Remington Stringer has never been like most girls. She"s outspoken, brazen and wants nothing more than to escape the Nevadan hell hole that she calls home.
On the brink of eighteen, with a deceased mother and a well-meaning, yet absent father, she is forced to fend for herself. The only person she"s ever had to depend on is her borderline obsessive stepbrother, Ryan. But, what used to be her anchor is quickly becoming a loose cannon.
When Remi gets the opportunity to attend the best private school in the state during her senior year of high school, she jumps at the chance. Then she meets Mr. James. Ornery, aloof, and totally irresistible.
Most girls would swoon in secrecy.
Most girls would doodle his name with hearts in their notebook.
But Remi Stringer has never been like most girls.Books by Author:Charleigh Rose Books
Let me start off by saying I don"t hate my life. To someone from the outside, it might look like a bad life, but I don"t care. I know the truth. I have a roof over my head. I"m frying juicy steaks in the kitchen. My dad, Dan, isn"t abusive or in prison, which basically puts me at a huge advantage in comparison to the rest of the kids in my neighborhood. I have Ryan, who looks out for me, and, for the most part"albeit in an unconventional, fucked-up way"I feel loved.
But feeling loved doesn"t mean that I"m happy with my circumstances. It doesn"t mean I"m content with the street I live on that manages to taint every man, woman, and child that is unlucky enough to land here. It doesn"t mean that I won"t try to run away.
I live in Las Vegas, the city that sucks out your soul and spits out whatever"s left of you. Your job is to pick up the pieces and find out who you are.
I"m about to. Planning to. Soon.
I flip the steak, and the searing pan hisses in delight. Take two steps to my right. Stir the boiling pasta. Al dente, just like Ryan likes it. Walk over to the sink. Wash my hands. Look out the window, the screen is hole-ridden and the frame rusty and eaten by the scorching heat and age. Then I smile. I see Ryan kneeling on our yellow overgrown grass, in front of the cracked, bruised asphalt of the road, working on his Harley. As if he senses me, he lifts his gaze to mine.
Stern. Severe. A little on the psycho side. But, he"s my family nonetheless.
Ryan is not my biological brother. My mom, Mary, died in a car accident when I was two. I don"t remember her, and although I"m sad that I never got to know her, it"s my dad I truly hurt for. All I have left of Mary Julia Stringer is an old, beat-up camera from the nineties, and I hold on to it like it"s my lifeline.
I used to use my high school"s dark room to develop the film myself, but now, I"ll have to figure something else out. I"m autodidactic. Self-taught, if you will. That doesn"t come without a price, because I"m probably no good, but taking photos is what I love. Dad says Mom always had a camera in her hand. Funny how those things can be passed down without even knowing her or having her influence. It makes me feel connected to her.
A few years after she passed, my dad took another stab at dating. Enter Darla and ten-year-old Ryan. I knew Darla was bad for Pops, even at the tender age of five. She smelled like smoke and cheap perfume and always went out of her way to make me feel like a burden. But Pops seemed happy"at first, anyway"and I got Ryan. So, it wasn"t all bad. Over the next five years, however, things deteriorated, along with their relationship. Darla started skipping out on us for days at a time, and even flaunted other men in front of my dad. After more than a few knock-down, drag-out fights, Darla had finally bailed for good. When my dad found Ryan, who was only fifteen, packing his things up, he told him to unpack his shit and go set the table for dinner, and that was that. Darla was out, and Ryan was staying. When I asked my dad why she left, his response was something along the lines of, "Darla"s a whore. Don"t be like Darla."
Duly noted, Dad.
The night Darla left was the first night I snuck into Ryan"s room. It was innocent, of course. I wanted to comfort him, even though he showed no signs of being particularly saddened by his mom"s absence. At first, he stiffened when he felt the bed dip under my weight. But my intuition had been right, because that night, Ryan held me and cried himself to sleep while I rubbed his arm and sniffled quietly. He never cried again, and we never spoke about it, but he still sleeps with me on occasion. Except now, it"s Ryan who sneaks into my room.
And it"s not innocent. Not anymore.
The years passed, as they always do, while Ryan still lives at home, neither my dad nor I want to see him leave. Maybe it"s because Dad is rarely at home. He makes the Las Vegas-Los Angeles route twice a week, and occasionally takes longer trips that have him on the road for weeks at a time, which leaves him very little time for actual parenting. Since sleeping by myself in this rundown house, in this horrific neighborhood is pretty much a death wish, I"m happy to have Ryan by my side. With his tall frame, bulging tattooed muscles, uniform of wifebeater and don"t-fuck-with-me expression plastered to his face, you"d have to be stupid to break into our house.