What Doesn't Kill You

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Chapter 4

Scout was lying in bed, holding her phone above her face with Instagram open on the screen. It was the second app to be opened. The first was Facebook and the first post on her newsfeed had felt like a punch to the gut.

Scott Vane and Carrie Mendoza are in a relationship.

She typed in Scott’s handle into the search bar and it appeared before she finished typing. She clicked through to his grid and looked through slowly. He’d removed all of the pictures of them. Six years of memories archived or deleted. Scout had been erased from his life without a thought. It wasn’t that she cared… but she fucking cared. Scrolling back to the top, she clicked on the first picture.

It was a photograph of him and Carrie. The background looked like the rehearsal studio. She tried to make it larger and…

“No! No. No. No.”

Scout wanted the world to swallow her whole. The stupid little heart was red. She’d liked the photo.

“Undo!”

She double tapped hastily and it unlike and liked the photo again. She double tapped and it unliked before she threw her phone to the end of the bed.

Maybe he wouldn’t notice.

Of course, he would notice.

Scout rolled over and stuffed her face in the pillow before letting out a scream. How had this become her life?

After a morning of feeling sorry for herself, she got on the bus that would take her into Mumbles. Despite the fact that it was August, Swansea had decided to have three days of non-stop rain, clearing out the beaches and driving the crowds into shops. She was running late and everyone and their mother had taken the car today, causing her to be held up at a crossing.

“Come on,” Scout muttered under her breath. A car sped past, hitting a pothole filled with rain and soaked her. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”

A woman and her young son hurried past her and Scout crossed the road without waiting, causing someone to slam on the breaks. If it had hit her it would have been onto a full house on the bingo card of shit days.

As Scout reached the top of the hill where A Page A Day was based, she saw someone with an umbrella peering in through the window. Scout picked up the pace the best she could and got to the door, rummaging through her bag for the keys.

“You’re late.”

She looked up to see Mr Hot but rude standing there, looking at her.

“Who are you?” she asked. “The white rabbit? Jump straight out of Wonderland?” She continued to rummage in her bag, finding everything but the keys when the rain suddenly stopped falling on her. She looked up to see the guy had moved away from the window and was standing next to her, umbrella shielding them both.

“Not quite,” he answered her.

“Yes!”

He shot her a curious look and Scout whipped the keys out and held them in front of him. Turning away, she opened up the shop and he followed in behind her, closing the umbrella. Scout flicked on the lights and threw her things behind the counter.

“You know,” he said. “It’s not good for business to be late.”

She straightened up from behind the counter and looked at him with wide eyes. “You know what’s not good for business? A regular customer who comes in and wanders around these aisles but never buys a thing.”

He looked taken aback and then walked towards the counter. For a split second, she thought she was going to have to use her crutches for something other than walking because the hot guy who also happened to be rude might just be a weirdo and a murderer.

Instead of whipping out a weapon and coming at her, he held out his hand. “Lachlan, but I go by Lucky.”

Scout took his hand and shook it. It felt large and rough in her own. “Lucky?” she asked him.

“Yeah.”

“Why Lucky?”

The smile that came to his face said he was more trouble than he was worth and made her stomach feel funny. “Because I always get lucky.” Scout made a disgusted noise as she rolled her eyes and took her hand from his. “You didn’t give me your name.”

“Oh, you can call me unlucky.”

“You do look like you’re having a bad day.”

She had no doubt about it. Scout was soaked from the rain and being splashed. Her blonde hair was sticking to her face and her eyes were bloodshot from how much she’d been crying but she wasn’t about to agree with him.

“I assume the lucky thing is as long as you keep your mouth shut.”

“I’ll have you know most people find me charming.”

“Most people have probably had a lobotomy.”

“Ouch!” he said, but the smile was still in place. “You have a sharp tongue.”

“Did you need something?” Scout asked impatiently.

He leaned against the counter as she pulled her bob into a tiny ponytail. “Just came in to browse.”

“You know there are libraries for that.”

“What’s a library?” Lucky asked, his blue eyes wide.

“Oh, ha ha,” Scout told him. “If you don’t mind, I have to get to work.” She walked out from behind the counter and headed into the stock room.

“Mhm. I can see that you’re super busy!”

She stuck a hand out of the stock room and gave him the middle finger and he laughed. It was a deep sound that filled the space in the shop. Scout pushed a trolley full of books back out onto the shop floor, wincing a little as she went. Thanks to Scott sending her spiralling when he sent her stuff back to the house, Scout hadn’t kept up with her physio exercises.

“Let me help,” Lucky said to her.

“I’m fine,” she told him, but he came over and took the trolley from her.

“Where do you want it?”

“Kid’s section.”

He wheeled it over as Scout went to grab her crutches before joining him. “What did you do?” he asked, nodding to her crutches.”

“Tore my ACL.”

“In English please.”

There’s a ligament that connects your thighbone to your shinbone and stabilises your knee. I tore it and had to have surgery to repair it.”

“Shit. What did you do that for?”

Scout shuffled past him to get to the trolley and looked down at the books. “It was an accident in work.”

“Reached for a high shelf?”

It took her a few moments to realise that he thought that this was the job she was on about. “Oh, no. I… this isn’t my job.”

“O…kay.”

“I mean, this is my job for now, but I’m a dancer.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “Like a stripper?”

Scout dropped the book she was holding. “No!” She could see the smile on his face and turned away. “You think you’re funny, don’t you?”

“I would say so.”

“I wouldn’t quit your day job. Which is what exactly?”

“Are you trying to run a background check on me?”

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.” Scout started to shelve the new books that had come in, rearranging titles so that everything was in alphabetical order.

“You already have my name. I’m 24. I studied business at university and own a business now.”

“Impressive.” Scout sounded nonchalant, hoping that he would leave her alone. Lucky might have been easy on the eye but he had foot in mouth syndrome and she wasn’t in the headspace to deal with him.

“Should you be doing that with your knee?” he asked.

“I can manage.” She could hear him walk away and when she turned to look, he was at the other end of the trolley with a book in his hands. It was a copy of The Hunger Games. “Have you read that?” Scout asked him.

“I watched the film,” Lucky replied. “Unrealistic if you ask me. A 16 year old managing to get through that.”

“She wasn’t a 16 year old in this world. She was a 16 year old in some dystopian not so distant future.”

Lucky looked at her intently. “You’re a regular ray of sunshine, aren’t you?”

“If you don’t like it, you know where the door is.”

“Customer service is an A plus.”

Scout turned to look at him properly. “What do you want?”

He looked at her like he was thinking about her question and then answered, “Your name.”

“Scout.”

“No. Your real name.”

“Scout is my real name.”

“As in the Scout’s Association?”

“Yes.”

“Wow…”

“What?” Scout asked sharply.

“Nothing.”

“It’s better than Lucky.”

“Lucky is a nickname.”

“Lucky is what you would name your dog.”

He snorted and placed the book onto the shelf. Scout went to pull it out but realised he’d placed it in the correct place. “Thanks.”

“No problem. So, how long until you’re dancing again?”

“A few months if I listen to Ava.”

“Ava?”

“My physiotherapist. She’s making me do these exercises to strengthen my knee again but it’s going to take some time.”

“You should probably listen to her. Sounds like a professional.”

“That was the plan but…” Scout stopped herself from saying anything because it still made her chest ache.

Scott was in a relationship with Carrie. They were three weeks into the breakup after six years together and he had already put himself into a new relationship. The fact that relationship was with Carrie just added insult to injury.

“But?” Lucky prompted.

“I’ve had some stuff going on in my personal life.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“I just got out of a long term relationship. No big deal,” she shrugged.

“How long?”

“Six years.”

He sucked in a breath and Scout looked at him. All traces of the jokester had left him and he was looking at her with a softer expression in his bright blue eyes. “Sounds like a big deal to me.”

Scout shrugged out of her crutches and eased herself onto the floor awkwardly with a pile of books in her hand. She put them down next to her and started to work through the shelves at the bottom of the stacks. “It is what it is,” she said, trying to ignore the pain in her chest.

“Most people would have slapped a ring on it by six years.”

Another knife to her heart. Every year that went by, Scout hoped that Scott would propose but it never happened. She never mentioned it. The last this she wanted was to be the girl who was hounding her boyfriend into a proposal. Scout just kept hoping that at some point they’d get there.

“Yeah, well not for Scott,” she sighed. “He just slapped his dick in someone else.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

The bell tinkled and Scout leaned back on her arms to see Clarice walking through the door with her Zimmer frame, shaking out her umbrella. “Morning Clarice!” Scout called. The old woman gave her a smile and a wave before shutting her umbrella properly.

“Do you know what the most popular books are?” Scout asked, looking up at Lucky. From the floor he looked even taller than he was.

“What?”

“Mills and Boon.”

Lucky laughed and it lifted her a little to make someone happy. “Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they’re not—”

“Stop!” Scout said. “Just stop.”

“Okay, I’m going to leave you with your valued customers.”

“You aren’t buying anything?” she asked.

“Why break the habit of a lifetime?”

“Weirdo.”

“Ray of sunshine.” Lucky flashed her a smile and walked away, out of the shop, leaving Scout feeling a little better than she had at the start of the day.

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