Violet is Blue
Order Violet is Blue for/from:
Other Books in the Hothouse Series
Read an Excerpt from Violet is Blue:
I jogged down the worn dirt path in the park like I did every morning. My breath was even; my heart rate at a hundred, sweat was just starting to dot my forehead and the skin on the back of my neck. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, then opened them, enjoying the first rays of sun on my face. It was here where I always felt the freest, the most comfortable with my life. Running always made me feel alive and in control.
I followed the path through the thick copse of trees, taking in a deep breath of fresh air. I couldn’t imagine living surrounded only by concrete. I’d go mad if I didn’t have trees and grass to run through, run over. Although, I’d been accepted to NYU, I wasn’t sure I was going to go. Sure, Central Park was nearby, but there were too many people all vying for the same fresh bite of air and worn path.
If my dad were still here he’d tell me to forge my own path no matter where I went.
As I followed the route over the small hill, I could see the rise of the cast iron gates of the cemetery. I ran along the fence then came to the open gate, turning into it and jogging up the rise of another small hill. On top I found the caretaker scrubbing something off my father’s headstone.
He looked up as I approached.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
He stood and shook his head. “Nothing to worry about, Miss. I took care of it.” He quickly grabbed his gear and scrambled out of there leaving me alone. Just the way I liked it.
I took a big swig out of my water bottle then ran my fingers over the top of the stone. “Morning Daddy.”
He’d been gone four years now and I still missed him every day. We’d been super close. And his sudden death had a dramatic impact on my life. It had sent me into a deep depression that I still struggled with. Weekly counseling had helped me get to a place where I didn’t cry every morning and every night hoping and praying my dad would knock on my bedroom door. My counselor had suggested the jogging as therapy. And it had worked immensely. Now I could visit my dad’s grave every day without remorse, without guilt.
I’d been able to understand that the car accident hadn’t been my fault.
After a long hot shower, and changing clothes, I stomped down the stairs of my house, with my backpack over my shoulder. I had to get a move on if I didn’t want to be late for school. I still had to pick up Dahlia and Ivy, and those two were never on time.
And yes, I was fully aware that my two best friends’ names were names of flowers, as was mine. Some at school called us the Flower Power Squad, others, less generous called us the GGs, which stood for Garden Gnomes. To me, they were just my hothouse girls.
“Mom, Mark, I’m leaving.”
My mom, coffee cup in hand, came around the corner out of the kitchen. “Ivy called and said not to pick her up. Her mom insists on driving her.” She arched one perfectly manicured eyebrow in question. Ivy’s mom was a mystery to everyone that knew her.
“Right. I forgot that Ms. Watts is trying this new getting in touch with a teenager thing. She saw it on Oprah or something.”
Mark, my step-dad, came around the corner to join them in the foyer. “Maybe we should try that.” He swung his arm around my mom’s shoulders.
I smiled. “Don’t bother. You’re more of a teenager than I am.”
He laughed, knowing I wasn’t digging at him for being younger than my mom. I’d known Mark for years even before he married my mom. He’d been friends with my dad before. I first remember meeting him when I was nine or ten at some company party. He gave me a stuffed polar bear which I called Mr. Freezy. Sometimes I thought it was weird that my mom started to date him, and then married him. But I never resented my mom in finding happiness, even if it was without my dad.
Mark never tried to take my dad’s place in the house, or in my life. He’d been up front at the start that he just wanted to be my friend. I’d always appreciated him for that. Because at the beginning I hadn’t been so accepting. I’d thrown a tantrum or two his way.
Twenty minutes later, I pulled up to the curb in front of an older Colonial house that looked more at home in the south then it did in LA. I tooted the horn on my Mercedes and waited for my best friend Dahlia to come out. I was just about to honk again when the front door opened and Dahlia strutted outside in her three inch platform shoes and barely there skirt.
She slid into the passenger side. “Morning Hooker.”
The drive to school was a flurry of non-stop chatter from Dahlia about celebrity gossip that she feasted on every day, and her trying to find the right song on my iPod for the morning’s drive. By the time she found it, we’d pulled into the school parking lot and parked.
As we crossed the lot, Dahlia asked me, “Did Jordan phone you again last night?
“What an ass.”
“I wish he’d get over it. It’s been a week. You’d think he’d get the idea by now, that we’re not getting back together.”
“That would cause him to think. Which we both know is impossible.”
For the past two and a half years, Jordan Young, star quarterback, all around school golden boy, had been my boyfriend. Everyone had loved us together. All my friends thought he was the shiznit. That I was the luckiest girl alive to nab him. Even my mom and step-dad liked him. Mark had once told he was the perfect guy for me. Up until a week ago, he’d been the perfect specimen of a boyfriend.
Then he slept with Jenny Cobb, the school slut and I realized that he’d been a player all along. That I’d just been too blind to see it.
Together, me and Dahlia neared the school. Unfortunately we had to pass the usual place the popular boys in school gathered. A place we would usually gather at as well, but not this time. Not with Jordan holding court.
I hiked my school bag higher on my shoulder and looked the other way as we walked by.
“Morning ladies,” Isaac said, giving us a deep dramatic bow.
Dahlia smiled and finger waved at him. “Morning Isaac.”
I knew Dahlia had a thing for Isaac who was the smart-ass of the group but I couldn’t let that get in the way of my avoiding Jordan at any cost. I really couldn’t even stand to look at him.
“Hey Violet, you giving my man a hard time again?” Nick grinned at me as he slapped Jordan on the back.
He was one of Jordan’s lackeys. I knew that he secretly worshipped Jordan. I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if he had an altar in his closet with one of Jordan’s jock straps at center stage.
“Shut up, Nick,” Dahlia said.
“C’mon D, let’s go.” I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Obviously, Jordan wasn’t going to make it easy for me. He stepped into my path. “Can I talk to you please?”
“Why? What could you possibly have to say?”
“That I’m sorry. That she means nothing to me.”
“She must have meant something, if you risked breaking us up.”
“I made a mistake. Can’t we start over?” He reached for me, to touch my face. But I pulled back and avoided his hand.
“We have nothing to talk about. It’s over. Deal with it.” I turned on my heel and marched off towards the school.
Dahlia had to rush to catch up to me. I glanced over my shoulder one last time, and caught the look of anger on Jordan’s face. He didn’t look none too pleased at being brushed off.
“Girl, do you think that was wise?” Dahlia asked.
I stopped and looked at her. “What?”
“Embarrassing him in front of his boys. He was pissed.”
“I don’t care. He had it coming. I’m sick of his poor me attitude. Like it was my fault he stuck his dick in that slut Jenny.”
“Hey, I’m just saying that it might be a little tense for you with the crew, you know?”
I looked away from Dahlia. My gaze caught another’s. A boy with wild black hair, lip piercings, and tattoos snaking around his arms. He was smoking a cigarette and staring right at me. I knew who he was. Devon Schmidt didn’t go unnoticed by anyone. Most of the guys in the school wanted to kick his ass, and most of the girls liked looking at him, but never would admit to wanting to do more than just look.
I knew Devon from years ago. And I already knew what his lips felt like.
Flustered by his intense stare, I quickly looked away from him and back at Dahlia. “Maybe I don’t care about the crew anymore.”
Dahlia put her arm around mine and pulled me toward the school doors. “Don’t worry, Hooker. At least you have me.”
“Thanks,” I laughed, “I feel better now.”
“Hey, what’s up?”
I turned to see our other friend Ivy striding toward us with her long tanned legs and bouncy blond ponytail. Ivy was a cheerleader and always wore the shortest skirt possible to show off her impossibly long lean legs, which made me jealous as hell.
“What happened to you this morning?” Dahlia asked.
“Christ, my mom wants us to bond.”
“It can’t be that bad,” I said.
Ivy snorted. “Oh please, she has us scheduled for a spa day tomorrow.”
I tried not to laugh. I knew how overzealous Ivy’s mom could get. “What’s wrong with that?”
Ivy gave me a look. Both me and Dahlia laughed.
Dahlia tugged on Ivy’s hair. “Grin and bear it. At least she wants to spend time with you. My mother would rather blow her boytoy Roderick all day. I wish my father would catch them at it so the charade would stop and they could get divorced already.”
I cringed. “Too much info there Dahlia.”
“Oh, you love it.”
Together, we went into the school to start our day. I just hoped that I could avoid Jordan as long as possible. I didn’t want to talk to him, didn’t want to deal with him. I just wanted him out of my life. But I knew how hard that was going to be, since everything I did, and everything I was, had been wrapped up in him in some way. My friends dated his friends. His parties were our parties. I even had two classes with him.
On days like this, I wished I could just escape my life. Go somewhere else, be someone else.
And just as I went into the school I sensed someone watching me. I turned to see Devon behind me in line to get in the doors, and I wondered not for the first time what it would be like to disappear with him.
When I came home after school there was no one around. My mom and step-dad worked from home—they had a real estate company together, my dad’s formally—so they were usually in their office when I arrived. But not today.
I bounded up the stairs to the room to get changed into my jogging gear. Today was a two jog kind of day. I always ran in the morning, but it had been a long arduous day trying to duck Jordan that I needed the extra two hours of mind-numbing exercise. It was the only time I could just let everything go.
I tossed my book bag onto my bed, then stripped off my t-shirt and jeans, leaving them on the floor. I’d put them away when I got back from my run so my mom wouldn’t be on my butt about it. After pulling on a pair of shorts, tank top, and my runners, I grabbed my iPod and strapped it to my arm. Music helped me keep a good steady rhythm.
Tucking my house key into a small pocket in my shorts, I bounded out of my room and ran right into a man just outside my bedroom door.
My heart leapt into my throat. “Jesus.”
“I’m sorry. Are you all right?”
I laughed although I nearly jumped out of my skin. “Patrick. What are you doing up here?”
“I came up to tell you I was here in the office, and that Hannah and Mark had gone out to a showing.”
“You scared the crap out of me.”
“I guess I should’ve waited until you came down again.” He gave me a lop-sided grin that made my belly clench just a little.
I wasn’t angry at him. Patrick was a good guy. He worked for my mom and step-dad and was at the house almost every day. So I’d known him for at least year now. I liked him being around, especially when my parents were gone. Not that I didn’t like being home alone, I did most days, but sometimes, I liked knowing there was someone downstairs that would help me if I needed it. Patrick was a stand-up guy, and in didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes.
My mom would kill me if she knew I’d harbored a few fantasies about Patrick. The guy was tall and lean, and wore the shit out of his suit. And his eyes were bluer than the sky sometimes and when he looked at me through the lens of his thick black-rimmed glasses, I swore they lit up just a little.
Even though he was six years older than me, I was eighteen now, so I figured I could fantasize about him all I wanted. He was fair game when I masturbated.
“I checked in the office when I first got home. I didn’t see you.”
He pushed his glasses up higher on his nose. He seemed a little nervous. “Oh, I must’ve been in the bathroom.”
We walked down the stairs together.
“How was school?”
“Okay. My history teacher threw a fit in class today. Ivy thought Napoleon was a type of ice cream.”
Patrick laughed. “Well, she’s not the brightest bulb on the tree.”
I slapped his arm. “Hey. I thought you were a nice guy.”
“I am a nice guy.” He grinned. “So you glad it’s almost over?”
“Yeah, only thirty three more days.”
“Then what’s the plan?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“What about NYU?”
I shrugged. I had yet to tell my mom that I didn’t want to go. “We’ll see.”
Patrick adjusted his glasses. “I won’t keep you any longer from your run.”
“Thanks Pat. I’ll see you later.”
After my run, I felt a little better. My mind was definitely clearer even if my thighs and shins ached from pushing myself so hard. I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, cracked it and chugged half of it down. I wiped at my mouth, then drained the rest.
“Have a good run?”
Startled, I spun around to see Mark behind me, munching on an orange.
“Good. How was the showing?”
He frowned. “How did you know we had one?”
“Pat told me. He was doing up some paper work when I came home from school.”
“Really? I thought he left when we did.”
“He was probably trying to impress the boss with his diligence. You know what a slave driver the boss is.”
He snickered. “Yeah, your mother can be quite the tyrant.”
My mom entered just as he finished his sentence. She was smiling. “You better not be talking about me.”
Mark shrugged. “See what I mean?”
I laughed. I liked how Mark and my mom could joke around with each other one minute and be loving the next. I liked that Mark’s eyes always lit up when my mom walked into the room. It made me happy that my mom had found love again after my dad had died. And that I had found another adult I could depend on. Mark had once told me he’d always be there for me no matter what. And I believed him. He was fiercely loyal like that I noticed.
That made me think about Jordan. Maybe I would find something better, a relationship that was based on something other than high school standards, high school ideals. I wanted a guy who made my heart race. A guy who could make me feel everything. All Jordan had ever really made me feel was frustrated and bored.
My mom handed me a red envelope. “This was left for you in the mail box.”
My name was scrawled across it in neat flowing handwriting.
“Is that from Jordan?” Mark asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe. Except this isn’t really his style.”
“Maybe he’s changing?”
I shook my head. “Doubtful. I know how much you liked him, but I don’t foresee a fancy little garden wedding in the future.”
“That’s okay. I don’t want to give you away, anyhow.” He put an arm around me and pulled me in to kiss my on the top of my head. It was something my dad had always done. “You’re all mine.”
I gave him a smile and pulled away gently. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I wasn’t comfortable with his actions. It was the first time he’d done that, and it made my stomach clench a little.
“I’m going to go do some homework.”
I ran up the stairs to my room. Once inside, I shut the door and sat on my bed. I fingered the envelope, almost dreading opening it. I really hated that Jordan wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t endearing to me, it was stubborn and selfish.
Finally, I opened it and slid out the single piece of paper and read the words written on it.
The Nymph that undoes me, is fair and unkind;
Her mouth, from whence wit still obligingly flows,
The desperate Lover can hope no redress;
I knew the poem was a famous one, I just didn’t know who wrote it. There was no way Jordan or any other guy could write something like that. It was both beautiful and creepy, and it gave me a bit of uneasy feeling. This was probably not the result the sender was hoping for. It was the last line that made me queasy, that and the fact he put my name in the poem.
Someone knocked at my door. Then it opened and my mom peeked in. “Everything all right?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
She sat on the bed beside me. “Was it from Jordan?”
“I don’t know. It’s unsigned. But I don’t think so.”
“A secret admirer maybe?” She smiled and nudged me in the side.
I shrugged. “It’s weird.”
“No it’s exciting.” My mom wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “Maybe there’s some romantic boy out there too shy to reveal himself.”
“Yeah, Mom, that’s creepy, not romantic.”
“You girls are so jaded now.” She sighed, then stood up.
When she was gone, I lie back on my bed and read the poem again. Maybe this was romantic. Maybe this was a gesture from some guy hopelessly in love with me. If only.
I shook my head and let the paper fall from my fingers. I wished I had my phone so I could call Dahlia and Ivy about it. Unfortunately I busted it and it was in getting repaired. I could use the landline, but decided I’d tell them tomorrow.
Tonight I was just going to chillax and forget about boys and love and relationships. I was going to grab all the junk food I could find in the house, and watch season two of Sherlock. Tonight was all about my fake boyfriend Sherlock Holmes and his adorable love interest John Watson.