When It Rains

       part  #1 of  Rain Series  by  Lisa De Jong / Young Adult
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Page 9
Author: Lisa De Jong

“Well, obviously, I’m hungry. And this is the only place that’s open in this town,” he says, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table. I notice a tattoo on the inside of his right arm, but I can’t see enough to make out what it is.

“I mean, what brings you to Carrington?” I tap my pen against the notebook, drawing his eyes down to it.

He shrugs. “I’m trying the small town life for a while. You know, figuring out if it really is the simpler way to live. ”

For a moment, I just look at him, unsure of what to say to that. The truth is, no matter where you live, your life is full of complications. It’s not the environment that causes them; it’s the people around you, or those who are gone for that matter. But taking one look at his suddenly distant eyes, I know I don’t have to tell him that.

I clear my throat. “So what can I get you to drink?”

“I’ll take a chocolate shake and a glass of water, please,” he replies glancing out the window.

I don’t wait for him to look back up at me before heading back to the kitchen to make his shake. I take my time putting the milk and chocolate syrup in before pressing the button to mix. It’s so loud that I don’t hear my mom approach behind me.

“That guy’s kind of cute, don’t you think?” she asks, grabbing the ice cream and placing it back in the freezer.

I roll my eyes, grabbing a glass from the shelf to pour the shake into. My mom and I never talk about guys. The only guy I ever let myself think about is Beau. Sure, the guy is okay, but it means nothing to me.

“Hey, what are you girls gossiping about?” Diana asks. Diana is the other waitress that works most mornings.

“Did you see the guy who sat in Kate’s section? I saw him in here yesterday too. He’s kind of cute. Much better looking than most of the guys in this town,” my mom answers. She should know; she’s dated quite a few.

Diana peeks through the small window in the kitchen door before looking at my mom and shaking her head. “He’s bad news, Lynn. That’s Daniel McNally’s son, and I’ve heard the only reason he’s in Carrington is to escape some trouble he got into in Chicago. ”

“But his last name is Hunt,” I say, filling a glass with ice for the water.

“That’s because his mom left town with him and got remarried shortly after he was born. McNally barely saw him after that,” Diana says, handing me two straws. “Just be careful. ”

“Don’t worry. I’m not interested. ”

I head out toward Asher again, placing his drinks on the table. He appears different from the smiley, cocky guy who sat here just a few minutes ago. His shoulders are drooped, and when he looks up I notice his eyes have lost some of their curiosity.

“Can I get you something to eat?” I ask, trying to avoid looking directly at him. My mom was onto something because he’s the first person in a long time who I’ve actually been a little intrigued by. I need to keep some distance, though, because at the end of the day, all I know is his name.

I blink, realizing that he’s been staring at me while I’m lost in thought. “I’ll just take an order of French fries,” he replies, twirling his straw around in his shake.

By the time his order is up, the place is packed for lunch, and I don’t have any more time to chat when I set his fries on the table. In fact, I don’t even have time to bring him his check. Diana does it for me because an entire table orders a round of milkshakes that I have to make. By the time I make it back out to the dining room, he’s gone.

I deliver my tray of drinks and head over to clean up Asher’s table, noticing that he left me a five dollar tip and a note on a napkin.

I stare at the door and take a deep breath, crumpling the napkin into a ball and shoving it into my pocket.

Chapter 6

A COUPLE DAYS LATER, I decide it’s time to give Beau a call and see how things are going. He’s been at school for almost a whole week and has tried to call me every day, but I haven’t answered. We’ve texted back and forth a few times, but I miss hearing his voice. I think I’m ready to do it without falling apart.

The phone barely rings once before he picks up. “Hello. ”

Okay, I was wrong, hearing his voice makes me want to cry again.

“Hey,” I say, squeezing my eyes shut in an attempt to control my defiant emotions.

“It took you long enough to call me back,” he says in his teasing tone. It’s almost as if he knows I need him to lighten the mood. Sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself.

“Sorry, I’ve been busy at the diner. I miss you, though. ”

The breath he inhales is so loud that I can hear it through the phone. “Kate, are you sure you don’t want me to come home this weekend? I’m done with class at noon tomorrow, so I can be there by supper. ” There’s hope in his voice, but I’m about the let him down again.

“Don’t. I have to work all weekend anyway. Besides, I’m sure you have a party or two you can go to instead,” I say, trying to talk him out of it without saying no.

“Kate—”

“Please, Beau. I need you to do this for me. Meet new people and enjoy the experience,” I plead. I want him to have the things I can’t right now, even if it means I have to give up the one person besides my mom who means something to me.

“Next weekend, I’m coming home, and you’re not allowed to argue with me about it,” he says, sounding serious and a little father-like. I may be wounded, but I can take care of myself.

“So, what have you been up to, college boy?” I ask, resting my head on my pillow.

“Are you changing the subject on me?” His voice is a mixture of amusement and frustration.

“Beau, please. ”

“Fine,” he sighs. “I’ve been going to class, hitting the gym, studying, eating and sleeping. Nothing much more exciting than what you’ve been doing, I’m sure. ”

He’s right. I’ve been working, running, and sitting alone in my bedroom.

And, every now and then, my mind wanders away from Beau and veers toward Asher. I barely know him, and I haven’t seen him since he left the note on the napkin, but I can’t help but wonder what he’s all about.

“How are your classes?”

“They’re not hard, but I had two papers assigned to me already this week. You know how much I f**king hate writing papers,” he replies.

“Yeah, but you’re good at it. I think you just hate them because they’re too easy for you,” I say, smiling slightly. Beau was one of the smartest kids in our class. He hasn’t decided what he wants to be when he “grows up,” but he can really do anything he wants.

“I guess I am,” he says. If I’m not mistaken, I think I can sense a smile in the tone of his voice. “Look, Kate, I hate to cut this short, but I have a class I need to get to. I’ll talk to you again tomorrow. ” The last part sounds like more of a question than a statement.

“I work until two, but I’ll answer if you call me any time after that. ”

Talking to Beau actually makes me feel better, rather than sad. I’m looking forward to talking to him again. I’m hoping that with each day, and each phone call, the distance between us will get a little easier to handle. Maybe I can make it without him here.

“You better. ”

“Bye, Beau. ”

“Bye, Kate. ”

Since I have the whole day off, I’m going to run until my legs give out on me. I pull on a pair of gym shorts and a tank top before lacing up my tennis shoes. It’s the one thing I still like to do. It’s a way for me to clear my mind and let go of some of the pent up anger and stress that has taken residence in my body.

I close the front door and stand on the porch of our small one story house, stretching my legs and arms. Fall will be here soon, and the humidity has already started to dissipate, leaving a tolerable warm September day. Our small town has a few biking trails that are nice for running, but I choose to stay close to the busy streets. There are always lots of people and cars around—the only way I really feel safe.

I take off, letting my feet hit the pavement as I take in the sights and sounds, allowing all my thoughts to come to the forefront. My feet may be moving, but I’m still in the same place, trying to figure out what the future holds for Kate Alexander. I think about my mom and how she had me when she was about my age. I couldn’t imagine having a child right now. I think about my dad and what he would have been like. My mom says she only dated him for a couple months, and that he had quite the wild streak.

I think about all the things that have happened in my life, good and bad, but in the end I always end up focusing on the worst. I don’t know why I continue to do this to myself. I let it all play out in my head over and over until my legs can no longer carry me. Maybe I’m hoping that if I think about it enough, I won’t be able to think of it at all. I know that’s not going to happen, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop wishing for it.

I always run the same path, but today for some reason, I find myself detouring down Mr. McNally’s street. I know I’m just curiously looking for a glimpse of Asher or his life, but I can’t stop myself. Whenever there’s a puzzle, I want all of the pieces so that I can put it together. Whenever there’s a mystery, I want to solve it. It’s the main reason I wanted to study law.

Asher is a puzzle to me. Why is he in Carrington? Why does he look at me like he knows me when I’ve never seen him before? I want to know it all, and I have no idea why. I haven’t cared about much of anything in two years. He’s different than other guys in Carrington. He has this confident yet mysterious thing about him that I can’t stop thinking about. I feel like he wants to know me, but not like he’s judging me. He’s not comparing me to anything that I used to be.

McNally’s house is quiet, but there’s an old black Mustang in the driveway that was never there before. I slow my pace just a little to get a better look before speeding off toward home.
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