RAINY DAYS Four Days, #1
Tormented rock star Liam O’Reilly left Dublin and achieved success, hoping to build a new life, free from the demons of his past. Now that seems he’s got everything he ever wanted, why isn’t he happy? Is it because he’s realized that the most important thing in his life is the promise that he never kept?
Sensitive and damaged Rain O’Donovan lives with her brother and his friends in a tiny seaside town north of Dublin. Once a popular and lively schoolteacher, a car accident has wrecked her life, so that her only pleasure is walking in the rain, and her world revolves around mundane tasks, devoid of hope for the future. The amnesia around the time of the accident that changed everything means that her struggle with life is a day-to-day torture, and, more than anything else, she longs for answers.
When Liam returns to his home town after his two-year absence, he’s determined to try to make amends for the terrible mistakes he made. But is it too late to put things right?
Rainy Days is a complete standalone and a part of the Four Days Series.
EXCERPT ~ PROLOGUE
I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t look for her, shouldn’t see her. And yet, I’ve been here for months, waiting outside this damn pub, spying through the foggy glass, waiting for her to pass—hoping she’s alright.
I’ve been here for two hours now. I’m afraid the bouncer is going to notice my constant presence and will kick me out, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I check my watch: it’s 11.00 p.m. It’s a Thursday night and the pub is about to close, I have to go now, before someone recognises me.
I turn and lift the hood of my sweatshirt to protect my face from the bitter night air. I take a few steps towards my car that’s parked a few hundred metres away, when I’m grabbed from behind by the sleeve of my shirt.
“What the hell are you doing here?” asks the person who grabbed me.
I stiffen instantly and take a second before turning to face the situation that I’d been avoiding all this time.
“I’ll repeat it for you. What the fuck are you doing here?”
I sigh and turn my back on him, walking away, but he won’t let this go. He follows me silently, I can hear his footsteps falling a few paces behind mine, a few metres back. I don’t turn around, but keep walking to my car. I search for the keys in my pocket and go to open the door, when he shoves it shut with his hand.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Liam.”
“It won’t happen again,” I lie.
It’ll happen again.
Every damn night.
Aaron puts his hand on my shoulder, forcing me to look at him. So I do. I look him in the eyes and I fall apart. My own eyes fill with tears and rage, with helplessness and pain.
“Jesus, Liam, you’re a mess!”
I dry my eyes and shake my head, as if I can shake away the thoughts that haunt me.
“Why were you hanging around out there?”
“I didn’t want to cause any problems. It was a moment of weakness, it won’t happen again.”
“Oh, bullshit! I know you’ve been out there every single night. The bouncer noticed you at least two months ago, and if he hasn’t beaten you up yet, it’s only because I told him not to. But be careful, or I might change my mind.”
I breathe heavily and lean my back against the car door.
“I just wanted—I just wanted to see her.”
“Don’t come near her.”
“I just want to make sure she’s okay.”
Aaron breathes impatiently, running both hands through his hair.
“You don’t seem convinced.”
“It’s complicated, Liam. We almost lost her, for fuck’s sake! And then – well, she’s never been the same.”
“What do you mean? You just said she was okay. I saw her here behind the bar a few nights ago—”
“Liam,” he interrupts me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “She doesn’t remember.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She doesn’t remember the accident, she doesn’t remember what happened before it, or anything immediately after.”
I’m silent for a moment as I try to process what Aaron has just told me.
“How is that possible? I thought it was something temporary, that it would get better over time—”
“Liam.” He pauses, as if looking for the courage to continue. “She doesn’t remember many things from her past, about her life. She doesn’t remember the last concert—she doesn’t remember you—she doesn’t remember Neil.”
Just hearing his name sends a sharp pain through my heart. I bring my hand impulsively to my chest, as if I could prevent it from shattering.
“Head trauma and amnesia. The fact that she’s removed part of her past means that after two years the doctors think it’s impossible that it will come back to her now.”
“I don’t understand—”
“Stay away from her, please, it’s already so difficult.”
“I can’t.” And as I speak, I can feel my ribcage tighten, pushing against my heart. “I can’t.” I repeat, more to myself than to him.
Aaron looks at me, clearly worried. His face is drawn, his eyes heavy, like those of someone who has just given up and let himself go after a really rough patch. He’s got a long, unkempt beard—almost more so than mine. His posture is rigid and his expression is of a man who has accepted his fate. Someone who’s doing everything he can to keep his head above water, but knows the ship is going down.
“When did you get back?” he asks, fumbling for a packet of cigarettes in his back pocket. He takes one and offers another to me.
“Three months ago,” I answer, lighting up and exhaling deeply, my eyes closed.
“What is it you’re trying to do here?” His voice is hard. “What do you want?”
“I—I don’t know. I’m not trying to do anything. I just wanted to see how she’s doing, to make sure her life was…” I can’t finish. I drop my head into my hands and start to cry. The tears flow, uninterrupted, echoing the misery in my face, my shoulders and my heart.
It’s a word I’ve said ever since that day, but it doesn’t help a thing. Regardless of how many times I’ve said it, regardless of how convinced I am of the sincerity of my feelings, it’s all crap.
It’ll never be enough.
There isn’t any one word in the world that can bring us all back.
A long silence wraps itself around us, embraces us and calms us as if we needed it to push the pain from our bodies, to breathe without that unsustainable weight of still being here. Being alive.
I exhale and I let everything I have in mind flow freely.
“I need to fix something. I need to put back whatever is left of the pieces. I need…” I pause for a moment, “…her.”
I can’t believe what I’m saying.
“I’m only going to tell you this once,” Aaron tells me, “So I hope you get my message loud and clear: Rain is my sister and she’s all I’ve got. I will not let you hurt her, in any way, or drag up everything that’s happened. I don’t really get your intentions, but if you even so much as glance at her, I swear to you, I will make you regret it, and I’ll shove your balls down your throat. Am I clear?”
“I thought we were already over this. I thought you’d made a new life for yourself.”
“Aaron, I don’t think you—”
“Hey, you left! You turned your back on all of us – on her!”
“It’s not like that.”
“You got everything you always dreamed of, right? So why, for the love of God, have you come back here? There’s nothing for you here, Liam. Nothing.”
I hide in the silence because I don’t have the courage to speak the truth out loud. I don’t have the courage to say the words that are slowly consuming me.
I shouldn’t have.
I couldn’t have.
It was the only thing I had promised myself not to do.
“Shit, Liam!” Aaron turns his back on me and walks away, cursing against the emptiness.
I don’t know what my intentions are or what I’ll do, I just know I have to get close to her, because she’s the only one who can give me back a reason for living, who can alleviate my pain and my guilt. I have to fix things, I need to get someone’s life back up on its feet.
I need her, to breathe, to understand that it isn’t over, to lighten the load that I carry on my shoulders, in my head and my heart. I need to know that at least she is going to make it. That she can have a life, and that I, maybe, could live in her reflection and feel—feel something, understand that I am still alive.
What the fuck have I done?
I’m a terrible person.
In one single night, I destroyed everything.
A stupid mistake.
Just one that I can’t make better.