Home > Sweet Oblivion (Oblivion #1)

Sweet Oblivion (Oblivion #1)
Author: Alexa Padgett

 


Editor: Jessica Royer Ocken

Proofreading by: Charity Chimni

Cover by: Chris Philpot

 

 

For Charity. I’m so thankful to call you a friend.

 

 

Tonic

 

 

Aya

 

 

* * *

 

I fell in love in less than one second. I looked it up, years later, to see if that really could have happened. The answer is yes. In five-tenths of a second, dopamine and oxytocin swelled and flowed from my brain, and I felt love pour through all my cells.

It was a rush I wanted to hit over and over again.

But I didn’t get that chance.

I was five years old. On vacation. And as he walked away, I was sure I’d never again see the blond boy I’d given both my heart and the most perfect seashell.

 

 

1

 

 

Aya

 

 

I splayed out in the silky, hot, white sand on the beach near my parents. The tip of my tongue slipped between my teeth as I worked the toothpick into the damp granules to create a chain link for my sand castle like I’d seen on the real castles in Paris. Mummy and Father spoke in quiet voices, but I could hear the strain, the tears, in my mummy’s tone. My father’s voice rose, surly, the words hurtful.

“Those were dreams of youth, Sofia. We’re parents, and we need to focus on our future.”

I didn’t like the way he spoke to my mummy.

I rose from my spot under the shade of the large umbrella and shuffled closer to the water—then closer again so the cool seafoam slithered around my foot, causing me to giggle. I wiggled my toes, sinking my feet deeper into the powdery sand.

I stepped deeper into the waves, enjoying how the water cooled my hot legs. With a gasp of delight, I bent down and picked up a shell. I ran my other palm over the conch. The pink interior was smooth as satin. I clasped the shell in my fist and bent at the waist, searching for another.

“You shouldn’t be out there by yourself.”

I turned my head, squinting at the shape of a boy. He was bigger than me—most people were. Before I could answer, a wave slammed into the side of my head, filling my mouth with water and knocking me into the sand.

I struggled to rise, even as another wave slammed into me. I clenched the shell and curled up smaller, afraid to rise again. Then, the boy’s hand grasped mine and pulled. When I stumbled, he tugged me again, harder. I gasped and coughed out water as I managed to get to my feet. He led me from the ocean. I collapsed on my bottom near my sandcastle, sucking in air.

“They didn’t see,” he muttered, glancing over his shoulder at my parents. “That’s why I came over. My mommy said it’s not safe.”

I blinked up at him. “For me?” I asked.

He squatted next to me, and I was able to see his eyes. They were a warm, soft brown—a little darker than the liquor my daddy put in his glass each night. The outer rims were dark, almost as black as his pupils.

“For kids,” he said. “How old are you?”

“I’m five.”

“Same as me.” He smiled. “I’m glad you didn’t drown. That’s a bad thing to do. We only get to live on the water as long as we follow the rules.”

“My dad’s being mean,” I whispered.

He frowned. “Mine makes my mommy cry.”

I gazed at him, both liking and hating that we had this in common. “I don’t like when my mummy cries.”

“Why do you say ‘mummy’ like that?” He sat on his heels, his knees tucked into his blue swim trunks.

“My dad’s English.” I shrugged.

I settled my perfect conch on his knee. My skin felt hot, and I couldn’t hold his gaze, so I rubbed my wet legs into the sand, coating them in the fine, white powder. I peeked at him. He was studying me, not the shell.

“You’re pretty,” he said.

“So are you,” I replied.

He grinned, and a dimple appeared in his rounded left cheek. “Yeah, I am. My mommy’s the most beautiful-est lady in the world. She says I look like her. But she doesn’t have purple eyes like yours.”

Something about this boy made it hard for me to find my words.

He snatched up the shell and stood. “Thanks.”

He turned and trotted back toward his mother, who’d started to walk this direction from another of the large blue umbrellas. Hers was halfway down the beach, in front of the largest villa. She wore a large, black hat and large sunglasses. Her pale skin glistened, and her one-piece swimsuit was cut higher on the legs and lower across the chest than my mum’s. Her bright red lips turned up in a smile as the boy approached her.

“What’s your name?” I called.

He stopped about halfway between us. “Nash. Nash Porter, and one day I’m going to be a superstar.”

He darted to his mother and lifted the shell he cradled in his hands. She admired it, patting his head before moving off once more. He followed, seeming to trip over his feet in an effort to keep her attention.

Nash Porter.

I watched him walk away, the hand that had held the conch now sitting over my hammering heart.

 

 

2

 

 

Nash

 

 

Seven Years Later

 

 

* * *

 

Screams ripped through my noise-canceling headphones, making me wince—in the best possible way. I rocked back on my heels, awed by the power of twenty-thousand people cheering for my dad’s band, Quantum.

As the band hit the opening riff, a rush of adrenaline flowed through me, and my fingertips tingled. As the guitars sang through the early measures, my chest throbbed in time with the beat.

Then, Dad began to sing my lyrics. Sweat dripped from his brow, and his long bangs stuck to his forehead. He shot me a wink.

Our little secret, it said.

I grinned back. Oh yeah. As long as I got to come along and see this response to my music, I was more than happy to stay back here. For now. Bieber had been thirteen, a year older than me, when he stormed the world stage. But as my dad had pointed out, he’d made some bad choices along the way.

“Enjoy being a kid, Nash. It doesn’t last long,” he’d said with his hand on my shoulder, gripping it in that comforting way of his before the pat, pat, pat on my back.

The screaming grew to a crescendo.

“Not a bad response, little bro,” Lev said, slinging his arm around my shoulder.

I beamed. He laughed, his voice cracking halfway through it, causing him to slam his mouth shut and blush, tossing a glance at Gemma Cordova, the roadie’s fifteen-year-old daughter. That hadn’t happened to Lev in a while—not since he was about my age. Now, at fourteen, he seemed so much older. Well, until he wanted to impress this girl.

Gemma remained transfixed by the new song, unaware of Lev’s self-consciousness. Pride swelled so hard that it pressed against my ribs, a happy bubble I never wanted to pop.

 

 

When Dad arrived in the green room after the show, he came right over and hugged me. “You see that reaction? Nash, my boy, we’re on to something huge.” His eyes twinkled.

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