Aubany Winters’ life soon becomes a nightmare when her Mom gets cancer and has to leave for California with her Dad. Left with her neighbours, the Ruperts, and to her displeasure, their son Ryan, she finds herself forced to tag along on their family vacation to Nula Island. There’s just a few problems, like her fear of the ocean, her and Ryan’s mutual hatred for each other, and the psycho girl who is trying to kill them.
Will Aubany overcome her fears? Will she and Ryan ever stop hating each other? Or will their flaws and disagreements lead them right into the enemy’s hands?
A Holiday From Hell
Summer vacations are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to be filled with memories of friends and first loves and the relief of being completely free of schoolwork. But clearly someone or something (I personally blamed the Fates) had decided to ruin mine by sticking me on an island for six weeks.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: what is wrong with this girl? It’s summer, and islands are the perfect place to enjoy the sunny days and clear skies that summer brings! They’re filled with surf, sand, exploring, and activities. And that’s all great if you’re someone else.
But not if you’re me.
For me, an island is the equivalent of hell. I have a colossal fear of the ocean, and the thing about islands is, well, they’re kind of surrounded by water. And if you aren’t up for ocean-related activities then, well, what good is being on an island? What good is summer vacation if it means leaving all my wonderful friends and spending six weeks trapped with my sworn enemy?
Who’s my sworn enemy, you ask? Maybe I should start at the beginning.
It was a beautiful, early summer morning in Tallahassee, Florida. I was very happily skipping through the morning television programs in the family room, lazing around, and preparing myself for a day of chillaxing. But that all changed as soon as my parents entered the room.
“Aubany, we need to talk to you,” my father said. He turned the television off, and faced me. His expression was grim; his eyes lacked their usual twinkle, and his mouth was pulled into a thin line. That made me realise it was serious. They sat down with me and proceeded to tell me the worst news of my life.
“Your mother has cancer,” Dad said. That sentence alone took me a few moments to process.
“What?” I said weakly. My Mom had cancer? My beautiful, kind and caring Mom? These kinds of things, they didn’t happen to people like her . . . right?
Looking at her now, she looked anything but sick. Her fair skin had a healthy glow, her red hair cascaded over her shoulders, and her green eyes sparkled even though, right now, they seemed sad.
My grandmother told me that Mom had looked the mirror image of me in her youth.
“I don’t understand,” I said slowly, trying to get my bearings. “What kind of cancer? How did this even happen?”
“Sweetie,” Mom said gently, putting her hand over mine, “Everything is going to be okay. It’s stage two breast cancer, and I’m going to be flying to California to see a specialist.”
“A specialist?” I repeated, feeling numb. That sounded daunting.
“I’ve been getting regular check-ups, but this came on so suddenly, and the doctor here referred us to a professional who has more experience with this kind of thing. We do have a history of cancer in the family, but it’s been quite rare and unpredictable along our generations. So, the specialist is going to try and figure out exactly what genes in our family history might be triggering it.”
I swallowed hard, blinking back tears. She had to fly all the way to California just for that? And since when did we have a family history of cancer? I’d never heard either of my parents mention it. Did that mean I was going to get cancer too?
I had so many questions, but before I could ask any more, Dad chimed in,
“I’ll be going with her.”
The way he said it implied that I wasn’t coming.
“What about me?” I asked, frowning. Did they plan on leaving me behind?
“We don’t have the money to pay for all of us to go, Honey,” Dad said. “We know you want to be there, but your mother and I need to do this on our own.”
“Then what am I going to do?” I asked, and I could feel the hysterics building. Not only were they leaving me behind, but I felt like I was being excluded, information wise.
“Well, your Aunt Celeste is busy. She can’t take you in. And the cousins are a bit too far away. We can’t afford to send you to them either. So we’ve asked the Ruperts for a favour.”
“The Ruperts?” I repeated. They were our neighbours. Josh and Renee were nice enough people, and they had always been very kind to me. Their son, however, was a different story altogether.
Their son was Ryan Rupert. He was a jerk, an ass, and pretty much every other bad thing under the sun. He was a nightmare to be around, and he hated me. Lucky for him, the feeling was mutual.
“The Ruperts have kindly agreed to look after you while we’re gone,” Dad said.
“Oh, great. I don’t have to live in their house, do I?” I asked. I really didn’t want to have to see Ryan every day. “I mean, I can just stay here – right? They can just pop in from time to time and check on me. I can cook my own meals, and buy my own food. I can get a summer job.”
I’d been trying to convince my parents to let me get a job for years now. I’d not long turned 17, and I was eager to start earning some money of my own. Melissa had been working at the record store in town for the past year, and she seemed way more mature because of it. But my parents had insisted that school should come first, and had worried that my grades would suffer with the addition of a job.
“No, Honey, it’s more complicated than that,” Mom said. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving you on your own. What if something happened? And besides, the Ruperts won’t be able to check in on you every day because they aren’t going to be here.”
“What do you mean?” I asked slowly.
“The Ruperts already have a vacation planned,” Dad said. “And you’ll be going with them.”
“A vacation?” I exclaimed, horror stricken. “Where?”
“To an island. Nula Island,” Dad said.
This could not be happening. I had to give up my summer vacation, miss out on all the parties my friends were going to throw, to be on some island with my sworn enemy?
This was so unfair, and not just because of that reason. My Mom was sick with cancer. Cancer! Of all the things she could be sick with, and my parents were forcing me to tag along on the Ruperts’ family vacation rather than be at her side?
No way. I wasn’t going to go.
“You can’t make me do that. Come on, you know how I feel about Ryan!” I protested. “And besides, I’m terrified of the ocean. How will I survive on an island?”
“Aubany, please,” my Dad said softly. “Don’t argue. It’ll upset your mother.”
I ignored his words. “Upset Mom? What about me? Aren’t I allowed to be upset? You do realise what you’re asking me, right? You think this is easy for me? To accept that Mom has cancer? To accept that I can’t be with her for the next six weeks? To accept that I’m going to be stuck with Ryan Rupert? You want me to just nod and say it’s all okay?”
“This isn’t easy for us either, Aubany,” Mom said, looking hurt now. She seemed to understand me completely, and I realised they really had no choice but to do this.
“But . . . isn’t there another way?” I said, my voice wavering. Maybe I couldn’t stay with my parents, but surely the Ruperts weren’t the only other option. “Can’t I stay with someone else? What about Melissa?” I asked, desperate to dig my way out of this. Melissa was my best friend. Surely I could stay with her, right?
“We’ve known the Ruperts since you were very little. They are more than happy to look after you. But to ask that of someone else’s parents would be too much. We’re going to be gone for a long time, and we don’t know when we’ll be back. It would be unfair to put this on Melissa’s parents,” Dad said.
I was out of ideas. I felt sort of surreal. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
I knew it seemed so stupid to whine about a six-week vacation when my Mom was sitting beside me gravely ill with a disease she could possibly die from. But it wasn’t fair, and I just couldn’t stop thinking of all the horrible ways this summer could go wrong. I hated Ryan Rupert with every fibre of my being, and having to be stranded on an island with him for six weeks was a nightmare in every sense of the word. Being his neighbour was bad enough. He had already found plenty of ways to annoy and taunt me just by living next to me. On an island there would be no escape. I’d have nowhere to run.
“We’re sorry, but this is the only way. We’ll call you all the time to tell you how things are going,” Dad promised. Mom got up and left, and Dad began to follow her. He stopped before leaving the room and said, “Try not to let this get to you. The Ruperts had a room available so they are kindly paying for you. Try and make the best of it. It’s summer, and you get to spend it on an island for free!”
I really wished I could look at this from an optimistic point of view, but nothing was optimistic where Ryan Rupert was involved.
To make matters worse, I hardly had any time to prepare myself emotionally for the trauma this whole experience was going to bring me.
Amazon Pre-order: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07CT3SD43
About the Author:
P.S.Malcolm (Pagan) grew up in Proserpine, Queensland— a small, Australian country town on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. She was a storyteller from a young age and spent years perfecting her craft.
For two years, she juggled waitressing in tourist-filled coffee shops while undertaking two degrees in Creative Writing online— one specializing in children’s fiction and publishing. She has always had an interest in writing, but never saw herself working in the industry until she made the choice to self-publish her debut novel, Stuck On Vacation With Ryan Rupert. Realizing that she loved the process of publishing her book, she pursued an internship at a publishing house and snagged a spot as Pen Name Publishing’s Marketing Assistant.
In between interning and writing, Pagan opened her first business working as a freelance Marketing Strategist for Paperback Kingdom— which helps indie authors with all aspects of their author careers.
Pagan also enjoys reading— particularly fantasy and paranormal— and is a passionate blogger. She reviews books that she has read on her personal website. Some of her favourite and most influential authors include Amanda Gernentz Hanson, A.G. Howard, Marissa Meyer and Michele Jaffe.
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