Reading Between the Lines

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There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again. It's been a few months since Cassandra Gilbert dropped out of college to care for her sick mother and manage her bookstore. She believes the worst of her problems is taking care of her slowly dying mother and dealing with her arrogant neighbor Samuel. When someone starts killing off citizens in a a fashion that resembles infamous death scenes in cinema and literature, Cassandra realizes that the issues she had beforehand are nothing compared to what she's about to get herself into.

Mystery / Romance
4.8 10 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

They say you’ll do anything for your family and I’m no exception to that. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my mother which is why I dropped out of school and moved back home. At the start of my sophomore year of college, my mother had gotten sick. Turns out she had kidney failure and was heavily suggested she get a transplant. Well, six months later and she still hasn’t found a match. Doctor’s aren’t optimistic at this point. I keep faith that they’ll find someone because if I don’t, then who will?

In the meantime, I’ve taken over running my mother's bookstore “Read Em’ and Weep”. It’s been her baby the past three years and in the past six months, it’s grown to be mine. Studying business management for two years actually did me some good!

I’ve just pulled into the driveway of my mother’s quaint suburban home. The grey bungalow meets new Orleans French quarters fits perfectly in our street. With a winding path full of different greenery and plants, it’s a sight to see.

Getting out of the car I adjusted the straps of my purple tank top. I juggled both my purse and a bag of apples as I shut the door to my car. On the way home I was craving homemade applesauce which explains why we’re here now.

The purring sound of a motor rang through the air as I approached the front door. I watched as a black Camaro pulled into the driveway next to us, the tires screeching the entire time. I rolled my eyes before the engine even shut off. Samuel’s home.

Samuel’s my mother's neighbor. I’d say he’s my neighbor but that would be the farthest thing from the truth. He’s one of the cocky, over-zealous detectives that work for the city. Not only is he a complete and utter douchebag, but he’s one of the shadiest guys I know. He talks to no one in Penbrook Falls and nearly everyone hates him. I’ve never liked the guy, not that I’ve had much contact with him. He for whatever reason loves my mother. He will literally do anything for her.

I watched with sunglass covered eyes as he got out of his car, loosening the navy striped tie around his neck. I couldn’t help but once again roll my eyes at him. He’s a detective, not some model for GQ magazine.

Samuel must have seen me looking at him because he glanced in my general direction, winking at me with his bright green eyes.

“Getting a good look Cassandra?” A cocky smirk slid onto his face. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to see the cringe on my face.

“In your dreams- Sammy” Pure joy radiated through my body as I watched the smirk quickly be replaced by displeasure.

Samuel huffed under his breath as he stormed up to his door, slamming it closed behind him. Samuel’s day ruined? Check.

With a renewed smile on my face, I finished the walk up to my house. When I opened the door, the smell of cinnamon and cranberries wafted into my nose.

“Ma, I’m home!” I called out as I made my way towards the kitchen.

“I’m making homemade cranberry for Sam. You know, for mowing the lawn last week when I hadn’t even asked him to. He’s such a nice young man.”

“Mom, that’s what I’m here for-“

“Oh well, what’s done is done.” She shrugged her shoulder before turning back towards me. “Ooo, I almost forgot. Hazel called a few minutes ago. Said there was some sort of emergency down at the store. Go there and handle the issue before my burns in a heaping ball of flames, would you dear?”

Without acknowledging what she had said, I grabbed my purse off the counter and headed towards the front door.

“This is why you’re my favorite child Cassie!”

“I’m your only child Ma and for god’s sake would you stop calling me Cassie?!”

My car had barely rolled to a stop before I got out of the car and darted up to the store. My mother isn’t the type of person to overreact. So when she says there’s an emergency you better get off your ass and do something.

Hazel stood behind the counter, a bright smile on her face. Her name may be Hazel, but her eyes were bright blue with red hair. I’d like to think her parents had a sense of humor.

“What’s the emergency? It better be important considering you almost gave my mother a heart attack.” I huffed, throwing my purse on the counter.

“I miss you too Cassandra, it’s nice to see your face. We have someone coming to pick up an order in a little bit.” I snapped around to face her. “That was your emergency Hazel, seriously? In case you haven’t noticed, people pick up orders all the time. That’s how we stay in business!”

“Oh no, it’s not just ANY person that’s picking up. It’s good ole Samuel Rhodes.”

“You’re shitting me,” I spoke up, my eyes now wide open.

“I kid you not, it’s a dog training book.”

“Since when does he have a dog? The guy doesn’t have a heart.”

“I don’t know, he said something about his sister giving him a dog.” He has a sister? Oh god, I feel sorry for her.

“And you called me here because you know I at least won’t beat the shit out of him.”

Hazel smiled back at me with laughter in her eyes. “You know me so well. Anyhow, he said he would pick it up after work.”

“Haz, he came home when I came home!” As if on cue, the bell over the door jingled. Great, I just had to jinx it.

Both our eyes came to rest on Samuel as he entered the store, sliding his sunglasses off his face and onto his head. He has since changed into a gray long-sleeved cotton shirt, dark-colored jeans and black high tops.

“Hazel, Cassandra. It’s nice to see you again.” Hazel let out a huff, mumbling under her breath as she walked towards the back room. I didn’t wait for him to say what he was picking up before going towards the pickup orders section.

“My sister moved into a new place that doesn’t allow pets. Jessica didn’t want to give him up to a shelter so I said I’d take him.” Samuel explained casually, his hip propped against the counter.

“One, I didn’t ask you and two why are you telling me this? You do realize I’m the most likely person to not give a shit, right?” When I came back with the book, he had the cocky grin back on his face.

“I figured since we’re friendly neighbors-“

“Do you need to be reminded of the little conversation we had earlier? It’ll be $7.50.” I bit back with a harsh tone in my voice.

“$7.50? Hazel told me it was $10.75 on the phone-“

“Yeah, well I figured if I didn’t give you the family discount I’d never hear the end of it from my mother.” Samuel handed me a 10 dollar bill. I was very careful not to touch his hands as I grabbed the money.

“Aww, how sweet. Keep the change.” Samuel grabbed the book off the counter and made his way towards the exit. Before he got too far, Samuel turned towards me with an eyebrow raised.

“Before I forget-“


“Tell your mother the cranberry bread was delicious, Cassie.” Samuel darted out of the store before I could respond.

Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate Samuel?

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