Home > A Million Pieces

A Million Pieces
Author: Evan Grace


Chapter One


 “Okay, everyone, let’s line up by the door,” I tell my first graders as they throw their too-big-for their body, backpacks on and then hustle on their little legs to stand in a single-file line by the door. “I want you to all have the best weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.”

 They all yell in unison, “Goodbye, Miss Burns.” The bell rings as I step into the hall, giving them all high fives as they pass by. Once they disappear down the hall toward the exit, I step back into my classroom.

 I wipe the desks down with cleansing wipes before straightening up the rest of the room. When the clock strikes four, I gather up my things and shut down my computer. My phone pings, and I glance down at the screen—it’s my boyfriend Austin.

 Austin: Are you going to have dinner ready at five?

 I roll my eyes. We’ve been together for six months, he’s very bossy, and not in that hot romance novel way. Heck, I’ve even seen him sometimes throw tantrums, like a child. Lately, he’s not been very nice to me and seems to be in a perpetual bad mood.

 I quickly type out a response.

 Brooke: Everything is in the fridge, ready to go. I’m leaving school now.

 His response is immediate.

 Austin: Good.

 That’s it? I shake my head. “Dickweed,” I whisper and then give my phone the middle finger.

 A minute later and I’m stepping outside. The humid air is thick and by the time I reach my car, I feel like I’m in desperate need of a shower because I have a light sheen of sweat covering my body. I start my car as my phone pings. It’s Austin.

 Austin: I love you baby.

 My stomach twists into a knot because I wish I loved him. I’ve tried, I’ve tried so hard, but those feelings are just not there. It can’t be forced, and I don’t want to hurt him. He’s the first person I’ve dated in a very long time, and maybe I just wasn’t ready. But I also shouldn’t stay with him if I can’t reciprocate his feelings.

 I know he’s irritated that I haven’t said it, but I just don’t feel that way about him. I toss my phone in the cup holder with a sigh. I thought Austin was my chance at a do-over, but I’m quickly realizing he’s not—I’ve just been fooling myself. Hoping that I could feel for him the way I used to feel for…well, that’s not important.

 Once I reach my place, I let myself inside and hang my bag on the hook by the front door. I kick off my black ballet flats and head into the kitchen.

 I preheat the oven and pull out the marinating chicken breasts and flip them in the bowl they’re marinating in. The tangy scent of the teriyaki is making my mouth water. I pull out the baking dish, spray it with non-stick cooking spray, and then set it aside.

 In my bedroom, I change into a pair of black knit shorts and a faded red Harley T-shirt. In the bathroom, I brush out my honey-blonde hair and toss it up in a high ponytail. I lean forward.

 “Ugh…I look tired.” I grab some under eye patches and slap them on.

 The front door opens. “Brooke?”

 He’s early. I step out of the bathroom, smiling when I see him and the large bouquet in his hand. Gerbera daisies have always been my favorite. Austin wraps his free arm around me.

 “Sorry I was being a dick earlier.”

 I wrap my arms around his neck, smiling up at him. “You’re forgiven.”

 He kisses me deeply. His tongue brushes mine and I moan into his mouth. The oven beeps and I pull back, smiling at him.

 “I better go throw dinner in the oven.”

 In the kitchen, I put the chicken in the dish and then stick it in the oven. I put the flowers in a vase of water, leaning forward to adjust them in their vase.

 Back in the living room to snuggle with my man on the sofa. I’m just not quite ready to end this yet. Maybe he’ll snap out of his funk, and maybe I’ll fall in love with him—I guess only time will tell.


 I wait in line at Fuel to order my iced coffee that’ll get me through parent/teacher conferences today. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, and most of the parents are great. It’s just a long couple of days.

 Luckily this is the last day, and then a four-day weekend. Lord knows I need the break. I’ve always loved children and love teaching them, but it can be exhausting. Saturday, I’m having a massage and getting my hair done. A little self-care is just what I need.

 Austin is going on a boy’s trip and will be gone all weekend, which means I can do Chinese takeout and eat it in my bed while watching Vampire Diaries on Netflix…Team Damon all the way, baby. Plus, I can get caught up on my reading. I’m behind in my reading of Kristen Ashley’s latest.

 “Ma’am.” The barista pulls me from my thoughts. “What can I get you?”

 I step up to the counter. “Could I get a skinny caramel iced coffee and chocolate chip scone, please?” I hand her my money and move down the bar to where I wait for my stuff.

 When she sets it on the counter, I thank her and grab the cup and bag, and when I turn to leave, I freeze. Hank is walking in with two of his brothers. I duck into the bathroom and lean against the wall before he sees me, I hope. My heart races and my stomach turns, but I can’t stay here forever.

 Hank Burns is my ex—we began dating when we were just fifteen. We got married when we were eighteen, and it imploded when we were nineteen. It was my first heartbreak and part of the reason I just can’t love Austin.

 Knowing I can’t stay in here forever because I must get to school. I peek my head out of the bathroom and find that they’re gone, thankfully. I knew I should’ve avoided coming here, but their coffees are delicious and my favorite. It’s on the way to my school, but his body shop is just down the street.

 I hustle out of Fuel and pick up the pace to get to my car just in case he’s lingering somewhere in the parking lot. Once I’m inside my Camry, I reverse out of my parking spot and pull onto the street.

 I drive right past Hank and the boys, and I avoid looking in the rearview mirror. It’s been five and a half years, but the pain is still there like a scab that won’t fully heal because you keep picking at it.

 My heart rate slows when I finally pull into the staff parking lot and I’m able to relax. I climb out and make my way inside. In my classroom, I set my coffee and scone down and then start preparing for my day—not thinking about the man who broke my heart—no, I’m sorry, obliterated it into a million pieces.

 I’m grateful the day will go fast, and then I can go home. I enjoy meeting with the parents, especially since my kids have done brilliantly so far, but it’s so exhausting—I’d rather just teach. I pull out my phone and send a quick text to my bestie, Riley. We’ve been best friends since we met. She is also Hank’s best friend’s cousin, and that’s how we were introduced.

 She’s an Army wife and is in Germany right now and has been for the past year. It’s hard for us to connect sometimes between the kids and the time difference. We do exchange texts and emails, so that helps.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4)