Lost & Found

After her husband dies in a car accident, Emma Haines-Gaunt is encouraged by her mother and sister to attend a therapy group for widows. Though reluctant to even give it a try, Emma finds herself in a church basement listening to heartbreaking stories of tragedy from her fellow therapy members. When she notices a mysterious man during the session, Emma is intrigued by him, only to realize it is her childhood friend and ex-love Harry Styles. Her mind spirals when she realizes he must have lost his spouse somewhere along the way. And try as she might, she can’t seem to shake him from her mind. The two of them begin a harrowing journey of loss and redemption, determined to help each other find solace in the tragedy that their lives have become.

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1. The tale of a broken girl.


Emma wasn’t sure about it. Actually, she was completely unsure about it. Patrick had only been gone for six months. And she personally didn’t think that six months was an adequate amount of time to mourn the loss of her husband. Seriously. Was there a time limit to that sort of thing? Did society really expect her to just all of a sudden one day be okay that she no longer had her best friend by her side? There wasn’t anyone there to get her through the sleepless, lonely nights and it was crippling.

But of course, her mother and sister were only trying to help when they suggested she go to therapy. Therapy didn’t sound all that bad to her, it was the type of therapy they proposed she go to. It was more or less a self-help group for widows. Emma was automatically opposed to the idea, but when they explained it focused on coping with being a single parent, she came around. Once they used her daughter in their plea, she knew she was a goner.

Madeline.

She would do absolutely anything for her five month old daughter. She had Patrick’s big blue eyes and his blonde hair. She looked just like his baby pictures, yet she never even got to meet her father. Patrick never got to hold her or love her. He never had the chance to be the father he always dreamed of being. And that was a tragedy in and of itself.

When Emma got the call that Patrick was in a car accident, she felt it in her bones – the grief. When she arrived at the hospital and they told her they did everything they could, but they weren’t able to revive him, she felt it settle within her. Since that day, it never left her.

She was eight months pregnant and she was alone.

Her mother and sister flew out to London on the earliest flight they could, but nothing or no one could have prepared Emma for the loneliness. She couldn’t even get out of bed. The only plea from her family that she listened to was to eat, for the baby’s sake. She slept for days. She didn’t want to be conscious.

There wasn’t much she remembered from the funeral. It was a closed casket and the rain never stopped.

It wasn’t long after that she gave birth. Her mother stayed with her in London to help her pack up the house. Emma was much too pregnant to fly back home to Holmes Chapel, so they stayed until after Madeline’s birth.

Madeline was born and Patrick wasn’t there. Madeline was born and she didn’t have a father.

When Madeline was a month old, Emma finally moved back to Holmes Chapel to live with her mother. She couldn’t stay in London. In London, she was absolutely alone. In London, she only had memories of the man she loved, not even his body was there anymore. Patrick was buried in Northern Ireland, where he was from, where his parents still lived. Living in Holmes Chapel, at least Emma would be a little closer to him.

Over the past six months, she was a mess. But she always pulled herself together for Maddie’s sake. She needed her mother. And Emma had to give her everything she had because she was the only parent her daughter had left.

 


“I’ll come in with you, Em,” her sister, Piper offered as they sat idle in the car outside of the church where the therapy meetings were to be held.

Piper promised the meetings were not held by the church itself, but by a group of counselors. The church was just the meeting place. Emma lost her faith after Patrick was taken away from her and she wasn’t looking to find her way back to it. She didn’t need God to help her through her grief. She didn’t need God’s forgiveness, he needed hers. After all, he was the one that decided Patrick’s fate.

“I’ll be fine,” Emma breathed, looking up at the cross that stood majestically on the top of the building. It was raining and all she could hear was the rush of the windshield wipers as they swished back and forth.

“Are you sure, Emma? I’d be happy to…” Piper said.

“I’ll be fine,” Emma told her again, still looking out into the rainy night, dreading stepping foot inside that building.

“Okay,” Piper said quietly.

“Call me if—” Emma said, finally turning to face her sister.

“Maddie will be okay, Em. Mum raised both of us. I think she knows how to take care of her granddaughter,” Piper pointed out. Emma nodded, but sat there silently.

“Patrick would want you to move on, Em. He’d want to see you happy again,” Piper said, her voice low.

Emma closed her eyes tightly at the mentioning of her late husband. She took a deep breath, willing the tears away before they even started.

“Go,” Piper coaxed. Emma nodded again and pushed the passenger door open.

“I love you, Sissy,” Piper told her.

“You too,” Emma said before she got out of the car.

Emma stood in place for a moment, letting the rain fall down on her before she darted toward the awning over the heavy church doors. As Piper’s car pulled away, Emma reached for the handle, pulling open the door. The meeting was held in one of the Sunday school rooms in the basement of the church. It was almost fitting to see the children’s art work and toys sprawled about the room, since they were all there for their children – to help their children through it as much as to help themselves. There were about fifteen other people in the room already and the counselors greeted Emma with welcoming smiles. She was the last to arrive, so they began the session right away after.

Not many people were in the mood to open up, including Emma. There were a lot of people that just sat wide-eyed as the counselors talked, but there were a few that sat almost lost to the world. There was one man she noticed in particular. He sat slouched in his chair, his arms drawn tightly to his chest almost ensuring that no one speak to him just by how unpleasant he looked. He had large dark circles under his eyes – a red flag to all the sleep he had been losing. And he held a scowl on his face nearly the entire time.

But there was something so entirely familiar about the man. Maybe it was the reason she couldn’t even focus on what the counselors were saying – because of her watchful eye on him.

His eyes, no matter how angry or threatening they were, held something in them. Emma couldn’t put her finger on it, though it was like she gazed into them before, perhaps long ago. It was eating at her, trying to figure the man out. And by the end of the meeting, she was grateful to the man for keeping her attention off her dead husband.

Emma stood up, grabbing her jacket from the back of the chair, wrapping it around herself once again. When she looked up, the man was also wrapping his jacket around himself. And then his green eyes met with hers. And he didn’t look away. And she couldn’t look away.

His name was no longer on the tip of her tongue – it was spiraling through her head and she was falling back years.

Harry Styles.

He was her childhood sweet heart. The boy she loved long ago. He was the one that got away.

Emma’s heart beat wildly in her chest and it almost scared her with its activity. It was so long since she felt any life inside of the worthless organ. She thought it died with her husband.

She never thought for as long as she lived that she would see his face again. But there he was, standing before her, as plain as day. And then a heavy dose of misery shot straight through her. Because if he was truly standing in front of her, it meant one thing and one thing alone – that he lost his spouse too.

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