Authors: P. T. Michelle
I never thought that my plan to crash a masked party to exact a bit of revenge would fall apart so easily. It was a foolproof plan. The absolute best scenario. Moon-and-stars-aligned worthy. No one would suspect I was anyone other than the wealthy, self-absorbed girl I pretended to be. The one who would wreak havoc that night.
Then again, I also didn’t plan on running into a wall of sharp wit and steely determination named Calder. The captivating Navy SEAL might’ve called me by Celeste’s name, but he refused to let me hide my true self from him. His special brand of honest, seductive charm was impossible to resist. He was confident and demanding…and everything I wanted. But the deeper I fell, the higher the stakes rose while playing a role. So I held onto our intense connection for as long as I could, knowing that he would never know me as Cass.
When an unexpected turn of events gives me a second chance to see Calder again, of course the opportunity comes with strings attached. I had no idea how dangerously tangled and deeply knotted those strings would become, but for the one man who gave me the courage to live my life for
again, I’d do just about anything.
Even become someone else.
is the first book in the
duet, Cass and Calder’s story. The duet falls within the main
IN THE SHADOWS
. To read the other books in the
IN THE SHADOWS
series, check out books 1-3:
MISTER BLACK, SCARLETT RED
, Talia and Sebastian’s story.
All rights reserved. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook cannot be re-sold or given away to others. No parts of this ebook may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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woke up on the porch swing behind Sherry’s house, three hours past my curfew. My hands tremble as I quietly unlock our front door. I don’t want to wake my parents. My dad flipped out when I was twenty minutes late last month. Shaking the wooziness from my head, I close the door with a soft click and use the handrail to pull myself upstairs.
The last thing I remember was talking to one of the football players about the game and seeing Jake Hemming chatting with another player across the room. Images keep flashing through my mind: Jake apologizing to me for acting like an ass last year. Jake looking adorable as he rakes his hand through his blond hair and invites me outside. The party noise at Sherry’s fading in the background. He’s smiling.
Did I dream that part while I was out?
Once I reach the bathroom and close the door behind me, I gulp in deep breaths. It feels as if my lungs are being squeezed and I can’t get enough air. I run the tap in the sink and gulp down mouthfuls of water. My mouth is parched, like I downed a whole six pack, but I don’t understand why. I only had a soda at the party.
As the shower pounds down on my shaking limbs, I rinse the shampoo from my hair and close my eyes, trying to recall the parts that I’m missing from tonight.
An image of Jake throwing his arm around my shoulders jars me. It feels too real. Then the memory rolls through my mind like a film.
He’s leaning on me, apparently tipsy as he rambles about our football team’s win against Saint Mary’s. “I’m the only sophomore on the varsity team. I’m going places! Why can’t Celeste see that I would worship her like a goddess?” he rails, raising his plastic cup in the cool night air, beer sloshing over the edge.
This is his way of apologizing?
I gulp down the rest of my soda so I don’t say something snarky. “Maybe you two…just…aren’t meant…to be.” I shake my head and blink, confused as to why that had been so hard to say. It sounded clear as a bell in my mind.
He grips my chin. “Ah, but
are, is that it, Cass?” he says in a husky voice.
Not any more. Not after what you did to me last year.
But no matter how shitty he treated me, my traitorous heart still skips several beats when his mouth moves close to mine. I guess I’ll always want what I can’t have. Stupid heart.
Tilting my chin, he inspects my face. “You look so much like her it’s freaky.” When he throws his head back and laughs, I stare up at him in confusion. I know he’s talking about Celeste, but…then nothing. My memory goes blank.
The steam in the shower making me cough pulls me back to the present. I’m shaking all over.
Why can’t I remember?
Squeezing my eyes shut, I press my face to the cool tile and force myself to take slow, deep breaths as I try to fill in the blank space.
Another image starts out blurry, then sharpens in my mind.
I’m kneeling in damp grass in front of Jake, his hand fisted in my hair, tugging hard. He yanks at his jeans’ zipper, his words harsh, bitter. “
god tonight. Open your mouth.”
My eyes jerk open and I swallow the bile rising in my throat. It didn’t happen. It
happen. Whimpering, I quickly swipe the fog off the shower door to seek out my jeans on the floor. They’re dry, but mud and grass stain both knees. Covering my mouth with a shaking hand to keep the wail of humiliation inside, I shut the water off.
Why didn’t I fight him?
I question over and over as I pull on warm sweats and a T-shirt.
“Cass?” Sophie calls quietly when I try to tiptoe past her bedroom door.
I peek inside. “Hey, what are you doing awake so late?”
She raises a sparse eyebrow, a knowing look in her tired eyes. “Why are
Despite my anxiety, relief rushes through me as I step in her room. My big sister will know what to do.
“You okay?” she asks as she beckons me over. “You know Mom and Dad will flip if they find out how late you got in.”
With just a few wisps of dark hair sprouting from her bald head, she looks even weaker than she did yesterday. I want to be angry that she refused to go to her bone cancer treatment this week, but Sophie’s been fighting it for two years now. I understand her wanting a break for just one day. The drugs that fight her cancer are slowly destroying other parts of her.
I sigh and gingerly lay down on the covers beside her frail frame. “I’m fine. I just lost track of time while celebrating our win.”
as she touches my damp hair, her brown eyes holding my gaze. “I smell mouthwash. Are you trying to cover the stink of liquor on your breath?”
Instead of reprimand, I hear nostalgia in her voice. At this moment I’d give anything for her to have fun at a party like other eighteen year olds instead of lying in bed, her body wasting away. The last thing I want to do is burden her with what happened to me. She’d get upset, and tonight she just doesn’t look strong enough for that.