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Pieces of Summer

By:C.M. Owens

Prologue



MIKA



To say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all… Yeah, that’s bullshit. That’s what people who think they’ve been in love say. They probably do the whole shitty thing where they make beautiful poetry out of devastating heartbreak and make a tragedy sound like it restored a piece of their soul.

Fuck them. They don’t know what it’s like to have your heart ripped out, spit on, and crushed. There’s nothing beautiful or poetic about it. It’s raw, it’s painful, and it’s consuming, because you never stop thinking about it. You never stop regretting letting yourself get that close. That dull ache turns into a hollow void that never goes away.

That’s heartbreak.

You spend the rest of your life just wishing for a little more of it, anything to soothe the ache. Anything to remember how it felt to be loved so intensely that the world ceased to exist and everything revolved around the two of you. But you realize it’s not real. It’s not there. And that feeling you long for just taunts you for being a fool.

So fuck everyone who says it’s something beautiful. Fuck those who say love steals your breath or whatever. It doesn’t steal your breath.

It shatters your soul.





Chapter 1



MIKA



Summer… 12 years ago



“When I’m eighteen, I’ll be able to move here permanently,” I tell Chase, relaxing against him. “Then we’ll buy that old bowling alley you love so much, fix it up, and live happily ever after.”

“We’re sixteen now, so that’s not too long of a wait. Just two years. Then maybe we can actually be together instead of just killing time… waiting for summer,” he says on a sigh. “I can’t wait for the day we can just be together, Mika.”

Every summer, my parents have brought me and my brother to Hayden. It’s a small town with a beautiful lake in Georgia. It’s a stark contrast from our ranch in Montana, but Dad grew up here, and he never really let go of this town. In truth, he says Hayden never lets you go.

So now it’s our summer tradition.

Chase James became my summer tradition five years ago. What started off as an innocent friendship turned into so much more.

We’re lying on top of the roof, staring up at the stars like nothing else in the world matters. My mom and dad are off doing whatever it is they do on a random Monday night. My brother is probably off getting stoned or getting drunk at one of the local parties.

All I care about is where Chase is. And he’s holding me to him.

“I’ve been thinking,” Chase says, twirling a piece of my hair around his finger.

“About?”

“You and me. We only stay together during the summer, then we do our own thing during the rest of the year.”

Swallowing hard, I nod. Doing my own thing nearly cost me Chase when I told him about the boyfriend I had up until a few months ago. It starts to suck when you’re the only one not dating anyone because the only guy you really want is hundreds of miles away. However, Chase wasn’t so easy to convince that the feelings I had for Jared weren’t real… Especially when I told him how far I’d taken things with said ex-boyfriend.

That’s my fault. I let my mother get in my head with her “words of wisdom” about how Chase was here getting plenty on the side. It was his rule that we do our own thing during the school year. It made believing her easy, and I stupidly lashed out at him when he hadn’t even done anything wrong.

I’ll never listen to her again. I’ll never let her in my head again.

“What if we didn’t do our own thing anymore?” he asks, bringing me out of my regretful thoughts and sitting up so he can lean over me.

His blue eyes are nothing but dark shadows with the moonlight behind him.

“How would that work? You don’t even have a phone.”

I wince when I realize how shitty that just sounded, as though I’m pointing out he’s not from a family with money. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem bothered by the benign comment.

“What if we just promised each other we’d be loyal until the next summer?” he asks quietly. “Would you do that? Just wait for me?”

“Would you do that?” I parrot.

I might not have any right to sound as suspicious as I do, considering the circumstances, but it was his rule. Not mine. I just stupidly did what I thought he was doing.

His hand comes up, brushing the hair away from my forehead.

“For you? Yeah, Mika. I would.”

Smiling, I lean up, letting his lips brush over mine. “Then yes. I’m all yours.”

He smiles back, but my smile evaporates when his body comes over mine. A war of hot and cold sensations rush down my spine as Chase settles his body between my legs, and his hand toys with my skirt, acting as though he’s going to push it up.

“There’s something else I want to do then,” he says quietly, as though he’s almost too shy to say the words aloud.

Swallowing becomes painful when he inches my skirt up a little higher.

“No pressure, okay?” he asks sincerely. “But I want you to be my first. Obviously being my last would also be ideal.”

I can tell he’s nervous and trying to add in some humor. The fact he’s sweet and adorable is the main reason I fell for him. He’s not cocky. He’s not a jerk. He’s not a bad boy, even though he’s lived through hell his entire life. No. Chase James is the sweetest guy I’ve ever known, and he makes me his priority every summer.

I never should have listened to my mother.

“Yes,” is the one word I manage to squeak out.

I just wish I had saved myself for him.

His lips come down on mine, and I decide that at least I have some experience and can make this memorable for him. Something I learned from my ex is that guys grow more attached to girls based on the impression they leave them with in the bedroom.

Well, in this case, a rooftop. Our rooftop. Our place.

I have to leave a nine month impression.

“I love you,” I whisper, even though it’s not the first time I’ve ever said it.

He grins, nuzzling my cheek with his nose. “I love you, Mika. Always.”

With a gentle push, I nudge Chase over and onto his back, and his breaths grow harsher as I straddle him and start unbuttoning his shirt slowly, not getting in any sort of a rush.

“What are you doing?” he whispers, nervous again.

“Making sure you remember you love me,” I tell him with a smile. Then… Then I work hard to leave the best impression for the rest of the summer.



***



“No, we’re supposed to be going to Hayden. We go every year!” I argue, following my mother around as she starts throwing boxes down the stairs. I’m so over her temper tantrums.

“Your father is going,” she spits out. “But you’re not. And neither is Aidan.”

My useless twin brother just walks by with his headphones on, acting as though nothing in the world is wrong. I wish I had the ability to ignore the crazy beast that is my mother.

“You can’t keep us from Dad.”

“He gets you two weeks in the summer, and he can only take you out of the state if I say so. I don’t fucking say so!” she screams. “And that whore he’s living with isn’t going to be around my children!”

How did things get so messed up in one year? Last summer they were fine—well, they were bickering, but that’s normal. By Christmas, Dad was sleeping with his new secretary, living out the cliché from hell. And Mom continued the cliché by going crazy and boozing it up every chance she got.

Now this is all my current situation.

“Aidan!” she yells.

“Yeah?” he answers, even though he sounds like he’s annoyed. He’s not the only one. I can’t possibly miss a summer in Hayden. No way.

“Get those boxes and throw them in the burn pile with the rest of his shit.”

Same thing every weekend. She’s merely digging for scraps he left behind at this point, just so she’ll have something to burn. She’s just as guilty as Dad is. She can’t keep her skirt down around men in general. She was only loyal to Dad for a while.

“Mom! Focus,” I yell, clapping my hands to draw her attention as she takes another long sip straight from the wine bottle. She drank away her dignity and class after finding out she was getting left for a woman in her twenties.

“What?” she bites out, glaring at me.

“I have to go to Hayden. Chase is—”

“A poor boy in your father’s hometown. Be glad you aren’t getting tied down to the scum that town produces,” she clips out. “That place is toxic.”

My shoulders square, and I step closer.

“I’m going to Hayden.”

The bottle slams against the wall, and wine explodes with the glass as my mother’s full-crazy mode comes into light.

“You don’t tell me what you’re doing. I tell you what you’re doing. Fuck your father. Fuck his barely-legal slut. Fuck Hayden. And if you even think about trying to go there yourself, I will call the cops. You’ll be arrested as a runaway, Mika. Don’t mess with me.”

Tears fill up in my eyes, but my mother only continues to glare at me with dismissive coldness.

“It’s a teenage summer crush, Mika. Get over it. It’s time to grow up. Things are changing, in case you haven’t noticed.”

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