Authors: Kiersten White
“It’s okay. He doesn’t know he bought it for me.” I can’t figure out whether the idea of seeing James or never seeing him again hurts more. I don’t want to talk to him until I can decide. We walked the path together, but he almost took me so far down it I would have fallen off the edge. Not even he could have caught me then.
Annie laughs, and I wrap my arms around her, bury my face in her hair, soak her in enough to last me for as long as I need it to.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but … I think James has the right idea. Granted, I don’t trust him to actually do it well, but someone has to be here. Someone has to find these girls and help them before they get taken advantage of like we were. I think we’re doing a good thing.”
“You are,” I say, smiling. Annie is staying. I am leaving.
It is right.
Funny, what a freeing thing right is. And how … flexible it is. There is all sorts of right available to me now. Before, when I had to choose between Adam and James, I chose the hardest right path. It almost killed me. For now, I’m choosing the easiest right path.
It’s time to go. “Tell your grouchy boyfriend I said good-bye.”
Annie blushes deeply, touches her lips. “He’s not my
“I’m rolling my eyes,” I inform her. “A lot. And take care of Pixie for me.”
I smile. I know she will.
I have a date with the endless empty ocean. I am ready to leave.
I am choosing nothing, and, for once,
is exactly right.
For this, my sixth novel, a list of people who helped me along the way:
Noah, always, for being the foundation of my entire life and making it a happy one.
Elena, Jonah, and Ezra, for filling that life with more joy than I thought possible.
Erica Sussman, for always seeing through what I actually wrote to what I meant to have written, and helping me get there. Also for timeline angsting with me.
Michelle Wolfson, for being so much more than a literary agent—a friend, a business partner, and an ever-willing substitute curser for those times when I want those four-letter words but just can’t say them myself.
Natalie Whipple, for reading way too many drafts of this book and supporting me through all of them. Also for naming the book. Also for pretty much everything. Annie will always be yours.
Carrie Ryan, for reading not one but two books to be able to offer me a critique, and for making me realize (in the nicest, smartest way possible) that I needed to start completely over before it was too late to do so.
Stephanie Perkins, for our joint insanity that goes so far in keeping me sane. Meet you at the cottage?
Shannon Messenger, Daisy Whitney, and Jon Skovron, for various industry venting services—I value your friendships more than my suckily infrequent emails would indicate.
The phenomenal team at HarperTeen: Christina Colangelo, Tyler Infinger, Casey McIntyre, Michelle Taormina, Stephanie Stein, Jessica Berg, and everyone else I’ve had the privilege of working with. You make awesome books, and I feel so lucky to be a part of HarperTeen.
Mom and Dad, for creating a childhood in which I never doubted I could be a writer for a living. All the rest of my very large family, both natural and married-into, for the support and friendship.
All the friends who have been a part of my life, and the ones who will doubtlessly come in a future that I, fortunately, cannot see: thank you for liking me.
And finally, always, to my readers. The space in your heads you rent to me one book at a time is a very great privilege indeed. Thank you.
THE CHAOS OF STARS
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First published in Great Britain by HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014
HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollinsPublishers
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Copyright © 2014 by Kiersten Brazier
Girl image © SuperStock
Kiersten White asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
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Source ISBN: 9780007506347
Ebook Edition © 2013 ISBN: 9780007506354
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