Today's Reading

He chuckles and joins me on the couch this time instead of the hard wooden coffee table. Probably a good thing, since it's older than I am. "Actually, I have been trying to come up with viable options to get you out of it, and I think I may have one."

I feel a spark of energy. "Do tell."

"Move in with us. I already cleared it with the guys."

The spark fizzles right away. "I thought you said viable options. Living in that tiny three-bedroom apartment, tripping over you, Brian, and Darrel is ludicrous. Where would I even sleep?"

"I'll get a mattress to put on my floor, and you can have the bathroom. Brian's gone most of the time anyway, so I can use his."

The fact that I'm actually considering this idea instead of staying with my mom is proof that I've summersaulted into the Valley of Humiliation. Any minute now, Apollyon will begin slinging his arrows at me.

"Just promise you'll consider it." He falls back and mirrors my defeated position. "I need an ally in that apartment."

"The tension between y'all is that bad, huh?"

"It's been unbearable since I got back into town." Cameron's roommates are part of the praise-team band he quit to join Black Carousel in February. The tour they went on was only a small stateside three-month trip, but by the time he came home, resentment had ruined seven years of friendship. "And hey, it would only be until September. Then I could move in with you and we'd be roommates just like we envisioned as kids."

Oh, to have the luxury of being a kid again. When dreams and hopes and wishes don't die through the line of an 1,800-mile-away phone call.

"I guess we did have some epic sleepovers." Water-balloon fights, bike riding until dusk, Star Wars marathons. And then I turned eleven and my dad said no more. That was when Cam and I made a pact that when we became adults, we'd get our own place and stay up all night playing video games and eating junk food.

We turn our heads to face each other, and Cameron takes my hand. "I'll only say I'm sorry once for feeling this way, because truthfully I'm not sorry, which probably makes me the worst friend on the planet. But I'm relieved you didn't go. I need you here."

As young as I can remember, it's always been Cameron and Darcy, Darcy and Cameron. I suppose in a world riddled with failure and disappointment, that one security is worth its weight in gold.


2

I remember a time when I enjoyed going home. When my mom was my best friend and my dad was still my hero and the standard for all the men in my life. Now it's something I dread. Not just because there's been nonstop drama since the day my parents said the word divorce, but also because they've transformed into people I don't recognize.

We were a family that went to church on Sundays and prayed around the dinner table. We'd share our highs and lows for the day, listen to my dad as he'd give some funny anecdote from work while my mom would smile and shake her head because he likely said something inappropriate. My dad has always been the social one: handsome, funny, hardworking. A dreamer, some would say, mostly because he was always hatching some entrepreneurial plan to skyrocket his net worth. We'd be driving and he'd point to a house three times bigger than ours and say, "One day we're going to own a home like this on the lake, and your mom and I will spend our evenings fishing until dusk." He did eventually strike it rich, but instead of buying a lake house, he bought two new suits, a convertible, and an apartment in Dallas. But I'm pretty sure Mom got the fishing poles in the divorce, so there's that.

I trudge up the front steps of my childhood home and try to forget that my dad's car will never again be parked in the garage. Mom's called me four times in the last two days, and I'm not really in the mood for a guilt trip. One hour to fulfill my daughterly duty and then I can get back to my own depression.

"Mom," I call out as I open the front door. The house is clean, impeccably so. I shouldn't be surprised. My dad was the slob in the family.

"In the back, hun."

Her voice is coming from the master bedroom. The same room that once held a king-size bed my brother and I would jump on to snuggle with them on Saturday mornings. I can barely look at the smaller, more feminine bed frame that's there now.

I continue my path, down the hall, past my old room that was long ago turned into an office, and into the bedroom suite my parents added on when they first bought the property.
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