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Authors: Pacheco, Briana

Sounds of yesterday

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Sounds of Yesterday

 

Briana Pacheco

 

 

 

Sounds of Yesterday

Copyright © 2016 by Briana Pacheco

 

All rights reserved.

This book may not be reproduced or transmitted in any capacity without written permission by the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, brands, media, resemblance to events or persons, living or dead are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, brands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

 

Cover Image©istockphoto.com/Arndt_Vladimir

Cover Design: Briana Pacheco

Note to Reader

 

Dear Reader, this is NOT a continuation of the Enough trilogy. This is what I originally envisioned Emily's story to be without the paranormal elements that occur in the trilogy. If you have read the trilogy, readingSounds of Yesterdaywill be confusing because of the new content. The story isnotthe same. Please proceed with caution.

 

If you have not read the trilogy, you have nothing to fear.

 

This is a stand-alone novel!

Chapter 1

 

 

My fingers dance over the piano keys like we’re one. I don’t have to think about which key to hit, I just know. My eyes flutter closed as I let the music flow through my soul. I hum softly, not too loud so it doesn't overpower what I’m trying to accomplish.

              I play covers of songs I love that challenge me. Some are easier to get right on the piano, others are complex. I love the hard ones; they push me to be better. When I don’t do covers, I try to compose my own music. It’s not working today. The melody is right but something is missing.

If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never make it.

I hit a few more notes when I feel a light tapping on my shoulder.

I open my eyes and find Mom standing beside me, her lips moving but no sound coming out. I stare at her for a few seconds, watching her hands move through the air. She’s nervous. And annoyed. I always did block out the world when I played. She can’t really blame me though. She pushed me to do what I loved. I’m doing it.

I’ve been playing since I was a little girl. Mom bought a used keyboard at a garage sale when I was four and I was hooked. I gradually increased to wanting a piano.

My father is to blame for my love of music. Growing up, I’d watch him play his guitar in the garage, reminiscing of old times. He’d make me play with him too. I hated those days. Some times. He’d get moody and grab a beer. Then another. And another. He became someone we didn’t know. He became an asshole.

He left ten years ago and the Spencer family has done just fine without him.

Mom gave me everything I wanted and so much more. She was and will always be my glue.

Grace Spencer is a force to be reckoned with nowadays. There is nothing she won’t do for her children. Declan and I are her life.

Mom’s dark red hair sits on her shoulders where I find a small stain on her light green top. It could be coffee. All I know is that it’s keeping my interest, irritating her even more. She at least tapped my shoulder to warn me that she will be speaking. Some times she forgets and has one-sided conversations with me. If the headphones are on, you will be ignored. It’s a motto in this household.

I reach for my headphones and remove it from my right ear, my music bubble officially broken. Living in the city with close neighbors kind of restricts my playing so I have a digital piano, which is best for my situation because I plug in headaches and won’t piss anyone off.

“What?” I ask, clearing my throat as it comes out barely louder than a whisper.

“You’re going to be late for school. You have five minutes to eat. Hurry up, sweetie.” Mom squeezes my shoulder and kisses the top of my head before turning around, heading into the kitchen. Her dark blue jeans hug her body and I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed that we’re the same size. Mom used to be heavier until she decided to take control of her life. She stopped taking her depression pills, used the anger she held for her loser ex-husband out on something useful, and lost sixty pounds.

I take off my headphones completely and set them down.

Sighing, I stand and follow Mom.

It’s the first day of senior year.

It’s going to be soooo fun.

I can’t wait for this year to be over. I’m over high school. I’m done with the people in that godforsaken school.

I’m just waiting for my time to leave this city and be an adult.

It’s scary to think about but I believe in myself. I’ve wanted to go to college since I knew such a thing existed. Learning about something I love–music–is all I ever wanted growing up.

 

***

 

My best friend, Sophie Woods, sits beside me in homeroom, talking about how exciting today is. She’s clearly the happy friend. I’ll stay in the background, balancing out her wild side. She’s my opposite in every way. She’s dirty blonde, I’m brunette. Her green eyes aren’t as bright as my blues. She’s the extrovert, and I, the introvert. She never expects more from me and I love her for it.

I love her even more when we find an Adam walking by us because she gets all hyper and makes the person scared for his life when she yells, ‘see, I can trust him!’. That probably won’t make sense to anyone so let me clarify. I told her a joke once, ‘never trust an atom, they make up everything’ and she thought I said ‘Adam’ instead of ‘atom’. She believed that for a year until we started high school and her teacher wrote it down on a board because he was trying to be funny. She felt stupid when she confronted me. I blamed the mistake on her hair color. She blamed it on me whispering things. Now, we just laugh when we spot an Adam.

Sophie stretches out her long jean-clad legs, crossed at the ankle. “Emily?” I turn my head and lock eyes on her green ones. “Let me see your schedule.” I open the notebook sitting on my desk and grab the white piece of paper.

After handing it to her, I grab a pen from my bag and start tapping it against the notebook. I watch it bounce up and down at a steady tempo. Music calms me. It always had. Smiling, I take a deep breath and watch the students enter the classroom. Some have been in my classes throughout high school so I know them and their hateful hearts. It’s not even funny how many students here find joy in bullying others. I’m one of their targets because I’m quiet and I have a hot best friend. Everyone loves Sophie. They want to know what she’s doing with a loner like me. Sophie can’t stand them so we bond even more over that.

I think of musical pieces that calm me when I notice some heads turned my way. A guy I’ve seen around school holds his fingers up to his mouth, forming a V, and wiggles his tongue in-between them, finishing it off with a wink. I look down at the desk. The best thing to do is ignore them.

“We have three classes together! Zach is only in two of mine. At least we have English first period.” Sophie hands me back my schedule and grabs my hand when I don’t say anything back. “Hey, you okay?”

I nod. “Yeah, just thinking of the piece I’m working on.”

Why wasn’t it coming to me? What was I doing wrong?

“You’ll figure it out. I know you.” She squeezes my hand and blows kisses at me while making faces. I laugh when she leans back into her seat, flipping her hair over her shoulder. Her smile fades when she looks over at the guys who need to grow up. “I fucking hate their stupid faces.” She holds up her hand and flips them off.

I can’t help but chuckle softly.

The final bell rings and within minutes, the noise from outside the classroom dies down.

Mrs. Bennett looks away from her laptop and gets up from her desk, running her fingers through her hair. She walks towards the door saying, “Alright class–”

“Wait!” A student runs into class, holding out a piece of paper to the teacher. “There was a mix up. I’m in this class, ma’am.”

Ma’am.Who the hell is this guy? I sit up and try to get a look. Apparently so does everyone else.

Girls sit up straighter as the new guy walks through the door. They start whispering to one another, excitement written all over their faces. There’s a new toy in the store and they want it before anyone else gets their hands on it.

High school.

It’s disgusting.

I look over at the new guy just because I’m curious.

I’ve never seen him around here before but he looks familiar. And trust me, I’d remember a face like his. He’s too far for me to get a good look at him but I get enough. He must have some Spanish blood in him. I’m good at guessing skin tones. I people watch a lot. Sue me. His dark hair’s tousled, most likely from running his fingers through it too much. His black t-shirt hugs his arms and chest, showing off that he plays some sport. And…and…his bicep is flexing as the teacher looks over his schedule.

Confused, my eyes roam down to his hand and find his fingers tapping his leg.Well, that’s interesting!Not like a drug addict waiting for his next hit kind of tapping but...like he’s tapping out a rhythm, playing the piano. Making music. Each finger hits an invisible key, playing something that no one can hear.

“Soph!” I whisper-hiss, whipping my head to the left. “Who the hell is he?” She remembers faces so she’s the person to ask.

She sits up straight and eyes the new kid. She brings her pen to her lips and bites down on it, her eyes narrowing. Her mouth drops open a second later, and her hand flies to her chest. “Sweet baby Jesus, that’s Gwen Sawyer’s son, Alex.”

No, he’s not!I’ve never paid attention to the pictures of the guy when Soph gushed over him so I can be fooled. Soph is a prankster at times. She always wishes for a celebrity to enter her life. She loves stalking them. And when her favorite power couples break up or divorce, well, let’s just say it’s not healthy for my bestie.

Her eyes shoot to mine with a beaming smile on her lips. “He’s staring at you.”

Yeah. Right. He’s not–

I would have started laughing if I didn’t turn my head back toward him because Sophie isn’t lying.

All thoughts leave me when hazel eyes stare back at me.

I have somewhat of idea of who he is; basically his name and the fact that girls LOVE him because he’s hot. Besides that, I didn’t care. Sophie stalks him on Instagram so she’s squirming in her seat, whispering how unreal this is. I couldn’t care less about fashion most days. I know Soph is in love with Mrs. Sawyer. Her clothes are expensive so we don’t have closets full of her stuff but I know I have a pair of heels made by her. Sophie and I saved up to get them during the summer.

The corner of Alex’s lips turn up into a smile.

Holy. Shit.

I look around quickly to see if he’s smiling at someone else. Nope. His eyes are on me. His smile is directed towards me. His attention is onme.

The pen I was tapping against the notebook stops.

We’re just staring at each other and I’m getting uncomfortable because I will make this awkward.

Do something, dammit! Stop staring like a moron with your tongue hanging out of your mouth.

I don’t have my tongue–

Ohmygod, I think it is!

Do something!

I smile back.

He’s still tapping his leg!His fingers slowly move over his thigh like he’s playing the most beautiful silent melody I’ve ever heard. His shoulders relax and I’ll say it looks like all the tension of being the new kid is gone.

It’s not everyday you find a guy in high school who is into music the way I am. Some guys bump their heads and tap their feet. I always look for the ones who close their eyes andfeelwhat is being said. I want to know what kind of guy he is.

I wish our school had a music program but budget cuts and all that leaves me wanting to go home as soon as the day is over so I can settle into my little comfy and safe planet where music replaces people and frowns are non-existent.

Alex breaks eye contact when the teacher hands him his schedule. “Sit up front, Alex. Class is about to begin.”

He walks toward a desk, the whole room watching his every move.

I’m sitting all the way in the back but I can see how he keeps tapping his fingers against the desk softly as Mrs. Bennett starts talking to the class. He drops his backpack on the floor and I can be wrong, but it looks like he’s trying to look back and not be obvious about it.

“Do my eyes deceive me or is he blushing?” Soph questions, looking at me with raised brows. She bites her lip and gets this mischievous look in her eyes. “Oh, this good. Em, you and him, it’s going to happen. I can see the future.”

“Really? The future,” I deadpan.

She rolls her eyes at me but smiles the whole time.

“Yes, because he just looked back at you.”

I dart my eyes over to his desk, he’s already turning away.

Now, I’m definitely intrigued.

 

***

 

The first week of school passes by slowly. After everyone is familiar with what’s expected, teachers hand us enough work to make us wish graduation were next week.

I close my locker and turn to Sophie’s but she is busy giving Zach ‘fuck me’ eyes. I really don’t want to continue seeing it. How does the chick always wake up so energized and happy? Zach only adds to it. It’s cute. But it also makes me want vomit with how cute they are.

I walk into Mrs. B’s class and take my regular seat in the back. It’s comfortable back here.

As soon as I sit down, Alex enters the room. I watch him walk to the first row of empty desks. He looks up and spots me, his steps changing direction.

Oh, no.

He’s walking toward me.

I grab my notebook from my bag and set it down on the desk.

I have spent who knows how long trying to work up the courage to talk to him but with everyone up his ass on who his family is, I feel like it would be a bad idea. His mom is a fashion designer. As in,theGwen Sawyer. Her work is known everywhere and the fact that she’s in town has everyone wanting a way to meet her–through her son.

It’s sad to think about.

I did my online stalking, of course, and found out the Sawyer family moved here from California, for good. It didn’t say why and it’s not like I’m talking to the guy to ask questions. They’re a private family so at some point, all the hype will die down. Tom Brady and his family will gain all the attention when they appear in magazines showcasing them playing at the park.

Alex stops at my desk, not saying a word. His eyes find mine slowly, like he’s scared of something. Having him this close to me, looking up at him, is intimidating. He’s a guy that speaks to people, I just watch. It was uncomfortable making friends throughout my life. Zach and Sophie are my main ones. Myonlyones.

“Hey. Emily, right?”

The fact that this guy is even speaking to me, has me feeling giddy and nervous. I have no idea how I’m even going to form a sentence let alone say one word. People in general drain me so I tend to stay away and just do me. I like being in my own world, creating music. Sophie and Zach are my only exception to hang out with because I like them. Everyone else in this school finds that weird and thinks I’m stuck up or plotting their murders. Someone really came up to me sophomore year and voiced their opinions on how disturbed I looked and how I make them feel unsafe. My mom was called. So were the police to follow up on a ‘serious’ claim. It was terrifying.

Alex’s eyes continue to hold mine and I mentally slap myself. He’s waiting for an answer. And probably wants me to stop staring at him while I’m at it.

“Y–yeah.” I nod and bring my notebook that is lying on the desk up to my chest, hugging it. I usually hide behind things when I’m in a position that I don’t voluntarily put myself into. This is one of those moments.Say something!“You’re the new kid that nobody knows, right?”Joking, okay. That’s good, right?

His lips kick up into a smile as he walks to the seat beside me. Sophie’s seat. He sits down and chuckles, wiping a hand over his jaw. I find myself staring at his hands longer than I intend. I’m looking for anything that will tell me what exactly he plays. Because I know he playssomething. The internet didn’t mention that small fact and I didn’t want to dig too deep. I could easily ask Soph to give me dirt on him but that seemed wrong to do too. He’s a person not some object you can Google and get facts on. That’s why I stopped after ten minutes of investigating.

My eyes flick up to his and I wait. I never start the conversation. Small talk makes me anxious. When all I do is stare, he blushes. I kid you not, his cheeks redden and he looks down at his arms.

He’s mesmerizing. I have never seen a guy blush so easily before. I’m not intimidating. I’m your average seventeen-year-old girl with a pale complexion, dark brown hair, bright baby blue eyes, and completely stressed out with which college I’m going to end up attending next year.Please let it be Princeton! Crosses fingers.

“Why here?” I ask, pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone. We can’t just stare at each other all day. I mean, I’m fine with that but maybe he’s not. “Boston? Your family couldn’t choose London or Paris or someplace amazing?” The Sawyer family is blessed with skill and talent. Alex’s mom is a fashion designer–think the grace of Vera with the variety of Armani–I know, she’s amazing! His sister, McKenna, is an artist, and his father, Damon, is a surgeon. They’re known by people who care about those kinds of things. And yet, they chose to live in Boston. In a regular home with regular neighbors. Okay, let me be honest; in an expensive home with rich neighbors.

Alex licks his lips and sits up straighter, scratching the back of his neck before looking at me. His hazel eyes dance over my face and I smile. I can’t help but smile every time he does that. Which has been a lot. Ever since he started school here, he’d just wave and smile at me. He never said a word, just graced me with that smile and those eyes. “I don’t know but I’m glad they picked here.”

As I’m about to say something, Sophie walks up to Alex’s desk with a scowl on her face. “You’re in my seat.” Gone is my happy friend. She’s currently channeling her inner bitch. She’s not really fooling me because I know deep down, she’s having a cheerleading moment, jumping and squealing with the fact that Alex is inherseat.

A defeated sigh leaves his lips as Alex runs his hand down his thigh. He starts to get up before he surprises me and sits back down. I see his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallows. He’s trying really hard to do something he doesn’t normally do. I’ve people watched for a long time. I can tell. “Can I have this seat for today? I promise I won’t steal your best friend.”

I sit here, immobile, with a look of awe on my face.

He noticed enough to know that Sophie and I are inseparable. I admire that. Some people don’t get us. The last time some guy took Sophie’s seat to talk to me last year, he ended up with a bloody nose. It was his fault though. He bluntly said, ‘get a new one, I’m trying to get laid.’ What an asshole.

“Um, that’s if Emily wants you there,” Sophie says, eyeing me with a cocked brow. She tries to act like the tough friend but she knows I have been too scared to utter a word to the new guy. And here he is.

“I guess I can deal with it for today,” I reply, shrugging like it’s no big deal. I glance at Alex and watch the corner of his lips curl up again. “There’s one rule though.” His smile starts to fade so I quickly add, “You have to talk to me. Mrs. B makes me fall asleep.” She’s a cool teacher but damn, can she talk.

“Deal.” Alex leans back into his seat and gets comfortable. The soft sigh that leaves his mouth makes my heart race and my body gets all tingly. It’s a happy sigh. He’s happy to sit beside me. And I am too.

Sophie winks at me as she takes the seat two rows in front of me. She’ll make me tell her everything next period.

I don’t get any work done for the rest of the class. Hazel eyes and a deep, sexy voice are to blame. His voice is like music. I don’t want it to stop playing. And as we sit here, whispering to each other, I can’t help but think,I wish the school year goes by slowly.

Chapter 2

 

 

The first month of school is almost over and instead of looking out the window to see the different colored leaves that fall brings, I end the day staring down at a huge red C written on my calculus test. Underneath said C, is Mr. McAllister’s note saying, ‘see me after class’.

Sophie tried to help me with my homework last week but my older brother, Declan ordered Chinese food and well, we stuffed ourselves and then Soph had to go home. We tried studying every day since but Zach would goof around, Sophie would get annoyed then join him, and then it’d be too late for real studying.

I’m determined to pass this damn class. I can do it. I will freaking do it!

Once the bell rings, signaling the end of class, everyone gathers their things and gets prepared for the last class of the day. Sophie isn’t in calculus with me. Alex is. I’m pretty sure he’s the only person in this class to get A’s. I’m bringing down the class average with all my C’s. Every week, McAllister hands us a test to see that we’re learning what he’s teaching. I’m clearly having difficulties.

Mr. McAllister calls out Alex’s name and waves him over to his desk. His meaty hands then snap at me to get my attention.

I get up slowly, not wanting to be there while he has to speak to Alex.

“Come on, Emily. We don’t bite.”Dammit. So much for that plan.

I hug my books to my chest and breathe deeply. I stop at the wooden desk, Alex to my right, waiting for whatever is to be said.

McAllister leans back into his chair and eyes the two of us. “Do you two get along?”

Alex and I glance at one another then back to the teacher. We both say yes. We’ve hung out a few times since we’ve started talking. Every time ended when the softball team would flag down Alex and whisk him away within ten minutes of being seen with me. I’m grateful yet angry when that happens. I want to get over my fear of having a real conversation with him. We’ve only talked about what we were doing after school on the days we met up. I barely get four words out before he’s gone. He always looks uncomfortable when one of the players links her arm through his and starts making plans to see Alex later. He’d give me this look somewhere between ‘I don’t want to go’ and ‘I’m sorry’. It’s confusing sometimes. Sophie and Zach say it’s because he likes me. I stick to it’s because he doesn’t want to be manhandled by a chick like Sierra. She’s tough as shit and more on the tomboyish side. She’s scary, I admit it.

“What are your plans for Friday?” McAllister asks, scratching his jaw.

I could say ‘nothing, probably reading a book and eating then getting lost in music’ but being put on the spot for my laziness is kind of making me squirm. McAllister’s dark eyes land on me. He quirks a brow when I shrug. He sighs.

“Alex, will you be free?”

“I guess.” Alex adjusts the strap of his backpack. “I kind of already have something planned but–”

“Awesome! You can help Emily on Friday then.”

Hold up! What?

“No, I don’t–”

“Yes, you do.” McAllister cuts me off and rolls his chair forward, propping his elbows up on the desk, looking at me like I did something wrong to him. “You keep failing my tests.”

“I get C’s,” I whisper.Jeez, make me look stupid why don’t you.

“Alex knows this stuff. He’s the only person I see you interacting with.”Ohmygod. Please stop talking.“If you want to graduate, you need to pass this class. My tests will only get harder. I see you failing if you keep this up.”

I look off to the side and pray that I can disappear at this moment. Teachers are supposed to help and guide you not make you feel worse about yourself.

“I’d love to help.” Alex tutoring me will not work. I will get distracted. I know myself! “Is that it?”

“Emily?”

“Yeah, whatever.” I stare down at my feet and wait to be dismissed.

“Good. Glad I could help.” McAllister gets up and starts erasing the board. “You two can go now.”

I walk my ass out of the classroom as fast as I can go. I bump into a student walking in the hall. I throw a ‘sorry’ over my shoulder but she rolls her eyes and continues walking.

“Emily, wait up!” Alex grabs my arm and I stop walking. Every time we’re together, he finds a way to touch me and I always end up blushing, stammering or stuttering.

“You don’t have to tutor me. You’re busy anyway. Sophie can–”

“I want to help.” Alex’s hand slips from my arm and he bites his lip, looking around us. “I’m not busy…I was actually hoping we could go out on Friday…before all that happened.”

His eyes meet mine again, inviting and bright. Hopeful.

He wanted to go out withmeon Friday.

My brain has officially turned off.

See, that’s what will happen if he tutors me.

“I’m not stupid.”Why did those words leave my mouth? Why?!“I just…I get distracted easily.”

Alex nods slowly. “I get it.”

“No, you don’t.”Word vomit. It’s going to happen. I feel it. Oh, god.“I won’t be able to think if you’re there. Talking.Breathing.” My eyes widen when I hear myself. “You’re…distracting.”

He smiles and I melt.Not good!Melting at the sight of a smile is not a good thing, that’s a fact.

“It’ll be my greatest challenge then because you distract me too.” His fingers graze my cheek as he brushes looses locks of my hair back. “So after the tutoring, how about we go out and–”

“No dating!”He never mentioned dating, you idiot!Just. Stop. Talking. “I…I mean…” My heart beats wildly in my chest. I’m going to die of embarrassment. “Just tutor me. Please.”

He leans into me and I stop breathing. “You’re cute when you’re blushing.”

I. Just. Died.

Breathe!

Is it hot in here or is it just me? No, really. I need an answer. My insides have liquefied and I’m worried.

His lips meet my cheek and I sigh. I freaking sigh! And I know he heard it. He steps back and I see his damn smile. It warms my skin. It makes my stomach feel weird. It makes mesmile.I’m still not thinking this through. My brain has lost connection with my body. I’m just standing here, doing whatever it is I’m doing.

“My place on Friday?”

“Fuck me,” I breathe.Why is this happening to me? Please make it stop.

Alex winks again and I turn around abruptly.

All I remember is power walking to class with a huge smile on my lips.

Two days. I have two days to calm myself down.

Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen.

Alex Sawyerlikesme. At least…I think he does. He could be playing with me because well, he’s Alex and I’m me. No one likes me because they actuallylike me. Everyone has an opinion of me because I don’t put out. And I’m weird. And I’m a loner. And everyone knows people want to fuck the loner because the quiet ones are always the freakiest.

Damn. I so want Alex to play with me though.

“It’ll be my greatest challenge then because you distract me too.”

I’ll think about that over and over again until Friday finally comes.