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Authors: Coleen Patrick

Come Back to Me

BOOK: Come Back to Me
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Come
Back to Me

 

By Coleen Patrick

Copyright 2013 by Coleen Patrick

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted,
downloaded, distributed, stored in or introduced into any information and retrieval
system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without
express permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief
passages for review purposes.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Incidents, names,
characters, and places are products of the author's imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual locales or events or persons living or
dead is coincidental.

 

Edited by Lynnette Labelle at Labelle’s Editorial
Services

 

Cover designed by Sarah Hansen at OkayCreations.net

 

 

 

To my favorite, R

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Connect with
Coleen Online

Chapter 1

 

Just my luck,
I survived high school only to keel over on graduation night.

Except,
sweat beads lined my upper lip, and my stomach churned.  The last cup of beer I
downed pressed at the back of my throat.  I felt like crap, but I was alive. There
was no poetic, sweet release of death happening.  Although my stupid party
trick of reciting the U.S. presidents to the tune of a Queen song called for a
release of some kind.

No, I wasn’t
dead, but I could officially add hallucinating to my wasted repertoire.  How else
could I have seen my dead ex-best friend?

I scrambled
to my knees.  The dampness from the grass in Jake Adler’s backyard seeped into
my shorts.  I swayed, dizzy from my sudden movements.  Once I stood, I blinked,
as if the world was a step behind me.

But my Katie
vision was still there, in front of the trees, ten feet away from me.

Laughter
burst from the house behind me, and I turned.  A group of girls stumbled out
from the sliding door and headed in my direction.

“Hey, you,”
one of the girls said.  “Do you know where the path to the quarry starts?”

I looked at
the girls, then to where I’d seen Katie.  She was still there, her wavy form
fading in and out against the trees.  I focused back on the girls.  “Do you see
that, um,
her
?”

All three of
them shifted their gazes to where I pointed.

“Her?  What
do you mean?  Did someone go for a swim in the ditch, Kennedy?” The tall girl
laughed.  “Tell her she can swim with us in the quarry.”

“Kennedy?
I’m not, my name is not-”

“You’re the
girl who sang all the presidents, right?”

I shrugged. 
One of the blondes nudged the tall one and whispered.  I heard my name.

The smile
dropped from the tall girl’s face.  “Hey, you sure you’re okay, Whitney?”

“You don’t
see her?” I asked, my hands balled into fists.

All three of
them shook their heads.

One of them
said, “You should probably go inside.  Have some coffee or something.”

Then they
left, disappearing into the trees to the path that led to the quarry.

I should’ve gone
inside, but I stayed and allowed my sloshed mind to play tricks on me.

I’d
hallucinated before while drinking, black shadows in my peripheral vision or
the one time I sang along to an entire playlist only to realize my iPod wasn’t
even on.  But seeing Katie was different, freaky.

My breathing
stalled, and my heart flashed with heat.  A match strike. It flickered and went
out, leaving my chest to smolder, a tiny ribbon of smoke floating above my
head.

A heart
attack?  I pressed my palm to my heart, imagining it cracked like an egg,
spilling into me.

Maybe I was
on the edge of death—the in between place, because Katie seemed . . .
different.  Her hair was darker, her eyes greener.  Then again, the Katie left
in my memories lost clarity and focus with each replay.

But those
girls had seen me.  There was no bright light for me to walk into.

And yet this
Katie sparkled, looking like the star version of herself.

Astronaut
footprints will stay on the moon forever, because there’s no wind to blow them
away.

God, my
brain was randomly spewing out Katie’s astronomy facts.

You would
weigh 286 pounds on Jupiter.

Thanks,
Katie.  I smiled and the vision of Katie almost disappeared. 
Katie loves
her stars
.

Loved.

Right,
because Katie wasn’t there.  And I wasn’t dead.  I was drunk.

The real
Katie, even a ghost Katie, wouldn’t be happy to see me, because the Katie I
knew hated me.

I braced
myself for the guilt that always lay ready to stitch my ribs together and
tighten around my breath at the thought of Katie, but surprisingly, it didn’t
come.  Instead, I felt that dull burn in my chest moving to warm my skin from
the inside.  My legs trembled.

All
afternoon, at our graduation ceremony, I listened to everyone talk about their
future and their dreams.  Their bright prospects clashed against the knowledge
that Katie’s stargazing-math-genius-mission-control-loving self was not going
to MIT, not leaving Bloom.  She was eternally stuck in Bloom’s cemetery.

Something swelled
in the middle of my chest again, this time folding my heart in half.

I miss
her
.

Well,
duh.  That’s why I’m imagining her standing right in front of me.  And why I’m talking
to myself.

I took in a shallow,
shaky breath.  Hope washed through me, offering me a thread of forgiveness.

I took a
step closer to Katie.  It was just a tiny step, but then my pace quickened.  Even
though I covered all the pain of missing her with alcohol, it was still there. 
It bobbed along at the edges, propelling me toward my best friend, like the
pull of a black hole.

My dead
best friend.

I stopped at
that unwanted thought, my body swaying forward.  I was only an arm’s length
away from her.  So close, I could’ve reached out and touched her.

Can I
actually hug her?

I shook my
head and again my brain swam from the effort.  Too much drinking—too much
thinking.  I so didn’t want to think this all out.  If I was going to be
rational, I needed to remind myself that Katie had been placed in a mahogany
box 101 days before, one lined with a color so close to the shirt she wore that
she practically disappeared into the satiny folds.

I squeezed
my eyes shut, pushing away anything that might have stopped me from believing
she was there, then I took that last step.  I opened my arms, and I hugged her.

Friendly
memories rushed back and, surprisingly, I breathed a normal, even breath.  And
I smelled sugar and trees.  Classic Katie.  Once upon a time, she loved sweet
perfume and stargazing from my tree house.

Loved? 
Loves?

I ignored
the confusing thought and moved to squeeze her closer.  I felt something hard
and sharp pushing into my palm.

A Scrabble
tile.  The letter G.

I froze,
careful not to move, as if one shift would send my thoughts tumbling into
Katie’s mind.

I closed my
eyes, trying to block out where I’d been only moments before, but the blackness
behind my lids made the image of the collector’s edition Scrabble game in the
Adler’s personal library clearer.  The flimsy details drifted away, leaving the
damning picture of me sitting across from Katie’s ex-boyfriend Kyle.

Holding my
breath, I felt rumbling deep in my chest.  Oh God, it was leftover laughter.

Why were Kyle
and I laughing? And why were we alone in the Adler’s library during a party?

The last
time Kyle and I were in the same room was at Katie’s funeral.  Even there, we
perfected the art of avoiding each other.  I panicked when I saw him walk into
the party, as if it mattered anymore that someone might see us together.

I struggled
to keep my shoulders from sagging. I would never be able to prove to Katie that
Kyle meant nothing, that her friendship meant everything.

I dropped
the tile, then hugged her.  My open palms pressed at her back and I felt . . .
warmth.

She’s
warm.

I stepped
back.  I couldn’t help it.  That recognition felt too odd.  Too unreal, so my
hands drifted away from her.

She smiled,
and my pulse jumped.  It had been forever since I’d seen my best friend smile.

At least
at me.

For once, I
ignored the negative voice inside me, letting happiness skip over me, like flat
stones flying over water.  Except I was in slow motion.  I pulled away from our
hug, and my body took forever to straighten in front of her, as if I told each
individual muscle what to do.  But at the same time, I felt like I was in a
hurry.  There were things I wanted to say to her, no, needed to say to her.

Except I
couldn’t seem to open my mouth.

My brain,
however, was in perfect form, in overdrive.  It shuffled memories, and one
found its way to the forefront, digging out of my gray matter like a wiggly
maggot.

She hates
me.

Of course
she does, after what I did.

Through my
numbness, I felt my smile slide downward at the same time as both of Katie’s
arms shot out to take a hold of my shoulders.

She squeezed
too hard.  I felt the pressure on my bones, as she pulled me forward until my
face was only inches from hers, eye to eye, nose to nose. The sugary smells
from before were gone.  She still smelled like the outdoors, only now it
reminded me of wet dirt.

“You’re a
stupid bitch, Whitney.” Her voice sounded hitched with gravel.

I opened my
mouth to give her the apology I’d wanted to say for so long, because I needed
her to understand, but instead of words coming out, I felt Katie’s fist in my
face, pushing through me.  Bitterness filled me up until I couldn’t breathe.

I reached
for my throat with my hands, trying to pry my mouth open and pull air into my lungs,
but Katie was in the way.

I collapsed,
like one of Katie’s precious stars imploding after it ran out of fuel.  I found
myself on the grass, staring up at the inky sky, my ears ringing with the echo
of her angry words.

I stayed
still.  With one arm splayed out, my hand dangled over the edge of the ditch
that ran between the woods and the Adler’s backyard.

My eyes
flickered closed.  I wasn’t dead, but for just a moment, I wished for it,
wished for one swift wind to blow my footprints away.

BOOK: Come Back to Me
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