When you think you're unlovable,
how do you find the courage to love?
All of Alyssa Bennet's life, the people who were supposed to
love her the most have always let her down. Only Anna, her best friend, and
Nona, her beloved grandmother are her only constants.
The unbelievably perfect Landon Daniels is Alyssa’s friend and stand-in boyfriend. When things suddenly shift, Alyssa begins to wonder if there might be more. For the first time in her life, she begins to hope that she’s worthy of being loved.
When the unexpected happens and threatens to snatch away her first chance at happiness, Alyssa must decide if she wants to continue her journey alone, or embrace the love she's always wished for. Her fear becomes her enemy as the pain she’s carried inside her entire life threatens to destroy her and everyone she’s ever loved.
Women's Fiction author, Jennifer Sivec explores hope, courage, and mortality in this gripping novel about one woman's struggle to discover what it means to come to terms with your past, and above all, love yourself enough to be loved.
SHARING MILK AND A LIFE
I KNEW I WAS SO SCREWED, both literally and figuratively, the second we both realized the condom had fallen off.
Not only was I mortified, but I was also grossed out. I mean, really grossed out. It wasn’t as though we got to do it all that often, and when we do, this happens?
I really felt the situation was pretty shocking, especially since it was before eight a.m., and I barely had time to shake the sleep off before I realized he was on top of me, which I thought I might like at first. Then I realized that it was Tom, and sex with him was usually awkward and not fun at all. I didn’t even know why I was here...with him...still. He wasn’t exactly the guy of my dreams, but that’s what happens when you become too comfortable with your life and stop desiring more. The first guy to call you ”honey” becomes your boyfriend, whether that was the initial plan or not. The relationship just kind of happens, and then you wake up and realize that it’s been half a decade and you are still together.
At least that’s what happened with us.
We were an odd couple, but still, by most people’s definition, a couple. He was crabby and grumpy, and I was happy and optimistic, and we didn’t really fit together at all. We just existed together for reasons neither I nor anyone else could understand, but for the time being, it worked, and nobody really scrutinized it too closely.
I knew the second we realized the condom had fallen off that things just weren’t going to end well. Tom looked at me, his light brown eyes wide, and said, “Oh, shit!” as he backed up from the condom as if it were a snake about to bite him in the nuts.
Really? That’s all he’s going to say to me about it? ‘Oh, shit!’ Well, happy freaking 25th birthday to me!
I knew I didn’t have anyone to blame but myself for staying with Tom in a passionless, loveless relationship. I was young and maybe even a bit lazy. I was in and out of college when I could afford it. I was completely lost in my life with no idea how to find myself, but then again, it wasn’t as though I was making much of an effort. I was tired of waiting tables, but I didn’t really know how to do anything else. Besides, it was good money, and I didn’t have a lot of options.
There was nothing I could do about the mishap at the moment. I went downstairs without even bothering to say anything to Tom. He rolled over and was already snoring, so I went into the kitchen, made some coffee and poured myself a bowl of cereal. I tried to pet our grey cat, Willow, who had just jumped on the counter to watch the coffee brew, but he scurried away from me just out of arm’s length. He stared at me with an air of disdain while he licked his paws. I hated cats. I especially hated this selfish fat cat. He didn’t want anything to do with me unless I was feeding him. Brat!
But now, all I could think about was that stupid, broken, disgusting condom.
My phone buzzed.
“Happy birthday, my lovely. Party tonight. XO Anna.” Anna was texting me first thing in the morning as she usually did.
My bestie since the first grade, Anna always remembered my birthday, usually before anyone else. I couldn’t wait to tell her what happened, but I didn’t want to do it in a text conversation. I wanted to tell her in person.
“Wait till I tell you what happened first thing this morning.”
I knew she would be shocked when I told her that Tom climbed on me since he hadn’t done so in months. But she didn’t respond, which was just as well because I didn’t really want to talk about it right now anyway. She was working, trying to be a responsible adult unlike myself, so she didn’t have time for my drama, even if it was my birthday.
It was nine a.m. and already I felt depressed. My birthday usually made me feel depressed, but not this early. It typically hit by noon, but thanks to this morning’s mishap, it was creeping up on me a lot sooner this year.
It struck me that Tom might think this morning’s disaster was my birthday present, which I could completely see! An overwhelming feeling of disdain for Tom and his stupid grey cat washed over me before I could help myself I started reflecting on our relationship, as I often did when I wasn’t happy. Tom wasn’t very nice to me. He was typically harsh and condescending, lacking a filter, no matter where he was or who he was around. Whatever he was thinking just flew out of his mouth. The other morning when he realized I forgot to buy milk, he snarled at me, “What the fuck were you thinking, Lys? How am I supposed to eat my damn cereal now? You can’t do anything right, can you?”
I cringed when it happened, but I realized that it was a typical scenario. It didn’t seem to matter if it was milk, laundry, what I made for dinner, or what I wore to the bar. Tom was always displeased about something, whether if was on my birthday or a random Thursday. I often wondered why were still together, sharing cartons of milk and a life.
And now this condom incident.
My face started to feel hot and I realized that I was freaking out over the thought of it. I had always been so careful with my birth control, no matter who the guy was, or how many times I slept with him!
I didn’t want to ever have a baby—a messy, loud, time-sucking, expensive baby. Babies were dirty, and they spit up and shit everywhere. Every parent I knew was exhausted. They never slept and said their children took up every second of their time. They attempted to sound happy about it, but you could tell from the bags under their eyes, and the copious amounts of caffeine they needed to function, that it wasn’t as magical as they tried to make it seem. Babies were magical, but were they worth the sacrifice of having sagging boobs, getting fat, and having stretched out lady parts? I had to admit that there were a few babies that were adorable, but the majority of them just had big heads, weird hair, and looked like aliens. The thought of that big head pushing itself out of a very sensitive area of the body made me want to vomit. I decided before I ever lost my virginity to Bobby Baughman that I had no desire to ever have one of those things popping out of my body.
I saw what it did to women, and I didn’t want to get big and fat, but mostly, I didn’t want to become one of those moron parents who think the world revolves around their baby and nothing else. I’d seen how people changed when they had kids. They became a watered down version of their former selves. They stopped being fun and social. They lost their filter, talking about the grossest things at any given time because they thought their child’s vomit and shit were the cutest things in the world. Babies were disgusting, and I thought it was ultimate vanity for people to want to procreate just to have miniature versions of themselves hanging around. I figured that’s probably what my parents had done, and it hadn’t worked out well for any of us.
I always knew that having a baby would mean that my life was over, especially if it was with Tom. I would be stuck with Tom—who I cared about a lot, but wasn’t in love with. Five years had flown by, but on my birthday, at that moment, I knew wholeheartedly that I didn’t want to be stuck with him for the rest of my life.
Anna hated how he spoke to me. She hated when he ordered me around and talked to me as though I were a child. It wasn’t like her and Mark, where they stood on equal ground in their relationship. She and Mark were perfect. He got her and adored her, so much so that he put up with her always taking care of me. He was like a cool big brother, only he was my age, with a much better job, and he put up with me when I called Anna drunk in the middle of the night to contemplate changing my hair color. He did it because he loved Anna, and because he thought she could do no wrong.
I wanted that. I realized as I ate my soggy cereal on my twenty- fifth birthday that I wanted to live in a world with a man who knew I wasn’t perfect and didn’t care because he adored me anyway.
Tom wasn’t that guy.
Now, with the condom thing, I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I had options, not just with Tom, but also for the failed condom dilemma. The Morning After Pill, abortion, adoption, but as strange as it was, none of those seemed right for me. It’s not that I was deeply moral, or even religious in my beliefs. I just always felt like things should run their normal course and then be dealt with accordingly. I wasn’t even opposed to any of those options for someone else, but I didn’t think they were right for me. As much as I didn’t want a baby, I felt the Universe allowed things to happen for a reason.
Things like my mom leaving me and not really wanting to be a “mom.” The purpose of her doing that remained to be seen. I still hoped I would know what it was one day, so I would know what to do with all of the shit floating around in my head.
The image of the broken condom popped into my head again and I gagged.
I wanted to go back to bed and pull the blankets over my head, but Tom was up there hogging the bed. Sleeping. He’d be up there sleeping all day—until he went to work for the night shift. He didn’t even bother to take the day off for my birthday.
I had nowhere to go, and no one to spend my birthday with until Anna got off work. All of my friends either worked late, or were hung over from too much drinking the night before and were still crashed. It was depressing, and I felt alone.
I lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. Oh, God. What if I’m pregnant? I’d have to stop smoking. That alone was enough to put me over the edge.
I squeezed my eyes tight and repeated over and over “please don’t let me be pregnant, please don’t let me be pregnant, please don’t let me be pregnant.”