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Authors: B.K. Rivers

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Raining Down Rules

BOOK: Raining Down Rules
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Raining Down Rules

 

 

BK Rivers

 

 

Raining Down Rules

 

Copyright © 2015 by BK Rivers.

All rights reserved.

First Print Edition: February 2016

 

 

Limitless Publishing, LLC

Kailua, HI 96734

www.limitlesspublishing.com

 

Formatting: Limitless Publishing

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-68058-488-2

ISBN-10: 1-68058-488-X

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

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 locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.

 

Dedication

 

For everyone who has ever loved and lost,

but learned to love again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Four Months Ago

 

Jemma

 

I haven’t kissed anyone in more than a thousand days, so when my date, Cody, leans in for the customary end-of-the-first-date kiss, I step away, bring my fist to my mouth, and pretend to cough.

“Sorry,” I say, quickly trying to come up with a valid excuse. I should have had one at the ready. “I’ve been fighting a cold or something for a couple days.” Lame? Yes. Effective? Apparently. He backs away, shoves his hands in the pockets of his khaki Dockers, and clears his throat.

“All right, well…good night. I’ll call you.” He walks away from the door to my dorm and I have the feeling I’ll never hear from him again.

“How’d it go?” Trish asks eagerly as she looks up from painting her toenails an obnoxious hot pink color.

I plop down on my bed, which sits across from hers, sigh, and pull a pillow over my head. “It was fine until the end and I pretended I was coming down with something so he wouldn’t kiss me.” I cringe as I await her reaction.

Trish’s mouth drops open. “You did what? I thought you liked him.”

Did I like him? Sure, I guess. He’s a few inches taller than me, pursuing a degree in microbiology, seems responsible, and, until five minutes ago, seemed into me. I liked the way he kept his light brown hair trimmed neatly and parted to one side. His smile was nice and his teeth were straight. He even had a White Shadow CD playing in his car, my favorite band. But that doesn’t mean I will throw my rules out the window.

“Yeah, I liked him.”

“Buuut?” Trish knows me too well. We’ve been roommates for two years now. Where I’m quiet and reserved, she’s loud and boisterous. You’d think we were destined to hate each other, but somehow we hit it off and became fast friends.

“Trish, I just can’t date. It goes against everything I’ve known for so long. I think I’m done with boys.”

She chews on her bottom lip, her brows drawn together. “So, you’re changing sides, then?”

“What? No!” I exclaim. “I’m just not going to date.”

“You can’t just…not date. That’s not normal.”

“Easy for you to say.” Trish has an exotic girl-next-door look with the added bonus of her outgoing personality, which makes the guys practically line up for a chance to date her. Her coal-black hair is sleek and hangs just below her shoulders, which she claims is only so people can tell the difference between her and Cher. As if the length of her hair is really what distinguishes their differences. “You never have trouble with guys asking you out.”

“True,” she admits. “But I don’t give off the Ice Queen vibe. If you’d lighten up, you’d go out on just as many dates as I do.”

“I wish it were that easy.”

“Whatever,” she says with a flip of her hair. “I thoroughly enjoy dating and I think you should too. You’re only twenty and you act like you’re an old maid. That vajayjay of yours is probably shriveled up like my grandmother’s.”

“Trish!” My phone buzzes beside me and Gran’s name is revealed on the caller ID. “Speaking of grandmothers,” I tease, making us both laugh. I answer the phone after I’ve controlled my giggles.

“Hi, Gran,” I say while I grit my teeth, trying hard not to laugh.

“Hi, my darling,” she begins. “How are things at school?” Her code words for
I miss you
.

“They’re good,” I say, my code for
I miss you too
. “Trish and I are getting ready to go to a movie. How are you?”

Trish mouths, “We are?”

I shake my head and shrug my shoulders.

“Honey, I’ve got some news.” Gran’s voice holds a twinge of sadness, something I haven’t heard from her in a very long time. “I’ve been diagnosed with stage four liver cancer.”

“What? You’re really healthy, Gran, that’s not possible.” My breath catches in my chest; my lungs gather air but won’t release it. Dark spots start to dance in front of my eyes.

“Just because I’ve been healthy in the past doesn’t mean I’m immune to the damn disease. I’ve got it and the doctors have given me a pretty grim outlook.”

My small shared room tips sideways—at least that’s how it feels as my vision darkens and blurs. “How bad is it, Gran?”

A long pause passes between us. Silence builds on the line, starting out as a delicate snowflake before crashing to the earth and rolling into a massive snowball. The weight of the quiet between us presses down on me.

“I think you should come home.”
As she utters those words my phone slips from my hands and falls to the floor, shattering the screen.
Just like the song “My Shattered Life” by White Shadow. Just like my life, it always follows the songs from my favorite band as if they wrote each album just for me.

 

***

 

Present Day

 

Of course the radio is playing a tribute to White Shadow today. They’ll be performing in Warner later tonight and I’ve foolishly decided to attend. I have tried to cull my crush on Jordan Capshaw, the band’s lead singer, but it’s really hard since I’ve been pining for him for six years. This concert will not only conjure up memories of how hard I’ve crushed on him over the years, but all the wrongs in my life as well. All the painful memories of my life will be sung for the whole arena. White Shadow’s CDs should have been titled
Jemma Bowers’ Life
. Why am I going to this concert and torturing myself?

Slowing to a stop at one of the three stoplights on Main Street in Torrance, Washington, I glance over my left shoulder and watch as an elderly couple walks down the street arm in arm toward the greasy burger joint. Gran should be with them, her friends, but the meds she’s on have her essentially housebound. Gripping the steering wheel tightly, I clench my teeth as I think about the health risks for her if she leaves the house, and so I am off to Warner to pick up what she needs for another two weeks.

Gran says it’s good for me to leave the house every now and then and act like a twenty-year-old. I’m sure she’s right, but then I risk seeing people who I’ve tried to avoid for so long. Whenever I do leave the ranch, I make excuses to drive to the next town over, hoping to increase the odds of keeping my distance.

Today, however, I have to stop off at the corner gas station and fill up my tank. At least there I don’t have to go inside to pay. I pull up behind a large black Ford truck, the only space open, and begin to fill my car. The sandy-blond-haired guy with the five o’clock shadow using the pump in front of me keeps glancing my way. I duck my head and study the scuffs on my shoes instead of the way his shirt hugs him like a second skin. It didn’t do that when he was in high school.

“Jemma? Jemma Bowers?” Oh crap, his quick wave and tip of his head indicates he recognizes me. I give him my customary tight-lipped smile and nod, hoping he’ll drop it. But he doesn’t. Instead, he briskly walks toward me and I can think only of how much I want to hide. I can’t handle running into people I knew once. “God, I thought it was you. How are you?”

“Doing good,” I say numbly. There is nowhere to go and my tank isn’t yet full.

“Sorry,” he says, revealing a perfect set of dimples in both his cheeks, eliciting a swirl in my stomach. “Vic Harper. I graduated a few years ahead of you.”

Yes. I remember you
. I’m sure all the girls from high school would remember him. “Right, how are you?” Okay, this is exactly why I avoid the people here in Torrance. Vic was a senior when I was a freshman. He played football and basketball, drove a crappy truck, and looked like a freaking model in high school. Yes, maybe I had a tiny crush on him. Who didn’t?

“I’m great. Heading to work, how about you?”

Deciding to spare him the details and cut the conversation short, I say, “Yeah, well, it was good to see you.”

His brows drop suddenly as though I’ve said something confusing. Doesn’t he know a brush-off when one is given? “Hey, listen, you and I should go out sometime and catch up.” His dimples are extremely distracting.

“I’m not really…going out, right now.” I won’t make the same mistake I did when I was seventeen, young, and naive. I will protect myself from the inevitability of someone leaving me like my father did sixteen years ago.

“Oh, okay. Well, hey, I’ll see you around, then.”

“Sure.”

Back in my car, I drop my head to my steering wheel and clench my fists around the leather grip. When Vic pulls away, my keys slip from my hand and as I reach for them, I hit the windshield wipers and groan in frustration. I realize how much of a jerk I was, but seeing him unnerved me, and I do my very best to keep that from ever happening. Instead, I focus on the drive to Warner, where Gran’s specialty meds await me at the apothecary. Every two weeks I head north on a highway full of hilly farm landscapes and narrow roads. The doctors say the drugs are only experimental and there are no guarantees they’ll help with the cancer, but they are our only option at this point. She’s been on them for six weeks now and I’m no expert, but she seems to be feeling more like her old self. Anything that helps her feel better is okay in my book.

Quickly finding Trish’s number in my speed dial, I wait for her to answer. She’s an “answer at the beginning of the fourth ring” kind of gal, which both irritates me and makes me laugh.

“Hey, doll!” Her voice is like a breath of fresh air. Man, I miss that girl. “On your way to Warner?” She knows me too well.

“Yep. I’m calling to bug you about coming out here. I need some Trish time.”

“Girl, you know I’d totally be there if I didn’t have class, my internship, and like a hundred guys knocking at my door.”
All probably true
. “And FYI, you’re the one who left me here in New York.”

“I know, but it’s been forever since we got to hang out. I miss being roomies.”

“Me too.” She sighs. “But hey, spring break is only like what, three weeks away?”

“Three weeks of torture,” I mumble. “I guess it’s not horrible. I just really miss my friend. Torrance is so…there are just too many memories.” Painful memories I haven’t told anyone about.

“Don’t you have any friends from high school who are still around?”

“There’s no one like you,” I say in a rush, avoiding the topic altogether. “Just get your skinny butt over here soon.”

“Will do, girlie. I gotta dash, class starts in five minutes. Talk to you soon.” Before I have time to answer, the line goes silent, allowing my mind to wander for the remaining twenty-five minutes until I arrive at the apothecary.

With my windows rolled down so I can enjoy the unusually mild February weather, I turn the radio up, which, thankfully, has moved on from White Shadow songs. The wind and the chill give my cheeks a healthy flush as I sing along loudly to the radio the rest of the way to Warner.

I have several hours to kill before the concert after I pick up Gran’s meds, so I spend my time touring model homes and browsing high-end furniture shops. Even though I wasn’t able to finish my interior design degree at NYU, I still enjoy dreaming about the day when I can.

An hour before the concert begins, I park my car in the crowded lot and say a quick prayer that Gran will be okay while I’m here. That she has all she needs for the night and that she’ll rest and wake up feeling better tomorrow than today. She encouraged me to go to the concert and I agreed, even if I’m not ready to relive all my old memories. But I still worry about Gran when I’m not there.
Please let her be okay when I get home.

 

BOOK: Raining Down Rules
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