Couldn't Stand the Weather

by: andee lee

Chapter One
Look at Little Sister

A/N (April 27, 2011): At the encouragement of a few readers, I'm going through and deleting all of the annoying Debbie Downer author's notes at the end of each chapter. Just want to point out that this story needs a lot of work. Okay, happy reading!

"Is it bad that I really want to punch you in the face right now?" Corinne Matthews asked loudly, rounding the corner of the living room with two cardboard moving boxes full of clothes. They were blocking her line of vision, so her head was poking out from behind them. "You promised you would help."

"I lied," Avery, her older brother, said from the couch that he was sprawled across, feet dangling from the armrest. "Besides, it's more fun to watch you torture yourself." He grinned at her and turned his attention back to the TV, flipping through the channels.

Corinne sighed loudly and dropped the two boxes on the floor at the bottom of the stairs and turned around to sit with her brother on the couch. "Scoot over," she said, pushing him as she sat down.

He groaned. "You just moved in and you're already invading my personal space, Cory," he said, poking her side. "You promised you wouldn't."

She rolled her eyes at his joke. "I lied."

They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes as Corinne took a break from unloading her things from the back of the U-Haul that was parked in the driveway. She glanced at Avery who was hypnotized by a basketball game and she sighed loudly. The old house was exactly the same as she remembered it, although it had been almost five years since she'd been back.

After graduating high school, Corinne surprised everyone – her family, friends, and boyfriend – and packed everything to move out to California, searching for some kind of fame or fortune. Unfortunately, things hadn't worked out. After five years of living in an apartment the size of a shoebox, all she had to show for her time in Los Angeles was a measly cereal commercial, a killer tan and a couple thousand dollars worth of credit card debt. Struggling actor didn't even begin to describe her at this point. Something like broke or unemployed would have been more appropriate.

Luckily, her older brother had been nice enough to let her come stay. He'd taken over the payments on the old house just a few months before, after their father had passed away and their mother had remarried and moved across the state. Now, it was just Avery and his dog PJ in the three-bedroom house, and Corinne was glad for that. The relationship between her and her mother had become strained during her time away, and she hadn't spoken to her in months. Corinne hadn't even tried to make it out to Portland for her wedding.

She sighed again and leaned her head back into the fluffy cushion of the couch, tugging at one of the frayed strings on her ripped jeans. "Have you talked to Mom lately?" She asked carefully.

Avery turned towards her, his eyes on hers. "Yeah, yesterday. I told her you were coming back."

Corinne groaned. "Thanks a lot."

Avery was silent as he turned back to the TV and flipped to the local news, then faced her again. "You should really try and talk to her, Cory."

She looked down at her hands. "I know."

"Like, soon. She misses you."

She nodded, but didn't respond. That definitely wasn't on the top of her to-do list. Not with everything that had happened. "Well," she said, standing up. "I guess I'll get back to the moving thing." She nudged her brother and wriggled her eyebrows. "Don't you want to help me?"

Avery laughed and sat up. "I guess I can give you a hand," he said. "But you're cooking me dinner tonight. I haven't had real food in months."

Corinne smiled. That, she could do. "Deal."

The last of the boxes were lined up outside of her old bedroom door, but Corinne wasn't in the mood to unpack them. After a full day of unloading her stuff, she was tired. She walked over to the window and pulled the blinds up, unlatching the glass and sliding it upwards so the afternoon breeze could sweep through the room.

She sighed and leaned against the wall, looking out onto the street that she'd grown up on. So many things had changed since then, but standing there in that same spot she'd gotten so used to over the years, they didn't feel so different.

She watched, curious, as a blue car started making its way down Mulberry Street, coming fast and loud. As soon as she recognized the purr of the engine and the curve of the car's body, her heart was racing in her chest. That was Liam Callahan's car. That was her all-too-perfect, all-too-gorgeous high school boyfriend's car.

The Mustang was more than she remembered it to be. The steel blue paint was shiny, not dull, and the loud clunking noise that she'd had to learn to ignore back then was now gone. Still, she knew. She would know that car anywhere.

She watched with interest as the car slowed in front of her house and whipped into the driveway across the street. The Callahan house. Could he really still live across the street? Was there any way that God could possibly be that good? Corinne swore up and down that if Liam Callahan really did live across the street, in that same house he'd lived in since he was two, she would fall to her knees and praise Him until she lost her voice.

The driver climbed out of the car and although Corinne could only catch a glimpse of the back of his head, she just knew it. That shaggy black hair, those broad shoulders – it was undeniably Liam. She grinned, her cheeks aching, and leaned her head out the window. She was about to call out to him when she stopped herself and drew back into the room. How could she have forgotten?

Liam Callahan hated her.

She'd broken his heart, made him cry, and told him she didn't want him anymore. It had been a lie, but it was the only option she'd had. California was the only thing she could focus on – getting out of Portland had been the only thing she could focus on. Liam had somehow faded away into the background.

She smiled as she thought of Liam in all of his tall, dark and handsome glory, remembering their first kiss on the front steps of the very house she was living in again, how all of the girls in her class had been jealous of her for snagging a senior.

Liam was two years older than Corinne, the same age as Avery, and after years and years of pining away for him from afar, he'd finally asked her out on her sixteenth birthday. It never ceased to amaze her that she'd gotten an older boy's attention, and, not only that, but kept it. Even after Liam graduated, the two of them stayed together. He worked at his dad's auto repair shop while she finished school and they'd planned to figure out the rest together, when the time came. Obviously, things changed before they got to that point.

Up until then it had been the perfect relationship and Corinne had spent a lot of time in the past five years wondering what might have been if she'd stayed with him.

She regretted letting him go so easily.

She stood up straight and sighed as she walked way from the window. Maybe he wouldn't give her a chance now, but if she tried hard enough…

She was just going to have to think of a way to make it up to him, and maybe he'd give her a second chance. Now she only had to hope that it wasn't too late.

Avery stuffed another ravioli into his mouth and shook his head violently, as if he couldn't believe it. "I still don't understand how the hell you learned to cook like this," he said, his mouth full. "I mean, damn, Cory. This is good." He settled deeper into his spot on the couch and nodded appreciatively at her before he started flipping through the TV channels.

Corinne smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "Thanks. I took a couple of cooking classes in California," she said, taking a bite. "I guess I kind of liked it."

Avery grinned at his sister. "Well, you can cook me dinner every night then, if you cook like this. I thought for sure you'd be worse than Mom and we'd have takeout every night."

She laughed and shook her head. "Avery, no one's worse than Mom at cooking."

He nodded and cringed as he thought of a particular recipe gone bad. "Ugh, remember Mom's meat loaf?" He asked, setting his fork down and wiping his mouth. "Now that was sick."

"It looked like it had a tumor or something," Corinne agreed, laughing. "There was like some weird growth coming out of the side of it. Mad cow disease meat loaf."

Avery laughed and shook his head. "So, have you called her yet?"

Corinne sighed. She wasn't in the mood to talk about all of that. She glared at her brother to let him know that she didn't appreciate the grilling, then changed the subject. "Hey, was that Liam Callahan's Mustang I saw parked across the street?" She figured now would be as good a time as any to squeeze that one in there.

Her brother sat up and glanced over at her, shrugging his shoulders. "Yup."

She nodded and gave a little half-smile at the thought of winning Liam over with her new cooking skills. Every man appreciated a good meal, right? Surely Liam would be no different. Maybe she could bring him a pie or something. Pie said all kinds of things to a man. She was in the middle of planning a recipe when Avery interrupted her thoughts.

"I don't think it's his anymore, though," he added, watching her as he spoke. He was curious as to why she was asking now, after all of that time.

"Oh?" Corinne slumped in her seat. "Whose is it?"

"I dunno," Avery shrugged. "Probably Rhett's, seeing as he's the one living there and all. Been living there since the Callahans moved to Florida last year."

She frowned. "Rhett?" She asked, her voice full of obvious disdain. "You mean Liam gave his Mustang to Rhett?" Just the thought of Liam's younger brother almost had her in a fit. She couldn't stand him.

"I guess so," he said, rolling his eyes. "How should I know? And why does it sound like you're about to convulse at the very mention of the kid?"

Corinne sat up straight, suddenly losing her appetite. So "Liam" had really been Rhett? She pushed her plate further away from her on the coffee table and sighed. "He's just so…" She stopped and shook her head. "Gross."

Avery laughed and leaned forward to grab her plate, stuffing a few more of her raviolis into his mouth. "Why is he gross, Cory? He seems decent to me. Now, anyways."

"Yeah," she said, scowling. "I'm so sure. He used to make my life a living hell, you know."

Rhett had landed himself on Corinne's shit list early in life when, at the age of seven, he shot her from across the street with his brother's BB gun. It hadn't done any damage, but Corinne still had a tiny pink scar on her thigh from where the pellet had hit her. She hadn't liked him since.

"I know. I used to help him bug the crap out of you half the time. Until you started hooking up with Liam," Avery said, making a face. "Now that's gross."

Corinne perked up at the sound of Liam's name and glanced curiously at her brother, wondering how much he might know. Ignoring his comment, she leaned forward. "So where's Liam, then? If it's just…Rhett in the house?"

Avery laughed again at the way she said his name and nodded towards the TV. "I dunno where he lives or anything," he said, shrugging, "but I'm pretty sure that he's on TV right now, if you wanted to see him or something."

Corinne raised her eyebrows and Avery nodded again at the television. She looked up and had to catch her breath at what she saw. Sure enough it was Liam Callahan, dressed in a sharp gray suit that she was certain would bring out the gray flecks in his blue eyes, his megawatt smile brilliant against the backdrop of the week's weather forecast. "And in true Portland fashion we have rain, rain and more rain coming through this week, especially in the mornings." He motioned to a line of storms on the radar and smiled that smile that could probably stop hearts.

"He's the weatherman?" Corinne blurted out, her knees weak from his perfection. "The weatherman?" Never in her life had she seen that one coming. "What in the…"

"Just got the job a few months ago," Avery said, grinning at his sister's surprise. "He's pretty good, I guess, but I liked the chick they used to have a lot better. She was smokin' hot, man."

Corinne ignored her brother's comment as she watched Liam on the screen, still as perfect as he'd always been. "The weatherman?" She mumbled under her breath. She couldn't believe how things were turning out.

Here she was, back in Portland, back in her childhood home, expecting things to pick up from where she'd left them. She realized now how silly she had been. Instead of things picking up from where she'd left them, they'd totally left her behind.

Rhett Callahan, her sworn enemy, was still living across the street and driving the Mustang she'd lost her virginity in while Liam, her first true love, was busy talking about cold fronts and thundershowers. It was all kinds of wrong.

Things had changed, all right. And there she was, the same old Corinne that she'd always been. She couldn't help but feel like she had missed the memo that told everyone to do a complete one-eighty from what they'd been. For the first time since she'd left for California five years ago, she felt like she was the one being left behind.