Authors: S. P. Cervantes
Dust to Dust
Copyright © 2013, S.P. Cervantes
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents, are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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For anyone who has ever felt broken. Remember, it is the cracks that let the light in!
sit on the dock, letting my toes skim across the cool wakes of waves below. I’ve spent endless nights staring out into the lagoon that ran like a watery street along the back of my house, but it’s been years since I’ve actually done it. For the first time in a long time, it is nice to be home. It is an uncomfortably humid night, making the cool water more welcoming as it splashes little drops up my legs. I loved sitting here late at night growing up. It was a place to be alone and reflect, a time away from my parents’ questions and intrusions on my life.
I lived in a quiet beach town that most people only used for summer vacations, but my family lives here year round. The houses in my town ranged from rustic New England style mansions, to smaller summer cottages, all with a homey warmth that induced relaxation. Most of the homes are covered with weathered shingles, giving the beach town an even cozier feel. Ours is a one-story, ranch-style home that is perfect for the three of us. My parents never had any other children after me. They said they knew they couldn’t ever do any better than me. I know that wasn’t true and that my mom had a hard time carrying a baby. But we never talked about that.
Mantoloking, New Jersey had been the only place I’d ever lived before moving to Brooklyn, and I now come back only when I have to. This place has held such sorrow for me for so long. It held too many painful memories, and I do everything I can to stay away—until now. Fear is always in the back of my mind when I cross over the Barnegat Bridge, but today, the fear isn’t suffocating me like it usually does. As the memories that I so desperately try to keep locked away threaten to wash over the peaceful feelings I have, I try to focus on the water, splashing my toes across the cool waves, trying to disrupt the flow of the water, as if these actions could also change the direction of my thoughts.
I know it is him the second I hear the crunching of stones at the side of my house. There is no question who it is; his voice still haunts me in my dreams.
Hold yourself together, Cam,
I tell myself, not wanting him to know the effect he still has on me. My palms are instantly sweaty, but I know I can blame that on the humidity if he notices. I try to pull back my long brown hair that is blowing wildly behind me and fumble, trying to put it back in a loose braid.
“Hey Cam, mind if I join you?” Holden asks nonchalantly. My heart skips a beat at hearing his soft, husky voice again.
“Of course not,” I answer all too willingly.
Be cool, Cam. Be cool.
I adjust myself on the dock, trying to look calm and collected, rather than the bundle of nerves I have turned into.
I wonder if he can tell that I am sucking in my stomach?
Holden sits silently next to me, rolling up the dress pants that he wore to the funeral this afternoon, and slips his feet in the water next to me. He places a six-pack of Stella between us, pops one open, and hands it to me. I take it freely, hoping it will help calm my nerves. I remind myself that it is only Holden, my very best friend in the whole world, not Ryan Gosling for God’s sake. One look at him, and I realize that he could possibly be even better looking.
No he’s not. He’s an ugly, bad, bad man.
His eyes are dark and tormented, somehow making him look even sexier. His brown hair is unruly, as always, which of course makes him even more attractive. I quietly gasp as I watch his perfectly full lips wrap around the tip of the bottle while he takes a long, sensual sip. I instinctively lick my lips as if they can taste the drips that slip down the corner of his mouth.
Pull yourself together, Cam! Picture old men in underwear—anything but what it would feel like to have his lips on yours.
As much as I want to, I have no control over my feelings for Holden. He and I have been inseparable since we were in the second grade. He was my neighbor and instantly became my best friend after he was adopted. Holden had spent all the years before he moved in with the Patricks shuffling between abusive foster homes. Holden said that being adopted by the Patricks was better than winning the lottery. He felt like they saved his life—and they probably did. I have overheard stories over the years about his abuse while our parents didn’t know I was listening. As a child, I noticed there was sadness behind Holden’s eyes and it broke my heart when I knew why. I wanted to be the one to change that…even back then.
Holden transitioned from my best friend to boyfriend at the end of my sophomore year in high school and my whole world changed. Our first kiss is something that I will never forget. We were sitting on a wicker bench that was on the side of my parents’ house. We always sat there after parties or when we wanted to be alone. That night, Holden’s always playful flirting turned serious.
We were having one of our usual debates over music, when I noticed how he was staring at me with a look that I didn’t realize was love while I passionately defended my love for ’N Sync. I still get butterflies in my stomach remembering how he hesitantly took my face in his hands, forcing my gaze to meet his. The sincerity was the first thing I recognized. Without a word, he kissed me softly. It was innocent and perfect. He pulled back and looked at me in the eyes again as if he were checking for my approval. I remember looking at him in shock at first. It was surreal for me to be kissing Holden back then because it had never crossed my mind that we would ever be anything but friends. His eyes pierced my heart with Cupid’s arrow that day. I can say now that it was the first time that I realized that I loved him.
“I guess this changes things for us,” he had said quietly as he pressed his forehead against mine with his eyes looking up at me through his long, dark eyelashes.
“I guess it does,” I answered, knowing I didn’t need to say anything more.
Holden smiled his killer smile and kissed me again, but this time so deeply that I could feel his kiss in my toes. We kissed on that bench for the next hour before finally saying good night. From that moment on, I was hooked. My heart weaved into his, making an unbreakable bond…or at least I thought it had.
You see, the summer after my senior year of high school was when my life shattered. My innocence was stolen back then, and I was broken. Holden had no idea why I changed; he just knew something had changed in me, and had no idea why. I was too terrified to tell him or anyone why I was pushing everyone away. At the time, I didn’t realize I was pushing Holden away, but I do now. I stopped letting him touch me, or even hold my hand. What nineteen-year-old boyfriend would have stayed? The only way for me to deal with the pain and shame I was feeling back then was to turn my emotions off. I became numb to everything and everyone.
I remember Holden trying to break me down and tell him what was wrong with me. He had no idea if it was him or me, and I could see that I was hurting him to the core. But that entire summer he never left my side, begging me to join him in Connecticut instead of going to NYU. He knew I was in trouble and wanted to help. But I wouldn’t let him.
Holden went back to college in Connecticut; we began to drift even further apart, and I was slowly dying inside. One night while he was home on Christmas break in my freshman year in college, he tried to get me to tell him what was wrong, why I had changed from the happy-go-lucky girl he fell in love with to a dark, depressed young woman. I was still too scared and confused to admit what happened to me. I knew if anyone found out who had hurt me, I would be putting those I love in danger. So I held tightly to my secret, letting it slowly eat away at me like a slow moving parasite. I knew deep inside that Holden would not be able to keep my secret, and knew it could possibly tear him apart as much as it has me.
That night when he asked me one last time what happened to me, it was as if his heart disintegrated before my eyes. He knew someone hurt me. He knew it in his heart, he said. He always protected me, and thinking that something had happened that he couldn’t protect me from seemed to tear him apart inside. But I knew knowing could possibly destroy him.
Holden had a tortured childhood, and right then I realized that loving me was going to be too hard for him. I knew him too well, and knew being with someone like the person who I’d become—someone broken—would be too much for him. He counted on me to be the strong one, the stable one in our relationship. He had always said I was his rock. To him, I was the one constant thing in his life. Now I was nothing but a skeleton of the person I once was, and it was tearing him apart.
Holden and I tried to make it work for a few more months, but two days before we both were to return home for the summer, he broke up with me, and that was it. At that point, I felt like I was slowly losing my mind and the only thing that was going to save my sanity was to turn everything off. Even though I felt like he was the only person in the world who truly knew me, I knew we could never be together. Not like this. His rock had turned into a spiraling whirlpool of despair, and I wasn’t the person he fell in love with anymore. I knew that every time he looked at me; he saw that I was broken, and it killed him to know he couldn’t fix me.