Authors: Rachael Wade
THE PRESERVATION SERIES, BOOK 3
BY RACHAEL WADE
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Copyright © 2013 Rachael Wade
Rabbit Hole Press
ISBN: 978-0-9896304-4-3 (Paperback)
Editor: Susan Miller
Cover Design: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
ALSO BY RACHAEL WADE
The Preservation Series:
Love and Relativity
(Featuring Carter and Whitney from the Preservation Series)
Preservation - Preservation, Book 1
Reservation - Preservation, Book 2
Declaration – Preservation, Book 3
The Resistance Trilogy:
Amaranth, Book 1
The Gates, Book 2
The Tragedy of Knowledge, Book 3
The Keepers Trilogy:
Repossession, Book 1
Restitution, Book 2 (2014)
Restoration, Book 3 (2015)
To anyone who has ever felt invisible. Somewhere, someone sees you. I promise.
Each time I write this section, I keep thinking maybe, just maybe, next time will be easier. Nope. Not even close. I can never cover everything here. There are so many people I want to thank, and so many people who have played different roles in this book’s creation. So, I’ll just do my best and trust that you all know who you are.
Thank you to everyone who chats with me on a regular basis on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Thank you for the mentions and the e-mails, and for just being cool in general. Your support rocks my world.
Thank you to my #1 beta reader (the one and only BBB), Thessa, for helping me smooth things out and for loving Carter the way I love him.
Thanks to my wonderful editor, Susan, my cover designer, husband, and street team, for helping get the word out about the series. Cathy, you are the best street team manager a girl could ask for. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you to all the rad book blogger, reader, and author friends who have been so supportive of the series. Because of you, I have the best job in the world.
Finally, thank you God, for this magical thing called storytelling.
Something I have been very familiar with for as long as I can remember. It all started the first day of kindergarten. Most kids don’t remember that far back, but I do. Miss Manzi showed me to my seat and none of the other little snot heads bothered to look at me, let alone say hello. Nope, they were too preoccupied picking their noses and fighting over Jimmy’s lunchbox. It was chock full of action figures.
Major jackpot, right there.
At first I didn’t think anything of it and went about my business, sitting up straight at my desk and waiting for Miss Manzi to tell us what to do. All I knew was I missed my mommy and that I wanted the school day to be over with so I could go home and listen to her play piano.
Lo and behold, the teacher started class and the day carried on with only the occasional, typical kindergarten interactions. Some whiny kid named Billy chased this girl Leila on the playground for no good reason until she tripped and scraped her knee, and a girl named Samantha tried to steal Whiny Kid’s crayons during art time. Again, for no good reason. She had her own, but
, she had to have Whiny Kid’s, too.
. Mean little buggers.
I made it through the day, not entirely invisible, but relatively uninteresting to my fellow classmates. As grade school continued on, though, I started to think twice about those first few minutes of kindergarten—when Jimmy’s lunchbox overshadowed my presence. This seemed to cement a trend that would follow me my whole life. People only spoke to me if: (A) they absolutely had to, (B) they wanted or needed something from me, or (C) they had nothing better to do.
That never bothered me, though. In fact, it was comforting. During my school years, I hated being the center of attention, and I never had much to say, anyway. When I did speak, it was because there was something important to say. Any more talking than that just seemed pointless. Unnecessary and fake. Like my father, I was known as a practical man of few words, and that title suited me just fine.
Thankfully, years later, when I took a new job at Pike Place Market, I found a few friends who got me. They liked me just the way I was, and I never felt awkward around them, or like I had to be something I wasn’t. Even better, when I was with them, I discovered a side of me I never knew existed. During our band practices and downtime, I was borderline outgoing. And according to them, funny, too. The thought that anyone would ever understand my cheesy, offbeat brand of humor or consider me talkative was downright surprising. Apparently, I was all of those things to them.
But I knew the truth.
I was all of those things
around the right people.
It was my friends who brought those traits out of me, and that was how I knew I was exactly where I belonged.
One of those friends even ended up being my roommate, and he turned out to be just as crazy as me. From my fascination with all things British to an obsession with loud music, Dean was officially runner up for King of Geekdom. I took first place, of course.
When our band, The Hellions, performed, I wasn’t afraid to make some noise. For whatever reason, being on stage gave me an outlet to be myself, and Dean had a lot to do with that, always encouraging me to be a little crazy. He insisted that being on stage was the time to be everything I wasn’t in real life, and he was right. It gave me freedom I never had growing up. Meeting Dean and joining the band was one of the best things I’d ever done for myself.
My good fortune and sense of belonging increased even more on my first day of college when I bumped into Kate Parker. Like me, she was a late bloomer, starting school in her mid- 20s. Staying true to my geek roots, I was assaulted by the clumsy gene and found myself running into her in the courtyard coffee shack first thing before class. Splat went her coffee, all over her clothes, and voilà, a friendship was born.
Okay, maybe it was more than just friendship. More like pathetic infatuation turned…
Ah, never mind.
Anyway, like every guy who garners the Just-a-Friend label, I was beat by some seasoned ladies’ man who had everything I didn’t: Professor Ryan Campbell. A charming, intellectual type with six-pack swimmer abs and a taste for forbidden fruit, like his very forbidden student, Kate Parker. Only problem was, he’d already had half the campus’ damn fruit basket. What did he need with my Kate?
Again, I digress.
Kate was taken, I didn’t have a shot in hell, and it was time to move on. My little slice of belonging suddenly fizzled out and illuminated a much bigger problem: Not only was I lost without Kate, I was lost in every area of my life—even with the band. My enthusiasm for playing shows began to dwindle, and I was missing practices. Too many of them. Facing Kate’s unrequited love triggered something, and I hadn’t been able to bring myself back since.
But this isn’t a sob story about Kate Parker trampling my heart or the invisibility curse that seemed intent on screwing me over in the Women Department. It’s a story about how I found myself again, and the girl responsible for helping light the way. It’s about how her love gave me courage to dig myself out of my rut and finally make some noise off stage, even when I wasn’t sure anyone was listening.
It’s a gross understatement to say that I struggled with the decision to move to a small island in Southwest Florida. I lost some serious sleep over the whole thing, but deep down, I knew the battle had already been won the second I cracked open Kate’s atlas—the one her mom had given her before she’d passed away. I’ll never forget the look on Kate’s face the day we found her mother dead in her apartment. It was so sudden, so tragic, so…harsh. It was as if life thought of the very best way to be cruel and chose Kate Parker out of all the beautiful, young, wounded women in the city of Seattle to execute its merciless cruelty on.
Somehow, in the days that followed, that atlas had become some sort of beacon for Kate. She found solace in the decision it offered her. The moment things with Ryan seemed irreparable, she turned to it for direction, and like the trusty guide it was, it sent her all the way to St. Lucia, where she not only found the answers she needed, but where she also found herself reunited with the same douche bag professor she’d left town for in the first place.
His name was rancid meat on my tongue. I couldn’t stomach the thought of the guy. Not after all he’d put her through. Here I was, driving aimlessly down an unfamiliar road, on an unfamiliar island, in an
part of the U.S., but it didn’t matter how far from Seattle I was. It didn’t matter that I was on an alien planet, far removed from all I’d found comforting. All it took was one thought of Ryan Campbell to bring that same rotten taste back to my mouth, and everything I’d left behind in the Pacific Northwest came rushing back, catapulting me right back to the place that killed me to admit I missed.
, did I miss Seattle.
Sanibel Island was fucking beautiful. A tropical lazy land of paradise for the devoted beach bum. But it wasn’t Washington. It wasn’t cool and damp and green—so, so
. I couldn’t smell pine or welcome the sounds and smells of Pike Place Market. There wasn’t fresh salmon on the corner or buskers at every turn, playing their little hearts out for a few bucks and a purging of the soul.