PART ONE CHAPTER ONE

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T

HE MOMENT YOUR UNIVERSE SPINS OUT of control and collides with something so much greater than yourself, your initial reaction is shock and fright—a deep-seeded fear that runs through every inch of your body and brain. As you are jounced from your course, silence surrounds you, haunting you as the world around tilts off its axis. All you can do is wait for the fall.

Everything close to the orbit of you, and him, spins until it's out of view. In the reflection of his eyes, the silence fills you, and you come to realize for the first time that perhaps it is the world that has always been askew, and not you. Because now it is all crystal clear. And the silence actually means something.

In the quiet of the ashes and whispers of your past life, all that is to come engulfs you, and the collision becomes an impact of life itself.


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H

IS VOICE ECHOES THROUGHOUT THE VAST room. It's a voice I feel I could know, one that is as familiar to me as his handsome face. When he moves, the bunk's springs squeak like a little rodent that is desperate to scurry away. I don't mean to stare but those soft gorgeous lips and strong jaw, the warm smile that brings sparkle to his honey-colored eyes, forth a loud voice in my head, telling me this boy can be trusted.

Lingering beneath his gentle stare I can see something else, the embers of concern. They drown out the spark in his stare as he waits for my answer.

Why would he show me this consideration? I don't know who this beautiful stranger is.

I look around, realizing that I don't even know who I am. Or, if the blue cotton uniform I am wearing is even mine. I glance back down at the green tin cup I hold in my hands, and the sweet and salty aroma of corn soup fills my nostrils.

"Are you sure you're okay?" His voice is calm, but the quickening thump of his pulse and the tight set in his jaw relays something else entirely.

He inches closer, beads of sweat darkening his dusty blond hair, giving away the secret he is trying so hard to hide. He is upset. Nervous. Maybe both.

Is he withholding something?

Unknowingly, my head tilts to the side, trying to figure out what happened to me, and who this perfect stranger might be. And why I think I might know him. The stabbing sensation in my head throbs with each breath I take, making it hard for me to think clearly. I feel wrapped up in a thick fog, and just beyond it lives some useable memory.

From across the room, I stare at dirty clothes disregarded near the burn shoot. They reek of vomit and old blood. Staring at the clothes, I can immediately tell they belong to a female. The material is new, stretchy, and cut for a slim, short figure. Quickly glancing down at my body, I assume they could be mine―those clothes most definitely hold clues as to who I really am.

My familiar stranger sits across from me on the bunk bed, his body turned slightly toward mine. My hand creeps up to my head wound wince at the feel of the raw, painful flesh. he immediately moves closer, his breath warm and sweet as he leans in is gentle fingers lift the hair from my forehead as he inspects the injury. "We need to get you to a doctor." His voice comes out shaky, uncertainty tainting his beautiful tone.

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