BREAKING THE MOON is the tumultuous tale of heartache and love, and how sometimes it’s just not enough.
With this second book in the DREAM CATCHERS SERIES, Sandy Lo continues Haley’s journey of self-discovery as she is faced with new obstacles all while trying to understand the tormented past of her boyfriend, Jordan.
In the beginning, love is as easy as breathing. After almost two years of dating, Haley and Jordan are the perfect couple. They’re young, carefree and on the brink of their dream careers. Life is perfect until their world is turned upside down by unexpected news: Haley is pregnant. The couple struggle with the news as well as Jordan’s demons and concepts on family. Will they be able to pick up the pieces after their world shatters?
The sound of a baby crying rang through my head like church bells tolling. She was my baby; making the most beautiful sound I have ever heard; though haunting at the same time. The sound was shrill and consistent, as if the baby needed to be picked up. Somehow I knew the baby was a she.
Daddy’s little girl.
I couldn’t find her no matter where I looked. Times Square. Battery Park. Columbus Circle. Every direction I turned was a mistake.
I was wandering New York City looking for someone I wasn’t sure even existed. Every turn I made seemed to bring me further away from the crying. The city was desolate; no honking horns, no tourists. The lights of the buildings and streetlights were far too dim to be accurate.
I turned onto a dead end street and the last person I wanted to see was standing there; with her long, flowing chestnut hair and dramatic make-up. She looked plastic. Had she always looked that way? Why was I ever attracted to someone like Bippy Reynolds?
“She’s gone, Charlie.”
Bippy used my birth name—the name I tried so hard to escape; my father’s name.
“Where’s my baby?”
I was frantic now as I stared at my ex-girlfriend. The same ex-girlfriend who killed the life we made before it could even be born.
“What did you do to her?” I snarled with pure hatred.
“I did nothing,” Bippy smirked. “Haley killed her.”
She laughed maliciously at her statement before vanishing into thin air. The baby’s cries stopped as soon as Bippy disappeared.
Her words made no sense to me. Haley would never hurt someone intentionally—especially not an innocent child. My girlfriend wouldn’t deceive me the way Bippy had.
Now, I could hear the sobbing of an adult.
I turned around and she was sitting on the floor in hysterics. Her blonde hair was matted down and when she looked up at me, her blue eyes were bloodshot. Her fair skin was splotchy from crying and my heart broke seeing her so upset.
“I’m so sorry, Jordan. I can’t be with you anymore.”
I woke up startled. My breathing was shallow and I turned to look at Haley lying next to me, thankful she was in my bed. It was just a dream—no, a nightmare. I wondered if there was any meaning behind it, but like I had told Haley when she kept having bad dreams about public nudity, it was just her anxiety.
Of course, her anxiety was obvious and on the surface. She was afraid to stand up for herself and follow her heart.
I suppose I have anxiety, too, though I bury mine pretty deep; covering it with bitterness and brushing everything off with a swipe of my hand.
I will always feel a hole in my heart, knowing I could have been a father by now. Somehow I thought having that child Bippy aborted five years ago would right all the wrongs my father did to me. I would turn things around by being the complete opposite of a dad that Chuck Ashton was to me. It was stupid, and I realize that, but my father and Bippy conspiring against me to secretly destroy my child will always cause me pain.
I placed my head down on the pillow and watched my girlfriend sleeping. She healed my heart in so many ways and I’m so grateful for her. I thought I was incapable of love. Haley makes me feel alive inside, as much as I pretend to be on the outside.
I checked my watch before looking back down at my last final for the term. I relatively enjoyed all of my courses at the New England School of Photography, except my practical business & marketing class. Creativity and technique was much more enticing to me than practicality and money. However, my business course was over now. I circled B for the last question and immediately stood up with my test.
Laney glanced up at me and smiled, holding her finger up to tell me she’d be done in a minute. She and I became friends after working on a group project together two semesters ago.
Unlike the rich overcrowded party institution I used to go to, this school was so much better suited for me. Class sizes were intimate, yet the building was spacious enough that I didn’t feel trapped inside. As far back as I can remember I have always had mild to severe claustrophobia tacked onto a minute case of social anxiety.
Needless to say, I had trouble making friends. I was in a large, overpriced university for two years and managed to make just one friend: Tasha Torres. She still remains to be my best friend, even after I transferred. In fact, we now share an apartment together in Boston.
At my new school, I was able to make a handful of friends that included Laney and her twin brother Luke. The students were all free-spirited and dedicated to their art rather than drugs, alcohol and getting laid. Well, of course, that last thing wasn’t entirely true.
Laney and Luke both were alike in their athleticism along with their blonde hair and blue eyes. Other than that, they are fairly different.
Laney had her fair share of bed buddies since I’ve known her, but she is young and entitled. Luke worries about her. He isn’t nearly as carefree as his sister is with dating. He hadn’t dated a single person since I met him. He is a bit on the quiet side with a sweet smile, and I’m sure if he flashed it at some girl, she’d be won over.
When you’re in love, you want everyone else to be in love as well. Not everyone is lucky enough to meet the man of her dreams at twenty-years-old, like I had. I know I am smug about my amazing boyfriend. I just can’t help it.
Despite our ability to constantly bicker, after a year and a half of dating him, I am still smitten with Jordan Walsh.
After handing in my exam and slipping into my winter coat, I waited outside of the classroom for Laney. As any other typical college student with a few minutes of nothing to do but wait, I pulled out my iPhone and checked Facebook.
I updated my status about officially starting winter break before noticing an update to Tortured’s fan page.
New single “Haley’s Letter” is now available on iTunes! Full album coming out in March! Show some love!
I blushed at the mere mention of my song. To this day, I still couldn’t believe someone—let alone this amazing musician AKA my boyfriend—wrote such a beautiful song about me. And now, people can buy it? Just like they would a Michael Jackson or Beatles song? Insane!
As I contemplated “liking” Tortured’s status, wondering if that would be too vain of me, Laney walked out of the classroom.
“How’d you do?”
I shrugged, “Passable. You?”
“I did okay,” she shrugged as well, as we began to walk toward the exit.
Laney’s light blonde hair was sitting on top of her head in a messy bun. She wore her black framed glasses, pajama pants and a Red Sox sweatshirt. It was obvious she rolled out of bed before taking the exam. I didn’t have the luxury of looking that casual.
Jordan and I are driving up to Vermont in less than an hour. We are spending Christmas at Foster’s Ski Lodge—although my name is Haley Foster, my family doesn’t own it. However, my family invested enough money in the lodge that old Wilson Bartlett—my grandfather’s best friend—named it after him.
The ski lodge is about forty-five minutes south of my hometown of Bakersfield. As far back as I can remember we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas there with the Eriksson family. Sadly, I didn’t truly appreciate the place or my parents’ friends until more recently. Sure, Mr. and Mrs. Eriksson were always sweet to me, but they were plotting with my parents to hook me up with their son, Christian.
Oh how I despise Christian Eriksson! Who would have ever thought he’d wind up engaged to my best friend? He popped the question to Tasha about three weeks ago and to my surprise, she said yes!
Tasha isn’t exactly the tied-down so young marrying kind of girl. I figured she’d want to live wildly, untamed for a few more years, before settling down. Her response to that was simple.
“I will never be tamed.”
Tasha was one of a kind and I worried her relationship with Christian would somehow change that. I am very pleased to see that isn’t the case, for the most part. Though, Christian still seems to keep me on his radar a bit too much for my taste—and Jordan’s taste. Christian isn’t too pleased I was dating his cousin. Jordan was the black sheep in his family. Christian thought it would just be a fling.
“Holy crap!” Laney shouted as we walked outside, the cold air instantly biting at my cheeks.
“What?” I asked, pulling the zipper up higher on my coat.
She was shivering as she held her phone, looking at the screen.
“Your song is on sale!”
I blushed once more, though with the cold, I’m sure Laney couldn’t notice.
“I know,” I smiled.
“I’m going to buy it as soon as I get back to my apartment!” Laney grinned. “I’ve been dying to hear it again since Tortured performed it on MTV2.”
“You’re such a fan, Lane,” I rolled my eyes jokingly.
Lately, it was difficult meeting someone who isn’t a fan of Tortured. When I had met the band two summers ago, they were this cool little indie-New York City band with a strong following.
They’re not so little and indie. With over 700, 000 sales on the band’s three-song EP released last year, they are surpassing their record label’s expectations ten-fold!
“Ugh, don’t play it cool,” Laney rolled her eyes and folded her arms over her chest as we began to walk. “You are the biggest dork when it comes to Tortured…and Jordan,” she grinned at me.
I smiled, “I am supportive of my boyfriend.”
“You are obsessed with Tortured’s music, just admit it.”
“Okay, I am. So?”
“It’s just funny,” Laney shrugged.
I sighed, “Jordan thinks so, too. I think I creep him out sometimes.”
Jordan was completely freaked out when he came over mine and Tasha’s apartment a couple of days ago and saw the Tortured poster I have up in my room for the first time.
He insisted I take it down when he was sleeping over. He claims he can’t make love to me while looking at a huge picture of his band mates on my wall. I think he’s just being modest. Jordan puts up an arrogant front, but I see the humility behind it.
He is so grateful for his fans and his band, and me. Sometimes I can’t help to wonder what kind of temptations there have been on the road while I’m sitting in school, however. How many girls were waiting around after every show? Girls who have fallen in love with Jordan Walsh like I have?
Then I remember, he never wrote them a song. He never wrote anyone a song, but me. I can only trust in his feelings for me. I can also trust in who he is and who he never wants to be—his father.
That alone comforts me that I will never be stuck with someone like Chuck Ashton—an uptight, deceitful ass. His son couldn’t be more opposite, and I was proud he overcame his upbringing to be the person he is today. I just hope he feels the same about me. Then again, my parents aren’t so bad. They have a few traits I wouldn’t mind acquiring—like their unwavering love for each other.
“Have fun at the lodge,” Laney said, sliding her gloves on.
“And you try to remain patient with your dad’s girlfriend,” I warned, wagging a finger in her face.
Laney pouted, “But she’s so ditzy.”
“She could be worse,” I shrugged.
“You’re lucky your parents are still together,” she sighed. “I feel like I’m totally betraying my mom by spending Christmas with Dad and his new concubine, as she calls her. Luke just goes with the flow; like Mom’s feelings don’t matter.”
“Luke loves your mother just as much as you do. He’s just not vicious like you,” I teased. “I’m sure your mom understands.”
“Give me a hug and stop sulking.”
Laney hugged me before heading toward the café she was a permanent fixture at. I had to smile thinking about Laney. She was a child at times—stubborn and helpless. That used to be my role—but I hated the helpless part. I will always be stubborn in some respect.
Being friends with Laney reminds me how proud I am of myself for taking control of my life. She didn’t seem to want to change those traits about herself. She enjoyed being a daddy’s girl and gave each and every one of his girlfriends a hard time. She also loved to play her parents against one another. I assumed it was some need for attention she missed out on as a child.
I turned to my left and Luke was walking toward me, his breath showing as he practically jogged.
“Hey Luke,” I smiled.
“Do you need a ride? I could drive you.”
I smiled, “Thank you, but I’m good.”
“I’m glad I got to see you before the holidays,” he said, reaching into his black messenger bag.
“Me too. You just missed Laney—“
I was cut off by Luke handing me a wrapped present.
“Merry Christmas,” he smiled.
“Luke…” I practically stuttered. “I didn’t get you anything.”
“That’s okay. It’s not much. I saw it and thought you’d like it,” he shrugged. “Open it.”
I pulled my gloves off and unwrapped the present quickly. Luke took the torn wrapping paper from me and tossed it in a nearby recycling can as I pulled open the box. Inside was a photo album. “A Picture Says a Thousand Words” was printed on the front. I grinned.
“I love it!” I said, hugging him. “Thank you.”
The roar of the familiar engine told me Jordan was coming down the street. I turned to the left, and sure enough his 1983 Mustang GT Hatchback was pulling up to the curb. He purchased the car with his first paycheck from Struck Records.
Unlike his best friend, Danny, who bought the latest, most expensive sports car with the money, Jordan wanted a fixer-upper. He’s had the car for a year, and still the dusty red and black paint is chipping, the engine sounds like it’s choking, and the passenger side window doesn’t open. With me being claustrophobic, it was almost unbearable.
I only had my driver’s permit, though, and didn’t know where I would be able to park my car at school anyhow. Luke had to park about six blocks away!
Besides, I was more than a bit afraid to be behind the wheel. When Jordan was in town, though he moaned and grumbled about having to get up early, he volunteered to chauffeur me to and from school any time he could.
I could hear the music from the radio at a decent level as Jordan reached over to open the door for me from the inside.
I turned back to Luke.
“Thanks again,” I hugged him once more. “I’ll call you when I get back to Boston. Merry Christmas.”
I turned toward the car and Jordan offered Luke a wave before I slid into the passenger seat. His green eyes looked tired as he leaned in to kiss my lips softly. God, how I missed him! Being in Tortured, who are already on the rise, has left Jordan little time to come “home”, though I know he really didn’t consider Boston home.
Jordan was and always will be a New Yorker at heart. I have grown quite fond of the city myself, but I’m sure that mostly had to do with the pleasant memories of falling in love with Jordan there: seeing Tortured perform live at the Canal Room, kissing him for the first time on top of the Empire State Building, sleeping in his arms almost every night.
New York was also where I found myself—the real me, not the Vermont rich girl who did everything she was told and who was afraid to live.
“How’d your exam go?” Jordan asked as I buckled my seatbelt.
“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but still hard,” I explained as he drove down Commonwealth Avenue.
“So you passed?”
“I am fairly confident I passed.”
“Your Christmas gift will be well-deserved then.”
Jordan smiled; a closed mouth smile. He was being tight-lipped about the whole gift thing, but acting conspicuous at the same time.
“You only have one term left of college. How does it feel?”
“Scary,” I sighed.
He rolled his eyes, “And there it is—some things never change.”
He of course was referring to my perpetual state of worry from when we first met. Thankfully, he was exaggerating; my worries have subsided tremendously over the years, but at the same time, I’m still me.
I stuck my tongue out at him and noticed the tattered sleeve on his grey long sleeve shirt.
“You’re right, some things never do change,” I played with the worn material.
Jordan winked at me and flashed his trademark smirk. I shook my head to myself and glanced out the window.
You can give this boy all the name brand, high-quality clothes in the world, but somehow, he will only take the tags off what he needs and wear it down to nothing.
Despite Jordan coming from money, he did his best not to rely on it for unnecessary things. He hated how his father threw his wealth around, and even now earning his own money, Jordan banked almost all of it.
I admire him for it, and sometimes wondered if he looked at my luxuries as superficial. Granted, I only really spent money on trips to visit him or on new clothes. I have become quite the shop-a-holic thanks to my fashion designer friend, Meghan. She recently sent me a dress for New Year’s Eve—which she refused to charge me for.
Meghan constantly says she owes her career to me. She just turned eighteen—and yes, she already has a career! All I did to help her was brag about one of her dresses to socialite, Bippy Reynolds, and before we knew it, Bippy asked Meghan to design a clothing line for her.
Oh, Bippy Reynolds.
A large part of me despised her. Not because she treated me like an outcast whenever my parents forced me to hang out with her or that she looked her nose down upon just about everyone she came across. That didn’t truly bother me or surprise me about a spoiled rich brat like Bippy. No, my dislike of her was all about Jordan.
They dated in high school, and I later found out Bippy got pregnant. Without Jordan’s consent, she, along with the help of his father, went to a clinic and aborted the child.
Jordan had fought hard against this decision, prior to the abortion. They purposely went behind his back, and he never forgave either of them for it. Not that I blame him.
Fortunately, I hadn’t come across Bippy since I ran into her in New York almost a year and a half ago. That would change soon, though. I promised Meghan I would attend the debut of Bippy’s fashion line. I am doing it entirely for Meghan’s sake.
“Why are you so quiet?” Jordan snapped me out of my angry thoughts of Bippy.
“I’m thinking about Fashion Week.”
“Haley, you don’t have to go,” he sighed.
“I’m doing it for Meghan.”
“She would understand.”
“I know, but it would be like me not being there for your album release party.”
“I would understand, too,” he took my hand, and rubbed my knuckles.
I smiled at him.
“I wouldn’t miss your big day or Meghan’s.”
“I’m sorry I’m not going with you, but—“
“I don’t want you there,” I interrupted him.
He laughed, “Thanks.”
“You know what I mean,” I sighed. “No one wants to see Bippy—not even Meghan, but unfortunately, this is her big break.”
Jordan nodded. Though he hasn’t said in so many words, he feels working for Bippy makes Meghan a sellout.
“What did Luke give you?”
I was wondering when Jordan was going to ask about that. He won’t admit it, but he has a bit of a jealous streak when it comes to Luke. He claims Luke has a crush on me, and maybe he does, but he is a nice guy that I like having as a friend.
“A really nice photo album,” I smiled.
“Did you get him anything?”
“No—I didn’t know we were exchanging. I didn’t even get Laney anything—she always complains about money, so I didn’t want to make her feel bad.”
We pulled into the parking lot of the nursing home a few minutes later. Jordan’s mother, Maggie, hasn’t been doing well lately. We have been taking her out on day trips whenever Jordan is able to, and things were going well for a while.
However, this past Thanksgiving, the staff wouldn’t let us take Maggie out. She had some kind of seizure that morning and has been having them regularly ever since. Her behavior has become erratic at times, but her face still lights up when she sees Jordan.
Unlike anyone else in his family, Maggie doesn’t call him Charlie. She was against following in the Ashton family tradition by naming him Charles J. Ashton. She was the one who began calling him Jordan in the first place.
The roar of the engine dulled before completely turning off. Jordan turned toward me and pulled me into a fierce kiss, surprising me.
“What was that for?” I blushed, seeing an elderly woman staring at us through the windshield.
“I just want you to know how much I appreciate you coming with me to see my mom all the time and visiting her when I can’t,” he smiled.
I returned his smile and kissed him softly.
“I love you and your mom.”
“We love you, too.”
We got out of the car and Jordan reached for my hand as we walked into the facility.
“Is Tasha working today?”
“She headed up to Vermont early to look at catering halls with Christian,” I explained.
Tasha volunteered at the nursing home for the past three years. Jordan always felt comforted by her looking after Maggie. He hated the idea of his forty-five-year-old mother in a nursing home which was a borderline mental facility. She just never recovered from the nervous breakdown she had eight years ago after Jordan’s father left her.
Just another reason Jordan resented his father.
“I still can’t believe Tasha is marrying my cousin,” he laughed. “Does she know what she’s doing?”
He wasn’t laughing out of humor; it was out of pure incredulity.
I shrugged, “She says she does.”
Jordan and Christian weren’t exactly supportive of each other. They got along for mine and Tasha’s sake, but there was some kind of family rivalry that will always be there.
Walking into the facility, I thought back to how much time I had spent here over the past year. The most prominent memory was after I had returned from New York the summer I met Jordan. I had no idea Maggie was his mother. He had kept many things hidden from me, not because he was some snake out to trick me, but because he suffered so much pain.
To this day, I am the only person he has completely opened up to about his past. I truly hurt for him. It seems blatantly obvious that we were destined to be a part of each other’s lives.
Every major element around me was connected to Jordan somehow. From our fathers’ dislike for one another to barely noticing each other as kids at Bippy’s parents’ Christmas parties. Then there was the fact that my best friend volunteered at his mother’s nursing home and his cousin always had a huge crush on me—yet we were never fully aware of each other nor had we connected until we were both in a different element.
Jordan had heard two different stories about me basically. From Tasha’s point-of-view, I was this awkward, overprotected, but goodhearted introvert. And from Christian’s, I was this “hot” take charge rich girl who couldn’t keep my hands off him!
Christian was delusional when it came to my “relationship” with him. Jordan always had his doubts, but when he saw me two summers ago, looking out of my comfort zone, he leaned toward Christian’s opinion of me rather than Tasha’s.
I am happy to say I showed my true colors to Jordan—and myself—and was even able to overcome some of my social awkwardness.
“Hey Mom,” Jordan cooed, as if he were speaking to a child.
Maggie was sitting in a chair by the window. The vacant look in her eyes made my heart sink. She was not having a good day. I had hoped seeing his mother vibrant today would be the best Christmas present for Jordan.
“Hi Mags,” I said, in the same tone Jordan used.
Jordan let go of my hand and walked over to his mother. He knelt down in front of her.
She just stared out the window as if he weren’t there.
“It’s your baby. Haley and I are heading up to the lodge and wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. Maybe if you’re up to it, we can take you out when we get back.”
Jordan stared at his mother, pleading with her to acknowledge him. I said a silent prayer. After another minute, Jordan began talking as if Maggie was listening to him.
“So, the big album release is in a few months. The band’s going to be really busy, but I’ll call to check in on you. Danny says hi…”
Jordan rambled on some more. I didn’t interrupt him. He had so much inner strength. Some guys wouldn’t be able to handle visiting their mother here, but Jordan, no matter how hard it was, wanted his mom to know how much he loved her and that she would never be forgotten; even if she forgets him from time to time.
He had told me the last thing she said to him before the breakdown.
“I mean nothing, Jordan,” she had sobbed. “I am invisible.”
I couldn’t imagine hearing my mother say that, and all because of things and words my father had said and done to her.
After about ten minutes, Jordan turned toward me and took a deep breath.
“Are you ready?”
I nodded, and he walked over to me. I rubbed his back and pulled him into a hug.
“She was listening,” I whispered. “She loves you so much.”
Jordan pulled away from me, and he looked as though he would cry. I knew he wouldn’t; not here, but I’m sure he wanted to.
I took his hand in mine and we began to walk out.
“Do you want a peanut butter and Cheerio sandwich, my Jordy boy?”
We turned around, and Jordan’s face broke out into a huge smile. Jordan only allowed his mother to call him “Jordy”. Sebastian likes to torment him with the nickname—I’m sure not realizing how much it hurt his friend to use it. Peanut butter and Cheerio sandwiches were like Jordan’s “safe place” with his mother.
He walked briskly toward Maggie and hugged her.
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you. Where’s my sweet daughter-in-law?” Maggie asked, completely aware of who she was now.
I laughed and stepped over.
“Right here, Mags.”
I hugged her and she smiled.
On our way back to the car, Jordan was grinning.
“Alright, now I’m ready to deal with anything this holiday week throws at us,” he said.
I laughed, “Play nice with Christian.”
“I’m talking about my dad,” he sighed.
I scrunched my nose, “I can’t believe your brother convinced you to spend New Year’s with them.”
I knew Jordan would do just about anything for his half-brother, Andrew, but spending time with their father was usually something he refused.
“Drew doesn’t want to have to choose between me and Dad and I know what effect choices like that have on a kid,” he shrugged. “I told him I’d give it a shot.”
“I’m very proud of you,” I smiled at him.
He laughed, “Well, don’t polish my medal yet. I still have to get through the party.”
Then it hit me, I’d have to get through it all as well. With Chuck Ashton not liking my father, he didn’t seem that fond of me, either. And his wife, well, she was like Bippy fifteen years from now.
Lord, give Jordan and me both the strength.
 “Haley’s Letter” is available on iTunes under the artist name Tortured. The song was written for “Dream Catchers” by Sandy Lo and James Manzello. Produced by Frans Mernick. For more info: www.sandy-lo.com.