Authors: Jolene B. Perry
Tags: #David_James Mobilism.org
© 2011 Jolene B. Perry
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, whether by graphic, visual, electronic, film, microfilm, tape recording, or any other means, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, names, incidents, places, and dialogue are products of the author's imagination, and are not to be construed as real.
ISBN 13: 978-1-59955-910-0
Published by Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc., 2373 W. 700 S., Springville, UT 84663
Distributed by Cedar Fort, Inc.,
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Perry, Jolene B. (Jolene Betty), 1976- author.
The next door boys / Jolene B. Perry.
Summary: While Leigh Tressman recovers from her recent cancer treatments, she follows her brother Jaron to BYU where she meets and falls in love with his roommate.
[1. Cancer--Fiction. 2. Brothers and sisters--Fiction. 3. Universities and colleges--Fiction. 4. Brigham Young University--Fiction. 5. Provo (Utah)--Fiction.] I. Title.
Cover design by Danie Romrell
Cover design © 2011 by Lyle Mortimer
Edited and typeset by Kelley Konzak
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed on acid-free paper
To my parents for always showing that we can
do anything if we're willing to work for it.
To Heather because she edits for shoes.
And to my husband, Mike, for his
patience and support.
My parents joined us in the driveway. Dad looked calm, as always, and Mom tried really hard not to cry. I gave them both another final hug before climbing into my brother's overstuffed car.
“You know to call—” Mom started to say.
“If I need anything or just want to talk.” I resisted the temptation to roll my eyes.
“And don't be afraid—”
“To ask Jaron for help or to call my new doctor, who I'll see later.” I let my eyes find hers through the open window of the car. “Love you, Mom.”
“Love you too, Leigh.” She tried to smile.
“Love you, Dad.”
He nodded and waved once as Jaron and I pulled out of the driveway.
Jaron hit the gas before Mom could find another way to delay our departure. I laughed in excitement and relief.
My brother drove down the road with a wide smile on his face. “So, I'm still amazed Mom let you go.”
“You look a lot better than last time I saw you.” He looked at me too carefully, like Mom did.
“Well you should have been screaming that the whole time you were home.” Anything that would help our parents realize I was healthy again was a good thing. I'd been officially in remission for three months and eighteen days. It would be several years before they called me “cured.” I hadn't paid attention to that. As soon as they told me the cancer was gone, I knew I'd be okay.
“I would have said something, but any reminder gets Mom all upset, so I held my tongue. I'll email her in a day or two.” Jaron started scrolling down songs on his iPod. “You do look better though.”
“I saw you just a few months ago, between spring and summer semesters, remember?” That short amount of time shouldn't make much difference.
“Yeah, and you look… stronger now.”
I looked out the window at the few scattered homes just north of St. George. “Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that Mom looks so worried every time I'm about to do something that it stopped being worth the effort. She keeps me on a strict schedule of pool and stretching. She read somewhere that it helps both body and mind…” I rolled my eyes. Jaron started to interrupt, but I cut him off. “I know what you're going to say, and I know that she's scared and means well. But I've spent the whole summer doing practically nothing.”
Jaron reached over, laughed, and ruffled my short hair with his hand. “I still can't get used to the hair.”
“Hey!” I ducked away and pushed his arm back. “I know. It's short. And brown. It's still weird for me too.” I checked my reflection in the mirror. It used to be the same baby blond as Jaron's. I ran my hands through it and shook it out, trying to undo the damage Jaron had just inflicted. It stopped just below my ears. I should consider myself lucky. I hated the super short fuzz when my hair had first started growing back. But anything was better than the bald girl with skinny cheeks and dark circles underneath her eyes.
We rode in silence for a while. It felt good to be with someone who didn't need to talk every minute of a drive. I stared out the window again. We were nearing Cedar City, and the scattered homes started to get closer together.
“So, you excited?” Jaron looked over at me, smiling, already knowing most of what my answer would be.
“Excited for a fresh start and to not be hovered over every moment of the day.” It would also be liberating to be rid of the labels that seemed to follow me around. The girl who sings, the girl who sews, and last year, the girl with cancer.
“You know I'm supposed to drive you to school and that…”
“Don't worry, Jaron. I won't make you police me too hard.” I kicked off my shoes and pulled my feet up onto the seat.
“Yeah, right.” He chuckled.
I didn't care what kind of restrictions I had. I was finally out on my own. I looked over at Jaron.
on my own.
We did our mandatory stop in Cedar City for pizza and continued heading north for Provo.
“I can't wait for you to meet Brian,” Jaron said through a mouthful of food.
“Yeah, he's the convert you live with, right? That you met on your mission?”
“He changed my life, Leigh. Really. I feel very lucky we ended up in the same place.”
“That's great.” I couldn't think about anything but my newfound independence.
When Jaron took our exit into Provo, I rolled down my window, hoping to take in some of the shady breeze from the neighborhood streets. I rested my chin on my arms to see out the window better. Almost there.
“This is our street.” He smiled, knowing how excited I was, but kept his eyes on the road in front of us, leaving the moment to me.