Rules of Rain
Author: Leah Scheier
Release Date: December 5, 2017
How far would you go to protect the ones you love?
Rain has taken care of Ethan all of their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and Rain takes comfort in being the one who holds their family together. It’s nice to be needed—to be the center of someone’s world. If only her longtime crush, Liam, would notice her too...
Then one night, her life is upended by a mistake she can’t undo. Suddenly Rain’s new romance begins to unravel along with her carefully constructed rules. Rain isn’t used to asking for help—and certainly not from Ethan. But the brother she’s always protected is the only one who can help her. And letting go of the past may be the only way for Rain to hold onto her relationships that matter most.
“I made a batch of Tums muffins.”
Liam blinks at me. “What’s a Tums muffin?”
“It’s one of my gluten- free experiments for Ethan. If you crush an antacid in the dough, it makes it fluffier and less rocklike. Ethan calls them Tums muffins. Except for him, I haven’t been able to get anyone to try them.”
“Yeah, you might want to rethink that name. You got some cold cuts or something? That’s what I usually have after school.”
I laugh and shake my head. “You mean like salami? God, no. My mom is terrified of processed meats.” “Really?”
I nod. “I think hot dogs may have caused my parents’ divorce.”
“That would make a great title for a talk show or something.” He grins at me. “How did that happen?”
I pull some organic cheddar and portobello mushrooms from the crisper and close the fridge. “My last memory of them together has to do with hot dogs. My mom was holding a pack of frozen Oscar Mayers in her hands, and my dad was scowling at her in the corner. And she was yelling, ‘This is what did it! This is why he’s like that. Because you keep feeding them this poison!’ And then she threw the package at him, and it hit him on the head.”
“Sorry I asked.”
“No worries. If you want, I can make you some algae flour pizza.”
“Algae what?” Hope’s warning pops into my head, and I shake it away. Isn’t the best advice to “be yourself?” Well, this is the way I flirt (I think), with the coolest, top- secret food tips I’ve gathered from years of research. “I have a small packet of algae flour I got at a trade show a while back. It’s pretty new— and kind of scandalous.”
My offer is the foodie equivalent of front row tickets to the Super Bowl. Seriously. No one has this stuff yet, and those who do certainly aren’t sharing. Probably because the company that was using it had to recall some of its products last year. But I’ve tested it in my own recipes with no problems at all. Still, I’m not surprised he doesn’t seem impressed.
“I’m sorry… Algae?”
“Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but you wouldn’t even know it’s there. And the dough comes out amazing! Algae is basically a substitute for everything— eggs, wheat, dairy…”
His lips twitch, and his brows come down. “You want me to try your pond scum pizza.”
I shut the refrigerator. “Oh, no, please don’t call it that. Just forget I mentioned it.”
“But I don’t want to forget.” He seems to be choking on suppressed laughter. “No one has ever offered me algae before. This is a special moment.”
“Never mind. Offer withdrawn.”
“I’m not making fun! I swear. I’ll eat the entire pizza. And no matter what it looks like, I promise I won’t post it on Instagram.”
I sink down on the kitchen stool and toss the package of mushrooms on the counter. “You saw the sperm pudding pic.”
“Everyone saw the sperm pudding pic.”
“That thing has ruined my reputation,” I mutter. “I was trying to find a way to make it look less…gross. Mike just caught it in the sperm stage. I’ve made improvements to the recipe since then. Like anyone cares.”
He smiles and clears his throat. “Well, I basically live on pasta and bologna sandwiches. So I’ll be happy to try your sperm pudding.” He chuckles quietly. “Hah. There’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.”
I get up from the stool and fetch a covered bowl from the counter. “You’re the first person to taste this since I’ve fixed it. It looks kind of like tapioca now.”
He lifts the spoon and sniffs, his eyes wary. “Holy crap,” he says after the first swallow.
“Rain, this is actually…good.”
“Just good? Could you be more specific? Since that photo went viral I don’t get very many volunteers to taste my recipes.”
His shocked expression is the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. “It’s fantastic. Like a cross between butterscotch and— ”
“Cashew cream. Yeah. And that’s raspberry syrup in the topping.”
“You should put this picture up,” he insists, scooping a giant spoonful into his mouth. “Like a ‘before and after’ piece. Show how far you’ve come.”
I feel my face getting warm. “I can post it to my blog. With the title ‘How You Like Me Now, Haters?’” And there goes Hope’s last piece of advice. I’m discussing my blog with my crush.
And he hasn’t run away. (Take that, traditional flirters.)
Leah Scheier works as a pediatrician and pens stories of romance and adventure. Her latest novel, Your Voice Is All I Hear, received a Starred Review from Booklist. She lives in Maryland. Learn more at leahscheier.com.
(2) copies of Rules of Rain