Authors: Lori Adams
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A FLIRT eBook Original
Copyright © 2014 by Lori Adams
by Cassie Mae copyright © 2013 by Cassie Mae
All Rights Reserved.
Published in the United States by FLIRT, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
FLIRT and the H
colophon are trademarks of Random House LLC.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
by Cassie Mae. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
Cover Design: Caroline Teagle
Cover image: © peepo/Getty Images
eBook ISBN 978-0-345-54925-9
Things That Almost Never Happen
I always know I’m in trouble when I hear devilish laughter.
Could be my overactive imagination. Could be I’m losing my mind. Or it could be that I am being watched by some evil entity that finds me particularly amusing. Not that I’m superstitious or anything, but lately I have been hearing some pretty weird stuff. It’s become too frequent for my taste, like one of those never-ending playground chants that grate on your nerves.
So when this motorcycle cop pulls me over, I’m not surprised to hear deep, sadistic laughter pinballing around in my head. Possible translations?
You’re screwed, Sophia. Steve is pressing charges and you’re headed to juvie
. Or, on a lighter note,
Time to see a good ear doctor, duh
I fiddle with the long brown braid resting over my shoulder and wait for the cop.
Please, please don’t give me a ticket!
It’s my first time being pulled over and I’m nervous as hell. Thankfully, Dad is a few miles ahead, pulling the U-Haul trailer that contains my meager seventeen years of existence. I’m glad he isn’t here because he hasn’t been himself lately. He would probably make things worse. Dad has withdrawn more than usual in the past two weeks. Well, really since the disastrous breakup with my ex-boyfriend, whom I now lovingly refer to as Psycho Steve. It was torture for Dad to see Psycho Steve’s anger left all over my face. Sometimes Dad acts like he was the one who got pummeled instead of me.
But I don’t blame him for shutting down, again. Mom died unexpectedly a few years ago and Dad is still an emotional wreck. We both are.
So it’s just Sundance, my golden retriever, and me in my red jeep Wrangler. The top is open and I know my hair is doing a strand-up comedy but the cool evening air was too comforting to avoid. It calms my nerves about moving to a new town. Being the daughter of a roaming pastor, I still haven’t gotten accustomed to relocating at the drop of a hat. Since Mom’s death, Dad has grown increasingly restless; we have moved four times in the last two years, everywhere from Monterey to Santa Barbara to San Diego. So basically, my college dreams of Stanford have not only been tossed by the roadside but run over, backed over, and pulverized by my car tires. I had just started my senior year at
Los Angeles High when—out of nowhere—Dad announced that we were leaving. No warning. No discussion. Just pack and go, and four days later here I am on the side of the road somewhere in Connecticut.
I grab my phone and shoot a text to Dad, letting him know I’m temporarily delayed. He’ll think I had to pee. I know I wasn’t speeding so hopefully this won’t take long.
I sigh and rub my aching neck. The cop is taking forever so I search for him in the rearview mirror, but my eyes are drawn beyond him to a big apricot sun setting behind a distant ridge. My eyes lock in place like I am hypnotized, and a familiar tingle darts up my spine. I feel a strange heaviness settle on me, the same sensation I had when I realized that Mom was never coming back. Life went still then and my vision blurred, but I could hear things without sound. And now, I hear the customary colors of sunset bleeding orange, pink, and purple into a blank, unused sky. It ignites a vague warning as it hisses and simmers, like it’s reprimanding me for staring at its coveted beauty. I feel its heat burning through me, melting my irises and boiling the liquid in my body until my organs are soup and my bones clatter into a heap. I am outside of myself, floating in a sea of blue light.…
I snap my eyes shut and take a deep, staccato breath.
God, Soph, get a freaking grip
The burning is such a familiar sensation that I am tempted to believe it has happened to me before, in a previous life.
If I believed in all that reincarnation shit.
A shiver runs through me and I exhale the madness that has inundated me for two weeks. I’ve been nursing the same headache for the same two weeks and it flares up now. My fingers pad along the scar on my eyebrow, compliments of Psycho Steve. I may have been on the wrong end of his fist but that was nothing compared to the way I defended myself.
I did say I’m not the superstitious type. I don’t go for voodoo or ghostly mumbo jumbo but the way I stopped Steve—well, my world has tilted a smidge.
I didn’t tell Dad the details of my bizarre behavior the night Steve attacked me. I didn’t tell anyone. The only person I would have confided in was Mom, if she had been alive. Not to get it off my chest or to hear her explain the impossibility of what I
I did, but because, on some bizarre level, I know Mom would’ve understood exactly what I did and how it changed me forever.
The cop is approaching, and my attention shifts to more immediate concerns.
“Evenin’, Miss. I’ll try to make this quick. I can see you’re in a hurry.”
His voice is rich with a funny eastern accent, which under lighter circumstances I would find amusing. But it’s been a grueling four-day drive from Los Angeles to Connecticut; I’m exhausted.
The cop looks me dead in the eye as if anticipating some smartass rebuke. I consider the logistics of mounting an argument. I know I wasn’t speeding, but I promised myself no more trouble. I smile politely.
He asks for my license and registration. I lay them onto his outstretched hand, and widen the smile just a tad more.
He isn’t looking at me. His eyes are cataloging the contents of my backseat.
“Where you headed?”
“Haven Hurst,” I say brightly, adding a touch of hope to the smile.
“You don’t live there,” he states accusingly, like I’m lying, and my shoulders slump. He’s not the friendly type, and I feel unwanted.
And then I remember my out-of-state tags and license. “Oh, yeah. I mean, no. I’m just moving there. Now. Today.” I hope to end on a happy note. Epic fail.
“Miss St. James, you have a lot of expensive equipment back there.”
The backseat is a dumping ground for my camera junk. It’s an expensive hobby but Dad indulged me a year after Mom died. Anything to distract me from asking about the strange circumstances of her death.
Over the past year, my collection of cameras and lenses and filters and tripods has multiplied like rabbits. The cop and I eyeball each other. I didn’t like his suspicious tone, and the unfairness is building inside me.…
I didn’t do anything wrong!
“Well, it’s mine!” I blurt out. “What, you think I stole it or something?”
Holy crap, here I go. Big, fat, stupid mouth
. Everybody knows when you claim you didn’t do something people think you
do it. It’s just these damned nerves. I’m always keyed-up when we move.
The cop rips a ticket from his pad and flips it over, scribbling on the back. “Tell you what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna take this to the newspaper office in Haven Hurst. The
. Give it to Miss Minnie. She’ll take care of everything. I’ll know if you don’t.” He gives me a warning look that feels all too parental. I’m bewildered. I stare at him and then read the ticket.