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Chapter One - Memories

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*** The actress who I think best plays Alex is Alexandra Daddario ***

My fingers clutch the steering wheel. Get a grip, Alexandria. You can do this. I won't be locked up again.

I bite down on my lip so hard I draw blood. My tongue flicks over the small cut, the tinny taste blanketing my tongue. People are everywhere—walking and chatting with each other. They look so...normal.

Normal.

It's what I want to be, more than anything, I just don't know if I can.

"You'll be fine, Alex."

I look over at my brother Jason, or Jase, as I call him. He's only a year older than I am. We have the same blue eyes and our hair is the same shade as the coal this place is famous for. The encouragement on his face is enough to make me suppress the sigh aching to escape my lips. My brother is the one person I don't want to disappoint.

"Of course, I'll be fine." I give him my best smile and force my fingers to relax their grip on the wheel. "We need to eat."

Jason picked me up from Compton this morning and surprised me by letting me drive. Well, we'd shared driving duty. Compton is located in upstate New York. Jason made the drive and picked me up at exactly eight this morning. He'd been beat and made no fuss when I offered to drive. He'd slept most of the morning. I still can't believe he trusted me enough to fall asleep while I drove. I've only had my license a few months. Not sure I would have been so trusting in the same situation. Considering he picked me up from the nuthouse...yeah, no way would I have let him drive. The little diner we stopped at, The Coffee Shop, is located in our new hometown of Jacob's Fork, West Virginia. Jason swears they have the best burgers around. Considering it's after nine on a Friday night with lots of people walking around, the diner itself is quiet.

I hear the car door open and look over to see Jason getting out. He unfolds his six-foot frame from the car and stretches. He's much taller than my five foot eight inches. I'm tall for a girl, but he dwarfs me now. I've missed so much.

Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and open my own door. Baby steps. I can do this. It's much harder than I thought it would be, but I force myself out of the car. Jason gives me the biggest grin. I don't think he thought I'd actually get out. Honestly, I didn't either. This is my first outing outside of the nuthouse in...I don't even know how long.

The inside of the diner is just as quiet as it appears from the outside. Jason leads me to a booth near the back. The place looks like the seventies threw up in here. The orange vinyl of the booths and the chairs definitely needs some repairs. Several are ripped. A dingy, stained black and white tile floor adds to the retro look. The green tabletops and counter only enhance the outdated look. Ugly wood paneling on the walls screams for an update. The place is hideous, and I adore it.

The girl who comes over to take our order greets Jason by name and gives me a once over. I raise my eyebrows just a little. She's definitely sending off a jealous vibe as she writes down my food order.

"So is that the future Mrs. Jason Reed?" I tease.

Jason snorts. "Not in this lifetime."

"Aww, the future Mrs. Reed will be devastated."

"Michelle and I dated," he admitted. "She's mad I won't get back together with her."

"Michelle the cheater, Michelle?" I ask. He'd written to me two weeks ago about her. Jason really, really liked her, but she's a serial dater. My brother is a one-woman kind of guy, and he expects the same from the girls he dates.

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