Love like War
Author: Susan Downham
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
April is in love with Connor Richardson. She would do anything for him, so she thought, until he put her friend in hospital.
April is in love with Connor Richardson. He is her first real love. She is learning how to act in a relationship and around his loyal friends. He looks after her and is a real gentleman. April is enjoying all the attention he is giving her and she knows he isn’t like other boys just wanting to get into her pants. He’s the real deal.
She knew his friends were important but didn’t understand just how loyal Connor could be…until someone she knows is in hospital fighting for his life. April has to make some tough choices and she understands just why some people compare love to war.
She didn't feel like she had a choice in any of it. Sure her best friend, Loghan, said she had a choice. She could have kept her big trap shut. That wasn't really a choice. It was bad enough knowing afterwards what she knew, but keeping quiet suffocated her.
She wasn't really one to stand up for anyone. She was more the type who blended into the background and liked to disappear. It was how she went under the radar all through school, and even her first year of university. She was blessed with a handful of friends; Loghan, of course, Clara and Deanne, but they were all doing first year arts so she got to see them only between classes or on the weekends.
The results for all the class assignments were posted up outside a common room on the third floor of her university building. Each time she looked up she would see her six digit code near the top. She knew who she was up against.
There was Jonny Zuckerman and Pete Bryson. She sometimes worked in groups with Pete and Jonny. She was in awe of Pete's knowledge. As for Jonny she was just in awe of him full stop. Jonny didn't seem to pay much attention in the lecturers, not that he even attended them all. April sat two rows behind him to his left in lecturers, and whilst she scribbled notes laboriously she watched him draw tiny intricate patterns in a sketch pad. He never drew attention to himself by asking questions like Pete did. He kept his head down, just as she did.
Loghan told her that it would blow over and to put it out of her mind. She needed to tell someone and she chose Loghan, thinking? She would give her the right advice. Deep down April knew what the right thing to do was. She just needed someone to stand with her, to hold her hand, other than her family.
April didn't make up her mind until she went to the hospital. It took her days to get the courage to go, and when she watched the family sobbing in the corridor, she knew then she needed to go forward. There wasn't a choice. She stumbled out of the hospital and home the long way. She needed time to think. She thought about Loghan and her words of advice. She told her not to say anything. That she could keep her head down and just get on with life, it wasn't worth the risk.
She even told her it was un-Australian to dob on anyone. Even her parents were sceptical. They sat down at the big dining room table, with it polished surface gleaming in the sunlight, discussing it.
It was on the way home she passed Jonny. He was painting the front fence of his grandmother's house. His white t-shirt tucked into the back of his board shorts, his bare skin golden brown from the sun. She said hello to him. It was a simple one word acknowledgement that he was there and they knew each other, sort of. He studied her, stared into her eyes, and she knew from the way the cold glare that he knew. He knew everything.
She walked away, turning her head keeping focused on the street sign ahead. He didn't let her off the hook so easily.
"I hear the Mo might not make it." He wasn't asking her one way or the other. He was telling her Mo might die. She stopped and wondered how Jonny even knew Mo or if he knew him at all.
"It doesn't look good." She managed the words tumbling out in a rush like a breaker hitting the north shore.
As if answering her own thoughts, he went on. "I don't know him, never met him, but I feel like I know him, with all the publicity that's been in the paper."
April nodded. He put the brush down letting the bristles slip down into the deep tin. "Don't you work with his sister in the Ice Cream Palace?"
April craved to go, she needed to run home and hide from the world but Jonny kept looking at her, his head tilted on one side as if he was thinking about her, about what made her tick.
"I have to get going." She blurted out.
"Yer, well see you in class sometime. I'm going to whip you this year."
"Whip you, you know beat you with better marks. I might even do some work this year, you never know." He laughed.
She didn't know why he laughed. She really didn't care if he got better marks than her anyway. She nodded, her thoughts dragging her back to Mo.
"I hope if someone knows who hurt Mo they have the courage to come forward. I would hate to think someone knows something but is too frightened to say anything."
April considered him for a moment. He bent back down and picked the paint brush up and wiped the excess paint off the brush.
"Maybe they're too scared."
"Fear can trap us all, but truth can set us all free."
"Who said that?"
"A very talented and clever young man, Jonny Zuckerman I believe his name was." He winked at her and turned back to his painting.
She went to say something back to him, but he'd already put his earplugs back in. She could feel the bass thumping through him.