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Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl, Page 1

Jessica Sorensen

  Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl

  Jessica Sorensen

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2016 by Jessica Sorensen

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

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  Cover Design by Najla Qamber Designs

  Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl

  By Jessica Sorensen

  Table of Contents:

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five


  About the Author

  The very first kiss…

  Chapter One


  13 years old…

  My mom’s new boyfriend is screaming again, either yelling at her or simply yelling because he’s drunk. I want to leave my room and check on the situation, but I’m afraid of going on the other side of my door. As long as the door’s shut, I have a barrier from the madness. As long as my door is shut, I can pretend he’s playing a game and that the nonsense is out of excitement. Once I step foot out of my room, reality will smack me across the face. Hard. So, instead of going out there, I sit on my bed, hugging my legs against my chest and keeping my eyes on the door.

  I’ve been down this road before with my mom’s many, many boyfriends. She’s accumulated so many over the years that I sometimes wonder if she likes to collect them like other moms collect figurines, books, or shoes.

  She wasn’t always this way. Up until I was six years old, my life was normally decent. Sure, my mom had her ups and downs, but when my dad was still around, she didn’t seem as miserable. She was stable. She did stuff with me, like took me to the park and the movies when we could afford it. We didn’t have a ton of money, but I never felt like I was missing out on much. I was happy to have a mom and dad living with me under the same roof, unlike some of the other kids I went to school with.

  But then my father decided he didn’t want to be a dad and husband anymore, and my life was dropkicked like a soccer ball, spinning out of control. Seven years later, that ball is still spinning, my dad is gone, and my mom spends more time at the bar or with her new boyfriends than she does me.

  “Just leave her alone, Bill,” my mom’s voice flows from the other side of my bedroom door. “She’s not bothering anyone.”

  The doorknob jiggles and the door rattles. “I don’t want her here, Paula,” Bill snaps with a slight slur. “Kids repeat everything they see and hear. Do you know what could happen if she goes to school and tells one of her friends I was over here? What if my daughter found out and told my wife?”

  “She won’t tell,” my mom tries to reassure him. “Willow knows the rules.”

  “I don’t give a shit if she knows the rules. Kids never obey the rules.”

  A hard object slams against the door and I jump, pressing my back against the headboard, wishing I could vanish through the walls to the outside. Then I would run and run and run until I found my dad and begged him to come back and fix everything.

  “Bill, just calm down,” my mom begs. “I’ll talk to her again and make sure she understands. I’ll do that right now.”

  “I don’t want you to talk to her,” he slurs. “I want you to get her out of here for the next few days. That way, we can have some fun without worrying she’ll open her mouth. I don’t come over here to worry about kids. I come here to have fun. If I wanted to worry about shit, I’d be at home with my family.”

  “I know, hon. And I’m so glad you’re here. I really am. I love you. You know that.”

  “Well, if you love me, then get her out of here.”

  I hold my breath, waiting for my mom’s answer. While she’s been a pretty crappy mother lately—drinking a lot and bringing home random guys from the bar—I don’t think she’d kick me out of the house.

  Would she?

  It wouldn’t be the first time.

  The house grows silent, and I start to wonder—hope—that perhaps they decided to take off and do whatever they do when they disappear for hours in the middle of the night. Then there’s a soft knock on my door.

  “Willow, can you please open the door?” My mom uses her sweet, gentle tone to try to persuade me. “I need to talk to you.”

  I hug my knees more tightly against my chest and don’t answer, worried she’s going to tell me to leave. Maybe if I pretend I’m invisible, she’ll forget I’m here and so will Bill. It’s actually happened before.

  Once, when I was ten, my mom took off to a bar with some of her friends. She didn’t come back for three days. When she finally returned, she apologized for being gone so long, telling me that it wasn’t her fault. She said she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her and her friends talked her into going to Vegas to ease her broken heart. I felt bad for her, remembering how my dad had broken her heart, so I told her I was fine, that I knew how to take care of myself, which was true. I had been doing it for years.

  She seemed relieved by my words and, after that, started staying out more. I was left wishing I never felt sorry for her to begin with.

  “Willow, please just open the door, or I’m going to pick the lock. Then I’ll be upset, and I hate getting upset with you.” Her voice is calm but firm, carrying a warning.

  Sucking in a breath, I scoot away from the headboard and slide to the edge of the bed. The linoleum floor is ice cold against my bare feet as I stand up and walk to the door, probably because my mom turned down the heat to save money.

  “Is Bill out there?” I ask quietly as I reach the door.

  “No, he went to my room,” she says. “But he might come out soon, so hurry up.”

  My fingers tremble as I place my hand on the doorknob and crack open the door.

  My mom immediately shoves her way in, shuts the door, and turns to face me, her glassy eyes scanning my organized desk, my made bed, and the alphabetized books on the corner shelf.

  “You’re always so organized,” she remarks, completely getting sidetracked, something she’s good at. “You definitely get that from your father.”

  I don’t like when she compares me to my father, partly because I don’t like him and partly because she doesn’t like him, so the comparison isn’t a compliment.

  “Mom, I don’t have to leave the house, do I?” I ask, chewing on my thumbnail.

  She doesn’t make eye contact as she ambles over to the window and draws back the curt
ains to stare outside at the night sky. “Remember when your dad left, how sad I was?”

  I start to answer, but she talks over me.

  “I was really upset. He didn’t just break my heart; he smashed it to pieces.” She releases the curtain and twists around. “He bailed on you, too, you know.”

  “Yeah, I know that.” I frown, unsure why she’s bringing the painful subject up. I hate thinking of my dad, how he bailed on me and destroyed my fun, loving mom.

  “It’s okay, sweetie.” She crosses the room and pulls me in for a hug. She reeks of cigarette smoke, whiskey, and some sort of spice that makes my nostrils burn and my eyes water. “I wasn’t bringing that up to make you sad. I just wanted to let you know that I’d never leave you, no matter what. I promise I’ll be here for you no matter what happens. I won’t become your father.”

  I circle my arms around her and hug her tightly as relief washes over me. She isn’t going to make me leave.

  “But,” she starts, and my muscles wind into tight knots. “In order for me to keep my promise, you’re going to have to meet me halfway.”

  “Okay … How do I do that?”

  “By giving me some space when I need it.”

  Tears burn my eyes as I slant my chin up to meet her eye to eye. “You mean leaving the house right now?”

  She sighs as tears stream from my eyes. “It’s not a big deal. You can come home on Monday when Bill goes home.”

  I wipe the tears from my cheeks. “But where should I go?”

  She glances from the window to the door then back at me. “You can go hang out in the car. That could be fun. You could take your sleeping bag out there and pretend you’re camping.”

  “I don’t like camping,” I say pointlessly. “And the last time I slept in the car, some guys started banging on the window and trying to get me to let them in.”

  “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.” She taps her finger against her bottom lip. “Maybe you could go spend the weekend at one of your friends’.” Excitement lights up in her eyes. “That would be fun, right?”

  I glance at the alarm clock on my dresser. “I doubt any of my friends are even awake.”

  She steps back, reaches into the pocket of her jeans, and retrieves her phone. “Well, you won’t know until you try, right?”

  I warily eyeball the phone. “Their parents might get mad if I call this late.”

  “I’m sure they won’t.” She urges me to take the phone. When I don’t budge, she grimaces. “Willow, this promise thing isn’t going to work if you’re not cooperative. I can’t keep my side of the deal if you don’t keep yours.”

  I open my mouth to tell her I don’t want to do the promise, but then all the times my mom has disappeared for days on end flash through my mind. I’ve often worried that one day, she won’t come back, and I’ll be all alone.

  While I try to act tough and pretend I can handle living on my own, I sometimes get scared, like at night when our neighbors are having parties or when someone knocks on the door, trying to get me to let them into the house.

  “Fine, I’ll call one of my friends.” I take the phone from her. “But if they don’t answer, you still have to keep the promise.”

  She holds the phone out to me. “If they don’t answer, I’ll find somewhere else for you to go.”

  Grimacing, I take her phone, flip it open, and debate who to call. My friend Luna’s parents are super strict, so she’s a no-go. Wynter and Ari might let me stay over, but then I’d have to explain why my mom is kicking me out of the house, and I’m not ready to tell them about my home life yet.

  Only one person knows about what goes on at my house, and that’s Beckett. He’s been one of my closest friends since grade school. I told him about my mom a couple of years ago when he came over to my house to work on a school project and my mom wasn’t home by the time he was leaving.

  “Are you sure you’re going to be okay being here all by yourself?” he asked, reluctant to leave even though his mom had honked the horn five times already.

  I nodded, cringing at the shouting floating through the walls from the neighbors. “I’ll be fine. I’m home alone a lot, actually.”

  He slung his backpack onto his shoulder with worry in his eyes. “Really? That doesn’t seem okay. I mean, my parents aren’t that great, but they don’t leave me home this late unless the maid or Theo is there with me.”

  “It’s fine.” I felt stupid and silly and embarrassed, not just for having to defend my mom, but because of how loud the neighbors were screaming. It was bad enough bringing Beck to my tiny, broken house located on the crappy side of town when his house is so fancy and big. But we needed some rocks from my rock collection to do our project, so I didn’t have much of a choice. “I can take care of myself.”

  “But you shouldn’t have to.” He lightly tapped me on the nose, something he did to try to cheer me up. “Why don’t you come over to my house and hang out until your mom gets home?”

  My shoulders slumped even lower. “She might not be home until morning.” Or maybe even for a couple of days, but I didn’t want to tell him that.

  He blinked in shock, and I waited for him to call my mom a weirdo and a freak like other kids did, but all he said was, “That’s okay. You can spend the night.”

  I almost smiled. I should’ve known Beck would never call me a freak. “You think your mom will let me?”

  He shrugged. “I’ll just tell her that we have to finish our project and your mom will pick you up in a few hours. She’ll be asleep by then, so she won’t notice.”

  “But what about in the morning when I’m still there?”

  “She has tennis practice at, like, eight and won’t be back until noon.”

  I nodded and then packed my things, glad I didn’t have to sleep in the house alone again and thankful Beck was my best friend.

  I glance at my mom, wondering how she would feel about me spending the night at a guy’s house or if she found out that I had already done that a handful of times over the years. Honestly, I don’t think she’d care.

  I dial Beck’s number, crossing my fingers his dad doesn’t get angry that I called. He can be kind of grumpy sometimes.

  The phone rings four times before Beck picks up.

  “Since when do you stay up this late?” he asks in a teasing tone. “I thought you were on a schedule so you could get maximum study hours in or whatever.”

  “I am on a schedule.” I turn my back to my mom as she examines me inquisitively. “But the schedule got interrupted.”

  He sighs. “Let me guess. Boyfriend number twenty-seven is over and is being loud and annoying.”

  He knows me too well.

  “Yes to the last.” I glance at mom out of the corner of my eye. “No to the first … I’m pretty sure she’s above twenty-seven.”

  A pucker forms at my mom’s brow. “What are you saying to him?”

  I shake my head. “Nothing.”

  “Okay …” Her gaze roams to the doorway. “I’m going to go check on Bill. I’ll be right back.”

  After she walks out, I wander toward the window and close my eyes, shame washing over me. While I doubt Beck will judge me, it doesn’t make asking for help any easier.

  “I need a favor.”

  “Sure,” he replies easily. “What’s up?”

  I rest my head against the frosted window. “I need a place to crash for a few days.”

  “Why? What happened?” Nervousness creeps into his tone. “This boyfriend dude didn’t try to get into your room like the last one did, did he?”

  “No … Well, he did, but only to try to get me out of the house,” I say quietly, “which is why I need a place to crash.”

  “Your mom’s letting him kick you out of the house?” He doesn’t sound that shocked.

  “They’re not really kicking me out …” My cheeks warm with my embarrassment. “My mom just asked me if I could sleep in the car or go spend the night at one of my friends’ houses for a few d
ays. I don’t really like sleeping in the car … so I called you.” I shrug, even though he can’t see me. I feel so pathetic.

  “Well, I’m glad you called me. I don’t want you sleeping in a car, especially because your neighbors are so crazy. I just wish your mom didn’t treat you like this. You deserve so much better, Wills.” He pauses. “Maybe you should tell someone that she kicks you out all the time. It isn’t right.”

  “It’s fine … I’m fine,” I say, not really knowing what else to say. Sure, I know my home life isn’t normal, but it could be worse. She could’ve left me by now. “So, you don’t care if I stay with you?”

  “You can always stay with me. In fact, I want you to promise that you’ll never sleep in the car again. Always call me if you need help.”

  “I can do that.” I blow out a stressed breath, the weight on my shoulders feeling a tiny bit lighter. “Thanks. You’re the best friend ever.”

  “Well, duh,” he jokes. “When are you heading over? I’ll order pizza or something. How does that sound?”

  As if answering, my stomach grumbles, reminding me how the cupboards and fridge are empty, so I had to skip dinner again. “You don’t have to do that.”

  “I know, but I want to. Besides, I bet you skipped dinner.”

  “You know me too well.”

  “That’s because I’m your best friend. If I didn’t know you, then I’d be the worst friend ever.”

  A tiny smile forms on my lips, but contentment nosedives as my mom pokes her head into my room.

  “Is your friend letting you stay over?” she asks, her eyes more bloodshot than they already were.

  I nod, covering the phone with my hand. “Yeah.”

  “Good.” She steps into my room, swaying a little. “They’ll have to come pick you up. I can’t drive right now.”

  I want to argue, but I’m pretty sure she’s either drunk or high. “My friends aren’t old enough to drive.”

  “They have parents, though, right?” she asks as she grasps the doorframe to regain her balance. “See if they’ll come pick you up.”

  I waver, not wanting to ask Beck for such a huge favor. But staying in the car doesn’t sound that fantastic, either.