Bittersweet by Kimberly Loth
Publication date: March 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Every Sunday Savannah Ray gets an email from her dead dad. She doesn’t know how the emails work and she doesn’t mind either as she’s not ready to let go. Now that her mom is fed up of her rebellious behavior, she has to go to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in after he died—Haunted Valley, the amusement park. Once there and bullied by co-workers & customers, she is distracted by the charming Dallas and falls hard for him. But Savannah and Dallas both hold secrets that threaten their new relationship. Will Haunted Valley help her move on, or will it destroy her from the inside out?
Grant lived in a three-bedroom apartment right next to the Mall of America and Ikea. So much for saving up for the Eurochocolate tour. I may be depressed and having trouble getting over the early demise of my father, but shopping therapy still worked. Too bad its effects never lasted longer than stepping foot out of the mall.
Grant caught me spying Ikea out the living room window.
“Your room is a little plain. You can go shopping tomorrow.”
I nodded, pretending I didn’t care.
He set my bags in my room and then asked if I needed anything.
“No, I'm fine. A little tired.”
“Me too, Kiddo, I’m going to bed.”
I tensed. Kiddo? No one called me kiddo. Except my dad. He never called me by name; he used pet names instead.
Before I could ask him to call me Savannah, I heard the door to his bedroom click shut. I sighed. He looked like my dad but didn’t act like him. Perhaps I reminded Grant of my dad, with my mannerisms and personality. I was just like him, though I tried to shake it off. Because then someday I’d end up dead the same way he did. I removed my watch and looked at my tattoo. My reminder.
My room was pretty empty. A bed and a closet. Except the walls were covered in photographs.
The first picture startled me a bit. My dad smiled at me from a boat; he was young, maybe my age. The next was his graduation ceremony. There was a wedding picture of him and my mom, an eight-year-old Grant frowning next to them. Mom and Dad looked so happy. They divorced when I was so young that I never thought to ask for details on why they split. Both always just said they were too different to stay married.
A few pictures away he held a baby in his arms. That had to have been me. Damn, I was chubby. Cute though. Surprisingly, there were a lot of pictures with me in them. As I moved around the room I found the picture from the summer I turned twelve and we went to Disneyworld. My stomach clenched. No, I would not think of that.
I removed all the pictures from the walls and stacked them in the corner of the closet. No way could I function with him everywhere. The walls were much better empty.
I flopped down on the twin mattress. The pillow was flat. My bedroom at home was the one place I felt comfortable, where I could relax. This room was not designed for relaxing. It was too sterile.
I pulled my backpack towards me and dug out an apple and a box of eight truffles. I took a bite of the apple. Chewed. Swallowed. Where to start? The Richileiu. The flavors rolled around my tongue. Both dark and milk chocolate mixed with cherry. Mmm.
I wasn’t sure I would be able to live with a bachelor. Especially one who was obsessed with my dad. Unless he gave me an Ikea card and told me to spend whatever I liked. Then I might be able to deal with it.
I took out my phone to text Candie about Ikea. In February, we ditched school one day and drove up to Minneapolis. We meant to go to the Mall of America but spent the entire day playing hide-and-seek in Ikea. It was one of those days that I’d almost stayed home because I didn’t want to face perky teachers and a pep assembly with too much school spirit. Candie didn’t even attempt to make the drive to school; she just got on the freeway and drove north. I loved that about her. The way she could tell when I needed something.
I ran a hand over my slick bald head and put the phone back. I loved Candie but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to forgive her. Not after what she did.
If only I hadn’t been bored that day and looking for my black nail polish. Then I never would’ve known. If I’d been thinking then that brown was better, I wouldn’t have seen the scene that meant I no longer had a best friend. But I did. I walked over to her house and saw things I couldn’t unsee.
I had longed for the pain that came with betrayal. The desire to shout or cry or something. But nothing. No pain. No anger. Just numb nothing. I knew I had to do something, to find a way to create the pain.
Now I realized that it was stupid to the think that a razor to the head would create emotion when I hadn’t felt any in two years, but at that moment I wasn’t thinking clearly.
My hair had been long and a deep auburn, wavy and thick. It was the one feature that I loved. It was also a protection. I never wore my hair up because of my hearing aids. I didn’t want people too see them, but more than that, my hair protected them from rain or the stray water gun. Water and hearing aids don’t mix. I was probably a little crazy to even consider getting rid of it.
I didn’t use the straight edge at first. Instead I dug around the bathroom closet and found the kit that my mother used to give Teddy haircuts. I took both it and the straight edge to my bedroom. Then I went back to the kitchen and found an apple. I sliced it into eight pieces, and found the “Chocolates of the Month” box that my stepmom sent me. I’d been saving them for a special occasion; if that wasn’t a special occasion I didn’t know what was.
I ate a slice of the apple, then studied the box.
The liquor chocolates caught my eye first. Not that the alcohol would have any effect whatsoever, but it was the idea of it. It seemed appropriate. I picked up a Cognac truffle made with Grenadian chocolate. I let the chocolate roll over my tongue and closed my eyes to enjoy the flavor. When all traces of the chocolate were gone I put the number-one guard on the electric razor and forced it down the middle of my head. It pulled and tugged and hurt.
My eyes welled up with tears from the pain but not from the shock of seeing twenty inches of hair fall to the ground. Another slice of apple, a Macallan truffle, and another clump of hair fell to the ground. Four slices later, all that was left on my head was prickly stubble. I brought the last two truffles with me to the bathroom where I ran the straightedge over my head until it shone. I didn’t even cut myself. I had hoped to feel the thrill of shock or anticipation. Nothing.
Kimberly Loth can't decide where she wants to settle down. She's lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids.
She is a high school math teacher by day (please don't hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.