Love Hurts (Clearwater Crossing, 14)

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9780553492996: Love Hurts (Clearwater Crossing, 14)
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Every time Jenna sees Melanie, all she can think about is the kiss her friend shared with Peter. Jenna wants to believe it meant nothing, but her jealous heart tells her that's not true. Maybe she and Peter never should have turned their friendship into romance. And maybe breaking up would be the best thing for them all. . . .

Miguel loves working at the hospital. He's witnessing the incredible skill of the doctors firsthand, and he's making a difference in the lives of sick kids, especially 9-year-old Zach. The nurses have warned him against having favorites, but Miguel can't help getting attached to the brave young boy who's fighting for his life. Besides, Zach's going to get well . . . isn't he?

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Laura Peyton Roberts is the author of numerous books for young readers. She lives in San Diego, California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"I said, what are you doing in that safe?" Mr. Andrews repeated angrily. He swayed slightly in the Andrewses' library doorway but seemed to be growing more sober by the second. "What are those papers you're looking at? Answer me!"

Terrified, Melanie tore her eyes away from her father and snatched up the birth certificates she'd just dropped. More family papers lay strewn about the floor where she sat, and the heart-shaped garnet necklace Trent Wheeler had given her mother was lying out in plain sight. "I was just-- just--"

"Just snooping where you don't belong!" he said, striding toward her in a surprisingly direct line.

He had sounded out of it when he'd first burst into the room, but now his voice had sharpened. His eyes held hers in a harsh, steady gaze, and his steps barely wavered as he walked. He was an experienced alcoholic, and Melanie had seen him suppress the effects of drinking many times before--she'd just never seen him do it so fast.

He must really be furious, she thought, imagining anger burning the liquor out of his system as if he were some sort of human flambé. I'm such an idiot to have tried this with him in the house!

Reaching her, he bent to snatch the birth certificates from her fingers. She watched, paralyzed, as his hand stretched toward the truth she had worked so hard to find, ready to rip it away....

"No!" she cried, yanking the papers out of his grasp. She scrambled to her feet, backing as she rose. Despite her fear, she kept the yellowed old documents clutched to her chest, the names at their tops already burned into her brain. "Who's Angel Wheeler?"

Mr. Andrews froze. He stared at her a moment, as if not sure what he'd heard, and then he seemed to deflate like an old beach ball. His shoulders stooped; the angry color drained from his face. He rubbed a hand across his stubbly chin, then covered his bloodshot eyes. "This isn't how we wanted to tell you."

"Tell me what, Dad? That I have a sister somewhere?"

The instant she spoke, Melanie realized she had to be right. She sucked in a deep breath, eyes popping with her discovery. If Angel was her mother's daughter with Trent...

But her father shook his head, his gaze on the floor. "It's not like that, Melanie. Not exactly, anyway."

Feeling slightly bolder, she double-checked the paper on top of her stack. Name: Angel Allen Wheeler. Mother: Tristyn Allen Wheeler.

"No? It sure looks that way to me. Where is she, Dad?"

He took a step toward her, but Melanie drew back until her spine was against a bookcase.

"You don't understand," he insisted.

"Then why don't you explain it?"

His mouth opened and closed a few times. He shook his head as if trying to clear it. "Why don't we...? Downstairs. I need coffee."

He turned and left the room as abruptly as he'd come in, leaving her pressed against the wall. The door to the safe still stood wide open; the mess she had made still littered the floor. It was as if the scene between them had never happened.

Then the sound of her father's slippers slapping the marble staircase jolted her back to the present...and all the questions that were still unanswered. Hesitating just long enough to slip the garnet necklace into her pocket, Melanie followed her father.

By the time she reached the kitchen, he was already at the sink, filling a mug of instant coffee with hot water from the tap. She started to take a seat at the breakfast bar, but he motioned her over to the nearby sitting room. They sat down on the cold leather furniture, the backyard beyond the windows black with night. Mr. Andrews fiddled with his coffee, swirling the liquid around the cup. When he finally looked up, he seemed to have come to some sort of decision.

"The first thing you ought to know is that your mother always intended to tell you what I'm about to," he said. "She never meant to keep it a secret. She was just waiting for you to be old enough to understand...and then...then..."

Then she died, Melanie filled in silently.

"Melanie, your mother had been married once before she met me. She was young, and impulsive, and the entire thing was a disaster. She wanted you to know, because she hoped you'd learn from her mistakes." Her father sighed. "And because of Angel."

"Tris married a guy she met in high school. She blew off college at the last minute and followed him down here from Iowa. His name was Trent Wheeler, and he said he wanted to marry her right away, but he was a liar, as it turned out. They were here six months before they finally got married. Living in sin, your grandparents called it--they were so angry they didn't even come to the wedding. Eight months later, Angel was born.

"By then your mom already knew she had made some bad choices, but she loved that little girl. Trent was staying out all night, and your grandparents accused her of marrying him because she was pregnant, but Tristyn said that as miserable as they all made her, Angel made her twice that happy." He drained the last of the lukewarm coffee and put down his cup.

"What happened?" Melanie prompted breathlessly.

"Crib death. SIDS. Angel was only a couple of months old."

Melanie gasped, stunned. She felt the loss of what could have been, but not grief, not exactly. Angel's life was still too unreal for her death to cause that type of pain. A little sadness, disappointment...

Mostly, she felt for her mother.

"Poor Mom," she said at last, remembering the naïve teenage Tristyn whose diary she had read.

Her father nodded. "She was devastated. Trent wasn't there for her, and her own parents tried to make it her fault. None of it would have happened, they said, if she'd been married in church and lived in a proper house instead of some filthy apartment."

Mr. Andrews's voice had become angry. "They treated her like dirt. I think they really believed they'd have the upper hand all her life, like they'd never forgive her and she'd always be crawling. But in the end, she was the one who couldn't forgive. When they didn't want to come to our wedding, she cut them right out of her life."

"Why didn't they want--?"

"They never liked me, Melanie. They never approved of me. Maybe they knew what I thought of them. I don't know."

He rubbed his temples and slouched back in his seat. "Your mom and Trent split up after Angel died. He went home, so she stayed here, working. The next year she enrolled in CU. I met her there one day when my Intro to Surveying class was making a map of the campus."

His eyes grew distant. "She was painting a landscape, and I was walking backward over the lawn with one of those stupid stadia rods. Bill Parker was trying to line me up in his sights and he kept waving me over and back, over and back. Finally, I stepped back right over Tristyn's easel. I think that was actually Bill's plan all along. The whole thing came crashing down, paint everywhere..." The smile on her father's face was exquisitely sad. "I loved her instantly."

He rose abruptly. "That's enough for one night. If there's anything else you want to know, you can ask me tomorrow."

"One last thing," Melanie said quickly. "Where is Angel buried?"

"Next to your mother." He shook his head sadly. "I'm so sorry, Melanie, about...all of it. Just know that your mom loved you. Because you can only imagine how much."

He shuffled off, leaving her staring at the blackness outside. Everything fit now. All the unhappiness made sense.

And yet there had been joy, too. Melanie knew her mother had been happy in Clearwater Crossing--incredibly happy, in fact. She had loved Melanie's father, and Melanie, and their big concrete house. Maybe, in a way, her painful past had made her later contentment that much greater.

So maybe there's still hope for me.

Rising from the sofa, she pressed a hand to the window, as if an answering hand might press back from the other side. Her flesh met only her own reflection. Would she ever find a guy who'd make the bad things fade away? Someone who would love her as completely as her father had loved her mother?

Melanie laid her cheek on the cool glass. Was there anyone like that out there for her?

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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