Perched on the edge of insanity, with horrific memories of her childhood leaking in, Ellie struggles to put together the pieces of what she’s lost—starting with the name haunting her, Gwen. Heartbreakingly beautiful, this poignant story follows one girl’s harrowing journey to finding out who she really is.
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Shane’s door shuts with a click, and I sit on his tiny twin bed, fidgeting with the frayed blanket. I run my fingers back and forth across its blue threads, dragging them under my fingernails.
In front of me on the nightstand: a picture of Shane and me at our first race together. His arm is slung loosely over my shoulder, both our faces reddened from the cold but smiling at the first place ribbon Shane earned. It’s not visible in the picture, but I was holding my pink Participant ribbon behind my back. The picture is tilted against a black-framed photo of Shane and Lexi from when they were kids. They look about ten and are building a sandcastle at the beach. I’ve never told Shane, but I can’t stand this picture of him and his best friend.
The mattress sinks beside me. His hand falls onto my thigh.
I look him in the eyes. I still remember the first time I saw Shane, this year at our first pep rally. He was with Coach Mills promoting the cross country team, announcing the dates for tryouts. His hair was shorter back then, not hanging past his eyebrows like it is now. That day, as he stood below me on the basketball court, he spoke confidently into the microphone, made eye contact with even the seniors. He was utterly unforgettable.
Needless to say, I tried out for the team the next day.
“If you wanna wait…,” he adds, skimming his fingers up my stomach. I love the gooeyness his touch brings, turning my insides to Jell-O and numbing my nerves completely.
“No waiting.” I pull my leg up and tug on his T-shirt until he comes closer. He lays me down, slipping his hand around my back and his tongue into my mouth. I can’t help myself; I am a mishmash of heat and desire as I knot my hands in his hair. He kisses me deeply and then, breathing hard, pulls away.
“Thank you,” he says.
I laugh. “For this?”
He shakes his head and puts his lips to my ear. “For giving me a reason to smile.”
I grin and slide off his shirt, noticing a dull pain in the back of my head—a tiny thread yanking on my consciousness. He leans in, brushing his lips to my neck, my jaw, my chin and, suddenly, I feel like I’m slipping.
Like I’m trying to stand on ice and can’t find my footing.
Reaching for me. Grabbing me. Pulling me.
Shane’s fingers slink down my belly and pop the button on my jeans free. . .
Then everything goes black.
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