Sucked Into LoveBy: Rochelle Paige
Your grit and determination are to be admired.
Your hatred of most book heroines is to be feared.
Your input is to be given great consideration.
But your support? It’s irreplaceable.
I was startled by the feelings of nostalgia that hit me as I made my way up the steps of my childhood home. My safe haven for the first fourteen years of my life—back when I’d been naïve and thought I was invincible. Before I’d learned that life could be cruel and the people you love the most could shatter your trust. I glanced behind me to look outside as I walked through the door, and the image of the police officers standing there when they’d come to tell my dad and me that my mom had been in an accident was etched in my brain.
That was the moment when everything had changed. This house had become the place where I watched my dad struggle to adjust during those short summer months before I started high school. And then where I’d so desperately wanted to stay when my dad had delivered his bombshell. He’d decided that it would be best to send me to boarding school one hundred thirty miles away from home. Away from him, my friends and any comfort that would have helped me learn to deal with my loss. But he hadn’t seemed to care about how I’d dealt with my mom’s death since he’d been too wrapped up in his own pain.
The transition to high school was difficult enough for any teenager without suffering such a loss and being shipped off to a school that had strict rules, tough academics, and no friends from home. At first, the only solace I found was on the ice. It was where I felt the closest to my mom and could lose myself as I threw everything I was into my training. I never would have survived that first year without my ice skating.
Once the school year was over, I was stunned to learn that my dad had packed my calendar full of activities. Private sessions, summer camps, and competitions. It seemed like an endless cycle he had created so he didn’t have to see me. Didn’t have to deal with the fact that I was the spitting image of my mom – the woman he’d loved to distraction. And the person, I was convinced, he thought my skating had killed because she’d been out picking up my costume for a competition when the accident had happened. As much as I loved to skate, I felt like he was using it to punish me for her death. But I couldn’t see it that way since she had loved skating almost more than I did. So I steeled myself against the pain and threw myself into my training.
Until I found myself cast adrift once again, unable to skate competitively anymore due to a knee injury I received during one of those summer camps that refused to heal properly. My punishment was complete. I lost my coping mechanism—the one thing that connected me to my mom. Even though my dad had picked Brower because of their coaching staff, he still wasn’t willing to let me come home. He’d changed during the year I was away, becoming someone I barely knew. My adoring father had turned into a bitter, angry man who no longer looked at me with love in his eyes.
I couldn’t bear the accusation I saw staring back at me whenever I managed to meet his gaze in the rare times we were together. So I didn’t argue about returning to school even though I knew it would never be the same. I spent so much time on the ice last year that I didn’t really get to know anyone on campus besides the other skaters who were just like I was – too busy for friendships.
It was another twist of fate that saved me from the oblivion that awaited me my sophomore year. Two, actually. The first was Cecily Thompson. She was a transfer to the school and assigned to be my new roommate. She blew into our room like a whirlwind with her parents and brothers helping her after I was already settled in. She was flat-out gorgeous with startling, green eyes, long, fiery locks, and a creamy, blemish-free complexion, and she was dressed in the latest fashion. She looked like she’d stepped out of a Disney movie or something, and my life was completely the opposite of that. I was instantly convinced that we were going to hate each other—and she was just as equally certain that we were going to be best friends for life. Luckily, she won that battle.
During the course of our friendship, I learned that Cee-Cee won most battles. Especially the early ones, like when she insisted that, since her nickname was Cee-Cee, everyone should start calling me Josie instead of Jocelyn. She thought our names sounded better together that way. She also refused to let me pine away in our room, and she dragged me to every campus event she possibly could. Eventually, she even managed to convince me to go to an open skate session so I could show her my moves.