Authors: E. Latimer
By E. Latimer
Copyright © 2015 by Erin Latimer
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.
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Edited by Mickey Reed
With Special Thanks to DJ Gann
Cover Designed by Jessica Allain
ISBN - 978-1-927940-47-1
For all the Wattpad readers
who demanded, "Update!"
Here you go.
I froze the first guy I ever kissed
, and I don’t mean he got cold feet.
We were sitting on his bed. His parents were out, and the door was closed. I ran my fingers over the bumps in his feather comforter, looking at everything but him. The mattress shifted as he leaned forward, and then his lips gently brushed mine, sending a delicious shiver over my skin. I closed my eyes.
Was I doing this right? Could he tell how nervous I was?
His fingers tangled in my hair, bringing me closer, and my skin tingled all over. The scent of cologne made me lightheaded. I wanted to stop time in that moment, to make it last forever.
And then he stopped.
My eyes fluttered open. His hand was still grasping my hair, and he was perfectly still. Eyes shut, lashes shadowing his pale cheeks.
His lips were
I gasped, trying to scramble away, held fast by my hair. "You're scaring me. Let go!"
A thin, white network of shining ice had formed on his cheeks. When he exhaled, his breath crystallized and hung between us. He didn't move or blink.
"Adam!" I twisted in his grip, extracting myself painfully, leaving him clutching a fistful of blond hair.
He blinked and shook his head. Then his teeth began to chatter. "What...?"
I ran—through the hallway and out the door, barrelling down the sidewalk, my heart thundering in my ears the whole way.
At home, I crawled into bed and pretended to be sick for the rest of the week. Until I could tell myself that I really had been sick. That I’d been feverish and delusional.
That was how it started, back when I was living in California, where I belonged. Then my uncle and aunt moved us to the frozen tundra they call Canada, to some hick town named Grande Prairie.
And that was when it all went to hell.
"Eat the toast."
"It's burnt." I looked sullenly at my aunt from underneath my bangs, mostly because I knew she hated it. "No, thanks."
"You burnt it, you eat it." She was busy fussing with Stephanie's bib.
The little monster had smeared peanut butter and jam all over herself, and the perfect-obsessed Janet Walker would not tolerate a messy child. The image contrasted too much with the gleaming kitchen.
Uncle Dave shuffled in to lean against the doorway. He was dressed, but his hair stuck up wildly, and he had a pillow crease on his left cheek. "Morning."
"Take her to school," Janet ordered. "And make sure she eats her damn toast." She transformed momentarily, giving baby Stephanie a sappy look, cooing over her daughter's ability to shove five strawberries into her mouth at once. What a talent.
Uncle Dave gestured at me, a sort of lets-get-out-of-here motion, and we both hastily exited the kitchen.
It took us a while to get out the door. Back home, I could throw a jacket on and bam—I was ready to go. In Grande Prairie, there was a strange sort of ritual involved with going outside. Layers upon layers must be applied. Dave and I wrapped up until we both looked like giant marshmallows. It was a wonder we could fit through doorways.
Even with multiple layers, it was still bitterly cold. Luckily, the snow had stopped, so we only had to worry about wading through ankle-deep drifts to get to the truck.
I blinked against the white glare, listening to the crunching of our footsteps. At the passenger’s side, I gripped the doorframe, struggling to pull myself up. Uncle Dave had bought the truck when we’d moved here, and it was so jacked up that I needed a pole vault just to get in the damn thing.
"Looking forward to the first day of school?" Uncle Dave cast me a sidelong look as the truck roared to life.
"Kinda. I'm nervous though." That was an understatement.
They had moved us to Grande Prairie without asking me if I wanted to go. I hadn’t. It was a cowboy town, and there was no way I was going to fit in. What if they threw cow patties at me or something?
Of course, it wasn’t like I was going to complain. Uncle Dave never came right out and said that we had moved because of me, but it was obvious enough. We hadn’t just moved, we’d run. After the incident, I’d refused to get out of bed, my grades had dropped, and I wouldn’t answer my cell phone anymore. Adam’s mom had shown up at our door at one point, demanding answers. I’d hidden under my sheets, listening to Janet scream back at her that she was crazy. What she had accused me of was impossible. Her son obviously had some kind of medical problem.
Like he’d had a seizure or something.
"It's just two more grades," Dave said. "Even if you don't like it, you'll be graduating before you know it."
Two more years. Was that supposed to be comforting?
At last, the truck was defrosted and Dave slowly backed out of the driveway. Hopefully, he wouldn't notice how tightly I was clutching the door handle. My uncle wasn't a bad driver, but he was a Californian. He had no clue how to drive in the snow.
"You start your new job today too." I swallowed, trying to stop thinking about how awful my new school would be. "Are you excited?"
"Excited to be out of the house." Dave smiled thinly. His eyes were tired, and the frown lines around his mouth seemed to have deepened in the last few years.
I couldn't imagine being married to Janet, and I honestly didn't understand why he still was. Probably something to do with baby Stephanie. Were there times he regretted having her? I know that Janet regretted taking me in.
“Now, I have to deal with a baby and a rebellious adolescent at the same time.”
I'd heard her talking to a friend on the phone last night. The words had stirred something in me. Not sadness. Something else… Something fiery.
The truck rumbled to a stop in front of a beige-colored building crouched long and low in drifts of dirty ice. Like a shoebox with windows.
"Want me to walk you to the front door?"
I gave Uncle Dave a bright smile. "No, thanks. I'll be fine."
He hesitated then leaned forward and gave me a peck on the cheek. "Okay. Remember, I always have my cell phone on if you need anything."
"Thanks." I dismounted, my boots hitting the snow with a crunch. "See you at three."
"You’ll do great. Have a good day."
I waved once and then turned, hitching my bag higher on my shoulders. Behind me, the truck roared away, and my stomach sank.
The parking lot was half full, seniors who had their own vehicles, probably. I couldn't get my license until next year, but now, I wasn't even sure I wanted it. I'd always pictured myself in a convertible with the top down. Tunes blasting, wind blowing my hair back. Not rolling around in ten feet of snow.
I trudged up to the front door. At my old school, groups of kids would be lingering at the entrance. The nerdy kids playing magic cards or whatever, the football team talking about last night's game. But here? There was no one lingering anywhere. It was way too cold.
I stopped at the double doors, where a little, bronze plate on one side spelled out:
Grande Prairie High
Sighing, I gripped the handle, which was cold even through my bulky gloves. "Okay, here goes."
Warm air rushed to meet me as I stepped inside. The office was to my immediate right, where a woman with wide, black-framed glasses sat behind a huge desk. She spotted me and waved enthusiastically.
“You must be Megan! Come on in and we'll get you sorted out."
That was both encouraging and a little alarming. It was nice to be welcomed so warmly, but if the woman recognized every one of the students, how big could this school actually be?
Leaning my elbows on the desk, I glanced around. The walls were covered with plaques and awards, and the cheerful woman had tried to spruce the office up with potted plants and a fake palm tree.
"I'm Mrs. Burns. So pleased to meet you." She reached over the desk and shook my hand. "Oh! You’re freezing, you poor thing. You must find this weather dreadful after coming from California."
"It's...different." It was hard to summon any type of enthusiasm for this place.
"English first." Mrs. Burns handed me a slip of paper. "That'll be your timetable, dear. English will be your home class for the semester. Just take the stairs at the end of the hall then walk all the way down. It's the last classroom on the left. Mr. Scott will be teaching this year. He's wonderful."
"Thanks." I clutched the paper and turned to walk out, glancing down at it as I went.
It was a list of classes, the first one being English, like she’d said. Couldn’t she just call it a “class schedule” like a normal person?
I wandered down the hallway, peering into the rooms. All the doors were open, and I found myself maneuvering through crowds of little kids. Evidently, these were the lower grades. I pushed my way through a set of double doors and entered a staircase, almost walking into a couple who were making out against the wall.
"Oh." Blood rushed to my cheeks. "Sorry."
The girl, a leggy blonde in a purple tank top, pulled away and stared as I walked past. Surprisingly, she was nearly as tall as I was. I had hit six feet on my fifteenth birthday and felt like a freak ever since. It was nice to see another giant.
"You're new," the girl said, and her tone was confident to the point of being demanding. "I'm Amy."
"Megan." I nodded to her and her companion, a dark, quiet boy who looked at his feet.
"Nice to meet you," Amy said. "You in Mr. Scott's class?"
"Cool." She turned back to the boy and grabbed his collar. "See you in there, Megan."
I turned away, pushing through the doors at the top of the stairs as she resumed her previous activities. I wasn't sure if I was going to like Amy or not.
The English classroom was exactly where Mrs. Burns had said it would be. Mr. Scott was a tall, beanpole-like man with little, round spectacles and spiky, blond hair. He squinted down his nose at me as I came in.
"Ah, Megan Walker?"
Was he asking me because he wasn't sure of my name or because he couldn't see me properly? "Yes.”
"Megan, have a seat." He gestured grandly at the desks in front of him, as if he were offering me a prize on
Price is Right
I ran a critical eye over the eleventh-grade class. It was pretty much what I'd expected. A total of twelve kids. They were all staring at me with more interest than I was used to. I was probably the most entertaining thing to have happened since the annual cow tipping contest...or whatever they did in this place.
I forced a smile. "Hi."
A few of them murmured back. One girl, a mousy little thing with wisps of blond hair falling out of her braid and an overabundance of freckles, gave me a wave. Since she was the only one who looked halfway friendly, I shuffled to the back of the classroom, slumping into the desk next to her.
"I'm Charlotte." Her wide, brown eyes had an almost unsettling shine to them, like everything was unbearably exciting.
I threw my book bag down beside the desk. "Hi."
We didn't get to say anything else before Mr. Scott started the lesson. Apparently, we would be reading
Lord of the Flies
and dissecting it. The announcement brought a collective groan from the classroom. A dark-haired boy in front of me dramatically slumped sideways in his chair, and one of the girls in front dropped her head onto her arms.
“Okay, that’s enough.” Mr. Scott’s eyebrows knit together in irritation. “Honestly, I’ve never seen such a group of drama queens.”
"I've already read that," Charlotte whispered, "and none of it made any sense."
I leaned sideways, keeping my voice low. "That's okay. We'll just make up symbolism for the report."
She seemed to get a kick out of this, snickering out loud, and Mr. Scott arched one dark eyebrow over his glasses at her.
I smiled at the horrified look on her face.