BREAKING THE MOON is the tumultuous tale of heartache and love, and how sometimes it’s just not enough.
The 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?
People always ask me what the inspiration behind Tortured’s songs is. Usually, I tell them I write about how close-minded society is. That’s part of it, but most of my songs are about my father and his lifestyle.
Don’t tell me what to say
Or how to act
I really shouldn’t take lessons
From a world class hack
I am taking control
Me, the only one I can trust
And I’m on the edge
About to combust
I’ll turn your world to hell
Like a time bomb ticking
I’m ready to blow
And it’s me you slap
For taking all your crap
I am never right
Just not good enough
While you’re the devil
Right here on Earth
You’ll be sorry
When it’s me missing
Then you’ll know what it’s like
To be the one ass kissing
You made me invisible
While I was trying to be a man
Still, a tortured boy
That you never did understand
Those are the lyrics to Tortured’s first single “Detonate”. Our debut album will be full of songs like these, and then there’s “Haley’s Letter”…which doesn’t fit in, but is probably becoming our most popular song when we perform it live. I thought our male audience would seriously hate it and think we sold out, but they seem to like it.
I still feel so much anger toward my father, and I know songwriting is a good sounding board, but sometimes I think Haley worries I am a time bomb waiting to go off. Sometimes I feel like am, too.
I try and let go of my past, but it’s so difficult, especially when my father still acts like an asshole, and I’m still visiting my mother in a nursing home after 8 years and she’s only in her forties. She’s a constant reminder of why I hate him. I can’t forgive him for the pain he caused her.
The iridescent, newly fallen snow blanketed the pastures below the streetlights. Jordan pulled into the carport of the Killington, Vermont ski lodge and I sighed with relief. The snow was coming down fairly heavy, which didn’t make the over three hour drive a smooth one.
The mustang sounded angry the entire trip and I feared we’d break down or slip and slide along the highway.
“See, I told you my baby would make it,” Jordan patted the dashboard, almost scowling at me afterward.
“Jor, you have to get this thing fixed soon.”
“I will,” he nodded, “when we get back from New York.”
I rolled my eyes, “If it’ll even make it there.”
“Lay off, please?” he sighed.
“I’m laid off,” I held my hands up with an innocent smile.
He shook his head, trying to fight his own smile as he got out of the car. I pulled my hood up and followed him out of the car. Shivering, I quickly slipped my hands into the gloves Mom sent me in a care package a month ago.
“Shit, it’s cold,” Jordan shoved his hands into his pockets as I caught up to him and stuck an old hat of mine on his head. “Haley!”
He hated to have his hair messed with.
“You’re going to freeze,” I protested, and laughed at his pouting face underneath the snow cap with a red pom-pom on top.
“Right, you just like to piss me off,” he groaned and stomped his way through the snow.
The pom-pom bounced on top of his head as he did so, and I couldn’t keep from giggling as I trailed behind him, almost falling every few feet or so.
“Stop making fun of me,” he huffed, half-jokingly.
He was usually the one to tease people, especially me, and he didn’t like when anyone dished it back to him.
I tripped as I went to reply and fell face first into a pile of snow. I rolled over laughing as I wiped snow from my mouth. I could hear Jordan’s laughter getting louder as he approached. His face appeared above me, and I just laughed harder at him in the hat.
“I came back to help you and you laugh at me?” he asked, pulling the hat from his head.
Now, his hair was standing on end and I just continued my hysteria.
“I’m going to leave you here…” he muttered, as I reached out for him to help me up.
“You are such a bad sport,” I grumbled as he took my hands and pulled me up. “Why is it you can make fun of me all the time, but I can’t do it to you?”
He shrugged, “You used to think I was cool, remember?”
I had made the mistake of calling him “cool” once when describing my ability to be not so cool.
“I will always think you’re cool. Just like you’ll always think I’m awkward,” I said with a laugh.
“You’re cool in different ways. I much rather have you for a girlfriend than some perfect girl.”
I didn’t know how to feel about that. I knew what he meant, but still, it was a backhanded compliment.
“I mean,” he sighed. “You’re perfect to me; you’re perfect for me.”
I smiled and kissed him, wrapping my arms around him. Sometimes I felt like I could crush him with love when he said things like that. Other times, I felt like I could just crush him. I guess that’s what love is all about.
We broke apart to see my mother standing in the doorway of the cabin; her winter white sweater looking itchy even from several feet away.
“Are you two crazy? Get in here!” Mom yelled.
Jordan took my hand and pulled me along to the cabin, knowing I would probably fall down at least once more before I got to the door.
“Hi Mom,” I smiled as she welcomed me into a hug.
“You’re lucky your lips didn’t freeze together,” she chuckled into my ear.
“Eh, that wouldn’t have been so bad.”
“Oh Haley,” she waved me off before hugging Jordan.
“How are you, Mrs. Foster?” he asked, ever so politely.
“Elena,” she insisted before answering him. “I’m well.”
We took our jackets off just as three rowdy men walked out from the game room; each holding eggnog in clear glass reindeer mugs.
“Ah, you’re here—took you long enough,” Dad said, as blunt as always.
“Daddy, the weather is terrible,” I said, walking toward him, not wanting him to blame the delay on Jordan.
My father certainly didn’t hate Jordan, not like I had originally thought he would. However, he enjoyed giving my boyfriend the business. I’m sure it was something to do with Jordan being the first and only man to capture my attention. When I began dating him, I finally became my own person, and I’m sure my father resented that, as much as he came to respect it.
“How is my little girl?” Dad asked, wrapping me into a hug.
“I’m great,” I said, meaningfully.
“Jordan, good to see you,” he nodded at him stiffly.
Jordan didn’t miss a beat, though. He strode over and shook my father’s hand with a casual smile.
“You too, sir.”
He then turned to his uncle and cousin.
“Uncle John,” he shook Mr. Eriksson’s hand.
“Charlie,” he nodded at him, obviously not caring if Jordan hated to be called that.
I saw Jordan clench his teeth before he moved onto Christian, who was wearing a God awful beige turtleneck sweater and khaki pants. He was irritatingly monochromatic.
Jordan patted Christian’s back, harder than necessary.
“What’s up, Chris?”
Christian straightened up and forced a smile.
“Oh, you know, Charlie, planning a wedding. I won my third case…” Christian bragged, when really he assisted another lawyer in winning, but he never likes to mention that. “Life is falling into place.”
He was smug, as if to say Jordan’s life was in pieces. Christian acted like the year was 1940 and not 2012. Was Jordan supposed to be married and figured out at twenty-three?
Before Jordan could speak, I hugged Christian. My chest bumped against his, and I regretted moving in so quickly in order to diffuse the situation. Normally, I gave Christian an awkward butt-out type of hug with minimal physical contact. This was too close for me.
“Congratulations,” I said. “Stop it,” I gritted through my teeth while leaving his arms.
The cabin was stacked against Jordan enough as it was. I didn’t need Christian trying to make him feel like he wasn’t good enough. Though, I know Jordan didn’t care what Christian thought of him. I know he did care if my parents liked him. He didn’t want them to give me a hard time about being with him.
Christian pulled away from me with a smile and he winked. Chills ran up my spine whenever Christian winked at me. Not the good kind of chills, either.
I felt everyone in the room cringe at Tasha’s loud yell. I was used to it by now. I turned and was met with a face full of Tasha’s almond curls as she hugged me like she hadn’t seen me in months before rambling on.
“I have to show you something,” she grinned before pulling me upstairs without another word.
Mrs. Eriksson was waiting in one of the bedrooms as Tasha pulled me inside, and closed the door behind her.
“What’s going on?” I wondered, as I hugged Mrs. Eriksson.
“Haley, you look wonderful,” she said, holding my arms out to the side just like my mother always did when she inspected me.
“I do?” I looked down at my simple button down shirt.
“You’re glowing,” she nodded.
“It’s probably because her song is playing on the radio now,” Tasha rolled her eyes teasingly.
“You heard ‘Haley’s Letter’ on the radio?” My eyes widened.
“Christian and I did on our way up here—he almost changed the station, not realizing it was Tortured.”
I snickered to myself knowing he probably knew exactly who the band was on the radio.
“Wow, that’s so bizarre,” I laughed.
“Wait, my nephew wrote a song about you?” Mrs. Eriksson asked.
I nodded as I blushed.
“Aww,” she smiled. “I must say—I like the effect you have on him, Haley. My brother didn’t know what to do with Charlie any longer. I’ve assured Chuck, with you around—he’ll stay in line.”
I bit my tongue wanting to say something to her about the big brother she idolized and his warped view on his son. It was pointless to explain things to these people sometimes.
“So, what do you have to show me?” I turned my attention to Tasha.
“This,” she said, pulling out a sheet of paper from her zebra print purse.
On the sheet of paper was a scanned sketch of a wedding dress. It was form-fitting instead of a huge, poufy skirt. The top was a sweetheart cut, with tiny sheer off the shoulder sleeves. Flowered embroidery snaked up the sides of the dress.
“It’s completely you,” I smiled, looking at Tasha, who was obviously overjoyed with the design.
I nodded, “Who’s the designer?”
“Meghan,” she grinned.
“My Meghan? Meghan Williams?” I confirmed.
“I asked her yesterday—she got so excited that she finished the sketch this morning,” Tasha laughed.
“I’m sure she is thrilled to have this opportunity,” I said, gratefully.
Meghan is such a nice girl, and she was a big part of me becoming the fashion-confident person I am today. I was an insecure mess when it came to clothing before I met her. I want nothing more for her than to become the successful designer she dreamed of being her entire life.
“Thank you for asking her.”
“She’s a fashion prodigy,” Tasha shrugged. “Her designs are amazing.”
“Tell Haley the other good news,” Mrs. Eriksson urged.
Tasha sighed, “Trisha, I still don’t know if I want to go with Fairmount Grove for the hall.”
Fairmount Grove was the most elaborate catering hall in Burlington. The Erikssons held all of their special occasions there and though they were gorgeously done, they always felt like a presidential ball rather than a party.
“Tasha, dear, it is tradition.”
“…And I’m not a traditionalist,” my best friend argued.
I saw Trisha Eriksson’s eyes turn to pointy slits on her long pale face.
“It’s what Christian wants. Don’t you want to make him happy?”
“Christian will be happy if I’m happy. He left the choice up to me.”
“Don’t you think that’s just a little selfish of you?”
I knew Tasha was two seconds away from losing her temper.
“Look, you still have time…” I interjected.
“Not much,” Mrs. Eriksson argued. “Fairmount needs an answer next week.”
“I’m through talking about this right now,” Tasha sighed. “Haley, let’s go see if Elsa needs help in the kitchen.”
Oh, how I missed Elsa and her cooking. She was our maid back in Bakersfield and was practically my nanny growing up as well.
We headed downstairs and I didn’t see Jordan anywhere. He was probably bored to tears by the law small talk being made near the fireplace between Dad, Mr. Eriksson and Christian.
Christian paused to look over at Tasha. He winked at her as we passed, and she blew him a kiss. I almost gagged. It wasn’t that Christian wasn’t good-looking, or that I didn’t come to think of him as a friend at times; it was simply the fact that when he was interested in dating me, he completely grossed me out. He was lecherous in his attempts to get me interested in him; always putting his hands on me or trying to kiss me.
Sometimes, I still felt that awkwardness around him, like he still had hope for us even though we were both in relationships. On top of that, he was close-minded, judgmental and kind of a jerk.
Once we were inside the kitchen, I heard Mom reprimanding Elsa.
“Tofu, Elsa?” Mom scoffed. “Honestly, who the heck is going to eat that?”
Elsa’s eyes traveled toward mine. I had requested a more animal-friendly diet lately. I was always into eating healthy and organic, but thanks to Meghan and her pro-vegan speeches, I decided to cut down on my meat intake.
“I will,” I interjected. “…And so will Tasha.”
“Sure,” Tasha shrugged.
Jordan walked into the kitchen from the back door.
“And Jordan loves tofu,” I smiled at him.
He furrowed his eyebrows at me as he shut the door.
“Oh yeah, adore the stuff,” he nodded sarcastically.
Jordan mostly ate steak, hot dogs and hamburgers, and basically anything that was bad for him.
“Fine,” Mom rolled her eyes. “You and your hippy ways, Haley.”
I just laughed. Hippy? Me? From Elena Foster, I take that as a compliment.
I hugged Elsa hello before walking over to Jordan.
“Thanks for agreeing to eat the tofu,” I smiled and gave him a peck.
His lips had a slight taste of cigarettes and cinnamon.
“Were you smoking?” I whispered.
“What?” he asked with a laugh. “No…”
Jordan had quit smoking when we first started dating. I didn’t ask him to, but he knew how much I despised it.
I pouted, looking into his eyes. He wasn’t being honest. His hand was fidgeting against my thigh. Jordan always appeared at ease, but his hands…they reacted to nerves and stress. It wasn’t even noticeable to most people. To me, I could tell and he knew I knew.
He sighed, “I’m sorry.”
“How long has this been going on?” I asked, trying to hide my disappointment in him.
He had only been back in Boston a couple of days and I hadn’t noticed any smoke signals—so to speak—yet.
“A couple of weeks,” he shrugged. “Stress of everything—the album, seeing my dad next week…”
I nodded, “I understand.”
“I’m going to stop soon.”
“Don’t do it for me,” I shook my head. “Do it for yourself and your career. You’re going back on tour soon enough.”
“I know. I’ll go brush my teeth,” he winked before walking out of the kitchen.
I loved when he winked at me. It still made my knees shake. Not like when Christian winked. That was just creepy.
Mom left the kitchen a moment later and I looked at Elsa apologetically.
“Oh please, your mother has chewed me out far worse than that.”
“Why do you put up with it, Elsa?” Tasha asked, picking at a vegetable platter.
“I’ve worked for the Fosters for over fifteen years,” she shrugged. “Despite your mother’s tantrums,” she explained looking at me. “She and your father have been good to me. I never have to worry about money or vacation time—as long as it wasn’t during a crazy time of year.”
Like holidays, I thought. God bless Elsa for spending most of her holidays with us.
“They put my daughter through medical school,” Elsa continued to list things off more for Tasha’s sake than mine.
Though, I honestly didn’t know they were paying for Elsa’s daughter to become a doctor. That was a surprise that made me smile. I had so many torn feelings toward my parents. They were impossible and pompous at times, but they had big hearts to go along with their closed minds.
Christian walked into the kitchen and smacked Tasha’s butt loudly.
“Ass,” she slapped him in the chest, harder than he smacked her.
“Isn’t he?” I smirked.
“Ha-ha,” Christian stuck his tongue out and squinted his eyes at me.
“So, you heard my song on the radio, huh?” I asked, wanting to annoy him.
“Your song?” he played dumb. “Oh, that little love song Charlie went soft for in order to get in your pants?”
I scowled at him.
“Get over it, Chris,” I sighed.
“Get over what?”
“The fact that I am his girlfriend and I never was yours.”
“Haley,” Tasha said, surprised.
I usually wasn’t so brazen with my words, but lately, when I was in such an antagonistic environment, with people constantly testing my boyfriend and my judgment, I couldn’t help it.
I could tell Christian was wounded by not just my choice in words, but my tone. His hands were in his pockets and he wasn’t looking anywhere but down.
“Forget it,” Christian sighed.
Tasha stared at him for a moment as if she were burning a hole through his head.
“Unbelievable,” she muttered before hurrying out of the room.
“Wha—what’s up with her?” Christian asked, staring at the swinging door to the kitchen.
“I’m going to talk to her,” I said.
I had an idea I knew what was bothering her.
I walked back into the living room. Jordan was charming my mother and his aunt with some story of his. He looked over at me, slightly concerned. I just ran up the stairs, and walked into mine and Tasha’s room.
“Get out, Haley.”
“Tash, come on…you know, you know how I feel about Jordan.”
She nodded, “…And I also know how Christian feels about you.”
“He loves you. He’s marrying you.”
“Yeah, because you would never marry him,” she said, and it was then I realized she was crying.
“Wow…” I said, sitting down next to her. “You’re not supposed to be the insecure one. That’s me, remember?”
I was trying to make a joke, but Tasha didn’t laugh.
“When I’m with Christian,” she sniffled. “I never feel good enough.”
“Are you crazy?”
“His parents look at me like I’m trash. So do your parents,” she sighed.
Mom and Dad were never exactly happy I found a best friend in Tasha Torres.
“Who cares? Christian loves you.”
“What if he’s settling for me?”
I was frustrated now. Why couldn’t Christian just get over his rejection? I didn’t understand.
“Tasha, Christian will always be bitter,” I explained. “You know how competitive he is. Everything comes down to winning or losing with him. In his eyes, he lost to Jordan.”
Tasha looked up at me with her big sad brown eyes.
“Christian considers you a win, though,” I said, rubbing her back.
She forced a smile at me, but I could tell she would need to hear that from Christian.
We sat there in silence for a moment.
“If you don’t want to marry him Tash, don’t. You don’t have to settle,” I said, putting my hand on top of hers.
I wanted her to know it was okay to back out. Honestly, I wish she would. Christian didn’t deserve her. She deserved someone who knew how to have fun and who knew how to love someone more than himself.
I was going to hug Tasha, but she spoke up.
“Can I just be alone for a while?”
I nodded before leaving the room. I felt guilty. It was my fault Tasha was miserable. I tried to make sense how we got into this conversation. Tasha was usually the drama-free girl and now she was in tears.
I slowly made my way downstairs. Jordan walked away from Mr. Eriksson to talk to me. I could tell he was curious to know what was going on.
“Is everything okay?”
“You have one of those cigarettes for me?”
His eyes widened.
Normally, even jokingly, I wouldn’t ask for a cigarette.
“It’s that bad?”
I just took his hand and led him upstairs. We went into his and Christian’s room. Why our parents insisted on being old fashioned with sharing rooms was beyond us. I shut the door behind us.
“I don’t know if Tasha and Christian are going to make it.”
“Well, I knew she’d smarten up sooner or later,” he smiled.
“Jordan, they’re having problems because of me.”
“What?” he laughed.
“Tasha thinks Christian is still in love with me and that he’s settling for her.”
“Is he trying to ruin the rest of his life? He has to let you go.”
“I’m going to talk to him—” I spun around and headed toward the door.
“Whoa, wait…” Jordan grabbed my arm. “You’ve done nothing but try to keep the peace since we arrived.”
He was right. It’s only been an hour and I’ve tried to prevent fights between Tasha and Mrs. Eriksson, Mom and Elsa, and Christian and Tasha.
“Just relax for a few minutes.”
“I can’t relax,” I shook my head. “Tasha’s crying her eyes out. Christian is sulking somewhere. My parents are probably thinking we’re up here doing it—” I rambled on worriedly.
Then the words stopped tumbling out of my mouth. Jordan was kissing me. Not just one of his casual pecks, but the kind of kiss that always made me drunk. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
His kisses trailed down my neck and I moaned.
“You really know how to shut a girl up.”
I felt him smile against my skin.
“Next year,” he said in between kisses. “We go somewhere else,” he kissed right behind my ear. “Just you and me.”
His left hand traveled under my shirt and I kissed him again.
“What about our families?” I asked, shivering when his cold fingers traced a line along my waist and up my torso.
“Screw them,” his voice was soft, almost growling.
I closed my eyes as his fingers reached my breast.
“I only care about you, Hale.”
I love when he called me that. I don’t know why, but Jordan’s voice sounded incredible anytime he shortened my name.
I opened my eyes.
“That’s not true—and we both know it.”
He shrugged, “I mean—we don’t need to deal with all this bullshit.”
“While I’ve been preventing fights, what have you been up to?” I wondered.
“Aunt Trish was telling me how grateful she was that I turned my life around.”
I laughed, “Turned your life around?”
“Apparently, my father hinted to the family that I was on drugs.”
“What?” I asked.
“Because I was distant and in a band…I guess that means I’m on drug binges all the time, you know…”
“Don’t you laugh,” he shook his head at me as his hair fell into his eyes.
He moved his fingers down my stomach again, once more making me shiver.
“You worried I was into drugs when we first met.”
He pinched my sides.
“Ouch,” I whined. “I’m sorry—I was naïve and worried you were too good to be true.”
He smiled at that before kissing me again. His hands once again found the lace of my bra and I moved my lips down to his neck. He let out a low moan, and I caught a piece of his skin between my teeth.
“Ow,” he looked at me surprised.
“Don’t pinch me,” I said, getting him back from before. I flicked my tongue against the spot I bit before sucking on it softly. Jordan’s eyes closed, and his hands slid around my back to the clasp on my bra.
“We can’t,” I whispered.
“If they already think we are…” Jordan argued.
“They’ll call us for dinner any minute.”
I reluctantly pulled his arms from around me. He pouted. His eyes telling me how much he wanted me.
We were rarely in the same place at the same time for extended amounts of days. If I was at school in Boston, he was in New York or on the road. If he was in Boston, I had to be in Bakersfield for some important family thing. I missed having more than a few days in a row with him.
“Tonight,” I promised.
“How’s that going to work?”
Originally, the plan was that Tasha and I would switch rooms once the parents were asleep. Now, with Tasha and Christian at odds, the plan was a bust.
“We’ll figure something out,” I promised, kissing him. “Thank you for calming me down.”
“It was my pleasure,” he smirked.