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One More Shot

One More Shot

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They say you can’t go home again…

Well, that’s exactly what I had intended until one of the best humans on the planets asks for a favor.

Main Tropes

  • Enemies To Friends To Lovers
  • Second Chance
  • "Home" Again

Synopsis

They say you can’t go home again…

Well, that’s exactly what I had intended until one of the best humans on the planets asks for a favor.


I tell myself it’s fine, I can handle being back in the small town that I was raised in, I can handle being in the presence of the people I left behind.

The question is, can I handle being in the presence of him?

Of course, there’s a him.

Lucas Montgomery.


The boy who became my best friend. The boy I left behind.

But he’s not a boy anymore. No, he’s all man.


And guess what?


He hates my guts.


This should be fun.

Intro Into Chapter One

ONE

 

Kate

The spring breeze blows my hair up into my face, and it’s not the first time I’ve regretted getting this long bob that now adorns my head. I swipe at it again and rush down 42nd toward Madison on my way to the house that’s for sale. 

This is one of the many real estate jobs I’ve been hired to shoot for, and I cross my fingers that this Denver home will be an easy one to photograph for the realtor. It hasn’t been my luck so far, most being dumpy homes they want me to magically transform with pictures. Sorry dude—no matter how much Photoshop I use, I can’t make a fixer-upper look like a million-dollar home.

Out of breath and out of time, I come to a halt in front of the for-sale sign, and I groan upon surveying the house.

Denver homes are hit or miss. Some of the more historical ones are fantastic, and I dream of being able to afford one someday. Then there are those like the one I’m standing in front of now, the ones that are only worth so much because of where they’re located, like the heart of downtown. 

Double-checking the address, I make my way up the uneven brick pathway and into the blue house.

“Hello?” I call into the empty dwelling. Luckily for me, the home isn’t damaged beyond repair inside. It’s clean and tidy, albeit a bit outdated, but at least there aren’t a million boxes and random animals coming and going. 

I can work with this.

“Hi! Sorry! Didn’t mean to keep you.” A woman not much older than my twenty-three years strolls down the hallway. She’s dressed in a white blouse and black pencil skirt with heels high enough to make my ankles shake in my Converse.

“It’s okay. I’m Kate.” I extend my hand and she grasps it with a firm handshake.

“I’m Janelle, and I was just shoving as much stuff as possible in a closet so you can take some pictures.” She chuckles, and I follow suit. She shows me around the house and points out the things she wants highlighted for prospective buyers.

“I’ll get started.” I smile at her then wander around taking the best shots from different angles, doing my best to get the lighting right. 

My favorite part of being a photographer is that I can completely lose myself in the job. Once I start, no matter what I’m shooting, nothing can break my concentration.

Since the house is tiny, I’m done in only an hour. I show a few to Janelle, knowing she’ll want to see that I did the job she hired me for. 

“How soon will you be able to get them to me? I want to get this house up as soon as possible.” She chuckles again. The lady likes to laugh.

“Um, if I work on them tonight and tomorrow, I can have them to you by tomorrow night.” She claps her hands and I smile, trying not to laugh. Who gets that excited about real estate photos? 

Apparently, Janelle does.

“That’s amazing!” She turns toward a bag that looks like a duffle, and I peek around her to see if she’s getting a gun or something because…well, people are crazy sometimes. Thankfully, she just pulls out a checkbook and scribbles on it.

Turning, she hands the check to me, and I look at the large amount.

Crinkling my eyebrows, I look at her. “This is more than we agreed on…”

She waves her hands. “Don’t worry about it.”

I’m about to ask her why she’d pay before she saw the final edit but then decide it’s best to keep my mouth shut. If she wants to pay up front, who am I to stop her?

After saying goodbye, I head out the door, a smile on my face and a check in hand.

It’s not every day I make money, and it’s even less frequent that I get a little extra. The life of a recent college graduate isn’t as glamorous as one may think, and definitely not when you live in one of the more expensive cities in America.

I decide treating myself to Starbucks is a must and pop into one, getting my large frap with extra whip. It’s basically ice cream, but I prefer to call it coffee. I head back into the spring weather, ready for the three-mile walk to Ballpark, where my gracious friend Blake lets me reside in her extra bedroom.

I’m grateful I have Blake and her comfy condo, which she allows me to crash at rent free. It’s temporary until I can get on my feet with photography, but since that seems to be taking a bit more time and effort than I expected, ‘temporary’ doesn’t seem to be the right word. The thought of ‘permanent’ doesn’t feel right either, but at the same time, it’s probably accurate. 

The city is alive with everyone on their bikes and walking to all their destinations. The snow that comes with living in Colorado is kind of torturous some days, and as much as I love seeing the city covered in the magical powder, I’m so ready for summer.

I’m only a mile away from the condo when I turn a corner, only to run right into somebody, someone huge—as in I’m now flat on my ass huge.

“The fuck?” I mumble, looking at the mess covering my feet and the entire sidewalk. 

“Shit. Sorry about that.” I look up to see a twenty-something guy in front of me. He’s cute—really cute—and I’m covered in coffee.

Looking down at the mess, I pout. It was expensive, and now it’s gone. “It’s all right,” I say, but when I look up, the guy is gone.

Huh. Cute, but not at all polite. Thanks a lot, hunk. No girl wants that kind of guy anyway.

I make it back to the condo and discard my now empty coffee cup in a trash can outside the building. The lobby is set at a comfortable temperature, and I wave at Dave, the front desk guy, before getting onto the elevator.

I’m an advocate for taking the stairs, but when I’m lugging around my photography equipment, I don’t even stop to think about it.

The condo is something dreams are made of. It has an industrial chic design with exposed concrete walls and heating units. The counters are all granite, and the lighting is brand new with an old steel and Einstein bulbs type feel. 

It’s home, and even though I have no idea what it costs, I know Blake’s parents can afford it. 

Her parents are well off due to successful real estate investments, which make it so Blake doesn’t want for anything. She’s the least snobby rich kid I’ve ever met—not that I’ve met many—and I don’t know how I would have gotten through the last four years without her.

Sitting down with my laptop to get to work, I set myself up on the floor behind the coffee table before turning on mindless reality TV. It’s a guilty pleasure I’ll never get rid of.

My phone buzzes its way across the table, and my breath catches when I see who’s calling. I bite my lip, debating whether I should answer. I haven’t talked to anyone from back home in four years. I’ve given my mom a call here and there, but our relationship isn’t one I wanted to visit home for. When I left Acton four years ago, I barely looked back. 

Curiosity wins, though, and I push the glowing green button of temptation.

“…Hello?” My voice trembles slightly as I await what’s on the other end of the call.

“Kate? Is this Kate?” I smile when I hear the voice coming through the phone.

“Yeah, it’s me, Ave.” 

“Oh good! I was hoping you never changed your number! How are you?” Her giddiness flows freely, and I can’t help the giggle that escapes me.

“Aveline, oh my god—it’s so good to hear from you! I’m good. How have you been?” 

We chat like old times, like nothing has come between us in the last four years, but the truth is, I was a bad friend. I neglected my friends in the process of trying to save my heart, and it didn’t even work. Aveline and her family were so good to me throughout high school, and then after I graduated and didn’t have a clue what to do, her mother, Belle, kept me on at the bakery, even though the position was supposed to be temporary. 

“God, I’ve missed you Kate.” Aveline’s voice softens and we’re quiet for a moment.

“I’ve missed you, too.” 

“Okay, so I have to admit something…this call isn’t completely selfless.”

Her confession has me intrigued. “Oh? Do tell.”

“Well, I have an announcement.” She pauses. “Ethan proposed!” She squeals, and I laugh with her.

“What? That’s amazing! And can I just say, finally?” Ethan is Aveline’s longtime boyfriend who moved into his late uncle’s house next door to her and simultaneously swept Aveline off her feet. They’ve been together for a few years now, and I’m surprised to hear they’re just now tying the knot.

“Thank you! And yes, I agree.” She laughs. “Anyway, I wanted to ask if I could hire you.”

Her request catches me off guard and I blink. “Hire me?”

“You’re still doing photography, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, I am.” I perk up, eager to hear if there’s a job for me. 

“I need pictures of everything. I need pictures for our engagement, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding—just everything. I don’t even know, I’m just so excited!” 

Her excitement spills over and I smile. She’s still the same girl she was before. “Okay, when do you need me?”

“Um, would next week be too soon?”

I pause, wondering what taking this job will change for me, what it will be like going back home to the place I’ve avoided for the last four years. I missed every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, and every summer I found random jobs so I wouldn’t have to go home. I avoided my alcoholic mother and my heart cringes thinking of her, thinking of all the times I’ve wanted her to change. I can’t even remember when our last call actually was. 

But, this is for Aveline, possibly the most selfless person I’ve ever met. She’s always had my back and texted me for the full first year I was gone, accepting the one-word answers with grace. 

I can’t turn my back on her now.

“Next week is great.” 

She squeals through the phone and I smile even wider. Aveline has probably waited with baited breath for Ethan to propose, and I can’t blame her. Their romance was one for the books, something you only see in made-for-TV movies, and I don’t know a single person who wasn’t jealous of them.

We hang up after going over the details, and an uneasy feeling settles in my stomach. I’m happy to help Aveline out and I’m thrilled for her, but at the same time, I don’t know how I’ll be perceived once I get there. 

The name I always try to push out of my mind enters with blinding force, and all at once my stomach jumps with anxiety and excitement: Lucas, the one I left behind. 

I guess there’s no time like the present to face my past.

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