Decide to Live
Shirley Anne Edwards
(Finding the Strength, #3)
Publication date: February 14th, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
When it hurts too much to live, how does one find the strength to stay alive and find hope again?
Reiko Nakano has a charmed life. Not only does the twenty-three-old come from a life of luxury because of her celebrity parents and supermodel sister, she’s best friends with the biggest brother and sister pop duo in the world- Gio and Gem Grove. But what the public assumes is wrong different because of what Reiko suffers in private. She feels she’s an outcast in her own family because of her ptosis and her social anxiety. She then makes the biggest mistake of her life and tries to turn her lifelong crush on Gio into something more. His cruel rejection after she lets him take her virginity leaves her heartbroken.
Reiko hides in the least likely of places- the small town of Albee, Pennsylvania. There she enjoys her anonymity and enrolls in summer classes at Maison University. She hopes she can fit in as a student, but life continues to play tricks on her when she’s hit in the face by a football from one of the most popular boys on campus, Will Forest. But this accidental but memorial meeting will help heal her fragile emotions because Will shows her how special she is to those she meets, including him.
She isn’t sure what to make of Will. He’s too nice and sweet, and treats her like gold. She accepts his attempts at romance even though it’s only temporary. But as the summer flies by, she doesn’t want to give Will up, who doesn’t know the truth about her “vacation”. And when Gio arrives in town, and threatens to out Reiko, she has some hard choices to make. Does she come clean to Will so she can decide to finally live on her own terms and embrace the amazing woman Will thinks her to be?
It had been a long time since I’d felt like I belonged somewhere or with someone. I had found that at Maison. I felt the same with Dad when he let me tag along to one of his classes or read chapters of a new book he was in the middle of writing. He was the only one I wanted to call to tell him about my summer plans. Aya would be happy for me, but she didn’t share our love for books and learning, not that my older sister was uneducated by any means. She had different pursuits and hobbies, like Mom. She had a bond with Mom, whereas mine was with Dad.
A small black dog ran by me, chased by a woman. The sight made me snicker. I checked around to see if there were any other dogs, an odd thing to see at a college. The only interesting interaction was a few guys playing football a few feet away. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere a little longer. Then I would call Dad and tell him my news. Trying to figure out the time difference in Paris, I walked forward, realizing too late I was in the path of the football game. Someone shouted— “Look out!” As I turned, a football hit the side of my neck, near my shoulder. I fell and landed on the ground.
The sun above blinded me as I tried to bring the world into focus. Soon, a group of men surrounded me, blocking out the light. One knelt next to me and boosted me up, keeping his arm on my back.
“My glasses?” I searched the area even though everything was blurry.
“I found them.” He pressed them into my hand. “Are you okay? Do you need a doctor? Should we call 911?”
I slid my glasses on and shook my head. “I was just startled.”
When I was able to see again, the guy who still supported me helped me stand. I should have noticed he wasn’t wearing a T-shirt. It was stuck in the back of his shorts, leaving his chest bare. What I did notice first was his chunky black-framed glasses and short yet spikey blond hair. He also had too many freckles across his nose and cheeks.
“You’re wearing glasses also.” I blinked, amazed by how cute he was wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and because of the deep lines around his mouth because of his smile.
“A few other guys on campus wear glasses, but they don’t look as good as I do.” He scooped up the football and tossed it to someone. “I’m going to take a break to make sure the young lady here is okay.”
Young lady? I kicked the grass. Shoot! My paperwork had scattered.
“I’m fine, I think, but my papers aren’t.” I bent to retrieve the wrinkled documents.
By the time I’d found most of them, he had put on his T-shirt. He held the brochure, and, as I rose, he flipped through it. “You’re a new student here?”
“Just for the summer.” I held my hand out for the booklet.
He paused as if he wanted to say something but instead gave me the booklet.
“Thanks.” I took my time putting the book and papers in my tote bag, expecting him to leave. But he still stood there.
For some reason, I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I usually was when I met new people. Our awkward introduction resulting from the football to my face should have made me look in the other direction. But he acted…considerate? Or maybe compassionate was a better word?
A female voice called out, “Will,” and he waved but stayed with me. “Now you know my name. I’m Will, short for William.”
“I’m Reiko, and it’s not short for anything.” I glanced at the girl who‘d said his name. She was with two other girls, and they all looked identical—white girls with highlighted blonde hair and tight shirts and shorts. They were the type I would stay away from because they reminded me of Gem.
“I never heard that name before. It’s pretty.” He gave me another friendly smile.
“It has a few meanings.” The main meaning of my name meant beautiful, but I preferred wise. I left it unsaid because he would probably say I was beautiful in his flirty way, just to be nice.
“I’d love to know what your name means.” He tapped his fingers on his hips.
If I had better social skills, I would have teased him, extending our conversation. But with those girls waiting for him, one of whom might be his girlfriend, it was best I let him go.
“If we meet again, I might tell you.” I turned and walked away. It was better to cut him off and leave. The odds I would see him again were small since he was ending his semester and would return to wherever he lived for the summer.
As expected, he didn’t run after me or tell me to stay. I kept walking without turning around to check like the small voice in my head wanted me to do.
Shirley Anne Edwards is a Northeast girl who first found her love for books when she read Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock Tower at thirteen. Shirley found her love for writing at a very young age, and since then has let her imagination run wild by creating quirky characters and vast worlds in her head.
Shirley lives in New Jersey and works in the entertainment industry in New York City.
In the immortal words of Mark Twain: “Life is short, Break the Rules. Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.”
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