Between octobers bk 1, savor the days series

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BetweenOctobers

Savor The Days Series, BookOne

By

A.R. Rivera

 

Dedication

To my father, who gave me patience,

My mother, who gave me faith,

And my husband, who gives me everything.

I could not have done this without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between Octobers

By A.R. Rivera

Published by A.R. Rivera at Smashwords

 

Copyright 2014 A.R. Rivera

All Rights reserved.

 

All characters and events portrayed in this book areproducts of the authors’ imagination. Any similarities to personsliving or dead are coincidental and unintentional, so don’t get youknickers in a twist.

 

Contents

Part One:Grace

Because of the King

October 5th

October 6th

October 7th

October 8th

October 9th

October 10th

Terminal

October 10.5

October 17th

October 18th

October 19th

The Box

October 20th

October 27th

October 29th

October 30th

October 31st

November 3rd

No Plan

November 29th

Challenges

January 4th

January5th

Keeping Up

February 7th

February 10th

March 12th

March 13th

March 15th

Turning Point

April 1st

April 2nd

April 3rd

May 3rd

May 23rd

May 24th

May 30th

A Way Out

August 6th

August 7th

October 29th

A Beginning

Part Two: Evan

Ready-Set-Go

Travel

House Again

Trail

The Search

The Finding

The Meeting

Aftermath

Four Days andCounting

Notebooks

Ever After

Oppressive Impulses

Sneak Peek At September Rain

About The Author

Acknowledgements

 

Keep Reading . . .For a sneak peek of A.R. Rivera’s next bookin her Savor The Days Series—

September RainreleasesMay 15,2014!

(Can be read as stand-alone oraccompaniment)

 

 

 

Part One

Grace

Because of TheKing

My house doesn’t smell like this.

It’s a sort of musty odor, but with a hintof oil.

A horrendous, confusing pulse lashes throughmy cranium, its fingers reaching into my eyes and neck. Pieces andpictures wander in confusing ways, blurring into strange shapes. Idon’t know what they mean.

My body, tight and uncomfortable, feels likejeans tangled inside a washing machine. Blinking—I know I blinkbecause I feel my eyelids move—makes no difference against theblinding dark. My hands are bound together by something. And myfeet are crammed uncomfortably against . . . something. My neck iskinked, forced to one side. The position isn’t the source of mythrobbing headache, but it’s painfully unpleasant. I draw a deepbreath. The air is hot, stuffy. The sound of release drags inreverb, noisy and close. It brushes back against my cheeks.

I focus on tracing the line of my stomachbetween my forearms. A bump answers from the inside, soothingme.

Something knocks against my head,contributing to the mindboggling ache that turns my stomach. Iblink again, feel my lashes catching and shake my head, trying toremove the obstruction.

Entrancing fear cripples me as the roomseems to bend. The floor jolts, disappearing for a terrifyingsecond. My upturned face hits something before I slam back onto myside.

Suddenly, the sounds, sensations, and smellsall come together but I can’t find the word that describes it. Itlaps at the edge, blotted out by fuzz.

There was a talk show I watched the otherday. The guest was a woman, an expert who gave a list of guidelinesabout . . . The word isn’t there, but the flood of information isclear. “Never let them take you to a secondary scene,” the expertsaid. “It’s always a place where there’s little to no chance ofreaching help. The captor is in complete control.”

I struggle in the cramped space, but itdoesn’t help. It’s noisy, though. A loud crackling din; almost likepaper. The word is back, on the tip of my tongue, but my braincan’t make the connection. I remember I was in the kitchen. I brokethe coffee pot. The tarp in the garage. She made me close my eyes,and then . . . Pain. Now, I’m here.

I have a captor and I’ve already broken rulenumber one.

I’m crumpled, stuffed into the trunk of whatcan only be a compact car. The space is so tiny; it has to be,like, a Prius or something. I try to think through the hazy panic .. .

Lord Jesus, help me remember!

My hands are awkwardly stuck out over mybelly; my wrists feel like they’ve been constricted for some time.They’re tingling, compressed by a vise. My puffy fingers feel moreswollen than usual. I clasp my hands as in prayer; the same wayCaleb does when he begs.

Caleb! Noah!

As far as my mouth can tell, whatever’sbinding my wrists is too thin and smooth to be rope. I try with allmy strength to stretch the hidden manacles, pushing and pressinginto my restraints, popping the joints, but my wrists can’tseparate.

It’s okay,myNurse Voice soothes,I can work withrestrained hands.

My feet, however . . . I have no idea whathas them trapped. Again, I concentrate but . . . Fragments appearand fly away before I retain them and I can’t tell exactly how I’mwedged. Wiggling my toes, I can tell I’m wearing my shoes. Thesensation helps me map my legs. My feet are apart but my knees arestuck against the side of what feels like a milk crate. I can’t getmy hands down past my belly to free my scrunched-up knees, to workmy feet free.

I try to turn, readying myself for when mycaptor, whoever it is, opens the trunk. A chilling thought freezesme, mid-roll.

What if they don’t?

No one will know. My boys, my baby, my Noah,Caleb, Lily, Ronnie, Aunt Rose and Evan. Evan, Evan. The facesflash before my wet, blind eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

October5th

I sort of always assumed a person would knowdeath was coming. They’d have some sort of inkling, like a gutfeeling, or a sense of finality when they said goodbye the lasttime they left home. Like in the movies, when the creepy scorestarts to play, you know something bad is about to happen. But inreal life, there’s no foreboding music.

I visualized that accident a thousand times.Dreamt about it. Solomon couldn’t have heard screeching tires; noone used their brakes. He couldn’t have seen it coming; the fog wastoo thick.

Loss: it’s too simple a word. Only fourletters. Three alphabetic representations for such a broad term.The light tense, the singular syllable, they do it no justice. Howcan anyone understand what it means? Every letter of the alphabetshould be used. Its implications touched every part of my life, soit makes sense that the word itself should carry every letter.

My life, for the last eleven months andthree weeks, could be summed up in two words. Simple phrases: stillbreathing, keeping up, getting by. Holding on. I was barely holdingon. To daily chores that didn’t get done unless I did them.Everything since the day Solomon died had been routine. I’d inhaleto exhale and repeat. Eat, sleep, and breathe. Cooked to washdishes. Got dirty to shower. Changed to wash clothes. It was all Icould manage most days: inhale, exhale, repeat.

I know I should’ve been . . . not over it,but dealing well enough to put his clothes away. I couldn’t seem tolet go of that part of my life. I was never sure if it was becauseI was holding onto it or if it was holding onto me.

There, in my big empty bed, inside mysleeping house, I took a deep breath and held it, straining topicture myself packing his things. Touching this shirt and that hat. . . I would have to remember where we were when he got them. I’dfeel the stabbing pain, imagining the beautiful words he spoke whenhe wore them.

Aunt Rose said that God never gives us morethan we’re able to handle. Solomon used to say that God maysqueeze, but He doesn’t choke. Doctor Elena Williams, the griefcounselor recommended to me by the pastor of the church I didn’tattend anymore, suggested I clean out the closet. She said byavoiding Sol’s things I was tying myself to his memory in anunhealthy way; and if I didn’t stop, it might affect our children.She called it pivoting—the illusion of movement while bound in oneplace. I didn’t quite agree with her analysis, but I knew somethinghad to change. And come hell or high water, I had to wadethrough.

Words for tomorrow: new leaf, startmoving.

October6th

It was well past nine when I woke. I’d sleptin—four hours. Oddly, I felt okay despite the fact that it was aday closer to the one-year mark.

Noah, thetoocoolteen, was in the kitchen making his famouswaffles. While he was busy, I pulled out the jars of vitaminscrammed near the rows of glassware in the kitchen cabinet andstarted sorting. One of each type into three different piles. Thatwas routine, though I usually had them out before the boys got outof bed.

The morning conversation was easy. Noahwanted to hang out and maybe catch a matinee with some of hisfriends. Caleb wanted to go with him, but changed his mind once herealized he’d have to sit in the dark for two hours. Instead, heasked to go to his friend Nathan’s house, next door, for a playdate.

While we were gathered around the table, Imade my move. “I’m putting Dad’s things away today.”

After my last failed attempts, makingthe announcement was sort of an insurance policy. If I told them Iwas doing it, I’d stick to it. No more pivoting—from that day, I’dbe ambulatory. Since making the decision last night, I feltlighter, more like me—themeIused to be. I wondered what the Good Doctor would have to say aboutthat.

I took my morning run on the treadmill,setting the machine at the steepest incline, and ran until my legswent numb. When I walked into my giant closet after a shower, Sol’sclothes glared at me from under a thin coating of dust.

New leaf, Ireminded myself, and pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind. Itwas easier to dwell with a shovel. If my shoulders weren’t so sore,I would’ve been outside working on the hole for the pool. The areawas originally chosen for a gazebo, but leveling the ground wasmore difficult than I thought. By the time I stepped back to surveythe damage, I was a solid three feet into the dirt. So, I keptgoing. The boys liked the idea of a pool.

Stretching the slump from my spine, Icontinued towards the kitchen for coffee. More liquidmotivation.

My sister-in-law and best friend, Lily,arrived and entered without knocking. I made a call forreinforcements the night before—technically, it was a textmessage—and a solid back-up plan.

“Grace! Help!” She squealed, as theunbalanced stack of boxes flew to the floor.

Surprisingly, I almost giggled. “Are yousure you got enough?” I teased, stooping into the formal livingroom to help her restack. There must have been a dozen.

“I’m going to keep everything you don’twant.” Her shining brown eyes matched her older brothersexactly.

Lily was my closest—more accurate,only—friend. Best friend since the day we met. First day of eighthgrade, fourth period Home Economics. She wanted to be my kitchenpartner because she overheard me telling the teacher I already hada year of Home Ec at my old middle school in Bothell, a rinky-dinktown outside Seattle where I grew up. I knew how to cook; all twoof the women in my family did. Mom started teaching me as soon as Iwas old enough to reach the stove, and Aunt Rose picked up whereshe left off. I was trying to get out of the class and Lily wantedan easy A. After class, she ate lunch with me so I wouldn’t have tosit alone. I wouldn’t have gotten through that first day of school,let alone the past year, without her.

Getting started is thehardest part,I told myself, tugging at several shirtsleeves before mustering the strength to remove one. It reminded metoo much of my parents. The way I had to take down and fold theirclothes. So neatly and carefully. My big brother, Ronnie, was withme that day; Aunt Rose, too. Now, Sol’s sister was helping. WithLily there, it was easier to remember the moments triggered by hisbelongings. Memorabilia.

When I packed up my parents’ things, it wasonly a few days after my dad fell asleep driving, and right afterthey were cremated—before I developed the urge to cling. Mom’s onlysister, Aunt Rose, happened to be visiting at the time. She waswatching us that night they didn’t come home. She made thearrangements to have them laid to rest in Fresno—the place mybrother and I were moving to. We didn’t just pack up their clothes,we packed our house. It wasn’t just a goodbye to my parents; it wasa farewell to childhood, to life as I knew it. My security.

My mom and dad were good people. Theyraised me and Ronnie in the Bible-believing church of the South byway of the Pacific Northwest. My father was the son of a Baptistminister and my mother came from a long line of Pentecostals. Theyused to drag me and my big brother to every gathering, meeting, andevent our church took part in. The church body was small and myparents took their Christian Duty very seriously. My brother and Iattended every Sunday morning and evening service, everyfoot-washing ceremony, baptism, all-night prayer meeting, picnic,play, potluck and Bible study . . . no matter what.There is no good reason to miss church,Mom used to say. If I was sick, I could get healed; if I wastired, God would wake me; if I did not want to go, I had to prayfor desire. I bet we went eight times a week. When I grew up,attendance often felt like punishment, but I stillbelieved.

As we cleared away Sol’s belongings, Lilygot nearly everything she asked for. The only things I held backwere of too much sentimental value to part with. One being a palepink dress shirt I bought Sol on his last birthday.

“He hated pink on guys.” Lily held thedelicate fabric of the long sleeve between her fingers, rubbing itgently as I set it back on the hanger.

“I had to beg him to try it on,” Iremembered. “When he finally did, he looked in the mirror and said,‘You’re right, Grace. It is a nice shirt.’ It was one of the onlytimes he ever admitted he was wrong.” I wiped the tears away withthe back of my hand and felt an honest smile on my face.

“Yeah, he was never wrong as far as he wasconcerned.” Her eyes shone as she chuckled.

The other mementos I insisted on keepingwere Sol’s old sports equipment, concert memorabilia, his guitarand saxophone. Those were going into the guest-slash-music room forthe kids. I let Lily take the high school yearbooks and lettermanjacket to give to Maria. I knew she would want those. There werealso several shoe boxes of family photos we’d accumulated, only theones of him in double print. She and Maria could fight over who gotwhat amongst themselves.

Lily folded the cardboard flaps down one ata time, tucking them in on themselves.

I sighed, looking around the half-emptycloset. “I think we’re done.”

It was a sad and rewarding moment, staringat the lopsided arrangement. The end of an era. My stomach lurched.Dr. Lena, as I call her, gave explicit instructions to fill theempty space because the visual emptiness could becounter-productive. I quickly reached for some hangers on my sideof the closet and placed them in the opposite end. The recollectionsparked a reminder of my second homework assignment.

Helping to carry two of four boxes, I laggedbehind Lily. “I wish you could stay longer,” I whined.

She loaded up the trunk of her lemon-yellowBeamer. “I’ll come back tomorrow. You can cook me dinner.” Shechirped. “Hey, Dr. Pataki approved my vacation time. In one moreweek, I have a whole week off.” She checked her cell phone for thetime. “See you tomorrow?”

“Want to go out for a drink orsomething?”

Her brows pulled together. “You want to goout?”

I nodded.

Her eyes suddenly brightened. “Absolutely,but why?”

“Homework.” Dr. Lena and I discussed mepacking Sol’s things last month. When I saw her the last Fridaymorning, she’d urged me to catch up.

“Because of Wednesday?”

“Probably.”

“Geez, a whole year already,” she marveledunder her breath, touching her lips with her fingertips.

“Pick me up at seven-thirty?”

“Seven-thirty, it is.” Lily climbed into thedriver’s seat.

I watched her little yellow car speed awayuntil it disappeared down the hill, trying not to think about whatwe’d do or where we’d go. I never really liked wearing dresses, butLily always did. I was positive she’d take the opportunity to shoveme into one.

The afternoon passed quickly because I spentit in the back yard, digging the pool. Essentially using the shovelas pick-axe because the dirt was too hard and cold. The yard workhelped keep my mind off my troubles, but fall was upon us and Ineeded to be reasonable. It was going to take professional help toget the hole finished and the pool completed before the rainyweather turned it into a mud pit. The installation of sophisticatedwater filtration and heating-related equipment was beyond myabilities, anyway.

Before setting the table, I made a quickcall to Larry, Sol’s old business partner at the constructioncompany he owned. Larry agreed to help me find someone to finishthe job.

Dinner was a quiet meal. Spaghetti withmeatballs and electronics. Noah was on his phone, Caleb had hisGame Boy, and I was compiling a list of all the things that neededto get done before my night out. Right at the top of that list Iwrote, ‘wax legs.’ I hadn’t been out anywhere in forever and didn’treally want to get dressed up to go sit in some dingy L.A. club.But much more than that, I didn’t want to bicker about it or listento Lily complain about my hairy ways. A preemptive surrender was inorder, by way of waxing.

In the dark night, as I laid in my lonelybed, I prayed for strength to do the things I’d been avoiding. Imade a promise to myself that I’d do whatever it took. I would bethe driver and not the passenger of my life. I would transfer theattention from myself onto others. I would stop asking myself how Ifelt about my problems and start remembering I was not the onlyperson in the world who had them.

 

October7th

Santa Monica was beautiful in the fall. Thesky overhead was clear and blue, despite the biting cold thatdrifted in from the ocean. As I sat on the frigid patio chair,wrapped tightly in my robe, I could see through the slats of thewooden fence into the field behind the house. The hillside wascovered in a blanket of purple blooming weeds. I finished my coffeeand headed back inside for my morning run.

I was motivated. Begging for real change. Itfelt like a red letter day, as Mom used to say.

When my heart rate hit the target range, Ilet my mind go blank and ran to the rhythm of my music. Fifteenminutes in, inspiration struck. I hopped off the treadmill and intomy Jeep, heading for the pharmacy down the road.

When I returned, the house was still silent.I looked in on the boys before setting up in the master bathroom.After yanking on a pair of latex gloves, I started mixing. Mynaturally blond hair wasn’t a pretty gold or bright yellow, it wasthe dirty-looking, dishwater tone. I always hated it and Soldidn’t. But he wasn’t here anymore. He’d died and left me allalone. I had to start over. I brushed out my hair and beganapplying the dark goo. When my head was thoroughly saturated, Iused an old mascara brush to add a coat to my eyebrows.

The day slipped away. I kept busy washing,scrubbing, and in most places disinfecting, the entire house.After, I finished the grocery shopping and made chicken parmesanfor an early dinner. The kids noticed my dark red locks as soon asthey got up, but hadn’t said much about the dramatic change. I’mnot sure if they liked it.

True to form, Lily showed up an hour earlyto dress me. She was decked in a tight, coral mini dress thatbeautifully accentuated her caramel skin. She’d straightened thenatural curls from her hair. It was hanging silkily down her back.Her makeup was flawless as always—smoky eyes and nearly nude lips.The most envious part, aside from her effortless hourglass shape,was her thigh-high boots.

I complimented them, leaning against thedoor frame, pathetically posing, begging her to say something aboutmy hair.

She gasped, “It looks so good!”

“You think so?” I loved the new color, butknowing Lily approved made me love it even more.

She rushed in, quickly kissing the boyshello on her way to the master closet. I sat at my vanity, watchingas she combed through the racks for at least twenty minutes,searching for the perfect outfit.

“What do you think of this?” She held a veryshort red dress.

“I could wear some slacks and a cute top,” Ipleaded. “I don’t like that shade of red. It makes me lookgreen.”

“Your hair is red.”

“It’s burgundy.”

“Maybe you’re right. Overkill . . . hmm . .. Where’s your LBD?”

“My what?” I ask, picking at my chipped nailpolish.

“Little Black Dress. You have one,don’t you?”

“I have black dresses. I never gave any atitle, though. Check in the back corner.” I pointed in the generaldirection, suppressing a yawn and wondering how many I’d have totry on before she decided.

“I don’t see any.” She grunted, pushing andpressing between bulges. “You need to move more stuff over. This isridiculous.” Murmuring a complaint, she lifted several hangers fullof dresses and sweaters, too heavy for Southern California, andshifted them to the scantily clad opposite side of my closet.

“There.” She sighed the word, exaggerating awipe of imaginary sweat from her brow.

“There’s one, right there.” I pointed behindher at the newly placed collection of hangers.

She yanked it down and bid me to try it on.When I grudgingly slipped into the dress, I realized it was made ofstretch cotton. “Now I remember why I don’t wear this.”

“Why?”

“Because it’ll fade when I wash it.”

Lily laughed, “A real clothingconservationist. You know, you’re fighting their reason forexisting.”

In the full-length mirror, I checked eachangle. The fabric clung like a second skin, hugging my waist andthighs and coming to a halt just below my knees. The modestneckline led to three-quarter sleeves. The racy part was behind me.I turned my naked back to the mirror.

“I have to change my bra.”

“You should wear it.” Lily took the chair atmy vanity.

“It isn’t too tight?” I hadn’t worn anythingthat tight since high school. Even then, it was denim jeans,covering my whole leg. The dress was tight everywhere. “I don’tlook like a slut, do I? The back makes me feel naked.”

“Grace, don’t over-think it. You have agreat body, show it off a little.” She smirked and shook herhead.

“I’m going to a place I’ve never been,dressed in a way I’m not used to. I do not want to give off thewrong impression.”

“Oh, honey, giving the wrong impression isfun,” she sang, smiling brightly.

Lily was in full-on Barbie-play mode. Afterdressing me, she sat me down and started pinning my hair into alovely chignon. Shoes were next—black platform heels she’d broughtfrom her house. Slipping into them, I kind of felt likeFrankenstein’s monster. There was no give in my stride, so it tooka few trips around the house to get a feel for them. I insisted onwearing a pink wrap around my shoulders to cover my naked back. Itold Lily it was just in case I got cold, but she knew better.

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