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Authors: Komal Kant

First Chances

BOOK: First Chances
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First Chances

 

 

By Komal Kant

 

First Chances

Copyright © 2015 Komal Kant

First Edition

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only. It cannot otherwise be circulated in any form of binding or cover than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following words mentioned in this work of fiction: Deathly Hallows, Pride and Prejudice.

Disclaimer:
P.S. I Love You
by Cecilia Ahern does not belong to Komal Kant

The following quotes in the book do not belong to Komal Kant:

Death is not the greatest loss in life, the greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.

(Norman Cousins)

To realize that just because we lost a love doesn’t mean we’ve lost the ability to love entirely. (Kassandra Kush - The Things We Can’t Change, Part 4))

All of us are broken, a little more than others, but if you love someone, you accept them and their past, even if it’s ugly.

(Lisa Cardiff - Wrong For You)

 

Cover Design by Eden Crane at
www.edencranedesign.com

 

 

This book is for the wonderful readers who felt like Hadie deserved her happy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes your first love isn’t your last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Hadie

 

Like always, he didn’t say anything.

Even though I stood there; arms crossed, forehead scrunched up, and in a mood that could rival Heathcliff’s, he still didn’t say anything.

Today I was upset—furious, annoyed, frustrated. Today I had needed him, and he hadn’t been there for me. I knew that a relationship like this could never work. It was stupid and volatile and self-destructive—but it was so hard to let him go. He was my confidant, but he was also my undoing.

“Where were you today?” I cried, gesticulating wildly with my hands. “You said you were always going to be there for me, so where were you, Lincoln?”

The cool wind weaved around me, sending loose strands of hair flying over my face. I probably looked ridiculous standing out here in the cold yelling at him, but it was so hard to keep everything bottled inside when this kept happening all the time.

“How can you lay there and not say anything?” I demanded, fighting back tears. “How can you let me feel this way and not come to me?”

More silence. No response.

Being ignored by him, being neglected, not having his attention was tearing me up inside. I needed him to understand me. I needed him to say the things that would help me fix myself.

But he was silent. He was cold as stone. He didn’t exist anymore. It didn’t matter how long I stood here; he wasn’t going to answer me.

Lincoln Rylan Bracks

Beloved son and brother

If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, we’d walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again.

Breathing heavily, I took a step back and stared at the bare ground around my boyfriend’s grave. Or ex-boyfriend? Did our relationship status automatically change now that he was gone, or did it stay the same for as long as I wanted it to? I had no one to ask.

The tree he had been buried under was dry and barren; the winter had taken away all of its color and life. That tree was me. I felt dead, even though there was blood pumping inside of me.

All I wanted to do was freeze myself in a moment with a boy who still had my heart; a boy I loved so much I would’ve followed him anywhere. Except he’d left me for a place I couldn’t ever follow him to. Death.

The wind continued to whip around me, but I stood there motionless staring at the only remnants of the boy who remained.

For a second I thought I heard his voice on the wind and prayed he could hear mine.

“I am nothing without you,” I whispered into the cool air, feeling the full weight of his absence.

The wind wrapped around me like an icy blanket, making me shiver; then all at once it fell away.

And with that the moment was gone, just like he was.

Chapter One

 

Hadie

 

The first day was the hardest.

I had to remind myself that everyone was watching me, waiting for me to break down. So I couldn’t break down. I had to carry on that first day, holding onto some vague semblance of myself so that I didn’t turn into the crumbling mess I felt like inside.

I reminded myself to breathe. I put one foot in front of the other. I forced down whatever food was put in front of me. I made some form of response when someone addressed me. I put up a façade and acted like I was fine.

But at night I felt drained. I crumpled up alone in my bed, like a scrunched up piece of toilet paper, as though all the life had been squeezed out of me.

I wished I could say the second day was easier.

It wasn’t.

It was even harder in a way because I knew he wasn’t coming back, and every day would be exactly like the one before.

By the fifth day I had perfected the act of being fine, but on the inside I felt like I was about to break apart into tiny fragments. The memory of him was too hard to bear. The reality was hitting me hard. He wasn’t coming back. I would never see him again. Or talk to him. Or hear him laugh.

I wish there was something else going through my head—anything but thoughts of Lincoln—but there wasn’t. All I thought about each day was my grief, and it consumed me like nothing had ever consumed me before.

Who was I without him?

Just a plain, boring bookworm with nothing going on in her life to occupy her. I’d forgotten everything he’d taught me. I was unraveling, becoming someone who was an inferior version of what I’d been before.

Days turned into weeks as I tried to figure myself out and return to the same girl I had once been. But nothing worked—not until one day when I lay in bed in a near catatonic state and my phone rang.

Snapping out of my depressive state, I rolled over and reached for my phone on the bedside table. It was Estella Markson.

Estella had been my best friend since middle school, and with her slender frame, 5’7” height, and stunning looks, she made me look like a hideous dwarf troll. However, she was also completely oblivious to how gorgeous she was, and as a result was one of the most modest and humble people I knew.

For a second, I considered not answering her call, but I immediately felt guilty for having that thought. Estella had spent the past few weeks consoling me, making sure I ate, and snapping me out of the deep thoughts I often fell into. The least I could do was answer the phone.

“Hey, Hadie!” Estella said in her brightest tone before I could say anything.

“Hi, Estee,” I responded, my tone faint.

“I was wondering if you wanted to have a girls’ night at your house. Just you and I. I’ve missed you.” Her bright tone dropped away and I could detect the concern in her voice.

I paused, realizing she had made no mention of Mariah joining us. Mariah Brand, or “Ray” as we affectionately called her, was our other best friend. She had tried to take my mind off Lincoln by distracting me with her gossip—who was dating who, break ups, and cute boys—but I had never really been one for gossip and now I cared for it even less.

I loved Mariah, but Estella was better at giving me the silence I needed, while Mariah liked to talk non-stop. A part of me still didn’t want to do something as normal as a girls’ night. It sounded so silly, so juvenile, in the grand scheme of things.

Still, I didn’t want to let Estella down. I had to give her some sort of hope that I was trying to get better. These days, I did things to make other people feel better rather than myself.

I ate because I knew it would make Mom happy; I pretended to do homework because I knew it would reassure Dad that I was back to normal; and I socialized with my friends because I wanted them to think that I would one day go back to being the same Hadie I had always been. But I was no longer her.

“Yeah, I guess that would be okay,” I said, unable to hide the reluctance in my voice. I knew my parents would have no problem with Estella sleeping over. They loved her like a second child. “I don’t know if I’ll be great company though.”

“It’s okay, I’ll be great company enough for the both of us,” Estella said, sounding unperturbed. “I have a tutoring session tomorrow, but I’ll get Anna to drop me off at your house afterwards.”

“Don’t worry about it. I can take you. Penthill, right?”

The old Hadie would have offered to give her friend a ride, so I had to keep up the act of being normal. Besides, I’d heard about Estella’s interesting situation with one of the notorious brothers of the Madden gang, and I was more than a little intrigued.

“Yes, at the library. Then we could go straight to your house when I’m done.” We always went to my house or Mariah’s. Estella didn’t have a great living situation and I think she didn’t want any of us to see how she lived.

“Sounds good. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

We exchanged ‘byes’ and I hung up the phone, immediately wishing I hadn’t talked myself into staying out tomorrow longer than I needed to.

No. I had to do this. I had to escape the prison that had become my room where memories of Lincoln Bracks haunted me.

***

Truth be told, I’d been expecting the infamous Vincent Madden to look a little more imposing. The guy standing in front of me was about Estella’s height with a lean, muscular build, and dark brown hair that was spiked a little at the top. He also had a lopsided grin on his face which took away from the intimidating factor.

Beside him was a cute, blond-haired boy with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. That had to be Dylan, the little boy Estella tutored.

“He’s not very scary looking,” I said in a low tone as we approached them.

Estella shot me a confused look and then laughed as realization dawned on her face. “Oh, that’s not Vincent. That’s one of his friends, Three.”

Three? This guy’s name was Three?

“Hey, hey,” the Three guy said, that silly grin still on his face.

“Who’s she?” Dylan asked, scrutinizing me with those piercing eyes.

“This is my friend, Hadie,” Estella introduced. “Hadie, this is Dylan and Three.”

No, I hadn’t misheard. She had said Three.

Dylan extended a small hand. “It’s very nice to meet you, Hadie.”

I was more than a little surprised that the little brother of a Madden wanted to shake my hand. I tried not to let my surprise show though. “Hi, Dylan, it’s nice to meet you, too.”

“Hadie?” Three asked, his mouth struggling to form the unfamiliar word. “That’s a strange name.”

Really? He was going to give me grief over my name when his name was even stranger than mine.

“I totally understand why you think that,
Three
,” I shot back, the sarcasm clear in my voice.

An amused smiled crept onto his face, which only annoyed me further because I was not some delinquent’s entertainment.

“Alright, let’s get inside,” Estella intervened, sensing that the introductions weren’t off to a great start. “It’s way too cold out here.”

“Okay!” Dylan said, as we headed inside the library. “What’s that?” His eyes fell to the plastic bag that Estella was carrying which had a large Tupperware container inside.

“Chicken stew,” she said with a smile.

“Really? Thank you!” There was a bounce in Dylan’s step as we headed to a table in the back corner.

As Dylan and Estella sat down, I hovered beside the table uncertainly. I wasn’t sure if I should sit with them since it was a tutoring lesson, or if I should just go and wait in my car until she was done.

“I’m going to go through Dylan’s homework with him,” Estella said kindly, turning to me. “You’re welcome to sit with us.”

I shook my head. “No, it’s fine. I don’t want to be a distraction. I’ll just occupy myself.”

Estella chuckled at that. “Of course. What am I thinking? You have an entire library of books to keep you company.”

My insides clenched at her words. That wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind.

Everyone stereotyped me as the nerdy bookworm, but I hadn’t read a book since Lincoln had died. Estella didn’t need to know that—no one did.

“Exactly,” I said, shooting her a tight smile.

Taking a deep breath, I ventured towards the classics section in the back, trying to keep up my façade. I had to act like old Hadie; maybe if I tried hard enough I would eventually go back to being her.

Before Lincoln’s death, I’d lost myself in the pages of books. I was definitely not one of those e-reader people. Nope, give me a physical book—one that smelled old and musty, with a few creased pages—and I would be right at home, but now reading my favorite romance novels left a weird taste in my mouth, like I’d just sucked on a slice of lemon.

Happy endings weren’t real. Fairytale romances weren’t real. They were just false words created to entertain us for a brief moment and whisk us away from our miserable and boring lives.

In truth, reality was harsh. In reality you didn’t end up with the love of your life; you struggled to live in a world without them.

“So, you like to read, huh?”

Three’s voice made me jump, and I knocked my shoulder against the edge of a bookshelf beside me. He laughed at my reaction and reached out to rub the sore spot where my shoulder had connected with the shelf.

Thrown off by the small gesture, I took a step back uncertainly. “Uh, I’m fine.”

He shrugged and turned his attention back to the row of books in his line of sight. He was a lot taller than me—then again, everyone was, considering I was a tiny 5’1”—and now that he had taken his jacket off, I could see he was well-muscled from the way his t-shirt stretched across his shoulders and arms.

Three was literally every bad boy cliché personified. Except for the air of goofiness he had surrounding him. That was definitely not normal behavior for the member of a criminal gang.

“So, you love to read?” he asked again, reaching out to pick up a book from the shelf. As he opened it up, I noticed that it was
Great Expectations
, one of my favorites.

“Yep, I read all the time,” I lied automatically.

“You’re lying,” he said immediately.

My head jolted so fast in his direction that it felt like it might snap off. “What? Why would I be lying?”

A smile twisted on the edge of his mouth as he regarded me with deep blue eyes. “I don’t know. You tell me.”

Feeling uncomfortable, I turned to the shelf and pretended to peruse it. My eyes were gliding over the titles, barely taking anything in. I could still feel Three’s eyes on me, but I didn’t say anything.

“You’re not really the person everyone thinks you are, are you?” He finally broke the silence.

Slowly, I turned my head and looked at him as though I’d forgotten he was still standing there. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

He leaned in closer, interest sparking in his eyes. “There you go lying again. Seriously, who lies about reading books? I’d lie about not reading them. Reading books doesn’t exactly give you
street cred
.”

He said ‘street cred’ as though he was making fun of me. I tried not to let the irritation show on my face, but it was too late.

“Listen here,
Three
,” I said, saying his name as though it was offensive. “I don’t know who think you are-”

“Shut your lie mouth,” he said, without batting an eye.

My mouth dropped open and I spluttered, trying to figure out how to respond to his brashness. “Do you even know how to talk to a lady? Do they teach you manners here in Penthill?”

Three chuckled, placing
Great Expectations
back on the shelf. “I don’t know if you’re much of a lady. It seems like there’s something inside you that’s caged, just waiting for someone to help set it free.”

I could tell by the way his eyes searched my face that he was actually standing there analyzing me. What the heck? Was this motorcycle gang dude a psychologist on the side?

“Do you provide therapy sessions to the people you mug, too?” I asked, my tone dry. I was trying not to get sucked into a conversation with him, but I was actually interested in what he was saying now. Mainly because he had hit close to the truth. He was seeing me in a way my friends didn’t.

Maybe it was because my friends saw what they wanted to see. They saw what they expected to see. Three saw what I was really like based on first impressions.

He let out a laugh, one that sent shivers running up my arms. “Nothing like that. I guess it’s kinda my job to people watch. I report back to the Madden gang about members from other gangs; what they’re doing, if they’re acting shady, if something’s suspect. Years of experience watching people with secrets.”

He didn’t seem proud of this; in fact his tone was a little hollow as he spoke. Obviously, there was more to his story than he was letting on, and that intrigued me even more.

“You’re not what I expected,” I admitted, liking that I didn’t have to put on an act in front of this stranger.

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