Authors: Ava O'Shay
Copyright © 2014, Ava O’Shay
All rights reserved. Ebooks are not transferable. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, includin photocopying, recording, or by any information storage system without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Edited by Kara Leigh Miller
Cover Art by Raven Books and Design
Book design by Raven Books and Design
ISBN 13: 978-1-63443-714-1
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Raven Books and Design, LLC electronic publication: 2014
Raven Books and Design, LLC
Dryden, WA United States of America
To the children and the stories they share with me.
Never give up hope and NEVER let anyone define you or make you feel less than you are.
Table of Contents
Tuesday, September 2
The hovering orderlies were driving Serenity insane. She knew they were waiting for her and her twin brother, Quill, to say their goodbyes. To the staff her grandmother was a lifeless body needing to be wrapped up and taken to the morgue, but to Serenity she’d been their savior. She was going to take every God damn minute she wanted.
They could fucking wait.
Serenity glanced over at where Quill stationed himself against the wall, his heel tapping out a never ending beat to some song in his head.He refused to look at the lifeless body of the only person who had ever cared about them. She was surprised he’d lasted as long as he had. Quill didn’t do emotions.
Serenity’s thumb moved across the back of her Grandma’s cool hand before she lowered her forehead to the edge of the mattress. She wanted to cry, but the emotions building up in her were so much bigger than what crying could ever release.
Quill pushed off the wall, rubbing his hands up and down the front of his jeans. “I got to get out of here.”
Serenity looked up. She knew he was going straight to his buddy’s house to drink the day away, but he was her brother, her
for fuck sake and she needed him here with her. “Don’t you dare leave me to deal with this alone.” Her voice was thick with emotion. He had to see she needed him. “Please Quill,” she whispered.
Quill ran his hands over his face. The three o’clock shadow he sported scratched against his calloused palms. “Fuck.”
Serenity watched while he worked through a variety of emotions, none of which would lead him to stay and help her with the details of their grandmother’s death.
“Ren?” He was pleading with her to give him permission to drown his sorrows.
With a nod, Serenity told him to go. She’d taken care of him in the past. She’d take care of him now. “Go. I’ll meet up with you later.”
Quill ran the back of his sleeve over his eyes and walked out.
The smell of wet earth filled the air around them. Ren swallowed, trying to push the bile back down her throat. The last thing she wanted was to hurl in the middle of the cemetery.
“Holy fucking shit, what’s she doing here?” Quill glared at Ren. “Why did you invite her?”
“What?” Ren looked up from the casket. She couldn’t believe her grandma was dead. She couldn’t believe she was so close to graduation, and her life had turned to complete shit. But most of all she couldn’t believe her mother had shown up. “Are you kidding me? I didn’t even know she was in town.”
Ren, a very hung-over, possibly still drunk, Quill, and the pastor watched their mom wobble and stumble down the path to the graveside. She was drunk, high, or strung out or maybe all of the above. Whatever she was, as soon as she reached the hole their grandma was waiting to be dropped in, she began snorting and sniffling, continuously running her hand under her nose to wipe up a stream of snot. Finally, she let go with a wail that lasted through the short service. Static had her mom’s dress bunched up around her knees, and her hair was askew even though it was obvious she’d tried to do something with it. Her current boyfriend stood bare-chested, in a leather biker vest, rubbing her butt as if that would console her. Ren was at a loss as to why her mother was even there. The woman hated their grandmother. And Ren hated her mother with every cell of her body.
Quill put an arm around Ren’s shoulder and pulled her under his oversized umbrella. She had yet to cry. She loved grams, but she’d run out of tears years ago. Ren couldn’t remember the last time she cried, but she was sure it was connected to her mother.
And Ren wouldn’t give her tears again.
“Ren would you like to say anything?” asked the pastor.
She looked in his direction, her eyes taking a moment to focus. Quill nudged her with his shoulder.
Ren shook her head. “No. No thank you.”
He nodded and wrapped up the service.
Quill turned to lead Ren back toward the building that housed the offices of the Funeral Home. Their mom stumbled toward them, her heels sticking in the wet grass causing her to stumble leaving one shoe stuck in the wet grass. The guy grabbed her arm, saving her before she face planted in the middle of the cemetery.
Ren closed her eyes and took a deep breath before facing her mom.
“Serenity,” Mom repeated, losing her balance again and falling forward. Biker boy pulled her close, supporting her on her unsteady feet.
Her mom started petting at Ren’s rainbow colored hair, ignoring her correction. “Serenity. What have you done to your beautiful hair?” Her pupils were dilated and Ren could tell she was flying high.
“You lost the right to comment on my appearance when you gave up parental rights.” Ren blew out a breath in an attempt to keep from swatting her mom’s hand away.
Her mom’s crying stopped, her gaze hard and cold. “Well, I’m all you got now baby, and I want that shit rinsed out of your hair by morning.”
“God dammit, Quill, get me out of here.” Renturned, running into Quill in her retreat.
Mom’s hand shot out and long, jagged fingers wrapped around Ren’s arm. “We’re moving into to the house today, so adjust your attitude. I will not put up with your shit.”
“You can’t just move in. It isn’t your house.”
“She was my mother. I get what was hers. And the house was hers.”
If Ren hadn’t known what a conniving bitch her mother was she would have been shocked at how quick her sorrow had turned to…well, turned to something else. But Ren was very familiar with her mother’s motives.
“We rent the house. So feel free to start paying rent,” she shot back.
“C’mon, Mel. Let’s go. I got you.” Mom’s stupid ass boyfriend took her shoulders and pulled her away at the same time Quill pulled Ren toward the parking lot.
“I’ll see you at home,” their mother called back, holding her palm to her forehead. “I can’t deal with you today.”
“I hate her.” Ren gritted her teeth, her fists balled at her sides.
Quill didn’t say anything as they walked to the car. The rain cooled Ren’s anger, but she knew it would be short lived. Her mother was back and apparently they didn’t have a say in it. Ren got in the car and dropped her head into her hands.
Quill stared silently at the windshield before starting the car and pulling out of the parking lot. “Want to get wasted?”
Ren buried her head in her pillow.
“Open the fucking door!” Her mom banged her fist against the thin wood. “I told you to take the fucking lock off.”
Ren tried to roll over, but her body was too hung over to listen to her brain. Mom kicked at the door and swore some more, but when it didn’t give her the desired result she moved on and called for Quill. She was probably looking for money. Ren didn’t have any.
Her mom had gotten to the house in record time after the funeral, moved into Grams’ room with the loser, and set up shop. The revolving door of drugs and alcohol started as soon as she got the call out to her fucked up friends.
Ren ran her hand over her eyes and tried to press the throbbing of her head away. Two days ago she’d buried her grams and had been in a drunken haze ever since, hoping when she sobered up her mom would be gone. Ren slowly lifted herself onto her elbows, letting her body adjust to the movement. She had to get up. She had to get to school, then work, and make some money. Grams checks were going to stop, and mom was useless. If Ren missed a shift they’d be hard pressed to make the rent. Her mom certainly wasn’t going to work, and it was only a matter of time before her boyfriend moved on. Not that he made a difference; his money was funding their habit.
Ren sat up and ran a hand through her hair, letting the colorful ends graze her fingertips. She didn’t care what her mom said, she wasn’t changing it. She’d saved for weeks to dye four stripes of bright colors across the bottom of her normally blonde hair. Even if she wanted to follow her mom’s directive and change it, she didn’t have the money to do it. Memories of her binge seeped into the edges of her brain the longer she remained upright. She ran her hand over her mouth, vaguely remembering Brock’s lips against hers…and the overwhelming smell of Mentos. She pulled her hair tight against her skull and growled. She hated the alcohol hadn’t completely erased the events of the past days.
Saturday, September 6
Jolin pulled his helmet down and took a moment to breath in the cool air. The rain stopped for the time being, but the field would still be slick. Jolin loved football. Loved the feel of control he had on the field. He determined the fate of the team with each hike of the ball…pass it, run up the middle, pitch to the left…it was his call to make. And his call was almost always right. At least that’s what the colleges were saying. The click-clack of cleats let him know his team was on the move. They were playing a pre-season opener. A smaller school would give them a chance to warm up for the season. A guaranteed win. The team passed, touching the top of his helmet as they filed by. A good luck ritual. Jolin waited for the last member to pass and followed after.
The noise from the stands pulled him into the zone. Every game was the same. His pre-game ritual had him leaving the locker room first, standing by the field to center himself, letting the team go on without him, then he jogged in after…and now would look to the track surrounding the field for where the cheerleaders stood. On the far end stood Elizabeth, his girlfriend and the captain of the squad. He nodded, and she smiled, waving one pompom in his direction.
He was ready to play.
He joined the designated captains for tonight, grabbed them by the hand and together they walked to the middle of the field. Each week the coach chose two guys to walk with him. He was the only consistent captain. The team looked to him for guidance.
They won the toss, and even though they would normally choose to kick off, tonight they would receive. With this team it wouldn’t matter if they got the ball after half time. It was supposed to be a blow out.
The team lined up, Jolin felt the adrenaline race through him. When the ball came at him, he grabbed it, stood, and pulled back for a pass. Letting the ball go, he was surprised by a defensive end who broke around the line and tackled him. A yellow flag flew through the air. The ref called a penalty for roughing the passer. Jolin got up and straightened his pads, staring down the guy who thought he’d intimidate him. He pointed a finger and shook his head. No one scared him.
The team circled around him, waiting for their instructions.
“Tighten up the line. This team is a bunch of pussies.” He pointed at his offensive tackle. “Do not let them touch me again, or I will fucking beat your ass after this game.”