Authors: Marni Mann
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Fiction
Seattle, WA 2014
COPYRIGHT 2014 MARNI MANN
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Cover Design by Shari Ryan
Edited by Steven Luna
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.
PRINT ISBN 978-1-62015-368-0
EPUB ISBN 978-1-62015-393-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014915389
To those of you who have scars, whether they cover your surface like Rae’s or are embedded under your skin, I want you to know you’re not alone.
After seeing her with her best friend Gianna tonight at the bar, I
couldn’t get her off my mind. Pacing Brady’s bedroom wasn’t
me forget the too-confident grin that spread across her face
our eyes met. Every time I blinked, the memory would rewind:
taken Saint, my ex-boyfriend, away from me. She’d won. I’d lost
everything shortly after she’d arrived in Bar Harbor. The wounds
still fresh. I didn’t need her teal stare covering me in salt on top of it
I wanted to complain about her to someone who’d complain
with me; I wanted to be reminded that what she’d taken from me wasn’t such a big loss. I wanted to hear someone agree that she and Gianna
should go back to Florida where they belonged. But there was no
call. My best friend Brady was gone; he’d skipped town a month
before, and I hadn’t heard from him since. Aside from him, there was only one other person I wanted to talk to.
Darren, my brother.
And, well…I couldn’t call him.
, I thought. Even with no Brady to lean on, I’d feel a little relief in thirty-two days.
I left my phone on the dresser and crawled on to Brady’s bed.
Before getting comfortable, I wiggled a bag of weed out of my back pocket.
Two perfect little buds sat in the center of my hand. They were
than the last batch I’d bought; the tips were whiter,
liked it. It was only a dime; I couldn’t afford anything larger. And I
hated to waste it in anger just because Drew had gotten to
me…especially since I didn’t have a job and couldn’t afford to buy any more.
Another reason I hated her.
Had she not messed with Saint, one of the few guys I’d actually
cared about, and Brady, who had become my family, there was a
I would have liked her. She was nice enough…and unlike most
she didn’t stare at the scar on my cheek. But there was no way I
could show any softness toward someone who had stolen from me.
I’d been robbed once before. That thief was fucking dead to me.
Now, Drew was, too.
I packed the small glass pipe with just enough for a few hits and
popped the end in my mouth. My phone rang as the fire sprouted
through the lighter. Who the hell would be calling me this late?
Brady’s boys only sent text messages, and the last time I’d heard from my mom, she was working day shifts, so she’d be asleep at this hour.
There wasn’t anyone else.
I knew I probably had enough time to sneak in a quick hit before
the call went to voicemail. But I was too curious to risk it. I rushed
across the room and grabbed my phone from the dresser. I didn’t
recognize the number.
I walked back to the bed, waiting for someone to respond. I slid
all the way to the far end, crossed my legs, and leaned against the
wall with the bowl balanced on my thigh. My fingers tapped my knees and traced the white stitching that ran down the inside of my jeans.
“Hello?” I repeated.
My back jolted off the wall, and my eyes widened. His voice was
hoarse and scratchy, but it was definitely him. “Brady? My
god…where have you been?”
“Say something. Say that you’re all right.”
Brady had two voices: sober and wasted. I knew both so well.
This was definitely his wasted tone. And he was on more than just
booze… something else had been mixed in. Something a lot stronger
than just weed. Whatever it was, he’d probably crushed and snorted
what, Brady? Talk to me,” I demanded.
I could picture him running his fingers through his shaggy, dirty blond hair, his lids half-open, looking from side to side to figure out where he was. It was normal for him to black out. But I couldn’t tell from his voice whether he was waking up out of his high or if he was actively in the middle of one.
“Brady, you’ve been gone a whole month and no one has heard from you. You need to tell me where you are.”
“I’m in…Bangor…I think?”
“Bangor?” I slid to the end of the bed, my feet falling onto the
filthy floor. I’d mopped it many times, but nothing helped get rid of the
stickiness that had permanently sunk into the wood. Brady was no
neat freak, and his mess only got worse when he started using again. This
was the disaster he’d left me with. “What are you doing in Bangor, Brady?”
Bangor was about forty-five minutes from Bar Harbor. I
how he’d gotten there. He’d left his truck here, at his apartment
and had shut off his cell phone. Before he’d taken off, he told me he
didn’t want to be found…but someone must have helped him. It
wasn’t one of his boys from around here.
“I’m in trouble.” It sounded like his lips were having a hard time keeping up with the words.
“How much trouble?”
“A lot.” He breathed loudly. “It’s bad. Really…fucking…bad.”
I moved to the dresser and hid the bowl in one of the drawers.
Something told me I wouldn’t be smoking tonight. “Tell me what to
“Come get me.”
“Should I bring one of the guys?”
“No. They can’t help me.” There was rustling in the background.
Banging. A shout that didn’t come from Brady…or maybe it had.
Wake the fuck up
.” His voice was so raspy; it was little more than a whisper.
I wondered who he was talking to, and if they were as wasted as he was. “What’s the address here?” There was mumbling that I could
barely make out. “Write this down,” he said finally.
There wasn’t anything on his dresser to write with, so I sprinted
over to the nightstand. Inside the drawer I found a box of cards. I
grabbed a few, along with my broken eyeliner that rested on top. “I’m ready.” He gave me the address, and we hung up.
With liner smeared all over my nails and my fingers smelling like bud, I threw on a jacket, grabbed my purse and went straight downstairs to my car. Since it was three in the morning, the ride to Bangor wouldn’t take long. There was nothing but blackness on the road. No other drivers, no sound. The occasional glimpse of a deer.
I blasted tunes to fill the stretching silence and counted the
to keep my mind focused. When I got to one hundred, I started over again.
I hoped I could get him out of whatever trouble he was in. I
couldn’t lose him. I couldn’t get through the next thirty-two days without
him. In the past, drugs had taken him to some dark places—not just with
the law, or into a psychological hole with real lines of powder
surrounding him. He’d had to deal with some disturbing people…the
cocking of a gun was probably the most innocent of the noises I’d heard during
those exchanges. Each time, I’d cleaned him up. I could do that
again. It couldn’t really be as bad as he’d said it was.
Or maybe it could.
I’d help him either way.
His directions took me to a duplex. I found him on the staircase
outside, stretched across the second step. His neck was tilted and
hung over the side; his body lay limp. He was missing a shoe and had no jacket on.
My fingers shook as I turned the car off. My breath pounded
against the inside of my throat before it released its vapor cloud. It wasn’t smoke that came from my mouth, but crisp November air.
When I reached the steps, I stood frozen. Too afraid to wake him; too afraid to even touch him. I could taste the salt as it dripped onto my lips. Tears for my best friend…or what was left of him,