Home > 1214 Bad Boy Ave. (Cherry Falls #50)

1214 Bad Boy Ave. (Cherry Falls #50)
Author: Jenika Snow

 


1

 

 

Dolly

 

 

As a little girl, I’d dreamed of being a dancer. And I’d held on to that dream into adulthood, going so far as to leave the only home I’d ever known and experience the chaotic life of the city.

For four years I stayed away.

For four years I knew it was a mistake.

I learned real fast that city life wasn’t for me. I was a country girl, the kind that learned how to milk a cow at the Johnson farm. The kind that helped out at the church bake sale every spring. The type of person who had dirt under her nails at the end of every day.

So I didn’t know why I thought I had a chance to do ballet in the city. I didn’t know why I thought I was cut out for the claustrophobic, clustered life of living in the city.

I snorted. How wrong I’d been, because “real life” wasn’t about how high you could go in the workforce, or what kind of degree you had when you graduated. No, I realized that really living had everything to do with who you surrounded yourself with and what made you happy.

And so after four years of living away from home, getting my degree, and knowing I wouldn’t be dancing anywhere but home, I was now back at Cherry Falls with a bachelor's degree I couldn't even use. It was a pretty depressing outlook on my life.

I kept telling myself I could make it back at Cherry Falls. My dream was to open a dance studio, but this little voice in my head said that's all it was... a dream.

I stared at the one-story, three-bedroom structure I’d once called my childhood home. Not anymore. The wintry wind picked up, and I wrapped my arms around my body and pulled my coat tighter across me, trying to block out the cold, hating myself for having no strength and being too weak that I wanted to reminisce on something from a time long ago.

I knew why my father had sold it shortly before I left for college. I knew he wanted something smaller, more isolated. I knew in his mountain man heart if he was going to be alone he’d do it on his terms.

My cell vibrated in my pocket, and without looking away from the house, I reached in my pocket and grabbed it. I knew who it was without even looking at the screen. There was only one person who’d call. Phillip. My dad.

“Hey,” I said as I exhaled and turned from the house, heading back to my small car that was packed full of my items I’d collected over the years.

I’d left the city eight hours ago before the sun had even risen, driving straight through without stopping and coming right to this house. I’d wanted to see it just once more before putting that part of my life behind me and working toward my future. I’d avoided it every time I’d visited Cherry Falls over the years, as if pretending it was gone would somehow make it not real.

“Hey, sweetheart,” my father said. “I thought you’d be here already. Started getting worried.”

I didn’t tell him that I’d stopped here.

“I’m on my way. I stopped for a little bit since it was a long drive and my car was making a funny clicking noise.” I got into the driver’s seat and turned over the engine, that noise starting up again.

“Come straight here and I'll see if I can figure out what’s wrong.”

I smirked. “Dad, no offense—”

“Yeah, yeah. I know I'm not a mechanic, but hell, just get here, okay? I miss you.”

I nodded even though he couldn't see me. “I’ll see you shortly.” I disconnected the call and tossed my phone onto the passenger seat. I’d heard the loneliness in my father’s voice, and it broke my heart.

I could only imagine how lonely he’d been, and sometimes people retreated into themselves even more to deal with that.

And although I planned on staying with my dad until I could find something more stable, making that permanent wasn’t an option. Not only because I was a twenty-two-year-old woman and wanted to make a place for myself—a home that was just mine—but also because my father only had one room, and there just wasn’t enough room for me there.

So this was a little detour until I found something else, but it would be nice to spend time with him, to catch up, just to re-establish the close relationship we’d had at one time.

Because despite weekly phone calls or seeing each other on holidays, it still felt like we’d grown distant. And I hated that since it was just him and me. We had no family aside from each other, not grandparents or cousins, my mother having passed while giving birth to me.

But loneliness came in many different forms, even if you were surrounded by love and happiness.

And for a young woman, that was heartwarming as much as it was heartbreaking.

But that was all going to change now that I was back at Cherry Falls. I didn’t know what the next step in my life would be, but I knew it couldn’t get any sadder or lonelier than it had been.

At least that’s what I told myself.

 

 

2

 

 

Tristan

 

 

Even living out in the middle of nowhere, the rumor mill was still rampant in Cherry Falls. That’s how I knew the moment Dolly Case stepped back into town.

I’d gotten the call from Ryker, not only a coworker at Blake Brothers Auto Repair where I worked, but also a man I considered a friend. He also ran his mouth more freely than any churchgoing grandmother at Sunday dinner with a purse full of gossip. And therein was my problem—when I’d gotten too drunk three years back, admitted this burning obsession I had for Dolly, and Ryker still hadn’t let me live it down.

And since getting that call, I hadn’t been able to think about anything else. Of course that wasn't saying much when Dolly had been on my mind more times over the last four years than I cared to admit out loud.

I brought the ax over my head and swung it down, splitting the log in half, the two pieces falling away. Although it was December, the sun was out, and most of the snow had melted.

I didn’t need to be chopping wood, had an entire season's worth stacked up in the shed. But I needed something to keep me busy, manual labor that was taxing and that exhausted me.

So here I was, splitting wood I didn’t even need, trying to not think about Dolly Case, and failing fucking miserably.

Dolly was sixteen years younger than me, and I’d never looked at her as someone who I’d ever be with, her age an obstacle I wasn’t about to try and hurdle.

She was too innocent. And to be honest… she was too good for me.

I’d been living in Cherry Falls for the past fifteen years, since I was twenty-two, and never once looked back. My life before Cherry Falls had been hard, and it had mainly been my doing. I’d wanted a fresh start, a new life.

Fighting, drinking, and being labeled the “bad boy” back “home” had worked its way deep into my soul until I’d always felt like I would never amount to anything much.

I’d made my money—good money—doing underground fights, back-alley brawls. It had been the only life I’d known, and I’d embraced the fuck out of it.

I’d been told so many times I wasn’t good enough to be anything more than I was, not just by my deadbeat, alcoholic father, but also from many people who’d been close enough to me to run their mouths.

And I’d accepted it, embraced it until it got to the point that when someone said my name they automatically assumed I was either in jail, had beaten someone up, or was lying in a ditch because my hard life had finally caught up with me.

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