All of the Lights - K. Ryan

PROLOGUE

March 19th

27 Years Ago

She waits at the beach just like he told her to. Her eyes flick down to the postcard in her hand, his messy handwriting detailing this long-awaited meeting, and her stomach flutters in anticipation.

The crisp, spring air rushes around her and she pulls her sweater close around her shoulders, tucking some stray auburn hair behind her ear. Her eyes fall on the peaceful water in front of her and for the first time in too long, her lips lift into a smile. She's happy again. She's hopeful again.

Things will be different, she tells herself. Nothing will get in their way because they have so much more to fight for this time. So much more at stake.

She has to believe he'll come. She has to believe he'll tell her what she's wanted to hear for years. She has to believe that all of their suffering, all of their pain, and all of their heartbreak wasn't for nothing.

The familiarity of this scene at Castle Island spikes painful shards of hope in her chest that she just can't shake. He's always shown up. Always kept his promises.

So she waits. And she waits. And she waits. Even when the sun's rays color the water crimson and rust, she still waits.

Finally, the postcard drifts to the ground and the wind catches it, twirling it away from the broken, defeated woman sobbing on the bench.

CHAPTER ONE

Rae

I never saw him coming.

I couldn't turn around fast enough. Didn't have enough time to run. Didn't have enough time to even scream for help. Not like it would've mattered.

Even now, the shards of white-hot pain vibrate in my shattered knee, a nightmare of a memory I just can't shake. All I can remember are two pairs of eyes. One dark. One light. One right after the other before I crumble to the ground in a pool of my own blood.

"Do you have any more of these?"

I shake my head, blinking through my hazy daydream, and glance up from behind the cash register. She holds up the jeans I just brought her and I press a sympathetic smile on my face.

It's 8:45 on a Friday night and she's here, all by herself, trying on every single pair of size eight skinny jeans in my sister's store, but I'll indulge her crazy.

"Sure, Claire," I smile tightly as I slink toward the stockroom. "Let me just check in the back."

To her credit, Claire doesn't acknowledge the fact that she's been in here so many times I know not only her name, but this whole routine, too. Instead, she nods gratefully and heads back to her fitting room.

What I should really tell her is that mustard color just isn't doing anything for her thighs, but if she thinks she looks great in them, then who am I to tell her any different? Besides, Chic to Chic needs all the help it can get.

Naming the store Chic to Chic doesn't even scratch the surface on the iceberg of issues plaguing it. Even the casual observer could see all the mistakes she's made, but Lucy, whether it's blissful ignorance or stupid carelessness, just doesn't seem to care that her store is bleeding money every single day. Then again, calling it her store is a stretch. Especially since it implies she actually put her own money into it. She really isn't losing anything.

I scoot around racks of back-stock and immediately grab the only other two size eights in that mustard color. Claire and I have played this game before and it always ends with her wanting to try on every pair of any given style