Every breakup has its playlist.
How do you get over a seven-year relationship? 21-year-old Jill is trying to find out. But moving on is a harder job when Kim, her ex-boyfriend, is the lead guitarist of the band, and Jill is the vocalist. Every song they play together feels like slicing open a barely healed tattoo.
Jill’s best friend Miki says she will be out of this gloom soon. Breakups have a probation period, he says. Jill is on the last month of hers and Miki is patiently keeping her company.
But the real silver lining is Shinta. Having a hot Japanese actor friend in times like these is a welcome distraction. This gorgeous celebrity has been defying time zones and distance through the years to be there for Jill. Now he is here, physically present, and together he and Jill go through old lyrics, vivid memories, walks in the rain, and bottles of beer. Together they try to answer the question: what do you do when forever ends?
The ice cream shop attendant crossed her eyebrows at them when they entered the store, trailing in mud, rain, and stones all over her gleaming floor. She had opened her mouth, presumably to shoo them away, but Shinta had smiled at her, bowed low, and murmured his apologies. So instead the shop girl served them sundaes, Shinta’s serving unapologetically heftier than Jill’s.
They sat opposite each other at a corner booth, the plastic seats squeaking under their soaked clothes, a puddle of dirty water dripping from their hair to the floor.
“You owe me a movie,” Shinta said as he chewed a spoonful of mint chocolate chip.
Jill toyed with her spoon. “Sure. Tomorrow.”
“We can’t tomorrow.” He waved his spoon at her face, trying to catch her eye. “We’re helping my mother with last minute party things.”
“Right.” Jill nodded slowly. Normal things such as birthday parties were still happening in this dark world where your ex cold-calls you for emotional comfort only to feel you up soon after. His mom has cancer, the thought went on a loop in her head. He kissed me and I ran away.
She put one hand on her cheek, fiercely brushing away the salt that had mixed with the rainwater.
Shinta’s eyes were locked on her face as he consumed his ice cream, one full mouthful after another, watching her like a movie he wasn’t quite pleased with.
“I read up on stars today because you seem to like them so much,” he said, breaking the prolonged silence.
Jill raised her eyes, swallowed the lump in her throat. “Really? And?”
“Well, according to astronomy, when you wish upon a star you’re actually a few million years late.” Shinta fixed her a serious look. “That star is dead.”
Jill sniffed. “Just like my hopes and dreams. Fitting.”
“Won’t that line make a good song?”
Jill went back to spooning the puddle in her bowl, her eyes hot. “The story of my life.”
Shinta reached out his long fingers and switched their bowls, dunked his spoon for a pool of salted caramel ice cream and pushed it into Jill’s mouth.
She swallowed, welcoming the sugar rush and the brain freeze. Jill sighed and met his gaze. “Have you ever felt that love is the most stupid thing in the world?”
He smiled. “All the time.”
“Why don’t they teach that in school? Emotional Safety 101. How to love without losing your sanity. Instead of people running around claiming they feel it, while not knowing what to do with it, how to handle it, how not to break it, how to keep it whole. It’s a terribly dangerous thing in the wrong hands.”
“I don’t think enough people know about the proper way to love to facilitate these classes that you speak of,” Shinta said solemnly.
Jill snorted. “I know I’m not qualified.” She leaned on the table towards him. “Have you ever been in love?”
“Twice,” he said quickly.
“A childhood friend gets dibs on the first one, right?”
“I sat next to her through kindergarten. It all started when she lent me her sharpener.”
“Sounds romantic. Then you grew up into all of this, and—I really wish you’ve put on a dry shirt,” she sighed out through gritted teeth, her train of thought leaving her.
“If I had a fresh shirt, I’d give it to you.” Shinta fixed her a serious frown. “You’re shivering.”
“I’m fine. I’m just—” Jill waved a hand at the length of him, soaking in front of her, water dripping from his sable hair, down the length of his neck, down his collarbone. It was impossible not to notice this boy, even as she brooded in this dark mood, even after her ex-boyfriend had broken her heart again. “I don’t believe you, Shinta. You have abs now?”
Patches of pink lit his cheeks. “You were saying that love is stupid,” he grunted, arms over his broad chest.
Jill released another breath, averting her gaze so she could concentrate on sulking. “I was saying, you must have left behind your own trail of broken hearts.”
“I try to not be an asshole.” Shinta kept his arms crossed, mouth in a serious line. “I believe in karma. I guess none of them worked out because I was already in love.”
“You mean your second love? How come you never told me about this? Who is she?”
Shinta leaned back on his wet seat, empty bowl forsaken on the table. “I don’t think you’re ready to hear that story.”
Jill frowned. “Why not?”
Shinta fished from his pocket and pulled out her phone. It was dry, unlike the pair of them. He had probably left it in the car before he joined her rain walk. He fiddled with the buttons, easily breaking her passcode, and found her music. He played back a rough recording of her last rewrite of All the Way, the song that refused to be fixed.
Her curiosity about his secret love forgotten, Jill quickly realized that Shinta had gotten her phone back from Kim. She wondered very much what Kim had told him, if Kim had spoken to him at all. Heat flooded her cheeks, even more so when Shinta leaned towards her, drops of rain dripping from his hair to the table.
“Do you think when you get over Kim, you’ll stop writing songs about him?”
He was staring at the screen of her phone, his straight nose mere inches away. He rested his forehead against hers, as if suddenly tired. His long finger was rewinding and playing back the song at the exact verse where Jill felt it went wrong.
Jill lifted her hand and touched his briefly, then slid her phone away from his reach. “That’s the plan.”
*Join our Rafflecopter giveaway and win!*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi! I’m a writer of contemporary Young Adult and New Adult romance. These days I’m writing paranormal/fantasy too, and it’s a fun exercise. I’m often inspired by daydreams, celebrity crushes, a childhood fascination of Japanese drama and manga, and an incessant itch to travel.
Connect with Jay via:
This book tour is brought to you by: