After the Rain

By: Jo Watson




Dedication

Firstly, this book is dedicated to all my incredible fans and readers who’ve made this possible by reading all my books and encouraging me to keep writing. Such awesomeness is still so unbelievable!

Secondly, my ridiculously patient and supportive fiancé. The coolest, most creative, cleverest person I know, who always inspires me to be better. (And makes me lovely, colorful book covers for free.)

And lastly, and as freakishly fangirl-ishly as ever and always – Depeche Mode. Writing (and many other things) is just not possible without Mode on a musical loop.




Prologue

The big ones





The universe is full of questions. Big questions. Strange questions. Wondrous, marvelous, magical questions that don’t have easy answers.

Who are we? Where do we come from? How did it all begin? Is there such a thing as destiny? Fate? Why is there never anything to watch on TV even though we have over 200 channels, and did ancient aliens really build the pyramids?

Well, that’s what this story is about and by the end of it, you will believe it all. (Perhaps not the thing about the aliens.)

Because there’s just no other possible explanation. How could two people like Marcus and Stormy-Rain have come together?

And who, pray tell, are Marcus and Stormy-Rain?

Why they are contradictions. Black and white. Night and day. Polar opposites who were brought together on a freakish collision course, in the strangest of ways, in the strangest of places and at the strangest of times (there’s a lot of strange in there – but you’ll soon see why).

Yes, this is a story about Fate. About inexplicable happenings and coincidences. About weird timings and uncanny events. This is a story about how the universe works in mysterious ways.

Very, very mysterious ways.





1

If humans were meant to fly

“Lilly, that’s totally tubular!” Stormy-Rain was probably the only person outside of the 1970s that still used the word “tubular”. And when she wasn’t using words that hadn’t been uttered in decades, she was making them up. A couple of months ago she’d tried to get the word “Funkadelic” circulating. For some reason, it hadn’t caught on.

“Yayness, I’m so happy for you guys,” Stormy said excitedly, feeling a genuine warm, fuzzy rush of happiness as she thought about her two favorite people getting married. “So when’s the big day?”

But as the words were out of her mouth, the phone’s speaker delivered a loud, angry hiss. This was an all-too-familiar sound that always forced her to run to the other end of her room. But when the hissy crackle continued to drown out their conversation, she resorted to sticking her head out the window of her tiny third-floor bachelor apartment. Her cell phone reception was always dodgy, which probably had something to do with the fact that her phone was a prehistoric relic from the 90s complete with jam-jar size buttons and an aerial that could easily take out someone’s eye – as everyone was so fond of pointing out. Not that she gave three continental hoots. Besides, she just didn’t understand everyone’s obsession with having the world at their fingertips 24/7, and on a phone of all things! Phones were for phoning. Not for Googling and Facebooking and You-Tweetering and GPSing – such technological things that were simply beyond her comprehension.

“The wedding will be on the 20th of September,” Lilly was shouting over the ever- increasing crackle. Stormy climbed out of the window and balanced dangerously on the rather rusty fire escape that probably hadn’t been repaired since the turn of the millennium. She did this often in her perpetual search for a reliable signal. But the reception always proved to be a sneaky thing.

“Wait? What’s Damien’s star sign again?” Stormy was practically shouting now, and a street vendor looked up at her curiously. She waved and smiled at him happily, careful not to lose her grip on the railing in the process.

“Leo!” Lilly screamed back.

“Okay, hold on, I need to check something quickly. Call me back in exactly five, I’m running out of airtime. Peace out.”

Stormy hung up, jumped back inside and raced across the room, almost tripping over her pet tortoise Elvis as she went. “Sorry guy,” she cooed as she reached down and gave him a quick apologetic pat on his little head.

At her bookshelf, she pulled out her large, well-thumbed astrology book and reached for her reading glasses. They were the only reading glasses she’d ever owned, and well over ten years old – the one cracked lens and wonky arm that had been sellotaped back together attested to that. But her philosophy was simple: why throw something away when it could still be used? She couldn’t afford new ones anyway.

She flipped the book open with a flourish and ran her neon purple nail down the wordy index column. “Leo, Leo, Leo where are you…? AH-HA, page 22.”

Stormy scanned the words on the page, ‘Uhm-ing’ and ‘Ah-ing’ as she went. She pulled out a pink pencil, which had been sharpened to within an inch of its life, and began scribbling some numbers and notes down on the back of an old envelope she’d fished out of her bin.