Monday, January 27, 2014

Rain's Reviews: Reason to Breathe by Rebeca Donovan

Reason to Breathe by Rebeca Donovan

Reason to Breathe (Breathing, #1)
"No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?"

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection while pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises - not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth - but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.

Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope.



Reason to Breathe is an emotional rollercoaster. The idea and the story was very good, but the writing was abrupt and ill explained. Emma, the main character, is living at her Aunt and Uncle’s house. For starters, it takes a very long time to figure out why she can’t live with her parents. And so it makes the situation she is in less accessible. Now say perhaps you got past that hurdle and you ran straight into her aunt’s abuse and ridicule. The level of abuse her aunt unleashes on her is obscene, and after each and every brutal beating we are expected to believe she (the aunt) can leave the room and be a loving and caring mother to her own children and never lash out? It seems extremely unlikely. And when Carol would throw “surprise attacks” at Emma the lack of reason and level of violence kind of made it difficult for me to take the situation as seriously as the author perhaps wanted me to. Once I started looking at Carol through the lense of an emotionally unstable psychopath I could take the events marginally more seriously but I still wish that the events where written about and integrated, somehow, more smoothly.

Emma is a stubborn little chick. And I can’t decide if its stupidity or misplaced chivalry that keeps her in the situation she is in. She knows how to leave her life behind. She knows that one call will get her into a better home. She knows that she can walk out of the doors and not come back but she can’t. But despite this fatal flaw she is a. O.K. character. Truth be told, she is a little boring. She doesn’t really talk, and when she does it’s either about Evan or saying something rude… to Evan. She is- understandably- wrapped up in her home life, or lack there of, and it makes for a bad conversationalist and no real sense of humor. I think the main reason I kept reading this book is for Evan and morbid curiosity about the abuse situation.

Evan is a fun-loving guy who brings out the best (and worst) in Emma. He is the interesting one, the funny one, the bearable one. I mean, seriously, all of the good attributes was given to the guy. Oh well, he does them justice. Now I really liked Evan. He had a good head on his shoulders, he made good conversation and he is really sweet. One issue I had is he is a bit of a whiner and he made a (few) butt-head move(s) but he thoroughly apologises for them and you can see the remorse so I don’t hold all of them against him.

Sara, the best friend, was one dimensional and not the best influence. I mean, who forces their ‘best-friend’ to go to a party she doesn’t want to go to and then ditches her? But she tries to be there for Emma the best she can, though, and always listens to her. So I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to like her.

The book was overall O.K. the questionable parties and frequent summaries of lengths of time passing both took from it. And like I stated earlier some of the events were hard to take seriously. If you really want a good romance about a girl from a broken home I suggest Emerge or Seeking Havok by Lila felix, or Pushing the Limits by Katie Mcgarry.



“I love that picture, he admitted softly. I think it's because I love the girl in that picture.” ~Rebeca Donovan (253)

Liberty Bay Books: Reason to Breathe

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rain's Reviews: Wide Open by Shelly crane

Wide Open by Shelly Crane

Wide Open (Wide Awake, #2)
Milo is trouble.

He lives it, breathes it. He embraces anything that numbs and takes his mind somewhere else, a world where his mother is herself and not just a shell, and his brother didn't almost kill her, severing any relationship they had. But more importantly, Milo drowns out the guilt for leaving his mother and not being able to forgive his brother. He drowns his pride and moves on to another girl and another party, pretending that life isn't moving on around him and he's stuck in the same place. He's stuck in the past and doesn't know how to let go.

Maya is trouble.

She's done the party scene and has had her fair share of close calls and handcuffs. Not the kinky kind. She's so over it all and fought like hell for that life to let go so she could move on. She now works as a teen counselor. Her life is better, but her life is empty. She has no one but her brother in the whole world left and he's sick with a disease that no medicine can cure.

When they meet, a romance that scares them both emerges, but the love you fight for is the love that can mend bridges, heal scars, and open closed hearts. They'll need each other, they'll want each other, they'll have each other.

But will it all come too late?~Goodreads



Wide Open was surprisingly good, and I only say surprisingly because of it New Adult rating. I have always tried to avoid New Adult because of the inappropriateness of the romance but when this came out I did some research and decided to put it on probation. And when I started reading it, I didn’t stop.

Milo is a self loathing and hopeful guy. He has put himself through Hades and now that he has finally pulled himself back out he’s convinced that no one can love him, forgive him, or look at him without hating him and what he’s done. But despite this negative streak it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be forgiven or loved. And in those moments and actions when he is being the best guy he can be, when he’s not thinking of all his screw ups. and how horrible he thinks he is you love him so much it breaks your heart to see him ridicule himself. He is the sweetest most caring guy towards Maya that you can’t wait to see him fit all his pieces back together.

Maya has a past she isn’t proud of and secrets she doesn’t want anyone to know no matter how close she is to them. She is so strong and so broken your heart breaks all over again. ( All I’m saying is Shelly crane must get pleasure from making her readers depressed.) She has been sober for four years but her life isn’t getting easier and her future is looking impossible. She is defeated-or so she thinks. But when Milo walks in- well- you’ll have to swoon for yourself.

Milo and Maya are possibly the most tragic story and heart-felt story Mrs. Crane has ever written and I am so, so pleased I didn’t pass it up.

The New adult rating is mainly for issues with drugs and alcohol. The romance did not go al the way but did get fairly steamy.




"There is something seeing and something being seen."


Monday, January 13, 2014

Rain's Reviews: The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ovtroski

The Paradox of Vertical Flight

The Paradox of Vertical Flight

What happens when you put a suicidal eighteen-year-old philosophy student, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, and his newborn baby in a truck and send them to Grandma's house? This debut novel by Emil Ostrovski will appeal to fans of John Green, Chris Crutcher, and Jay Asher.

On the morning of his eighteenth birthday, philosophy student and high school senior Jack Polovsky is somewhat seriously thinking of suicide when his cell phone rings. Jack's ex-girlfriend, Jess, has given birth, and Jack is the father. Jack hasn't spoken with Jess in about nine months—and she wants him to see the baby before he is adopted. The new teenage father kidnaps the baby, names him Socrates, stocks up on baby supplies at Wal-Mart, and hits the road with his best friend, Tommy, and the ex-girlfriend. As they head to Grandma's house (eluding the police at every turn), Jack tells baby Socrates about Homer, Troy, Aristotle, the real Socrates, and the Greek myths—because all stories spring from those stories, really. Even this one. Funny, heart-wrenching, and wholly original, this debut novel by Emil Ostrovski explores the nature of family, love, friendship, fate, fatherhood, and myth.~Goodreads



The Paradox of Vertical Flight is a devastatingly intriguing book. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to explain what makes it so fantastic. The characters Jack, Tommy, Jess, and Socrates are so real and believable. Jack, the main character and narrator of the story, has a philosopher's brain with no one around except a baby to listen so the internal dialogue is pretty interesting.

Jack is constantly asking questions that make you feel like you can feel the enormity and infinity of the universe. And that coupled with a sarcastic edge makes his narration and personality unique and refreshing.

Tommy is Jack’s best friend and though he doesn’t operate on the magnitude of Jack he can keep up and is a great source of entertainment. With Jack and him in the car (or anywhere) together you will laugh until you cry.

Jess is the butt head ex-girlfriend that i could barely tolerate until near the end of the book. But perhaps I just didn’t understand her the way I was supposed to. To me she was a bitter whiny *bad word* that couldn’t say one nice thing to Jack or anyone else.

The baby is, well, something else. But you’ll have to read to find out what. The whole book was a discussion of the purpose of life and the definition of infinity that just so happened to be taking place in the midst of an impromptu and slightly illegal trip to Jack’s grandma’s house.




" 'I live," the man says, "always here. Never there. 'Til one day I'll be ever there and never more here, if, that is, there's a there at all.' "

Liberty Bay Books: The Paradox of Vertical Flight

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rain's Reviews: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr


Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.


Roomies was a quick read with unexpected depth. The story focused on two teenage girls who are going through rough times and their summer after high school and before college.

It was an honest representation of life as an older sibling with multiple youngling running around, and I am assuming it was just as honest when it came to the only child.

I enjoyed the way it was written and set up. There were a few lags but most of the time I did not want to put this book down.

Elizabeth and Lauren were great girls in the end but they definitely had their moments that I was like, “Come on get a grip!” But I suppose such is life. Lauren was kind of hard to get to like but once I warmed up to her she was not nearly as hard to keep up with as Elizabeth.

Overall it was a good read. The romance goes all the way, and there is some harsh language. At the same time I still recommended it to my sister after I finished, let me know how you feel if you read it. I would most assuredly like a second opinion.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Blog Tour: Wide Open by Shelly Crane

Wide Open by Shelly Crane


My mouth tasted like vomit. That wasn't unusual. The arm creeping over my middle wasn't unusual either nor the way I felt completely repulsed and sick. I worked so hard, drinking, doing any drug that I could get my hands on, sleeping with any girl that looked in my direction and didn't slap me for my foul mouth as I told her all the things I wanted to do to her. Slurred, really.

I knew it wouldn't be long until Mason was there to pick me up. The small get-togethers, he wouldn't get wind of, but the big ones, he always came and tried to save me. It had been about a month since I'd seen him. He just didn't get it. I didn't want to be saved.

At least, not at first.

I hated him. I hated him with every fiber of my being for what he did to Mom. I couldn't stand to look at him let alone live with the bastard. So I started going out all the time just to get away from him, only seeing Mom during the day when I skipped school and Mason was at work.

But she never remembered me the right way, so it was pointless to keep seeing her. I just tortured myself by staying there and I wouldn't feel guilty for leaving. Finally, I spent so much time away that it felt like I didn't live there anyway and stopped going home.

Mason texted me so much that I eventually just tossed my cell out of the window of my friend's car one night. They laughed and laughed, whooping and telling me how free I was. We smoked enough dope to chill for the next day and a half. I never went back to school after that. I never went back home either. Why would I? No one understood me, no one really cared about me. They all just wanted me to 'make something of myself'.

But how can you do that when you don't even know the parts that make you up, the parts that make you you, the parts that piece together and make you feel whole. I hadn't felt whole in a really long time. I felt older than I was. I may be a seventeen year old, but inside I felt like I was fifty.

The girl next to me groaned and dug her nails into my side just a little. "What time is it?" her raspy voice breathed against my shoulder.

I leaned over the side of the bed and lifted my phone from my pants pocket. My new cell was dead. "Don't know. Does it matter?"

"I have to work tomorrow." She yawned and stretched.

I started to get up, but she grabbed my arm. I winced at the burn on the inside of my elbow. I looked down at it, seeing the bruising from the needles under her finger tips.

"I'm outta here." I shook her hand off.

"Wait. Why so eager to get away?" She rolled over on her stomach, her naked behind peeking out from the sheet, her feet swinging back and forth in the air. "You weren't so eager to leave earlier."

I scoffed. "Passing out and wanting to stay are not the same thing."

"Sometimes they are. Sometimes it just doesn't matter." She watched as I zipped my jeans, commando. "I'll cook you breakfast," she bribed.

I paused. I couldn't even remember the last time I'd eaten. I was so thin that I had to belt my pants to keep them up. I always crashed wherever I was or with a friend, ate whatever came my way, but sometimes it didn't come very often. For all intents and purposes, I was homeless, but had yet to sleep outside.

At her mention of food, my stomach decided to throw a fit. "What do you want for it?"

"Got any blow?"

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the little baggie. "Some."

"Split it with me," she said, biting her lip and sitting to let the sheet fall away. I stared at her chest since she was offering the view. She slithered up to me, unzipping my pants as she pressed her lips to my ear and said, "Come back to bed for a while, we'll hit the blow, and after, I'll make you some eggs."

"Why do you want me to stay?" I asked, not really caring, but wondering why she was offering me more sex and breakfast.

"Because," she pushed my pants down my hips, "my parents will be gone 'til tomorrow morning and there's nothing better than sex after a hit."

I watched as she took the baggie from me with her fake nails. She leaned forward and kissed my cheek before dipping her pinkie nail in and sniffing the little she took up her nose. She put her finger back in the bag and I took it, rubbing what was left of the powder on my gums.

Normally, I would have bolted, but I didn't have anywhere else to go anyway. The promise of food was almost as satisfying as the sex I was about to have.

She set up the lines and after we did them, one after the other, she pushed me down on the bed and straddled me. I rolled with the drugged ecstasy that crawled slowly through my veins as she groaned and moaned on top of me.

And that was how Mason found me.

The door opened and my head fuzzed over as I turned to look at him. His eyes locked on mine before he turned away, but not before I saw the disgust on his face. I gripped the girls hips to make her stop since someone coming into the room wasn't a clear enough cue for her. I pushed her off onto the bed and sat up, scooting to the edge.

I stared at his back in the doorframe. "Leave. I don't need you here."

"You do, Milo," he said before turning. He looked and he saw all there was left of me. I suddenly felt like I was wide open for him to see it all, for him to see all the rot and gore inside me. He shook his head, his eyes searching my face. "God, help me. You do need me."

I scowled. "No, I-"

"Milo…when's the last time you ate something?" He rubbed his hair. I noticed how good he looked. He looked like he'd gained some weight, the good kind. His arms and torso were bigger, new tattoos peeking out from his shirt sleeves. I realized it had been weeks since I'd seen him.

I stood and yanked my jeans on, spitting my words, hating how good he looked, knowing that he was happy with that girl that I'd seen before. "None of your fu-"

"Milo!" he scolded, just as a hand crawled around his arm. The girl - his girl - looked around him, the sympathy pouring off her in droves as she looked at me. He touched her arm, his fingers caressing, smoothing. He looked back at me. "Don't use that filthy mouth with Emma here."

She gulped as she looked at me. Her eyes lingered on my stomach before she looked up at my face. She smiled, just barely. "I've got some hot coffee in the car if you like mocha," she offered.

He looked at her again as she came to his side. They barely fit in the doorframe together. He circled her waist with his arm, looking strung out and guilty. It angered me that he felt like he deserved her or anything else that would make him happy. "Trying to lure me out with hot coffee," I mused angrily. "Wow, Mason. Getting the girl to do your dirty work for you."

"Milo," he snapped.

"It's my coffee," she smoothed over, "but you're welcome to it. I haven't drank any yet."

She rubbed his chest and he sighed. He looked at me again, renewed determination in his eyes. "Let us take you to get some food at least. Anything you want."

"No." I searched for my shirt and tugged it on roughly. I realized it was inside-out too late, but left it. I didn't care.

"Come on, Milo. You can still hate me, but do it while you're eating something." I gave him a droll look. "Milo…you look like hell, bro."

"Aw, thanks," I sneered.
"I'm serious," he said quietly. "Please, Milo."

He begged me. He had never begged before, just ordered me around, dragging me to my room, and then I'd sneak out before he woke up. He'd never tried to feed me before.

"Come with us, Milo," his girl asked. "There's an omelet place five minutes from here that's pretty amazing."

I gritted my teeth. I didn't want his charity. As if she read my mind his girl said, "I'm buying."

She smiled and tilted her head. I sighed, sticking my dirty-socked feet inside my boots without tying them. "Whatever. I eat, then I'm out." I looked over at them and glared. "Don't try to stop me from leaving."

"We won't," she insisted. She rubbed Mason's arm and looked up at him sadly. She looked as if she were about to cry. I had no idea why. It couldn't be for me. I didn't even know this chick.

I lead the way from the room. The girl I'd left on the bed yelled something at us. I could tell she was mad, not understanding what was going on, but I just kept walking. I was pissed, really, because she had gotten my last hit and I hadn't gotten off before Mason interrupted us.

Mason's car wasn't parked on the street. I looked for it, but blondie passed me and went to a big truck in the driveway. He got a new truck? How the heck did he have money for that?

I didn't say a word as I climbed into the backseat. She handed me the coffee and I snatched it from her hands, tossing the lid off, and gulping it down. It burned my tongue and lips, but my fogged brain was past the point of caring or stopping. As I finished it, I watched as she scooted all the way over to press against his side. They whispered things back and forth that I couldn't hear. The drive was short. Blondie had been right about that. We piled into a booth in the back, them on one side and me on the other, and I didn't even pick up the menu.

It pissed me off just smelling the food. My stomach growled so loud and hard it hurt. I was cold and rubbed my neck. When the waitress came, I ordered a root beer and a western omelet with cheese and hashbrowns. Mason ordered the same and the girl got waffles.

Before an awkward silence could settle in, she started talking. "I'm Emma, by the way." She smiled. I stared at their intertwined hands on the tabletop. Mason had never had a girlfriend before, really. He wasn't the touchy-feely type either. I was oddly fascinated at the way his thumb ran over her knuckles, over and over.

"Hi, Emma," I spouted sarcastically and let my gaze settle on her face instead.

She was one of those girls who was gorgeous by design and didn't even have to try. Her eyes, her nose, her cheeks. They all seemed to fit so perfectly. Her lips - they were Mason's favorite thing, other than her legs, which I knew were his absolute favorite. He'd always been a legs man. And she had some nice twigs on her, from what I'd seen. I settled my eyes lower on the barely-there sliver of cleavage that peeked from her top.

It was the first time I'd seen a girl blush in what felt like years. The girls I kept company with didn't blush. They were beyond that point, beyond the level that allowed them to feel embarrassed about sexual things. They'd done it all.

This girl… I shook my head and smirked at Mason. "Not sampled the goods yet, brother? She's mighty skittish."

"Shut your face, Milo," he stood and growled.

I was actually taken aback a little. This was as worked up as I'd ever seen him. And over a girl of all things? Holy crap. He was in love with this chick. I felt my hatred soften a little before snapping it back in place. I rubbed my neck again on that itchy, cold spot.

"Whoa, Nelly," I joked. "Calm the eff down. It was just an observation."

I laughed. It sounded strange even to my ears. It sounded like a sick person's laugh. I glanced at Emma and actually felt a little bad at the embarrassed way she tucked her hair behind her ears. I squinted. Was there a story there that I didn't know?

"I'm Milo," I mocked. "Nice to meet you, princess."

"We've met before and you know it," she countered easily.

"Yeah," I muttered and rubbed my cold neck. "I remember. You held my hair back as I puked." I laughed condescendingly.

"Basically." She smiled, not falling for my ploys to piss her off. "You're welcome, by the way."

I didn't respond to the beauty queen. I just pointlessly stirred my root beer. She was beautiful to the point of distraction, sweet and annoying all wrapped up in one, and I could tell that she had my brother wrapped around her finger whether she knew it or not.

And it pissed me off. Mason shouldn't be so freaking happy.

And he was, I could tell. He watched her when she wasn't looking. His entire presence shifted when she did. The waitress brought our food soon thankfully, and just as I was taking a bite, I saw the ring on Emma's finger.

"You're getting married?" I heard my gravelly voice say.

Emma pulled her hands off the table into her lap, as if unsure if I was supposed to know that. Mason lifted his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, kissing her temple. It shocked the hell out of me how much I wanted to be happy for him.

"Yeah," he said low. "I asked Emma to marry me."

I didn’t ask when or how. I didn’t care.

"And she said yes," he continued harder.

"That's great," I spouted sarcastically with a mouthful of food.

"And mom's doing fine, too, by the way."

"I didn't ask," I growled and took another bite. I could see I was going to have to get out of here so the food-shoveling kicked up a notch.

"She has a nurse that comes and helps take care of her. I work with her every day on her exercises, but she still can't walk. She and Emma get along great, too. Emma was one of my patients and lost her memory as well."

I jerked my gaze up to the beauty queen. She was watching me with parted lips, her eyes practically begging me to give in to Mason and stop the feud. I wondered if she knew what Mason had done, how Mason had-

Mason leaned forward and glared as he barked, "Don't look at her like that. And yes, I told her all about me. How I'm the devil that destroyed your life and Mamma's. How I killed my best friend." She gripped his arm, tugging on it and pleading with him to stop. "She knows it all."

They stared at each other and I believed him that they had talked about it. It looked like they had talked about it plenty, in fact, but I could also tell that she kissed his boo-boos and made him think that it was all OK.

But it wasn't.

I chugged my root beer and grabbed both pieces of toast, wrapped them in a napkin and stuck them in my pocket, scooting down the bench seat. "I'm out here."

"Will you just eat, Milo," Mason said in exasperation. "I'm not going to make you come home. Just eat."

"You couldn't make me," I spat. I stood and leaned right in his face with my palms on the table. "Always trying to run my life. Good ol' Mason." I saw him flinch slightly at that. He stood, too, licking his lips angrily in an attempt to calm himself. "I hate you so much. You killed our mother."

"Our mother is alive," he replied loudly.

People in the restaurant were now privy to our conversation, but I went even louder. "What she is isn't alive! When she doesn't even remember me?"

"She remembers you," he countered.

"Not in the right way."

"She remembers you in the most important way. In the only way that truly matters."

"What could be worse than her not remembering me as I am?"

"Not remembering you at all," Emma said, barely. She looked up, her eyes dark. "When I woke up from my coma, I didn't remember anyone. Not my parents, or my friends, even the guy I had been dating. I still don't." Mason sighed as if all of this was exhausting. "It could be worse, Milo. She could not remember you at all."

"Doesn't matter," I steamed ahead, unwilling to let them deter me. "The fact is that you ruined my mom. It's pointless to even go see her because she won't remember that I've been there."

"Doesn't matter," he spouted back at me. "Doesn't negate the fact that you should come see her."

"Ooh," I mocked. "Using big words on little high school drop-out Milo. Whatever."

I turned to go, scratching my cold neck and feeling the rawness of my skin begin to set in. He grabbed my arm and before I knew it, I was looking at Mason holding his jaw as he leaned back against the table. Emma fussed over the blood coming from his lip with insistent ministrations with a napkin. I hadn't even realized I hit him until my hand started to ache. The entire diner was watching us with these looks of disgust on their faces. Well, they were watching me.

I shook out my fingers, wincing but not regretting it. I turned to go once more and heard Mason from behind me. "I love you, bro." That stopped me in my tracks. I didn't turn around. "I love you and I know that you won't ever forgive me. It took me a long time to forgive me, too. I would still hate me if Emma hadn't come along and showed me that I couldn't blame myself forever. It was an accident, nothing but. I not only lost my best friend that day because he wouldn't listen to me and drove anyway, and my mom, the way she was, but I lost you, too. I take care of Mom; I became a physical therapist to take care of her. But you, I don't know what to do for you, Milo. I don't know how to help you. If you ever need anything or want to come home, the door's always wide open. Always. I love you, even if you can't love me back."

I hated the fact that he made me want to turn around, to make-up and forget everything that happened.

I hated him. I hated all he'd done. I hated how he tried to reconcile every time I saw him. And I hated that he was getting this great, perfect little life with a wife and kids.

I didn't look back again as I weaved through the tables on my way out. He yelled my name and something about giving me some money. I should have taken it and would have had it been anyone else. But I didn't want his money.

I walked for a long time to a friend's apartment over the Irish Mug bar. Not only would he let me crash, but more than likely he had some smoke he'd front me. After Mason's little haphazard intervention, I needed it. I crossed the street to the bar and heard the honking before seeing the bright lights. I raised my hand and saw the car screeching to a stop right in front of me. He cursed and honked. I flipped him off and kept walking across the road. I heard him peel away as I climbed the stairs on the side of the building for his apartment. The bar was hopping, the music was so loud I couldn't even hear my footsteps up the stairs.

I knocked, but knew he couldn't hear me, so I tried the handle. When it turned, I pushed it open. He had called me a few times, but I never checked my messages. My phone was just a drug ferry basically. I never used it except for making a drug buy or find a friend's how to stay at because minutes cost too much for someone who never had money. I had odd jobs sometimes, but after you don't show up on time for a few days in a row, they can you. That was the only way I could buy minutes and buy weed on a regular basis. But usually, I floated until my next paycheck, whenever that may be, and some friends would front me some things if I didn't have the money.

But I was a little behind right now and owed a few people. OK, a lot of people, and a lot of money. Even my friend I was going to see had threatened to cut me off if I didn't pay him something. I usually just avoided the ones I owed money to.

I'd gotten into the other side of the business a couple times, but didn't sell much of it when I smoked it or snorted it instead. I had my foot broken once for not paying up when they realized the drugs were all gone and it was me who had used them.

I still walked with a little limp because I couldn't go to the hospital without them calling Mason or my mom. So my friend put a makeshift cast on me and I practically dragged the thing for a few weeks.

Nikko's place was dark and I couldn't hear anything but the noise below us. I turned the corner to find him on the couch, some girl on his lap. I turned around to keep her naked behind out of my sight. I heard him curse.

"Milo! What the hell, man?"

"Sorry, uh…" I peeked back, but it was still too soon and turned back around. "I wanted to see if I could crash here."

"Damn it, Milo…" He kissed her, I heard the smacking, and told her he'd see her later, that he needed to take care of something. She walked by me and gave me a sullen look for ruining her night. I turned to find him pulling a black wife-beater on. "Dude, you can't just come in like that."

"I knocked. The music's too loud." I stuffed my hands into my pockets. "Let me crash, OK?"

"Milo." He shook his head. "You look like a heap of hell, man."

"That's because I haven't had anything all day and my nosey brother wanted to flaunt his hot girlfriend in my face."

He sighed. "There's nothing wrong with getting lit on the weekends and making a living off of selling, but're not just having fun anymore. You're hooked. You're hooked, messing with deals you shouldn't, and people are looking for you." He took a step forward, but looked at me sadly. "I tried to help you. I knew you had it rough at home, but…you can't stay here, man. Go."

Oh. It wasn't sadness he had for me, it was pity.

"Just for the night," I begged.

"I can't." He gulped and leaned against the kitchen bar. "Mikey's looking for you. And…so is Roz. Go. Now."

The curses piled in my head. I knew I owed him money, but for him to start actively looking for me wasn't good for my health.

But I needed a place to stay and I needed…something, anything to make me stop shaking and scratching. It felt like ants were in my veins and he needed to give me something. "Fine," I bit out. "Just…float me a J."

"You already owe me for ten joints, not to mention all the blow and nuggets I fronted you."

He looked around, nervous as all get out. My brain was in a fog. I didn't care if I slept on a bench outside. My friends usually came through for me, but lately they seemed less eager to let me stay. So fine, he could throw me out as long as he gave me something to tie me over.

"I'm good for it. My brother said he'd give me some money until I get back on my feet. I've got a job lined up starting next week," I lied. "It's just…been bad lately. I'm under so much stress."

"Classic druggie line," he scoffed. "Get out, Milo. The longer you stay here, the worst you're making it for me." We heard a car door outside and he sucked in a breath. "Go, man, now!"

I went to the window and peeked past the dingy blue curtain that the previous tenant had left and saw one of the guys who always set up my buys from Roz. I shook my head, backing away, and looked at him to help me. "Go out the back. And don't say I never did anything for you," he growled and went to the front door. "Go!"

I ran, but as soon as I opened the back door, there was another guy there. "You got Roz's money?" he asked.

I stalled and started the typical plea. "Well, I'll have it-"

He didn't wait for anything else. His fist connected to my jaw and I heard the crunch, knowing it was hurt tomorrow, as I went down. He followed me and gripped my collar in his fist before slamming my cheek with his free fist. He beat on me for so long and hard all over that I blacked out. I came out of it a couple times, but it was so blurry and the haze of pain was thick. I could never grasp onto reality.

No time passed at all for me. I closed my eyes and the next time I opened them, I was in a hospital bed. No one was there with me. It was a regular room, not the ER. I lifted my head to survey the damage and immediately regretted that hasty decision. My head hurt so badly, I thought I might black out again. I pushed with my elbows and made myself sit up. I touched my head to find a bandage, my eye was swollen, my lips all busted up, and my jaw was so sore, it hurt to even touch it, let alone try to open my mouth.

I remembered being brought there, the cops, they asked questions…

I had to get out of there.

Right then, that was the only thing that truly mattered. I had rolled over on Roz. I owed so much money to so many people, but none of that mattered compared to the fact that I told the cops Roz's operating spots and their names and everything. He was going to kill me.

I had no idea how long I'd been in the hospital and the lack of drugs made me way more lucid than the drug-induced stages I usually resided in. There wasn't any morphine in that drip because I hurt all over so badly, I thought I might vomit. The fact that they hadn't given me any morphine made me realize that they knew I was a…drug addict. There, OK, yes, if I didn't get drugs every day, I felt like I'd crawl out of my own skin. So, yes, I was addicted. And they knew it because they hadn't given me anything to help with the pain.

And I knew I was in deep.

It hit me all at once as I yanked the needle out of my arm how bad things had gotten. I'd ran myself into the ground. It had been way too long since I hadn't had anything in my system and my hands shook as I eased off the bed onto the floor. I tried to yank the hospital band off, but I was too weak. The name on the band read John Doe. So they didn't know who I was. I pulled on my jeans from the back under the bed. My body ached so bad all over, but I knew I had to get out of there.

Once all my clothes were on, I peeked out the blinds to see an officer standing by my room. I cursed under my breath. That was probably the only reason the Roz hadn't come after me. But the cops wanted me for something, and I could guess it was for me to roll over on Roz. They didn't just guard anybody; only the people who they wanted something from.

I pushed the food cart to slam into the bed and then jumped behind the door. When he opened it, like I knew he would, I waited until he came into the room. He cursed and moved forward, bending to look under the bed. I scooted behind him around the door and acted as normal as I could as I walked down the hall. I heard him on his radio as he said that the suspect was missing. Then he argued with them that he'd been by the door the whole time. I turned into the first stairwell I saw and took them as quickly as I could. I heard them coming from the lower floor and stopped. I could hear the crackle of a radio, so I jumped through the door with a peeling number four on it.

It led to an alcove in the hall and I waited for them to go up as they passed. When it was quiet, I opened the door slowly and crept my way down the stairs, out of the hospital, and into the street.

I didn't know where I was going, but I knew I had to get away. It was then that I knew I'd never see Mason or my mother again.

I went to the highway, even though it was almost dark, stuck my thumb out and waited for someone to stop and take me away - give me a ride to anywhere but there.

Two Years Later


I sat and looked at the envelope. It had the results of my GED exam. Finally, I was going to have a piece of paper that told me I had finished high school instead of just dropping out and being a runaway.

I flipped it over and over in my fingers. It wasn't like this was an application into Harvard or anything. It was a GED, but it was my GED. It was all I had.

"If you don't open that already, I'm going to stab you with my fork."

I glared up at Joey playfully. "Shut it."

Joey had been my friend for a long time now. It felt like forever, but had actually only been a little shy of two years. Joey worked at the shelter that I crawled into a few nights after I left the hospital. I hitchhiked for two days, sometimes with a ride, sometimes walking or sitting on the side of the road. I was starving, so weak I could barely walk, dehydrated except for a bottle of water a trucker gave me. They pulled me into the shelter at the church in some town.

Joey was the one who made sure I got a bed in the shelter that night and for the next two months while I tried to straighten myself out. There were many bumps in the road. I still wasn't sure exactly how many days the hospital had kept me, because I hadn't know even what day it was when I went in, but the detox had begun then. I struggled with it, but had already gotten through some of the hard part. They made it clear that drugs would not be allowed in the shelter and anyone on drugs after the rules had been explained would be removed.

To be completely honest, I fell hard off that wagon once or twice. I couldn't believe how hard it was. That first pill or sip or hit after days and days of not having anything was like pure ecstasy, my body betraying me and making me believe it was what I needed and wanted.

But Joey came and got me from wherever I was, yelled and told me how I needed to get straight, snuck me back into the shelter and made me promise never to do it again. Finally, that promise stuck. It's been over a year since that wagon had caused any problems for me.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Buy Links: