"Sweet Secrets," part 1

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The events in this novelette take place before the trouble even begins to start for Honeytrap (which is coming as soon as "Sweet Secrets" is completed!)...

I'd do anything to have Carley, but she doesn't know I exist.

If the latest message on my phone hadn't name checked me, I would've swiped past it on my way to read all the other secrets from anonymous users on the TellTale app. Secrets like Sometimes I touch myself when I'm thinking about my teacher, or I like to keep my girlfriend's underwear in my office drawer.

But this wasn't some confessional meme I could ignore, especially since the words were overlaying a black-and-white selfie of a guy's silhouette, his face turned away from the lens, the rest of him in shadow so I couldn't tell what color his hair was or what the rest of him looked like. Also, this wasn't the first post from him about me.

A secret admirer?

Me? Carley Rios? The new girl in town?

At the thought, my heart raced, my skin flushed, and I wasn't sure if I was more flattered or scared of this unknown person who had sent the messages from less than ten miles away, according to their location status. And like any girl who was freaking out about a boy, I'd blabbed to someone else.

To the only friend I had in Aidan Falls so far.

That's why my new neighbor, Diana, was huddled with me in a corner of the party she'd dragged me to. While she checked the latest TellTale post on my screen, keeping my phone down by her blue-jean-skirted thigh, she swept a lowered, false-eyelash look around the room.

"Come out, come out wherever you are," she said under the country rock song blasting in the family room of some guy I didn't even know. I hadn't been around Aidan Falls long enough to know much of anyone. My stepdad told me I should get my butt into community college, where I could actually avoid failing classes and meet people at the same time, but ever since I'd dropped out of UCLA, I had no interest. Or maybe I should say no confidence.

I made a move for my phone, thinking that Diana could really be less obvious about comparing the shadowed profile on the TellTale post with all the guys around us. They were older than me and Diana, playing Quarters at the dining table and throwing down beers, hanging around in their Wranglers and boots while chatting up pretty girls with bouncy hair and tight T-shirts.

"Do you have to gape at the picture so much?" I asked when she held the phone away from me. "You got me here by telling me you already had a good idea of who sent this."

"And I do. It's just that he's not here yet. I'm sure he will be, though. He knows the guy who's throwing this poor excuse for a rager." She swiped through more TellTale posts and smiled. Her lips were shimmery pink, her blond hair in two ponytails, making her look like someone's kissin' cousin. "Hey, these posts are actually pretty entertaining. Someone within five miles likes to lay out in the nude in their backyard at night, even right now with the spring rain. Talk about letting it all hang out."

I finally snatched the phone before she could check my home page and see all the TellTales I'd been leaving ever since I'd moved to Aidan Falls-posts about feeling aimless, lost, and alone ever since my stepdad moved me and my mom from our place in LA to his suburban digs in this tight-knit little Texas town. Secrets about how I hated not being able to afford my own place and how it made me feel like a leech. Confessions about how I'd joined TellTale to feel like I knew more people than just Diana and how I was embarrassed to talk to my friends from home because they were still in college and I hadn't been able to make the grade.

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