Authors: Amy Isan
Tags: #coming of age romance, #new adult romance, #billionaire romance, #bdsm romance, #hot new adult, #debut new adult, #debut coming of age, #angsty romance, #alcoholism romance, #recovery romance, #recovering alcoholic romance, #coming of age
by Amy Isan
Published by Amy Isan, 2013.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. July 22, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Amy Isan.
Written by Amy Isan.
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ammit,” I sighed,
sweeping back my hair. I slammed the trunk of my car and fumed, still turning
over the events of the day in my head. Earlier in the morning I opened a letter
from my college, and it said exactly what I thought it would: my scholarship
wasn’t being renewed. It went on to explain that my grade point average was too
low to maintain the scholarship. There wasn’t much I could do but go back to my
The idea left a sour
taste on my tongue.
I barely packed anything
and mostly threw my belongings into the back of my old-ass station wagon,
getting ready to drive away from the embarrassment that was my school career as
fast as I could.
I climbed in and was
thankful that the aged leather didn’t set my thighs and hands on fire.
My car started up on the
first try, which was another thing to be thankful for. Last week it was being a
lot more temperamental. I’m glad it was something to help my mood out. I swung
out of the parking lot and made my way toward the highway.
As I drove down the road,
it dawned on me that I should have called my parents to let them know I was
coming. But would it have really made a difference? I rolled down my window,
letting the greasy smell of my college town air out of my car. Both of my
parents had been drunk last time I saw I was in town. I didn’t expect that part
of them to have changed. My slipping grades certainly wouldn’t sober them up.
I daydreamed, thinking of
what I was going to do with my time off. I told myself that I would just
reapply in the fall, but I knew this was a delusion. Not only had my grades
slipped, but my motivation to keep going as well.
Maybe I should try getting
in touch with one of my friends.
Aaron came to mind, and I
smiled. I knew he had graduated on time and headed back to Maine. While we
never got together in high school, I always had a feeling things might go in
that direction. Maybe I would find out when I got home.
With the sweet breeze
tickling me and the drone of the highway suffocating the sound of my old car, I
was given some peace. At least for the next four hours.
I dreaded talking to my
dad the most. He always had a way of going on with lecturing me, as if he had
the solution to all my problems. Eventually I stopped showing up, then I
stopped calling. All told, I don’t think I had been back home in three years.
I squeezed my steering
wheel, turning my knuckles white. I didn’t even have a roommate to say goodbye
to. The thought of sharing with someone just didn’t sit right with me. What if
they stole something? Maybe I was a little bit of a shut in.
ours passed, even though
it felt a lot longer. The trees edging the side of the highway all blurred
together, with small pockets of color from spring. There weren’t many other
cars on the highway, just some truckers lazily feeling out the limits of their
I ran out of music to
listen to, so I shut the radio off. I was sick of listening to The Beatles for
what felt like the hundredth time. The landmarks around the highway soon became
more familiar, and I started thinking about the last time I had made this
freshman year. It didn’t go very well. My mom was drunk and my dad gave me a
slurred monologue about how bad his life was. It ended with him telling me I
shouldn’t ever complain about anything. After we screamed at each other, I
holed myself up in my room for the rest of the weekend. I returned back to the
college that Saturday.
I hoped things would go
better this time.
ulling off the highway,
I headed down the hauntingly familiar streets to my parents’ house. I took a
detour through the heart of downtown, wanting to see if any buildings had been
knocked down. I mean, there were at least two or three that were crumbling when
I left, so I hoped the town had grown a little.
April was in full bloom.
Delicate pink flowers were bursting all over the trees down Main Street. I
slung my arm out the window. The owner of a local flower shop waved to me. I
smiled, waving back, sure he didn’t recognize me.
Most of my friends from
high school had moved out to the west, saying, “They were sick and tired of the
east coast.” I wish I could have followed them, but the only college that
accepted me with a large enough scholarship, was the University of Maine.
Aaron was all too lucky
to get to go out west, to some college in Idaho or Montana or somewhere. I
don’t remember the name, but I remember thinking the pictures of the campus
After a couple minutes of
driving, I found my parents’ neighborhood.
This would be temporary,
wouldn’t it? Otherwise it would be my home, not my parents’ place. In another
old dilapidated suburb that was built in the 1970s, with weird colors and even
I pulled into the
driveway, my car lightly screeching to a stop. I leaned over my steering wheel
and looked up at the house.
Where I expected to find
a broken down house with worn windows and thirsty grass, I found an impressive
house I barely recognized. I glanced at the house number with some disbelief. I
knew this had to be it, but had my parents moved after all?
The last time I was here,
the house was in only what I would call shambles. Back then, the grass was
patchy and dead in spots, the trees unpruned and wiry. The paint was fading and
the wooden shingled roof decaying. Now, it looked almost decadent in
comparison. A thick and luscious lawn, fresh yellow paint, and a brand new
roof. I couldn’t help but gawk at the sight of it all.
Maybe it should have
eased my fears, but seeing the house fixed up only made my throat tighter. Had
they moved and not told me?
I turned my car off and
climbed out. I cautiously made my way to the front door.
I fumbled for my key and,
to my surprise, the lock turned. I walked in and saw that while the outside
looked fantastic, the inside was still the same. That lingering smell of smoke
permeated the air, discoloring the white walls to a pale yellow, and clinging
to my clothes. Same old, same old.
“Hello! Anyone here?”
I shrugged off one of my
bags, letting it crumple to the floor.
I heard the sound of bare
feet on hardwood, and my dad turned the corner of the entryway, looking
“Caitlin? Is that you?”
my dad said. When his eyes caught me, he rushed up and hugged me, taking me in
his arms. I hugged him back, a little surprised at his strength. His voice was clear
and even. “I didn’t know you were coming, did you try calling?”
I wheezed. “Yes...” I
He pulled back and held
me at arm’s length, giving me a gentle squeeze. He had aged, no doubt, but he
looked younger. His eyes didn’t look as exhausted, and they were clear and
bright. His clothes looked neater, less rumpled. If someone had told me he
wasn’t my dad, I would’ve believed them.
“Cat, you’re looking
good, but I shouldn’t be surprised.”
He leaned over and picked
up my bag. A necklace slipped out of his shirt and dangled in front of him. It
had a medallion on it. He chuckled a little.
“Dad you look great, did
you lose weight? What happened?”
“I got sober, that’s what
happened.” He grabbed the medallion and held it up for me. “I’ve been sober for
two years now.”
“Oh my god,” I covered my
mouth in disbelief. “That’s incredible!”
He laughed, his cheeks
creasing with dimples. “It is a long story, and I’ll have to tell you another
time. Do you want to see your mom?”
I nodded. He started
walking down the hall, calling out my mom’s name: “Tammy! Cat’s home!”
He pushed open the door
to my parents’ bedroom and I saw my mom laying in bed, looking groggy and
tired. Her night stand had a couple of empty beer cans on it.
My heart sank. My dad
might have been sober, but my mom wasn’t.
I bit my lip, hoping I
wouldn’t have to see her like this.
“Danny what are you
yelling for? Is Cat actually here?” my mom said.
“Hi mom,” I said.
She lifted her arm,
beckoning me to come closer. While my dad looked younger, she looked a
I sat on the bed next to
her, and she touched my arm with a sigh. “I’m glad you’re home.” She let out a
dry, hacking cough. I put her inhaler in her hand. A quick pump and sharp
intake of air later, she was okay.
That made one of us.
fter our bittersweet
reunion, I dashed back out to my car to start moving. It took a couple of
trips, but I managed to drop the last box of junk in the center of my room
before I broke a sweat.
Standing there, I
realized how eerie it felt to be home again: the same lightly washed color that
I had left it when I went to college. Three walls were painted a deep red,
while the last was painted a blue. The objects littering my dressers and sheets
were things I decided were for “high-school” me, and didn’t belong in my life
Sitting on the bed the
sheets and springs sank with their characteristic moan. I was used to them from
sleeping in the same bed since I was eleven. Even then, it was a hand-me down
from my parents.
I picked up my alarm
clock and corrected the time The face of it was covered with dust. Everything
in the room was really, muting the colors of the dressers and bed sheets. It’d
all have to be washed, which was agitating.
I frowned. I really
wanted to be anywhere but here.
“I should call Aaron,” I
mumbled to myself. I slipped my phone out of my purse and dialed his number,
hoping it was still the same.
“Hello?” Aaron's voice
came loud and clear.
“Oh thank god you
answered.” I leaned against my bed, flattening my pillows.
“Cat? Is that you? What
you are doing?” I could hear his TV through the phone.
“I was going to ask you,
are you still in Bangor?”
“Yes...” he hesitated,
and I heard the TV turn off, “are you? Do you want to get together? Go to a bar
“That’d be fantastic. Can
you come pick me up? I just drove from UM, my legs feel like bricks.” I
absentmindedly rubbed my knees, the chill of the house getting to them.
“Totally, I’ll be there
real soon — you’re still down by Pine Creek right?”
“Right.” He hung up.
Goodbyes weren’t really his thing, never had been.
I tossed my phone aside
and closed my eyes, wondering how the night would turn out.
aron came to my house
and knocked in his usual way: three quick raps. I darted down the hall and let
“Aaron, I can’t even
remember how many times I’ve told you that one cares if you just come in.” He
looked good though, somehow pulling off a denim jacket. He looked a little
stronger too, but I didn’t comment on it.
He brushed something off
his sleeve and stared at the ground for a moment, like he was watching dust
fall off his jacket. He met my eyes.
“I just can’t get over
the feeling that I’m being rude,” he finally said.
“You’re not,” I said, “if
anything, you’re being rude by ignoring me.”
“Okay, sorry, Cay.”
The hair on the back of
my neck raised, “‘Cay,’” I repeated. “Don’t call me that, I never let anyone
call me that.”
Aaron chuckled a little,
a bit of nervousness entering his voice. “Why not? I think it’s cute.”
I waved his compliment
away. “It doesn’t matter, I don’t like it.”
His eyes flashed. “Oh, I
get it.” He continued, “you only let your boyfriends call you that.”
I corrected him, suddenly
growing a bit agitated. “No. Only one person has ever called me that, and I
told him not to either, he just didn’t listen to me is all.”
He nodded and stared at
me. “Good thing I’m here, then, you
need a drink. Let’s go.”
e headed out, he was
more familiar with the town than I was at this point, especially in the “adult
world.” He chose a seedy place near the edge of downtown. When I didn’t
recognize the name, he assured me it was fairly new.
We walked in after
getting our IDs manhandled by the bouncer, who stared a little too long at me
as we brushed past. The place was authentic, a light fog grazing the floor from
the machines, and a thundering bass pounding at us from all directions. A small
dance floor had a bunch of couples younger than us grinding on each other, and
I smirked at the idea of even dancing. Let alone meeting anyone in this town
who I’d care to grind on. Maybe Aaron?
We sat down at a little
two person table at the edge of the dance-floor, facing the bar. The barstool’s
feet wobbled and the table was sticky. I didn’t complain.
“That bouncer must’ve
liked you,” Aaron said. “How did he know we weren’t together?”
“Maybe he didn’t care. I
saw him staring at me too, real classy of him.”
He laughed, “Well he is a
bouncer.” I always liked his laugh. His eyes would crinkle right up, and it was
impossible not to join him. But there was a reason why we never got together.
No energy, no spark.
I waved, catching the
attention of who appeared to be the only server that night. She looked frazzled
and exhausted. She saw me and did her best to maneuver through the small venue,
dodging between drunk customers and the like.
“What can I get you two?”
she asked, almost gasping for breath.
Aaron smiled at her,
“Busy tonight huh?”
“You wouldn’t believe
“We’ll try to be easy
then,” Aaron said, giving me a quick glance. “I’ll have a whiskey and coke.”
The waitress scribbled,
and I almost blurted out my order before she could even look at me. “I’ll have