Bonus Scene: Showcase and Shutterbugs, a Rachel Bonus Scene for Rules and Roses
Congratulations and THANK YOU for hitting 500 reviews on Rules and Roses. It’s hard to believe that book is a little over two years old, but the best part of Frankie and the boys for me is how people keep discovering them, keep finding them on their journey, and keep joining them. We’ve had a few bonus scenes for R&R over the last couple of years, but in honor of 500 reviews and a few other key facts, this bonus scene is going to be special.
Five minutes after I got the last restriction removed from my driver’s license, I had to resist the urge to scream. Despite all her protests about me spending money on driver’s ed, wasting some of my college money on a car, and even all the hours I plagued my poor uncle to play the role of guinea pig and licensed driver while I practiced, my mother crowed like it was her achievement and not mine.
She hadn’t gotten off the phone, not once. First it was the grandparents. Then my other aunts and uncles. My cousins. Her cousins. All the way back to the house, she chatted away to everyone who wasn’t me about the achievement. It was eye-roll worthy, but I ignored it. Let her crow.
I had a driver’s license, a car, and the insurance paid up for the next six months. I was doing great! The funny thing was, Mom didn’t even notice I didn’t follow her out of the car after I pulled up to the house to let her out.
With so many family living with us, the driveway was already a jigsaw puzzle of parked cars in varying ages from a couple of years to a couple of decades old. My uncle’s favorite clunker was parked proudly in the garage. Then again, it earned that spot because it was broken down and we’d have to shove it out and down the driveway.
Periodically, he went out and tinkered with it. More than once he’d gotten the engine started, it would bellow black smoke, backfire a couple of times and promptly die all over again.
Then again, it was a forty-five year old car, that was older than he was. But he loved the damn thing. In fact, he was out there smoking a cigarette with a kind of indulgent grin on his face when I saluted him from the car. He gave me a thumbs up and then I pulled away.
The car gave me the kind of freedom I’d craved for the last four years. Well, more like for my whole life, but it was only in the last four years that I’d begun to discover that I was an oddball even in my quirky, non-traditional family. Go figure.
Too tall. My nose was too big. My attitude too sharp. My laughter too loud. My voice too cutting. I didn’t participate enough in school. I didn’t run with the right crowd. I didn’t have goals. The last one was laughable. Also, most of those weren’t my immediate family’s opinions, but my far more conservative grandparents who’d wanted me to move to Ohio for high school.
As Uncle Basil would often say, “Fuck that.”
Keeping my eye on the speedometer, I cut across town toward the Rappaport Center. It housed the senior community center, the library, recreation center, the new town hall, and a few city offices. It was also host to some modern art installations including a huge metal piece that played a tone as the wind passed through it.
Creepy fucking thing.
It was also located on a huge park area that had walking trails, creeks, trees, and the best places to get some “nature” photography that didn’t involve going all the way out to the lake. Perfect for my latest assignment. I wanted to submit a series to a showcase in autumn. I’d won two years running, both offered up a nice tidy sum toward college.
The more the merrier.
Parked, I pulled out my favorite camera. It was older than I was, but it still took excellent depth images. I had a much newer digital one—Uncle Basil had given it to me for Christmas—but when it came to art, I liked working with my shutterbug.
I was halfway across the parking lot and doing my best to ignore the melting temperatures sending up dizzying waves of heat from the pavement when a squeal of laughter erupted ahead of me. A familiar, gorgeous blonde pursued a much larger, thick-headed jock.
Her shirt was soaked revealing the curve of her bathing suit beneath it. The dark-headed jock cut away as she sent a splash of water from her cup at him, but she missed.
“Asshole,” she declared and the asshole in question just laughed.
“Aww, you’re gonna hurt my feelings.”
She shot him her middle finger as she turned a disgruntled expression on her clothing. In this heat, that thin cotton shirt would dry in no time. She plucked at the fabric and let out the most pitiful of sighs.
I was thirty or forty feet away and in the shade of one of five trees growing up on the little green strips between the parking spaces. On a whim, I raised my camera up and focused on her.
Frankie Curtis was a pain in my ass. Smart as a whip and twice as beautiful, we competed in a lot of areas from grades to—well to not much else. I didn’t worry about the social scene. I could play the game well enough to keep the school’s more vicious bitches off my back and cultivated my reputation with care.
Curated you might say. Very few fucked with me because I would fuck with them right back. Except Frankie. She never tried to sabotage me and she never minced words either. Surrounded by four of the most besotted, numbskull idiots, she also didn’t know what she was missing either.
Most people gave her a wide berth. Guys anyway. Girls who wanted to date said besotted idiots, swarmed her. It was enough to nauseate me. I narrowed the focus, I almost had the perfect shot, her head tilted down, the shadow of her chin just adding depth. Even the wet shirt would make for a solid texture.
If not for the lens focus, I probably would have missed it, but the wickedest most mischievous smile was on her face. I pressed down on the shutter release, not letting up as it snapped photo after photo.
Jake—the jock—had already returned to her, a half-formed apology on his lips. Aww, guilt was a beautiful thing. It didn’t let him see the trap. As soon as he got to her, she twisted away and when he sighed, she spun and then dumped all the ice in her cup over his head and down his shirt and right into his shorts.
Damn she was fast. Admiration burned through me. I caught every slice of the action. His yelp was a thing of beauty. Smart girl took off running at speed, with Jake right behind her as she plowed right into another jock.
Bubba. Half-climbing him, Frankie put him squarely between her and Jake.
It was adorable and hilarious.
The last shot I got of her, she looked right at me. Her smile was so damn open it yanked my heart up into my throat. I lowered the camera, ready to give her a smile in response but she wasn’t looking at me. A whistle came from my right and I sighed.
Should have known. The other two Musketeers had arrived. Their laughter cascaded through the park. That stunning smile hadn’t been for me.
But I’d captured it.
Glancing down at my camera, I crossed my fingers. Even if it wouldn’t work for the showcase, I kind of wanted it for me. Another laugh rolled toward me. I tracked the five of them as they headed for the rec center. The ache in my chest burned.
It wasn’t until they disappeared from sight that I headed toward the walking trail. Sweat trickled down my neck, but I ignored it. I had five rolls of film in my camera bag.
I’d already burned through one.
Time to see what else the old shutterbug could capture.
What I wouldn’t give to have had her smile at me like that for real.