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Authors: Cole Gibsen

Breathless

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Table of Contents

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41
Aknowledgements

COLE GIBSEN

www.crescentmoonpress.com

Breathless

Cole Gibsen

ISBN: 978-1-937254-27-8

E-ISBN: 978-1-937254-28-5

© Copyright Cole Gibsen 2012

Al rights reserved

Cover Art: Jeannie Ruesch

Editor: Rochel e French

Layout/Typesetting: jimandzetta.com

Crescent Moon Press

1385 Highway 35

Box 269

Middletown, NJ 07748

Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

Al Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Crescent Moon Press electronic publication/print publication: March 2012 www.crescentmoonpress.com

Dedication

To my mother, who always found money for a book even in the hardest of times.

Chapter 1

Only three more hours until my curfew. Three long hours of biting my tongue and pretending I wanted to be on the boat when, real y, I wanted to be anywhere but here.

Marty Sherwood, my horrible mistake of a date, ran his hands along the edge of my swimsuit, pul ing me from my thoughts and making my body grow rigid. Before he could shove his fingers underneath the elastic, I quickly crossed my legs.

He laughed, resting his hand on my thigh. “God, Edith, when I asked you out I had no idea you emo-types were so uptight.” His lingering touch, along with the smel of his breath—a combination of beer and cigarettes—fil ed my stomach with something sour.

I shrank back against the side of the speedboat and brushed away the dark hair that the wind was whipping across my eyes. “I’m not uptight,” I yel ed over the roar of the motor. “I’m cold.” But that was a lie. The truth was, the only thing keeping me from diving off the boat was the growing distance between me and the shore.

He shrugged. “Sure. I stil think you’d have more fun if you’d drink a beer.”

Actually, I’d have more fun letting a dentist pull out all my teeth
. Only two hours and fifty-two minutes to go . . .

Russel Talbert twisted in the captain’s seat to look back at me. “I’ve got some weed if that’s more your thing.”

Huh. High school quarterback
and
a pothead? Shocker.

I shook my head and wrapped my arms around the plain black Speedo clinging to my body, desperately wishing I hadn’t abandoned my jeans in Marty’s trunk.

Marty dropped his hand from my leg and huffed. “I can tel you’re going to be a
lot
of fun.”

“Wel , if she doesn’t want to smoke, I do.” Gabriel e glared at me from behind sunglasses the same bubblegum pink color as her swimsuit.

I marveled at the fact I’d managed to end up on a boat with the kind of girl who color-coordinated her sunglasses to her outfit.

“Where’s your hitter, Russel ?” Gabriel e asked.

“Atta girl!” Russel took his hand off the wheel to swat at her butt. “In the bag with the beer. Inside the side pocket.”

Gabriel e raised her pointed nose in the air and trotted past me. She was the captain of our school’s equestrian team and played the part wel . I wondered if the bouncing walk was something she picked up after riding al those horses. But—if the rumors of her reputation were true—horses weren’t the only things she rode regularly. She grabbed a red duffel bag off a bench and rummaged through it. “Here it is!” she said, pul ing out a smal wooden box and a plastic bag of weed. She stood and tucked her streaming blond hair behind her ears. “Who wants to pack?”

“Give it here.” Marty reached his hand out.

Gabriel e smirked at me as she handed him the box. “Maybe we can find you a box of razor blades if that’s more your thing?”

Right. Because I wear black I’m automatically a cutter.
I sucked in a gulp of salty air and held it until my boiling anger reduced to a simmer.

When I felt I could safely answer her without saying something that would get me in trouble, I stil had to force the words through clenched teeth. “I’m fine, thanks.” But, truthful y, if she had a box of razor blades, I wouldn’t turn them down. I could tape them to my swimsuit and maybe then Marty would stop trying to feel me up.

Gabriel e shrugged. “Whatever.” She turned to Russel . “We’re far enough from the shore, and I don’t see the Coast Guard. I think it’s safe to light up.”

Russel nodded and eased the boat to a halt, then kil ed the engine. He left his seat behind the wheel and crossed the boat, kicking several beer cans out of his way before sitting beside Gabriel e.

I pretended to study the distant shore of Florida’s Destin Beach, where we’d come from, as Marty ground the metal pipe against the weed in his palm. I pul ed my legs up onto the narrow plastic bench and hugged my knees against my chest. If only Sir could see me now. My stepdad would total y have a heart attack, but it would serve him right.

Before the move to Eglin Air Force Base, Sir had made it clear that when we arrived, I was to do things differently than I had at the last base. I wasn’t to stay in my room scribbling emo poetry in my notebooks. I was to make friends and sign up for extracurricular activities. I wasn’t to be caught with the obituary section of his paper again. And I didn’t even want to know what would happen if I disobeyed. So when Martin Sherwood, son of Lieutenant Colonel Sherwood, had asked me out, I’d agreed solely to make Sir happy.

If I wasn’t so miserable, I might have found the irony funny.

“Marty says you’re a military brat,” Gabriel e’s shril voice shattered what little serenity the sound of the waves brought me.

“Air Force,” I said. “We were last stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Il inois.”

“Meaning that since you just got here, there’s no chance you’l be moving anytime soon?” Her smile was sweet, but it didn’t mask the venom on her tongue.

“I don’t think so.” As long as I played by Sir’s rules and didn’t give him a reason to send me off to military school, that is. If I could make it until graduation, then I’d go off to col ege. I’d final y able to live my own life. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do to make that happen—even if it meant getting pawed at by Marty and hanging out with his pothead friends.

“Oh.” Gabriel e didn’t bother to hide the disappointment in her voice. “How long have you been going to our school, anyway?”

I shrugged. “About a month.”

“That’s weird. Al that time and I’ve never noticed you.”

I knew she meant it as an insult, but I was comforted that she hadn’t noticed me. Wearing black kept me off the radar of people like Gabriel e.

Which was exactly why I wore it—to keep people away. Wel , that, and to remember what I’d lost. Death sets you apart from other people. It marks you. And when people sense that you’ve been scarred by death, they don’t want to be friends anymore. I found that if I kept them away in the first place, getting through high school became a lot easier.

Gabriel e flipped a lock of hair behind her shoulder. “How did
you
find her, Marty?” Her tone made it more of an accusation.

Marty finished dragging on the pipe and coughed several times before answering. “Edith sits in front of me in Chem.” He passed the pipe to Russel , then threw his arm around me. “You know I can’t resist fresh meat.”

Two hours and twenty-eight minutes to go.
I twisted my head toward the Gulf, letting the ocean breeze push away the smel of Marty’s sweat.

You can do this, Edith.
Two hours was nothing. I’d be home, alone in my room, before I knew it. I’d never have to hang out with these people again.

Sir would be appeased because I’d done what he asked and tried to make friends. How was I supposed to know when I’d agreed to this date that these people were al losers? I placed my hand on my throat and nervously fingered the strand of pearls I wore.

Gabriel e twitched her head like a falcon watching the movements of a mouse. “What’s with the necklace? Isn’t it a little old-fashioned?”

“My aunt . . .” The sound of a motor growled and I let the sentence hang in the air. Gabriel e twisted on the bench, no longer interested in what I had to say.

“Shit!” Russel cried, tossing the metal pipe into his bag. “Is it the Guard?”

Gabriel e squealed and clasped her hands together. “No! It’s Scott!”

I had no idea who Scott was, but if Gabriel e was thril ed, his arrival probably meant that the day’s suck meter was about to move a few notches higher. The red boat that stopped next to us was easily twice as big and occupied by girls I recognized from the cheerleading squad, along with a half-dozen footbal players.

A bronze-skinned, lanky boy raised a beer as he leaned over the side. “Hey Russel ! Did your piece-of-crap final y bite it?” Several oil-slicked girls tittered from the bow.

Russel stood up and chucked an empty beer can into the waves. “You wish, Scott. This baby could shred your boat any day.”

Scott crossed his arms. “Is that so?”

Marty dropped his arm from my shoulders and rose to his feet. Scott snorted. “Come off it.”

While I was thankful for the reprieve of Marty’s hands, the tension mounting between the two boats buzzed along my skin like an electric current.

“That’s funny, that’s what your mom said last night,” Russel replied.

Gabriel e wrapped her arms around Russel ’s neck and threw her head back, laughing. Russel snaked an arm around her waist and hiked her tightly against his hip. She giggled louder, along with the occupants of Scott’s boat.

Scott’s jaw tightened. “Screw you, Russel .”

“Weren’t you listening? Your mom already took care of it.”

Scott’s cheeks burned red until his whole face was flushed. “If you’re so certain your raft can take me on, how about you prove it?”

“Right on!” Marty shouted. “Russel , let’s smoke him.”

My stomach tightened as I mental y calculated al of the beers Russel had downed. “Marty,” I stood and tugged on his arm. “I don’t think that is such a good idea.”

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