Kristen Ashley’s fourth River Rain novel is out this week, and you can read an excerpt below from this emotional new tale of redemption, forgiveness, friendship, and second chances.
My daughter was eighteen now, and after those agonizing years long ago when she came to understand the concept of having a daddy, and it dawned on her others had one, but she did not, she didn’t give me any impression she had missed a man like that in her life.
She’d begun doing weird shit, like right now, staring at me hopefully after I had a private conversation with a “tennis stud.”
I sensed this was because she was eighteen. She was graduating next May. And after that, she’d be gone.
Which petrified me.
Because first, I was a mother and that shit happened when you were a mom, no matter how cool of a mom you were. And I imagined myself one of the coolest moms there was (though Cadence might argue that, at least on occasion).
But mostly it was because she wanted to work for a place like Judge Oakley and Hale Wheeler’s Trail Blazer program.
And not just that.
She also wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a drummer (and she was a damn good one, and I knew music, so I wasn’t prejudiced (much)). She wrote songs as well (and those were damn good too, Lorde-esque meanderings, but there were tinges of Taylor’s storytelling and honesty in Cadence’s stuff).
But it wasn’t just that either.
She further wanted to be a veterinarian, both the “Tame stuff, Mom, in an office. But also, wild stuff, like Dr. Oakley Yukon Vet.” (Which was something else to be petrified about, because Dr. Oakley jumped out of planes and was known to be rushed by musk ox.)
And then there was backpacking through Europe, “Just, you know, to see what’s up with that.”
Also, her desire to film a Travels with My Father type of thing, except it would be Adventures with My Mother because she wanted to drag me along and make a movie about it.
In other words, she was her mother’s daughter, but she had no plan. She hadn’t applied to any schools. She hadn’t nailed anything down.
She was just going to “You know, let the universe guide me, like it did you.”
My mother, if she was alive, which sadly she was not, would bust a gut laughing at that. I could hear her voice cackling, “The pigeons have come home to roost! Finally.”
This because I put Mom through the same thing.
My father, who was alive, sadly, because he was an asshole, probably would have lots to say not only about the scope and ambiguity of Cadence’s plans, but also the actual plans, none of which, except the veterinarian part, he’d approve of.
Since I didn’t talk to him, I had no idea what any of those things he had to say were.
Therefore, now, I sensed Cadence understood that I’d soon be alone.
And although I’d tried to hide it from her, I sensed she knew I still missed her father like an ache. She knew because I could be immortal and live thousands of years, and I’d pine for him to touch his live wire to that frisson that hummed in me, and I’d pine for that until everything blinked out of existence and there was nothing but oblivion.
So now, my guess was, she didn’t want me to be alone.
And considering the fact she knew I was heterosexual, she was angling for me to find a man.
That was not going to happen.
And if it should, it sure as hell would not be with Tom Pierce.
“I don’t know him very well,” I told her. “I only met him a couple of times. But the last time I spoke to him, he’d done something to upset me, and I phoned and shared how disappointed I was in him. I wasn’t sure how he’d respond to me contacting him, and if it got ugly, I didn’t want you to overhear.”
“Did it get ugly?”
Fodder for thought, because no, he didn’t make it ugly in the slightest. But I wasn’t going to allow myself to chew on that.
“What did he do to upset you?”
“Just man stuff many men do.”
“Like, we’re not going to talk about what.”
“Cadence,” I said softly. “I met him a couple of times, but I liked him very much in those times. We really connected. I thought he was a tremendous individual. When someone like that disappoints you, it stings. And I’m sorry, but how it stings is private.”
“So he fell off your pedestal.”
I froze, which was no surprise, considering fierce cold was sweeping through me.
“I’m not sure that’s how it went, baby,” I replied.
“You met him a couple of times and you thought he was a ‘tremendous individual.’ No one knows if someone is tremendous if they don’t truly know them, which means spending time with them.” She made a scoffing noise and decreed, “Pedestal city. By the way, Mom, those pedestals come in one size and the top is only a couple of inches wide. No matter how hard they try, no one can stay balanced up there. Everyone forced on one falls off.”