Title: Living with Regret (Rain #3)
Author: Lisa De Jong
Age Group: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Mae I Design
I had my whole life mapped out. Perfect guy. Perfect friends. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it.
That was until that night--the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.
My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.
While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.
Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.
I think back to the day Cory first asked me out. He was that guy … the one who girls have in mind when they get dressed for school in the morning. The one you can’t help but smile at when you walk past, but you tuck your hair behind your ear casually, hoping he doesn’t notice that you’re staring.
I’d gone to the first high school party with my friend, Madison. It was a night I’d never forget.
“Will you quit pulling at your skirt already?” Madison says, pushing my hand from the hem I’d been tugging at since we walked into the packed house. “It’s supposed to be that short.”
“I can’t believe you made me wear this.”
She rolls her eyes. “You shouldn’t hide your body … especially those legs.”
Shaking my head, I follow behind her as we weave our way through the crowd. The good thing about growing up in a small town is I pretty much know everyone here, but it’s still a who’s who of our high school. I don’t think we should even be here.
I spot Sam, my next-door neighbor across the room and start toward him. “Where are you going?” Madison asks, wrapping her hand around my forearm.
“I’m going to go talk to Sam.”
“Seriously, Rachel. You shouldn’t be hanging around him.”
“Why?” I ask, waving in his direction.
“You don’t want to be the girl who’s seen with him. People will talk. They’ll make assumptions.”
Sam’s quiet and has an aura of darkness that follows him wherever he goes. It might be the black leather jacket he wears or the classic car he drives. Whatever it is, most of the girls in our high school find it irresistible, and while some have had their shot with him, it never goes beyond a night in the backseat of his Camaro. I asked him about it once, and he told me life’s simpler if you don’t let yourself get too attached to anyone. It seemed honest because I’m the only person he’s really ever attached himself to.
People in town talk about him like he’s a destined felon, simply because his dad went down that path when he was younger. It didn’t matter that it was almost twenty years ago when his dad had one minor theft conviction and way before they even moved here. I guess, in their minds, crime is a genetic, chronic disease but they don’t know Sam like I do. Over the last seven years, I’ve spent more time with him than I have anyone in this crowded house—Madison included.
Before I have a chance to argue with her, I feel a hand squeeze my shoulder, and I spin around. Cory Connors stands behind me with a cocky grin spread across his handsome face. His eyes are even bluer than I’d thought, and his light brown hair is sun-kissed from spending hours outside this summer. He’s the definition of perfect.
“Hey, it’s Rachel, right?” he says in his deep, masculine voice. It floats through my mind like sugar, coating every part of me in happiness.
“Yeah,” I say, trying to pry my eyes from his full pink lips. They’re hard to look at without imagining what they’d feel like on mine. Not that I’d really know what that feels like since I’ve never been kissed. I think about it a lot, though. A whole lot.
His grin widens as he follows the path of my eyes. “What are you looking at?”
I swallow the lump in my throat, shifting my focus up. “Umm … nothing. I mean. I was—”
He laughs. “Hey, I was only teasing.” He reaches his hand up toward my face but quickly pulls it back. “Did you just get here?”
I nod, still shocked that Cory is actually talking to me. I’m afraid if I say too much, it’s all going to come out looking like a pile of rubble. And this is probably the one and only time he’s ever going to talk to me. I have to make it count.
“I was just heading outside if you want to come with me,” he says, interrupting my thoughts.
I’m frozen in place, staring into his glassy blues. This is my chance, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it. “I don’t know.”
Madison pushes against my back, practically sending me straight into his chest. “I’ll just wait in here, Rachel. Go ahead.”
Before I have time to argue, he wraps his hand around mine and pulls me toward the back of the old farmhouse. As I follow close behind, I glance around the packed room noticing all the sets of eyes on us. Most notably is Sam whose hooded eyes follow me. When I notice him pushing back against the wall, I shake my head. He’s always been my protector, but he’s a senior and won’t be around next year. I need to learn to navigate through life on my own. He stops, his eyes narrowing in on me, but I quickly look away before he convinces me otherwise.
When Cory and I step outside, he still doesn’t let go of my hand. I don’t pull it away either because it feels too good. “Are you having fun?” he asks, so close I can feel his warm breath against my cheek.
I open my mouth, but quickly close it again, trying my best to compose myself. The last thing I want to do is sound like a complete idiot the minute I’m alone with the god of our freshman class. “I just got here,” I finally reply, gazing up at him. He’s lit only by the moonlight, and Cory under the moonlight is something to be seen.
“Well, you’re staying for a while, aren’t you?” He smiles, and I swear I’ve never seen dimples like his.
I nod, feeling his warm finger brush against the skin below my ear. “Good.” His voice is soft but smooth, like melted butter. Warm tingles run the entire length of my body. Everything about this suddenly feels right.
We’d been together ever since that night. He was my first date, first kiss, and first love. I let him have everything because I thought he’d be my only. Things have changed now, and nothing will ever be the same. Everything I thought, felt, wanted is gone, and I’d do anything to have him back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa De Jong is a wife, mother and full-time number cruncher who lives in the Midwest. Her writing journey involved insane amounts of coffee and many nights of very little sleep but she wouldn't change a thing. She also enjoys reading, football and music. She is the author of When It Rains, After the Rain, Plastic Hearts and Glass Hearts.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, @LisaDeJongBooks