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Authors: Josefina Gutierrez


BOOK: 3volve
12.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Book Overview

From author Josefina Gutierrez of Th
e Shadow of Loss
comes a new New-Adult contemporary love story.

I thought my life began when I graduated high school and moved far, far away—okay three hours away. But I was wrong. My life didn’t start until it almost ended.

I’m Cristal Escobedo, twenty-two years old and a former wild child who favors tequila far too much. But that all changed when life happened, and I ended up being responsible for my younger brothers. To top it all off, I think I’m falling in love with my best friend—dammit.

This is my not-so-happy story of how I grew up and got my shit together. My story isn’t filled with a bunch of pretty analogies or hyperboles. The people are real, the hurt is deep, and the love is complicated. People are flawed in the ways that matter; it’s what makes us human.

Dedication Page


To Charlie.

A man with too many names,

And an inspiration in more ways than he’ll ever know



I’ve never claimed to have it all together. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was roaming through life high and excited for the unexpected. I love my family, my parents, my brothers, my friends, but their love was never enough to save me from myself. My self-destructive way, how I always kept ruining the best things I didn’t know I even had.

My story isn’t filled with morality. It doesn’t have some intriguing message about love, and life. Shit, it’s a mess. I’m a mess. I’m not here to tell you what should be important—we all have different values. I’m not here to tell you about responsibility. Hell, if you finish reading my story and gain insight, then more power to you!

I thought my life began when I graduated high school and moved far, far away—okay three hours away. But I was wrong. My life didn’t start until it almost ended.

I’m Cristal Escobedo a twenty-two year old, former wild child, and this is my not-so-happy story of how I grew up and got my shit together. It isn’t filled with a bunch of pretty analogies or hyperboles. The people are real, the hurt runs deep, and the love is complicated. People are flawed in the ways that matter; it’s what makes us human. If you want a sugarcoated story, look to someone other than me.




Part I




I change with the fallen leaves.

Green, Yellow, Brown, and Red.

As my inner child grieves,

I shelter from what’s up ahead.

Refusing your choices endlessly.

I seek solace in your bed,

Tsk, tsk, tsk, you say.

But I know now,

It’s all in my head.


Chapter 1

The light sips in through my blackout curtains, irritating my eyes. And I begin to notice a buzzing come from the bedside table.
Shit. Shit
. I jump up and look at the time. I’m thirty minutes late.
Oh, Charlie is going to be so mad. Why didn’t I wake up earlier!?
I flip over in a hurry, banging my alarm, and it bounces onto the floor.

“Ughmmph,” a grumbled sound emanates from next to me. I throw my hands to my face ashamed. Turning my head to the side, I see my scruffy-faced companion from last night.
I slowly get out of bed and search for my clothes.

I seriously need to stop drinking tequila. Tequila = Bad Decisions. I dress as fast as I can, stumbling over my feet as I pull on my jeans.

I nudge him with my foot, “Hey, you. Wakie wakie.”

He groans in annoyance, pulling the blanket to cover his bare chest—a very nice chiseled bare chest. If only I knew the name to go with him. Agh no, I will not be deterred.

“Okay, well, I’m going to leave. You should, you know leave eventually, or at least before the pest inspectors come,” I say, rolling my eyes. I grab the closest shirt I can find and put it on, after doing a smell test. Eh it’ll work.

He groans again and flips over.

“As is my life.” I throw my hands in the air and run out the door.

I don’t know what I did with my phone last night—or my underwear. I just hope I didn’t put my phone in the freezer again. It always ends up in there when I go searching for pizza rolls. I open the freezer door, but nope, luckily not in there. I scan the room, hoping to hear a chirp, when my best friend and roommate, Vanessa walks into the kitchen to pour herself coffee.

I’ve never been a morning person. Mornings shouldn’t start until eleven. Vanessa on other hand does everything shy of solve world hunger before eight, all pressed in all the right places and ready to go. Her bright red hair bouncing with each movement. Her green dress and blazer accentuating her curves and hair, making her seem more like a mermaid model, than some marketing advertiser. If we weren’t blood sisters, then I would wonder what she saw in me.

“If you’re looking for your phone it’s in there,” bright-eyed Vanessa points to the living room, “but I wouldn’t go in there looking like a hot mess if I were you.” She points at my outfit.

do not
look like a hot mess,” I stretch out my shirt and fold my hair down, suddenly worried about my appearance standing next to this model. I scamper to the mirror and brush a napkin over my face. Then pour myself some coffee and swish it in my mouth before spitting in the sink
There. Much better.

I turn around for her approval, but she waves her finger at me. “Charlie has been waiting for you. He doesn’t look pleased either.” She clicks her tongue. “What’d you do this time?” she chides in her singsong voice.

I roll my eyes and walk into the living room. Vanessa and I have been friends from the tender age of ten. Luckily, it happened before puberty, or I would be hella insecure to be friends with such a knockout.

Charlie on the other hand, didn’t come along until we were in high school. He was the popular boy in school. Everyone wanted to be his friend. Everyone wanted to be noticed. Heck everyone wanted to sleep with him. We were polar opposites of each other, still are, but we complement each other flawlessly. If only we could agree on my trajectory in life, everything would be copasetic.

We all met officially in in-school suspension. A friendship forged for life, every day for a week—and a few after that.

What can I say, I didn’t like school. But that first time, it was my fault we ended up locked away in an ice-cold room, I own up to that—and they never let me forget it.

Unofficially, we met when I got us all busted for skipping school. Vanessa and I were leaving campus when we were caught, and Charlie covered for us. Two girls he didn’t even know. It didn’t work, and he couldn’t shake us after that.

“Do you feel like you’re missing something?” Charlie asks with a stern voice, but underneath I can sense his gentle nudge.

I shrug, “My phone.”

“You were supposed to meet my assistant, because she scheduled a meeting with a job prospect.” He drops a stack of papers on my coffee table.

“Yes! See I remember that…I was just going.” I claw at the inside of my palms nervously, “I needed my phone first, gosh where is that thing anyway—” I trail off laughing awkwardly.

“Looking like that,” he points at my ketchup stained Atreyu shirt, with a mixture of amusement and disbelief. I knew I should have looked at my shirt closer, the smell test is never a sure thing.

“Well obviously not. Hello! Who do you take me for? I was going to change.” I backtrack from the living room.

Charlie counters me, walking towards me with his stern face. “So you didn’t forget about the meeting then?”

“Of course not! I am totally prepared,” I say bumping into the wall.

“Good,” he repositions me, turning me around, “because I would hate it if you were lying to me right now.”

“Good?” I question him, slowly walk to my room. He only says ‘good’ when he’s already onto me.
Shit, he’s on to me!
He’s going to see scruffy-face guy—then I’m going to get a lecture about my poor choices in men.
Now he’s going to give me a disappointed long face, with a ‘good’ to top it all off.

“So you didn’t get plastered last night?” Charlie asks. I can sense him trying extra hard to smell me from where he’s standing. I knew coffee was a good idea!

“Of course not!” I stop in front of my door, blocking it.

“Good.” He swats at me to move and I nudge over a bit.

I turn around exasperated. I can’t keep this up. “Okay, fine. I lied. I’m lying! I totally forgot about the stupid meeting, with your stupid assistant, about the stupid job,” I roll my eyes. “Alright, that’s not fair of me. Your assistant isn’t stupid,” I say moving to block the door again.

“Uh huh,” he says, reaching for the door handle. But I smack his hand.

“You know my room is such a mess. You know me. I can get dressed faster than you can say…”

“Good,” we both say together.

“Yes! See I know you,” I smile—but he isn’t having any of it. I open the door slightly trying to nudge myself in without letting on too much, but Charlie barges on through as if he owns the place, which sure he found the place for us, but I still pay rent.

I ready my defense, hoping to calm him down, when I notice scruffy guy isn’t in the bed anymore.
Huh. Where the heck did he go?
Oh, well, who cares, at least he’s gone.

“Why do you look so surprised? It’s not like your room has ever been clean. Get dressed we don’t have much time,” he rummages through my closet. Finally deciding on my nice blue suit, throwing it in my direction.

I grab the suit from him and run to the bathroom before scruffy guy makes his magical reappearance. I’m stripping down when I hear a muffled squeak coming from behind the shower curtain, great. I pull the curtain aside to see scruffy guy with his bundled clothes in his arms.

“What are you doing in here, weirdo,” I whisper in an agitated tone, looking back at the door paranoid Charlie will realize what’s happening and come give me a lecture.

“Hiding from your boyfriend, I know the drill,” he cocks his head as if I’m asking a stupid question—says the look from the man hiding in my shower.

I groan, “He’s not my boyfriend. Why does everyone think that?! Look, just stay here till he leaves,” I say waiting for him to respond, but he just locks his eyes on my chest. I look down, realizing I’m still naked and jerk the curtain closed.

I can hear Charlie cleaning up my room while I’m changing. He’s like my fairy grandfather, but in a nice three-piece suit. I fix my hair in a bun and revel in my fine job.

I peak my head through the shower curtain. “So, uh, thanks, and wait till we leave,” I say in a hushed tone.

He winks, pulling on his shirt. God I wish I knew his name to go with those abs. I grab my blazer out the door.

“Okay, I’m ready,” I say, pulling on my blazer.

“Finally. Let’s go before we’re late.” He grabs my hand and rushes us out the door.

“We’re not late already?” I ask confused. My clock singed a clearly annoying buzz into my brain, I can still hear the ringing. And I’m not freakin’ late!

“I know you too,” he smirks. “We still have thirty minutes before the meeting.” It figures he would tell me a different time.

I stop him before we leave. “Wait let me grab my phone.” Grabbing my phone and papers and stuffing them into my purse.

I feel my phone vibrating all the way up to Charlie’s office, but I don’t dare stop to check on it. It would mean another lecture and I haven’t even had my coffee yet, because I don’t count the swish from earlier. I feel the throbbing pain left as a reminder of last night, and only take aspirin out instead.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


We stop outside his office and he squeezes my arm reassuringly. “You’re going to be great. It’ll be easy and casual. I’ll be in meetings all day, but I’ll stop by tonight to see how it goes. And Cris, be charming huh,” his dimples crinkle around his mouth.

“I won’t disappoint you. Thanks for setting this up. I’ll charm the pants off him,” I snap my fingers.

He groans, “I’d rather everyone kept their pants on.”

“Yes sir,” I salute him and we walk into his office.

Charlie’s assistant is multitasking like a pro behind her desk. She pours us coffee with ease as she handles an upset business matter over the phone.
Can I just be her when I grow up?

She hangs up the phone and smiles at Charlie. “Sir, your 9 o’clock is waiting inside,” she tells Charlie then turns her attention to me, “Ms. Escobedo, lovely to see you again. Mr. Simpson will be up shortly to see you. If you will follow me.” She begins walking away from the receptionist area.

Charlie squeezes my arm, “My driver will be waiting for you when you’re done to drive you back home. I’ll stop by later, now hurry she’s a force even in those heels.” He gestures to the hallway. And she’s gone. Dammit!

“I’ll see you tonight,” I tell him in a hurry to follow her. Exhaling to calm my nerves—or my upset stomach, it could be that. I find her down the hall waiting for me.

I sink into the conference chair, crossing my legs. I can do this. I need to do this.
My phone starts buzzing again.
Who keeps calling!?
I’m nervous as it is. Pulling out my phone, I look at the number. I don’t recognize it; maybe it’s a bill collector hounding me for my student debt already.

It goes off again, I’ve had it. I answer it annoyed, “Hello.”

“Hello, I’m calling for Cristal Escobedo.”

“This is she, but this is not the best time,” I say as Mr. Simpson walks into the room. “I really need to go, sorry,” I hang up the phone and place it on the table.

“Ah, Ms. Escobedo,” he extends his hand to me. “It’s great to finally meet you. I’ve heard so much about you,” he says graciously.

I stand up and extend my hand, “I hope to live up to it in person.” My phone begins buzzing across the table, so I stop it with my hand.

“Oh no, no, all great things. Please sit,” he nods towards the chair.

“Thank you for meeting with me,” I say, sitting down. “I know you must be extremely busy.”

“Never too busy for Charlie’s lovely friend. You know he completely rejuvenated my business and made it more efficient,” he leans in closer, “Did you know that he revamped our computer system to ease our procedures more fluidly,” he says with a wide grin, reminding me of the Cheshire cat—all thin lips and teeth.

“He is good at what he does,” I nod in agreement. Even if sometimes, I’m not entirely sure what exactly he does.

“So, let’s get down to it,” he clasps his hands in his lap, “tell me, why you want this job?” he asks directly. My phone begins buzzing
—seriously, people lay off! It’s trailing towards the edge of the table now. “Maybe you should get that.”

“I am really sorry. I don’t know who keeps calling.” I say into the phone, “Whoever this is, I told you it’s not the best time,” I whisper annoyed.

“I’m calling for Cristal Escobedo, this is an emergency,” a polite voice urges, “Ms. Escobedo, I’m calling from…” I tune out of the conversation, my worst fear. “I’m sorry to inform you of your parents’ passing…” she speaks too fast, probably fearing I’m going to hang up again.

“Wha…I…what happened?” I finally ask, turning my chair away from Mr. Simpson.

“I am deeply sorry for your loss.”

“Is there something I need to do? I…uh…can’t believe this.” I cover my eyes before an onslaught of tears are about to start.

“Yes ma’am. You will need to come down to identify the bodies and fill out paperwork.”

“Right. Of course,” I take a deep breath. “I’ll take the next flight, or drive. Wait, have I been the only one notified?”

“Yes ma’am. You were listed as the emergency contact.”

BOOK: 3volve
12.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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