a different sort. She was sad to leave Greer for a month over summer break, and couldn’t imagine it being graduation and her facing the possibility of never seeing him again.
          Hailey turned the page, and the girls settled back to read what they knew to be a happy ending to this part of the story. The next entry was the day after graduation. It was also the last page in the diary. Alexis smiled as she saw the huge letters at the top of the page.
          Alexis and Hailey giggled at her huge capital letters that took up the whole front page. She had also drawn a picture of her ring, which Alexis knew what it looked like because it was now hers. She kept it in her jewelry box at home so she didn’t lose it. Her name was scrawled in her bubbly cursive across the page. ‘Mrs. Kayley Carson’.
          “She was so happy,” Alexis said, feeling the tears well up again.
Okay, okay, let’s see if I can even write this all out. My hands are STILL shaking! So after gradation last night, we went to Alex’s apartment. I was on the verge of tears the whole night, and he knew something was wrong. He kept asking me if I was okay, and of course, I kept saying yes. Why in the world we were so stupid and just didn’t tell each other before now, I’ll never understand.
Anyway, we had eaten dinner and our families were sitting around talking. They really got along well, and that was just one more thing that made me want to cry. I stood up to excuse myself to the bathroom before I lost it in front of everyone when Alex stood up with me.
‘Come outside with me,’ he said, holding out his hand. When his hand touched mine, I had to bite my lip hard to keep from breaking down. Today was supposed to be happy, but I couldn’t even be glad that I just graduated. What was wrong with me? I had my whole life ahead of me, and I was miserable.
I followed him, hoping that I could talk to him and say goodbye tonight without acting like a blubbering mess.
He shut the door behind us, and I looked out over the balcony, knowing it would be for the last time. All the memories here, all of them had to do with Alex. The lump in my throat thickened. Then I felt it. Alex wrapped his arms around my waist from behind. I held my breath as he rested his chin on my shoulder. I couldn’t do this. I was going to have to get out of here, and now.
So I turned around, putting us face to face. That’s when my traitor eyes started leaking, tears running down my face like a dam had opened up. Those beautiful eyes that I loved so much looked at me in concern.
‘What is it, Kayley? What’s wrong?’ I memorized every moment about last night, because it was just that amazing. I shook my head, not wanting to admit to him what I was feeling. Stubborn woman.
When I didn’t answer, he smoothed my hair back and cupped my face with his hands. I whimpered, not able to stop myself.
‘Kayley, I get it.’
I didn’t want to ask him what he got, because I was too afraid for him to say that he didn’t love me the way I loved him, and that it had been nice knowing me.
That’s when everything changed. Every single thing. He kissed me, his mouth moving softly on mine as he held my face in his hands. We had kissed a few times already, of course, but none like this one.
When he finally pulled back, my face was wet with tears again. ‘Don’t cry, honey. You don’t need to cry. You know why?’
I knew there was a million reasons to cry, starting with the fact that I loved him so desperately it hurt.
‘Ask me why, Kayley.’
I finally asked him, barely making the one syllable word come out of my mouth.
‘Because I refuse to live one more day not telling you how I feel. I refuse for us to leave here after today having given up the best thing that’s ever happened to both of us. I love you, Kayley. I’ve loved you since the day I first set eyes on you on that beach, and every day after that, I’ve fallen more and more in love with you. I’ve been a coward, afraid to go further because I didn’t want to ruin what we had. You’re my best friend, Kay. I can’t imagine my life without you. Now I want you to also be my wife.’
He dropped on one knee. Alex Carson. Dropped on one knee.
‘Kayley Lynn Johnson, make me the happiest man on earth and marry me.’
I stared at him for the longest time, thinking someone was going to shake me awake and I’d realize it was just a dream.
Finally, I told him I loved him and always had, and that YES I would be his wife. I think I shouted it. I know I shouted it, because before we knew it, our parents were out on the porch hugging and congratulating us. And just like that, I never have to live without Alex ever again.
          “Except you would have to live without him again,” Alexis whispered, tracing the words with her fingers. She looked over at Hailey, her eyes glassy with unshed tears.
          “Do you think she ever regretted it? After what happened, do you think she wishes she never met him?”
          Alexis shook her head. “No. We’ve had that conversation many times. The time she got with Alex was amazing, and of course she had me from it. She’s finally come to terms with the fact that he was only meant to be part of her life for a short time, and that Ben was meant to be with her for the rest of her life.”
          “It’s so sad, but so happy,” Hailey sniffled. “It’s like the best love story, both of her love stories.”
          Alexis shut the diary, her emotions swirling all over the place. “Yes. And I don’t doubt that her love for my dad Ben is just as strong, if not stronger. But there’s always something about your first love.”

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About the Author
LL Collins is the self published author of the bestselling Living Again Series, including Living Again, Reaching Rachel, and Guarding Hearts are available on Amazon in ebook exclusively, and in many other retailers in paperback. Coming soon to the series is Finding Forever, and Breaking Free: A Living Again Novella. 

LL has been writing since she was old enough to write. Always a story in her head, she finally decided to let the characters out and start writing and try to make her lifelong dreams of becoming an author come true. She has been a teacher for over ten years and lives in Florida with her husband and two sons.
Twitter: @authorllcollins

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