"Oh, thank god you're here!" Jessa closed the distance between us and ran up to me, grabbing my arm and tugging me to her chest. "I've been waiting for like five minutes, looking like a loser all alone. We have such a long day ahead of us."
I sighed. "What's first on the agenda?"
"Nails. We can just walk."
She threw her messenger bag over her shoulder, and we began the walk toward our small downtown. Ridgebury was a small town, with one main street, a tiny movie theater, and a dozen pizza places. It was comfortable and easy to get from place to place. Not to mention everything was located on the main street so you could literally do one stop shopping.
We walked alongside a group of other kids from school into town and stopped first at the nail salon. I didn't really like getting my nails done because it was something that I could do myself. I'd rather use the $20 on a pizza or movie than nails, but Jessa liked going and they gave you a little back massage when your nails were drying, and that I liked.
"Where were you at lunch?" I asked her as the nail lady started removing my pink paint from last month. They were chipped beyond measure and the little flower on my ring finger was just a little white dot. My nails were sad.
"I hooked up with Jason near the library," she whispered, looking over her shoulder as the bell above the door ringed.
"What? I thought he was a shitty kisser," I said way too loud. "And in that stinky hallway, gross, Jessa."
"Well he said that the only way he'd get better was to practice, which truthfully made sense and then I decided, well, what the hell, I'd made out with him before, so what would it hurt? It's not like we see him anywhere but on the bus or on the weekend near the ice rink, so whatever, I just did it."
"And...was he better or did you waste your lunch period?"
"Well, he's getting better." Jessa shrugged. "Can you make sure they're a bit shorter, gets in the way when I hold my pen in class. Thanks!" She said to the nail person who was now filing her nails.
I wanted to tell Jessa about what Leo said to me in the hallway, but I decided against it. For some reason, I didn't want to share our little moment. That was all it way, anyway. A moment and a small one and one that really wasn't much of a story anyway. She didn't like my run in from yesterday anway so this was nothing.
My shoulders were relaxed after my massage from the man in the nail salon. Next stop on Jessa's long list for the day was my parent's store to drop our things and change. Mom had switched up the storefront and the display now had a bunch of Tiger Pride paraphenalia along with cheeses to match beers and wines. It was blatantly orange and black with white cheeses, but I liked it. In the corner of the window was my fluffy tiger.
"Hey!" I pointed at it and pushed my way into the store. It always had a salty smell here, but I found comfort in it. Mom was behind the counter, and from the clanging I could hear, I assumed dad was in the back refrigerator area. "That's my tiger!" I said to mom.
"Isn't it so cute in the from up there, all protective," mom said as she popped up and leaned onto the counter. "Come try this. The shipment we mistakenly got was actually a blessing because this cheese is delicious."
I took a bite. "Ugh, yuck. It tastes like I'm eating a block of salt, mom." I spit it out into a yellow napkin with the store's logo on it. It read Master's Wine and Cheese.
"Hi, Miss Jessa. What are you two up to?"
"If it's okay, we're going to drop our things here and then go get some dinner and hang out at Pluto Pizza." Jessa pulled off her messenger bag and put it behind the counter.
"I'll bring 'em to our house at close," Mom said.
"Thanks, mom." I leaned over the counter and kissed her cheek. "I'm going to go change my shoes in the back. I'll be right back."
"I'll entertain this one," mom said, pulling in Jessa for a hug. "So, tell me about the boys." I turned and ran into the back before I had to hear anything about Jessa's love life for a second or third time. It was exhausting.
"Ah!" I jump backward and dropped onto my butt, slipping on the jeans I dropped on the floor. "Ouch..."
"Carley!" Dad leaned down and picked me up from the floor. "I didn't even hear you come in. You scared me half to death."
"It's okay," I groaned as I tried to get my bearings while my ass screamed in pain. My tailbone ached like no other and I just wanted to cry, but I didn't. I rubbed my butt and picked up my jeans and shoes.
"I thought you were going out tonight, Carls."
"We are. Just a stop off to change," I said as I pushed my way into the bathroom. I leaned against the sink and tried to breathe through the pain and through my nose. My butt her so damn badly! I got out of my stiff jeans and changed into my more comfortable jeans with a ripped knee. I also put on my black converse instead of my little boots so I'd be able to run after Jessa all night and not get a blister.
I found Jessa, Mom, and Dad gossiping about Jason and Mike near the front counter of the store. Mom was chomping on a piece of baguette and that stinky salt cheese, while dad was already sipping his red wine.
"Well, Masterson's we're on a schedule! Off to Pluto to meet Cami. Thanks for letting us stash our stuff!" She gave mom a hug and then left the store, without me.
"Sounds like you're going to be in for a fun night," Mom said. She reached into the cash register and handed me a $20 bill. "For dinner. Love you, Carl."
"Love you too. See you later." I took the 20 and shoved it in my pocket.
"Call us if you need anything. Don't get in the car with drunk people. Don't kiss any boys."
"Dad," I groaned, my face instnatly heating up. My parents had no shame and loved to embarass me with sex talk and boy talk and everything a high school girl doesn't want to talk to her dad about. It was painful.
"We love you. And call us," Mom said. She grabbed my shoulders and turned me toward the door.
"No kisssssing!" Dad yelled after me.
I fell in love with Leo Daniels faster than you could say Leo Daniels. September 2016, I remember when it happened like it was yesterday. He was the seventeen-year-old, unattainable, lacrosse player who was way out of my league, but one day in the hall, he saw me.
I was fascinated with him, wanting to know why he pushed people away and why he acted so distant at certain times. He was strange and mysterious— and before long, he was mine.
Then we changed. Leo had a life that was foreign to me. In the town of Ridgebury, I was sheltered and accepted, and my family surrounded me with love. But Leo’s life was toxic. And his poison burned into me.
What was I supposed to do? Leave him to avoid what was sure to be a terrible ending, or stay by his side? I deserved better, but so did he. If I stayed, would we lose everything? What was the price of our love?
© Taylor Lavati 2017
What Readers Have to Say...
"An absolutely heart wrenching read that shows us that at times no matter how much we hope, darkness will find its way to win. "
-Blogger's From Down Under for A Reliant Love
"So this book is the ultimate love story. I like how two ordinary people who is so different and still so alike in so many ways can overcome everything together."
-Angelica Berglund for For The Love of Hockey
"I never thought I would read a "zombie book", much less love one. The Last Legacy really surprised me. Even with the whole people-eating-people thing, it was a fantastic book"
-Melannie S for The Last Legacy
"I could not wait to start book two. If this book was as good as book one, then I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. It wasn't as good as book one...it was better. "
-Keely Retchloff for Finding Sam
"The powers, the love, the excitement, the drama kept me so enthralled. If you are looking for a GREAT series about true love and mythology, look no further... I wish I could rate 10 stars! Definitely recommend this whole series to all my book loving friends!"
-The Book Blog for A Curse Books Trilogy
"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters."
-Summer's Book Blog for For The Love of Ash
"Wingless isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but thought I'd try it out and I am so glad I did. The characters and "worlds" she creates are done so well that you can actually picture them and feel like you are there right along with the characters."
-JLH for Wingless
For The Love of Hockey | January 2016
The Price of Love | 2017