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Chapter One

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        "NOW REMEMBER," MY BEST FRIEND, Amelia, said over the loudspeaker

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        "NOW REMEMBER," MY BEST FRIEND, Amelia, said over the loudspeaker. "Jace lives on the third floor, right beside the elevator. I don't know who approved the design. I mean, you'd think he lived in a cupboard, not a complex." Her singsong voice was light and airy, but I could hardly focus on her words. "The first time I went to visit him, I walked straight past his apartment, so don't forget—"

        "You've told me this, like, a billion times," I pointed out. I slowed my Volkswagen down and hung a sharp left, managing to catch my phone before it slid out of my lap. "I think I've got it."

        "God, Hayles, who peed in your Wheaties this morning?" she jested. "As if you're not rejoicing right now. You've been wanting to leave this place forever."

        That was true.

        I'd been desperate to leave Fowler's Hill ever since I was sixteen, and it wasn't because there was anything wrong with where I'd grown up. It was a picturesque and secluded little town with a tight-knit community; the mainstay of my near-perfect childhood.

        It had more to do with the fact that Fowler's Hill's population was a staggering two hundred, give or take. In such a small town, there was nowhere to hide after tragedy struck my family. No way to forget. For the last two years, living there had been a constant reminder of what I'd had to endure, and I knew it even wore thin on my parents occasionally.

        "I am," I eventually relented, crawling to a stop at another intersection. I sat forward and drummed my fingers on the dash anxiously. "I'm just tired. My mattress in the dorm was like sleeping on tissue paper, and you know how much I hate driving in unfamiliar places."

        Despite the fact that over a hundred miles stretched between us now, I could practically see Amelia roll her eyes. "Do I." She laughed. "I'm still scarred from that road trip with my..." The line went quiet, and I cringed, anticipating that the conversation was about to shift into dangerous territory. "Wait. This doesn't have anything to do with you being about to see my brother again, does it?"

        My insides churned at the very thought.

        Of course it did.

        Jace Hammond had featured in every one of my girlish fantasies for as long as I could remember, even though I was certain that he only thought of me as an honorary sibling. It had been almost a year since I'd last seen him, and my face still heated from the memory. He'd come home to visit the summer before my senior year, and at one of his parties, I'd completely embarrassed myself. Better yet, Jace's ex-girlfriend, Zoe, had shown up unexpectedly. 

        To be honest, most of that night was fuzzy. I'd been persuaded to drink by Amelia, and stupidly, I had tried to keep up with her. At least she was able to tolerate her alcohol and not act like a complete spaz. The same couldn't be said for me.

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