Authors: Cyn Balog
Tags: #Social Issues, #death, #Romance, #Juvenile Fiction, #Bedtime & Dreams, #Fantasy & Magic, #Family & Relationships, #Love & Romance, #Death & Dying, #Fiction, #School & Education, #Bereavement, #Love, #Grief, #Dreams, #Fantasy
For Sara and Gabrielle,
who made every sleepless night worth it
has been like a dream because of some very special people. As always, thank you to my writing BFF, Mandy Hubbard or Amanda Grace or whatever she goes by these days, who is the definition of persistence and determination and the reason I’ve been able to keep a positive outlook even on the very bleakest days. Thank you also to my many talented writer friends who have helped me over the past few months, including Brooke Taylor, Josh Berk, Keri Mikulski, Carrie Ryan, Saundra Mitchell, Aprilynne Pike, Michelle Zink, Maggie Stiefvater, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Teri Brown, Heather Dearly, and Cheryl Mansfield. You are all amazing.
Thank you to my agent, Jim McCarthy, and to Stephanie Elliott, Krista Vitola, and the rest of the people at Delacorte Press who had a role in bringing
to life. It has been such a pleasure working with all of you.
To my parents, Marilynn and Richard Reilly, thanks for everything. Thank you also to my mother-in-law, Gail Balog, for baby sitting and for promotional efforts, and to the rest of my family. A big thank-you to my grandfather, Orlando Bianco, whose own Ellis Island story served as the basis for Eron’s background, and to my mother for telling it to me.
Big hugs to anyone who has read my books or come out to support me at any of my events—I wouldn’t be able to do this without you. Your e-mails and letters keep me going every day and are treasured more than you can possibly know.
Special shout-out to anyone named Kiki. Your name isn’t really goofy. Try going through life with a last name that sounds like a character from
And I’ve saved the best for last. Thank you to Bri, Bun, and Brie, who are the reason behind everything good in my life. The moon for you.
riffin Colburn knew something was wrong the moment he slid into the driver’s seat
It was a twinge. Nothing more. He shook his head, blinked. Pushed it off
His Mustang started fine, like always. He revved the engine a few times, like always. He always said it was to keep it from stalling, which it sometimes did in cold weather, but really he loved to feel the power behind the car. It was old, but still fast and dangerous
He wouldn’t know how dangerous, though, until that night
As he backed out of the driveway, Julia blew him a long, exaggerated stage kiss, as if he were shipping off to war. As if she
she’d never see him again. Then she wiped some nonexistent tears from her eyes and pretended to sob hysterically into her hands. His headlights illuminated her slight, pale body, crowned with long reddish hair. She squinted in their glow and then smiled toothily, like a preschooler
He fed a Sinatra disc into his CD player and grinned back at her, then listened as Ol’ Blue Eyes crooned
, “Someday, when I’m awfully low.”
The tinkling of the piano keys drowned out the screeching of his tires, and as he began to sing along, he felt it, fiercer now. It started in his temples
trailed behind his eyes, the momentary shiver that comes somewhere between wakefulness and sleep
. Twinge. Twinge.
For a second, he felt as if he were falling. He blinked again, gripped the steering wheel to steady himself
This time, he squeezed his eyes closed, only for a moment. In that moment, the image of the beautiful young woman appeared
Whoa, he thought. Too many late nights. He sat up in the driver’s seat, stretched his spine. Usually when his mind wandered, it went to NFL playoffs. Or to the scantily clad, Playboy Playmate type of beauty. And yet, when he blinked again, he could see her, as plainly as if she were sitting in the passenger seat next to him. She was dressed in the pink silk of a fairy-tale princess, braiding her black waist-length hair. When she batted her heavy lashes, a slow smile spread on her face
Then her eyes focused on him. Shark’s eyes, two emotionless black buttons
He shook his head, rubbed one temple with his free hand, checked the seat beside him again. Nothing but his baseball glove and a grease-stained fast-food bag. I definitely need more sleep, he thought as he sped out of the neighborhood. He was halfway down Peasant when he felt a slow, warm caress run up his neck, down his chest—
His whole body lurched forward. It was almost like he skipped forward a few moments in time. He must have driven right through that stop sign on Peasant, because he couldn’t remember coming up to it. Instead, he found himself on Main Street, at an amber light, which normally he would have sped through, but sensing something was off, he slowed. Suddenly—
—he blinked and it was green again, without ever having turned red
“What the …” He gripped the wheel tighter
He thought about turning back, but only for a second. Griffin Colburn didn’t have a reputation for spinelessness
Just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes and I’ll be in bed. He pressed down on the accelerator, thinking of home
He blinked again
And she was there
This time, clearer
Beckoning to him
ou can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell!”
My eyes flicker open. All I see is a pink satin pillow, which I’ve clamped over my face to block out the rest of the world. When I remove it, I recoil in the morning sunlight like the undead and crane my neck to check the clock at my bedside.
Oh, hell no
Before I can theorize who on earth hates me enough to be playing cheesy disco music on the only day of the week I can sleep in, I realize that the noise is coming from under my other pillow. Grinding my teeth, I rip the pillow off the bed, throw it across the room, and see my cell phone vibrating there.
He’d been quiet for all of three minutes during our “study session” the night before, while I was fixing him cookies and milk, which was plenty of time for
him to reprogram my phone with music he knew would make me want to hurl. I quickly pick the phone up; the display says “private.” I know only one person who has a private number, all the easier to annoy me with. This is, without a doubt, the last time I’ll ever play Betty Crocker for him.
As I flip the cell open, my eyes trail to the floor, where I’ve thrown the proofs of our picture from prom. I’d been convinced I looked like a princess in that photograph, until he proudly showed me the proofs last night. He’d had his pointer and middle fingers behind me, giving me rabbit ears. Jerk. “What?” I groan.
“Ms. Devine?” The voice is professional, kind of effeminate … but I’m smarter than that. Griffin can disguise his voice better than anyone.
“Coby Baker from the
Bucks County Courier Times
I sigh. This is a good one. Last weekend, I won a major cash award from Publishers Clearinghouse, which was just too obvious, since I’m not that lucky. “And?” I snuggle back under the covers.
“Are you Julia Devine, Griffin Colburn’s girlfriend?”
“Who?” I ask innocently. There’s silence on the other end; I’ve caught him off guard, a small victory for me. “Yeah, I am. What about him?”
“I was hoping I could get a quote from you, as his girlfriend.”
Oh, I can give you a quote, I think, but I doubt any paper would be able to publish it.
I’m silent, choosing the words, when his voice comes through again, more serious. “I’m sorry for your loss, Ms. Devine.”
“Oh,” I say, thinking fast. “I thought this was about him robbing the 7-E again. Did he finally croak?”
“Um … a-are you …,” the voice stammers. “The car accident?”
,” I say. Wow, Griffin is pulling out all the stops today. “It slipped my mind. Okay. Let’s see. He was a really nice guy, except for that weird fungus. And the funny smell. He was always taking chances. Clearly he is responsible for his own undoing.” I pause. “How’s that?”