Authors: C.M. Owens
Pieces of Summer
A stand-alone novel by
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Copyright 2016 by C.M. Owens
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without express written permission of the author. This eBook is licensed for your enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
The story in this book is the property of the author, in all media both physical and digital. No one, except the owner of this property, may reproduce, copy or publish in any medium any individual story or part of this novel without the expressed permission of the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction and completely derived from the mind of the author. Any familiar names or places are just coincidences.
As always, this is dedicated to the amazing readers who make writing mean so much to me. I couldn’t do this without the incredible people who take the time to read. I love the hell out of you.
To say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all… Yeah, that’s bullshit. That’s what people who
they’ve been in love say. They probably do the whole shitty thing where they make beautiful poetry out of devastating heartbreak and make a tragedy sound like it restored a piece of their soul.
Fuck them. They don’t know what it’s like to have your heart ripped out, spit on, and crushed. There’s nothing beautiful or poetic about it. It’s raw, it’s painful, and it’s consuming, because you never stop thinking about it. You never stop regretting letting yourself get that close. That dull ache turns into a hollow void that never goes away.
You spend the rest of your life just wishing for a little more of it, anything to soothe the ache. Anything to remember how it felt to be loved so intensely that the world ceased to exist and everything revolved around the two of you. But you realize it’s not real. It’s not there. And that feeling you long for just taunts you for being a fool.
So fuck everyone who says it’s something beautiful. Fuck those who say love
steals your breath
or whatever. It doesn’t steal your breath.
It shatters your soul.
Summer… 12 years ago
“When I’m eighteen, I’ll be able to move here permanently,” I tell Chase, relaxing against him. “Then we’ll buy that old bowling alley you love so much, fix it up, and live happily ever after.”
“We’re sixteen now, so that’s not too long of a wait. Just two years. Then maybe we can actually be together instead of just killing time… waiting for summer,” he says on a sigh. “I can’t wait for the day we can just be together, Mika.”
Every summer, my parents have brought me and my brother to Hayden. It’s a small town with a beautiful lake in Georgia. It’s a stark contrast from our ranch in Montana, but Dad grew up here, and he never really let go of this town. In truth, he says Hayden never lets you go.
So now it’s our summer tradition.
Chase James became my summer tradition five years ago. What started off as an innocent friendship turned into so much more.
We’re lying on top of the roof, staring up at the stars like nothing else in the world matters. My mom and dad are off doing whatever it is they do on a random Monday night. My brother is probably off getting stoned or getting drunk at one of the local parties.
All I care about is where Chase is. And he’s holding me to him.
“I’ve been thinking,” Chase says, twirling a piece of my hair around his finger.
“You and me. We only stay together during the summer, then we do our own thing during the rest of the year.”
Swallowing hard, I nod. Doing my own thing nearly cost me Chase when I told him about the boyfriend I had up until a few months ago. It starts to suck when you’re the only one not dating anyone because the only guy you really want is hundreds of miles away. However, Chase wasn’t so easy to convince that the feelings I had for Jared weren’t real… Especially when I told him how far I’d taken things with said ex-boyfriend.
That’s my fault. I let my mother get in my head with her “words of wisdom” about how Chase was here getting plenty on the side. It was his rule that we do our own thing during the school year. It made believing her easy, and I stupidly lashed out at him when he hadn’t even done anything wrong.
I’ll never listen to her again. I’ll never let her in my head again.
“What if we didn’t do our own thing anymore?” he asks, bringing me out of my regretful thoughts and sitting up so he can lean over me.
His blue eyes are nothing but dark shadows with the moonlight behind him.
“How would that work? You don’t even have a phone.”
I wince when I realize how shitty that just sounded, as though I’m pointing out he’s not from a family with money. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem bothered by the benign comment.
“What if we just promised each other we’d be loyal until the next summer?” he asks quietly. “Would you do that? Just wait for me?”
“Would you do that?” I parrot.
I might not have any right to sound as suspicious as I do, considering the circumstances, but it was his rule. Not mine. I just stupidly did what I thought he was doing.
His hand comes up, brushing the hair away from my forehead.
“For you? Yeah, Mika. I would.”
Smiling, I lean up, letting his lips brush over mine. “Then yes. I’m all yours.”
He smiles back, but my smile evaporates when his body comes over mine. A war of hot and cold sensations rush down my spine as Chase settles his body between my legs, and his hand toys with my skirt, acting as though he’s going to push it up.
“There’s something else I want to do then,” he says quietly, as though he’s almost too shy to say the words aloud.
Swallowing becomes painful when he inches my skirt up a little higher.
“No pressure, okay?” he asks sincerely. “But I want you to be my first. Obviously being my last would also be ideal.”
I can tell he’s nervous and trying to add in some humor. The fact he’s sweet and adorable is the main reason I fell for him. He’s not cocky. He’s not a jerk. He’s not a bad boy, even though he’s lived through hell his entire life. No. Chase James is the sweetest guy I’ve ever known, and he makes me his priority every summer.
I never should have listened to my mother.
“Yes,” is the one word I manage to squeak out.
I just wish I had saved myself for him.
His lips come down on mine, and I decide that at least I have some experience and can make this memorable for him. Something I learned from my ex is that guys grow more attached to girls based on the impression they leave them with in the bedroom.
Well, in this case, a rooftop. Our rooftop. Our place.
I have to leave a nine month impression.
“I love you,” I whisper, even though it’s not the first time I’ve ever said it.
He grins, nuzzling my cheek with his nose. “I love you, Mika. Always.”
With a gentle push, I nudge Chase over and onto his back, and his breaths grow harsher as I straddle him and start unbuttoning his shirt slowly, not getting in any sort of a rush.
“What are you doing?” he whispers, nervous again.
“Making sure you remember you love me,” I tell him with a smile. Then… Then I work hard to leave the best impression for the rest of the summer.
“No, we’re supposed to be going to Hayden. We go every year!” I argue, following my mother around as she starts throwing boxes down the stairs. I’m so over her temper tantrums.
“Your father is going,” she spits out. “But you’re not. And neither is Aidan.”
My useless twin brother just walks by with his headphones on, acting as though nothing in the world is wrong. I wish I had the ability to ignore the crazy beast that is my mother.
“You can’t keep us from Dad.”
“He gets you two weeks in the summer, and he can only take you out of the state if I say so. I don’t fucking say so!” she screams. “And that whore he’s living with isn’t going to be around my children!”
How did things get so messed up in one year? Last summer they were fine—well, they were bickering, but that’s normal. By Christmas, Dad was sleeping with his new secretary, living out the cliché from hell. And Mom continued the cliché by going crazy and boozing it up every chance she got.
Now this is all my current situation.
“Aidan!” she yells.
“Yeah?” he answers, even though he sounds like he’s annoyed. He’s not the only one. I can’t possibly miss a summer in Hayden. No way.
“Get those boxes and throw them in the burn pile with the rest of his shit.”
Same thing every weekend. She’s merely digging for scraps he left behind at this point, just so she’ll have something to burn. She’s just as guilty as Dad is. She can’t keep her skirt down around men in general. She was only loyal to Dad for a while.
“Mom! Focus,” I yell, clapping my hands to draw her attention as she takes another long sip straight from the wine bottle. She drank away her dignity and class after finding out she was getting left for a woman in her twenties.
“What?” she bites out, glaring at me.
“I have to go to Hayden. Chase is—”
“A poor boy in your father’s hometown. Be glad you aren’t getting tied down to the scum that town produces,” she clips out. “That place is toxic.”
My shoulders square, and I step closer.
“I’m going to Hayden.”
The bottle slams against the wall, and wine explodes with the glass as my mother’s full-crazy mode comes into light.
“You don’t tell me what you’re doing.
tell you what you’re doing. Fuck your father. Fuck his barely-legal slut. Fuck Hayden. And if you even think about trying to go there yourself, I
call the cops. You’ll be arrested as a runaway, Mika. Don’t mess with me.”
Tears fill up in my eyes, but my mother only continues to glare at me with dismissive coldness.
“It’s a teenage summer crush, Mika. Get over it. It’s time to grow up. Things are changing, in case you haven’t noticed.”
She spins on her heel and stalks away as I sink to the floor. Picking up my phone, I try to call my father, but of course it goes straight to voicemail. There’s never any cell signal at the lake house, and there’s not a landline there.
Chase doesn’t even have a phone, and I’ve only met his friends a few times. None of them really like me, since they think I’m the rich brat that steals him away every summer. It’s not like I have their numbers on hand.
Our usual snail mail method isn’t good enough at the moment. I really thought Mom was going to let me go, but a letter will take too long to get to him to tell him I can’t come.
Deciding to take my chances, I sneak down to my car, hoping Dad still has my summer wardrobe at the lake house. But just as I get in my car and quietly close the door, the passenger side door opens and my plans get shit on.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Uncle Isaac asks me.
Did I mention the asshole from hell brother of my mother has been here since the divorce to make sure my father—who wants nothing to do with my mother—doesn’t try to get her back? Yeah. My life currently sucks balls.
“I’m going to Hayden,” I bite out.
“You’re seventeen. You can’t drive all the way to Georgia, Mika. Don’t be ridiculous. And why would you even want to? Your mother needs you right now.”
“My mother needs AA, anger management, and a damn good therapist. Not me.”
He glares at me, but he reaches over and jerks my keys out of my hand.
“Your mother does need therapy. I blame your adulterous father for that. She was fine until she married him. My sister isn’t the same person she used to be. Now I’m here to help out, and I’m definitely going to get her help. As for her sorry excuse for a daughter and uncaring shithead son, I’m going to raise you two to be respectful while there’s still a chance to right your father’s wrongs.”
“You’re an asshole,” I snarl. “And my father is a good man, so how dare you.”
“Guess that’s why the court awarded custody of you two to your mother.”
“No, that’s the backwoods court system in which the man has less to offer a child than a mother. That and the fact Mom’s overpaid lawyer made him sound like a drunk for having a glass of wine with his meal. Never mind the fact she’s the damn lush. Dad will get custody of us eventually, or we’ll get out of here soon regardless.”
“Well, you’re here for now. Consider yourself grounded indefinitely from your car. Go inside and try to be a good daughter. Your father killed her dreams and ruined their marriage. Not your mother. Your loyalty should be with her.”
“I’m seventeen! Their marriage has nothing to do with me. I’m sick of getting dragged into this like I have to choose a side! Mom fucked around too!”
He climbs out of the vehicle and I curse while following him. It’d be awesome to have an extra set of keys right about now.
“She’s messed up because of him!” he roars. “You will stay here and you
do as you’re told.”
“You’re ruining my life!” I yell, then roll my eyes at myself. “And I hate you for making me say that and turning me into a cliché like the both of them!”
He doesn’t even turn around. It won’t be the last time I try to get out of here and back to Hayden. He’s crazy if he thinks it is.
Summer turned into fall, fall turned into winter, and winter turned into spring before I knew it. Escape from Crazy Town hasn’t been possible because of my militant, ever-watchful uncle. But my mother finally has a new boyfriend, and her attention on me has slowly dwindled to nearly nothing.
All they do is make the bedroom wall rattle day in and day out. It’s disgusting and disturbing, and my mother seems a little weirder every day. If she’s not fucking him, she’s sleeping or crying for no real reason at all. And my uncle
But that doesn’t matter today. Today, I’m five minutes from Hayden. I’ve driven straight through, only stopping for gas and pee breaks. Mom is in a sleeping mood, so she hasn’t even noticed I’m missing. I will owe Aidan for forever for having my back on this.
My stomach tightens with anticipation, nervousness, and excitement. It becomes a painful wad in my throat and stomach, growing bigger the closer I get to town. My hands actually shake, and my heartbeat drums in my ears. I can barely even continue driving by the time I reach town, taking the curve that leads to the dirt road I know so well.
Chase hasn’t answered my letters at all—not since summer began. That’s my fault. I left him hanging, but he doesn’t understand, and he’s probably hurting. Chase is easily hurt, because everyone always lets him down. Not me. I’m not going anywhere. Well, I’m going to him, but nowhere else.
The deep craters in the road have been dug out by the rain over the years, never getting repaired, and they try to slow me down. I don’t slow down. I don’t care if I tear my BMW apart on this shitty road as long as I reach Chase.