June 15, 2012



Dkny shirt
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True Religion white shorts
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Steve madden booties
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Urban Outfitters zippered tote bag
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Wildfox Couture collar necklace
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Friis Company feather jewelry
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Friis Company plastic jewelry
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Bangle jewelry
$5.99 - stylesforless.com

Good In Goodbye (Fiction Series) Part Six

We landed in San Francisco; grabbed our luggage and we were home bound. We decided to head back to my place for awhile to unwind before Sheila decided to drive home.
"I'm so exhausted!" We both said, flopping down on the couch.
"If there would have been a time change, we'd have been screwed," she laughed.
"Seriously. I don't know how people do international travel all the time," I thought about some of the journalists I had met over the years that had come from other countries. They were expected to be ready to go and look alert at all times. I know I had a hard enough time adjusting to it all.
"I guess I should head home. I want to see how my pictures turn out," Sheila said excitedly. She had documented just about everything we did in Hollywood, because it was such a monumental event for both of us.
I walked Sheila out to her car, and called Carter on the way back up to my apartment. It was only his machine; my heart sank.
"Hi Carter, it's Stace. I just wanted to say that I got back safely! You can call me back if you want to. If not, just know I had a really amazing time in LA and it's something I'll never forget. Bye," I hung up.
Not even five minutes later, my phone rang. Carter. "Hello?" I answered.
"You didn't really think I wasn't gonna call back, did you?" He asked in a soft voice.
"Well...One always has to be cautious. Especially after only knowing a certain person for less than two weeks. I mean, c'mon Carter, it's common sense."
"I get common sense! But, I thought our connection ran deeper than that."
"I'm practical. I don't just go with feelings; I make pro and con lists for just about every decision I make and I lie in bed at night running through each and every possible scenario when I have to choose between two things," I explained. "Did I not tell you the story of when I was five and my parents told me to pick between a chocolate ice cream bar or a vanilla cone?"
He laughed hysterically at this one, "Oh no, you did. It was quite detailed and expansive I must say..."
"And you still find me fascinating?"
"More so than before," I could tell by his tone he was dead serious about that.
"You really are a keeper."
"How was your flight?" I don't think he heard me or he wouldn't have been so quick to change the subject.
"It was good! I got a lot accomplished," I was grinning, waiting to tell him the big news I had decided on.
"Like what?"
"Well, I decided that I'm moving to Los Angeles and I'm going to take that job offer!"
"No way! Ah, baby that's awesome!"
"You called me baby..." I commented.
"Sorry, I guess I just got a little too excited there."
"No..I like it! If that's what I am...go for it," I grinned like an idiot, as I got cozy on the couch. I turned on the TV and ended up watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith on TBS.
"It is, it is! I'm so excited for you! You're gonna be amazing out there. So many opportunities will come to you out there."
"I'm so nervous all of a sudden! When I started talking to Sheila about all the logistics of it on the plane, I really started freaking myself out. She said she'd be there for me and was like 'I'm sure if you tell Carter all about this, he'll be there for you every step of the way too.'"
"You know I will! I'll help you with the finances since I know that's not your thing. We'll find a nice apartment, I'll help you move, and it'll be great."
I let out a sigh of relief, "Thank you! I'm gonna look for some tonight and let you know if I find anything worth looking at."
"Okay. I think I'll be back in LA in a couple weeks to get ready for the Idol tour, I can check some things out..."
"I actually might be out that way too. I never know with work from day to day where I'll be."
"Then, maybe I'll get to see my favorite girl in the process."
"I hope so! But, I don't know if Hayley Williams is going to be in town that night," I teased him.
"Okay, you know who I was talking about."
"I do. But, you have to admit that it's so much more fun this way."
I could hear him give in on the other end, "Alright," he agreed.
We talked for a few more minutes, until I got an e-mail on my ipad, saying I had a new assignment.
"Babe, I've gotta go. I just got an assignment and I have a ton of stuff to catch up on before I go back to work tomorrow and give them my notice," I complained.
"You called me babe?"
"I did. Because I suppose we're at that stage now."
"I think so too! But, get to work on that and keep me posted on your job and how all that's working out."
"I will! Talk to you soon."
"Of course."
We hung up and I instantly felt better. I can't remember the last time I've talked on the phone with someone and felt like I was invincible.

The next morning, after talking with Giuliana Rancic on the phone about my new job I decided I was going to stride into the office confidently. I was going to tell my boss that I was taking that job in LA, meaning that I would no longer be working there. This had been where I'd gotten my big break, this was where I found myself as a person and as a writer. But, now it was time to say goodbye to that.
"Hi, Andrea, there's something I need to talk to you about," I explained as she set her coffee down at her desk.
"Good morning! How are you?" She gave a big smile and settled into her office chair.
"I'm doing good. How are you?" I asked politely, taking a seat as she motioned.
"Good, good. I hear you're dating Carter Danon from American Idol now?" She nudged for more information.
"Wow! News travels fast around here. Where'd you hear that?"
"Its been reported on a few sites..."
"Well, you of all people know you can't believe everything you read..." I pointed out.
She pulled out a few articles with pictures circled of us holding hands and even one of us kissing before he got into his limo.
"Oh...Okay then. From the minute we met, there was something there. We hung out basically everyday in LA. Things have moved pretty quickly for us."
"I think you two are adorable together. Is he doing anything right now?"
"He's getting ready to go on tour with the idols in a couple weeks. After they get back, he's going to sit down to write and record his own album."
"That's exciting! Are you guys official or just seeing how it plays out?"
"I don't know that we've actually said if we're official or not, but we've already said I love you..."
"Shut up!" She was completely shocked. "I would not expect that with you. The way you and Brad were together was so different. You were so practical and stiff with him."
"Yeah, this is different than anything I've ever felt before. I've been so much more open about this too and we've only known each other two weeks. How crazy is that?"
"Pretty crazy. But, I guess you can't really put a time span on love."
"I'm starting to find that out. I don't like not having that control."
"I'll bet..." She turned to her paperwork, "Alright, let's get down to business. You wanted to talk to me about something?"
I paused and thought about how to phrase what was coming next, "I've had the time of my life here at The Chronicle. I've found out who I am as a person, as a writer and as a reporter. In fact, that's how I met Carter. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've had here and all that you've entrusted to me. But, I got a job offer at E! News and that's something I've been striving for since I was at least 13 years old," I explained. She nodded and smiled graciously as I talked.
"So what do you think?" I asked, after I had finished.
"I think that's why you started working here...to get to that place where you wanted to be. I knew this wouldn't be forever when you started interning here. We'll sure miss you here, because you bring so much joy and charisma to the office, but you were destined for bigger and better things. Plus, if you move out to LA you'll be closer to your new boyfriend," she joked.
"Thank you so much for understanding!" I gushed.
"It's no problem at all. You've earned this. When are you going to be leaving?"
"In less than a month!" I said, my heart racing again at the thought of all these changes that would be happening.
"Okay, I'll start getting together a list of possible replacements and we can go over them together. Are you all caught up on your blogging assignments?"
"Yeah, I just finished the last one today and everything from LA has been posted."
"Why don't you take off now? You've put in your time and I'm sure you have plenty to do before you leave. I'll just call you in some days when I need extra help. How does that sound?"
"That sounds perfect. Thank you so much again!"
"Good luck with your future endeavors."

That night, I called Carter to fill him in on the conversation I'd had with Andrea. We brainstormed ideas of financial issues, I looked at houses in LA, and Cole talked about the possibility of also moving out to LA soon. We ran numbers, went through cases by case scenario of what's to come, and trying to come up with a possible date that we can see each other next.
"I'll be free the night of June 13th," Carter said, flipping through his calendar.
"I'll be in LA and I won't start my job until the 16th...," I said clearing some dates and re-writing events on my ipad schedule.
"Well, I think we've found our winner. I'll be there that night too!"
"I can't wait." My heart fluttered with excitement at the thought of him holding me in his arms again very soon.

Those weeks flew by faster than one of our longest talks over the phone. We were both busy with last minute details on packing; Carter had decided to rent an apartment in LA not too far away from my place and we were getting job situations figured out. Every night in between on the phone, we'd pray with each other and talk about where we were at with God, and talk about our daily devotions. I was falling more in love with God and Carter for encouraging me with my walk.
"It's amazing how much closer I've gotten with God, after meeting you. You've inspired me with my faith in ways I never imagined," I explained to him over the phone one night. I had just packed up the last of my things and was ready to make the drive to LA. The Uhaul would be coming in the morning to pick up a majority of everything else.
"I was thinking the very same thing about you the other day. It's like you've brought on these entirely different points and angles on issues I had never even given a second glance. Like about His grace the other day; us being sinners and us being born with it. God hates us because sin is in us, but loves us because of His mercy..."
"It was at that conference I went to a few months ago. We'll have to watch it together sometime, the way he put it just made total sense. I had never heard it explained like that before."
Carter and I talked a couple more hours about the Bible and plans for what we'd do when we finally made it out to LA.
"I really wanted to take you to a couple places I heard about from some of the Idol people backstage," He told me, naming off a couple beaches and restaurants.
"We don't have to do anything fancy," I told him softly, "I don't care what we do. Just as long as we're in the same city will be good enough for me."
"That'll be nice…just the two of us…But I still have something planned…"
"I figured you wouldn't take no for an answer! I guess I'll just have to learn not to ask so many questions and trust you."
"You're catching on quickly."

The day arrived. I was pulling into LA on the 101 Freeway, and into the next chapter of my life. I'd said goodbye to all of my friends at The Chronicle and that I'd made around San Francisco while I was there. Sheila was driving out to Los Angeles with me to help me unpack and get settled and would head back Monday morning. Now, I looked forward to meeting up with friends that I've made over the years at events and making new ones. My mind was replaying the last conversation Carter and I had in my head.
"I can't wait to see you, beautiful girl," Carter had said.
I didn't say anything in response to him, but I felt my heart beating faster, "I'm pretty excited to see you too!"
It had been over a month since we'd seen each other in person. We had done plenty of Skyping and FaceTime sessions, but part of me wondered if being next to each other would somehow be weird.
We arrived at my new house, which was not too far from the Santa Monica area. It had a beachy, organic vibe and instantly made me feel creative. This was going to be an adventure.

"Hi beautiful, are you ready for company?" I answered my phone to hear Carter's voice on the other line.
"Absolutely! Sheila just went out for some Chinese food, and I'm unpacking...but it's too quiet around here," I said, adjusting some frames on the mantle above the fireplace.
Just then, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to see Carter standing in front wearing a white v-neck t shirt, gray hoodie and dark jeans with converse.
"Ah! I've missed you!" I threw my arms around him and let out a shrill scream. As he held me tightly against his chest, all the fears and worries I'd had about starting over just seemed to go away.
"Oh, you have no idea..." he nestled his head into my shoulder and kissed my cheek.
"Well, you can come in," I offered as we finally let go of one another.
"Don't mind if I do," I held his hand and led him inside to give the grand tour.
"This is amazing!"
"I still have a long way to go, but I'm supposed to get the furniture for the office and dining room tomorrow. I just have to finish unpacking my room and straighten up out here tonight."
The couch was placed against the window, the TV was in the corner, and my coffee table was in the center of the room. I had placed a vase with daisies and some magazines on top. The walls had been painted a sea foam greenish blue color and there was white trim around the bottom.
"Thank you. It's my first real house, so I figured I'd go all out for it," I shrugged.
"You deserve it! You've worked hard and you've been saving up."
I sat on the couch and Carter joined me, "I've really missed you and needed you the past month. I never thought I would say that," I found myself tearing up. "Gosh, I feel like such a girl."
"Hey, it's cool. It's just me..." He smiled, trying to cheer me up, rubbing my back.
"I don't like needing people, you know that. But, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm okay with needing you. My relationship with God is starting to be where it should've been all along and that has made all the difference. I let Him take a backseat for so long and I guess that's why everything else in my life was so out of line."
"Crazy how that happens right?"
"You're telling me!"

Sheila came back with the food; we watched Mad Men on Netflix and ate. After awhile, Sheila decided to crash in my room and it was just Carter and I.
"How have you been?" Carter whispered as I lay across him on the couch.
"I've been good. I've text you or talked to you about all my drama, so there's really nothing new to report," I shrugged.
"But, it's different in person. I can see your face when you're talking about it and I can tell more of whether you're faking it or not," he gave me a suggestive look.
"What are you saying? You think I'm faking the fact that I'm okay?"
"No, I don't think you're faking it. I think you're trying to be brave for me and I'm telling you that you don't need to be. That's what I'm here for."
I gave a guilty nod. He caught me.
"You're right...Its been really tough. I know God has a plan in all of this, bringing me out here, meeting you out here, and everything I'm going to experience at E!, but it's really scary."
"I know. I'm scared to death too! But, you know what my thinking is?"
"No, what are you thinking?" The way he was smiling and looking at me made the butterflies in my stomach start flapping again.
"I'm thinking that if nothing else, maybe all of this craziness of Hollywood brought us together. We have each other to hold onto when things get a little shaky."
I took a deep breath; I didn't realize I had needed to hear that. He knew me better than anyone ever could have.
"At least I think we do...I'm not really sure where we're going right now...Because I know how I feel. But I wonder where you're at or what you're hoping for in the future?" He looked down, awkward for even asking about the whole thing. I could tell he was nervous about what I was going to say.
"I'm in love with you, Carter. You're one of my best friends and I am looking forward to the future for as long as you'll have me! You inspire me and you break me out of this mold; this rut that I've gotten myself into...I can't explain it, I just really love you," He wrapped his arms around me and kissed my head.
"I was hoping you'd say something like that, because I'm really in love with you too. People think I'm crazy when I tell them about you...One, because they don't think you really exist yet and two, because I've fallen so quickly." He didn't wait for me to say anything, he kept going. "My parents never told me or made me believe that love happens in a certain time frame or in a certain way. They know what it's like to fall in love in an unconventional way...that's what it is, isn't it?"
"It most certainly is!"

The sun came up the next morning beaming through the window of my house for the first time. I felt a rush of excitement run through me as I hopped out of bed and ran to the kitchen. Sheila was already making a breakfast that consisted of pancakes, eggs, toast and fresh orange juice.
"Wow! What is all of this?" I asked, completely surprised.
"Well, your future husband went to the store for you this morning and got stuff for breakfast. I thought I'd go ahead and make it since you've been working so hard lately. You deserve a break to enjoy this moment of being in your new house and getting focused to starting your new job!"
She scrambled some eggs and turned the pancakes over. She looked like a real pro flipping pancakes and acting like she was walking around the kitchen on a mission.
"Were you a chef in another life? Because you sure seem to know what you're doing," I sat down at the dining room table that had been delivered before I woke, staring in amazement.
"I don't think I was, but my mom and grandma used to cook all the time, so I'd help them out when I was really young."
"That's so cool! I wish I had acquired some traits like that from my relatives. I had to be the odd child and do my own thing..." I shrugged.
"We're all different," Sheila put a plate full of food in front of me and my stomach grumbled.
"I am so hungry," I dove right in with a fork, when Cole walked through the front door.
"Good morning, ladies," he cheerfully said walking straight towards me. He kissed me on the lips, even with my mouth completely full.
"Sorry," I said, mumbling through bites.
"Don't be...mmm, maple syrup," he said licking his lips and sitting down across from me at the table.
"Gross," I playfully told him, making a face.
"It looks like you're in good hands," Sheila said as she finished cleaning the kitchen. It still smelled of eggs and the sweetness of pancakes, "I should probably go pretty soon," she sighed.
"I hate to see you go," I got up to give her a hug. Carter followed my lead and did the same.
"Thank you for helping her get out here, I really appreciate it! You're an incredible friend to her and I'm glad you're in my life now by association," he gave her a heartfelt hug.
"You're one of the good ones, Carter. I have no doubt that you're going to take good care of her out here," she told him, "And she's a lot more fragile than she looks..." I heard her whisper in his ear.
I swallowed hard, wondering what he thought about that. A few minutes later, we helped Sheila with her luggage and walked her out to her car.
"Bye girl! I'll miss you so much!" I gave her another hug, before she got in the car and closed the door.
"I'll miss you too. But, you're meant to be out here where all the action is. Be sure to call me or text me whenever something exciting happens."
"I most definitely will."
"And don't forget I'm really not that far away; we're in the same state at least. If you ever need anything, I'll be out here in a heartbeat...Or however long it takes to get out here, but you know what I mean."
"I love you!" I tapped her car on the roof.
"I love you too," and she drove off. Carter and I were standing on the curb in front of my new house. In LA. So many changes and I wasn't quite sure of what to do next. I had never been in this position before.
"You okay?" Carter asked, putting his arm around my back.
"Yeah, sure...I guess?" I questioned. "To be honest, I'm not really sure what I'm doing out here."
"You're out here to follow a dream that God placed in your heart. A dream that he opened the door for just in the nick of time."
I nodded, because he was right. I had a way of jumping ahead of myself, instead of just taking it all one step at a time.
"This is why we make such a good match. I freak out, and you always seem to be able to calm me back down again. Thank you," I stood on my tiptoes to kiss him.
"You're welcome. It's what I'm here for. But, enough talk about the future, why don't we go out and explore today. I haven't spent much time in Santa Monica. Maybe you could show me the hot spots?"
"I think I can pull that off. Let me just get ready and then we can go."
Part Seven coming SOON! :)

June 14, 2012

Good In Goodbye (Fiction Series) Part Five

That night, back in the hotel room, I was talking to Sheila all about Carter and our conversation earlier as we both got ready for bed.
"He really likes you," Sheila assured me. I'm sure she could tell I was over analyzing everything from the day in my mind.
"But, I want to take it slowly. When I was in high school, I immediately started dating Brad...we hadn't really had a chance to get to know each other and build a friendship first. I don't want to make that same mistake again. And I don't want my feelings to get in the way before it's too late."
"And from the looks on his face when he's around you, I don't think he'll have any problem waiting around."
I sighed, and turned to face the window. I had shut my eyelids to fall asleep, when I saw I had a text on my phone.
"I had a lot of fun with you today. Maybe we can do it again before we leave?" Carter asked in a message.
"I was just thinking about you. I'd love that," I figured I would just be open about how I was starting to feel about him. It seemed to be pretty obvious that he had been doing that from the time we met.
For the next hour and a half, we ended up talking. It was like we'd never run out of ideas to talk about. I thought back to when I was with Brad, and how as soon as we had talked about our days at work that was about all we'd have to say. I had never realized how real a relationship could be; how it could really mess up your heart and mind if you weren't careful.
"Can I just say that I'm scared?" I asked with my heart pounding like crazy as I waited for a response.
":( What are you scared of?" he replied.
I wasn't sure that I could exactly put a finger on what I was afraid of. In fact, it was what I didn't know that scared me.
"I don't know what I'm scared of, because I don't know what's to come or where this is going."
"I know that I really like you! And I'm really looking forward to being your best friend. I know that you've been hurt and I don't want to push you into anything."
"I appreciate that. And I hope someday I'll be ready to let you in all the way!"
"I do too :) Because you're the one I've been praying for all these years," he sent back, and a flood of butterflies flapped from my head to my toes.
"I think you're the guy I've always wanted, but never thought I was good enough for," I admitted. And suddenly, it hit me that I didn't feel there was anything I had to hide with him.

The following day, Carter and I spent the day in Santa Monica. We walked around at the Third Street Promenade, grabbed some lunch at the pier, and went bike riding on the beach.
"I can't remember the last time I went to the beach," Carter told me, closing his eyes and taking in the sounds of the ocean.
"I can't imagine life without the beach," I told him, "This is how I unwind and get away from it all."
"Well, you're lucky because you're in San Francisco. I'm in Tennessee, so it's a little farther for me," he nudged."
"Maybe that's an excuse to get you over to my neck of the woods then."
"I don't need an excuse to see you," I felt our bodies getting closer in space as we walked next to each other along the beach after we turned our bikes in.
The sun was setting and was growing dimmer just above the water. There was an orange glow filling the sky; it was romantic.
I felt him grab my hand, and I intertwined it with his. It was the first time since Brad that I had ever let myself get this close to anyone, and it was terrifying.
"You okay?" he asked, looking me in the eyes.
Strangely enough I didn't feel anxious or annoyed, I felt calm around him. His holding my hand made me feel safer than I ever had before, "I'm almost perfect."
We went for several minutes without saying anything, just watching the sun set and enjoying life. I didn't have to fill the silence with some awkward conversation about the weather or my day. It's like we understood each other, in a way that I've never been able to decode guys. Carter is different, and I had to remind myself of that before I went back to my old way of thinking.
He was calling me everyday, making sure I was alright if (on the rare occasion) we didn't hang out, we'd grab dinner, we'd Skype or we'd just walk around LA Live at night if nothing else. It scared me that I was falling fast again. True, it was a different guy and a completely different relationship, but it worried me that I was moving too fast again. I went from having the time of my life with this guy I thought I was falling in love with, to completely freaking myself out.

"I can't do this Carter," I suddenly found myself saying one night. We had just gotten into his car and started driving down the 101-s, heading back into LA from Santa Monica, where we had gone for dinner. The radio was playing , and was asking me about my family. I'd told him I hadn't had much time to talk to them lately with work events keeping me busy this time of year.
"What?" His eyes turned a darker shade of blue, and I sensed a sadness in them.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to come out the way I said it," I explained. I was frazzled and my mind was running everywhere now. I tried to collect my thoughts and figure out where I was going with this.
"I just don't get it. We've been having this really great time together and I think we're moving along nicely...I just didn't see this coming. If there's a problem with something I'm doing, just talk to me about it. You know I'm here."
"I guess I just don't know how to do that," I admitted quietly.
"Alright, we're gonna take a little detour." Carter switched lanes and kept driving where we would've taken the turnoff.
"Carter, where are you taking me?" I demanded annoyed. When I got annoyed, he didn't feed into what I wanted, he made me work past that. I admired him for it.
"Chill out, you'll find out in a bit. We're almost there."
"How do you even know where you're going? You're not from here."
"Neither are you. I've had some downtime to explore and see some things before I met you, okay? Trust me. I know where I'm going."

We arrived at this garden area, someplace far away from the city. I had never been on this side of town. He came around quickly and opened the door for me. I stepped out, and he took my hand; leading me through a forest to reveal this romantic little pathway. There was a fountain in the center, lampposts lining the sidewalk and benches along the way. It was either a horror movie waiting to happen or something out of one of those cheesy chick flicks I made fun of Sheila for watching. I placed my face on Carter's shoulder as we walked, and I felt him hold me tighter with his other arm.
"What are we doing here?" I questioned.
"It's no wonder you're a journalist with all the investigating you're doing here," he chuckled to himself.
"Well you do a complete 180 and bring me out here, what am I supposed to do?"
"Now, can you sympathize with me from my perspective in the car?" He asked.
"Fair enough…I see what you were doing there." 
We walked a little way and finally sat on a bench close to the fountain. You could hear the water trickling down, and it felt peaceful. I put my hands in my jacket as the breeze picked up and held my arms closer to my sides.
"I just wanted us to talk. Away from all the chaos and commotion of…down there. I know it doesn't really have anything to do with us…not yet…but I need you to talk to me. What's on your mind? Why are you so scared?" He rubbed my shoulder, and let go, giving me time to process.
I took in a breath of fresh air, and began, "This...what's happening between the two of us...is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I want you to know that."
His eyes were glowing and he gave me a sweet smile.He waited for me to go on.
"I'm scared because this has never happened to me."
"But, you were engaged..."
"Yeah, but that was different. I told you all about having the 'perfect' relationship. That, we had down. We could do the whole relationship thing in our sleep. We worked out every problem logically, we worked out everything perfectly. I told him what I thought he needed to hear and he told me all the things I wanted to hear. Love isn't logical, it doesn't always make sense, there's not always a reason for everything happening, and when I met you...It hit me, that a lot of times it's two of the most unlikely people that possibly for no reason, other than the Big Man upstairs needs a little humor, come together and make it work."
"So, are you gonna help me make this work?" He asked me seriously. I knew he had taken everything I said to heart.
"I am going to do whatever it takes to make this work. I'm just sad that tomorrow we both leave." I felt this emptiness in the pit of my stomach.
"Hey, it's okay! I'll be in the area for the Idol tour and I'm sure you'll cover something out here at some point when I am. We'll make it happen, I promise." He put his arms around me, and kissed the top of my head.
"I love you, Stacey. It's gonna take a lot more than distance to change that for me."
As if all the stars were aligned and everything had finally clicked in my heart, "I love you too, Carter," came flooding out of my mouth so effortlessly.
With no hesitation whatsoever, he gently lifted my chin and kissed me out of the blue. It wasn't planned, it wasn't expected, but it was perfect in every sense of the word. If the butterflies had been fluttering around and my heart had been pounding earlier, this sure hadn't helped it.

I tiptoed back into the room a little after one. I sent a quick text to Carter, letting him know I'd made it in safely and crawled into bed.
"So, have you been out all this time with Carter? Because if so...I want ALL the deets!" Sheila said, turning over to face me.
"Sheila....He told me he loved me...." cue the shrieking on her part, and even a little on my end. Which I never do.
"And I actually said it back..." I said almost in tears, because it sank in the significance of that moment in the garden between the two of us.
"SHUT.UP!" she exclaimed."You did mean it, right?"
"Yes. I meant it more than I've ever meant it in my life. It's like it just flowed from my heart to my lips. He took me to this garden place far away from the city. I'm still not even sure of the name or anything, but that's besides the point. We talked and he asked me if I would work on this relationship with him, and there would have to be something bigger than distance that makes him stop loving me...and then after I told him I loved him, he just...."
"He what? Oh my gosh, tell me woman!"
"He kissed me!" And the squealing started up again.
"I am so happy for you. I told you he was the one."
"I'm gonna keep praying about it, but I think he could be too. He says that I'm the one he's been praying for. Now, I just have to hope that goes both ways."
"Well, at least right now is wonderful if nothing else."
"Exactly," I nodded, with the rush of excitement dying off, and exhaustion coming in full force. "I'm ready for bed, but we'll talk more in the morning." I settled under the sheets again and closed my eyes.
Morning. It was really going to be hard to say goodbye after having such a wonderful night with him. We had established so much, only to let it fizzle into what?

"You have a visitor," Sheila was shaking me awake the next morning. The sun wasn't quite shining yet and she hadn't even started getting ready. I knew it had to be early.
"Huh?" I was about to roll over to sleep again, when Carter peeked his head through the door.
"Hi there," he whispered.
I sat up and wiped my eyes, while brushing my hair down. I wasn't expecting company so early.
"Meet me in the hall in a few minutes, okay?"
"Okay..." I nodded. "Did he say what this is about?" I nervously asked Sheila as I heard the door shut behind him.
"Nope. I'm just as confused as you are."
I shrugged, did a quick check in the mirror, and brushed my teeth. I threw some jeans and Ugg boots on with a Lakers sweatshirt and met Cole in the hallway, per his request.
"What's going on?" I asked him.
"Good morning, Sleepyhead," he pulled me into his arms and gave me a kiss.
"Hi to you too. If only all morning greetings could start like this," that didn't sound right, "Uh, I meant that differently in my head."
"It's early, I'll let it slide."
"C'mon let's go."
"Now where are you taking me?" I started to groan.
"You're not seriously already complaining are you?" he shot me a look that told me to stop.
"You're right, sorry!"
"Well, I leave for the airport in a couple hours and I wanted to spend some time with you."
"Aww! You didn't have to...You're probably exhausted too."
"Nah, I can sleep on the plane."
"We're not going anywhere fancy are we?"
"I can see how you'd be confused..." he gave me a sarcastic look, and I glanced at his wardrobe. It consisted of a sweatshirt, skinny jeans and converse.
"Oh...okay..." I grabbed his hand and we headed downstairs.
The morning breeze hit my face as we opened the door leading to the parking garage.
"Another famous excursion, I see?"
"I want to watch the sun rise with you."
"No way! I've always wanted to do that, but I guess I've been too busy sleeping to put forth the effort."
"See? I'm expanding your horizons just a little bit at a time."
"Right, right...."I rolled my eyes, "I wouldn't get too comfortable with that just yet."
We drove through Starbucks and hit the freeway. We got off a little before the exit to Dodger Stadium.
I let out a gasp; Carter laughed at me from the driver's seat and kept going along.
"Did you already figure it out, because you just can't stand the idea of another surprise?" he asked.
"Possibly! Not because I meant to, I just..think I've been here before." I smiled with giddiness stirring inside of me.
We drove a little further; up and around a hill to reveal Griffith Observatory. My eyes grew wide with wonder, as the lights of the city were still aglow in the distance. And a crack of dawn was starting to rise up. Cole parked the car and we walked around.
"You are my hero!" I told him, taking everything in. I could see the downtown LA buildings, the outline of Dodger Stadium, and the Hollywood sign behind us.
"Well, hero's stretching it a little, but I'm glad you're happy," he laughed at me, "You're such a dork!"
"HEY! There's no need for name calling right now, this is supposed to be a nice moment."
I put both hands around my coffee cup to warm my hands up. The breeze picked up again, and a shiver went through my spine. "Brrr," I let out, shaking a little.
Carter came up from behind me and put his arms around me, "What's the number one thing on your bucket list?" he randomly asked.
"What is this A Walk To Remember?" I asked, giving him a hard time.
"No...because that was a different kind of bucket list. I'm just curious with you..."He shrugged.
"Hmm..." I thought for a minute and looked out over the horizon, as we walked up to the fence. We were facing the LA buildings, waiting for the sun to come up; everything felt possible in that moment. "I guess I'd just like to make a difference in the world; maybe through a magazine publication or my own talk show and spread God's word through them."
"I'm really surprised you don't have a show already. You're so likeable! You could easily do a something like Ellen where you have entertainment, but you also help people out with things they need. But, right now your life is a testimony. The way you treat people and talk to them on the red carpet, you're doing your ministry right there. The way you were talking to me that night, you weren't afraid to talk about God."
"You know, I've thought about that a lot. I guess when the right opportunity comes, it'll happen. Until then, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. I guess I'm on the right track after all," I smiled. "What about you?"
"I guess mine is along the same lines. I just want to put music out that'll bring people closer to God, even if it only reaches about five people."
"You've done that already with Idol. You're gonna go to places and do things you've never dreamed of. God's pretty crazy like that! He knows our hearts and He knows the things that we desire, even more so than we do!"
"Exactly! We think we have everything figured out, but we're usually so far off, but in the best ways."
"Amen to that. I never could've imagined how my life would've turned out. Especially the past couple weeks; meeting you has shown me that God's not done with me yet. He still has so many things in store that had never even crossed my mind, until now."
"Like what?"
I hadn't told anyone else that I had been thinking about this lately or the job I had been offered, but something told me it was okay to get feedback. "I got a job offer at E! News. I'd be a correspondent for them, going out on location some and gathering up news as it comes in to blog about it. That would mean moving out here…" I shrugged.
"No way! Why have you been holding this back?"
"Well, you know how sometimes God gives you these things because He trusts them with you?" He nodded that he understood that," Well…this was one of those things that just needed to be between him and I for awhile. I've been praying about it and I think I'm ready to take that jump."
"Absolutely! That'd be such a wonderful opportunity. I think you'd have so many doors open out here, you would definitely stand out here. San Francisco is a beautiful place and seems like its been good to you…"
"But?" I asked with a sly grin. I knew it was coming.
"But, certain things are only meant for a few seasons until better things come along."
"I agree. It's like I found out who I was again after Brad and I split up. And I never would've met you." I could feel a tear coming to the surface; I tried to push it away.
"Hey, hey…Everything happens for a reason. I think either way, we would've met and somehow, someway it would've worked out for us. Don't look back, just keep looking forward to what's ahead."
"I like that thinking better," I took a sip of my coffee and glanced back out at the view. "Can you believe how breathtaking this is?" I asked in amazement.
"It's moments like this that take your breath away." 
"Thank you for bringing me up here! I can't think of a better way to spend the last minutes together."
Carter pulled me into a hug; he was warm and we were so close I could smell his Armani cologne. I took one last breath of it to remember when I was missing him. There's something about a scent that just makes you feel closer to that person.
We stood there watching the sun come up over Los Angeles, dreaming and talking about the future with one another. We got into some pretty deep talk about God and more of our beliefs, how we had been raised in church, and what we'd been called to do.

"This is it, I guess,"I said, as we stood out on the sidewalk, waiting for Carter's limo to pick him up.
"Nah, this isn't it. It's just for right now...I'll work something out and I'll visit you soon, okay?" He gave me a hug and rubbed my back to reassure me that he would be there.
"We never even talked about what this means now though. We've kissed, we said i love you...Now what?" I asked all these questions as they popped up in my head.
"What do you want it to mean?" He kept holding onto my hand when I pulled back a little.
"I'm not sure. I don't think it's fair to you to be holding you back when your career is really getting ready to take off. I'm already settled into that."
"Is that what you're afraid of?"
"Well, that and I see the way girls were screaming for you at the finale. Any one of them would be extremely lucky to have you," my insecurities were starting to get the best of me.
"I'm sure they're all really great girls...who were made for other guys, because I'm looking at mine right here. You don't have to worry about me wanting to date other people or even the career getting in the way. I'll work it out to make sure that I can do both; spend time with you and work."
I felt a nerdy smile coming on, because I was so happy. I giggled quietly to myself.
"Call me when you get back to Tennessee, okay?" I nodded, glancing away as I wiped a few tears from my cheek.
"Of course! I should be back by noon," He shrugged, as if this leaving thing was no big deal.
"Alright, I think that's about the time we're leaving, but I'll be back in Frisco in 30-45 minutes, so I'll call you back."
"Yeah, you can call me back whenever..." He stuck his hands in his pockets, and kicked his feet around.
A black limo pulled up a few seconds later and a chauffeur stepped out to help Carter with his luggage. He put them in the trunk, said hi to both of us and returned to the driver's seat.
"I love you, Stacey. Don't worry about any of this okay? You're gonna sit on the plane ride going over and over what we said or did or what we should have talked about..but, don't! I'll figure it out."
"You make everything feel so much better, can I just say that?"
"You can," he winked playfully.
"I love you, Carter. Have a safe flight," I stood on my tiptoes and threw my arms around his neck to kiss him.
"Wow! Maybe this long distance thing will pay off."
"You're just feeling extremely witty today aren't you?" I asked, when we finally came up for air.
"What can I say..."
"We better not keep your driver waiting any longer," I pointed, realizing he had been waiting for a few minutes now.
"Yeah, I need to go," he gave me one last kiss, as I held onto his sweatshirt tightly. "Bye, beautiful!"
We finally let go of one another and he climbed in the car. I headed into the hotel before I saw him drive off. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. I returned back to the room, to see Sheila putting on makeup at the vanity and putting last minute items in her suitcase.
"I was beginning to worry about you!" Sheila joked, zipping her suitcase and rolling it by the door.
"We went to Starbucks to get coffee, then he took me to Griffith Park to watch the sun come up. We talked for, like, two hours straight about God, our dreams, and just all these things. It was THE best date I have ever been on."
"You are seriously glowing!"
"Ah, I can't help it. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me get out of my rut. I am in love with that boy," I gave her a huge hug and ran to the bathroom to get ready.

I decided on jean shorts, a light PINK sweater, with converse. I pulled my hair into a low messy bun and threw a fedora on.I hurried to finish packing; throwing my toiletries, dirty clothes, and laptop into the right places. I zipped up suitcase and grabbed my carry on.
"I'm ready to go!" And Sheila was too. We checked out and off we went to LAX.
As we drove down the freeway, I started thinking of how I WAS ready for a change. I was ready financially and emotionally to move to LA for good and start a new chapter.
As we boarded the plane and settled into our seats, I decided now was as good a time as any to tell Sheila about my big news.
"So, there's something I need to talk to you about..."I started. People were continuing to file in and place their belongings in the overhead bins.
"Ok, go for it," she said, not seeming to be fazed by it.
"Alright, well...About a month ago, I got a job offer out here in LA for E! News. I wasn't so sure, so I've been praying and doing a lot of thinking about it. I told Cole this morning as we talked about our futures and what that really meant for us...He thinks I should go for it. What do you think?"
"Are you serious?! I say, you've been working your butt off for something like this and more than likely your boy will be moving out here soon, so it's a win/win," she squealed.
"Then, I guess it's decided," I smiled, but it quickly turned to panic mode, "But, now I have to find a place to live, check into the job more, think about how much more it's going to cost so I can..."
Sheila stopped me before I could continue, "Hey, I'm here for ya. If you need anything just let me know! And I'm sure if you tell Carter he'll be there for you too."
"Yeah, I'm sure he will," I settled back into my sleep and shut my eyes. I thought of the past couple weeks and how things had drastically changed. I thought of where all of this was going and how things around me were going to change even more. But, no matter what God was going to take care of me.