those lines.” I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to remember more, but when you’ve been to as many doctors as I had, they all started to blend together. “Oh!” I exclaimed, pointing my finger in the air at the memory. “He might have also used the words ‘emotionally voided.’” I took another bite of my candy bar and leaned back on the couch, staring up at the bent fan with the broken blade that wobbled as it sadly limped around in a slow squeaky circle.
Thank you first and foremost to my husband. I know it’s not always easy being married to me, but you make me feel like it is. I love you with all my heart and soul and thank you for being there by my side through out this book process and all the others. You are my rock.
Thank you to my baby girl for brightening my life every single day. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. I hope that you someday realize you can follow your own dreams, no matter how big or how small. There is no limit on your dreams. As long as you have dedication and imagination you can achieve anything and be whatever you want. Your father and I will always be there to cheer you on.
I’d like to thank everyone in Frazierland for being the most bad-ass group of readers and friends ever. You guys make every single day a better one.
I want to thank Julie for being the best admin and beta reader and friend that I could ask for. My world was made better the day you came into it.
Thank you to Clarissa, Julie, Kimmi, Jennifer, Jessica, and Heather for beta reading and helping out in Frazierland.
Special thanks to Rochelle Paige for taking the time out of your own busy schedule to help make sure Rage and Nolan were ready for the readers. You are an amazing person and I really can’t thank you enough.
Thank you to Ellie and Vanessa and Manda and everyone who helps make my words readable. I couldn’t do this without you.
Thank you to my agent Kimberly Brower of the Rebecca Friedman agency for sticking with me. I know I’m a pain in the ass. I think I say that to you in every acknowledgment. Probably because it continues to be true. Thanks for your wisdom.
Thank you to my parents and my in-laws and my sister and my friends, your support means everything.
To my readers, you make me the happiest author in all the land, especially the members of Frazierland who rock my world every single day. I love you all.
This one is for the two loves of my life.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Sneak Preview from Gun Shy
It was once said that if you love someone enough, you should let them go. If they come back to you, they were always meant to be yours.
It’s kind of bullshit.
My story is different than most. I’m different than most.
Because in my story, if you love someone enough, you should first drop the gun.
Ten years old
“I don’t wanna see any more doctors,” I announced as I burst through the door of Cody’s porch. I’d said it like it was brand new information, when the truth was that it was the same announcement I’d made every time I came home from another useless appointment with another shrinker who didn’t get me.
I plopped down on the old loveseat that had been on the back porch of Cody’s house for as long as I could remember. Spotting a loose seam on the corner of the cushion, I mindlessly started picking at the fraying seam.
“I don’t get it. I thought you asked to go to the doctor?” Cody asked.
“I did, but that was the other doctor. That appointment was yesterday and I only wanted to go because I was positive I had stage four brain cancer,” I inform him like it was a completely normal thing for a ten-year-old to say. “It’s important to get those things checked out, you know.”
For me it was normal.
“Do I need to ask you?” Cody asked, leaning in and pretending to be serious. “Is it the end? Should I call a priest? Wait, maybe in your case you need an exorcist.” He bent in half, wrapped his arms around his middle and had himself a good laugh at my expense.
“I had all the symptoms,” I argued. “I’ll show you my dad’s medical journal to prove it.”
“Okay, so you’re cancer free…”
“Brain cancer anyway,” I corrected. “But this isn’t about those doctors. This is about the other ones. The shrinkers. I don’t want to go to them anymore. I think I’ve been shrink-ed enough.”
Cody looked like he was mulling it over. A light went on in his eyes. “So if you don’t want to go see the other doctors, then don’t flip over your desk anymore when Mrs. Carmine tells you not carve into it with your pencil, or better yet, don’t try and push Jimmy Meyers in front of the school bus again,” he finished.
Like it was that simple.
“Jimmy pulled my hair,” I argued.
“Well, the good part about it is that he’s gonna think twice before doing it again, won’t he?” Cody always saw a side of things I never could. That was why I went over to his house every day.
That was why he was my best friend.
“So?” he asked. “Give me the low down. What did this new doctor say?” Cody asked, tearing open a Kit-Kat bar. My favorite.
He sat down next to me, his knee knocking into my thigh on the small tattered couch. He snapped off two of the four bars and handed me the half still in the wrapper.
“Thanks.” I said, taking a big bite. I chewed and let the chocolate settle into my system while thinking of how to best answer Cody’s question. “I overheard the doctor telling my parents I was…different?”
“Duh,” Cody said, smacking himself in the forehead with his hand. He nudged my shoulder. “This one might be the stupidest one yet because everyone already knows that.”
I shook my head and pursed my lips. “No, the way Dr. Klondike said it, made it sound weird.”
Cody wrinkled his nose and tapped his pointer finger against his chin. “What exactly did he say? Try to remember.”
I bit the side of my thumb, but the second I realized what I was doing, I pulled it away from my mouth and sat on my hands.
I tried to remember how the doctor had said the word while Cody patiently waited for me to answer. He was never in a hurry and he never rushed me for answers like my parents or the doctors did. I felt as if my parents had a limited amount of time dedicated to fixing me, and if they couldn’t do it in that paid hour, then they all gave up to regroup and start it all over the next time I did something that had them making calls and more appointments.
Cody had a level of patience I could never think to reach, but lucky me, my best friend had enough for the both of us.
Finally, it came to me. “He said I was UN-different, because I am emotionally not valuable and disconnected from most people, or”—I waved my hand in the air—“something along
Another week. Another doctor. Another uncomfortable conversation with a complete stranger. Another look of worry and fear in my parents’ eyes when they’re told that although there was something wrong with me, they couldn’t pin point the cause of it, and therefore couldn’t recommend a course of treatment.
Cody shook his head and spoke with his mouth full. “Indifferent.”
He swallowed. “I think he said you were indifferent. Not different.”
“What does that even mean?” I asked, pulling my knees up to my chest. Cody was only a year older than me but sometimes it felt like a hundred years.
Having a know-it-all best friend wasn’t always the most fun, especially when he wanted to explain to me the science behind recycling every time the green truck rolled by, or draw me a diagram every time about water cycles every time a storm blew in. But when it came to me and my messed-up brain, Cody’s super smarts came in handy.
Cody finished off his half of the Kit-Kat. Balling the wrapper up in his hands, he tossed it across the room to the garbage can like he was throwing a basketball into a hoop. He missed by a million miles. It hit the wall and went rolling across the room in the opposite direction.
Cody sucked at basketball. Baseball was more his thing.
“It means that you don’t feel things other people feel. Like, do you remember when we were watching that movie your parents said we couldn’t watch? The one where the lady gets run over by the train at the end?”
“Yeah,” I said. Remembering when we’d figured out how to order the rated R movie from the TV remote. When it was over, Cody turned away from me, but it was too late. I’d already caught a glimpse of his tears. The lady got hit by a train after just being told that she was cancer free. She died. It was over. “They didn’t even show the cool part where she actually got hit. They just showed the tracks and her hat floating up into the air.”
Cody stared at me like I’d just proved his point.
“Maybe it was a stupid movie and I’m the only one who realized how stupid it was,” I said, settling further into the couch cushions.
“Okay that might not have been the best example, but I’m just trying to explain to you what the head shrinker meant.” Cody said, tapping the top of my head. “But if you ask me”—he shook his head slowly from side to side—“he didn’t do a very good job.”
I sat forward. “Why do you say that?” I might have been indifferent when it came to sadness, but anger was always alive and well and itching to break free. I met Cody’s golden brown eyes and he flashed me a big-toothed mega smile.
Cody was the only one who could settle the burn of my anger once it started. Not my parents, not the doctors, not the counselors at school. Not a single one of them could do what Cody could with just one goofy grin.
“Nerd,” I said, tossing a cushion at his head.
He dodged it. “They’re not doing a very good job shrinking your head.” He made an exaggerated motion with his arms, stretching them as far as he could like he was trying to touch the walls of the rooms with the tips of his fingers. “ ’Cause it’s as giant as ever!” He reached out and mussed my hair with his hand, causing my ponytail to come undone and my hair to fall into my eyes in a shabby curtain of messy blonde.
Cody burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. His dark hair, almost as long as mine, was also covering his face as he clutched his stomach and rolled off the couch, laughing hysterically until he rolled right into the screen door, scraping his arm on a jagged piece of aluminum. “Crap,” he hissed between his teeth. He held on to his elbow and pulled his arm up to check out the damage. A trickle of bright red blood dripped from the scratch below the sleeve of his T-shirt and rolled down into the crease of his elbow.
I scrambled off the couch and knelt down beside him and lifted his elbow higher so I could look at his scrape. “Are you okay?” I asked.
Cody looked up at me and brushed away some of the straggly hair that had fallen into his eyes. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said, standing up off the floor. He reached out for my hands and pulled me up with him. “It’s just a little scratch.”
Cody and I had always been around the same height until last year when he started growing like a weed. I don’t think I realized how tall he’d really gotten until I had to crane my neck to look up at him. His forehead creased like he smelt something bad.
“What?” I asked, taking a step back in case it was me. Maybe extra onions on my foot-long fun dog for lunch wasn’t the best idea.
“Can I ask you something?” Cody asked, which was stupid because that was a question as well.