Somewhere With You

By: Britney King

PART ONE




Jack





PROLOGUE


Most people would probably agree that ten year olds are impervious to falling in love. What does a kid know of love, they’d say. Most folks would say it’s entirely impossible to meet your soul mate (and know it) at the tender age of ten, to fall head over heels, madly in love. But most ten year olds haven’t been through what Jack Harrison has. If you were to ask Jack today, he would say that he knew more about love and loss and everything in between, even then, than the majority of adults roaming the planet.

It would be nice to tell you that Jack Harrison wasn’t always the competitive, hard-nosed businessman most people know him as today. But to tell you any different would be a lie. Sure, maybe he was once a carefree, kind-spirited little boy, but Jack couldn’t recall that version of himself—and anyone who might have, was dead. In theory, the shift had likely already begun the year ten year old Jack met what would become the love of his life.

It was the summer of 1990, a summer of record-breaking heat, the summer that he learned a lesson or two about what it takes to rise to the top, and exactly one summer after his mother had finally lost her five-year battle with cancer.





ONE


June 1990



Jack clearly remembers the first time he saw her face. He could easily recall that he was lying face down on the ground as a mixture of blood and dirt coated the inside of his mouth, one eye swollen shut, the other carefully fluttering, and then opening ever so slightly until he found himself peering into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen, eyes so pure and so blue that it was hard to tell where they ended, and the bright blue morning sky began.

They say if you are hit in the head hard enough, you’ll see a beautiful burst of colors, and that is exactly what Jack thought he saw as he struggled to force open the one eyelid he still somewhat had control over. Later, he would remember that it was her voice he had heard first, the voice of an angel calling out urgently as he forced himself into a ball and lay there thinking of his mother. Surely, he told himself, that if she could survive all those years of suffering, then he could endure the next few minutes—it shouldn’t be too long now until his bullies were satisfied with their work. He at least owed his mother that much, he thought.

Raymond Netzer and Joseph Coulter were well known among the campers for getting their way. You were either with them or against them, a sentiment they enjoyed reminding Jack of with each blow. They were a good four years older than he was, among the oldest kids at Camp Hope. That’s the thing about death and the people it leaves behind. It changes them. You either come out better or worse afterward, one or the other, but never the same. Truth be told, there would always be kids like Raymond and Joseph. The world is full of them, bullies, up to no good. Death only added fuel to their fire. Jack and the others were merely an outlet for their anger, something to try to control where death had left them nothing.

For this reason, Jack practically begged his father not to send him away again this summer, because he was unfortunate enough to know what was awaiting him. But his father was unrelenting, insistent that Camp Hope, a bereavement camp for children who’d lost a parent, was where he needed to be. His father needed to work, he reminded him often, and not only would Jack enjoy all of the activities they offered, but he’d be out of the way, and best yet, it wouldn’t cost his father anything. Maybe you should go to camp then, Jack had said.

“Can you walk?” the little voice asked.

Jack nodded his head.

“Here let me help…”

The girl pulled on his arm to no avail. “Come on. Get up before they come back.”

Jack pushed himself up to a seated position and studied the girls face. She was younger than he was by at least a few years. He glanced behind her at the audience that had gathered. She seemed to have read his mind because she turned around then and thrust her hands palms up toward the sky as though she were demanding to know what it was they were looking at. She waved something he couldn’t make out above her head. “You see this here?” she shouted. “It’s evidence. Proof that you all just stood here and did nothing while those jerks beat him to a pulp! Now get to gettin’. Or else I’m turning these over. And you’re all in for it!”

Jack watched the crowd scatter as he brushed the dirt off his pants, staggering a bit, as he made his way up to a standing position. He eyed the girl suspiciously.

She thrust her hand toward him so suddenly it startled him. “I’m Amelie. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If only it were under better circumstances.”

Jack furrowed his brow and shoved his hands in his pockets. He may not be as tough as the boys who’d just kicked the shit out of him, but he was no dummy. Jack knew exactly what he needed to do at this moment, for he’d learned very early in life the necessity of saving face. “No, trust me, kid, the pleasure’s all mine. Now those assholes are really going to have it out for me.” He looked her up and down. “Now, that a girl came to my rescue. I really didn’t need your help. I would’ve been just fine on my own”