Coming in Hardcover July 21, 2011!
I’m resting my head in my hands when I hear the chair beside me creak with the weight of another student. It must be the last available chair, or else no one would sit in it.
“You don’t look so good,” he says, his voice unfamiliar but pleasant.
Pleasant. I haven’t heard that tone directed toward me in a while. I pull my head away from my hands and turn to glare at him, but when our eyes meet, all I can do is stare, my breath caught in my throat.
Him. The reason I feel like utter crap.
His eyes are a startling, bright shade of hazel. Last night they appeared dark, but today they’re full of light, browns and greens swirling together like a painter dipped his brush in both colors and spun it around in a circle on canvas. It reminds me of the trees when I am underwater, their brown and green outline just a shimmery mass beyond the surface. His deep brown hair isn’t quite as shaggy as it was last night—he seems to have gelled or hair-sprayed it into submission.
I like it more when it’s wild.
“Thanks a lot,” I mutter, tearing my eyes away from him. He’s wearing a button-down shirt with a sweater-vest. What does he think this is, prep school? I turn my face away from him and rest my cheek on the cool surface of my desk, hoping he’ll leave me alone. If he’s talked to anyone at this school, a single soul, he ought to know that I am not someone to converse with.
He’ll find out soon enough.
“You need anything? A cup of water or an aspirin or something?”
I sit up and glare. “I think I’ll pass on taking random drugs from some guy I’ve never met. You understand I’m sure.” Pain relievers don’t work anyway. There’s no getting around this. The only relief I’ll feel is when I’m in the water tonight.
“Suit yourself,” he says, totally unaffected by the bite in my voice.
It feels strange, to talk to someone, to have him look at me with a warm, open demeanor. I want to stare at him, but I force my eyes to remain on the white board as the teacher shuffles in and starts writing her name in giant red marker on the top, in big loopy cursive. Mrs. Jensen.
“I’m Cole,” the boy says.
“What?” I turn towards him. I try to glare, but I know it looks more like a wince. My temple pounds so hard it’s difficult to hear his response over the steady thumping.
“You said you’d never met me. I’m Cole.”
Someone behind us snorts, and I turn to see Sienna, Little Miss Perfect herself, sitting down behind me. Why is she sitting there? My eyes dart around the classroom. She’s taken the last available seat. Maybe someone will trade with me. Or maybe this teacher does assigned seating. “She doesn’t talk to people. She’s a freak.”
Cole lifts an eyebrow. “Funny; she talked to me a few minutes ago.”
Is he defending me? Why would he do that? I look over at him, and he gives me a slight smile-- he has a dimple. Just one, on his left cheek. It catches me off guard—it’s so unlike the intensity in his eyes.
A stabbing pain to my stomach reminds me why I’m supposed to hate him.
“I guess miracles do happen.” Sienna shrugs her petite shoulders, her blonde-streaked hair tumbling down her back, and starts digging through one of her many Coach purses. Today it’s green, to match the cami she’s wearing underneath a white cardigan. Sienna is like that—very matchy-matchy, always pulled together. A picture of lip-glossed perfection. “Do you have an ulcer or something? Your face is all screwed up. It’s really not becoming,” Sienna says. She cocks her head to the side and her platinum hair slips over her shoulder, all bounce and body, like she could model for a box of a hair dye.
“Just trying to do my impression of you,” I shoot back.
It’s scary how easy it was to become a bitch. The insults roll right off my tongue now, without a second thought.
When I was younger, before I became a full-on, completely deadly siren, I had a life. And Sienna was one of my best friends. Sienna, Nikki, and I ruled our middle school, and then we hit freshman year and it got even better. We went to football games and homecoming dances and parties galore.
And then I killed Steven Goode. And then I pushed Sienna away—pushed them all away. At first, it was just because of the guilt. I hated who I was. I didn’t deserve friends. Murderers don’t deserve anything. Over time, it became something else. A way to ensure I don’t end up like my mom.
I do this because it’s a way to survive—both for them and for me. If I let them in, they’re not the only ones who’ll get hurt. I can’t survive losing someone again.