In a nutshell: Can she discover her daughter’s secret before it destroys their family?
When Randi Miller discovers that her daughter Sarah’s preteen behavior is more than typical hormonal angst, she struggles to get Sarah the help she needs while she watches the rest of her life fall apart around her. Randi has made some mistakes in her life—mistakes that she feels continue to haunt her. In trying to pick up the pieces, though, she feels that she has neglected her children; she works full-time, attends college, and maintains a casual friends-with-benefits relationship with a man she is hesitant to admit she loves, and in doing so, feels that she has missed the obvious signs that something bad has happened to her daughter.
Trivia: This book took me several years to write, and the last third of it was completely rewritten. It’s another story where justice is not served. Real life is like that, and it sucks, but we don’t always get to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him. Randi’s family doesn’t either.
How Randi resembles Jade: I worked in a video store once. It was one of my favorite jobs. (And, yes, it had a huge porn section!)
Randi Miller: A single mother trying to balance family life, school, work, and her personal needs, and she is finding it harder and harder to do.
Justin Anderson: Randi’s friend (with benefits), a good looking no-strings-attached kind of guy. Street smart but a player, and Randi’s not sure how much she can trust him.
Sarah: Randi’s daughter. She is in middle school and is having psychological problems that her mother is not quite sure how to fix.
Devin: Randi’s son.
Kevin Campbell: Sarah’s middle school counselor who considers dating Randi.
Kent: Sarah’s father.
Mike: Devin’s father and Randi’s ex-husband, Mike is an abusive man whom Randi is glad to have out of her life.
Rebecca: Sarah’s psychologist who tries to help the girl discover what the root of her problem is.
Nancy: Randi’s (sometimes understanding) boss.
Noreen: Randi’s nosy neighbor and sometimes babysitter.
Jenny: Justin’s maybe girlfriend who tries to cause Randi lots of grief.
Randi went back to the kitchen and put the board game away. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she heard Justin and Sarah talking. And Sarah laughed. Randi couldn’t remember the last time she’d heard that sound. Sarah’s laugh mitigated the ire in Randy, so she was only mildly irritated when Justin came back to the kitchen. “All tucked in.” He grabbed the cigarette he’d only half-smoked and lit it again as Randi put the lid on the game. “Don’t tell me you’re still pissed off.”
She shook her head. “Exactly what do you expect?”
“Aw, come on, Randi.”
The phone rang. Randi wondered who could be calling this late. “Hello?”
“Hi. This is Jenny. I wondered if Justin is there.”
Randi rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yeah. Just a second. I think he was just getting ready to leave.” She scowled and handed Justin the phone, mouthing the word, “Girlfriend.”
She took the game to the living room and put it the closet. She could only imagine what was being said on the other end of the phone, but Justin was growing angrier. “God, woman, I don’t have a leash attached to my neck.” He paused. “I never said we were doing anything tonight.” He smashed his cigarette out in the ashtray on the table. “I already told you Randi and I are friends, and you can’t stop that.” He raised his voice. “You need to get a life. One without me.”
Randi couldn’t help but smile and she tried to hide her face from Justin. He deserved this. Karmic payback. She lit another cigarette and sat on the table, swinging her legs, relishing the moment.
“Think what you want.” Justin was holding the phone with his left hand, his right hand splayed against the refrigerator but slowly moving itself into a fist. “Whatever. Know what? I’m gonna fuck the shit outta my friend now, so I gotta go. Have a great night, sweetheart.”
Randi just stared at him as he punched the off button on the phone. Great–give Jenny another reason to hate and harass her. “Thanks a lot, Justin.”
“Not you too.” The phone rang again.
She pointed at the phone in his hand. “That’s what I mean. Now she’s going to freaking call here all night.” Randi hopped off the table and took the phone from Justin. As the phone rang a third time, she turned the ringer off. “Shit.”
Justin said, “Chill out, okay. I don’t need any shit from you.”
“It’s only fair, friend.”
He grabbed her around the waist. “I wasn’t kidding, you know.”
Randi managed to maintain eye contact and licked her lips. “It’s not going to happen.” And she meant it.
He continued to look straight in her eyes. He cocked an eyebrow. “You know I usually get what I want.”
“Not tonight. You need to go home.” She didn’t have the strength to push him away and wasn’t even going to try. Instead, she turned her head away. He started kissing her neck. Damn it–he always knew what to do. But she was still angry. She was not going to let him make love to her tonight. “Knock it off, Justin.” She brought her arms up to his chest and pushed against him half-heartedly. But he continued to kiss her neck. “I said stop it.”
“I know what you need. And no matter how pissed off I made you,” he said, his left hand moving to the front of her jeans; she hadn’t even realized that her hands had stopped pushing against him and were now up at his shoulders–still not holding him but no longer pushing him away, “I know you need a good lay. The last time was with that guy.” She felt the zipper on her pants slide down. “I can’t even tell you the last time we were together. You know you can’t say no to me, Randi. You’ve never been able to tell me no.”