Read Forever Red Online

Authors: Carina Adams

Forever Red

Forever Red

by Carina Adams

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Forever Red

By Carina Adams

 

Copyright ©2015 Carina Adams

All Rights Reserved

 

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without the expressed permission of the author.

 

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Images Copyright

Cover art created by M.S. Fowler of 

Melchelle Designs

 

Cover photo by Shauna Kruse of

Kruse Images and Photography

 

Cover model Lance Jones

 

Editing by Kristen Switzer of Switzer Edits

For my Emma

 

We might not have the same parents,

But my heart doesn’t know that.

 

You were my first best friend,

Are the constant in this crazy world,

And the one who just understands.

 

No one in the world loves their little sister

More than I love you!

Prologue
~ Cecelia ~

 

Minutes before the bell rang, I stood in front of my class reminding them that, even though it was only Thursday, I wasn’t going to be in on Monday because our school had classes every other day. “I expect you all to go easy on Mrs. Lowe.” I narrowed my eyes at the green-eyed senior in the back row. “Especially you, Justin.” A few of the students made snide comments, but almost everyone laughed. Justin, my favorite student – even though I would never admit that – only shrugged in a “Who, me?” manner and smiled. The last time I had the retired Mrs. Lowe substitute for me, Justin had been a pain in the ass.

“No homework this weekend. But”—the bell rang and my students couldn’t leave the room fast enough—“work on those speeches!” I yelled over their chatter as they fled.

“You really don’t know where you’re going this weekend?” Justin asked after the rest of his classmates were gone. Seeing the confusion on my face, he chuckled and held up his cell phone. “You’re friends with my mom on Facebook.”

I arched a brow, knowing she wouldn’t share that information with her seventeen-year-old. He beamed, reminding me for the hundredth time of another boy I’d known a long time ago – a straight A student, star athlete, and too adorable for his own good.

“I hacked her account.”

My eyes narrowed as my mind whirled, trying to remember what else was posted that he shouldn’t have seen. My security settings were tight, specifically so my students couldn’t see anything about my personal life, but I was “friends” with some of the parents. Ugh. That little shit. “Your mother is going to ground you for life when I tell her that.”

He shrugged as if it was no big deal. “So, you really letting them kidnap you?”

“Justin,” a cool voice came from the doorway, “you’re going to be late to your next class.”

Justin nodded and then slid something across my desk. “Have a happy birthday, Ms. Foster.” With a wink, he turned toward my friend. “Keep an eye on her, Mrs. B. She’s trouble.”

“Wow. I can’t believe that boy still has a crush on you.” Cora practically giggled as she came into the room and closed the door behind her. “I thought he would have outgrown it by now.”

I held in the groan, but just barely. If he thought someone needed to watch over me, he’d definitely seen too much on my profile page. Looking from her to my desk to see what Justin had left, I held up the blue Hallmark envelope and sighed. “I’m not opening this.”

Bounding across the room, she grabbed it out of my hands. “Fine, I will.” Cora Bubier was so much more than my fellow history teacher. She was on the panel that hired me, my mentor, the one teacher that constantly checked to make sure the vicious teenagers weren’t eating me alive, and for the last six years, she’d been my best friend. She looked all sweet and innocent, playing the matronly ‘good teacher’ well, but that woman was all piss and vinegar. Her husband could tell you stories… if she ever let him talk.

Before I could grab the card away from her, my door opened and Courtney Dennis, King High’s favorite gym teacher and my insane roommate, walked in. “Um… what’d I miss?”

“CeCe got a love letter from Justin,” Cora explained, laughing at my growl. “He told me to ‘keep an eye on her’ this weekend.”

I was not the oldest woman in the room, but as I stood there with my hands on my hips, watching my friends dissolve in fits of laughter, I felt much older than the thirty years I’d be turning on Sunday. Thankfully, Nina Smith, the snarky and sharp-witted biology teacher that completed our band of misfits, strolled in. “Damn it! I couldn’t get away from the whiny brats in my room. Fucking freshman. Hey! I thought you were gonna wait for me to tell her!”

“Tell me what?” I leaned back on my desk and crossed my arms. If they were canceling on me, I’d be pissed. I would find a way to exact my revenge. Something involving tar and feathers seemed appropriate.

As the ladies got their giggles under control, Cora cleared her throat and then gave me a giant smile. “We”—she motioned to the other girls—“have a surprise for you.” Pausing, for dramatic effect, she took a deep breath. “Cort won a four-pack of tickets to the hottest concert to hit the East Coast, along with a limo ride to the concert, AND backstage meet and greets for tomorrow night.” She finished her sentence with an excited screech. Yeah, I was definitely the most mature woman in this room.

They were all beaming, obviously waiting for my reaction. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out who was in Portland this weekend. I hadn’t heard of any concerts. Maybe it was in Bangor? There was the concert of the year at Gillette, but that was Saturday night. I hadn’t heard that anyone was playing closer to us, but maybe the big concert had overshadowed this one.

When they said they wanted to take me away for the weekend to celebrate my big three-oh in style, I was a little nervous. When the four of us went out, I never knew what kind of trouble we’d find. A concert sounded fun and much safer than the alternatives that had been running through my mind. I shuddered, thinking of the crazy-eyed, wild-haired man who had been wearing only chaps when he chased us down the hotel hallway the last time we all went out. A concert was definitely safer.

“Nice. Thanks, guys! Whose concert?”

“Nate Kelly!” three voices answered in unison.

They were all talking excitedly at once, except for Nina, who made some comment about loving me enough to actually go listen to music that would make her ears bleed. Nate Kelly, the man who never played small venues because his fan base was too big, was apparently going to be here in concert, and my friends were taking me to said show. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Hundreds of sold out shows in the world’s largest venues. His latest record had gone diamond. Two multi-platinum records. Two platinum records. Each of those had gone at least digital platinum. 2013 ACM male vocalist of the year. Song of the year. Video of the year. CMT’s artist of the year.
People Magazine’s
Country’s Sexiest Man.
Country Weekly’s
Hottest Bachelor. Country music’s favorite rebel. And the list goes on and on.

To say I’d followed his career was an understatement. My friends thought I was a fan because whenever I saw his name in the tabloids, I bought the magazine. The truth was that I was a glutton for punishment. I had this morbid curiosity about his life, and even though the gossip rags weren’t the best source of information, they were
something.
And, I owned every single song on my iPhone, playing them whenever I was sad, or moody, or Christ, even when I was happy, just because I wanted to hear his voice.

I didn’t know what to say. So I smiled and thanked them again, and listened to them gush about how hot he was and how it would be a dream come true to meet him. He not only had his sold-out show on Saturday night, but he was also doing a surprise show Friday. The only way in was to win tickets, and only a handful of those winners got the meet and greets. This really was the gift of a lifetime.

For someone who dreamt of meeting the country music superstar. Not for someone that never wanted to face him again.

*****

Sitting in the amazingly awesome stretch-Hummer on the way to the concert the next afternoon, my nerves were shot. I wasn’t sure how I had managed to make it through the rest of yesterday or all of today without throwing up. Or backing out.

I hadn’t even put up a very good fight when Cort came into my room earlier and handed me skinny jeans, a cut up Johnny Cash tee, and a pair of cowboy boots. Glancing down at my clothes, I was happy that she had insisted I wear this and not the short jean shorts and fringed white belly-shirt that she had on. Granted, the girl could pull it off, but she looked more like a co-ed than a phys-ed teacher. According to
US Weekly
, she was Nate’s type. Tall, brunette, banging body, and extremely beautiful. Maybe he’d be so busy staring at her that he wouldn’t even notice me.

The concert was in a little outdoor pavilion in New Hampshire, about a three-hour ride from us. We all had taken the day off, and Cora and Nina invaded our apartment around noon, bringing two air mattresses and enough alcohol to ensure an entire sorority was wasted for a weekend. God bless them. After the concert, we were coming back here and having a sleepover before heading out on another adventure tomorrow.

The limo stopped at this cute little barbecue pit, but I was too nervous to eat. My friends chatted happily while I ate a fry or two, too lost in my thoughts to join them. It had been what – eleven years since I’d seen him? Twelve? Would he even remember me? Would he kick me out of his show? Ugh. I could do this. I could stand in the audience and hear him sing to hundreds of women that would give their left eye to sleep with him.

I’d had so much more than that, and I’d let it go. Thoughts drifted through my mind, making me recall things I really didn’t want to remember.

I’d always planned to get the hell out of my hometown as soon as high school was over. Hell, once I hit tenth grade, I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough. I wanted nothing more than to see that shitty little town, and all of its residents, shrinking in my rearview mirror as soon as possible.

What I hadn’t planned on was having someone in my life who was so important that he made me question everything and wonder if I should stay. Or,
that someone
giving up everything so he didn’t have to leave me. I couldn’t let him do it, couldn’t let me be the thing that held him back, couldn’t let his love for me destroy his dreams. So I did the only thing I could do; I wrecked it all.

For me, there was no simplicity of burning bridges. No, I strapped dynamite to every single one, blowing them into tiny smithereens. Then, I bulldozed each surviving piece into a pile, doused it with kerosene, and aimed a blowtorch toward the debris, just to make sure there would be nothing left. As the flames roared to life, I danced around the blaze, drinking whiskey straight from the bottle, toasting the life I’d had, acting like a crazed woman performing a sacred ritual. As the last of the ashes drifted into the sky, fading from red hot into cold black, I sobbed, knowing there was no way I could ever undo the damage I’d just done.

It was stupid, dangerous, and devastating, but I needed to make sure every single relationship I had was destroyed. The only way I would be able to move on somewhere else was if there was no reason left for me to go back, and no way I could ever show my face there again, even if I’d wanted to. Unfortunately, I needed to hurt him, to decimate him, so he would hate me and could let me go and build a stronger life without me.

The one thing I never thought about, the one thing I hadn’t taken into consideration, was that most eighteen-year-old girls are idiots. They run on pure emotion, thinking with their heart, not their head. I had thought I was so mature, that somehow I had all the answers and knew what was best for everyone, so I made their decisions for them. In reality, I was just a naïve, small-town girl with more fashion sense than common sense – and looking back at the pictures proves that I didn’t know fashion for shit. What seemed like the perfect idea all those years ago was now my biggest regret.

If we had just followed our plan – I was going to the University of Southern Maine and he’d been accepted into the Maine College of Art – we would have found an apartment in Portland, gotten married before we could legally drink, and would still be together, living a hipster’s life in the Old Port. Before we could reach our happily ever after, though, I had overheard half of a conversation, one I’ve replayed in my mind a thousand times, and instead of asking him to explain, I drew my own conclusions. I left him so he didn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.

Since then, he’d done exactly what I knew he would. He had moved on and gotten everything he deserved. Even after all this time, seeing his face smirking back at me from the cover of whatever magazine I was looking at, caused utter emotional turmoil. He looked happy, and that made my heart soar because, in that moment, I knew I’d done the right thing. But that smile, the one he had always reserved just for me? If the pictures in
People
were real, and they sure looked like they were, he’d given my smile away to half a dozen musicians, twice as many Hollywood starlets, and a Victoria’s Secret Angel or two. And that broke my heart.

When we got to the venue, a little bitty thing in a black “Nate Kelly Bacardi Rum Tour” jacket greeted the limo and handed us each a VIP All Access Pass to hang around our necks. After reminding us to never take off the golden ticket, she led us behind the stage and down a corridor to a room that was already filled wall-to-wall with fans.

Inspiration struck then. We were in the back of the room, the far back. As in the last to get to see him. Maybe he wouldn’t have time to meet us, after all. I’d wait a few minutes, see how fast the line moved, and then, if I thought we’d get our chance, I’d tell the girls that I had to pee. But instead of coming back, I’d go hide in our seats. Genius!

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” Cora squealed next to me as if she were a tween and not a thirty-three-year-old mother of four. Grabbing my arm, she squeezed it tight. “Oh. My. God. CeCe! We’re about to meet Nate Kelly! Mother fuckin’ Nate Kelly! Eeeekkk!”

“Christ! I knew country music was full of backwoods hillbilly hicks, but incest is where I draw the fucking line. Actual mother fuckers? Ech.” On the other side of me, Nina looked around the room wildly. “Seriously,” she whisper-shouted, “look around. We’re surrounded by Bruncles and Gruncles!”

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