Groupie (Rock-Hard Beautiful Book 1)By: C.M. Stunich
Tears stripe my cheeks like melancholy stars, twinkling in the bright lights cast by oncoming cars. Their high beams streak over my face and away, rocketing off through the night, a night that for me has just come to a screeching halt.
I dash the tears away with the back of my hand, my mother's silver charm bracelet jingling with the motion, and lean my forehead against the steering wheel. My eyes might be crying, but I'm not making any other sounds. I sit there silent and still, the radio playing some gentle rock ballad to carry my pain into the night.
“Look into his eyes and say goodbye; never let another day go by; don't miss the quiet moments in between; never love and never leave again.”
I sit up and grab my phone from the cup holder, pressing the home button and waiting for the screen to light up again. My stomach twists and catapults bile into my throat as I struggle not to throw up.
All it takes to change the whole world.
In ten words, my stepmother has literally destroyed the last little piece of me.
Lilith, I'm sorry but your father passed away this morning.
No matter how hard or how long I stare, that sentence doesn't make any sense. Dad can't be dead; Dad's all I have left. Just me and Dad.
My hands shake as I toss my phone into the passenger seat and run my fingers through the rich auburn strands of my hair. Same color as Dad's. Well, what Dad's used to be before the chemo.
My voice quivers as I turn the key in the ignition and start the engine, peeling away from the dirty, dry shoulder of the highway. I press the pedal to the floor, but no matter how fast I go, how many miles I put behind me, it doesn't change anything.
Dad is dead.
Next time I stop, it's at a gas station.
That's the only word I can seem to type, but before I even press send, I know the answer to my own question. Dad was sick; Dad had cancer; Dad is dead.
I just left the city, is the text I send instead, because I really did just get off after a hard night's work and climb in my car with everything I own. The plan was for me to move in with my dad and stepmother, help take care of him until … he got better. Although I think I was the only idiot who ever believed he'd beat the cancer. Cancer can't be beat; it's a fucking monster. It killed my mom when I was in high school and now … “Dad is dead.”
I say the words aloud, but I don't believe them, not really.
This is a very hard time for me, is what my stepmother, Susan, sends back in response. I stare at those words and feel anger ripple across my skin like a hot desert breeze. I'm in Arizona now; I just want to get back to New York. Even if my dad is gone, I want to see his body one last time. I need to see it.
I shove my phone in my pocket and climb out of my car, heading inside and digging around in my purse for some money. There's nothing left on my debit card; my bank account is currently negative. And my credit cards … maxed out. Dad had promised he'd have Susan wire me some money for gas … but now Dad is dead.
“Are you in line?” some guy asks gently, snapping me out of my stupor. I glance up and feel my throat get tight all of a sudden. He's looking at me with careful sympathy, like he can tell something's wrong. If I wasn't in total shock right now, I'd be into this guy with the beautiful mouth and the kind eyes. Something about his face, about the cool calmness of his expression makes my chest tight and brings a sudden surge of emotion crashing over my aching heart.
My lips part, like I could spill all my hurt into the air right now and he'd take care of it for me.
Me and my pain, all we have is each other.
The gorgeous guy in the vintage band tee looks me up and down in my holey jeans and white tank. My body is all curves, falling out of my clothes in all the wrong places. Round hips, full breasts, skin the color of cream. My dad's side of the family is Irish and Scottish, so there's a sea of freckles across my nose that some guys think is cute. Clearly, the boy in front of me does, too.
“I, uh, seem to have misplaced my wallet,” I say, shoving the offending item deep into the depths of my purse, so he can't see it and realize I'm lying.
He looks me over again with eyes the color of a tropical sea. I wonder for a moment as he stares at me if he's wearing contacts, but I don't think so. As I look at him, tears spring to my eyes unbidden. I try to choke them back, but he sees anyway.
“Here,” he tells me, dressed in a rugged pair of jeans that look too expensive to be real. Something about the way they crease, something about the sharp smell of denim. His short auburn hair is shaped into a low mohawk, and he smiles at me when he passes over a wad of green bills. “For your tank.”
“Thanks,” I say as I curl my fingers around the money, my eyes drawn to his long fingers. Lines of fire scorch my skin where he touches me which only makes me cry harder.
There's a long, drawn-out sigh from this guy as he ruffles his hair with his musician's hands.
“Do you want a hug?” he asks which both surprises and weirds me out.
“No,” I say, taking a step back, curving my own fingers around the money. I look at him warily, like I think he expects to get something out of me for this cash. My eyes narrow and he sighs again, shrugging his muscular shoulders.