Authors: Kassandra Kush
Tags: #YA Romance
Malene, Jackie, Tami,
and anyone else that this book
has touched or helped.
Thank you for reading, and
thank you for your words
This one is for you.
Kassandra M. Kush
Copyright © 2013
All rights reserved.
Smashwords Edition 2015
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
The information in this book is distributed on an “as is” basis, without warranty. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this work, neither the author nor the publisher shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cover Design © Regina Wamba
Mae I Design
Models: Kelly Kush & Kate Luzniak
ALSO BY KASSANDRA KUSH
The Fallen Chronicles
The Things We Can’t Change Series
The Love Story
The Lightwood Legacy
The Summer I Gave Up Boys
The Summer I Gave Up Boys: Isaiah’s Story
The Fallen Chronicles Book Four:
The Summer I Got Back with Cooper Grace
The Things We Can’t Change
Staring at the Stars
I’m just rolling over to avoid a patch of sunlight hitting my eyes when I find myself roughly grabbed around the bicep and hauled out of bed. I crash to the floor, blankets and all, squirming and cussing as I try and fail to break my fall.
“What the hell, Dad?” I shout, fighting to get out of the sheets.
“You should have left for the Parkers fifteen minutes ago,” my dad says flatly. He’s standing over me, hands on his hips, his face expressionless.
last week, Dad,” I say from the floor.
I cease struggling, since I can’t seem to make headway on the sheets that are doing their best to keep me captive, and just look at my dad. “If he’s dead,” I say slowly, wondering if I’ll have to spell it out for him, “then I doubt anyone cares if I finish my punishment. I doubt they want me hanging around period.”
The way my dad’s face contorts tells me I ought to have kept all my rationale to myself.
“Get up off that floor and get your ass over to the Parkers,” he hisses. “Ian Parker was generous enough to keep you out of jail and I’ll be damned if I allow you to waste that chance. If you don’t get over there and keep on working off your debt to them, I’ll turn you in. A deal is a deal, even if he died.”
I can only stare up at my dad, blinking in shock. “You’d turn me in.” I say it flatly, no emotion, not a question, because I already know. He’d do it, actually do it. Turn in his only son for some stupid incident that involved nothing more than a cleanable brick wall of a house and a can of spray paint.
We continue to stare at each other, until my dad finally says, “You have ten minutes to get downstairs.” Then he turns and leaves the room.
I want to punch the floor, shout and swear out my frustration, but I also don’t want my dad to come back in here. So I bury the rage and feelings just like always and meticulously work my way out of the blankets. I toss on a pair of gym shorts and an old t-shirt and am downstairs in five minutes, not ten.
I enter the kitchen to grab some food, anything I can eat while I walk to the Parkers’ house. My dad is standing in front of the coffee pot, studiously watching it brew coffee and ignoring me. He doesn’t say a word as I grab a banana and a package of Pop-Tarts and leave the house.
I wolf everything down as I head down Grandview Avenue toward Fifth and stand waiting for a light to change, heart racing as I look over the crosswalk. I can’t ever look at the damn things the same way ever again. As a kid, a crosswalk is supposed to be a safe zone. The white figure tells you that you can walk and if you’re in those white lines, nothing can touch you. How wrong life is.
I pull my gaze away from the white lines and focus instead on the beater car that is waiting right next to me at the red light. It’s a billion-year old Cadillac, bouncing up and down due to the bass system, which is probably worth more than the car at this point. “Payphone” by Maroon 5 is blaring out at a level that everyone in Grandview can probably hear.
I know it’s hard to remember the people we used to be, it’s even harder to picture that you’re not here next to me.
Different kind of love, same principle. I feel like Cindy has been dead for years already, not just three months. It seems the person I was before her death—someone who still buried their emotions but at least allowed himself to feel
, for Cindy—is a dim memory. I can’t remember who I was before I came down to this: an honest-to-goodness delinquent, working his way out of juvie, associating with people who would actually try and steal cars and shoot people.
Cameron didn’t shoot Ian Parker
, I tell myself firmly. I’d looked into his eyes, seen the truth there. I didn’t think he had the balls for it, anyway. Something I’d noticed was that he was very good at making other people do the illegal things, instead of committing the crime himself. This was because then he couldn’t actually be accused of the crime, and because I think he would chicken out when it came right down to it.
I shove all these thoughts away because they’re making me uncomfortable and after all, it’s the one thing that I do best. The light turns green, the little pedestrian lights up, and both the car and I head across the street. The Caddy drives away while I turn and go down Fifth toward Riverside, but I swear I can hear the damn song the whole way to the Parker house.
If happy ever after did exist, I would still be holding you like this, all these fairy tales are full of shit, one more fucking love song I’ll be sick.
“Amen, Adam,” I mutter as I ascend the driveway. I may be only seventeen, but I sure as hell know one thing; happy ever afters and fairy tales don’t exist. If they did, Cindy would still be alive. My mom would still be around. There’s no such thing as a happy ending.
I circle into the backyard, not bothering to go through the house and tell anyone that I’m here. I know what needs done. I just grab a shovel from the shed and get to work, attacking the ground, trying to work the feelings out of me, feel them exit my body as sweat and, though I’d never tell anyone, tears.
If this was a fairy tale, Cindy would come back to life. But as I go on living without her, I’m realizing that her death is something I can’t ever change. And it’s tearing me apart.
She almost catches me.
It’s early in the morning, for summer time, at least, and I’m in my dad’s office. I’ve been sleeping in there ever since the funeral a few days ago, waking up with cramps in my lower back and neck from the small, uncomfortable leather couch. Most of the time I’m not even aware of falling asleep.
I just sit there most nights, curled up in a blanket with the small television on but not watching it, unable to close my eyes and see visions of my dad, covered in blood or lying in the coffin. My last memories of him, and they’re not anything I wish to see. Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the middle of the day, since I stay up well past four or five in the morning.
For the past couple days I’ve been under control, tightly laced, feet and mind firmly planted onto the earth. This morning though, I wake up to an onslaught of emotions trying to tear at me, claw me down and my mind tries to escape. I tell myself no, at first. I try just pulling my hair, rake my nails across my skin and I even listen to Tony’s message. None of it helps.
And so I’m sitting down behind my dad’s desk once again, preparing to do something I told myself I’d never do again. The letter opener—or, might as well be correct,
—is centered directly in front of me. The sleeve of my left arm is pulled all the way up past my elbow and I can see the long gash from last time, finally beginning to scab over.
It’s deep and still twinges when I move, but the pain isn’t enough to keep me grounded and I’m finally giving in to the urge to do it again. For just a little while, I felt clean, as though some of the pressure of all that black, poisoned blood was eased by letting some of it out. But just like always, the feeling returns, and I have to go to desperate measures to get some relief once again. After the mess from last time, I had grabbed some gauze from my dad’s old first aid kit and stuffed it into the desk drawer, just in case there was another time. Even though while I was doing it, I was swearing to myself there wouldn’t be.
And yet here I am again, knife meticulously positioned in front of me, gauze to my right, sleeve of my left arm pulled back, head threatening to float away. I’m reaching out for the knife and have barely brushed it with my fingertips when Clarissa bursts into the office without warning.
I swallow back a squeak of surprise and fright and swipe my hand across the desk, the gauze and knife hitting the carpeted floor with dull
. Clarissa doesn’t even notice my jerky movements or shock as she flies across the room to the window behind the desk, which faces the backyard.
“What is he doing here?” She’s practically screeching and I have to resist the urge to cover my ears.
“What is who doing where?” I ask, quickly taking advantage of her turned back and kicking both the knife and the gauze underneath the desk. I pull my sleeve down as well and then advance on the window.