Table of Contents
“Are you afraid of me?”
“Absolutely not, and yes, with everything in my heart and soul,” I blurted without thought.
He chuckled, and looked directly at me for the first time in several minutes. “I’m not sure that qualifies as an answer—it’s more like a contradiction.”
“Up is down, remember? Besides, everything about you is a contradiction.” Pondering my word choice a little more carefully, I added, “You won’t hurt me. How I know that, I can’t say. But the ways you make me feel, Haden—that’s what frightens me. I know you’ll be my undoing.” I stepped towards him but he stepped back.
“Who was your first kiss?”
Heat rushed into my face. I flattered myself by thinking maybe he wanted to kiss me. I wished he wanted to kiss me. “I haven’t …” Squeezing my eyes closed, I began again. “I haven’t been kissed. Yet.”
I rolled my eyes at his innocence. “You obviously know I’m not like other girls. I’m shy and I don’t spend time with boys. My father is strict and—”
“That’s not why.”
He thought he knew me so well. “Fine. You tell me why I haven’t been kissed.”
I regretted the words and my tone instantly. What if he told me what I already knew? That I was lacking. Not interesting or pretty enough.
“You were waiting.”
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First published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, March 2011
Copyright © Gwen Hayes, 2011
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REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Falling under/Gwen Hayes.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47916-2
1. Demonology—Fiction. 2. Supernatural—Fiction. 3. Dreams—Fiction. 4. High schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction. I. Title.
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To Hayley Nicole, who will always be the little girl I love
and who is becoming the young woman I so admire
I’d like to thank my Sequim Middle School librarian, Jo Chinn, for nurturing my love of YA books. It was her passion for reading and her sense of humor and fun that got me through a few of those “iffy” years.
Thanks also to my critique partner, Ciar Cullen, for encouraging me to carry on when I had no idea what this story was, only that it scared me to write it. Also responsible for the mayhem are Bria Quinlan and Jodi Meadows, who understand about cheese and other necessary things.
My cover, my extraordinary cover, is a testament to the genius of the art department at NAL. A million thanks to Oceana Gottlieb and her crew, to Dana France, and to model Tara.
A special shout-out to Kat Sherbo, who makes all things possible, and to Jan McInroy, for her superhero copyediting skills. My undying gratitude goes to my phenomeliscious agent, Jessica Sinsheimer, who does all kinds of important things for me, but tells me about only the fun ones, and to Anne Sowards, who is so cool she makes me want to write things just to impress her. Seriously.
And, of course, thank you to my family. Their support made this dream a reality for me, and I am blessed beyond all reason to be surrounded with so much love. Also, thank you, Travis, for holding my hand through it all. I love you more.
verything changed the night I saw the burning man fall from the sky.
I’d been reading well past a reasonable hour, the white eyelet quilt tented over my iPhone to block any escaping light even though my father was already tucked away in bed dreaming of new ways to make me safer.
The cell phone was a compromise—I added extra music lessons to my scarce free time in exchange for a phone. It was win-win for Father; the few hours a day I wasn’t with him or sheltered in the safety of my pink and ivory room, decorated by a prestigious designer to gild my cage, I was now instantly accessible. In addition, there were now even fewer hours in which I might find trouble. He didn’t know I could read e-books on the phone; he didn’t even know what e-books were. Father just thought he’d finally broken me of reading by flashlight.
It would never have occurred to him that I hadn’t been broken—I’d graduated. Every night I went somewhere new and pretended to be someone else—someone interesting—on the device he’d purchased to control me more than he already did. A priceless freedom to a girl with a strange British accent living in the small town of Serendipity Falls, California, under her watchful father’s thumb.