Read Reluctant Guardian Online

Authors: Melissa Cunningham

Reluctant Guardian

Melissa Cunningham

 

 

Clean Teen Publishing

 

Copyright

 

© 2013 by Melissa Cunningham

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

 

Cover concept and design by Marya Heiman Copyright © 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing

 

Editing done by Cynthia Shepp

 

Typography done by Courtney Nuckels

 

Cover design done by Marya Heiman

 

Reluctant Guardian is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author's over-active imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Clean Teen Publishing

PO Box 561326

The Colony, TX 75056

 

www.CleanTeenPublishing.com

 

Dedicated to my dear friend, Lisa.

Where ever you are,

may you find the peace and happiness

that always seemed to allude you.

 

For more information about our content disclosure, please utilize the QR code above with your smart phone or visit us at
www.cleanteenpublishing.com
.

 

Table of Contents

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Other CTP Books

 

PROLOGUE

~Alisa~

I should have realized that suicide was not my best option. But, like most teenage girls, I hadn't planned ahead. I never pictured my parents and brothers picking up the pieces of my broken life, or the empty hole I would leave in my wake.

I honestly didn't think anyone cared that much.

The medication I'd been taking hadn't helped matters either. My doctor prescribed it after the death of my beloved grandmother, who'd lived with us since I was a baby. Three months later, my best friend, Natasha, died from a brain tumor. Nothing could have shattered me more. Not just because Natty and I were closer than Siamese twins, but also because we shared a dark, horrifying secret.

Something I'd never told anyone.

Not even my parents.

Once she was gone, I didn't know how to shoulder that weight on my own. I was drowning in sorrow. I'd fallen into a dark pit and I had every right to take that antidepressant. My parents thought it would help as well.

I should have been more open about my feelings. I should have confided in my mom and dad and explained that the medication wasn't working. That in reality, I felt worse. But I didn't. I didn't realize the drug was affecting me adversely... until it was too late.

The only thing I wanted that night was to
not
feel anymore, to not have my heart ripping in two, and to not cry so hard that my whole body ached.

Would it be painful if I rammed my car into the tall pine at the curve of the road? Would it do the trick or just turn me into a vegetable for the rest of my life?

I gambled.

I took a chance and got what I wanted.

Death.

CHAPTER ONE

~Paradise Lost~

Alisa

 

The headlights of my car shine brightly into the woods, pulsing with an eerie glow with each swipe of the windshield wipers. Deep shadows stretch past the foliage, the seat-belt sensor dings in the solemn silence.

I'm alone, staring at my motionless body as blood drains from a large gash on my forehead. The crimson rivulets drip down to my shirt, spreading like blossoming roses. For a moment, remorse tugs at my heart. I shouldn't have done it. I shouldn't have given up yet.

But things will be better now. I'm sure of it. No more nightmares, no more panic attacks, no more medications. And, definitely no more curious glances from friends, neighbors, or even my own family.

They all gossiped behind my back, and no one had truly cared. At least that I noticed. My family loved me, sure, but I'd been a drain on them, exhausting in my need for constant reassurance. The last conversation I had with my older brother had ended in a fight, and even my parents were fed up.

Just this morning my mother had lost her temper and yelled at me, saying she was tired of my self-pity, tired of my complaining, tired of my crying, and if I didn't clean up my act, they'd resort to more serious measures. I'm not sure what those measures would be, but it didn't sound good.

So, here I am, freeing my family of the endless annoyance of
me.
They'll be sad at first sure, but they'll get over it.

People always do.

I look around, wondering why no one is here to meet me. All my life I've heard that loved-ones will appear and take my hand to guide me through the pearly gates of heaven.

So far, death is a disappointment.

Maybe my atheistic theory is true—that there is no God, no heaven, no angels, no afterlife, and I am just experiencing a lack of oxygen, my brain creating fanciful scenes of a heavenly occurrence.

When a strong tug pulls at my chest, I grow anxious. The world around me dims and I move forward, feeling drawn toward a strange pinpoint of light. It draws me as though a string is attached to my body, like a doomed fish being reeled in.

At first I resist, afraid, but curiosity wins out, and I move with it.

Then recognition dawns. The light. The pull. This is it! There really is a heaven and I am going there. It's all true! Relief floods through me in a wave of happiness. Deep down, I hadn't wanted to completely disappear. I'd wanted the pain to end, yeah, but I also wanted—no,
needed—
to know that death wasn't final, that my Gram and my best friend, Natty, live on. That their radiant lives weren't snuffed out completely.

Any minute now, the heaviness in my heart would dissipate and I'd be free, dancing through daffodils on heaven's hillside. I'll be in the arms of my best friend and grandmother. I'll be assigned my own silver-lined cloud.

Any minute now...

I follow the light, but after floating for what seems like forever, I realize that the rush of bliss—that blanket of warmth I've read about, still hasn't come,
and
I don't feel any different than I did before I crashed my car. I still carry my grievous burdens. I still ache over the death of my friend and the loss of my grandmother. The memories breathe inside me, alive and tormenting.

With one last glance over my shoulder, I gaze at my surroundings. The woods and broken car are far behind me like a distant dream.

I step forward, leaving behind the world I long to forget. Before me is a beautiful meadow of wildflowers. Many of the blossoms are varieties I've never seen before—the colors, vivid and bright, and some, blindingly white. Reveling in the glorious scent of their fragrance, I forget for a moment why I am even here.

On the other side of the meadow lies a wide, glittering bridge embedded with diamonds, complete with silver handrails. I move through the swaying flowers, running my fingers along the tops of their velvety petals.

Wonder fills me.

This world is so big, so bright, and so beautiful. Hope blossoms like a helium-filled balloon, lifting my weary soul. My life will be wonderful now. I can release the heartache of my old existence. I won't have to think of the misery Natty and I endured for so many years.

A lazy smile spreads across my face. I am free.

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