Surviving Love - K.F. Breene


Mikey held up his hand, palm out. She placed her own palm to his and threaded their fingers together. Warmth seeped into her hand. Tears drowned her eyes.

Mikey gave her a small smile. “This isn’t goodbye—it’s see you on the flip side.”

“The flip side of what, Mikey? The moon? Don’t be weird right now; this is serious. I don’t have any friends besides you. Who’s going to come over when I have a crisis? Or when I’m freaking out and need a dose of reality?”

They’d been friends since they could walk. Before that, even. She’d learned everything right by Mikey’s side—faced her nightmares holding his hand. Eleven years of him being only across the street, he’d become her best friend or worst enemy, depending on her mood. He was only a couple years older, and only lately a tiny bit more mature—she’d thought they’d be friends forever. And now he was leaving. Being ripped away by his family.

He leaned closer. His face, thinner now that the baby fat of youth was burning away, came within inches. His breath splashed across her wet eyelashes. Another tear leaked from her eye as a strange hum she didn’t understand started in the base of her stomach.

“Please Mikey, don’t leave me. Please,” she whispered with a quivering voice. “Stay here and live with me. My parents would take you in. I know they would. Please don’t leave me.”

“Only for now.” His lips touched hers, sweet and soft. His eyes sparkled as they delved into her. “Only for now, Sara, okay? Don’t forget me. You’ll be in my heart always. In a couple years, when you reach your teens, we’ll figure it out. We’ll find each other, okay? I’m going to marry you.”

She leaned into him, stealing as much of his warmth as she could. Trying to memorize his smell. Wondering what she’d do when he left.

“Mikey, let’s go!” his dad yelled, waiting beside the open car door.

Mikey’s gaze reached down into Sara’s, flicking away all her barriers and touching a place so deep, so hidden, that she barely knew it existed. Emotion stirred up butterflies in her stomach.

“Just for now, okay?” he whispered. “When I’m old enough I’ll look after you. I’ll have a great job, and a big house, and a car, and all that stuff. I’ll take care of you.”

“My parents can take care of me. I need my best friend.”

“I’ll always be your best friend. And one day you’ll realize that you want someone to look after you. When you do, it’ll be me, okay?”

“Mikey!” his dad yelled, a warning in his voice.

“Don’t forget about me,” Mikey said one last time, the promise in his eyes sucking her in. With one last, tentative kiss, he took his hand from hers and walked away.

The sound of the car door slamming was like a shotgun blast.

The last thing she saw was her best friend, face in the rear window, waving as the car drove away. Her tears overflowed.

She was too young to realize that part of her drove away with him.

Chapter 1

Sara sat at the picnic table in the bright sunlight, her head bowed over her hands. Within her fingers twirled a broken promise, the sun glinting merrily off its solitary diamond. The ring stopped in its movement for a moment so she could reach up and wipe away a tear.

She and Phil had been high-school sweethearts, their love maturing through college. After graduation the ring had been slipped on her finger as sweet words of devotion rang through her ears. She couldn’t ever remember being happier; more loved.

Five years later they still lived in the small house they rented in the suburbs. Tiny warnings had started sounding in Sara’s mind, but she still wasn’t overly worried—she had plenty of time for kids. The wedding would come when they saved a bit more, and so would her dream house.

Four words and her name ended it all. “Sara, we need to talk.”

He’d found someone new. Someone younger and prettier, without the few gray hairs and softly etched laugh lines. Sara was only thirty, but the stress of steep credit card debt and her fiancé’s frivolous spending hadn’t been kind. Next to a twenty-two year old, she looked weathered and jaded. Worse, she had nothing left to offer—no tricks to play to entice Phil to stay. Instead, she had watched out the window as he got into his new car and drove away, never once checking his rearview mirror to say goodbye to the life he