Chapter 1: New York

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It's terrifying how death can materialize in a single, silent moment, completely unnoticed by the rest of the world. I was lying on the couch, tucked into a cocoon of blankets and attempting to control the shivers that were running through my body like a current. As the morning slipped by, I drifted in and out of consciousness and it must have happened sometime then, when my family disappeared out of existence. 

When I could no longer sleep, I pulled a shaky hand out of my warm haven and grabbed the remote; cartoons always made me feel better. The news channel flickered onto the screen. A news reporter stated in a monotone voice that the famous Bill Howard—C.E.O of the Howard Investment Corporation—had perished in a deadly car accident. I blinked, suddenly confused. He wasn't serious, was he? Or maybe there was another Bill Howard who wasn't my father?

Everyone has that one life changing moment. It shapes who you are as a person and pushes you down the path that leads to rest of your life. It defines you. Sometimes you can see it coming from a mile away, but other times it happens in a split second. That's how it went for me—one quick flash and my life was completely derailed.

The reporter went on to explain that all of the individuals who were traveling in the car had died. However, one daughter hadn't been present, and her whereabouts were currently unknown. That one daughter was me, wasn't it?

I stared at the T.V. in disbelief and utter horror, having a hard time comprehending anything that was being said. There was a mug of hot chocolate sitting on the coffee table that my father made before they left. He couldn't be dead. He had swirled in the marshmallows only a few hours ago. My head felt dizzy.

The screen then shifted to a picture of the wreckage and my stomach did a flip. The vehicle was barely recognizable—it had smashed into a tree so hard that it wrapped around the thick trunk—but I knew the bright blue of my mom's Cadillac. That was her car, and my family had been in it!

My stomach reacted before I could process anything, and I bent over the side of the couch and emptied what little amount of hot chocolate I had been able to sip this morning onto the hard, wooden floor. How could my mother, the woman who had held my hair back last night as I had cried into the toilet suffering from the flu, be gone?  What about Lucy − my other half? Was it even possible for one twin to live while the other was dead?

***

It was later that night when I heard the soft knocks of the police officers on my front door. I hadn't moved from my spot on the couch. The television was still blaring; all day it had been a loop of repeating news about the death of Bill Howard. I tuned out when the shock took control of my body. At some point I slipped into a dreamlike state, unable to feel anything except the numbness of my limbs. There was more puke on the floor, but I hadn't been able to cry because it didn't feel real.

The officers brought a woman with them and she slowly entered the apartment. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying and her voice was the first thing I was able to understand in hours.

"Hi, Jackie dear," she said, crouching down next to me. "I'm Katherine Walter." Her golden hair was plastered to her head. The name sounded vaguely familiar and I looked up into her eyes. She didn't look like anyone I had ever met before, but something about her name was familiar.

Katherine Walter. Hadn't I heard that name just this morning? Was the lady standing in front of me my mother's long lost best friend? The Katherine who had attended Hawks Boarding School—the place where my sister and I went—with my mom all those years ago?

It was then and there that reality came crashing down on me—and hard. Katherine Walter was who my parents were driving out to meet this morning when they had crashed. She had flown in from Colorado to visit.

My family was dead and this woman was proof. I could see the pain in her eyes and hear the hurt in her voice. My mom must have meant something to her. I choked, trying to gasp for air, and sharp pains raked my stomach. Finally, the tears came.

"Shhh, honey," said Katherine, stroking my hair as I bawled. "It's going to be okay. I'm going to take care of you."

And so began my journey away from the beautiful city I loved. Away from the cement jungle that had always kept me captivated. Far away from the flashing neon signs and the sound of traffic that lulled me to sleep. Away from the expensive shopping, colorful Broadway shows and restaurants that offered every cuisine imaginable. And far away from New York which held my childhood memories and my heart.

I was heading towards Colorado and a ranch with twelve beautiful boys.

 ***

Hi friends,

Thanks for checking out my story. I hope you enjoy!

Want updates on my writing? News about foreign translations or the Walter Boys TV show? How about free signed paperback copies of my books? Make sure to follow my Instagram and Twitter account @authoralinovak. 

I'm really glad you've enjoyed reading other stories similar to this one on Wattpad. However, please don't accuse me of stealing another Wattpad author's story. I posted this story on Quizilla.com in March of 2009 before Surviving the Mclane Boys and then here on Wattpad in December 2010 before the Walker Boys, Riley and the Boys, or any other "boys" story. 

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