01. First Kiss

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My first husband died when I was twenty-three. It was a terribly tragic end to a great love story—especially considering the fact that I was the one who killed the cheating bastard.

Okay, that probably came out wrong. Did it make me seem a tiny bit unfeeling? Insensitive, maybe? I'm not, honestly. I'm just like any other young woman struggling to make her way in the world. Except for the fact that I occasionally kill people.

Perhaps I'd better start in the beginning?

This is supposed to be a diary, after all.

I grew up in a little village in Alabama called Hilly Springs—not the place you generally associate with violent deaths, except for the occasional crow shot by a farmer who hasn't heard of animal rights. My family lived in an old farmhouse on Main Street, the only street in town big enough to be called a street. We had an apple tree in the yard on which grew actual, big, fat, red apples, and a large hairy dog named Rex. That's about all I remember of being a really little kid. The rest of my early days is a little bit hazy.

Anyway, my story only really starts with my first day at Hilly Springs High School. My story really starts with Sam.


I stumbled, thrown back by the dark shape I'd just collided with. I had been about to enter the school's main building, when someone on his way out had rammed right into me.

"Argh!" I heard a voice exclaim somewhere above me. I wasn't very surprised. Whoever this was they had gotten their toes underneath my favorite pair of platform boots. Not a fate to be envied, trust me.

To judge from the voice, it was some boy.

I looked up and saw instantly that I had been completely mistaken. It wasn't just some boy. Oh no. It was some seriously hot boy! And I mean seriously! With dark green eyes, messy dark hair and a cheeky grin that could make any girl instantly forget the existence of any other males on the planet earth—well, except maybe for that lead singer in this band I really liked...

The boy's hotness wasn't even diminished by the fact that he was hopping on one foot and cursing profusely.

"O-oh, I'm so s-sorry," I stammered, hurrying forward to support him, and maybe find out if his biceps felt as nice as they looked through the T-shirt. "I didn't mean to hurt you!"

Grabbing the doorframe with one hand he managed to turn towards me and gave me a smile that looked suspiciously like a grimace. "It's... okay. You didn't." Raising an eyebrow, he asked, "You're new here, aren't you? I haven't seen you before."


"Hi." He held out the hand that wasn't clutching the doorframe and, like in a dream, I took it. It felt firm and oh so warm. "I'm Sam. What's your name?"

"C-Cassy. Cassidy."

"Hi, Ccassycassidy." He gave me his cheeky grin. "Nice to meet you."

Damn him! Was he teasing me? I might have stamped on his foot again for that if he weren't so hot. It would have been a shame to ruin such a nice-looking foot.

"Nice to meet you, too," I shot back. "What's Sam short for? Samantha?"

Pulling a tragic face, he placed his hand over his heart. "You wound my manly pride!" Suddenly his grin was back. "But I guess I deserved it. Hey, do you want to come and sit with our crowd at lunch? Me and a couple of my friends are throwing a little impromptu party in the cafeteria in honor of the school's nastiest math teacher's retirement, and you'd be welcome to join us."

Did I hear right? A boy had just asked me out on a date?

Well, not a date, precisely, because it was in the school cafeteria and there would be a bunch of his friends there. Still...

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