Authors: Kary Rader
Tags: #cancer, #computer games, #dying, #young adult romance, #bittersweet, #teen marriage, #terminal illness, #new adult, #maydec, #sick lit, #teen mothers
By Kary Rader
© Copyright Kary Rader 2012. All
Published by Kary Rader
Editors: Valerie Mann/Danielle
Cover Art: Dar Albert
Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot
be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the
copyright of this work.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book
may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names,
characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s
imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be
construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead,
actual events, locale or organizations is entirely
To Bret, Jill, and,
especially, sweet Emma
To all those who have
suffered from cancer, either in the bed or beside it.
The experiences of many reading this
will differ from those in the book. Every journey is unique, just
as every person is unique. This is the story of these characters
and what happens to them. Based on my personal experience with
cancer and various avenues of medical research, I have tried to
stay true to the nature of the diseases and medical procedures, but
as in all fiction some deviances from reality may have occurred. I
hope this doesn’t become a stumbling block and that every reader
can find something of value in within the pages. The story is meant
to touch, encourage, and uplift. I pray it does.
Table of Contents
om, I want
you to help me find a lover.”
My hand instinctively flitted to my
head as I watched my mother’s eyes widen in shock. I smoothed down
the soft yarn hat resting where my hair used to be.
Mom laughed suddenly. The shock on her
face gave way and relief eased her rigid shoulders. “Oh Taylor, you
crack me up. For a minute I thought you were—”
“Serious? I am serious, Mom.” I willed
myself to not break eye contact so she’d know I wasn’t
Tension lined her face again. She
turned her head to gaze out the bay window of our formal living
room. Neat and tidy, the area at the front of the house was
reserved for unexpected guests and important conversations. Based
on the fine lines around her mouth that had become more pronounced,
it was dawning on her why I’d asked to talk here, in this
My heart thudded fast and heavy
against my tightening chest, but I kept my eyes fixed on her, my
fingers nervously pulling at the floppy brim of the pink cap on my
head. Grammy had crocheted it for me after she’d joined one of
those Red Hat Societies—the ones where the old ladies went on trips
and got crazy drunk. When they’d found out about my illness, the
ladies had made me an honorary member. Grammy had told me she’d
joined the group because old age gave her the privilege to do
whatever the hell
she wanted. I understood what she
The idea of having sex had sprung to
my mind a few months ago. Funny how, when death came knocking on my
door, the first thing I’d thought to do was lose my virginity.
Well, actually, the first thing I’d thought to do was kick death’s
butt then I wanted to have sex. I’d decided to wait, to see if a
donor could be scoped out, thinking maybe I could get my life back
at some point. The days had ticked away. Time was my frenemy,
pretending to like me, all the while plotting its evil plan behind
my back. Sure, it allowed me hope of finding what I wanted, but
eventually would take it away.
Dying didn’t really scare me. I just
didn’t want to lose my life to stupid, freaking cancer, and I, sure
as heck, didn’t want to die a virgin. Most of my friends had
already had sex at least once. Not that I’d want to try it based on
their experiences, but it was one more thing cancer tried to steal
from me. So I’d decided to settle for sex with someone who could
make my heart race and other stuff.
Grammy said old age gave people a
license for bad behavior. So did terminal illness. I didn’t give a
crap what anyone else thought of my plan. Not that I’d post it on
Facebook or anything. This was something I needed to do because if
I didn’t, I knew I’d regret it.
Mom shifted on the couch and looked at
me. I took a deep breath and stared right back. She needed to know
I was doing this
style—with or without her. “I could use
your help. I want to start looking now. Maybe find someone before
My mom had always been cool. All my
friends said so, but this request would stretch her far beyond
whatever coolness she possessed.
“Honey…what do you think you’re going
to do with a lover?” She cringed, and I stifled a
“You could have worded that
differently, Mom.” I arched my hairless eyebrows and grinned. “What
do you think I’m going to do with a lover?”
She squeezed her eyes closed and
lifted a hand to her forehead. I probably should’ve made sure she’d
taken her blood pressure medicine before starting this
conversation. She shot me a pointed stare. “So you want a live-in
sex slave or what?”
“God, Mom.” My cheeks heated. Talking
about sex with a parent was hard enough, but this was
off-the-deep-end-bat-crap crazy. Still, I squared my shoulders. “I
was thinking along the lines of a one-night hook-up.”
“A hook-up?” Mom heaved a giant sigh,
a sigh that communicated more than just her acceptance of my wicked
I inwardly fist pumped. I’d known she
would cave and decide to help me. That was how Mom was. She would
give me anything within her power.
. Including the
very marrow from her bones. But her marrow wasn’t a
No one’s was.
Hundreds of donors had been tested.
Cord blood banks ravaged. My time was running out, and we all knew
it. Though we continued to look, the odds of finding a cure were
slim because of some “rare” genes. What a time to be unique. The
doctors had offered me one last-ditch chemo treatment but weren’t
hopeful. Without a transplant, my chances of survival were next to
I’d refused the latest treatment and
decided to stay home for a while. But Mom hadn’t accepted defeat,
and, really, neither had I. Not yet.
She gazed past me and tapped her false
nails against one another. I knew she was thinking I wasn’t ready
for sex. Maybe she was right. I wasn’t ready to die either. But
life didn’t always run on the ready-time clock. “At least you
wouldn’t have to worry about me getting pregnant,” I said hopefully
like that would’ve really made a difference. She didn’t look at me
but rolled her eyes and frowned.
Before the cancer, I had been the
youngest girl on our cheer squad, active in choir and French club.
My life had been comprised of a steady stream of constant
activities, football, boys, movies, and music. Since leukemia had
invaded our lives, I’d been in and out of the hospital with
treatments and surgeries. The disease consumed everything in its
path like a giant tsunami crashing over us. Every waking moment
became about treating the illness, fighting the illness,
rearranging our lives because of the illness. Nothing else even
stood a chance. It all washed away in the wake. I hated cancer more
than I’d ever hated anything in my whole life.
Mom’s lip quivered. Crap. She was
about to cry. The woman cried all the dang time. I’d once told her
if she started collecting her tears in a bucket, we’d have enough
for a trendy saltwater pool in the backyard. That, at least, had
made her smile even if she had kept crying.
Will you help me?” I
grinned, coaxing her.
She narrowed her eyes. “You know I
will.” Her shoulders sagged. “But where in the hell does one go
about finding a
for her seventeen-year-old
Then I let my face go
We burst out laughing.
* * * *
Gavin Taylor slammed his laptop
closed. Damn that cheetdeath20, the only player in the world to
best his score for
, the RPG
heart pounded with the exhilaration of the battle. He stood and
paced to the window of his home office. Slick as silicone, the
little pubescent twit had outwitted his game and logged
Wiping his sweaty palms against his
favorite jeans, Gavin cracked a smile at his angst over the defeat.
He’d never been a good loser, and today’s loss wasn’t the worst
He blew out a long sigh, the sound
echoing across his empty home—
It could only be called
a home if people lived there. If only cheetdeath20 were the girl of
his dreams, she could move in and they could play side by side. The
thought warmed a chill of loneliness. Then his competitive spirit
kicked in. He’d demand a rematch whenever he damn well wanted to.
Not that he would lose again.
With the end of the game, all his
real-life troubles crashed down around him. The escape into other
worlds never lasted long. His shoulders dropped, and he plopped
back down in his chair, weighing his options. Too bad living wasn’t
one of them. He fingered the awards lining his oversized executive
desk and brushed the dust from them. College graduate at seventeen,
CEO and billionaire entrepreneur at twenty-three, terminal cancer
patient at twenty-five.
He leaned back into the supple leather
and surveyed the office of his San Francisco brownstone. A wry
laugh escaped his lips. Cancer gave a new perspective to
everything. He had lots of money. Lots of things. Hundreds of
employees, business associates, and acquaintances. But no time. No
family, at least, none he spoke to, and only a few friends he
didn’t have to pay. And if he took every dollar he had and dumped
it over his head it wouldn’t add a single minute to his
Twirling a business card between his
fingers, he stared at the attractive embossed lettering as it spun
in his hand.
Marissa Owen, Celebrity
Matchmaker. Helping the stars align.
What did he have to lose?
Now or never,
Pushing forward in the chair, he
grabbed the phone and dialed the number.
“This is Marissa,” a sharp,
professional voice said.
“Marissa, my name is Gavin
“Hello, Mr. Taylor. I know who you
are. How may I help you?”
“I’m looking for a wife.”
She chuckled. “A wife? That’s
something I can certainly help with.” She paused. “But I have to
wonder why you need my help?”