Home > Ruckus (Sinners of Saint #2)

Ruckus (Sinners of Saint #2)
Author: L.J. Shen

I SHOULD PROBABLY GET ONE thing out of the way before we begin. My story? It doesn’t have a happy ending. It won’t. It can’t. No matter how tall or handsome or rich and captivating my Prince Charming might be.

And my Prince Charming was all those things. Oh, he was all those things and more.

Only problem was he wasn’t really mine. He was my sister’s. But there is something you should know before you judge me.

I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.

All that didn’t matter when Dean ‘Ruckus’ Cole had his lips on my sister’s in front of my eyes the day Vicious broke into her locker.

The thing about these moments is you never quite know whether it’s the beginning or the end. The fluidity of life stops, and you’re forced to examine your reality. Reality sucks. Trust me, I know firsthand just how hard it does.

Life ain’t fair.

Daddy said it right when I hit sixteen and wanted to start dating. His answer was resolute. “Good Lord, no.”

“Why not?” My eyelid ticked with annoyance. “Millie dated when she was sixteen.” It was true. She went on four dates with our mailman’s son, Eric, back in Virginia. Daddy snorted and wagged his index finger at me. Nice try.

“You’re not your sister.”

“What does that mean?”

“You know what it means.”

“No, I don’t.” I did know.

“It means you have something she doesn’t. It’s not fair, but life ain’t fair.”

Another fact I couldn’t argue with. Daddy said I was a magnet for the wrong kind of boys, but that was like sugarcoating a ball of dirt and rusty nails. I understood the underlying complaint he had made, I did, especially as I’d always been his little princess. Rosie-bug. The apple of his eye.

I was racy. It wasn’t intentional. It was even, at times, an inconvenient liability. With thick lashes, cascading caramel hair, long milky legs, and downy lips so full they took over most of my face. Everything else about me was small and ripe—wrapped in a red satin bow with a siren expression that seemed to have been permanently inked on my face, no matter how hard I tried to wipe it off.

I attracted attention. The best kind. The worst kind. Hell, every kind.

There were going to be other boys, I tried to convince myself when Dean and Emilia’s lips touched and my heart shriveled in my chest. But there was always going to be one Millie.

Besides, my sister deserved it. Deserved him. I had Mama and Daddy’s attention, all day, every day. I had plenty of friends at school, and admirers lining up outside our door. All eyes were on me, while no one spared my sister a second glance.

It wasn’t my fault, but that didn’t make me feel any less guilty. My older sister had become the product of both my illness and popularity. A solitary teenager hiding behind a canvas, obscured behind paint. Quiet all the time, sending her message through her weird, eccentric clothes.

When I think about it, it was really for the best. The first day I noticed Dean Cole in the hallway between trig and English period, I knew that he was more than just a high school crush. If I had him, I wouldn’t let go. And that in itself was a dangerous concept I couldn’t afford toying with.

See, my clock was ticking faster. I wasn’t born like the rest.

I had an illness.

Sometimes I conquered it.

Sometimes it conquered me.

Everyone’s favorite Rose was wilting, but no flower wants to die in front of an audience.

Besides, it was better that way, I decided when her lips were on his and his eyes were on mine and reality became a complex, agonizing thing I was desperate to run away from.

And so I watched as my sister and the only guy who made my heart beat faster fall in love from my front-row seat.

My petals falling one by one.

Because even though I knew my story wouldn’t end with a happily ever after, I couldn’t help but wonder…could it have a happy ending, even if just momentarily?

The summer when I turned seventeen was bad, but nothing prepared me for its fucking grand finale.

All arrows pointed to calamity. I couldn’t isolate what path would lead me to it, but knowing my life, I braced myself for a sucker punch that’d send me straight to hell.

In the end, it all boiled down to one, reckless, movie-cliché moment. A few Bud Lights and sloppily rolled blunts weeks before our junior year was over.

We were lying by Vicious’s kidney-shaped pool, drinking his dad’s flat beer, knowing we could get away with it—Christ, with fucking everything—under Baron Spencer Senior’s roof. There were girls. They were high. There weren’t many things to do in Todos Santos, California, on the verge of summer break. Everything was scorching hot. The air heavy, the sun bloated, the grass yellow, and the youth bored with their problemless, meaningless existence. We were too lazy to chase cheap thrills, so we looked for them while we were leisurely sprawled on pool floats the shape of donuts and flamingos and Italian-imported sunbathing chair lounges.

Vicious’s parents weren’t home—were they ever?—and everyone was counting on me to supply. Never one to disappoint, I brought over sweet hash and some Molly, which they greedily inhaled without even thanking me, let alone paying me back. They figured I was a rich, stoner bastard who needed more money like Pamela Anderson needed more tits, which was partially true. And I never sweated the small stuff anyway, so I let it slide.

One of the girls, a blondie named Georgia, flaunted her new Polaroid camera, which her dad gave her on their latest Palm Springs vacation. She took pictures of us boys—Jaime, Vicious, Trent, and myself—flaunting her assets in a little red bikini and clasping the freshly printed pictures between her teeth, handing them to us, mouth-to-mouth. Her tits spilled out of her small bikini top like overflowing toothpaste from a tube. I wanted to rub my dick between them, and knew with certainty that I would, by the end of that day.

“My, my, this one’s going to be gooood.” Georgia used an indefinite amount of O’s for the last word for emphasis. “Looking uber-sexy, Cole,” she purred when she caught me on camera pounding the remainder of the beer with a blunt clasped between my fingers and slamming the can on my hard thigh.

Click.

The evidence of my wrongdoing slid out of her camera with a provocative hiss, and she plucked it with her glossy lips, bending down and handing it to me. I bit it and shoved it into my swim trunks. Her eyes followed my hand as I nudged the elastic downwards, revealing a straight line of light hair below my naval that invited her to the rest of the party. She swallowed. Visibly. Our eyes met, silently agreeing on a time and a place. Then someone cannonballed into the pool and splashed her, and she shook her head, chuckling breathlessly before skipping to her next art project, my best friend, Trent Rexroth.

Destroying the picture before I got home was always the plan. I blame the fucking Molly for forgetting. In the end, my mother found it. In the end, my father gave me one of his low-tone lectures that always seemed to eat my insides like arsenic. And in the very, very end? They made me spend my summer vacation with my fucking uncle, the one I really couldn’t stand.

I knew better than to fight them about it. The last thing I needed was to stir shit and jeopardize my Harvard stint a year before I graduated. I’ve worked hard for this future, for this life. It was splayed before me, in all of its rich, entitled, fucked-up, private jets, timeshare, annual Hamptons vacation glory. That’s the thing about life. When something good falls into your hands, you don’t only hang on to the fucker, you clutch it so hard it almost breaks.

Just another lesson that I learned way too late into life.

Anyway, that’s how I ended up flying to Alabama, burning two months on a fucking farm prior to my senior year.

Trent, Jaime, and Vicious spent their summer drinking, smoking, and fucking girls on their home field. Me, I came back with a shiner, generously gifted to me by Mr. Donald Whittaker, AKA Owl, after the night that had changed who I was forever.

“Life is like justice,” Eli Cole, my lawyer-slash-dad, had said to me before I boarded the plane to Birmingham. “It’s not always fair.”

Wasn’t that the fucking truth.

That summer, I was forced to read the Bible cover to cover. Owl told my parents he was a born-again Christian and big on bible studies. He backed it up by making me read it with him during our lunch breaks. Ham on rye and the Old Testament were his version of not being a dickface, because he was pretty much horrible to me the rest of the time.

Whittaker was a farmhand. When he was sober enough to be anything, that was. He made me his barn boy. I agreed, mainly because I got to finger his neighbor’s daughter at the end of every day.

The neighbor’s daughter thought I was some kind of a celebrity just because I didn’t have a Southern accent and owned a car. I wasn’t one to crush her fantasy, especially as she was eager to be my sex ed student.

I humored Owl when he taught me the Bible, because the alternative was brawling with him in the hay until one of us passed out. I think my folks wanted me to remember that life wasn’t all about expensive cars and ski vacations. Owl and his wife were like Low Income Life 101. So, every morning I woke up asking myself what’s two months in comparison to my whole fucking life.

There were a lot of crazy-ass stories in the Bible; incest, foreskin-collection, Jacob wrestling an angel—I swear this book jumped the shark by the second chapter or so—but one story really stuck with me, even before I’d met Rosie LeBlanc.

Genesis 27. Jacob came to live with Laban, his uncle, and fell in love with Rachel, the younger of Laban’s two daughters. Rachel was hot as fuck, fierce, graceful, and pretty much sex on a stick (as indicated in the Bible, though not in so many words.)

Laban and Jacob struck a deal. Jacob was to work for Laban for seven years—then he could marry his daughter.

Jacob did as he was told—busting his ass under the sun, day in and day out. After those seven years, Laban finally came to Jacob and told him he could marry his daughter.

But here was the catch: it’s not Rachel’s hand he had given him. It was her older sister’s, Leah.

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