Emma grew up in Indiana feeling like the ugly duckling of the family—the third daughter of a high school beauty queen and football star who had two older daughters with perfect teeth, flawless complexions, and gorgeous hair.
She felt left out.
Then one day she met Clark Oden, who made her feel special.
But she pushed him away and with her cousin, Kalie, drove away in a Datsun with a “California or bust” sign. At eighteen years old, she was going on her first adult adventure, but she kept thinking of Clark.
When she found out he was engaged, she wondered how he could love someone else if he had loved her. Then she realized the answer: because she’d ended it.
Against all odds, Clark and Emma got back together after seeing each other at a funeral, with Clark calling off his engagement. But about a year after their reunion, Emma could not shake the feeling that something was missing, and once again, she broke it off.
Over the years, however, she thought of Clark often, but it wasn’t until nine years later that she heard from him again, just before he went off to war as a married man.