This Point Forward
This Point Forward, book 5 of The Rosewoods, is available at your favorite retailer.
Excerpt from This Point Forward by Katrina Abbott
I looked around my empty dorm room, feeling lonelier than I had since I’d started the school year, even though Brooklyn had only been gone a few hours. I’d gone back to bed after she left, almost wishing we had classes today. Being busy would be a good thing, but of course, I now had three full days off before school started up again after the Thanksgiving break. Sleeping seemed like the obvious way to kill big chunks of time, but my body and mind weren’t on board with the plan as I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. I may as well have chugged a case of Red Bulls.
“God, I hate being alone,” I said aloud. Not that anyone else could hear, but I needed something to break the deafening silence.
Ever since I was a child, I hated being alone more than anything else in the world, and it didn’t take a Dr. Freud to figure out why.
It’s not that I was a neglected child in the way that those babies who are left to be raised by wolves are. Nor was I chained to a toilet for years on end like that poor kid they’d found a couple of years ago and had plastered all over the news. My story of neglect was hardly newsworthy and of the type that I knew quietly played out in tons of homes across affluent America.
I like to call it neglect by proxy, whereby a child is raised by nannies, cooks and gardeners—pretty much anyone on the payroll. Said child could easily be cast on a TV show about hoarding if ever the wealthy would allow a camera crew into their luxurious homes where there was evidence of their trying to buy their kids’ affection and silence with the latest toys and games. Or in the case of a teenage girl, designer clothes and cute convertibles. Unfortunately, the child always lacks in the one thing she craves most: the attentions of her own parents.
In my case, I didn’t even have siblings to play with, and take my word for it, playing with a middle-aged nanny who tired of childhood games when she was a child is no substitute.
Looking back, I count my blessings and know I came from a life of privilege. Many kids don’t get to attend elite schools, wear designer clothes or spend their summers in Europe. Although—and not to sound ungrateful here—when you’re sent to that school to get you out of the house, are told it is unacceptable to spend your clothing allowance on charity, and spend the summer in Europe on a guided tour with a bunch of strangers because your mother is redoing her house and didn’t want you going with her and your father on their Australian trip, you may not appreciate these things quite as much.
It sounds ludicrous to complain about being a poor little rich girl, so I try not to do it, but I kind of hate my home life. I can’t wait to finish school and make my own way far away from my parents. Until then, thank God for Rosewood; I never would have kept any kind of sanity if I had to live at home and go to a local school.
I know it probably sounds like my parents hated having me, but that’s not precisely true. It’s like relationships on Facebook: it’s complicated. They love me, of course, they just don’t get me and pretty much never want to be around me because we are such polar opposites. As I got older and realized this, I became more and more okay having a great distance between us.
Except at the holidays. Holidays are made for reconnecting with your crazy family to remind you why you didn’t want to be around them the rest of the year. And although you know the family dinner is going to be nuts and you’ll beg for death at least twice between the broth course and the cheese plate, you still look forward to them with a sort of masochistic nostalgia.
But here I was for a third year in a row stuck at my boarding school for Thanksgiving, which kind of sucked. It had seemed like maybe it wouldn’t be horrible and we did have a nice dinner and I got to hang out with some of my friends after we’d served at the local shelter, but then poor Brooklyn got called away because her father’d had a heart attack in London. She was rushing home to be with her family, which I can hardly blame her for, although I hated being left behind on my own.
It was selfish and childish, but even just sleeping alone made me anxious—it was the reason I didn’t want the private room my parents had paid for this year. Not that I would ever tell them—or anyone, for that matter—that I hated sleeping alone.
I’d already been thinking about what I would do over the holidays, though I thought I’d have Brooklyn with me until almost Christmas. But now I worried I wasn’t going to sleep for the next month. I suppose I could get one of the girls—maybe Kaylee—to move into my dorm room since she’d probably be stuck here at Christmas, too, thanks to her crap home life. But I didn’t want to think about that just yet.
Instead, I thought about what it meant on a more practical level, now that Brooklyn was gone. I was going to have to run the Santa Hop—the annual toy drive—with Dave. This would normally make me a very happy person (because who didn’t love delivering toys to kids?) if I hadn’t poured my heart out to Dave by text message on the very day that Brooklyn and he started a thing. How was I supposed to know that while I was having second thoughts about our breakup, they were hooking up behind the Stop and Shop?
I’d quickly realized my second thoughts had more to do with panic over being alone at the holidays than wanting to actually be with him again, so when I saw how much my roommate wanted to be with him and knew that them being together made way more sense than Dave and me did, I bowed out, trying to be the good friend. To both of them.
But then I got to give him that guitar on his birthday and pretend the text thing had never happened.
Right. At least Brooklyn didn’t know about it.
So yeah, now I get to work with him again while he inevitably pines over Brooklyn leaving.
I yawned and stretched as I thought about the best way to handle that. Maybe I could only talk to him by e-mail and text between now and then. Which seemed pretty childish and unrealistic.
What I really needed was to find a guy before that. Having a boyfriend would be the only way that working at such close quarters to Dave could be bearable.
But who? I didn’t exactly want to rub Dave’s nose in it by dating one of his friends (because that always got so complicated) and it’s not like I wanted him to be jealous. I just wanted him to know I had moved on and was good. Really good. No train wreck—nothing to see here.
Then a face popped into my head.
Brooklyn’s brother who had stayed behind on campus, even though his father had suffered a heart attack.
It made me think he had the kind of complicated relationship with his parents that I had with mine. Brooklyn hadn’t really talked about it, but she’d been under a lot of stress when she’d left. So much so that she must have lost her phone somewhere because when I tried to text her to wish her safe travels, it was discontinued. At least that meant she knew she’d lost it and had canceled it right away, but it also meant I had no way of getting a hold of her while she was away.
Except through Rob, of course. Which just gave me more reason to seek him out. Legitimately.
Something in my chest lit up as I thought about him, which made me feel slightly guilty—he is Brooklyn’s brother, after all. But when you look at the big picture and see that Brooklyn was on the cusp of a relationship with Dave, my ex, well, maybe being with her brother wasn’t so off limits.
There was the possibility that him being off limits was part of the appeal, I had to admit, but there was something—no a lot of things—about him that made him especially appealing.
He was older, like twenty, so he was definitely more mature than most of the Westwood boys, although he could joke around with them, too, something I’d seen the day before at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Also, he was quite funny and Brooklyn said he was really smart, even though he’d flunked out of Yale. I had a feeling his flunking out had more to do with him partying too much than him actually not being smart enough.
And if I was being honest, he was smoking hot, too. Not something Brooklyn wanted to discuss, but as I grabbed my phone off my nightstand and scrolled through until I found the selfies I’d taken with him that day, my heart fluttered. Yes, definitely hot. Chelly, Celia and even Kaylee had agreed on that point.
Maybe I’d see what he was up to over the holiday. Even if he didn’t get along with his parents, he’d probably appreciate a distraction, right? He had to be stressed and I hated thinking about what he must be going through. I hated spending time with my family, but I’d be devastated if something like that happened to one of them. Maybe what Rob needed most right now was comforting.