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Authors: Cori McCarthy

The Color of Rain

BOOK: The Color of Rain
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THE COLOR OF
RAIN
THE COLOR OF
RAIN

CORI M
C
CARTHY

RP | TEENS

PHILADELPHIA • LONDON

Copyright © 2013 by Cori McCarthy

All rights reserved under the Pan-American and

International Copyright Conventions

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without written permission from the publisher.

Books published by Running Press are available at special discounts for bulk purchases in the United States by corporations, institutions, and other organizations. For more information, please contact the Special Markets Department at the Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call (800) 810-4145, ext. 5000, or e-mail
[email protected]
.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012953353

E-book ISBN 978-0-7624-4846-3

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1

Digit on the right indicates the number of this printing

Designed by Frances J. Soo Ping Chow

Edited by Lisa Cheng

Typography: Berthold Baskerville, Capture It, Dead Man's Hand, Frutiger,

Letter Gotic, Mr Moustache, PiS NeoPrintM319, and SS_Adec

Published by Running Press Teens

An Imprint of Running Press Book Publishers

A Member of the Perseus Books Group

2300 Chestnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103–4371

Visit us on the web!

www.runningpress.com/kids

To Mario,

for brazen honesty

CONTENTS

PART I: YELLOW

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

PART II: BLUE

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

PART III: RED

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

O
f all the directions to be looking, I stare up.

So I see her second foot leave the forty-something floor windowsill. Her dark form opens against the gray sky, her arms and legs out like a star falling—a falling star.

Akimbo.

Her hair splays brown. Her face coming clearer, so serene. She falls while I almost forget to pull my brother by his collar, to bring us out of her landing. I almost forget that there are really only two directions in this known universe: we accept it or we escape.

She falls, her eyes as open as mine, and I grip my brother and
run
, hearing the
flit flit flit
of her clothes beating the wind followed by the pavement moment when she

Hits.

PART I
YELLOW
CHAPTER
1

T
he smoke sky is impenetrable. Gray billows against gray, but still I search for a glimpse of the stars beyond.

No luck.

With the sea and its aging docks at my back, I hurry downtown, into the labyrinth of decaying skyscrapers and tall shadows. It's been a long while since I haven't been glued to my little brother, and I dig my hands into my pockets to keep from reaching for him.

My shirt snags the wind, snapping against my chest like a worn-thin flag.

Lo picked it out for me—her lucky shirt, she calls it. The very shirt she wore when she sold her virginity, but then, I'm not sure that I need luck for what I'm about to do. Even if he is twice my age and decidedly nasty. The luck was finding him in the first place.

It
won't be that hard, I chant through my thoughts.
It won't be. It won't be. It won't . . .

But still, my feet grow heavier and my body runs cold. I shouldn't be late, I know.

He's waiting.

His money is waiting, and yet unbelievably, beyond the towering buildings, a sole cloud throbs slightly whiter against the smog. It dares me to think about other things, about Simon, and
that
feels a little like luck.

I turn left instead of right, instead of going straight to him. Now jogging, I weave through a wave of factory workers until I reach the boarded-up windows of Dex's restaurant, the biggest one wearing the slapdash spray-painted words,
WE
'
RE ALWAYS OPEN
.

The only remaining window makes me pause; this was where I dreamed of the Void and its stars while scrubbing tables. And that day—hours before she fell over us—I was staring out that window when Simon caught me by my hips. He blew raspberries on my neck until I screamed and Dex roared
Shut it!
from the kitchen.

Was that really only weeks ago?

The window now glitters with a spiderweb of a smashed pane. Someone must have chucked a brick at it, and why not? For some hurts, there's nothing better than the sound of breaking glass, and there's not much glass left on Earth City.

Dex is probably still mad that I had to quit, so I head up the back alley, leaping over the piles of trash. After all, maybe this isn't the day I take a swan dive into the desperate world—maybe there is some hope here. Simon always thought of me as just a kid, but no kid would be on the edge of doing what I'm about to do.

I bang a fist against the screen door and wait, the wafting scents and sounds of frying food mix with an old rot smell. “Simon!” I yell. “Simon!”

My braid is coming loose, and I untangle my hair. Has he ever even seen it down? I center the loose neck of Lo's shirt around my
shoulders. It's a little too obvious that I'm not wearing a bra, but then, as Lo said, “That's the point.”

Simon whacks the screen door against the brick. His hands are covered in bits of raw meat; he must have been working the sausage pump.

“Look at you, Rain White.” His hair is sandy and frayed at the temples, and his skin is that never-seen-the-sun color like everyone on Earth City, but he wears it well. “I heard you were following Lo the Ho into the street-corner life, but I didn't believe it.” He flashes a tricky sort of grin.

“I wanted to talk to you before I . . . just before.”

“Sorry, Rain.” He flicks his fingers and bits of meat go flying. “I already talked to Dex, and he can't give you the kind of raise you want. Even with the whole situation with your brother. He feels bad about it. We all do.”

“That's not it.” I shift in Lo's shirt, wishing I was wearing my own clothes.

“No one's going to report Walker to the cops, if that's what you're worried about. We'll all remember the scruffy little ginger at his best. But still, I wouldn't bring him near here.”

“It's not that. Walker's . . . fine. I just I wanted to see you. See if you'd ever want to sometime . . .” I've never been so timid of tongue, and it annoys me. “If you want to be with me.”

He grins. “I do miss that too-forward way of yours, but I don't have that kind of money. Can't afford you, Rainy day. But I guess . . . thanks?”

I sway on the spot. “You think I want you to pay?”

“If this is your new business, you shouldn't be giving it away
for free.” He might be about to laugh, and heat claws up my neck like a hot hand. It closes around my throat and chokes my words.

“But I meant . . .” Lo was so right about him. “You're an ass, Simon.”

“Kid, wait.” He hasn't called me that in years, and maybe he realizes it. “Just hold on a second.” His hands are still slimed with meat, and he shakes his fingers without loosing any of it. The globs are drying, clinging to his skin, and he smears them against his stained apron. “Now don't get all
crazy
.”

I wince. He should know better than to use that word after what my brother is going through. “You'll need the hard lye soap to get that off,” I say.

The alley blares with the sound of the changing shift bell.

“I'm late.”

“All right.” Simon's grin twitches, but it's somehow already not as cute as it was a few moments ago. “Don't be a ghost, Rain.”

I hurry to the street, hearing the screen door slam behind him. The heat of my embarrassment leaves me in a hurry, and now I feel the swish of my empty pockets. I picture my brother below the spacedocks with Lo, locked in his distorted mind. But above it all, I feel the spiky place in my chest where my childhood crush just fractured like Dex's front window.

What was I thinking? I'm no kid anymore.

But now, at least, I can go to
him
.

A decrepit skyscraper slants against the smog, leaning over me. Its
black windows spot like cavities—a grin with broken teeth. It seems to sneer:

You are here. This is happening
.

His name is Hallisy, and he squeezes my hips, each of his jagged nails biting in. His breath comes in rapid grunts: animal sounds. I'm trying so hard not to hyperventilate that I may not be breathing at all.

BOOK: The Color of Rain
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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