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Authors: Jessica Gomez

After the Before

BOOK: After the Before
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the Before

By Jessica Gomez










Copyright © 201
4 by Jessica Gomez
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.






First, I would like to thank my husband for all of his support in

making my dreams come true. To my family and friends with love.

My AMAZING editor Dana Hook.
Margreet Asselbergs

for the awesome cover. Alisa Mullen for just being her,

thank you for introducing me to this world and group

of fantastic ladies. And finally, a shout out to Laurie

Schmidt Lee and Elexis Darden, you two are complete

Rock Stars. And to anyone else who helped me get to this

point. I couldn’t have done it without you.





Growing up on the wealthier side of town may look good from the outside, but not everyone has a great life on the inside. You never know what is going on with the people who live behind those pretty little doors. For instance, I have problems at home with my mother. I know, practically every teenage girl does, but our problems go so much deeper than any teenage angst… my life has turned into one big nightmare that I can’t run away from. So, to explain a little about me, I have to go back. I refer to my life as the
and the
. The accident drew a line in my life, so let me give you a glimpse of the

I had a twin brother named Jace
the accident. I loved him more than anything, and I still do. Being my other half, he was also someone I could trust with everything.

We shared the same golden-yellow hair
, the color of saffron, and even our eyes matched − a beautiful blue-green, the color of the ocean. The only real difference between us, other than gender, was that he was six feet tall, while I staggered inches shorter at five feet, five inches.

Jace was the popular one in the family. He played on the Varsity
Basketball team as soon as we became freshman in high school. He always had friends hanging around, and girls drooling all over him, but no matter how popular he was, he always made time for me.

also had friends… I wasn’t a loser or anything. Marisol Navarro was my neighbor and best friend. Being that my brother and I were twins, it was no surprise that her brother, Alex, was my brother’s best friend. We grew up together, living next door to one another for ten years. Marisol was a junior, while Jace, Alex, and I were all sophomores. Marisol and I played on the Volleyball team at school.

Marisol and Alex’s family was
sweet and pleasant. Mr. and Mrs. Navarro came from a rough past; coming to the United States from Mexico when they were young, hoping to start a new life. Their father worked with my father at a research company, and they both made a very comfortable living.

The only
hiccup in my
, was my mother… she treated me as if I was a burden. She never showed any positive emotions toward me, or anything that I’ve ever done.

My father
, on the other hand, was a normal, doting dad. He spoiled Jace and me every chance he could while my mother always favored one… Jace. It was something she never hid, always going out of her way to gloat over him in front of me and everyone else. On our tenth birthday, she forgot to write my name on
birthday cake. I mean, seriously? How could she write one name and not remember to write the other? You don’t forget things about your children like that, especially when they share the same birthday. It just doesn’t happen.

Jace was my buffer
against mom, always stepping in to defend me, which I think caused her to hate me even more. Whenever mom was up in my face about one thing or another, Jace always stepped in and defused the situation. God, I miss him.

Now that you know a bit about my
let’s go in to that day; the day that my
existed simultaneously.

My day
was like any other Wednesday at school. My dad was there, watching my practice in the upper gym, while my brother practiced in the lower gym. I remember that particular Wednesday because I had been worried sick over a boy I liked asking me to the upcoming dance. I always wonder, if I had waited to see him after practice, like I usually did, would I have missed such a tragedy.

“He’ll ask you Jasmine
. Don’t worry,” Marisol assured me.

“I’m not so sure
about that. You and Jace seem to think he likes me, but other than a look here and there, he doesn’t even talk to me much.” I shake my head, not convinced.

“He’s a guy
, Jas. What do you expect?”

met her smile with one of my own. “Alright. We still have three weeks until the dance, so I’ll wait impatiently for him to ask. So, enough about me. Who are you going with? Has anyone asked you yet?”

manicured brows drew together, creasing her caramel skin. I had always been jealous of her Mexican heritage. She had the most beautiful skin color, and long, black hair, which she flicked off her shoulders, looking nervous.

“I’m not sure yet. I need to speak to you about something
, but I want you to come over later − after I’ve taken a shower,” she said as she sniffed her armpit, throwing out her last words with sarcasm.

“Sure, as long as my mom doesn’t freak out on me again like last time,” I replied. Last time I came home from practice, my mother chastised me about not looking feminine enough. I had just finished sweating my rear off during practice, so I doubt any girl would look feminine after sweating a bucket of stank onto her clothes.

Marisol gave me an apologetic look
, knowing that my mom was a complete psycho most of the time when it had anything to do with me.

. At least call me if you can’t come over.”

“I will
… don’t you worry.” I turned to see my brother strolling over to us. “I better go. I think my dad is ready.”

As I turn
ed around, my brother draped a sweaty arm over my shoulder, sliding over the bare skin around my tank top. I didn’t bother moving it, knowing that the punishment would be even grosser if I tried to get away.

Hey, Marisol,” he said, but there was something different in his voice… It had a singsong tone that I had never heard from him before. I watched as Marisol’s face lit up like a light bulb right in front of me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if
was what she needed to speak to me about.

“Hello, Jace
,” she said. Then I saw the blush… she blushed. She was someone I’d known since childhood, and it was the first time I had ever seen her get flustered around someone she was so familiar with.

I looked back and forth between them, putting the pieces together
. I gave Marisol a knowing look and a smile to let her know, ‘
If this is what I think it is, then I’m cool with it.’

She smiled back at me. I could tell by the look in her eyes
that she wanted to spill the beans right there, but reined it in before it slipped out.

“I’ll see you tonight
,” I told her, knowing I needed to hear her news.

Jace gave her
a wink before turning with me to walk toward the parking lot. I thought I could get some of the information I needed from my loving brother.

,” I started, stretching the word out.

Jace turned to me and
gave me his goofy smile. I had only seen that expression once when he fell in love with a puppy we had when we were six.

“I was wondering when you’d notice
,” he said.

He already knew that I knew

“How long has this been going on?”
I sounded a little more hurt than I intended. I was happy for him, but I couldn’t understand why he would keep me in the dark.

“Only a couple of weeks and nothing has really been ‘going on.’” Using air quotes, he laughed at himself. “Marisol was worried that you would be upset with her. She didn’t know how to tell you, so she swore me to secrecy. Believe me; I was dying to tell you.”

Nevertheless, it hurt
. Jace never kept secrets from me, and I found myself upset with him for it.

“Of course
, I’m not mad,” I lied. “I think it’s great, as long as you’re good to her, and you don’t treat her like one of your groupies…” I gestured around to all the girls waving to him and drooling as we walked by.

I think we both know that Marisol is nothing like them, and I can’t imagine ever treating her with anything but the respect she deserves… Trust me.” I could see it in his expression that this was the real deal, which caused me to sport a giant grin.

,” I said as we reached my dad’s maroon Chevy Malibu. Jace claimed shotgun before I could, dooming me to the backseat.

, Dad.” We both said in unison and smiled at how similar we were, always saying the same things at the same time.

“Hey kids.
You both looked good in practice tonight.” He said, smiling as he pulled out of the parking lot.

.” We both said in unison… again.

had driven a few minutes in silence before Dad spoke again.

, honey, your mom has had a bit of a rough day, so would you mind making dinner tonight?” In reality, Dad meant that mom drank too much and couldn’t function enough to do anything,
cook dinner.

“Sure.” I
said. I was more than happy to cook because I was good at it. Everyone knew it, including my mom, but for some reason, it pissed her off. If she didn’t medicate herself so much, I wouldn’t have to do it… but she does, and that leaves me to do what she can’t.

“What do you feel like eating?”
I asked the both of them.

Once we figured out what we wanted to eat,
Dad swung us by the store to grab some milk and other ingredients before heading home. We were only a couple of blocks away when my dad glanced at me in his rear-view mirror for only a fraction of a second, but it was long enough for him not to see the car headed straight toward us.

felt like it was moving in slow motion, but in reality, it happened so fast. I only had time to get out one thought…
‘That car looks familiar.’

re was a bang, and that’s when all hell broke loose. Metal was grinding and twisting; windows shattered and popped. There were voices screaming, tires screeching, and the smell of burnt rubber filling the air around me as my dad tried to stop us from the inevitable car flip that we were about to endure. The noise was horrible and deafening.

the car came to a stop – I wasn’t sure how many flips later – everything was eerily silent. It was so silent; the only thing I could hear was my own ears ringing.

I hung upside down, tied in by my seatbelt
. Blood was rushing to my face, making it feel as if my head would explode at any given moment, and my eyes were practically popping out of my head. My hair hung down like those little troll dolls whose hair spiked straight up, only opposite. Wet, warm liquid began coming from my mouth, traveling to my nose and eyes. I was scared that I would choke on it, but I got myself together so I could adjust my eyes enough to take in the scene before me.

he smell of burning rubber and car fluids were making me light-headed. I began to look around, and the first person I saw was my brother. He was hanging mostly out of his seatbelt, still strapped in, but his neck and upper body were lying in an awkward, contorted position because the roof of the car was smashing him in. I could see blood and glass from the shattered windshield covering him… He wasn’t moving.

Next, I
took in my dad, who was halfway out of his window. One of his legs were twisted with his knee directly in his face. The seatbelt wrapped around him in an odd position, and there was blood soaking his clothes… He wasn’t moving, either.

I knew I needed to get out
of the car to help them, so I attempted to move my left arm to unbuckle the seatbelt. Just as I moved, a searing pain shot through me. I reached down with my right hand, but fiery lances were shooting through my side. My leg pain caused me to draw in a ragged breath as I choked on a scream that drowned out the thumping of blood going to my head.

Finally, I was able to move my left hand over enough to get my finger on the button to my belt. I hesitated
for only a second after realizing it was going to hurt like a mother when I hit the roof of the car, but all I could think of was getting to my dad and brother.


That click was the last thing I heard as more pain than I could have thought possible for one person to handle and survive, shot through my body. The pain covered every inch of me, every nerve, every bone, and every surface.

I blacked out.



BOOK: After the Before
13.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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