Age: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy it: Amazon
Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?
Read the First 3 Chapters here
SashaAn airplane flies overhead. I duck behind a tree on the side of the road. The plane is miles up in the air, but it could decide to come down to hit a building. Not that there are any tall buildings in Palmdale. Palm trees, the desert and a collection of strip malls along the highway, then some houses and more desert. Except for the Air Force base. That could be a target. But even the base is spread out, hard to hit.
I’m back on the sidewalk and I don’t think anyone noticed. People tend not to notice me. I’m one of those pale, shy girls. I hate being a stereotype, but I can’t control the shy part so I tried to get a tan last year. Instead I turned lobster red and started shedding my outer layer of skin like a snake. We’ve got lots of snakes out here at the edge of the world. The high desert. As far out as you can live and still commute into Los Angeles. We moved here because my dad hated the city. He and Mom emigrated from Russia before I was born. They wanted choices for my brother, Xander. L.A. was the dream of the free world. To my mom it still is. Fifty different flavors of ice cream in the grocery store. Out here we just get 30. She feels deprived even though she won’t touch ice cream, too many carbs.
My dad is obsessed with the clean air out here. Easy to have clean air when your only neighbors are snakes.
My dad noticed I was shedding. Generations of our family lived in the snow, in Siberia. My grandmother used to claim she was descended from royalty. Pale skin, dark black hair, the sign of royalty. He wants me to be proud of my heritage.
Too bad here in California, dark hair, pale skin equals shy girl. My genes won’t give me any other choice, so I’m going with it. Shy is me, I’m comfortable with it, the world is comfortable with it. If I wear baggy clothes, my mom complains no one can see my curves, but they also can’t see my fat. If I stay out of the sun, I’ll have amazing skin when I’m older. If I don’t blow dry my hair, it will stay strong and shiny. If I don’t wear makeup, my skin will be clear. Except for that new healthy skin makeup. I hate that. You try to look pretty now, you should have to pay later. There has to be some justice.
My brother sits in his pickup truck in front of our house, if you feel like being generous and calling it that. In the ’50s, they called them bungalows, but really it’s one step above a shack. All my dad cares about is that it’s all ours. It’s land that we own.
Except for the land under the topsoil, the oil company owns that. They can drill all they want. He hates it when I remind him. It’s his little piece of heaven, with his pride and joy. Xander his pride and me his joy, when I’m in a good mood and smile like a good little girl, which is almost never.
Xander didn’t even pull in the driveway, and he’s not getting out of his pickup truck. Bet he had another fight with his girlfriend.
He doesn’t answer. The truck is turned off but he’s holding onto the steering wheel tight, like he’s speeding and needs to keep control. I climb into the passenger seat. He doesn’t look at me.
“I did something stupid, and I don’t know how to undo it. You better get out.” “Let me help.”
“Sasha, you can’t get me out of this one.”
He’s still gripping the wheel, staring in the rearview mirror.
“Are you waiting for someone?”
“I don’t know if anyone saw.”
Sirens blare as a cop car turns down our street. Before I even see the lights and
believe this is really happening, Xander turns the key and speeds into traffic. “Put on your seatbelt.”
“Let me out.”
He turns a corner fast and my boobs slam against the side door. Ow. I’m going
to have a bruise. Not that anyone will see. How can I be worrying about that now? “Sasha, tell me what to do.”
“Stop, explain it to them.”
“How? I can’t even explain it to you.”
“You were sitting in front of our house. They know who you are, where you live. You have to stop.”
He turns to look at me. I’m getting through to him. Xander slams his foot on the brake. I see through his driver’s side window a truck thought we were going to sail through the intersection. Too late for the semi to stop now.
Xander senses my fear and turns, facing the oncoming truck. “Hold on.”
He lets go of the wheel to hold my hand.
Continue Reading to check out Chapters 2 and 3
You know when you’re walking on the sidewalk and you see someone you recognize, a kid from English class, your mom’s friend, the hot guy you kissed at camp when you were eight, who doesn’t even remember you exist now, and you almost smile, so they know you see them. Then there’s that long walk the rest of the way until they pass you. What are you supposed to do, smile more, talk? No way. My default, look at the ground, like the leaves brushing by are so fascinating. Or, if you’re lucky, there will be a caterpillar you can pretend you think is cute if they ask what caught your eye. But they never ask, because you are invisible. Or at least I am. But not today. No more time to waste. Life is too short. I will not throw it away being too afraid. But I am scared. Baby steps. Here I go.
I make myself look up even though it’s Will, the new guy who moved into the falling apart old house across from the school that always has someone new living in it because no one can stand the noise from all the obnoxious high school kids. All the other kids, because, of course, I’m not only invisible but quiet, too.
He’s not a kid. He’s not older, just cooler. Not a kid, not a boy, but a guy. So I look up and do my almost smile, so I can’t be accused of smiling if someone is watching and wants to make fun of me for having a crush. Not that anyone would see me. But that’s the secret about us invisible kids, we all know you’re always watching us, waiting for us to mess up so you can point and laugh. But he’s not watching me. His buds throw a basketball. Boom. It almost hits my head, but I move just in time. They weren’t aiming at me, they were throwing him the ball and Will grabs it and is off to the hoops, a crowd of girls watching.
How do those girls stay so thin? All they ever do is sit around watching the guys play. Waste of time. But they’re not invisible and that’s my new promise right? To try to break out of this shy thing, put myself out there in the world. What’s the point of living if you’re watching it from the sidelines on the bench? So I head to the bench. Hey, for me, it’s a move up.
“What happened to your neck?”
It’s Carmen. One of the perfect girls, except she’s actually nice, usually. Everyone stares at my scar.
“Wow. Were you like, thrown into the street and run over?”
Amber loves gossip.
“My brother’s truck was run over, by an even bigger truck.”
“Can I see?”
They all crowd to see and touch. Amber is not so gentle. I pull away. Carmen
looks at me strangely, like I’m an alien.
“Did you float out of your body and die?” “No.”
They are clearly bored by this response. “But it changed my life.”
That’s not enough for Amber, but Carmen is still looking at me as everyone turns to watch Will and his buds to see who can hang onto the rim the longest. Well, they haven’t asked me to leave. Maybe this breaking out of your shell thing isn’t so hard. What was I afraid of all those years?
I lean on the bench, letting my muscles, which have been so tense they hurt, relax. The bench slides back with a screech. Everyone stares and it’s not the cool- you’ve-got-a-scar stare. I want to run and hide. But they’d see me run. And when I woke up after the accident I promised myself, if I live through this I’m going to really start living. So they are all staring, at least I’m not invisible.
WillThere’s that girl, the one with the scar. She’s lucky everyone knows where her soft spot is. Mine, no one knows. So they poke at it all the time.
Jake Jenkins is giving me attitude. Thinks he can dribble around me. Jake Jenkins who suspects the girls don’t dig him anymore because they’ve got eyes on me. I hear the girls only started checking out our pick-up games after I moved here. He shoves, I shove back. He bets I’ll back down, but I won’t. Jenkins pushes me again. Trips me. I can take him with me, but don’t. I can handle hitting the blacktop, getting scratches that for a second look like Chex sprinkled with blood. Sometimes it’s good to have marks on you because when you look in the mirror and it hurts, there’s something to blame.