Authors: Terri Anne Browning
Copyrights © Terri Anne Browning/Anna Henson 2016
(The Lucy & Harris Novella Series, Book 3)
Edition Published by June 2016
Published by Terri Anne Browning
Written by Terri Anne Browning
Edited by Lorelei Logsdon
Models Mike Chabot and Christel PetiteLouve Senecal
Cover Picture and Book Cover Design by Sara Eirew
Formatting by IndieVention Designs
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
All rights reserved by the author. This is a work of fiction. Any characters, names, places or incidents are used solely in a fictitious nature based on the author's imagination. Any resemblance to or mention of persons, places, organizations, or other incidents are completely coincidental and subjects of the author’s imagination. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any other means without written permission from the Publisher. No individual/group has resale rights, sharing rights, or any other kind of rights to sell or give away this book. Piracy is not a victimless crime.
Table of Contents
“Outcast” by Shinedown
“Follow You” by Bring Me the Horizon
“Paper Cut” by Apollo Drive
“I Bet” by Ciara
“One Love” by Marianas Trenches
“Love Me Till It Hurts” by Papa Roach
“Everything” by Buckcherry
“Drag Me Down” by The Weeknd
“Save You” by Kelly Clarkson
“I Won’t Say Goodbye” by Failure Anthem
Why did I feel so numb?
I wasn’t supposed to be numb today. I mean, how can you feel nothing on the day that your mother was slowly lowered into the ground, taking the life you had lived the last eleven years with her? There were no tears—those had long since gone dry over the last week. There was no feeling in my body—my fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, legs wouldn’t cooperate with my brain when it was time to do something as mundane as pick up a single red rose, move two steps forward and drop it onto the coffin that was now in its final resting place.
My brain for the most part had completely shut down on me as well. That particular organ was encased in a fog as thick as what was in the wet Virginia air. If it weren’t for the two men standing behind me, and the girl to my left, I might have actually fallen as I stepped up to be the first and only person to toss the rose onto my mom’s beautiful mahogany casket. Part of me wanted them to let me fall, and to stay down there with her. It would be so much better than what I was going to have to face when this day was over.
But they didn’t. I knew they wouldn’t. For those three people, the people who loved me just as much as I loved them, I was all that was left of Abigail Jacobson.
Around us, friends and family members murmured soft words to my stepfather and stepsiblings. Offering condolences and other kind words at the loss of a woman who had been taken from the world far too young. Abby had only been forty-five years old. But cancer? That monster didn’t care how old a person was, or how much they were loved, or how kind they happened to be. If anything, cancer went for those types of people quicker than anyone else. I hated that damn disease, hated it for everything it had taken from me.
For everything it was going to force on me now.
My hands started to shake so badly that Angie and Caleb both turned from talking to their great-aunt Cindy to wrap their arms tightly around me. But not even being in a step-sandwich, something that we had always called our group hugs, could offer me comfort right then. I just wanted to go home and lock my bedroom door, pull the covers over my head, and hope that I woke up in the morning to this being all just a really terrible dream.
With her blond head on my left shoulder, Angie squeezed me tighter. “It’s going to be okay, Kin.”
I closed my eyes tighter but remained silent. Caleb lifted his head from my right shoulder and kissed my cheek. “We love you, sugar bug.”
Unable to speak around the lump in my desert-dry throat, I merely nodded. I knew they loved me, but there was no way they would be able to know if everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t going to be. Because in the morning I would be on a plane to California. Tomorrow I was going to have to tell Angie, Caleb, and Carter goodbye.
It wasn’t fair. I wanted to scream the words at the top of my lungs to the sky. To the casket in the ground. To the man standing mutely on the other side of my mother’s grave. It just wasn’t fair.
As if feeling my eyes on him, my father lifted his eyes from my mother’s casket and met my gaze head on. I hadn’t seen my father in almost thirteen years. Not since he married my step-monster and decided he wanted to raise her kids instead of co-parent me. He was a stranger to me, since I had only been four years old at the time. But he hadn’t changed much from what little I remembered of him. Or maybe it was because I’d seen him on a hundred magazine covers and a few big screens since then.
Scott Montez was an actor/director so he had been in plenty of trash magazines and a few not so trashy ones. He was still handsome for a man in his early fifties, with his bright blue eyes he had gotten from his English supermodel mother and that dark Latin skin tone he had gotten from his Spanish aristocratic father. My father was fit, well groomed, and screamed narcissistic a-hole.
I hated him.
But as of tomorrow he would be a major feature in my life, since I had to live with him now. I had known it was coming from the moment the doctors had told my mom that there wasn’t anything else they could do for her quickly spreading cancer. The same day she had been told that she only had six months at the most to live, she’d been on the phone to my father. She wanted me to live with him when she died.
I’d begged on my hands and knees not to be sent away when she died. I’d cried, screamed, and broken things when she had calmly explained that it was time I got to know my
family. Her excuse was that she wanted me to know Scott before it was too late not to. My argument had been that I didn’t need to know the man that had supplied half my DNA. Carter Jacobson was my real father in my eyes. Caleb and Angie, even though they were almost four years older than me, were my brother and sister more than any blood sibling I could have had.
Why couldn’t I stay with them, people who actually loved me? Why did I have to go all the way across the country to live with people I didn’t know? People who I knew resented me just as much as I resented them?
“Because you deserve the chance to get to know him, McKinley,” my mother had told me in a voice barely above a whisper just two weeks ago. “Listen to me, baby girl. You only have a year until you will be eighteen. If you decide that you don’t want to be around your dad after that, then Carter will welcome you back with open arms. But take that time and get to know Scott and your stepsisters. Give your stepmother and her kids a chance. A real chance.” Abby had pushed a few tear-soaked strands of hair away from my face as she had smiled sadly down at me. “Don’t live with the regret of not trying, Kin.”
I’d been fighting her tooth and nail up until that very moment. Those words—those wise words—had been the last ones my mother had said to me before she couldn’t say anything else. The next day she had been placed on a ventilator and three days later she had died holding my stepfather’s hand.
Since then, I hadn’t protested once about having to move to California, but that didn’t mean I was looking forward to it. I didn’t want to have to say goodbye to my family, my friends, and my life in Virginia. I didn’t want to have to move three thousand plus miles to a new family, possible new friends, and a whole new life. It wasn’t fair that I had to do that.
But I was going to follow my mother’s advice. I wasn’t going to go through life with the regret of not at least trying.
It still hurt, though. It felt as if I had lost more than just the mother who had loved me just as much as I’d loved her. I was also losing Carter, Angie, and Caleb.
I was lying on my bed when the knock came. I’d come upstairs as soon as all the family and friends had left the house earlier in the evening. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep, wanting to memorize everything about the room that had been mine for the last thirteen years—even though I could tell you every little detail about it along with every happy memory I’d had behind those four walls.
Like, the Demon’s Wings poster hanging over my desk that I’d gotten the band to sign the last time they were in Roanoke. Or the OtherWorld poster that I’d been able to get Zander Brockman to sign for me when I’d seen him walking around Nashville when Caleb had taken me and a few of his college friends down to see a Trance concert last summer.
The Trance poster I’d had signed by the entire band that same day was on the opposite wall right beside my favorite Avenge Sevenfold posters. Angie and I had painted the walls a dark purple when I was fifteen, and the doorframe that led into my bathroom was smeared because Caleb had surprised his twin when he’d walked through the door, causing her to trip and fall against the wet paint. She’d had a purple streak on her cheek for two days, but I’d left the smeared mark there to remind us all of that hilarious sight.
Rubbing a hand over my tired eyes, I lifted my head and glanced at the door. The knock came again and I blew out a sigh. “It’s open.”
The door opened just a fraction before Angie stuck her blond head around the door. The lights in the room were off but, like always, the light from my bathroom was shining brightly. It was stupid, but that bathroom light had always been my nightlight. A seventeen-year-old who needs a nightlight—yeah, that’s me.
“You awake?” she asked when she spotted me on my bed.
Behind her, Caleb pushed his twin sister gently, getting her to walk into the room so that he could follow. “Of course she’s awake, Ang. She wouldn’t have yelled out if she hadn’t been.” Entering the room, he turned on the lights and then shut the door behind him.