When It Rains

       part  #1 of  Rain Series  by  Lisa De Jong / Young Adult
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Author: Lisa De Jong When they lay their cash on the table and start to get up, Drew’s eyes briefly lock on mine, and I quickly look away. The sight of him makes me feel dirty. I’ve never despised something, or someone, so much in my entire life.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him walking toward me with a disgusting grin on his face. I want to run, but my feet are cemented in the ground and all I can do is stare as he stops in front of me. “I haven’t seen you at a party in a while. Don’t you want to come out and play again soon?”

I quickly turn and head toward the ladies room, locking the door behind me. A panic attack takes hold of my body, and I work hard to try and regain my composure. Knowing he’s only a few feet away intensifies my symptoms as I desperately try to catch my breath. When I’m to the point that I think I might pass out, I crouch down and rest my head in my hands, taking several deep breaths. I’ve avoided having any conversation with Drew up until this point, and I only have a couple more months to get through before he leaves town. I just need to avoid him for a little while longer, and then maybe I’ll be able to move on with my life to some extent. I’m not sure how much time passes in the bathroom before I feel like I can function again, but when I do finally step out, he’s gone.

I haven’t seen him since. Rumor has it that he left town early for football camp. All my old friends have gone off to college to start the next phase of their lives, but I’m still here trying to decide if my life even has a next phase.

Chapter 5

LATER IN THE DAY, when the diner is empty, the bell above the door dings, alerting my attention to a new customer. I look up and find that my eyes are fixed on the unfamiliar man at the door; they refuse to focus on anything else.

That’s the other thing about small towns, when anyone new rides into town, it turns into a breaking news story. And if you stay any longer than a few hours, everyone knows your business. The guy standing near the door in faded blue jeans and a fitted sky blue t-shirt is definitely not from around here. His blonde hair is standing up all over the place like he just rolled out of bed and ran his fingers through it a few times.

His eyes lock on mine, and the corner of his lips turn up on one side causing me to turn around quickly and head to the kitchen out of his view.

After a couple minutes have passed, I look through the small window in the kitchen door and breathe a sigh of relief when I see he’s not sitting in my section. I always had a shy demeanor, but what happened with Drew made it much, much worse. I live every day of my life in constant fear somebody will take advantage of me.

Living life that way is like not even living at all.

It’s impossible to do my job from the kitchen, so I make an attempt to pull myself together. It’s time to face the stranger whether I like it or not. I watch as the tables quickly fill up with the lunch crowd, and I move into autopilot, making sure each of my tables has menus and drinks. Most of the people are regulars, so it doesn’t take me long to get their orders and bring them to the kitchen. This may not be my dream job, but I’m sure good at it.

When I deliver my first table their meals, I notice the guy in the blue shirt staring in my direction. This time he’s not smiling. Instead, his eyebrows are pulled down as if he’s studying me. Our eyes lock and all the chatter in the room seems louder as I stand frozen in the middle of the packed restaurant. I don’t know if it’s the expression on his face, or the fact that his eyes haven’t left mine, but I can’t make myself look away.

Someone runs into me from behind, sending me a couple steps forward and breaking the connection I’m having with the stranger. When I look back at him, his gaze is focused out the window. I don’t know what just happened between us, but I make my way back to the kitchen before he tries to look my way again. I have no idea why he’s having this effect on me.

At this point, I don’t even know if it’s good or bad.

When I leave work, I notice I have four text messages and two missed calls, all from Beau. Just seeing his name on my screen makes my heart skip as I work to blink the tears away so that I can read his messages.

Beau: How R U?

Beau: R U Working?

Beau: Please text me so I know you’re okay . . .

Beau: I miss you.

I miss Beau like crazy but knowing he’s thinking of me even when he’s five hours away gives me hope that maybe we can come away from this separation with our friendship intact.

He’s going to make new friends, I’m sure of that. He’s smart, funny, good-looking, and he’s not shy at all. I’m not going to let him spend every free second of his day worrying over me anymore. I just hope he doesn’t completely forget me.

I should try calling him back, but I can’t even think about him right now without crying. I don’t want him to worry, so I opt for a text instead.

Kate: I’m good. Just got off work.

I want to tell him I miss him too, but that would be an admission of the truth, and that isn’t something I’ve been very good at lately. And no matter how much I know he wants to hear me say it, I still can’t do it.

Truth is, I miss him so much more than I thought I ever would. He’s been my only reason to breathe, and even though he still is, it’s more difficult because he’s so far away. My phone beeps again.

Beau: I was worried about you.

Kate: Don’t worry. I’ll be ok.

I don’t want him to worry about me tomorrow when I don’t answer his texts or calls. It’s not that I don’t want to . . . I just need to put some space between us right now. I know Beau, and if I let it go too long, he’ll get in his car and drive right back home just to check on me.

Beau: Call me tonight?

I desperately want to hear the smooth baritone in his voice.

Kate: Having dinner with Mom. Tomorrow?

Beau: Tomorrow then.

Beau’s not stupid. He knows my mom and I rarely have dinner together, but he doesn’t ask any questions.

I spend the remainder of my evening lying in bed, listening to Coldplay as I fixate my eyes on the ceiling. Maybe it’s the soothing sadness of the lyrics, or the sound of Chris Martin’s voice, but I can never get enough. I can’t stop thinking about what I could have had with Beau. What things would have been like if none of this ever happened to me. I wanted him for so long but didn’t think he felt the same way. Now, he wants me, and I can’t understand why. Why would anyone want the broken girl I’ve become? I wait for sleep to take over and put a temporary end to my thoughts.

The next morning I don’t want to go to work. I force myself out of bed and start the shower before grabbing a clean pair of jeans and a Bonnie’s t-shirt out of my closet.

When I step in the shower, I let the hot water fall over my face before turning and letting it heat my entire body. I focus on the scalding drops of water as they fall. It’s painfully hot, but keeps my mind off the internal pain that I’m rarely able to escape.

The first time I did it was the night Drew raped me. I felt fragile, furious and more than anything, I felt like a disgusting piece of garbage. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to clean away his scent or his touch from my body. The minute I walked in my front door, I went straight to the bathroom and turned the water to the hottest setting. At first it made me cringe, but the water made me feel clean and the heat dulled the pain in my heart as it burned my skin.

I haven’t been able to stop since.

My morning shift goes by quickly, dealing with many of the regulars. Ms. Carter comes in right as the breakfast crowd is clearing out and takes her usual seat in my section.

“Good morning, Katie girl. Isn’t it beautiful outside today?” she asks, glancing out the window. I rarely pay any attention to the weather . . . unless it’s raining. Those are my worst days.

I look ahead and see the bright blue sky and nod my head. “Yes, it’s nice outside today. ”

“I can’t believe summer is almost over. Won’t be long until the snow is flying,” she says, looking back up at me.

“Are you having the usual today?”

“I’m too old to change now,” she laughs. That actually makes me smile. Her life seems so simple and she’s content with it.

I plate a warm cinnamon roll and pour Ms. Carter a cup of coffee and deliver it to her table. I’m feeling better than I did this morning, and I’m even considering going for a run after work, when my mom pops her head through the door.

“You have a new customer in your section,” she says with a huge grin on her face.

My mom’s not one for throwing out meaningless smiles, so the way she looks at me when she says it has me curious. I open the door to the dining room and stop dead in my tracks.

He’s come back.

The guy from lunch yesterday is sitting at one of the smaller tables in my section, watching me with raised eyebrows. My feet feel as if they weigh one-hundred pounds each.

I don’t know what it is about him that unnerves me, but the way he stares at me makes me feel like I should know who he is, or that maybe he knows who I am.

I swallow my restraint and move toward him, never taking my eyes off his. As I get closer, I notice they’re a unique light-greyish-blue shade that is only highlighted by the navy blue t-shirt he’s wearing.

I stop a little bit further back from the table than I usually would and take a deep breath, trying to erase the thoughts going through my head. “Can I get you something to drink?” I finally ask, grabbing for my notepad. I can remember just about anything, but I need something to keep my hands and eyes occupied.

“Good morning to you too,” he says, smiling and shaking his head at me. He leans back in his chair, letting one arm fall behind it so that his body is turned toward me.

I can’t take it anymore. “Do I know you?” I ask.

“Only if you count the little staring contest we had yesterday,” he replies, letting the corners of his mouth turn up a little more. “My name’s Asher Hunt. ”

“And what are you doing here, Asher Hunt?” I feel a little bit of my snarky side take over where my nervousness once lay.
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