Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life.
When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?
|Publisher:||Whitman, Albert & Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.65(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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"I just don't really see us going anywhere, Kate." Shelton leans sideways against the locker. He shouldn't be leaning, not when he's so obviously breaking up with me — even if his eyes are apologetic. My heart pounds, pushing a lump up my throat, which is going to be a problem when I have to talk.
Shelton's black hair is cut short. Perfect for a young African American guy heading off to college for great things. I think he took a picture of Obama into Super Cuts and said, "One day I want to be that guy. Make me look like him." He continues, "We're going to different colleges. We're about to graduate ... you know."
Now I need to play cool. Save face. I mean, it's not like I thought we'd get married or anything. Well, my brain might have known we wouldn't, but my heart doesn't know the difference. This stings, burns, and takes my breath away. But I'm determined not to show it.
I swallow a few times, trying to get rid of enough of the stupid ball in my throat to answer. "Well, yeah. I mean, we're in high school, heading to college ... I get it." I hate that I basically repeated what he said, and I still feel like I'm getting kicked in the chest.
"We probably shouldn't have gotten so involved in the first place." He exhales. "You know, with how temporary everything is at this time in our lives." He sounds like he's saying something rehearsed.
Now the ache in my chest is being replaced with something else, something that tenses my shoulders, my sides. I start to get kind of pissed, but I'm going to stay cool. What else can I do while standing in the senior hall while Shelton Ingram breaks up with me? I run a hand through my hair, mostly for something to do. For thinking time.
Wait. "What about prom?" It's in like six weeks. I spent half my savings for a dress. One I knew he'd like.
"It would be awkward. Don't you think?" His eyes catch something behind me.
I whip my head around to see Tamara smiling at him. A junior, long, blond hair. With the little bit I know of her, she seems ditzy and so beneath someone like him. As soon as she sees me turn toward her, she walks into the nearest classroom.
"Nice." I cross my arms as my eyes meet Shelton's again, but I'm determined not to make too much of a scene, not to let him see how much he's hurting me.
"What?" He raises his brows, which is a dead giveaway that he's trying to look innocent.
"If you liked someone else, you could have just said it." Why do boys feel it necessary to play stupid games? And it doesn't seem like Shelton, anyway.
He leans back. "That's pretty mean right? And ..."
"And lying isn't?" I uncross my arms and have to stop myself from shoving him.
"We're not getting anywhere." He shakes his head and walks off. That's it. Walks off. We've been dating for over a year and I thought everything was fine.
I hate that I don't have it in me to scream and yell. Instead I take a few deep breaths to keep from crying, which only sort of works. I blot a few tears away.
Must keep busy.
I know I have work in subjects other than AP English (like AP Biology or AP Chem), but I know it's the only class I'll be able to do any homework in tonight. I grab my overworn copy of As I Lay Dying, and stuff it in my bag. The lump in my throat and my pounding chest have left me weak. Defenseless. This sucks.
* * *
"How aren't you more surprised?" I wipe my eyes over and over as Jen drives us home. She's my best friend. She should be outraged — like I should have been when Shelton and I were in the middle of breaking up.
"How's your blood sugar?" she asks, tossing her long, blond ponytail behind her. Jen has these blue eyes that actually glow, and they make mine feel like muddy brown. Just like her bright blond hair makes my pale brown even plainer. Jen's also always dressed, while I seem to live in variations of jeans and T-shirts. But we balance each other out, and we've been friends forever. And we're going to college together at USC in the fall. All those things are worth a lot.
Wait. Blood sugar?
"Really? That's what you're worried about?" I hate it when Jen's meticulous nature makes her sound like my mother.
"Only 'cause the senior picnic is in a few days, and your mom gets all crazy with the curfews and letting you go places when you come home and your blood sugar is all out of whack. I want to make sure you can come."
"Fine. I'm fine." I hate dealing with shots and carb counting, and everything that comes with being Type I Diabetic. Hate. Everything. And I've only been dealing with it for a year, but unless there's some miracle cure, I'll be dealing with it for the rest of my life. Mostly I'd rather think about how inconvenient it is right now. A future with it is too overwhelming.
"Okay, so he mentioned it to Toby last night, who mentioned it to me this morning, so I knew it was coming." She cringes in the driver's seat as if I'd hit her or something.
"And you couldn't warn me?"
She grimaces. "My phone ... remember? And I tried to find you between classes but you were totally MIA."
Right. She got caught texting me in class yesterday, so her parents took her phone after the teacher called ... Oops.
"I gotta make a stop at my house for Honor Society stuff."
"Fine." I slump lower in the seat. "But I'm staying in the car."
"Because you're grouchy. I know." Jen smirks before stopping in the driveway.
I want to smile at her expression, but I'm determined to wallow in my sucky day for at least a little longer.
"Be right back!" She leaps out of the car and runs to her front door.
I slump in my seat and stare at her enormous, grey house. We're parked under the separated garage, and someone peers out from the apartment above. Our eyes catch — his blue eyes are pale, and I suck in a breath. The curtain drops and his face disappears. I didn't know anyone was living in there. We use it for late movie nights and sleepovers. It's awesome 'cause it's not attached to the house, and we have privacy.
How many late nights did Shelton and I have in that apartment? The thought sends another hard stab through my chest.
"Okay. I have that Honor Society Meeting at Shelton's house." Jen frowns as she jumps back in the car.
"Don't look like that. You're in Honor Society leadership. He's Mr. President. I get it." Maybe I should be mad, but that's ridiculous. They work together. Them and like five other people. I know this.
She blows her hair off her face. "I really need my phone. Writing down all my calendar schedule stuff in a paper planner is really getting old."
I roll my eyes. Only Jen would miss her phone for the calendar.
"Ready for home?" She pulls back into the roadway, so I guess it's good that I am ready for home.
"Who's in the apartment?"
Jen shifts in her seat, but doesn't make eye contact, which isn't like her. "My cousin's with us for a little while."
"Which cousin?" Since she's reluctant to share, I want info.
I think I met him once, but I'm not sure. He's a year or two older if I remember right. I'm about to ask more, but we stop in front of my house (which looks like a brown one-story toy after being parked in front of Jen's). I want to be mad about my day, but really it all still hurts too much.
I stand up out of the car and the world spins. Crap. My blood sugar probably is off. I'll need to take care of that before Mom thinks to ask. I had an almost pass out two weeks ago, and she suddenly feels the need to check ALL the time. Since I was in her car and ran into the light post at the mall parking lot, it turned into this big deal. Mom's telling me that I'm not doing a good job of managing my own blood sugar, which means I'm not allowed to drive until I do. Today probably isn't going to help any.
"Come on in, Kate!" Mom opens the door. "Let's get you checked so we know what you can eat!" I hate her artificially bright voice.
So much for avoiding the blood sugar test.
* * *
"I'm not sure what to do about the car situation," Mom says as she runs a hand through her short hair. "But you and I both know your level was extremely high when you came home today."
I take another bite of chicken thinking extremely is a drastic overstatement. Dad will chime in any moment. He's a doctor and knows about this stuff, though I swear Mom knows more about diabetes after all the research she's done since I was diagnosed.
"Kate." Dad breathes out. This is his exasperated one. Breathing out is what my dad does.
"Yes, Dad?" I'm still not sure if it's good or really sucky that he's a doctor. Mostly, for me, it's sucky. Especially now.
He adjusts his wire-rimmed glasses. "This is serious, honey. You take shots. You give yourself shots. You prick your finger. I'd think all of these things would help you realize the seriousness of your situation." He tries to make his deep voice serious and authoritative, but Dad's too much of a softie for me to be actually afraid of him.
"Thanks, Dad." Seems like a neutral and nice enough thing to say.
"I know you're just agreeing with me. And I also know that Dr. Masen's going to ask you about online groups, or if you've gotten in contact with anyone dealing with the same thing you are."
Right. No way. Now I'm the one holding in my exasperated breath. "How's Deena?" My sister is newly pregnant, throwing up everything, and her husband not only works full-time, but is also a grad student. Hopefully Deena's life will take some of the focus off me.
"Oh!" Mom's smile is immediate. "I spoke with her this morning. She goes in on Friday to hear the baby's heartbeat! And she may come stay with us for a couple of weeks while Lane's doing midterms!" Perfect. A puking sister for two weeks. I should probably be excited to help.
"Kate." Dad again. Of course. He won't be distracted by baby talk. "Maybe taking away the car isn't enough of a deterrent. Serious things can happen to your body without the right amount of insulin."
"I'm aware of the list, Dad." Words like blindness, diabetic coma, kidney damage, nerve issues ... None of it feels real. It's like this problem belongs to someone else.
Their eyes are on me. I feel them. Searching my face for more answers or explanations or something. I don't want to think about any of this right now.
What I really want is a night like the night Shelton and I had when my parents left town. I mean, it wasn't that big of a deal, but it was huge to me. He came and slept with me all night. All night I rested in his warm arms and felt his lips on my forehead, and I suddenly understood why people get married. Who wouldn't want to sleep like that every night?
"Kate?" Mom leans forward over the table. "Are you crying?" "Just tired." I push to standing and start for my room, and neither Mom or Dad stops me.
I pull open my bedroom door and the familiar pale blue of my room calms me. But now I'm on the bed and it was the bed that Shelton and I laid on. I hate this, and have no idea how I'm going to handle school tomorrow with Shelton there.
I flip open my phone, but don't actually get a chance to answer.
"How the hell are ya?" The loud, male voice sounds far away.
"Who is this? And do you know it's like three a.m.?" I roll onto my stomach, stretching the sheets around me. Gotta be one of the guys. Gotta be. At least I'm in the apartment over the garage instead of in my uncle's house where my phone would have woken everyone up.
"Hell, Connelly, you forget me already? Lost your brain with your arm?"
Fabulous. Arm jokes are starting already. Only Roberts knows me well enough to do that. I feel like an ass for not knowing who it was right away. "Hey, Rob. What's up?"
"What do you mean what's up? We're freezing our asses off one minute, hot as hell the next, and ducking when we're told to duck. You know Afghanistan. It wasn't that long ago you were one of us."
One of them. Was. It was like yesterday, but also a lifetime ago.
One rehab clinic.
The apartment over my uncle's garage.
"Yeah. So, where are you now?"
"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill ya." He laughs. Loud. He almost sounds drunk, but I know better.
"You guys still near Bagram Airfield?" I wonder if they're still close to where I was a few months ago.
"In the middle of fucking nowhere."
"No one," I correct.
"You can't fuck nowhere."
"See? I knew you were smart. Fucking no one." He laughs more. "You heading to school? Everyone wants to know what you're up to, man."
"I'm ..." up to nothing. I don't know what to be up to right now. I know what I should be up to. I should be getting ready for college, looking for a job. But I don't know how to do shit with one arm.
"Being a lazy ass?" he teases.
"You got it." Might as well play back, there's nothing else to do at this point.
He laughs again. I can picture him now, shaved head, pinched little weasel face always in a smile. And when he wasn't smiling, it meant he was about to pull something big. Like stealing all the steaks from the freezer before going on a weeklong "walk". Our first dinner and breakfast out of camp were awesome. Roberts is the best kind of guy to be friends with, and we've been friends since basic training. Since we learned we'd be in the same post. Same infantry unit.
"How much time you guys got left in country?"
"Four more weeks, Con! Can you believe it?" He sounds excited. After a whole year, four weeks feels like nothing.
"Maybe I'll come to the great state of Oregon and find ya."
No, no, no. If I can't have the Army anymore, I don't want to be faced with it. "Where you stationed next?" I ask.
"I'll be back at Ft. Lewis, Washington. So I'm only a few hours north."
"Great," I lie.
Silence fills the line for a few moments.
"Have you seen Melinda?" All the tease is gone from his voice now. "You know ..."
"I know who Melinda is," I snap. Melinda's the wife of the guy who died next to me. Two feet to my right. My body jumps at the black of the memory — the blast hits my ears making my stomach turn. "No."
"What about the, uh, funeral?"
"I didn't go. I was still in the hospital." It's mostly the truth. I was in the rehabilitation clinic.
"So, how's life with one arm?"
"Peachy." I need off the phone. I can't believe he just asked me that dumbass question. Rolling over all the crap I spend every second of every minute of every day trying to not think about is not what I want to do this time of night.
Though, I also don't want to be fighting away nightmares. No guy wants to admit to that. Well, no guy wants to admit a lot of the shit that's in my head right now.
"Look, tell the guys I said hi. I need my beauty sleep."
He laughs, again. "I knew it, I knew it! You're already going soft. Got a girl in bed with you?"
"Three. Night Rob."
I hang up the phone, reach around with my left hand, and feel the thick stub where my arm used to be. It still hurts like hell when I move wrong. My hand aches sometimes too, but it's not there anymore, and shouldn't be aching. Barely nineteen, no idea what I want to do with my life outside of the military, and now, because of the military, I have to live my life outside of it. Why the hell did he have to wake me up?
* * *
Aunt Beth and Uncle Foster are at the breakfast table looking at me like they always do — like they want to say something, but have no idea how to start. Aunt Beth is the slightly older version of my mom, and it still throws me. We all have the family blue eyes and blond hair, but Beth's hair is even cut in the same shoulder length hair as Mom's, making them look almost like twins. I step into the massive kitchen and pull a bowl from the cupboard. Everything for me now requires multiple steps. Open cupboard door wide enough that it stays open. Let go of door. Pull out bowl. Set bowl down. Reach back up to cupboard door to close it. Pull open silverware drawer. Let go of drawer. Pick out spoon. Set spoon down. Close silverware drawer.
One damn thing at a time. Three months without my arm, and there isn't a second of the day I don't think about it. The thing is, no one in this house has yet to comment on it. Not my cousin Jen. Not my cousin Will. Not my aunt. Not my uncle. There's no way they're not curious. No way they're not at least a little curious.
Not that I really want to talk about it, but I definitely don't forget. It's not like someone asking me what it's like will make me suddenly remember I'm missing my arm.
"What are your plans today, Aidan?" Foster asks as he adjusts his tie.
Excerpted from "The Summer I Found You"
Copyright © 2014 Jolene Perry.
Excerpted by permission of Albert Whitman & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1. Kate Walker,
2. Aidan Connelly,
3. Kate Walker,
4. Aidan Connelly,
5. Kate Walker,
6. Aidan Connelly,
7. Kate Walker,
8. Aidan Connelly,
9. Kate Walker,
10. Aidan Connelly,
11. Kate Walker,
12. Aidan Connelly,
13. Kate Walker,
14. Aidan Connelly,
15. Kate Walker,
16. Aidan Connelly,
17. Kate Walker,
18. Aidan Connelly,
19. Kate Walker,
20. Aidan Connelly,
21. Kate Walker,
22. Aidan Connelly,
23. Kate Walker,
24. Aidan Connelly,
25. Kate Walker,
26. Aidan Connelly,
27. Kate Walker,