A little background on this . . . if you read Paper Hearts by me, you know I wrote a prequel (Torn Hearts) and posted it on WattPad before I released the book. I do this more for myself, as an exercise, when I can’t seem to connect with a specific part of the story. In this case, I know Presley and I know Nathaniel, but I couldn’t connect with them together, so I figured I’d write their background story before delving into the *actual story* and that’s where “The Prequel” comes in.
I will be posting one chapter a week until I’m finished with this part. The Prequel isn’t very long, but it leads into the “present” and that will be released on Amazon in December, so the wait won’t be too long.
Presley Rose has it all – the money, the clothes, the popularity, but she’s unhappy and feels like she’s missing something.
Nathaniel Bradley has nothing – no money, an unstable life at home, and not the kind of popularity he wants. To escape all of that, he works hard.
An unlikely meeting sets them on the same path, but this isn’t your typical boy-meets-girl, boy falls for girl romance. No, because Presley and Nathaniel definitely do not love each other. They don’t even like each other. In fact, they cannot stand each other.
But you know what they say about love and hate . . .
Maybe I was being an over dramatic and petty, but I was having the worst day imaginable. First, I’d lost the photography contest to Morgan, which meant she was going on an all-expenses paid trip to China while I spent my summer at home pretending to breeze through my summer reading list, when in fact I’d just go buy the cliff-notes and pay someone to do my report for me. Then, my parents told me they were getting a divorce. Actually, the word they use was getting separated, but everyone knew that was a nice way of saying they hated each other and wanted to eventually divorce – eventually, meaning, when dad figured out a way to keep mom from taking all of his money. Lastly, I was getting soaked while I waited for one of them to pick me up from cheerleading practice. It was ridiculous, really. They’d picked me up from school, took me to an early bird dinner, laid the news on me before dropping me back off at school and now they were late to pick me up.
This was why kids were traumatized by divorce. It meant splitting up their time between two houses and being forgotten all the time because if their parents couldn’t be trusted to make something as big as marriage work, how could they figure out how to schedule their lives around their child? I was already seething, but that thought made me rage. How could they just decide to not be together? It was May. We were only a month away from our annual family trip to Europe. Dad had chosen San Sebastian as this year’s excursion. I’d recently traced our genealogy back there to the Basques and connected with second cousins. We couldn’t not go. We’d been looking forward to it all year. Instead of going back inside of trying to find cover from the rain, I walked forward and sat on the steps, letting the storm consume me. I wanted them to feel bad for forgetting to pick me up. I wanted them to see the effects of their selfishness. Hell, if I got sick it would be a bonus at this point. Maybe I could skip the stupid end of the school year dance this weekend and the field day performance while I was at it. Suddenly, being captain of the cheerleading squad just seemed stupid. All of this seemed stupid.
The sound of a car approaching made me snap my head up. It was dad’s tinted black Mercedes. I ground my teeth together as I stood up, pulling my now soaked backpack with me. I hoped everything in it had water damage. My entire body shook as I stomped to the car and pulled the door open, letting the backpack drop in the feet compartment of the passenger seat and sitting down as heavily as my body allowed. That was when I saw the person in the driver’s seat was not my father and all of my anger was replaced by panic.
“Who the hell are you?” I reached for the door handle.
I’d seen enough suspense movies to know a kidnapper when I saw one, and even though this guy was younger than I would’ve imagined a kidnapper being, and a hell of a lot hotter, I needed to get out and ask questions later, so I did. I jumped out of the car and ran back to the front of the school.
“Presley.” He called my name out as I tried to open the front door, which was locked. Of course they fucking locked it.
“I need to go back inside.” I pulled the handles with both hands and shook the door.
“Your dad sent me.”
“Yeah right. I’ve heard that one before.” I slapped my hand on the glass as I looked inside. “Help!”
I heard his footsteps behind me and froze, grabbing the handles even tighter. I wasn’t going down without a fight, that was for sure.
“Your father sent me to pick you up,” he said. He was literally right behind me. Panic crept into my throat, blocking out the yell I wanted to produce.
“Stay the fuck away from me.”
“I’m not going to hurt you.” He chuckled, then that chuckle turned into a full-out laugh. “You look crazy, you know that?”
“I don’t care about how I look. I’ve known of people getting kidnapped for ransom and I’ve had a really bad day already and refuse to succumb to your bullshit.”
“I’m not going to kidnap you.” He put his hands on my shoulders and squeezed, not roughly, but not lightly either. “I’ll get your father on the phone.”
“You have his car.” I shot a narrowed look over my shoulder. He dropped his hands. “You could’ve kidnapped him first. Call the police and have them send an escort.”
“Wha . . . I can’t . . . do they do that?” His brows furrowed. His genuine shock made me loosen the grip I had on the handles. That and my hands hurt.
His eyes widened. He looked unsure of what to do. I could practically see his thoughts ping-ponging back and forth, but would he call or not? After what felt like an eternity, he pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and dialed. I knew from the way his back straightened and the way he was talking that he’d called my father. I didn’t know this guy from Adam, but I knew that much because it was what all of them did when my dad was on the line. I rolled my eyes as he stepped forward and pressed the phone to my ear.
“Presley Carina Rose, I swear to all that’s holy that if you don’t get your ass in that car right this second I’m going to ground you for a month.” He was fuming. I felt my eyes narrow as I let go of the door and yanked the phone out of the driver’s hand, stomping toward the car.
“You know what? Fucking ground me. Send me away to boarding school. Send me to live with Aunt – “
“Did you just curse at me?”
I stopped walking and slapped a hand over my mouth. I’d just cursed at him. I never did that. I opened my mouth to apologize, to say something, anything. Instead, I hung up the call and closed the car door. The guy slid into the driver’s seat. I didn’t turn to acknowledge him, but I heard the click of his seatbelt before he started driving. I hated – no, loathed – when my parents tried to hire people to drive me around or watch over me when they went out of town as if I was some child. Technically, at fifteen years old, I was, but I hated being treated as such.
“He means well . . . your dad,” the driver said.
My arms, crossed over my chest, tightened. “What do you know about him? You just met him.”
“I know a lot more about him than you think,” he said. “And I didn’t just meet him.”
My eyes widened. I glanced over at him. “You’re not like, my half-brother or something, are you?”
“What? No.” He made a face like he had a million sour things in his mouth. “Are you seeing a therapist? Because you should. You jump to crazy conclusions about perfectly normal situations.”
“I don’t need a therapist. I just need the people in my life to get their shit together.” I looked out the window. “And for the record, you don’t know me or what conclusions I jump to on a regular day, which this is not, so I’d appreciate it if you kept your pre-conceived judgements to yourself.”
“Pre-conceived? You ran out of this car like I was trying to kidnap you. You wanted me to call the cops to escort us to your house, which I’m still not certain they’d just do.” He shot me a stern glance. I looked at his mouth. I don’t know why I did that, but I did. His lips were plump and soft-looking. It was hard not to look at his mouth. He didn’t notice. “You were also just sitting out there in the rain when I got here. Who the hell does that?”
“Someone who’s trying to make a point.”
“By catching a cold?”
“Maybe.” I tilted my chin upward as if I’d made a great point, but it really did sound stupid now that I was playing it back. “Anyway, he didn’t tell me he hired a new driver and you look too young to be employed by him.”
“I’ve been employed by him for years.”
My face twisted. “How old are you?”
“And what the hell could you have possibly doing ‘for years’?”
“His dry cleaning.” He caught me staring at him, waiting for him to expand on that, so he did, “My uncle owns a dry cleaning business.”
“Would it kill you to be a little more grateful for everything you have? Your parents work hard to maintain the idyllic lifestyle you have. Some people would kill to trade places with you.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about and I’d appreciate it if we keep this conversation to a minimum until you drop me off. I don’t need to be reprimanded by one of dad’s employees and I definitely don’t need to explain my gratitude to you.”
“I’m just saying, you may want to ease up on him. He’s going through a hard time right now.”
“Let’s make something clear.” I turned my glare toward him. Thankfully, we were driving into my driveway and this little conversation would soon be over. “You don’t know me and despite what you think, you’ll never know him either. Whatever façade he’s showing you is just that.” I reached for the door handle and grabbed my backpack when the car came to a full stop. “And next time he sends you to pick me up, ignore him. I’ll gladly walk home.”
I opened the door and slammed it behind me. I ignored my mother’s voice when I heard her calling me from the kitchen and stomped upstairs. I needed to shower and get rid of the stench of the day. What I wanted to do was punch something, no, someone. I wanted to punch that stupid driver. I didn’t even get his name and I decided I didn’t want to know what it was anyway.